The WWE has chosen to celebrate
year, another WrestleMania.
That's what the 23 edition of this annual event
felt like to me. See, back in the day, WrestleMania was an event. Heck,
reviewing WrestleMania III a few months back was like a breath of fresh air.
Sure, some of it might've been nostalgia kicking in, but it seems to me that
Vince is all about flash and repetition nowadays. In fact, watching some of
those segments from the weekly Raw and SmackDown! shows makes me realize how
much time is wasted because we see the same stuff over and over and over again.
That's not to say that Vince gets it wrong all of the time, but his
record doesn't come close to the Undertaker's.
Anyways, in case you didn't know, it's been 20
years since WrestleMania III and there are occasional nods to that show during
23. Since the Pontiac Silverdome is closed, this year's WrestleMania took place
at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on April 1, 2007 and it opens with Aretha Franklin
- a few pounds heavier and delivering
a less impressive performance of "America the Beautiful." The whole
shebang lasts about three ½ hours and is spread across two of the three
discs of this set. Some vignettes and clips from the weekly shows round out the
content on the second disc and the third is set aside for this
year's WWE Hall Of Fame Ceremony, which was originally broadcast as an hour-long
special on the USA network. Here's the rundown:
- History Of Wrestlemania
- Aretha Franklin Sings "America the
Beautiful" - As I stated above, Aretha makes a repeat appearance to
deliver a performance of "America the Beautiful" that is slightly lackluster
in comparison to WMIII.
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] - Vince
wisely(?) chooses to open the festivities with this fantastic match
featuring competitors from all three "brands". On the one hand, it's good to
open a show strong; on the other hand, the rest of the card doesn't inspire
confidence that it'll live up to this match. Thanks to some standout
performances by all the competitors - particularly Matt and Jeff "the Human
Highlight Reel" Hardy, Kennedy, Punk
and Edge - along with a tremendously satisfying ending (though, ultimately
wasted), makes this one of the many great matches in WrestleMania history.
Highlights From the Condemned Premiere -
It's true. It's damn true. Vince has a movie to shill...and here's a promo
telling you how great it is.
- Todd Grisham Interviews the Winner Of
the Money In the Bank Match
- All Grown Up: Batista
- Inter-Promotional Match [Kane vs. Great
Khali] - There was a rumor floating around that Vince made every attempt
to woo back Mr. Hogan to perform in a match reminiscent of the one in WMIII.
Obviously, those talks fell through, and instead of Hogan, we have Kane
taking on the "Great" Khali. Now, I like Kane, but I
don't like Khali. I thought it was a shame that precious time was wasted on this match
instead of giving other wrestlers like, oh...say, Ric Flair his due (more on that later).
All Grown Up: Divas
- Cryme Tyme Dance Party -
A really ridiculous skit that sees the underutilized tag team Cryme Tyme
trying to cheer up Eugene by getting three
divas to dance for him. Yeah, more time wasted. However, we get to see old
favorites like Jimmy Hart, Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young and Ricky "the
Steamboat" Dragon. It's a shame that we don't see more of Ricky.
United States Championship Match [Chris
Benoit vs. MVP] -
Since i'm not a SmackDown! viewer, I don't know too much about MVP. I've
read that he's pretty good in the ring, and I enjoyed his Inferno match
against Kane during last year's Armageddon PPV, but if anyone wants to
"learn the ropes" (so to speak) then it can't get any better than having a
storyline with Chris Benoit - one of the greatest wrestlers ever. MVP's
debut WrestleMania match was a pretty damn good one and, depending on how
long his "feud" lasts with Benoit, he can only get better.
- Undertaker: My Thirst For Vengeance
- Donald Trump Interrupted By Boogeyman -
I like Boogeyman, but Trump is far from my favorite person. However, I did get a
chuckle out of this skit.
- WWE Hall Of Fame: Class Of 2007 - A
recap of the festivities that took place the night before...or on disc three
of this set.
World Heavyweight Championship Match
[Batista vs. Undertaker] -
'Taker enters this match with an undefeated streak of 14-0, so conventional
wisdom says that there's no way Dave has a chance...right? Well, conventional wisdom
and another rumor floating around that this would be 'Taker's final WrestleMania appearance before retiring,
that is. It turns out that this rumor was
false and conventional wisdom...well, I won't spoil that one for you. Let me
just say that this match is the most high-flyingest that i've ever seen
these two and contributed to me enjoying this match slightly more than I
thought I would.
- All Grown Up: Bobby Lashley
- Mr. McMahon Plays With His
Granddaughter - Another McMahon skit that only he finds funny.
ECW Originals vs. the New Breed - Knowing the contempt that Vince seems to possess for ECW, I thought this
would match would be a straight-up squash match that would last half as long
as the women's "match". I have to say that I was most pleasantly surprised, even though the outcome
is worthless since two of
the major participants are no longer with the company.
- All Grown Up: Stone Cold Steve
- Wrestlemania 24 Announcement
- Battle Of the Billionaires: Hair vs.
Hair Match [Special Guest Referee: Stone Cold Steve Austin] [Bobby Lashley
[w/ Donald Trump] vs. Umaga [w/ Mr. McMahon] - Say what you will about
Vince, but this match is a prime example of the lengths he's willing to go
for his company. This is the match that even people who don't watch
wrestling knew about. It's the one where two
I mean, "billionaires", will have to shave their head bald if
the wrestler they chose to represent them loses. You'd be STUPID to think
that the Donald would let ANYONE pull that rug off out in public.
- All Grown Up: John Cena
- Recap From the Tag Team Lumberjack
Match [Ric Flair/Carlito vs. Gregory Helms/Chavo Guerrero] -
Personally, I think it's a travesty that Ric Flair is relegated to what is
essentially the "Heat" or "Velocity" match for WrestleMania. To add insult
to injury, the home viewers (the ones who actually paid $50 for this thing)
are shown a quick recap right before a match that could've been
- WWE Women's Championship Lumberjill
Match [Ashley vs. Melina] - I suppose fans should be grateful this
wasn't a pudding match or some other ridiculous gimmick that Vince likes to
waste valuable time with. Instead, he shoehorns ever diva from all three
shows by making this a "lumberjill" match. Admittedly, the scenery isn't that bad,
but we still have to put up with Melina
and Ashley inside the ring.
- All Grown Up: Shawn Michaels
- WWE Championship Match [Shawn Michaels
vs. John Cena] - Immediately after Michaels' plain 'ol "DX" entrance,
they illustrate the fact that Cena is a force to be reckoned with and
wasn't takin' no mess by having him drive a black Ford Mustang - with tinted
windows and a gold racing stripe down the center of the car - through a sheet
of glass on his way to the ring. That's
enough to make anyone quiver in their boots, i'm sure. Regardless, Michaels
does a great job carrying Cena through most of the match.
Wrestlemania 23 Highlights
The Following extras:
- Ford Field Announced As Site Of
Wrestlemania 23 Countdown: Battle Of the
- Wrestlemania 23 Countdown: John Cena
vs. Shawn Michaels
- Wrestlemania 23 Countdown: Undertaker
- All Grown Up Vignettes: Superstars
All Grown Up Vignettes: Edge
- All Grown Up Vignettes: King Booker
All Grown Up Vignettes: Undertaker
- Wrestlemania 23 Tickets Go On Sale
- Wrestlemania 23 Press Conference -
Trump/McMahon Confrontation -
Present at this conference were Batista, Cena, Ashley, Melina, HBK, Umaga,
Lashley, Austin and Trump's kids. If that doesn't sound like a missed
opportunity for a Battle Royale right there, I don't know what does.
Anyways, this 17 minute clip ends after Trump bitchslaps Vince.
- Stone Cold Steve Austin Announced As
Special Guest Referee [Raw 3/5/07] - After guest appearances by Mick
Foley and Eric Bishoff, Vince learns who the WWE Board voted for "Special
No Way Out Rematch [Undertaker & Batista vs.
John Cena & Shawn Michaels - Raw 3/26/07]
- WWE.com Exclusive [Maria Interviews CM
Punk Before Wrestlemania 23]
- Home Video Exclusive - Tag Team
Lumberjack Match Wrestlemania 23 [Carlito/Ric Flair vs. Gregory Helms/Chavo
Guerrero] - In this home video "exclusive", fans get to see this
(barely eleven minute) dark
match that was probably thrown together after the outspoken Carlito
commented to the Calgary Sun that they were showing disrespect "by not
having Ric Flair at WrestleMania and even more disrespect by not having
Carlito there." "Apparently, they had to make space for Kane vs. Khali and
Melina vs. Ashley." After watching this match, I can help but agree that it
was disrespectful to Flair and that this match should've been longer and a
part of the show. ESPECIALLY considering where they placed the recap -
immediately before the "lumberjill" match.
Bobby Lashley Exposes Mr. McMahon's New
Bald Head [Raw 4/2/07] - This 9 ½ minute clip, we see seven minutes of Vince ranting in the ring, and
the remaining two minutes are spent with Vince trying to hide his bald head
as he's chased around the ring by Lashley.
- Batista Asks Undertaker For A
Rematch [Smackdown! 4/6/07] - During this 10 minute clip from SmackDown!,
we spend two minutes watching the way cool 'Taker promo which recounts his
various wins at WMs through the years, it takes him three minutes to get to
the damn ring, another two minutes for Batista to come out and ask for the
rematch and the remaining time is wasted on a Booker T run-in that's out of
place here since it sets up a storyline that has nothing to do with
WrestleMania and was eventually dropped anyway. Not to mention it features
quite possibly the weakest "Tombstone" i've ever seen.
Disc Three: Disc three contains
the Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony for 2007 in its entirety. I can accept (and
understand) Wade Boggs inducting "Mr. Perfect", but i'm still scratching my head
with the decision to have Shatner induct Lawler. Almost makes as much sense as
Pete Rose being in the Hall, eh?
- Hall Of Fame 2007 Induction Ceremony
- Hall Of Fame Open
- Nick Bockwinkel - Inducted by Bobby
- the Wild Samoans -
Inducted by Samu & Rosey
- the Original Sheik -
Inducted by Sabu & Rob Van Dam
- Mr. Fuji -
Inducted by Don Muraco
- Jim Ross - Inducted by Steve Austin
- Jerry "the King" Lawler -
Inducted by William Shatner
- "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig -
Inducted by Wade Boggs
- Dusty Rhodes - Inducted by his sons
Cody & Dustin.
Quality: With my HDTV setup and upconverting DVD player, WrestleMania
23's picture didn't look any better than the usual WWE DVD does. However, it
also didn't look any worse - so I guess it was a wash. The usual suspects still
rear their ugly heads, but it's to be expected by now. Let's hope Vince takes
the HD leap sooner than later.
Audio Quality: WrestleMania 23 is presented in
a crystal clear Dolby
Digital 5.1 track that
enveloped my living room while I was watching it.
Viewers are also given the option of watching the disc in Spanish.
Conclusion: While the 23rd edition of WrestleMania
didn't seem like anything special to me, the real gem in this set is the 2007
Hall Of Fame Ceremony. Even though I felt the execution of the event itself
wasn't all that thrilling and only worthy of a Rent It rating, the WWE
has delivered another outstanding presentation of their product worthy of a
Highly Recommended rating. I know that hardcore, die-hard WWE
fans/collectors will most assuredly buy this without question, but for those on
the fence, i'll average it out and give it a Recommended rating for the
HOF Ceremony and the usual sterling DVD presentation by WWE Home Video.