DVD Review: Wrestlemania XXIII

April 1, 2007 from Detroit, MI

It takes ten mother fucking minutes to get to the first match. The stage is kind of lame.

Match #1: Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Jeff Hardy vs. King Booker vs. Finlay vs. CM Punk vs. Mr. Kennedy vs. Matt Hardy vs. Randy Orton vs. Edge

Everyone stares in awe at the briefcase to start, then it turns into a big brawl. Nearly fifty-year-old Finlay ends up hitting a cross body off the top and to the floor on everyone. Everyone but Edge that is, who sets up a ladder but gets caught by Matt. Orton then climbs but Finlay catches him and they brawl on the ladder, tipping it over. Jeff climbs and manages to touch the case but gets caught by Kennedy. Booker pulls out a step ladder and is all agast. A ladder is prepped between the apron and the guardrail, but Punk blocks a suplex on it and hits one of his own on Edge on the floor. In the ring, Booker goes nuts. He takes out Matt Hardy with some knees to the gut, spinebusters Orton, superkicks Kennedy, spinebusters Punk, then spinebusters Finlay. He’s acting like a babyface despite being a heel and the fans don’t know how to react. Jeff whacks him with a ladder. Matt in with a side effect to Edge. They prep some ladders to do a catipult on Edge to mangle him like they did Joey Mercury, but Finlay saves Edge, who suplexes Matt on the catipult. Kennedy places Matt on a ladder but misses the Kenton bomb and kills his neck. Jeff shows him how to do the move properly. The Hardys wipe out everyone with a ladder clothesline. They both climb for the case, with Jeff almost getting it. Finlay tips them over. Clotheslines for all by Finaly, then Edge comes in and it’s spears for all. CM Punk is last but he leap frogs his spear and Edge eats the corner. Whirly-bird by Punk, a spot a detest. Edge hates it too and spears Punk, taking him out along with Orton and Finaly. Big ladder is pulled out. Edge climbs but Orton pushes it over. Reverse falcon arrow by Jeff Hardy to Randy Orton, and he preps the big ladder. BUT WAIT~!! Instead of trying to win the match, Matt puts Edge on the ladder prepped between the ring and the apron and Jeff drops a leg on him off the twenty-footer onto Edge. Both guys sell it like death. I’m sure it felt like it. Replays confirm it’s brutality. JBL is freaking out on commentary on how dumb Jeff is. Match stops for like three or four minutes, then comes back with Orton hitting RKOs on everyone. Orton preps the ladder and climbs but it wasn’t even under the case. Ugh. Punk does the same thing, and it’s even further away from the case.

This is one of the major things I hate about ladder matches, doing spots that involve the ladder anywhere that doesn’t make sense in the context of winning the match. In this case, Orton needed more room to hit an RKO off the top of the ladder. Fans pop, I could care less. Booker up and he hits the Bookend on Orton off the top. He positions the ladder under the case, but Matt stops him. Sharmell in to stop Matt, so he holds her hostage by threatening to hit the Twist of Fate on her. Booker gets down (JBL freaks out again on commentary) and eats the Twist of Fate himself. Matt climbs but Finaly tips him over and Matt takes a fairly sick bump off of it. Finaly is bleeding from the top of the head and over his eye. Celtic Cross to Matt on the Ladder, which hurt Finaly as much as Matt. Finlay tries to recover but is out of it, so Hornswaggle comes in and offers to get the case for him. As he gets to the top, Kennedy finally shows up to wipe out Finlay and climb. Hornswaggle slaps Kennedy a few times, only to eat the Green Bay Plunge off the ladder. Finaly wipes out Kennedy and climbs, but Punk dropkicks him off the ladder. Punk climbs, but Kennedy stops him. Kennedy gets knocked off, but lances Punk in the face with another ladder. Kennedy climbs and gets the briefcase to a huge face pop.
*** Some pretty cool spots ruined by horrible pacing and your average nonsensical ladder match shit. In my opinion, having a nearly four-minute long break in the middle of a match with eight people is stupid. I get that they were trying to emphasize that Edge was hurt and that it was important to sell it, but come on. It’s a ladder match. Fans don’t want or need the time to digest the biggest spot in the match. They want more. And I’m so sick of spots that makes the wrestlers look retarded. “Oh, I’ll climb for the briefcase by putting the ladder six feet away from it.” It’s illogical and telegraphs spots that should be more spontaneous. That said, I liked the big spot by Jeff Hardy (which was more spontaneous then previous Jeff Hardy big drops from Wrestlemanias past), the strings of finishing moves hit and the unique ways they were used in the match. The fans are happy and it was a good way to open the show.

And it’s Wrestlemania so we eat up time by showing the stuff from the premier of the Condemned. Every person who ordered this show already saw this shit for weeks on end on Raw, Smackdown, and ECW.  Speaking of the Condemned… I actually thought it was okay.  Certainly better then half the shit that passes for action movies these days.

Meanwhile, Kennedy brags up winning Money in the Bank and threatens to cash it in at any time. Unless of course he gets injured, but what are the odds on that happening. It’s not like he’s injured every two weeks or anything. Heh heh, no worries.

Match #2
The Great Khali vs. Kane

Kill me. Even the pyro doesn’t give a shit, as part of the flaming pentagram that was part of Kane’s entrance doesn’t work right. JR says this should be a hard hitting match. Yeah right. Kane gets knocked over a couple times by Khali. Kane tries to punch him down but ends up getting thrown to the ground. Hangman by Kane but it still doesn’t work. Clothesline by Khali, who always looks like he’s going to trip over his own feet. Scoopslam by Khali, who grabs a nerve pinch. Wow, almost two minutes in. Time for a rest hold. Punches and headbutts by Khali and some kicks in the corner. Backelbow that was embarrassingly weak by Khali, then a blatant choke. Kane avoids a charge or sorts and punches Kane in the corner. Khali casually swats him off. Splash in the corner by Kane and the flying clothesline but it still doesn’t knock Khali down. Big boot causes Khali to get tied up in the ropes, Andre the Giant style. Kane throws a ton of punches at Khali. Jim Ross: “Kane delivers straight right hands to the unprotected… and rather ugly head… of the Great Khali.” The fat man who’s face is paralyzed by Bells Palsy said that. Kane grabs a hook on a chain like his character in See No Evil, presumably to murder Khali. Khali decides that selling death would be too complicated and hits the big brain chop to the knock Khali down. He rips one of the turn buckle pads off, but Kane crotches him using the chain. LOOK AT THIS… HE SLAMMED HIM! Sorry, channeling Wrestlemania 3 there. Kane scoopslams Khali and goes for the chokeslam, but it’s not going to work. Tree slam by Khali finishes. .
*1/2 Honestly it wasn’t that bad. Not great or anything, but considering my low expectations it went about as good as it could have.

After the match, Khali strangles Kane with a chain.

Meanwhile, Cryme Tyme tries to cheer up Eugene, who had his head shaved on Raw by Vince McMahon, with strippers… excuse me, WWE Divas. Eugene ignores them and heads towards Mae Young and Moolah, making her final Wrestlemania apperence. He’s joined by Slick, Dusty Rhodes, IRS, Jimmy Hart, Jerry Brisco, Sgt. Slaughter, Ricky Steamboat, Ron Simmons, and on and on.

Hey, speaking of strangulation…

Match #3: United States Championship
(c) Chris Benoit vs. MVP

Benoit’s final Wrestlemania before he went cookoo for cocopuffs. Long lockup, then Benoit takes him down with a head scissors. MVP counters with a cross-leg breaker, then floats over into a headlock. Shoulderblock by MVP, then Benoit goes for a german suplex. MVP blocks it and dumps Benoit to the floor. Benoit back in and MVP jaws in his face, so Benoit quickly takes him down and tries to put on a sharpshooter, then the crossface, but MVP blocks both and gets to the ropes. Benoit with another takedown but MVP counters again and gets a fireman’s carry into a headlock, but Benoit turns it into an armbar. We get a rope break. I can’t stress enough how good JBL is at putting over MVP here on commentary. MVP charges in the corner but runs into an elbow. Benoit puts MVP on the top rope and tries for a superplex, but MVP dives off the top and to the floor, taking Benoit’s arm out of his socket. Snapmare by MVP and a kick to the back gets two. Benoit ducks a clothesline and Benoit fires off three germans. He climbs but MVP catches him and fires off superplex, but Benoit catches his feet around MVP’s legs causes a pin attempt for two. MVP posts Benoit and rolls him up for two. Back suplex gets two and two. Keylock which looks relatively weak, but at least it’s not a chinlock. MVP shoots him off and fires off a big boot, but Benoit holds onto the ropes. Benoit then charges but MVP fires off the boot again and it hits. Awesome stuff. MVP goes for a slam but Benoit takes him down and goes for the crossface. MVP fights off his attempt and smacks him down. Scoopslam by MVP and the free throw elbow gets two. Running boot in the corner misses and Benoit fires off a few more germans. MVP blocks a third one and goes for his own german suplex, but then shoots him off instead. Benoit spins around him and fires off three more germans. Big pop for that. Eight germans in one match though, jesus christ. Forget about what he did to his family for a second. Benoit had neck fusion surgery. Someone should have really discouraged him from firing off that many germans in one match. He did that ALL THE TIME. It’s amazing he could still walk. Benoit climbs and fires off the flying headbutt… for the pin. Fans did not see that working and go quiet for the ending for a second, then pop. Funny stuff.
***1/2 Pretty good match.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump demands Boogeyman get him some food. “What a place this is” says Trump with about as much enthusism as a guy who loses a bar bet and is forced to saw off his pinky toe.  How I miss that toe.

Match #4: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Batista vs. The Undertaker

Wow, really? They’re below the ECW match on the card? And the women’s championship match with the talentless Ashley in it? Well, I guess the idea behind it was Shawn Michaels should be in the main event because he’s the best ever and all that, and besides, everyone knows what the *real* main event is… the one with Vince McMahon standing at ringside. Both Batista and Undertaker were furious about the placement on the card, and rightfully so. It makes their championship match seem bush league. On a side note, I absolutely LOVED the Undertaker’s entrance here, and wish that miserable talentless fuckwit producer Kevin Dunn had decided to focus on it. Of course, Dunn is a total knuckledragging retard and spent most of the time focusing on Batista’s face. Still, I loved the fact that they killed all the lowers LCD screens and titantrons and made it look like Undertaker was walking out of a door from nowhere. Reminded me of the Twilight Zone.

Batista slugs it out in the corner to start, apparently never having watched an Undertaker match. Undertaker has had approximately 5,000,000 matches in the WWE. In 4,999,995 of them, someone tried to slug it out in the corner with him to start, only to get reversed and slung into the corner themselves. Sure enough, Batista is tossed into the corner and punched around. It’s right up there with trying to powerbomb Billy Kidman. I’ve seen guys who have never attempted a powerbomb in their career suddenly decide to give it a whirl while matched up against a guy who apparently is an expert in reversing powerbombs. What the fuck? Was there some kind of bet going in the back… you pay $5 and have to land a powerbomb on Kidman, with the first person actually doing it collecting the entire pot or something?

Or perhaps it was something more sinister. Perhaps Kidman was working with the reptilian people and the Illumanti secret government, using floride in water to somehow hypnotize his opponents into trying a powerbomb on him. Having spent his entire training learning the ancient secrets of powerbomb reversal handed down from the Knights Templar, Kidman needed to insure that even those who had never attempted a powerbomb in their life try so then, because it proved that the New World Order (not the Hall/Nash/Hogan variety) has succeeded in their plan for world domination.


*technical difficulties*

Hi, this is Charlie Reneke. For real. The proceeding rant was just a joke. There is no global conspiracy. The reptilian overlords are our friends and do not exist. The Illuminati does not even watch WWE (they prefer MMA) and would never train anyone in the art of countering any move. Besides, they don’t exist either. I will try to be more professional in the future. I will restart the review of this match now.

Batista slugs away at Undertaker in the corner, but Undertaker reverses and slugs it out himself which in no way was part of the master plan by our reptilian overlords who do not exist. Batista actually reverses Undertaker again and shoulderblocks him in the corner to huge boos. Shoot to the opposite corner and a clothesline, then another that dumps Taker to the floor. Huge heat on Batista for everything he does. Undertaker drags Batista to the floor and slugs it out, but Batista slams him around. Batista slings him into the stairs and Taker takes a nasty bump off of it. Batista throws him in the ring and climbs. He actually hits a flying shoulderblock off the top for two. Funny enough, the crowd is so cold to Batista that they don’t react at all to what is a shocking move for him to pull off. Big boot by Taker but Batista bounces off of it then explodes with a clothesline for two. This match just got going and it’s already kicking all kinds of ass. Totally non-traditional style Undertaker match. Scoopslam by Batista. Rapid fire punches by Undertaker, but Batista slugs it out back. The crowd does that hilarious “YEAH!” “BOO!” stuff. Big running splash in the corner by Taker, then another. Snake eyes and the running big boot totally connects. Fans are nuts for Undertaker. Legdrop gets two. Rope walk hits for Undertaker, and he calls for the chokeslam, but Batista fights it off and knees him in the gut. Taker botches a flying clothesline a bit but hitting Batista with his full body and almost not completing the flip on it. That could have ended badly. It wasn’t horrible looking or anything. To the floor, Batista gets rammed into the stairs, then elbowed in the throat on the apron. Legdrop on the apron makes Batista slide to the floor in a nice looking spot. No hands plancha, perhaps the best looking one of Undertaker’s career, hits big time. I fucking love this match. Taker slams him into the guardrail, then breaks up the count. Batista reverses a whip on the floor and sends Undertaker through a bunch of chairs and into the time keeper’s table, nearly killing Lillian Garcia in the process. Batista plays his role as an animal perfectly, prepping the table in brutal fashion, wiping out announcers and cameramen tossing shit around. I mean, when the table prepping is awesome, you know you have something special going. He preps two tables, and I’m all set to deduct points for telegraphing a powerbomb attempt that’s countered into a backdrop through a table. Instead, Batista hoists Taker up on his shoulder and jumps off one table, powerslamming Undertaker through another. This match is kicking all kinds of ass. Batista fetches Undertaker and rolls him in the ring for two. Batista is seriously freaking out. He loads up the powerbomb but Taker drives him into the corner and hits some big reverse elbows. Taker tries to whip Batista into the corner but gets caught in a belly to belly suplex for two. Ten punch by Batista which is of course countered into the wedgie bomb for two. Another spot that was done in every match since Taker started using the move. But again, the reptillian overlords are your friends and don’t exist. Spinebuster by Batista and he’s seriously spazzing out. Taker ducks a clothesline and hits a chokeslam for two. Taker calls for the end and goes for the tombstone, but Batista hits a spear and the loaded powerbomb… for two. Nobody really bought it as the finish, and that’s the problem with the winning streak. In theory, the fans should be worried that it’s going to end. Instead, they just buy every Undertaker match at Wrestlemania as a foregone conclusion. Batista goes for a powerslam but Taker tosses him into the turnbuckle and hits the tombstone piledriver for the pin and the title.
****3/4 Awesome match, lacking a something I can’t quite put my finger on to make it perfect. They seem to have lost their steam during the finishing sequence, and that might be it. And by the way, this is an example of making the best of a bad situation. NOBODY thought this match would be any good going into it, including those who put together the match order for this show. Instead of sulking or dogging it, Batista and Undertaker tore the house down to show them the error of their ways. Upon returning to the back, Batista said “FOLLOW THAT!” to anyone who was present, including Shawn Michaels. Shawn is of course famous for saying that same line.

Meanwhile, Stephanie and Vince have a moment with her kid, complete with impossible “from the baby’s point of view” camera. Vince’s baby talking about all the bad stuff he’s going to do to Donald Trump is hilarious.

Match #5
Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, & Rob Van Dam vs. Marcus Cor Von, Kevin Thorn, Matt Striker, & Elijah Burke

Within months, everyone on the ECW Originals team would be gone from the company, except Tommy Dreamer. Today, only Dreamer is still active in the WWE, and Matt Striker too if you count announcers. Amazing how quickly ECW became… not ECW. Sabu starts with Matt Striker. Three straight springboard moves get one for Sabu. Sandman gets the tag and drops a leg off the top for two. Burke tags in only to eat a shitty looking armdrag from Sandman. Tag to Dreamer and a double elbow to Burke. Ariel distracts the ref, allowing the heels on the apron to wipe him out. Tag to Marcus Cor… fuck it… Monty Brown, who brawls Dreamer into the corner and slugs it out. Butterfly suplex and a tag to Burke for a double teamed backdrop. Burke hits the flying knee in the corner for two as Sabu saves. Tag to Thorn who gets a clothesline, then hooks in a chinlock. It’s a fucking eight man tag match and we’re doing a chinlock? Dreamer tries to fight back but runs into a modified thunder bomb for two. Tag to Monty who kicks away then fires off a vertical suplex with a float over for two. Then back to the chinlock. Again, it’s an eight-man tag match, and even if it only lasts a few seconds, it’s still a rest hold. Monty goes for a slam but Dreamer flips around to hook in a reverse DDT. Burke runs in to stop it but Dreamer hooks in one on him as well and nails both at the same time. Not as cool as it sounds. Tag to Striker, hot tag to RVD. He kicks Striker around and climbs, but instead of five-starring him, he hits a flying kick to Thorn. Monkey flip and rolling thunder to Striker but Brown pulls him out and hits a clothesline on the floor. Sabu hits a suicide plancha… that almost was suicide as Sabu basically landed on the back of his neck doing it. What a fucking nut. Both Tazz and Joey Styles cringe and laugh under their breath. Dreamer in with a DDT to Striker. Dreamer celebrates a little too soon and Burke dumps him. Sandman with a cactus clothesline taking both to the floor. In the ring, five star frogsplash to Striker finishes.
** Not bad, would have gone higher if not for the chinlocks or if the heels had any decent offense. Quite frankly, Striker and Thorn weren’t ready for pay per view at this point.

Match #6: The *REAL* Main Event
Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga
Special Referee: Steve Austin
Special Stipulation: If Umaga wins, Donald Trump shaves his head. If Lashley wins, Vince McMahon shaves his head.
Special Education: The class those that thought Umaga would win attended.

The barber’s chair gets it’s own entrance, with theme music and entrance video. I can’t believe how much time they spent building this match. Big “THIS IS STUPID” sign is seen right at ringside. Couldn’t agree more. Jim Ross talks about all the media at ringside. They’re all wearing WWE T-Shirts and look surprisingly like other photographers that are usually present at pay per views… but I guess WWE employees with cameras count as the media. Trump gets basically no reaction from the crowd, despite the fact that actual money is raining down from the ceiling. Well, not a LOT of money, but what’s there are $100 bills.

I’m actually kind of sickened that some smart wrestling fans were hyped for this. The ending was a foregone conclusion and although Umaga proved himself to be more then capable in the ring after his series with John Cena, Lashley had not yet had anything resembling a decent match. Granted, I was wrong about Undertaker vs. Batista, but those were two guys with experience in delivering good matches in these type of situations. Additionally, Donald Trump had proven himself to not exactly be someone wrestling fans related to. He didn’t carry himself like a huge fan of the business or someone with a vested interest in the shows he appeared on. Nobody bought for one second he was shaving his head. I understand that he gave his fee for appearing here to charity, and that’s admirable, but ultimately it did nothing for the show. Wrestlemania is always the top drawing pay per view of the year for the company, but even non-wrestling fans and the most dense of marks didn’t believe for one second that Trump was losing. Any non-fan who might have wanted to see Trump bald wasn’t going to pony up $50 to sit and watch professional wrestling. They could have waited for highlights to be shown on Inside Edition or Entertainment Tonight or something. Of course, once Trump was spared from the clippers those shows had no intrest in showing McMahon get cut, because Vince McMahon isn’t that big a deal outside of wrestling. If the WWE wanted post-show coverage from mainstream programming, they should have found someone willing to shave their head and cut a check. There are not a lot of ways for WWE to get mainstream coverage. If you exclude a former world champion going nuts and murdering his family there are even fewer.

When the WWE was at it’s height of popularity, they landed big time stars. Mr. T when he was at his most popular. Cyndi Lauper when she was at her most popular. The WWE has since progressively gotten behind the curve. They’ve used athletes like Lawrence Taylor and Floyd Mayweather who didn’t move the numbers, even if the matches delivered better then one would hope. They’ve used ring announcers like Burt Reynolds who gets drunk and slurs out the introductions, or valets who don’t show up to participate in the angles leading to the show like Pamala Anderson. Hell, the one time in recent years they got a star to participate, it was Drew Carey and it wasn’t planned ahead of time. He entered the Royal Rumble with no build prior to the event. I’ve heard they paid him only marginally and the whole thing was thrown together on the day of the show, but it still makes my point. WWE is not like WCW. If given access to the proper celebrities, they likely could give them a decent angle and not turn the whole business into a parody like WCW did with Jay Leno or Master P. WWE proved I’m right this year with Mickey Rourke. The only problem is Rourke backed out. If he had agreed, they clearly had the best celebrity angle they’ve ever done, even if he only did one or two Raws leading up to the big show. I’m not against celebrity angles. Hell, I want to see them. Because I trust the WWE to not botch them. If the Donald Trump angle sucked, it’s because it had Donald Trump in it, who wasn’t going to wrestle nor was he going to shave his head and everyone knew it. His presence is not going to increase buy-rates because he’s just going to stand around. People can see him do more then that for free on NBC.

So the solution to the celebrity problem is two fold: one, the WWE needs to spend money, and two, also spend it wisely. I for one actually liked the Mayweather angle even if the WWE botched the babyface/heel aspects of the feud. But the problem is the only person who Mayweather would appeal to is boxing fans, and those boxing fans who did not watch wrestling before are not going to order a show to see him in a fake match. They are more likely to spend their pay per view money on their sport of choice: boxing. So the WWE spent a lot of money on Mayweather when he had basically no chance of moving the needle up. The WWE could have spent the money elsewhere. Here’s an idea: actors are shaving their heads all the time for movie roles. The WWE should call up as many Hollywood agents as possible and put the word out that if there’s an actor doing so for a part, the WWE will pay them a couple million bucks to do a one-month long angle with the WWE, amounting to four total appearances on their program and climaxing with them getting their head shaved. Pie in the sky you say? I say that if the price is right, I bet they find a lot of people receptive to it. If the WWE wants main-stream attention, they’re going to have to find an actor who’s willing to get his ass kicked or get humiliated by the company. Someone more mainstream then Jackass actors or sports stars. I have hope, I really do.

Back to the match. Lashley gets a modest reaction from the crowd. He wanders around the stage like he can’t decide what to do or where to stand for his pyro. I hear he’s a nice guy but I really don’t think he was cut out for wrestling. It’s for that reason that I think he’s found a good home in TNA, which I would actually describe as ‘wrestling’ these days, as opposed to wrestling without the sarcastic quotes.  Lashey’s biggest problems in the WWE were proper selling and charisma.  Well in TNA, selling is totally optional, and the company is run by Jeff Jarrett, who is as far removed from charismatic as Bret Hart is from reality.  That would be pretty far for you especially thick readers out there.

Anyway, just to show you how bad off this match is, the guest referee enters last.

After over sixteen minutes of recap videos and entrances, we finally get to what we’ve been waiting for: stalling. Actually, they don’t stall for long, as both guys slug it out, with Lashley slugging away in the corner and Umaga already looking gassed. Austin pulls Lashley off of Umaga. Umaga misses a splash in the corner and Lashley hits a shoulderblock off the top for two as Umaga get a foot on the rope. Horrible beginning to the match, as they’re already doing what should be considered big spots and getting no reaction for them. Lashley drags Estrada into the ring, cigars flying everywhere, and powerslams him. Umaga charges at Lashley only to get low-bridged. Umaga tumbles over the top and lands on his back in a sick bump. Umaga shows concern for Estrada but McMahon tells him to get back in the ring. Lashley brawls Umaga around but gets side-stepped on a charge, flying between the ropes and out of the ring in another sick bump that was used way too early. Back in, Umaga hits a big splash for two. Blatant choke on the ropes, then another so Austin pulls him off by the hair. Sick looking clothesline by Umaga likely tweeked Lashley’s jaw. No follow up to it, as Umaga paces the ring. Umaga drops his weight on Lashley a few times. Bobby tries to fight back, drawing some boos as the fans are more intrested in seeing Trump lose his hair (another flaw with the angle), but Umaga hits a Samoan Drop for… nothing as again he doesn’t cover. Jesus christ, what a poorly structured match. Lashley goes for a slam but Umaga falls on top for two. McMahon on the ring apron, only for Lashley to knock him off. McMahon can’t even bump off of it. What a disaster this match is. Umaga takes Lashley down with a clutch face buster. Again, no cover. Instead, Umaga walks around a bit and climbs, but Lashley catches him and tosses him off. Running forearm knocks Umaga head over heels, Mr. Perfect style. Austin goes to count both guys out but stops at nine. Another horrible spot. These guys haven’t even done that much to warrant a double KO spot that would be good enough for a ten count. Words cannot describe what a disaster this match has turned into. BUT WAIT~!! Shane McMahon is out to check on his dad. Well, at least someone is here who knows how to have a decent match, other then the referee of course. Umaga slugs Lashley around. Blatant choke but Austin pulls him off by the eye socket. Shane McMahon enters the ring, causing Austin to chase him off. He turns around only to eat the taped thumb. Shane comes in to punch Lashley around. Lashley tries to fight back but Umaga cuts him off. McMahon is too his feet and it’s three on one. Donald Trump is just sitting around watching while this shit goes down. Shane sets Lashley up with a garbage can in the corner and hits the Van Terminator. Trump just watches. Shouldn’t he have logically shook the ropes or something? Nope. Shane then takes off his shirt to reveal a referee’s uniform. Austin apparently still selling the taped thumb. Umaga climbs and hits a big splash off the top, and Shane does a normal count, for two. So if Shane is the evil heel referee who’s father’s hair is on the line, why not just do a fast count? Austin of course pulls him out before he gets to three and tosses Shane into the stairs. Austin gets hit in the throat by Umaga. Finally, Trump gets involved by spearing McMahon down and punching him. In the ring, Umaga goes for the thumb on Austin again, but instead eats the KICK WHAM ROYAL RUMBLE SPECIAL EDITION STUNNER~!! on Umaga.

For those of you that don’t know, the ROYAL RUMBLE SPECIAL EDITION STUNNER~!! is what I call it when Steve Austin gives someone the stunner only for the guy who eats it to instantly pop up to a standing position.  It’s called that because Austin used this move a few times over the course of various Royal Rumbles.  I don’t mind it, but I wish the announcers had  put over what a technical marvel Austin must be to know exactly how to use the move and cause his opponents to spring right up to their feet so Austin can quickly dump them over the ropes instead of having to dead-lift up their lifeless body to eliminate them.  Clearly Austin trained for years to perfect this move, as by the 2001 and especially 2002 Royal Rumbles, he was able to use it on all wrestlers great and small.  No doubt taught to him by those sneaky lizard overlords.  Damn them!

Wait, why use the Royal Rumble stunner? Ah, so Lashley could spear him for the pin. And just to complete this colossal abortion of a match, the bell rings before Austin finishes the count, ringing on two. Wow. That really says it all.
DUD One of the very worst Wrestlemania matches of all time. A total lack of psychology and pacing combined with a horrible match structure and some really badly conceived spots. Even the two big bumps at the start were not worth a crap because they were used too soon. Umaga and Lashley had no chemistry together. So naturally there were a dozen or so televised rematches.

After the match, Shane eats a stunner. Austin, Lashley, and Trump celebrate instead of grabbing McMahon. He casually starts to walk away, but Lashley catches him. Jim Ross marvels how a young, fit man could catch sixty-something Vince McMahon. KICK WHAM STUNNER~! to Vince McMahon and it’s time to put him in the chair. He’s strapped into the chair. And I’ll be damned, the clippers actually work. And hell, they don’t just use clippers, they use actual razors to go all the way to the scalp. Vince uses a pathetically fake cry. He’s actually quiet lucky to have not gotten any shaving cream in his eye. Of course, they could have had a towel to wipe the shit off his face. As Vince pathetically walks away, Donald Trump eats a KICK WHAM STUNNER~! He has no idea how to take it and clearly didn’t practice, so he takes the bump on his knees. Austin laughs it off. Fans want to pop but really can’t because it looks so bad. Lawler notes that every hair is still in place.

Match #7: Women’s Championship, Lumberjack Match
(c) Melina vs. Ashley

This was pretty much the high point of Ashley’s career. Having gotten into the WWE by winning the Diva Search, She ended up being cast on Survivor: China. The only way she could have embarrassed the company more is if she had killed her family. Second voted off, after showing no athletic ability and being pretty much as lazy and unmotivated as possible. Then again, that’s pretty much what she was like when she wrestled. Needless to say, she was gone from the WWE shortly after the show aired. I actually had high hopes for her as a wrestler as she seemed to have had a good time while she was out there and she was hot… at least when she first started. I lost intrest around the time she started wearing the lip rings. That’s one thing I never got about girls. I don’t get how it’s supposed to be attractive. It makes you look retarded. Like someone with downs syndrome was handed a staple gun for shits and giggles and the lip piercing was the result.

To the match. Ashley mounts some horrible looking punches to start. Melina bails but is tossed back in the ring where Ashley hits a horrible looking school boy for two. Melina slings her into the ropes and then chokes with a foot. Ashley fights back with some more crappy punches. She does her own choke with the foot, and even that manages to look bad. Melina slings her off the ropes then does a helicopter spin by her feet for two. Bow and arrow by Melina. She releases and shoots off Ashley, who hits a fairly weak looking head scissors. She jumps up on Melina and takes a few seconds to set up a monkey flip. She hits it, then goes for her finisher, an elbow off the second rope, but misses. Ashley is so bad and so slow that everything she does is like she’s wading through sand. Shoot off that looks horrible, with Ashley not even knowing how to hit the ropes. Ashley with a roll-up for two, only for Melina to roll through it for the pin. Ashley shows poor sportsmanship after the match, and things break down into a big fight, with only Melina managing to escape. Ugh.
DUD Amazing they could follow up one contender for worst Wrestlemania match ever with another. Actually, it was even worse, as there was not one redeeming factor about it besides being short.

Disc Two time, which shows the unskippable “don’t try this at home” shit again. Come on, we already saw that on the first disc. If people didn’t get the message then, they won’t get it now.

Match #8: WWE Champonship
(c) John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels

This could very well be the last time Shawn Michaels main events Wrestlemania. Shawn comes out to the DX theme, with very little pomp and circumstance. They could have tried to get a live band or something. He’s not even wearing DX colors mind you. Hell, his pyro doesn’t even turn out so good. Still, after such a lame entrance, the fans don’t care. They *hate* John Cena and he’s about to be given holy hell. Cena gets the a pretty sick entrance in a Ford Mustang, drifting around the streets of Detroit as he makes his way towards the arena, driving through a sheet of glass to finish. Fans to this day bitch that it wasn’t Cena really driving the car. Well no shit. Hell, it *might* have been him. He does collect muscle cars. But the windows were tinted so obviously it wasn’t him. Or it was. Who cares? It’s a show where people get paid to pretend to fight each other. Anyway, Cena was on a big hot streak here. Despite the hatred for him among smart fans, he was constantly having the best match on the show, even against opponents like Umaga. Anyone who says Cena was carried, I would like to point out that he got not one, but TWO good (relatively speaking) matches out of the Great Khali. Suck on that. Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels always brings the goods in these big matches (unless Triple H is involved it would seem). Needless to say, I was hyped to hell over this. By the way, these guys were the tag team champions here. 59% of the fans apparently picked Cena to win, to Shawn’s 41%. I was hoping the WWE would use these statistics to put Michaels over.

To the match, as Shawn manages to take out Cena right off the bat with a big punch. Michaels beats Cena to the punch again and chops him down. Shawn talks trash, basically saying he has his number. Shawn rings Cena’s arm then gets a headlock takedown for two. Michaels traps his arm with it. Cena gets a clothesline off a shoot off, drawing HUGE boos. Shawn gets up only for Cena to bounces off the ropes and get a shoulderblock. Thesz Press by Michaels and some mounted punches. Shawn gets side stepped and dump to the apron, where he hangs him up and hiptosses Cena to the floor. Enziguri by Michaels on the floor. Michaels fires off an Asai Moonsault, connecting with Cena but still landing on the table. Same move he did against Ric Flair the next year, but not nearly as sick looking. Back in, Shawn slowly fires off some chops and punches. Shoot to the corner, where Cena tries to get a foot up. Michaels catches it and elbows his knee. Shawn smells blood and starts to work the knee like a dirty mofo. Shawn rings the knee on the post, then continues to work it. He chopblocks the leg, then drops his weight on it. I haven’t watched this match since it aired and I don’t remember any of this knee stuff. Shawn ties up Cena’s leg in the ropes to torque at it. Cena tries to punch at Shawn but can’t move fast enough to do it, and Shawn goes back to the knee. Fans weren’t expecting any of this and kind of die a bit. Shawn goes to do something to Cena’s leg, but seems to draw a blank and chops instead. Cena slugs a bit, with the fans booing every attempt at offense from Cena, whether it hits or not. Big punch by Cena knocks Michaels down, oversold by Shawn like he did against Hulk Hogan. Shawn comes back with a shoulder block in the corner and more punching. They’ve been in the corner for a few minutes now, and the pace is practically at nothing right now. Cena with another big punch that sends Michaels flying. Shawn tries for a shoulderblock again, only this time it misses and he hits the ring post. Shawn is bleeding from that. Clothesline by Cena and some mounted punches to huge heel heat. Hell, even Cena is acting kind of heelish in his mannerisms. Shawn goes for a clothesline but Cena turns it into the protoplex. The way Cena is acting now proves to me that he’s cast in the wrong role. Fans want to hate this guy, so why fight it? He could be the biggest heel act the industry has seen since the golden era. Cena goes for the FU, but Shawn wiggles out and chops at him. Cena reverses a whip and send Shawn up and own into the corner. Michaels ducks a clothesline and goes for the superkick, but misses and hits the referee instead. FU attempt by Cena is turned into a DDT by Shawn and it’s a double KO spot. We spill out to the floor where Shawn hits a SICK piledriver on the steel stairs. Just nasty. The back of Cena’s head is cut. The sick fuck bladed the top of his head. Shawn calls for another referee and covers, but it gets two. Cena reverses a whip only for Shawn to move into the flying forearm, nipup, and flying elbow. He took way too long in firing off the elbow. You know, I’m a big Shawn Michaels fan but I’ve noticed he sometimes has a tendency to stall too much in his matches and slow down the pace with the punch trading spots. I figured it was something just him and Triple H did, but I’m notcing it here too. This is still a WAY better match then the last man standing or hell in a cell matches with Trips, but nowhere near as good as I remember it. Shawn tunes up the band but Cena blasts him with a high clothesline. They trade punches and Cena goes for the FU but Michaels turns it into a rollup for two. Michaels shoots off Cena and tries to leapfrog him, but Cena catches him and FUs him to huge boos. It’s a double KO spot. Cena finally covers and it gets two. Cena to the corner and he goes for the FU off the top, but Shawn knocks him off. He goes for a crossbody off the top but Cena rolls through it and goes for the FU. Shawn flips out of that but Cena then goes for the STFU. Shawn keeps fighting that off it. Cena gets his leg around to set it up but Shawn gets a small package for two. Fans bought that as a potential finish. Shawn misses an enziguri and Cena locks in the STFU. Shawn grabs the ropes. Jim Ross spouts out “The crowd loves it, because it means the match will continue.” No, they love it because they hate John Cena and want to see him lose. The ref has to pull Cena off, only for Shawn to hit sweet chin music… and collapse. Shawn slowly starts to crawl over and cover for the pin, and by time he makes it there the fans no longer buy it as a potential end for the match. When will they ever learn with this shit? I’m not suggesting they go the TNA route and have guys kick out of finishers non-stop, but sometimes it calls for it. It’s another double KO spot and the ref almost counts both guys down. Both guys are using each other to stand. Cena out of nowhere snatches Shawn up for the FU, with Shawn wiggling out only to instantly get caught in the STFU in the center of the ring, and Shawn taps.
*** I’m actually embarassed about how much I sung the praises for this match when it first aired. I was calling it in the high four stars, maybe five stars. NOT EVEN CLOSE. All the psychology with the knee went nowhere and was ultimately no-sold by the end of the match. All the hot finishing move sequences were drowned out by the slow brawling or multiple double KO spots. I think this would officially count as a ‘wank fest’ as Scott Keith calls it. Not as bad as the wank fests of the Triple H vs Shawn Michaels variety, but still kind of yawn inducing during parts. These guys would cut out the bullshit slow-motion stuff three weeks later on Raw and end up having what was, in my opinion, a five star match and the best Raw match ever.

As for why I was so high on this match the first time I saw it, I’ll chalk it up to Star Wars Episode One syndrome. Star Wars nerds were so hyped for it that there was no way it could let them down. I remember watching Phantom Menance with my friend Mark, a confirmed Star Wars freak, and wondering what the fuck he was watching that was so incredible. I personally never liked the Star Wars movies, and couldn’t believe they had somehow gotten worse after being away for sixteen years. Meanwhile, Mark loved every “magical bacteria” and “intergalatic senate” moment of it. I thought he was an idiot. Years later, he admitted to me how awful it was. Likewise, I was so hyped for Michaels/Cena that there was no way it could let me down at the time. And now it’s gone all Phantom Menace on me. I feel like crying.

BOTTOM LINE: After the epic letdown that was Shawn/Cena, we’re left with what is basically a one-match card. Taker/Batista does bring the goods and carry the entire show. I remember thinking that anyone who said it was the match of the show at the time was nuts. Wow, was I ever wrong. The ladder match is just okay. Benoit/MVP is pretty good if you can stomach watching it these days. Everything else is medicore or worse. In the case of Lashley/Umaga or Ashley/Melina, among the worst the series has ever seen. I’m sure Taker/Batista will find it’s way to DVD in some other form, but for now I’ll give a very, very mild thumbs up to the show. Though I might advise you to have the fast-forward button on standby after the World Heavyweight Championship match.

On a side note, you get the 2007 Hall of Fame ceremony with it, though I consider it to be the weakest entry in it since the Hall of Fame stuff was brought back in 2004. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no Koko B. Ware on it or anything. It’s just not as entertaining overall. The class of 2007 had Nick Bockwinkle, the Wild Samoans, the original Sheik, Mr. Fuji, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Mr. Perfect, and Dusty Rhodes.  Skip it.

Until next time, for god’s sake do not try to brawl Undertaker in the corner at the start of a match.  They’re watching…

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,