wrestling / TV Reports

The WrestleMania XXIII Breakdown

April 2, 2007 | Posted by J.D. Dunn

WrestleMania XXIII
by J.D. Dunn

  • April 1, 2007
  • Live from Detroit, Mich.
  • Your hosts are Hall of Famers Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield, Joey Styles and Taz.

  • Opening Match, Money in the Bank: Edge vs. Matt Hardy vs. Mr. Kennedy vs. King Booker (w/Queen Sharmell) vs. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk vs. Fit Finlay vs. Randy Orton.
    The odd placement of this makes me think something is going to happen later on. The first high spot comes, oddly enough, from Fit Finlay of all people. They all take turns going up and getting knocked off the ladder. Booker tries to get a ladder but grabs Hornswoggle’s step ladder instead. The Hardys team up against Edge, going for the Mercury-killer, but Edge winds up suplexing Matt on the ladder. The Kenton Bomb misses, and Kennedy brains himself on the ladder. Jeff hits the Swanton. The Hardys both go up and fight until getting dumped by Finlay. Edge delivers spears all around, but Punk leapfrogs the last one and does the Terry Funk, helicopter ladder spot. Finally, Edge spears him, taking out three guys at once. Everyone is out, so Edge goes up. Orton recovers at the last second and pushes the ladder over, spilling Edge all the way to the floor. Jeff goes up, but he’s an idiot, so he puts Edge through a ladder with a vertical splash. Of course, he also takes himself out of the match. Great spot, though. The medics come down to move Jeff and Edge, so the match bogs down until Randy gets in and starts firing off RKOs. Punk and Orton both go up, and Orton hits an RKO from the ladder to the mat. He tries the same thing on King Booker, but Book reverses to the Bookend off the ladder. Matt and Booker go up, but Sharmell gets involved, grabbing Matt’s leg. Matt gets down and threatens to give Sharmell the Twist of Fate, so Booker leaves the case and saves Sharmell. Aww. You don’t often see that kind of commitment from a heel, but it makes perfect sense. Finlay grabs Hardy and hits the Schwein on the ladder. Finlay is too hurt to go up, so Hornswoggle offers to get the case for him. Kennedy, who hasn’t been seen for several minutes, recovers and chases Hornswoggle up. He delivers the Lambeau Leap on the leprechaun, but that leaves him open to attack from Finlay. Punk dropkicks the ladder out from under Finlay and goes up. He gets his fingertips on the case, but Kennedy climbs up for a brawl. Punk piefaces him off, but Kennedy jabs him with a spare ladder and grabs the case for the win at 19:11. This was a tale of two matches, with the part before the big Jeff Hardy spot being just an unfocused series of spots. After Jeff and Edge were taken out, though, the better storytellers like Kennedy and Finlay took over. Not as good as the original, not even as good as last year’s but still a great opener, and the right guy went over. ***3/4

  • In the back, Kennedy congratulates himself on his win. He warns the champions that he’s coming for them.
  • The Great Khali vs. Kane.
    Kane has an upside-down star included in his entrance, so I guess he’s in league with Lucifer. This was as bad as you’d expect. I was actually kind of looking forward to this because I thought they’d both be no-selling all over the place and have to escalate their offense to beat the other guy. Instead, it’s all based around Kane fighting from underneath, which is ridiculous enough as it is, but when you add Khali’s plodding offense, it gets horribly tedious. Khali gets tied up in the ropes á la Andre the Giant, so Kane grabs his hook. Khali yanks the turnbuckle pad off but gets crotched with the hook. That allows Kane to slam him, prompting Ross to scream, “Shades of WrestleMania III.” Sure. Kane tries a chokeslam, but Khali is, get this, a really big guy, and he’s able to chokeslam Kane instead. (5:33). After the match, Khali uses Kane’s own chain to choke him out. At least as bad as Kane vs. Kane Doppelganger from last year. 1/4*

  • In the back, Cryme Tyme tries to cheer up Eugene with a dance by Extreme Expose, but it turns into a big cameofest with Dusty Rhodes, the One Man Gang, Moolah & Mae, and several others all joining in the house party. I nearly spit my iced tea out when I saw Irwin R. Shyster getting down with his bad self, but then they one-upped it with Ricky Steamboat busting a move. This was just surreal.
  • U.S. Title: Chris Benoit vs. MVP.
    MVP gets a cool entrance with cheerleaders lining the aisle. Benoit goes for the Crossface early and gets tossed to the floor. MVP goes hold-for-hold with Benoit early, shocking the announcers. MVP reminds me of the Rock in 1998 in terms of in-ring talent if not charisma. MVP blocks a superplex and snaps Benoit’s arm off the top rope to take over. He works Benoit’s shoulder but misses a roundhouse kick and takes ROLLING GERMANS. MVP superplexes Benoit, but Chris works in the Dynamite Kid counter to a small package for two. MVP goes back to the shoulder, ramming Benoit into the post. Benoit goes for the Crossface but can’t get it on because of the bad shoulder. The Free-Throw Elbow gets two, but Benoit avoids a Crip Kick and hits ROLLING GERMANS! The Swandive Headbutt finishes at 9:20. Wow, I thought MVP was a lock to go over here. I guess this was just a test drive to see if he could hang with someone like Benoit before they pull the trigger on a push. If this is any indication, he’s got a ways to go before becoming main event material, but he should get a solid upper midcard push. **1/2

  • In the back, Donald Trump and Miss USA Tara Connor find themselves stalked by the Boogeyman. Trump no-sells him and asks for a sandwich.
  • Highlights of the Hall of Fame ceremony. Not surprisingly, WrestleMania XXIII shattered the Ford Field attendance record at 80,103.
  • World Heavyweight Title: Batista vs. The Undertaker.
    Batista has an advantage because he’s not intimidated by the Undertaker. Batista spears the Taker off the bat and rams him into the buckle. The fans are all over Batista here, booing his every move. Batista clotheslines Taker to the floor and whips him into the steps. He follows that up with a flying shoulderblock off the top! LUCHATISTA! Taker suddenly fires back and hits a big boot for two. Batista powers out of a chokeslam but gets hit with the flying clothesline. The apron legdrop crumbles Batista to the floor. OVER-THE-TOP SUICIDA! Holy crap! Batista reverses a whip, sending Taker crashing into the timekeeper’s area. He picks Taker up and powerslams him through one of the announce tables. Finally, they get back in, and Batista gets two. Taker counters the Demonbomb but gets belly-to-bellied for two. Batista climbs up for the corner pummel, so Taker hits the Last Ride. ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Batista hits a spinebuster, but Taker sits up and chokeslams him. That only gets two. Batista slips out of the Tombstone and hits the Demonbomb. ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Batista goes for one of his own, but Taker slips out and counters to the Tombstone for real at 15:47. Undertaker wins the title 10 years after winning the WWF Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania 13. The right guy went over, but it looked like Batista didn’t particularly want to be in there, letting Taker do all the big moves and bumps. It was better than I thought it would be, but they made the right decision to bump this down the card. **1/2

  • In the back, Stephanie McMahon brings her daughter by to wish Vince good luck. Thankfully, someone strapped a camera to the baby’s head so we get a baby’s-eye view as Vince goes nuts. And, of course, no WWE skit would be complete without a poop joke. It was good seeing Stephanie again, though.
  • Rob Van Dam, Sabu, the Sandman & Tommy Dreamer vs. Elijah Burke, Kevin Thorne, Matt Striker & Marcus Cor Von (w/Ariel).
    The ECW originals decide to come through the crowd, which isn’t a good idea here because they have to start in Lansing. Striker jumps Sabu during his pose, so Sabu hits a couple springboard leglines. Cor Von knees Dreamer from the outside to give the New Breed the advantage. Dreamer plays face-in-peril for a while. Nothing very interesting happens until Dreamer hits that neckbreaker/DDT spot on two guys and makes the hot tag to Van Dam. Van Dam hits a flying kick on Thorne and squashes Striker with Rolling Thunder. Everyone gets knocked to the floor, allowing Van Dam finish Striker with the Five-Star Frogsplash at 6:28. Meh. They just kind of went through the motions. This reminded me of one of those matches from 1991-ish where nobody had anything going, so they’d put Jim Duggan, the Big Bossman and the Bushwhackers in there against Jacques Rougeau, IRS and the Beverly Brothers together. Not sure why they didn’t put the New Breed over, either. It’s not like the Originals have that much individual drawing power left. *3/4

  • Hair vs. Hair Match: Bobby Lashley (w/Donald Trump & Tara Connor) vs. Umaga (w/Vince McMahon & Armando Alejandro Estrada).
    A lot of media outlets were speculating that this might be one colossal April Fools joke. Actually, what I was hoping for is that they’d go the microcosmic route and have the two minority guys realize they were being pitted against each other for the enjoyment of two rich, white guys and then turn on them. Steve Austin is your special referee, of course. Slugfest to start, and Austin has to assert his authority early on. Estrada saves Umaga by putting his foot on the rope, so Lashley hauls Estrada in and tosses him over the top. Well, he won’t be a factor. Umaga misses a charge and falls all the way to the floor — without breaking his fall on the ropes! Lashley tries his own and misses, nearly splatting on the floor as badly as Umaga did. Lashley runs right into a Samoan Drop and then collapses under a bodyslam attempt. Vince gets knocked to the floor, allowing Umaga to hit Lashley with the Flatliner. He goes up, but Lashley catches him and slams him off. Both guys are out, but Austin refuses to count them down. Shane McMahon runs down as Umaga takes Austin out with the Samoan Spike. Umaga hits Lashley with the buttalanche setting up Shane’s Van Terminator. Shane replaces Austin as the referee as Umaga splashes Lashley. ONE, TWO, THR-Austin recovers and pulls Shane to the floor. Umaga hits another Samoan Spike on Austin, and Vince talks trash. Trump has had enough! The Donald keeps his pimp hand strong, tackling Vince and hitting some of the wussiest punches you’ll ever see. Austin ducks another Samoan Spike and hits the Stunner on Umaga. That sets up a spear from Lashley at 13:03. Vince tries to escape, but Lashley runs him down and carries him back to the ring. Yep, Vince gets shaved and takes it like a man…a crying, sniveling man. Austin gives Trump a Stunner for fun. Not much of a match, but this was a good place to do heavy booking, and that’s where the entertainment comes from. **1/2

  • Women’s Title, Lumberjill Match: Melina vs. Ashley.
    Ashley pummels Melina early, forcing Melina to bail so they can toss her back in. Ashley chokes her in the corner Kevin Nash-style, so Melina just kicks her leg out from under her and takes over. Melina with the big swing for two. She stretches Ashley with a surfboard. I’m convinced they just come up with spots to show off their crotches and boobs. Not that I’m complaining. Ashley monkey flips her but misses the diving elbow. Ashley gets an O’Connor Roll, but Melina reverses and gets three. (3:13). Ashley is a poor sport, triggering a big brawl between all the lumberjills. 1/2*

  • WWE Heavyweight Title: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels.
    The show lives or dies by this match. Shawn talks trash and slaps Cena in the face, getting inside Cena’s head and making him careless. Shawn is able to avoid Cena’s every swing and pepper him with jabs. Cool spot. Shawn controls with a side headlock but gets leveled with a stiff clothesline. Big boos for that. Cena steamrolls Shawn with a shoulderblock, but Shawn counters to a Thesz Press on a second try. To the floor, Shawn hits an enzuigiri and a springboard moonsault that bends Cena back over the announce table. Back in, Cena tries to block a charge, but Shawn grabs his leg and pounds on his kneecap. Shawn doggedly goes after the knee, as the cocky 1997 Shawn emerges. That’s certainly the smart way to go about it. The ref keeps asking Cena if he wants to give up, but Cena ain’t having it. If they’re trying to build sympathy for Cena, I don’t think they’re going to get it from this crowd. Finally, Shawn misses a charge and posts himself, busting his head open. Cena comes back with a clothesline and the spinning backdrop. YOU CAN’T SEE ME! The Five-Knuckle Shuffle sets up an FU attempt, but Shawn slips out. He tries a superkick but takes out the referee instead. Cena goes for another FU, but Shawn counters to a DDT. Shawn takes Cena to the floor and piledrives him on the steps! Back in, a new ref runs down. ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Shawn hits the flying forearm and the picture-perfect elbow. He tunes up the band, but Cena closes the gap and nails him with a clothesline. They slug it out, and Michaels counters yet another FU attempt to a rollup for two. Cena catches him in mid-air and hits the FU. He’s in too much pain to cover immediately, though. ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Cena tries an FU from the top, but Shawn elbows out and hits a crossbody. Cena rolls through, though, and counters to another FU attempt. Shawn lands on his feet! SWEET CHIN—no, Cena ducks and trips him into the STFU, but Shawn twists out of that before he can lock it in. Shawn misses an enzuigiri and winds up in the STFU! Shawn makes the ropes. The ref has to pull Cena off because he won’t break, so Shawn superkicks him while the ref is admonishing him. ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! It looks like Shawn has a handful of “the Little Marine” there. What the hell? Shawn slips out of another FU, but Cena trips him down into the STFU again. Shawn has to tap at 28:22. The fans are deflated by that ending. Cena tries to shake Shawn’s hand, but Shawn walks off instead. All grown up, my ass. It felt like they were trying to force an epic that wasn’t quite there in the middle of the match. Once it hit the home stretch, though, it was gold. ****1/4

    The 411: If they cut out all the crap (Condemned trailer, shorten the Hall of Fame, cut out the multiple “All Grown Up” spots), then this would be a much better PPV. As it is, there is a lot of awesome stuff, but you have to wade through a lot of filler. Still, the MITB and main event made the show, plus Vince got shaved bald. That’s what they were promising, and they delivered.

    Thumbs up for WrestleMania XXIII

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