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WrestleMania 23 PPV Review
All the world?s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. Tonight the WWE will fill that stage with their production of WrestleMania 23, the crown jewel in a year?s worth of work. The storylines have been set, the drama has been hyped, and the anticipation has been built. As the curtain opens to begin this final act, I wonder if the players can make us believe once more?
The show opens in a subdued manner with Aretha Franklin and a choir singing America The Beautiful, followed by the ?All Grown Up? WrestleMania commercial. It?s not until the commercial ends that the pyro hits, the music blares, and J.R. takes to the air. After the introduction of all of the WWE?s announce teams, the first match begins.
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
The ladder comes into play within the first few minutes of the match, with 4 different men climbing up and almost capturing the briefcase. They keep the action moving quickly, with each of them spending just enough time in the ring to do a few high spots, before being thrown out. Things slow down briefly after a huge latter spot by Jeff Hardy on to Edge, who is then removed from ringside. The ladder spots continue to flow soon after, with all men taking turns absorbing big falls. In the end, Kennedy was able to put CM Punk out of commission long enough to win the match. To the credit of all the participants, this mach delivered all that was advertised.
Match 2: Kane vs. The Great Khali
Things start with Khali easily manhandling Kane. The expected punch and kick fest then ensues, and a first occurs, as Kane is able to slam Khali. Kane?s luck would soon run out however, as Khali mounts a come back and gets the pin. This match was short, and the two did enough to keep it from getting boring, making it a much better match than I though it would be.
We then go backstage with Eugene and Cryme Tyme as they put on a skit that allows several of the greats from the WWE?s past to get a little camera time including: May Young and Moola, Slick, Dusty Rhodes, Sgt. Slaughter, Jimmy Heart, IRS, Ricky Steamboat, Mean Gene, Ron Simmons, and others.
Match 3: United States Champion Chris Benoit vs. MVP
The match starts out with MVP reversing several of Benoit?s signature moves. The first few minutes were made up of pure chain wrestling and both men performed very well. In fact, the two worked surprisingly well together, putting on a traditional technical wrestling match. MVP dominated for the majority of the match, but a last minute comeback by Benoit allows him to pin MVP, after the head butt from the top rope. This match really surprised me, I didn?t think it would be anywhere near as good as it was, in fact I hope they put these two together again.
A skit with the Boogyman and Donald Trump, followed by a recap of the hall of fame ceremony and the introduction of this years hall of fame members occurs prior to the next match.
Match 4: World Heavyweight Champion Batista vs. Undertaker
The match starts off full speed with Batista attacking and dominating from the opening bell. The Undertaker turns the tide and hits some of his trademark spots, however Batista keeps coming back and dominating the match. In a well-executed finish, both men hit their finishing moves, and fail to get pin falls. In th end, although he kicked out of the choke slam, Batista was not able to do so after taking the Tomb Stone Pile Driver, giving Undertaker the win. Yet another good match, and again better than I expected it to be.
Next up is a video segment with Vince, and Stephanie, in which Vince tells of Trumps impending destruction.
Match 5: ECW Originals vs. New Breed
The New breeds dominate this match by isolating Dreamer and working on him for quite a while. The New Breed function well as a team initially, but once the faces make their comeback the ?team? concept seemed to be lost on all. The match turned into a series of disconnected moves, and events that saw RVD hitting the frog splash to give the ECW Originals the win. Although the match started out just fine, very little planning seemed to go into the finish, and as such left me rather disappointed.
A video package is then played showing the evolution of the McMahon/Trump feud.
Match 6: Battle of the Billionaires ? Lashley vs. Umaga
The match starts off as a brawl, with Umaga?s manager quickly finding himself the victim of Lashley?s power slam. Both Lashley and Umaga have physical confrontations with Austin throughout the match. As the match progresses, Shane McMahan comes to ringside, and Umaga hits Austin with the Samoan Spike taking him out of the match. All hell then breaks lose as Shane and Umaga double team on Lashley, Trump attacks Vince, Austin recovers and stuns Umaga, and Lashley pins him for the win. Following the match, Vince is strapped to the barber?s chair, and Trump and Lashley cut off his hair with clippers, and then shave him bald. The match was mediocre, but the payoff was golden.
Match 7: Women's Champion Melina vs. Ashley
The match starts out with some very basic brawling, with Melina doing all the work. 3 minutes later Melina gets the pin and it?s over. The crowd was dead, but at least they kept it short, and didn?t try any difficult moves.
We then get treated to a video package rundown of the histories of Cena and HBK prior to the main event.
HBK makes his standard entrance into the ring, followed by Cena who shows up by crashing into the arena in what looked like a 2007 Shelby Mustang. Before the match could get underway, a fan jumped over the ringside barrier and made it into the ring. He was quickly intercepted by security, and never actually made contact with either Michaels or Cena. The match starts with Michaels on top of his game. All of Cena?s attempted comebacks are quickly thwarted, and Michaels continues to school Cena. A missed shoulder tackle puts Michaels into the ring post and allows Cena to mount an offense. It is at this point that the magic starts. What followed was essentially a sprint to the finish of the match. Each man hit finishers multiple times, refs were knocked out, and counter moves for pins were countered into submissions. With the crowd on it?s feet and both men in the center of the ring, Cena locks in the STFU for what must have been the 3rd time, and forces Michaels to tap out. This match was excellent, and worth the entire price of admission!
The biggest show of the year, and the WWE definitely delivered. Cena and HBK just added themselves to the short list of best mania matches, MVP showed that he is capable of hanging with the best of them, and Taker proved that he still has the crowd in the palm of his hand. All the world?s a stage, and tonight the players met the final curtain to the thunderous applause of a well deserved standing ovation, and for 4 sweet hours I was a believer again.
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