Monday 19 March 2018

WWE Wrestlemania 23 Review

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Hello and welcome to another edition of Seanomanic’s Wrestling Reviews, the only wrestling review series on the internet that would never name a battle royal after Fabulous Moolah! It’s Wrestlemania 23 time, I thought I would give the classics a rest and keep moving forward as I look through WWE from where I had last left off. So, Wrestlemania 23 is headlined by John Cena defending his WWE Championship against Shawn Michaels, HBK would been given the spotlight to shine due to Triple H’s quad injury at New Year’s Revolution. On the Smackdown side, we have The Undertaker challenging World Heavyweight Champion Batista, a clash of two titans and the two biggest stars on the blue brand. In a bit of Mania madness, we have the battle of the billionaires in Donald Trump vs Vince Mcmahon, each man choosing a superstar to battle on their behalf with the loser being shaved bald. Very rarely will a Wrestlemania let you down but it does not mean it never happens so let’s see what Wrestlemania 23 was all about!

Opening Promo

We are shown Wrestlemania through the years, fans screaming and the most famous moments like Hogan, Bret, Piper, Austin and HBK. Some of the best and biggest moments that last a lifetime, Wrestlemania is the showcase of the immortals. All Grown Up is the theme of this year, we are at the sight of Wrestlemania 3. We get the normal video package hyping up the event as Aretha Franklin sings the national anthem, you know the deal let’s just watch this madness.

(Money In The Bank Ladder Match) Matt Hardy vs Jeff Hardy vs Edge vs Randy Orton vs Mr. Kennedy vs King Booker vs Finlay vs CM Punk

A lot of big names in this match, a big prize is up for grabs. The winner will be able to cash in the money in the bank at anytime and possibly become a world champion. Lots of rising stars and main event players, there was a strong possibility of almost any man winning this match. It starts with people running for ladders, a lot of brawling between the huge numbers. Edge has a ladder and almost steals the win, Matt stops Edge. Thought they could have made more of those two fighting, Orton and Finlay are on the ladder. They roll to the floor and fight, Jeff and Kennedy brawl by the ladder. Booker pulls out a tiny ladder, Punk smacks everyone with the little step ladder. Punk is bleeding, Edge makes a ladder bridge between the apron and barricade.

Booker spinebusters and kicks everyone, Spinaroonie. The Hardys wipe out Booker, Side Effect on Edge. Jeff makes his ladder madness setup, Finlay saves Edge pushing Jeff to the floor. Edge suplexes Matt onto the ladder, Kenton Bomb misses as Matt dodges. Swanton Bomb on Kennedy, The Hardys nail Finlay and Orton with the ladder. The Hardys fight on the ladder for the briefcase, Finlay tips over The Hardys. Finlay clotheslines everyone, Edge Spears Orton and Booker, Kennedy and Matt. Add Jeff to that list, Punk ducks the spear. Punk whacks everyone with the ladder, Edge Spears Punk. Edge grabs a huge ladder, Orton stops Edge who falls to the floor. Jeff attacks Orton, sit-out suplex.

Matt places Edge across the ladder bridge, Matt wants to fuck up Edge. Jeff climbs the huge ladder and decides to leg drop Edge through the ladder. Edge is stretchered out, Orton begins nailing RKOs on everyone. Punk slams a ladder into Orton’s back, Orton and Punk stand on two different ladders. Super RKO from Orton, Super BookEnd from the ladder as Orton gets caught. Matt chases Booker, Sharmell is in the ring. Matt threatens to Twist of Fate Sharmell, Booker attempts to save Sharmell. Twist of Fate on Booker, Finlay is here. Finlay tips over Matt’s ladder, Celtic Cross on the ladder by Finlay.

Two ladders stand under the briefcase, Finlay is selling the effects of the match. Hornswoggle is here, Kennedy boots Finlay. Kennedy looks at Hornswiggle, right hand by Hornswoggle. Kennedy decides it’s time for The Green Bay Plunge on Hornswoggle, Finlay decks Kennedy with the ladder. Springboard dropkick by Punk, Finlay falls off the ladder. Kennedy and Punk brawl atop the ladder, Punk shoves off Kennedy but Kennedy decks Punk with a ladder to the face, Kennedy climbs to the top of the ladder. Kennedy wins Money In The Bank!

Fantastic match, they were perfecting the formula for this match after only two previous matches, this had many spots where everyone was allowed to shine at Wrestlemania. From Finisher barrages to high spots all around the place, everyone looked good, each spot built upon the previous spot until we had a massive collection of moments that you could look back at and say that was simply awesome. A fantastic way to open the show, the question is can anything else top this match?

Winner: Mr. Kennedy over Everyone Else via Retrieval Of The Briefcase!

Mr. Kennedy Promo

Kennedy congratulates himself, Kennedy warns every champion in the company that Kennedy is coming for them, Kennedy is Mr. Money In The Bank.

The Great Khali vs Kane

Khali had quite the bizarre year, everything was running smoothly at first with a victory over The Undertaker in dominating fashion before not being able to finish the feud between the two due to injury or being unreliable, take your pick. So, Khali comes back after doing very little in terms of significance to battle The Big Red Machine Kane. Kane had switched over to Smackdown beating the likes of MVP while teaming with his brother The Undertaker.

Khali shoves down Kane, shoulder block from Khali. Right hands by Kane, Khali pulls Kane out to the floor. Khali poses, hotshot from Kane. Kane clotheslines Khali to no effect, scoop slam by Khali. Nerve hold from Khali, stomps and chokes from Khali. Kane battles back against Khali, big corner clothesline. Kane nails his signature diving clothesline, a boot but Khali still stands. Khali is caught in the ropes though, right hands by Kane. Kane slides out looking for a hook, Khali knocks the hook out of Kane’s hand. Slugfest with Khali winning the war, Khali unhooks the top turnbuckle. Kane uses the hook on Khali’s nuts, slam from Kane. Khali kicks out at two, Kane calls for a Chokeslam. Khali retaliates, massive two-handed throat toss. Khali pins Kane with a foot on The Big Red Machine’s chest.

A good showing for The Punjabi Nightmare, Kane was reliable as always inside of the ring, Khali had an up and down year but Vince was still high on the monster. Khali looked dominant, a force to be reckoned with and that’s exactly what the doctor ordered as Kane puts over another monster with Umaga being the flavour of the month last year and Khali taking over from Umaga this year.

Winner: Great Khali over Kane via Throat Toss!

(WWE United States Championship Match) Chris Benoit © vs MVP

MVP had been pissing off everyone on Smackdown, MVP had incurred the wrath of Kane, The Undertaker and now, The Rabid Wolverine. Benoit puts up his gold against MVP, MVP looks to impress on the big stage. Lock-up with MVP grabbing a side headlock, takedown with Benoit countering with the headscissors, MVP wriggles free into a stretch. Headlock from MVP, shoulder block from MVP. MVP blocks a German, MVP blocks the crossface. Benoit spills out to the floor, MVP says that Benoit has not got what it takes. Benoit teases a sharpshooter and crossface, MVP leaps for the ropes. Waistlock from Benoit, MVP grabs the arm and delivers a firemen’s carry. Benoit has the armbar, MVP grabs the ropes.

MVP lures in Benoit, sucker punch from the challenger. Hard Irish whip, Benoit blocks the boot, Benoit looks for the superplex. MVP blocks, smacking Benoit’s arm off the top rope. MVP works the arm with stomps, Benoit ducks a kick and locks the German suplexes. Hat-trick of suplexes, MVP crotches Benoit to avoid the headbutt. Superplex but Benoit reverses with a small package for two, MVP kicks out and works the arm. MVP hammerlocks the arm and throws Benoit to the corner, O Connor roll for two. Back suplex by the challenger, two for MVP.

MVP is getting frustrated with Benoit’s resiliency, keylock from MVP. Boot from MVP, two for the challenger. MVP tries a scoop slam, Benoit attempts the crossface but MVP smartly attacks the arm. Hammerlock slam by MVP, Ballin Elbow by MVP. Two for MVP, player’s boot misses. Two Germans, MVP blocks the third. Clothesline misses, German suplexes by Benoit. Diving Headbutt connects, Benoit gets the victory over MVP.

Talk about making the most of their time in the ring, MVP throws everything at Benoit, showing that MVP has been scouting the champion. So many counters, a strategy that took away Benoit’s two killshot submissions but the tenacity of the champion triumphs over the egotistical challenger. MVP was good, great even but Benoit was simply too much for the young hotshot for now. What could happen next time? Well, based on this match I cannot wait to see where these two go from here.

Winner: Chris Benoit over MVP via Diving Headbutt!

(WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match) Batista © vs The Undertaker

The Undertaker, The Phenom of The WWE would enter the royal rumble and win that year’s event, Undertaker has the choice of three champions and decided to do battle with The Animal. Batista had returned from his injury running through the likes of Finlay, Mr. Kennedy and King Booker before recapturing the championship that The Animal never lost. The two biggest Smackdown stars doing battle inside of the ring, the entrance from The Deadman is spectacular. It’s difficult to describe just how much Undertaker’s entrance would play into matches, Undertaker comes across as the final boss in a video game, the last cowboy in the wild, wild west. A menacing Demon, unwavering in the face of adversity, you get chills watching that slow walk and the eyes. Oh God, the eyes of a man who has one goal in mind: Destroy whatever is put in front of him.

The bell rings and Batista spears Taker hard, right hands by The Animal. Taker fires off live rounds into the face of Batista, Batista answers back. Hard Irish whip and clothesline, Taker is knocked to the floor. Taker lands on his feet, they brawl on the floor. Taker is sent crashing over the steel steps, diving shoulder block from Batista for two. More rights from the champion, boot by Taker. Clothesline by Batista for two, the champion is overwhelming The Deadman. Scoop slam, Taker blocks a boot. Rights and lefts from Taker, corner clothesline from Taker. Make it two, snake eyes and massive boot. Leg drop for two, Taker looks for old school. Old School connects, Batista refuses to take the chokeslam. Leaping clothesline from The Deadman for two, Taker knocks The Animal to the floor.

Apron leg drop connects for the challenger, Taker launches himself at Batista with a dive over the top rope, crazy athleticism from The Deadman. The two brawl on the floor with Batista sending Taker into the timekeeper’s area, right hands from Batista. Batista clears the announce table, running powerslam through the announce table, Taker has been demolished. Only two for the champion, Taker counters the Batista Bomb, backing Batista into the corner. Belly to belly suplex by Batista for two, the champions stomps the challenger in the corner. Ten punches from Batista, Taker counters for The Last Ride. 1..2.. Batista kicks out! Batista counters for a spinebuster, Taker setups. Batista is in shock, Chokeslam from Taker. 1…2.. Batista kicks out again, Batista avoids the tombstone for a spear. Batista Bomb connects, 1…2… UNDERTAKER KICKS OUT! A second powerbomb? No, Taker back drops Batista. Batista tries a powerslam, Taker shoves off Batista. Tombstone Piledriver in the middle of the ring and we have a new champion!

Exceeded all expectations, that crowd was in a frenzy by the end of the match. Two titans brawling like King Kong vs Godzilla, two monsters throwing down inside of the ring. From Batista dominating the early portions to Taker showing why you cannot kill The Deadman, an absolute war with huge bombs thrown by both men. A fantastic match, a highlight for both men. That finishing stretch was awesome, Taker has stolen the last two shows without a doubt and not one person in that arena expected such a fantastic match, it blew everyone’s mind.

Winner: The Undertaker over Batista via Tombstone Piledriver!

ECW Originals vs The New Breed

ECW gets on the card with RVD, Sabu, Sandman and Tommy Dreamer take on the punk upstarts of ECW. Elijah Burke, Kevin Thorn, Matt Striker and Marcus Cor Von. Nice to see ECW featured at Wrestlemania but an eight-man tag with these guys, does not scream amazing or fun to me. Striker and Sabu begin the match, springboard leg lariats and clotheslines from Sabu for two. Dropkick to Striker, tag to Sandman. Diving guillotine leg drop from Sandman, Cor Von saves  Striker. Tag to Burke, hiptoss from Sandman. Dreamer and Sandman double team Burke, Cor Von knees Dreamer in the back. Clothesline from Burke, double underhook suplex on Dreamer.

Tag to Burke, double backdrop. Elijah Express, two for Burke. Tag to Thorn, clothesline and reverse chinlock. Dreamer eats a sit-out spinebuster, Sabu saves Dreamer. Tag to Cor Von, stomps from The Alpha Male. Snap suplex for two, tag to Burke. Dreamer neckbreakers both Burke & Cor Von, tag to RVD. Clotheslines and spin kicks to Striker, diving thrust kick to Thorn. Super monkey flip to Striker, Rolling Thunder. Cor Von clotheslines RVD, Sabu nails a tope con hilo. Dreamer DDT on Striker, Burke knocks down Dreamer. Sandman knocks down Burke, RVD nails Striker with The Five Star Frog Splash for the win.

God Bless them, those ECW originals. Good promotion for the brand of ECW but if they wanted more attention on the brand and wanted to get as many eyes on the product as possible, I would have preferred an Extreme Rules match which would have helped massively for all those involved. To be fair, they were some nice spots, Striker made the most of his time in the ring and Cor Von was a joy to watch in TNA so maybe if given the time, Cor Von could be something to watch on ECW. A feel good moment overall, could have been helped if it was Extreme Rules!

Winners: Team ECW Originals over Team New Breed via Five Star Frog Splash!

(Battle of The Billionaires Match) Bobby Lashley W/ Donald Trump vs Umaga W/ Vince Mcmahon (Austin Special Guest Referee)

Vince had been over confident and cocky as usual, Vince had made an enemy of Donald Trump which has led us to this moment where both men have wagered their hair. Vince’s attitude and bravado came back to bite the chairman as Austin was made the special guest referee. The two titans in the match, Lashley who has had such an awkward push while Umaga has been going strong despite the loss to John Cena. Both men trade blows, rights from Lashley. Austin pulls off Lashley for a break, boot from Umaga. Umaga misses a splash, diving shoulder block for two. Estrada placed Umaga’s foot on the rope, Lashley yanks in Estrada. Running powerslam for your troubles, Umaga misses a running splash and crashes off the floor.

Right hands from Lashley, Lashley misses a spear and crashes to the outside. Umaga is in control, massive splash for two. Choke from Umaga, Austin is not happy with Umaga. More choking, Austin grabs Umaga’s hair. Lashley fights back, clothesline from Umaga. Massive hip splash from Umaga, Lashley fires back before a Samoan drop. Umaga reverses a slam for a splash, two for Umaga. Vince is on the apron, Lashley bumps into Vince. Umaga drills Lashley with a complete shot. Umaga climbs to the top rope, Lashley yanks Umaga off the top rope. Super Lariato! Umaga flips out from Lashley’s clothesline. Austin almost counts out everyone, Austin says screw that, we will have a winner.

Shane is here to look after Vince, Vince seems a bit injured after the bump. Lashley eats a throat thrust, Shane joins Vince at ringside. Umaga drills Lashley in the counter, choke hold from Umaga. Austin has Umaga again, Shane tries attacking Austin. Samoan Spike to Austin, Vince is loving it. Shane is coaching Umaga, Shane begins blasting Lashley. Lashley catches Shane, Umaga makes the save. Massive hip attack from Umaga, things are looking bleak for Lashley.

Vince hands Shane a trash can, Shane is going Coast to Coast. Beautiful just like Wrestlemania X7, Shane has a referee shirt on underneath. Vince is screwing Trump, Umaga is looking for a top rope splash. It connects, Austin pulls out Shane. Right hands to Shane, Umaga knocks down Austin again. Vince talks trash to Austin, Trump tackles Vince to the ground. Right hands by Trump, Umaga eats a Stunner and Lashley hammers Umaga with a Spear, Vince has his head shaved bald by Austin, Lashley and Trump before Austin stuns Trump.

I will say it a thousand times, Vince may be the most entertaining heel in the business, Vince and his family may dominate segments, the Invasion is a particular sore spot for many a fan but Vince would never let any WCW stars get over his WWF talent, it was doomed from the beginning. However, Vince steals the show as per usual inside of the ring, Vince’s antics and facials make The Chairman the ultimate cartoon villain inside of the ring. When it comes to an ass-kicking, Vince takes one hell of a beating. Vince is utterly humiliated and humbled at the end of this match. Fantastic entertainment for everyone who is watching. Poor Lashley though, a complete afterthought in the match and the fans are already voicing disapproval, The Lashley experiment might be going horribly wrong!

Winner: Bobby Lashley over Umaga via Spear!

(WWE Women’s Championship Match) Melina © vs Ashley (Lumberjill Match)

That Playboy cover might have prolonged Ashley’s career because I cannot think of a single thing she has done beyond some lingerie like matches and one tag match with Trish. However, we have something interesting and different on the other side of things, we have Melina. Melina, the former manager of MNM, she’s here as champion. Her transformation from valet to champion is fantastic for the division which desperately needed fresh blood with the departures of Trish and Lita. They had two big mainstays in Mickie James and Melina, looking forward to seeing how they do as time goes on in the company.

So, the ring is surrounded by divas, Ashley takes down Melina and throws fists. Melina is thrown in by the Divas, roll-up for two. Melina begs for mercy, Ashley hits the middle rope hard. Foot choke from Melina, forearms by Ashley. Foot choke from Ashley, kick from Melina. Top rope choke from Melina, big swing from Melina. Two, choke from Melina. Stretch from Melina, headscissors from Ashley. Forearms by the challenger, whip to the corner. Monkey flip from Ashley, Melina dodges the elbow and Melina gets two. O Connor roll reversed by Melina for the win. Dull and dead.

Winner: Melina over Ashley via Roll-Up!

(WWE Championship Match) John Cena © vs Shawn Michaels

Tag team champions gone bad, John Cena has been champion since vanquishing his greatest foe in Edge while Michaels had been teaming with his best buddy Triple H. Triple H would damage his quad once more and this would lead to a gap in the plans for the main event of Wrestlemania. Up steps Mr Wrestlemania in The Heartbreak Kid, beating Randy Orton and Edge to earn this opportunity. Michaels has stolen the show at Wrestlemania countless times, many more times on pay per view. Cena has stepped it up when the pressure is on, Cena is maturing before everyone’s eyes but can the champion hang with The Show-Stopper?

Michaels calls Cena to the centre of the ring, Michaels calls for a handshake. Cena says no, Michaels slaps Cena and chops down the champion. Oh boy, and a suck it for good measure. Cena did not expect that, lock-up. Side headlock from Michaels, Cena tries a back suplex. Michaels is too quick for Cena, HBK ducks every shot from Cena. Chopped down, Cena looks to the ground looking for some sort of guidance. Michaels tells Cena that Cena is not in HBK’s league, this is big time trash talk from Mr. Wrestlemania. Shoulder thrusts from HBK, side headlock takedown from HBK. Make it two, Cena escapes and nails a massive clothesline. HBK is down in the corner, Cena stares a hole through HBK. Things have gone up another gear, shoulder block from Cena. Lou Thesz press from HBK, Cena lifts Michaels to the apron.

Hotshot from HBK, Michaels hiptosses Cena to the floor. Enzuigiri on the outside, springboard moonsault from Michaels. Chops from HBK, forearms thrown in too. Cena tries to kick away Micheals, Michaels clubs the knee. Cena sells like crazy, Michaels goes after the knee smelling blood. Cena’s knee meets the ringpost, Michaels continues to work the leg with chop blocks and knees. Michaels kicks and chops Cena, Cena looks vulnerable and helpless for the first time in quite some time. Michaels looks Cena right in the eyes, telling the champion that it is over partner. Cena begins to fight back in desperation, Michaels is knocked back by Cena. Michaels comes running back with a massive shoulder thrust, Cena is trying to beat down Michaels but Michaels goes back to the leg to counter Cena’s power.

Michaels tries a corner spear, Cena dodges clutching his knee. Michaels ran head first into the ringpost, Michaels is a bloody mess (Nothing new there!). Massive lariat and right hands by Cena, you would swear Cena is the heel as the crowd ramp up the sympathy for HBK. Cena proceeds to run and jump, what was the leg work for? Spinning side slam, Five Knuckle Shuffle. FU is avoided, Michaels flip in the corner. Michaels ducks a right hand but superkicks the referee accidently. FU is countered for a DDT, Michaels rolls out tipping over the steel steps, Michaels drags Cena to the steel steps. Michaels piledrivers Cena on the steps, fantastically brutal spot! Cena is bleeding on the back of his head, a new referee comes down to count the pin. Cena survives the piledriver, massive forearm with a kip-up from the challenger.

Elbow drop from Michaels, Cena counters sweet chin music for a clothesline. Chops from HBK, right hands from Cena. Slugfest, FU is countered for a sunset flip, two for Michaels. Cena counters a leapfrog from a massive FU, 1…2… Michaels kicks out of The FU! Cena places Michaels on the top rope, Cena wants a super FU, Michaels counters that with right hands. Forearm knocks off Cena, crossbody from Michaels is rolled through by Cena. FU is countered by Michaels who lands on his feet, drop toehold from Cena multiple times but HBK counters with kick offs and an inside cradle for two, amazing sequence! Michaels misses the enzuigiri and gets caught in The STFU, Michaels is clawing towards the ropes. Michaels makes it to the ropes. The referee pulls off Cena, Cena is livid. Sweet Chin Music on the button! Micheals crawls for the cover and it’s two for Michaels. Both men use one another to stand, FU attempt is blocked but Cena clamps on an STFU from a drop toehold. Michaels has nowhere to go and has to tap, Cena retains his championship.

Unbelievably Fantastic Match, there is little more I could say about this match. My one knock is Cena never went back to selling the knee, I would have liked to have seen a little more selling from the champion but forget about that, Shawn Michaels stole the God Damn show again. Michaels selling was phenomenal, Michaels took the ringpost to the head, bladed and made it seem like death. Michaels looked dazed and confused, it was masterful how HBK could craft sympathy around a simple spot, it was awesome Michaels had you believe that there was nobody home. You also had Michaels going after the knee, it’s a sad part when it comes to Michaels’ last run in the WWE, we only got a little bit of a heel run against Hogan because Michaels proved here how vicious, evil and darn right sadistic he could be given the chance. The knee work combined with the trash talk and the piledriver was delightful, I haven’t even gotten into all the counters and the finishing sequence. Superb wrestling match, Michaels stole the show but credit to Cena, it takes two to tango and Cena walked away from this with the best match of his career.

Winner: John Cena over Shawn Michaels via STFU!

That was WWE’s Wrestlemania 23, one great Wrestlemania looking back on all the action, the only slow parts of the night were the women’s championship match and the Khali match. Both were kept short so it’s hard to complain too much about either since you need those gaps to help pace the show. The Money in The Bank had been perfected by this stage, there were many crazy spots that had the fans wetting themselves, everyone had a moment or two where they looked good and Kennedy seemed poised for a championship run on top of either Raw or Smackdown. Mcmahon vs Trump was a spectacle that delivered like all Mcmahon matches, I don’t recall ever seeing a match featuring Mcmahon that was boring, they brought out all the stops for this match and Vince ever the entertainer was humiliated at the end of it all.

You also had two tremendous title matches in Batista and Undertaker shocking everyone with their great chemistry, Batista earned that performance at Wrestlemania, one hell of a way to show that The Animal can hang with The Phenom. Undertaker was hitting his stride when it came to Mania matches, I look forward to seeing more of the two do battle in the years that pass. Of course, we have Cena vs Michaels, Michaels was so good it’s unfair. Nobody could hold a candle to Michaels on this night, tremendous back and forth action. Thanks for reading and remember: There’s always another night!

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