Date: April 1, 2007
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield
America The Beautiful: Aretha FranklinAfter reading the card, the idea that I get is there are a lot of similarities between this year’s show and last year’s. The show is pretty packed, there’s adequate filler, the titles are defended, it’s got a huge crowd (second biggest ever) and it looks like a big show. However, as I remember it, it just doesn’t feel like a great Mania. I have reasons for thinking that which I’ll get into at the end, but for now let’s just see how this goes. Your main difference here is that ECW is now a part of the WWE.
After the standard Mania opening video package which is well done here, complete with someone is a dead ringer for James Earl Jones’ voice, JR and Lawler welcome us and the Smackdown commentators to the show. JBL really does have talent at the announce table. Aretha Franklin must weigh nearly 300lbs. As we should start off with, our first match is this.Money in the Bank: Matt Hardy vs. Finlay vs. Randy Orton vs. Edge vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Mr. Kennedy vs. CM Punk vs. King BookerI never got why they put so many people in these things. Having six or even four would make it MUCH better and you could spare some people for midcard matches. The arena looks incredible. The entrances take forever to get through so we’re going to be at about 12 minutes into the show when the first match starts. Kennedy does the Mic Drop. Big reactions for both Hardys.Everyone kind of stands around to start until Kennedy finally goes for a ladder. I never would have pegged him as the smart one. Finlay of all people does the big dive to start the match. Edge almost gets up the ladder 90 seconds in but Matt makes the save. Orton and Finlay both go up but Jeff makes the save. You can’t say they’re not flying through this.Kennedy stops Hardy as Booker pulls out a stepladder by mistake in a funny bit. Edge picks up said stepladder and PELTS THAT THING at Punk’s head. Edge sets up the ladder as a bridge between the apron and the railing as I think I know what’s coming. Orton vs. Booker in the ring at the moment. Booker clears the ring and stops for a Spinarooni, allowing Edge and the Hardys to come in and stop him.Edge suplexes Matt onto a ladder which I think breaks another one underneath it. In a SICK looking spot, Kennedy goes up for the Kenton Bomb onto Matt on the ladder but misses and the back of his head smacks the ladder. FREAKING OW MAN! Jeff throws in a Swanton as punishment for move infringement. Matt and Jeff go up and hammer on each other for a bit but Finlay shoves them both off.
Edge cleans house with about seven spears in a row but Punk makes the stop. Unfortunately there’s no ladder. Once he finds one though he busts out the Terry Funk Ladder Spin in a nice ECW homage (he was ECW at this point mind you). Edge busts out the BIG LADDER but Orton is shoved down. He walks into a Gordbuster by Jeff as we set up the huge spot of the match.
Matt puts Edge on the ladder between the ring and the apron as Jeff goes up the big one. Instead of grabbing the case (JBL: GRAB THE CASE YOU CRAZY FREAK!) he dives off the ladder onto Edge, snapping the ladder right down the middle. INSANE spot and Edge is stretchered out which makes the flow of the match far better.
Everything more or less stops for a bit to take Edge out which is certainly understandable. Orton RKOs everyone in sight but Punk makes the save. RKO off the ladder ends Punk though as they just left Hardy laying there which is kind of funny in a sick way. Booker gets a Bookend off the ladder to Orton as everyone is down again.
Booker and Matt go up but Sharmell grabs Matt’s leg. Matt fights her off and threatens the Twist of Fate on her if Booker grabs the case in a creative move. Finlay’s head is busted BAD. Matt takes a Celtic Cross onto the ladder. Finlay’s back is too messed up to climb so here’s Horny to climb up and get the case for Finlay. Kennedy goes up and we get a Green Bay Plunge off the ladder on the midget.
Finlay is all like screw that and blasts Kennedy in the face with a ladder. In the words of Heenan: I told him not to touch that midget. Punk dropkicks the ladder to stop Finlay from going up. Kennedy vs. Punk on the ladder and down goes the blonde. Kennedy grabs a ladder and uses it like a javelin to mostly kill Punk and climbs up to get the ladder and end this.
Rating: B+. It’s not as good as the first MITB but it’s better than last year. The extra time helps a lot here but the ending is still relatively weak. Kennedy just climbs up the ladder to win the match. It’s fun, but it’s not mind blowing. It’s really a mess, and there’s nothing wrong with that as it got the crowd going like almost nothing else was going to.
Kennedy would of course get hurt and lose this shot to Edge who would use it to steal the title from the Undertaker. The Hardy/Edge ladder spot is absolutely insane and one of the sickest things I’ve ever seen. Kennedy says that he’s coming for the title. This makes me laugh.
Kane vs. Great Khali
Here’s your backstory: Khali was dominating Smackdown and said he wanted better competition. Kane accepted his offer and here we are. Kane looks absolutely tiny compared to Khali here and it’s almost scary. This is the big man battle and something tells me it’s not going to be very good. Oh and it’s inter-promotional.
I think you get the idea of what’s coming here. King says Khali is scarier than Andre which is again an eye rolling line. Lillian is looking AMAZING in a little blue dress. Khali dominates to start and continues to do so for awhile. Kane hammers away but it isn’t enough to get him anywhere. They’re using the big on big formula which isn’t very effective but what else can they do here?
And we hit the nerve hold as apparently a minute and a half is too long before we need a rest hold. King goes on about how awesome Khali is. He really is scary in person but he’s got nothing on Andre. JR calls Khali’s offense bowling shoe ugly. Preach it brother. Lawler calls him ugly in general.
Kane never can really get going here including not even putting Khali down with the clothesline. Khali gets tied up in the ropes and the beating is on. Kane is in trouble but he uses the meathook from his movie to get an advantage before slamming Khali which is the only thing here that actually gets the crowd awake.
The whole place is dead until then but soon thereafter Kane looks for a chokeslam but Khali counters with his two handed chokeslam to win. Afterwards he chokes Kane out with the rope from his hook. Nice thing to see there: attempted manslaughter with a deadly weapon. All hail the PG Era!
Rating: D. Short and bad usually makes a match better, but this was just flat out boring to me. The slam is all that’s keeping it from an F as neither of them were able to really get anything going here. Not a great match at all, but it did have one very cool moment in it. They went for a recreation of the Andre Slam but it just didn’t work at all.
Eugene is sad about being bald so Cryme Tyme helps him out by finding Kelly, Layla and Brooke. This leads to a dance party with a ton of HOFers and Legends. Ricky Steamboat, in full karate gear, pops up to stare everyone down but dances too resulting in the Ron Simmons catchphrase. Fun stuff of course.
United States Title: Chris Benoit vs. MVP
MVP comes out with cheerleaders as he’s the full on jerk here. I could get behind that, not the nice guy he turned into though. It never worked for me in the slightest which this was rather entertaining more often than not. He’s the brash young rookie and Benoit is, well he’s Chris Benoit and the US Champion. I think that sums this up pretty well. Basic story is MVP wanted a shot and Benoit said ok.
Benoit takes it to the match but MVP actually counters him in a nice move. MVP puts Benoit down and shouts FIRST DOWN in a cool bit. Benoit goes for the Sharpshooter but puts the leg in the wrong way for some reason. Crossface is countered and Benoit’s lip is busted. MVP works on the arm which takes away the Crossface which makes sense.
The referee says six minutes rather loudly which always makes me chuckle for some reason. Benoit busts out the Germans but MVP gets up to stop the headbutt from coming off the top. Superplex has Benoit in trouble as it gets two. Benoit’s arm hits the post and MVP pounces like a crazed Benoit. Wait that’s an oxymoron. He pounces like a Benoit and works the arm hard.
In a nice sequence, Benoit holds the rope to avoid a big boot but when he comes in MVP hits the boot anyway. I liked that. Crossface is attempted but MVP hammers the arm and Benoit can’t hook it. Pretty good stuff so far. Ballin, which is called Count It here gets two. Big boot in the corner misses and here come the Germans again.
More Germans come in as you would think this is happening in France. There’s the headbutt…and it gets the pin? They didn’t even use the full six minutes. The ending kind of came out of nowhere but it worked for the most part as the Crossface would have been a headscratcher here.
Rating: B. The ending is what ruins this for me. It’s like they were cut off mid match and it really hurt them. Other than that, this was great stuff. MVP surprised me here and would go on to beat Benoit in two straight falls to win the title at Backlash. Give this another three minutes or so and it’s great stuff indeed.
Trump runs into the Boogeyman and seemingly couldn’t care less.
Hall of Fame class is presented. This one was kind of weak as the main people were JR, the King and Dusty Rhodes. Not terrible at all but there wasn’t a big name in it, much like the first of the new round of classes.
Recap of Batista vs. Taker. The idea here is simple: Taker won the Rumble and picked Batista. This was a pretty big buildup at the time and it worked quite well I thought. The best part about this match is it marked the end of the really annoying tag team main events at No Way Out.
All it would be was the Smackdown main event teaming up with the Raw main event in a tag match with one “turning” but not getting booed. This year, Batista made the “turn” and once again, no one cared. Also, this should have been the main event. Taker in a title match at Mania is something special.
Smackdown World Title: Batista vs. Undertaker
Taker gets the full on entrance here complete with lightning, thunder, smoke and druids holding fire. A poll says that there’s an 80% fan vote that Taker wins the title here. And people say WWE fans aren’t smart. The entrances and buildup took nearly 15 minutes in total for this. Spear by Batista IMMEDIATELY but Taker throws him into the corner as we’re on hard and fast.
They slug it out on the floor and Taker eats steps with his knees. That must be incredibly awkward at dinner. Batista goes up top and comes off with a shoulder block for two. They’re going all big and hard here and it’s awesome so far. Taker punches up from his knees and it’s Boo/Yay time. Snake Eyes and the big boot combination put Batista down for two.
Old School connects but Batista blocks the chokeslam to HUGE heat. Taker beats him back and hits the apron legdrop for a nice reaction. BIG Taker Dive has Batista reeling. We stay on the floor and Batista reverses to send Taker into the timekeeper’s table. We enter Spanish Land with JBL and Cole having to get out of the way as Batista gets a powerslam through the table.
White heat on Batista as he rolls Taker in for two. Batista Bomb is blocked to a sweet reaction. Belly to belly by Batista gets two. We go Mania X-7 as Taker gets the Last Ride out of the corner to counter the ten punches. It’s really just a powerbomb but it worked fine. Naturally that only gets two as this is pretty solid stuff so far.
Spinebuster hits but Taker is like forget that and sits up. Chokeslam gets two as the fans are COMPLETELY behind Taker. Bad spear by Batista shifts momentum again. Batista Bomb gets two as the fans are scared to death at this point. Another Bomb is blocked and because Batista is STUPID he goes for a Tombstone. Taker is all like boy please and the REAL Tombstone makes Taker 15-0.
Rating: B+. This match was solid to me. There’s no real botches other than arguably the Last Ride which you can attribute to a few things: Batista’s size, Taker being spent, the speed he pulls it off in etc. Although to be fair, it wasn’t like it looked terrible. It was just a regular powerbomb.
This is probably Batista’s best match ever. Taker put on quite a performance as well, just like he does every year here. The only thing I didn’t like was the ending, which while it wasn’t as bad as Benoit/MVP, it wasn’t the best. Either way, definitely a good match and I was entertained the whole time.
This was two guys out there throwing bombs at each other and while it’s not quite as good as some of their later matches, this was a war with both guys working hard the whole time. The crowd was awesome the whole time too as they let Batista know they didn’t like him at all and there’s not a thing wrong with that. Good stuff indeed.
Stephanie and the next generation of McMahon are in the back with Vince. Nothing of note, although there’s a camera in the stroller of course.
Sandman/Rob Van Dam/Tommy Dreamer/Sabu vs. Elijah Burke/Marcus Cor Von/Matt Striker/Kevin Thorn
This one really makes me scratch my head. Why in the world is this not a No DQ match? They had that next month at Backlash, so why not here? It would make so much more sense for this to be one of those, rather than just an 8 man tag. That ECW song never gets old to me. Standard old vs. new thing here. ECW guys are wrestling at Wrestlemania. How weird does that sound?
Burke is now more commonly known as D’Angelo Dinero and collectively they’re known as the New Breed. Striker as a wrestler is just odd indeed. Striker vs. Sabu starts us off here. Sabu totally misses a springboard clothesline for two anyway. Sandman goes up and hits a legdrop across the back of Striker as he’s laid out over the top rope.
Cor Von (Monty Brown) in now as they’re tagging in and out very fast. Dreamer plays the face in peril and gets the tar beaten out of him of course. Big back drop by Burke and Cor Von sets up the double knees in the back of Dreamer by Burke. Sitout powerbomb by Thorn gets two as Sabu makes the save.
Double tags, one to RVD and the other to Striker. That’s just amusing given what we know now. Sabu dives over the top to take out Cor Von and lands on his head. Dreamer plants Striker and with everyone else down, the Five Star ends Striker with ease.
Rating: D+. This was there and that’s about all I can say about it. Again, why in the world was this not a hardcore match or a weapons match? Joey freaks about the ECW guys winning at Mania, which is so against what they stood for originally that it’s not even funny. Kind of a cool moment though I guess.
Recap of the Battle of the Millionaires. This is your real main event but it’s not for the wrestling. The reason this show got the ratings that it got was Donald Trump possibly getting his head shaved. As I’ve mentioned before, Trump must really like wrestling given this is his 4th appearance at Mania.
There’s a big problem with this match: Lashley was as big of a lock to win as anyone could ever believe. He was being pushed to the moon, Umaga never won a really big match yet and there was no way Trump was getting shaved, which no one actually thought would happen.
Austin is your guest referee as he has to be at Mania. This is what he should be. He gets the big pop and is still viewed as a tough guy. I like these appearances but few others do. Anyway, the idea is that each billionaire picks a guy and they have a match. The losing rich guy gets his head shaved.
Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga
The entrances literally take over ten minutes as Vince, Umaga, Trump, Lashley and Austin all have their own entrances. Right off the bat, this match looks boring. Shockingly enough, I’m right. Trump has real $100 bills rain from the ceiling which is pretty awesome. Lashley is ECW Champion here and Umaga is IC Champion here but that doesn’t mean anything.
Ross points out that Umaga has no amateur background. Gee you think? Austin breaks something up for Lashley and the darker skinned dude doesn’t take kindly to it at all. Middle rope shoulder block puts the Samoan down. Umaga gets a foot under the rope and Lashley isn’t thrilled with it being broken up. He kills Estrada to vent some frustration.
Umaga misses a charge and hits the floor with a big old thud. Ross and Lawler calling wrestling is just…right. A few seconds after Umaga hits the floor, Lashley does the exact same thing, crashing out on the outside which I’d assume will set up Umaga’s dominance which I’d assume will include a nerve hold. Big splash gets two for Umaga.
Points to Trump for being INTO this. He’s cheering for Lashley and is clearly interested in what’s going on. Have to give him that: the guy is at least acting like he wants to be there which is a lot more than you can say about some celebrities at Mania. Umaga chokes on the ropes and Austin pulls him away by the hair. Can’t beat a tough referee. Ok you can but you get the idea.
Samoan Drop hits as it’s all Umaga here. Vince’s eyes are sparkling. Lashley gets some punches in but can’t slam Umaga. I guess he’s no Hogan. Lashley sends Vince down by mistake. No wonder he got fired. Bobby manages to slam Umaga off the top and both guys are down. Austin counts but gets to 9 and just doesn’t count them out.
Shane comes out to help Vince up and hangs out at ringside. Austin pulls Umaga off again, this time by the eye. Samoan Spike to Austin and the evil smile on Vince’s face for that is just awesome to see. Shane gets in and hammers on Bobby for a little bit. Vince busts out some garbage cans because what’s wrestling without garbage cans?
The garbage can is set up in front of Lashley’s face and the Van Terminator hits. Shane pulls his shirt off and has a referee’s shirt on underneath of it. A top rope splash kills Lashley but Austin makes the save. Umaga puts him down again and Trump isn’t sure what to do. Vince yells at Austin and TRUMP CLOTHESLINES VINCE! HOKEY FREAKING SMOKE! Umaga goes after Austin again but a Stunner takes him down and a spear from Lashley ends Vince’s hair.
Rating: C-. This was just a match really with nothing at all special going on in it. Make no mistake about it though: this is why Mania 23 was a success. This was HUGE and having Austin thrown in there helped a lot. Austin screwing over Vince is just right. This wasn’t anything great but it was fun and that’s what matters.
We get the head shaving thing which goes on for a good ten minutes. Vince glaring at Austin the whole time is just great. They really do shave the whole thing off too and Vince is bald. Austin stuns Trump as again this guy earns respect from fans.
Ad for Backlash.
Ready for your pointless filler?
We look at the dark match of all things which was a lumberjack tag match with Flair/Carlito vs. Chavo/Gregory Helms with Carlito pinning Chavo off the Backstabber. Is there a reason we’re watching this?
Women’s Title: Melina vs. Ashley
It’s a lumberjill match. Well at least we can look at the girls. You can tell they’re trying to fill time as they list off every one of the girls. Ashley is the Playboy chick of the year which is the only reason she’s here. Let the sloppiness begin. You can tell the fans are mostly not caring here.
Melina gets a surfboard as the crowd is just DEAD. When you can’t get fans excited over a ton of hot women you know you’re in trouble. Ashley is just horrid in the ring and everyone knows it. She misses a horrible looking elbow off the top and is covered for two and ZERO heat at all. A rollup keeps the title on Melina.
Rating: F. This was terrible and a waste of match time.
There’s a big brawl with all the girls post match.
The fans favor Cena 59-41.
We recap Cena vs. Shawn which is happening because Shawn won a triple threat match against Orton and Edge. They play up the old vs. new thing here which is fine. The start of the video is music playing very lightly in the background with no lyrics against video of the two of them. They change that at the end and switch it up to a more traditional package but it worked rather well for a big buildup video.
Raw World Title: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels
This should be awesome. Shawn comes out to the DX music which isn’t right for the main event of Wrestlemania, period. Oh Shawn and Cena are tag champions here. I forgot about that and it means jack here. Thankfully Shawn doesn’t wear the title belt to the ring as it would look so painfully out of place. The fans boo Cena as soon as Shawn’s music ends so you know what to expect.
Cena’s awesome entrance this time: a Mustang is shown driving around Detroit and into the arena. The booing when Cena’s music hits as he gets out is epic. Shawn sits on the top rope all calm and cool which is very Shawn of him. Shawn offers a handshake but slaps Cena instead and it’s on. Crotch chop for Cena.
Shawn wins the opening strike off and puts Cena down with a chop. Shawn controls for the most part and speeds things up so Cena takes his head off with a clothesline. Can’t beat that at times. Shawn is starting to get all ticked off here which means this is about to start getting good. A hiptoss sends Cena to the floor and it’s almost all Shawn.
Enziguri has Cena reeling. Shawn hits the ring and lands an Asai Moonsault onto Cena and onto the table which is AMERICAN so it doesn’t break. I think this legitimately hurt Michaels’ ribs but I’ve heard different stories on that. Cena gets the skin peeled off his chest with chops. A shot to Cena’s knee has another part of the champion hurting.
Things slow down a bit here as Shawn talks to Cena in a way we’re supposed to see I think. Cena gets a big punch in but Shawn throws a shoulder to keep Cena in the corner. Shawn charges again but his head eats turnbuckle (George Steele did it better) and he’s busted open. Ah ok the replay shows that it was the post which makes more sense.
Cena gets some mounted shots to SOLID heat. Superkick misses and down goes the referee. He has a bad habit of doing that at Mania. There is blood all over Cena’s shoulder. FU is countered into a DDT for no cover since the referee is out cold still. Shawn hits the floor and unhooks the steps. How are we just barely over halfway through with this?
Somehow that only gets two as another referee comes out. Shawn busts out the forearm, the nipup and the elbow. It’s time to tune up the band but Cena gets a clothesline out of desperation to make the stop. FU is reversed. Might have worked better if Cena hadn’t stopped to turn to the camera. I wonder if that’s Shawn’s blood or Cena’s blood on the top of John’s head.
FU hits on the second attempt and Shawn is in big trouble. That only gets two but you would think the Lions just made the Super Bowl. The only difference is that this was possible. Cena sets for the FU off the middle rope but Shawn fights him off and gets a cross body. Cena catches him and rolls through into the FU but Shawn counters and looks for Chin Music. Cena ducks with a drop toe hold but Shawn counters THAT into a small package for two. Great sequence.
Enziguri misses and STFU is locked on. A rope is grabbed and Cena yells at the referee. BIGGEST CHIN MUSIC EVER takes Cena’s head off but Shawn can’t cover in time and it only gets two. Double count gets us to nine and Shawn swings away but the champ counters into the STFU again and Shawn can’t get out this time and Detroit all wants to cry as Cena retains.
Rating: A. Great match. Cena can turn it on in the big matches like few others can. Shawn is one of those few that can turn it on even better though and he certainly did here. They beat the tar out of each other with both guys working incredibly hard out there to show off for the huge crowd. Cena has made both members of DX tap in consecutive Manias. How many people can say that? The leg injury disappearing holds this back a bit, but great match either way.
Overall Rating: B. This is a solid show but it’s not great for some reason. There’s just a little something stopping it and I’m not sure what it is. I think that part of it is the main event. It’s a great match, but the problem is that once it’s done things are exactly as they were before.
The Battle of the Billionaires was good but it could have been so much more. The show is worth seeing but there are far better ones out there. See the main event for sure and Batista vs. Taker is worth seeing too. Good show overall, but just a step behind the great ones.