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WWE WrestleMania 23 - April 1, 2007

by SamoaRowe

-From Detroit, MI. Our hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, JBL, Joey Styles, and Tazz.

-Aretha Franklin performs “America, The Beautiful.” This is good and all, but I am lucky to have the benefit of fast forwarding.

“Money in the Bank” Ladder match:
Jeff Hardy vs. King Booker (with Sharmell) vs. Finlay vs. CM Punk vs. Mr. Kennedy vs. Matt Hardy vs. Randy Orton vs. Edge

Complete chaos is underway as the match begins. Everyone is soon brawling by the ring, giving Finlay a chance to leap off the turnbuckle with a flying crossbody. Edge is up first and tries to sneak his way up a ladder for the briefcase, but is cut off by Matt Hardy. Booker goes for a ladder under the ring, but unwittingly drags out the step ladder belonging to Hornswoggle. The action is everywhere. In the ring, Booker gains dominance, dishing out spinebusters to all who come near. We get a Wrestlemania spinaroonie from the King. Jeff Hardy takes a ladder and knocks down Booker, but gets jumped by Edge. Matt Hardy dishes the side effect to Edge. Jeff and Matt set Edge up for a double team, but Finlay makes a save. Edge suplexes Matt onto the ladders! Kennedy plants Matt on a ladder and misses the Kenton Splash! DAMN! Jeff hits the swanton on Kennedy. The Hardy‘s work together briefly. They both climb the ladder but Finlay knocks the ladder over and clotheslines everyone who comes near. Edge goes on a spearing spree, but Punk dodges! Punk whirls the ladder around over his shoulders, taking out several opponents. Edge spears Punk, who falls back with the ladder hitting Orton and Finlay. Edge drags a monster ladder to the ring, and everyone else is down. Edge starts climbing, but Orton grabs his leg and pushes the ladder over. Edge hits the outside mat! Jeff Hardy hits a face first suplex on Orton. The Hardys work together, with Matt setting Edge on a ladder propped up on the ring and barricade. Jeff climbs to the top of the ladder in the ring and delivers the nastiest leg drop since his last nasty leg drop. Edge and Jeff are both dead, with Edge being taken out on a stretcher. Orton runs in and dishes out RKO’s left and right. Orton climbs the ladder, but CM Punk runs in with a ladder, knocking him down. Punk climbs but Orton RKO’s him off. Orton tries the same trick on Booker but it’s countered. Booker gets an opening but instead has to save Sharmell from Matt. Finlay hits the Celtic cross on Hardy onto the ladder! Finlay is busted open, and struggles to climb the ladder. Hornswoggle climbs the ladder for Finlay. Kennedy puts him on his shoulders and swantons off the ladder! HOLY CRAP! Meanwhile, Finlay climbs the ladder again, but is drop kicked off by CM Punk. Punk battles Kennedy on top. Punk has the brief case, but Kennedy knocks him down with another ladder. Kennedy climbs the ladder and manages to unhook the brief case, and wins the match at 19:11! This match was a complete war, and gave each participant a chance to shine. Anticlimactic finish aside, this warrants ****.
Winner: Mr. Kennedy

The Great Khali vs. Kane

The man who was considered too incompetent to be on last year’s Summerslam gets to be on Wrestlemania this year. Fabulous. Kane doesn’t have his meat hook for his entrance, which is pretty depressing. Oh well. The match kicks off with a standard brawl. Things get really exciting with a Khali neck vice. Khali wears down Kane for a stretch. Kane goes up top and hits the flying clothesline, but Khali won’t fall over. Khali gets stuck in the ropes, allowing Kane to take advantage. Kane fetches his meat hook, but Khali frees himself before anything bad (or entertaining) happens. Khali destroys a turnbuckle padding, but Kane uses the chain of the meat hook for a low blow, which the ref missed. Kane summons his inner Hulk Hogan and power slams Khali! Kane’s choke slam is blocked and Khali delivers the double choke slam. Khali covers Kane with his foot and wins the match at 5:33. The match predictably sucked but at least it wasn’t embarrassing, ¼*.
Winner: The Great Khali

-Khali is a sore winner and chokes Kane with the hook chain. That’ll teach Kane not to cheat.

-Backstage, Cryme Tyme is trying to cheer up the newly bald Eugene. This leads to a dance off, featuring the ladies from ECW’s Extreme Expose. Eugene is more happy to see Mae Young and the Fabulous Moolah. They are joined by a group of legends (aka, road agents) and things get silly. The highlight is Ricky Steamboat jumping in and winking at the camera. The pay-off is Ron Simmons saying “Damn” which was only kind of old at this point.

United States Championship:
Chris Benoit © vs. Montel Vontavious Porter

They kick off with some chain wrestling. MVP talks some trash, prompting Benoit to aggressively go for the Crossface, but it’s blocked. MVP fakes Benoit out with a test of strength, but goes for a kick instead. Benoit plants MVP on the top for a superplex, but it’s blocked. MVP gets caught with the rolling German suplexes. Benoit climbs to the top, but MVP joins him and hits a superplex! MVP continues working the arm. Benoit reverses a scoop slam and tries to get the Crossface again, but it is once again blocked. MVP gets the scoop slam and gets the ballin’ elbow drop. MVP whips Benoit into the corner but misses a running big boot. Benoit dishes out two more German suplexes, but MVP blocks the third. Benoit blocks a suplex from MVP and hits some more Germans! The flying head butt finishes MV P at 9:20! Benoit worked really hard to make MVP during their feud and this was a strong match, ***.
Winner and still United States Champion: Chris Benoit

-Backstage, Donald Trump is on his cell phone, bad mouthing Mr. McMahon and complaining about the lack of hospitality he’s been getting. He is then joined by the Boogeyman. He tells Trump that he’s going to get him, which Trump interprets as an offer to “get him” a sandwich. Hilarious stuff, really.

-Cue the Hall of Fame class!

World Heavyweight Championship:
Batista © vs. The Undertaker

Theodore Long does the ring introductions. Batista and Undertaker were offended that they didn’t get to go on last, so they feel they have something to prove. Batista spears Undertaker to kick things off. Taker rebounds and they brawl back and forth. The brawl spills into the ringside, where Batista whips Taker into the steel steps. Back to the ring, Batista hits a flying clothesline! Color me impressed. The crowd favors Undertaker as they trade strikes. Undertaker takes control with his bag of tricks, including walking the ropes. Batista is resilient, prompting Undertaker to hit his annual dive to the floor. Both men are down for several seconds, but Taker keeps control, throwing Batista around the barricade. Batista reverses an Irish whip, and sends Undertaker crashing into some chairs. Batista delivers a running power slam through an announce table! Batista is visibly frustrated as he can’t seem to put away the Dead Man. Belly to belly suplex by Batista! Undertaker answers with the Last Ride! Batista comes back with a power slam. Undertaker ducks a clothesline and hits the Chokeslam. Batista blocks a tombstone Piledriver and nails a spear. Batista hits the Batista Bomb and the streak appears to be over! Undertaker kicks out at the last possible second! Batista goes for another bomb, but Undertaker counters! Undertaker misses a clothesline, and Batista goes for what looked like a snake eyes. Undertaker then traps Batista and hits the Tombstone Pile Driver and covers him for the victory at 15:47! Awesome match, complete with bell to bell action, and some great viciousness from Batista. This really should have main evented, ****¼.
Winner and new World Heavyweight Champion: The Undertaker

-Backstage, Vince McMahon is admiring himself, and Stephanie brings in her baby to visit grandfather. Vince coos the baby in a rather creepy fashion. Vince promises to bash in Donald Trump’s head. Stephanie isn’t very amused by this, as she feels he is scaring the baby. We see this from the baby’s perspective, by the way. Vince then sniffs and claims the baby took a “Trump.” This was probably funny to about three people.

Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, and Sandman vs. Elijah Burke, Marcus Cor Von, Kevin Thorn (with Ariel), and Matt Striker

Well, this match features seven guys I never thought would be on Wrestlemania, so huzzah. The ECW Originals make their entrance through the audience, gaining a very favorable reaction from the fans. Striker and Sabu start the match, with Striker getting a hard shot, but soon suffers some springboard offense by Sabu. Sabu plants Striker on the ropes and tags in Sandman, who hits a big leg drop! Burke tags, but he runs into an arm drag. Dreamer tags but soon finds himself on the receiving end of Cor Von’s boot. Dreamer is isolated for a bit until countering with a combination neckbreaker/DDT on Burke and Cor Von. RVD gets a hot tag and cleans house with his bag of tricks. The match breaks down and RVD hits the five star frog splash on Striker for the win at 6:28. The ECW guys celebrate how far they’ve come, and bask in their Wrestlemania victory. The match was too short to be anything special, **.
Winners: Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, and Sandman

Battle of the Billionaires:
Bobby Lashley (with Donald Trump) vs. Umaga (with Vince McMahon and Armando Alejandro Estrada)
Guest referee: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Lashley and Umaga slug it out, with Estrada liberally interfering on his client’s behalf. Lashley sends Umaga crashing to the floor in a hell of a bump! Umaga quickly gets up anyway and returns to the ring to exchange shots with Lashley again. Lashley gains the upper hand again and charges, but this time Umaga side steps and Lashley crashes to ringside! Umaga drags Lashley to the ring for a splash. Austin puts a stop to Umaga’s choking and they tease a brawl. Lashley tries to take advantage but Umaga wears him down for a period. Lashley desperately knocks Umaga off the top ropes and both men are down. Meanwhile, Shane McMahon runs in to check on Vince, who had been knocked off the apron by Lashley. Umaga and Lashley resume brawling but Umaga gets too aggressive. Austin hooks Umaga’s eyes to force him to break, Shane leaps up to argue, and the distraction allows Umaga to hit Austin with the Samoan Spike! The crowd is not happy about this and lets Umaga know it. Shane cheap shots Lashley, but gets caught in a bear hug. Umaga saves Shane from the beating. Running ass shot by Umaga. Vince tosses a trash can in the ring, and they set Lashley up for a Van Terminator from Shane. Shane reveals himself as a referee and Umaga goes high risk and hits a splash. Austin returns and dismantles Shane. Umaga catches Austin with another Samoan Spike. Vince becomes too obnoxious and The Donald clotheslines him! In the ring, Umaga tries another Samoan Spike on Austin, but misses and eats a stunner! Lashley hits the spear and Austin delivers the three count, giving Lashley the win at 13:03! This was overbooked nonsense, but it was a lot of fun, **¾.
Winner: Bobby Lashley

-After the match, several (and I mean SEVERAL) minutes are spent on Vince getting his involuntary haircut. Vince’s humiliation = buys.

WWE Women’s Championship Lumberjill match:
Melina © vs. Ashley Massaro

Pretty much all of the divas in the company are serving as Lumberjills. They lock up and Ashley gains the upper hand. Melina flees to ringside, but is quickly tossed back in. They take turns choking. Melina delivers a rather nice modified bow and arrow submission spot. Ashley escapes and fires away with forearm shots. Ashley hits the sloppiest monkey flip ever. Ashley misses an elbow drop. Ashley rolls up Melina, but Melina counters and bridges into a roll-up of her own for the win at 3:13. The match sucked, but that doesn‘t really matter, now does it? ¼*
Winner and still Women’s Champion: Melina

-After the match, the lumberjills trap Melina in the ring with Ashley and a huge diva brawl breaks out.

-HBK and Cena get a nice hype package for their match. HBK makes his entrance and doesn’t get the monster pop I was expecting him to get. Cena’s entrance is pretty elaborate, with pre-taped footage of a car speeding recklessly into Ford Field. The car breaks through a glass Wrestlemania 23 sign, and Cena steps out, having suffered no serious injuries. Since this is Wrestlemania, there is a huge portion of fans here to boo Cena.

WWE Championship:
John Cena © vs. Shawn Michaels

A fan leaps into the ring before the match starts, and is quickly escorted out. HBK offers Cena a handshake, but Cena isn‘t feeling it. HBK improvises by slapping. HBK taunts Cena DX-style, and the match finally begins. Slow start, with HBK out-wrestling Cena. Cena powers back with a hard-earned clothesline. Cena runs into a Lou Thesz press. Cena dumps HBK onto the apron, but HBK snaps Cena neck first on the ropes. HBK then hip tosses Cena to the floor! HBK then hits an Asai moonsault off the ropes onto Cena, landing on the table! Back to the ring, HBK spends a prolonged portion of the match working the knee. Cena makes a comeback and totally no-sells the knee work. Cena unloads his five moves of doom. HBK misses Cena with SCM and the ref takes the bump. Cena goes for the F-U again, but HBK counters with a DDT. HBK is angry now and piledrives Cena on the ring steps! I can’t believe Cena took that bump! Both men are busted open as a second referee runs in a bit too late. HBK is furious now and connects with the flying elbow drop. Cena blocks SCM and they trade shots. Cena then catches HBK in an F-U position, but HBK counters and rolls Cena up, . HBK shoots Cena into the ropes, and Cena finally delivers the F-U! HBK kicks out so Cena attempts a top-rope F-U. HBK blocks and hits a flying crossbody. Cena catches him and rolls him into another F-U. HBK blocks by landing on his feet. HBK blocks the STFU. Cena tries again and locks on the STFU. HBK is trapped in the hold for a superhuman amount of time and gets the ropes. The ref scolds Cena for being reluctant to break the hold, giving HBK a chance to strike with the Sweet Chin Music! Both men are down for several seconds, but use each other to prop themselves to their feet. Cena tries for the F-U, but it is countered, so Cena locks the STFU on again! HBK finally taps out at 28:22! John Cena has retained the WWE Championship at two consecutive Wrestlemania’s! Cena no-selling the leg work as blatantly as he did is beyond ridiculous, but the final 15 minutes of the match were thrilling, ***¾.
Winner and still WWE Champion: John Cena

-After the match, Cena humbly celebrates his title defense and is close to tears. Cena asks HBK for a hand shake, but HBK blows it off and leaves. Cena salutes him anyway, in case you forgot that he’s a perfect boy scout.

Final thoughts: There was a lot to like on this Wrestlemania. Batista and Undertaker stole the show with a great match, and keep in mind this was during a time where Batista could have realistically ended the streak. Cena and Michaels’ main event hasn’t aged that well, as Cena really exposed himself as a poor seller and they outdid themselves a few weeks later in their 55 minute Raw match. Skip Kane/Khali and the divas match, and you’re left with a highly enjoyable show.

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