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WrestleMania 23: Battle of the Billionaires

John Cena_Shawn Michaels

Hello everyone, and welcome to yet another edition of WrestleMania Rewind. We’re just a week away from the mega event of the year, WrestleMania 29. It really pumps people up to know that the grand daddy of sports entertainment is just around the corner. Coming back to our series, last time, we looked back at WrestleMania 22, which saw Mysterio winning the World Heavyweight title in a three way and John Cena retaining his championship against Triple H in the main event. A year later, Cena would still remain the champion on RAW, while Batista was back on top as the World Heavyweight champion on Smackdown! ECW was also made as its own brand, as the brand expansion grew.


WrestleMania 23 came to us from the Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. WM 23 saw the phenom, The Undertaker challenging Batista for the World heavyweight championship, which was the main event on Smackdown! On the RAW side, Cena defended the title against Shawn Michaels. It was rumoured that Cena would face Triple H in a re-match of the previous year, but Triple H tore his quad and couldn’t compete in this WrestleMania. The other main attraction was the ‘Battle of the Billionaires’ between Vince McMahon and Donald Trump. After the celebrity involvement in WrestleManias decreased, Trump came up with ‘The Apprentice’, and Vince took advantage of Trump’s new found fame. Without further ado, let us jump right into the action.

Aretha Franklin opened the show by singing ‘America The Beautiful’, just like she did at WrestleMania 3.

Under card:

Mr. Kennedy defeated CM Punk, Randy Orton, Finlay, Matt Hardy, King Booker, Jeff Hardy and Edge in the MITB Ladder match

WrestleMania 23’s main card opened with the Money in the bank ladder match, which was a great way to open the show. It also involved the daredevil Jeff Hardy, which can only make it better. The opening bout received about 20 minutes, and was simply amazing. The spots in the match were exceptional and well timed. There was a spot when Jeff jumped onto Edge and drove him through a ladder. That was one of the best spots you’d ever see. The end came when Mr. Kennedy knocked Punk off the ladder and climbed the ladder to get the brief case. That was one of the best opening bouts in WrestleMania history, right next to Bret – Owen match at WrestleMania 10.


The Great Khali defeated Kane

Khali was being pushed as an unstoppable monster. He had one of the greatest debuts, when he knocked Taker out, and proceeded to win against Taker! He faced Kane in his WrestleMania debut, and it was a 5 minute squash. Khali won after he gave the double choke slam to Kane. A boring match to put Khali over.

Chris Benoit defeated Montel Vontavious Porter for the WWE United States Championship

Benoit walked in as the US Champion, and he faced MVP in the match. MVP was one of the rising stars in the WWE at this point. He and Kennedy were seen as the future, which is why Kennedy won the MITB match. They put on a near 10 minute match, which was good. Good chain wrestling to start things off, as MVP showed he can hang around with Benoit in the ring. The match was over when Benoit hit the Swan dive headbutt for the pin and to retain the US title. They had much better rematches later on, out of which one was a near 5 star classic.

Mid card:

The Undertaker defeated Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship

Taker put his streak on the line against Batista, for the World Heavyweight title. Going into the match, it was played up that Batista might be the guy to finally break Taker’s streak. The crowd was really into the match, and it was an out-right brawl between the Deadman and the Animal. The match went on for 15 minutes, and was the best Taker match at WrestleMania till then. Of course, he’d have a 5 star match with HBK a couple of years later. There were a couple of great spots, with the announcer’s table one being the most memorable. People thought Batista could be ‘the guy’ to end the streak, but Taker caught Batista and turned it into a Tombstone for the pin and to win the WHC. The crowd erupted as Taker posed with the title. One of my favorite WrestleMania scenes ever.


The ECW Originals (Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu and The Sandman) defeated The New Breed (Elijah Burke, Marcus Cor Von, Matt Striker and Kevin Thorn with Ariel)

Time for the ECW match. This was the culmination of a storyline between the ECW originals and the New blood of ECW. RVD held the WWE title for a while after cashing in his MITB brief case against Cena at ECW: ONS, but he’d drop it soon because of his marijuana bust. Anyway, this was a very basic 8 minute match which was boring. The crowd wasn’t into it much either. The end came when RVD came down on Striker with a 5 star frog splash for the pin and the win.


Bobby Lashley (With Donald Trump) defeated Umaga (With Vince McMahon and Armando Alejandro Estrada) in a Hair vs Hair match with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee

The most hyped match of WrestleMania followed the ECW match, with Lashley taking on Umaga with Trump on Lashley’s side, and Vince on Umaga’s. The crowd was hot for the match, and also saw Shane trying to interfere. A great Coast to Coast by Shane on Lashley, but Austin threw Shane out. Umaga tried to attack Austin once again, but Austin gave him a stunner, and Lashley followed up with a spear for the pin and the win. Post match, Vince tried to escape, but was dragged into the ring as Austin and Trump shaved him bald. Then Austin gave Trump a stunner! This went on for 25 minutes. At least the crowd enjoyed it.

Melina defeated Ashley in a Lumberjill match for the WWE Women’s title

Ashely was on the Playboy cover, so she got the push. The ‘match’ went on for 3 minutes, which saw Melina going on the offensive. They could have taught Ashley some moves at least. Melina ended things with a bridging pin to retain her title. Boring match.

Main event:

John Cena defeated Shawn Michaels for the WWE championship

Main event time! Cena and Michaels put on a good match that went for 30 minutes. The crowd was firmly behind Shawn, while Cena also had some good support from his younger fans. Shawn worked on Cena’s leg, and Cena came back with his power moves. Reportedly, HBK was ticked off at Cena after the match because Cena did not sell Michaels’ working on his leg. Anyway, the end came when Cena trapped HBK in the STFU, and Michaels tapped out, giving the win to Cena. Post match, Cena celebrated, and wanted to shake hands with HBK, but HBK refused. Apparently, they were scripted to shake hands, but Shawn didn’t want to, because of the Cena no – selling.


Analysis: *** ¾ (Out of 5 stars)

A good WrestleMania, that broke the revenue records and the attendance record at Ford Field. Not one of the greatest WrestleManias though, but felt special because of the great opening bout and the Undertaker match. We have Punk vs Undertaker coming up in a week, and if both of them go into the match 100% fit, expect another great encounter. Anyway, that does it from me for now. Stay tuned as we recap all the previous WrestleManias on our way to this year’s mega event.

Read the rest of the WrestleMania rewind series here

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