As we continue down the road to the biggest show of the year, I’ve been going through each event to prepare for the big day.
Instead of doing recaps for every WrestleMania (other people here do that much better), I’ve been putting together a Top Ten list of WrestleMania matches and have been updating it after each show.
WrestleMania 23 – April 1, 2007
This show was all about the allusions to WrestleMania III, held 20 years prior. They went back to the Detroit area (in Ford Field this time instead of the decrepit and decommissioned Pontiac Silverdome), they brought back Aretha Franklin to sing AMERICA… THE BEAUTIFUL and even used Vince McMahon’s 20-year-old introduction at the top of the show.
The show was a history lesson and it was also the end of what I call the WrestleMania Rewind tour. The span of WrestleManias 20-23 repeated the destinations of WrestleManias 1-3 (Madison Square Garden 1/20; Los Angeles 2/21; Chicago area’s Rosemont Horizon 2/22; Detroit 3/23). WrestleMania 23 also brought WWE back into the large stadium shows that would become one of the event’s hallmarks.
Best Match: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Title Match. Shawn Michaels is Mr. WrestleMania. Put him in a big match situation with someone who can go all out with him, and it’s going to be the best match of the night. Regardless of how you feel about John Cena’s character, the man can bring it in the ring and he had a hell of a match with Michaels at WrestleMania 23.
Worst Match: Kane vs. The Great Khali. This match was used as an allusion to the Hogan-Andre match at WrestleMania III, down to the hype over Kane slamming Khali and putting the two side-by-side in the post-event video package. But if this match had a fraction of the energy Hogan-Andre had, it would still have been a slow, plodding chore to watch. From what I remember, WWE wanted Hogan to have a match with Big Show to recreate the moment, but several factors worked against that happening. Either way, it was going to be a terrible match.
Presidential Haircut: WrestleMania 23 was sold on the involvement of developer and TV star Donald Trump, facing off with Vince McMahon in a “Battle of the Billionaires.” Trump and McMahon both chose representatives – ECW Champ Bobby Lashley for Trump and Intercontinental Champ Umaga for McMahaon – and the loser would have his head shaved. Anyone who thought going into this that Trump would go through that needed their head examined, but the future presidential candidate seemed a good sport throughout the match, getting physically involved with McMahon and then taking a Stunner after the match from special referee “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. On his podcast a few weeks ago, Austin noted that Trump’s handlers were aghast at the suggestion of taking a Stunner, but when Austin asked Trump directly, he was all for it. It was one of the worst Stunner sells in history, but I’ll give him credit for taking the shot.
Missed Opportunity: Going into the is show, Edge was undefeated at WrestleMania, dating back to WrestleMania 2000. They could have been building up a second streak for the Rated R Superstar, which made it a bit surprising that they put him in the 8-man Money in the Bank ladder match, because it was unlikely he would repeat. He didn’t even make it to the end of the match. Edge was stretchered out of the match after Jeff Hardy put him through a ladder in one of the craziest, stupidest Jeff Hardy stunts ever, egged on of course by his brother Matt, who wanted Edge out of the match. Putting Edge in a one-on-one match to continue his WrestleMania win streak would have been a much better use of the Canadian, especially considering that he fought the Undertaker the next year.
Of course, Edge got the last laugh with this year’s Money in the Bank ladder match. He ended up stealing the briefcase from Mr. Kennedy and used it to take the title from Undertaker later that year.
Almost Stealing The Show: Apparently, World Heavyweight Champion Batista and challenger The Undertaker were insulted by being put so low on the card (they were in the fourth match), so they decided to put on the match of their lives. It was a great match, one of Undertaker’s best WrestleMania contests up to this point, but to me, it just fell short of best match of the night to the main event. Undertaker wins the World Heavyweight Championship and goes 15-0.
The Top 20!
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Submission Match (WrestleMania 13)
2 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
3 – The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – No DQ WWF Title Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
4 – Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit – World Heavyweight Title Triple Threat (WrestleMania XX)
5 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
6 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
7 – Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Title TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
8 – Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
9 – Edge vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 21)
10 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
11 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
12 – Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 21)
13 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
14 – Eddy Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XX)
15 – Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 21)
16 – Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XIX)
17 – “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock (WrestleMania X8)
18 – John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Title (WrestleMania 23)
19 Triple H vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania X-Seven)
20 Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
Top Twenty Celebrity Appearances
Mike Tyson – WrestleMania XIV
Pete Rose – WrestleMania XIV/WrestleMania XV/WrestleMania 2000
Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III/WrestleMania IV
Mary Hart – WrestleMania III
Cyndi Lauper – WrestleMania I
Donald Trump – WrestleMania 23
Alex Trebek – WrestleMania VII
Vanna White – WrestleMania IV
Burt Reynolds – WrestleMania X
Regis Philbin – WrestleMania VII
Gennifer Flowers – WrestleMania XIV
Jonathan Taylor Thomas – WrestleMania XI
LT’s All-Pro Team (Reggie White, Steve McMichael, Carl Banks, Rickey Jackson, Chris Spielman, and Ken Norton Jr.) – WrestleMania XI
Muhammad Ali – WrestleMania I
Elvira – WrestleMania 2
Jenny McCarthy – WrestleMania XI
Alice Cooper – WrestleMania III
Pamela Anderson – WrestleMania XI
Ozzy Osbourne – WrestleMania 2
Steve Allen – WrestleMania VI
Top 15 WrestleMania Musical Acts
Ray Charles, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 2
Little Richard, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania X
Fife and Drum Corp performing Piper’s entrance – WrestleMania I
Steve Allen rehearses in bathroom with the Bolsheviks – WrestleMania VI
Drowning Pool, Tear Away – WrestleMania X8
Aretha Franklin, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania III / WrestleMania 23
Boys Choir of Harlem, American the Beautiful – WrestleMania XX
P.O.D., Booyaka – WrestleMania 22
Boyz II Men, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania XV
Motorhead, The Game – WrestleMania X-Seven / WrestleMania 21
Limp Bizkit, Crack Addict – WrestleMania XIX
DX Band, DeGeneration X theme – WrestleMania XIV
Willie Nelson, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania VII
Lillian Garcia, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 21
Ice-T, Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy – WrestleMania 2000