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A hair-raising night at WrestleMania 23

April 2, 2007

After watching World Wrestling Entertainment’s Wrestlemania 23 last night, I felt like a kid again.

WM haircut (AP)Growing up, Wrestlemania pay-per-views were a family event at our house. It started by begging the parents to order the show on our cable box (which we had, thanks to my mom’s love for HBO).

Then, as show time grew closer, the neighbors’ kids would come over, expecting my parents to crack and relent to ordering the $30 extravaganza (now $50…talk about inflation!).

Finally, with minutes to spare, the call would be placed, and Wrestlemania, in all its glory, would be streaming through the den TV set, as all the neighborhood kids would settle in and ask “Got anything to eat?

I can say honestly that I have watched every Wrestlemania live back to No. 4 (or IV, since WWE used Roman numerals way back then), and it’s the one event I make time on my schedule for. Last night’s edition was well worth the wait.

Vince mocks Donald (AP)The one match that garnered lots of mainstream media attention involved “the battle of the billionaires” between real-estate mogul Donald Trump and WWE chairman Vince McMahon, in which one of them would be shaved bald post-match if their representative lost.

Predictably, McMahon lost as ECW champion Bobby Lashley beat the WWE Intercontinental Champion Umaga, despite interference from McMahon’s son, Shane. And the record Ford Field crowd of 80,000 80,103 cheered with glee as Vince lost his hair to the razor and clippers.

Personally, I would have been STUNNED if Trump would have agreed to shed his locks by losing this match … mostly because Trump’s hair employs its own staff of 10 just for the upkeep!

I was also stunned to see WWE dropping more real money from the stadium roof as Trump did his entrance walk to the ring. Fans were shown holding $50 and $100 bills — yes, REAL bills too! That covers the ticket price, right? A source at PWInsider said that the previous time WWE did this for Trump on their Monday Night RAW show, they dropped over $200,000 in currency on the crowd.

More notes and results after the jump…
In other action (with thoughts):

  • Aretha Franklin sings “America the Beautiful” … nice classy pick for Motown!
  • Mr. Kennedy won the guaranteed title shot anytime over the next year in the “Money in the Bank” ladder match (also, he gets the year-long use of the metal briefcase the contract comes in as an illegal weapon). The highlight of the match was Jeff Hardy‘s 20-foot-high leg drop onto a prone Edge laying on a ringside ladder, sending both men to the back on stretchers mid-match. Second best was Kennedy’s 15-foot high Samoan drop of Finley‘s leprechaun friend, Hornswoggle.
  • The Great Khali manhandled Kane, earning a victory with a chokeslam.
  • Chris Benoit successfully defended his United States Championship, beating MVP with the triple German suplex and falling headbutt combo.
  • The Undertaker defeated Dave Batista with a trademark Tombstone piledriver to win the WWE World Title, keeping his record perfect at Wrestlemanias … 15-0! Taker has the best entrance in wrestling, hands down. The intro bell sound still gives me chills after all these years.
  • Melina retained her WWE Women’s Title, beating Ashley with a pinning bridge counter rather quickly in a first-ever “Lumberjill” match, which turned into a post-match catfight.
  • The ECW Originals team defeated the “New Breed” as Rob Van Dam hit the five-star frog splash on Matt Striker.
  • Cena wins (AP)
    WWE Champion John Cena retained his title, beating fellow tag-team champion Shawn Michaels with his STFU submission hold. Michaels refused to shake Cena’s hand after the match.

Wow! Four hours of pay-per-view and only eight matches? I would have liked to see the opening “dark match” that Carlito and Ric Flair won off-the-air added to the card.

On a side note: Is tag-team wrestling at its lowest point in history, with no tag-team title defended on the show? I really think it’s a lost art, as the industry suffers from the lack of colorful duos that can stay healthy together. How about a Demolition revival, WWE?

Despite that, both main title matches delivered, and the show deserves 3 1/2 stars all around.

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