Like every PPV, it’s going to have its bad stuff. Even if you’re a fan of say TNA, there’s still bad stuff on every PPV like the Big Fat Oily Guy coming out months in a parody that was three months too late. But in the end, the good is definitely going to overpower the bad and to be blunt: its WrestleMania people. It is the Super Bowl of wrestling and who knows? Maybe ten years from now people will look back on this PPV as the moment WWE finally started to get back to where so many people wanted it to be. How will you know if you’ve already written off the PPV and promotion? It’s WrestleMania people and even the worst of them have beaten out some good PPVs for sure-fire moments. If you count off some of the greatest matches in American wrestling history and maybe wrestling history period depending on how you view it, so many matches come from WrestleMania. Count off the greatest moments in American wrestling history or wrestling history period and the number would probably be even greater. This is WrestleMania. This is WWE. This is tonight and if you can’t tell, I’m pumped. Starting at 6:45 PM EST, I will be doing live play-by-play coverage of WrestleMania 23 at TheWrestlingVoice.com. It’s the fastest on-line on average by fifteen minutes as well as completely pop-up free. I invite you all to come join me and check it out if you’re unable to watch the PPV or you just can’t afford it. For more information on that, just click here. For now, let’s go over the card:
They’ve done one of these for the past two years as a dark match (I think included on the DVD) for all those who aren’t on the card which is a really good idea so everyone can still get to perform at Mania, albeit not to those at home. It will be good to see this one considering who was left off of Mania this year. Ric Flair, Johnny Nitro, Paul London, Brian Kendrick, Chavo Guerrero; the list goes on and on and on. I’m not going to sit here and bitch about these people not being on the card either because it’s WrestleMania and there are really limited spots. The only guy that truly should have been on the card, regardless of what you think of his skill, level in the company, et cetera, is Ric Flair and even then, I’m not going to sit here and whine about it because you’ve heard it all before and I’m sure with the nine hundred other prediction columns out, you’ve heard it all already. Hopefully though, they do float a random match his way. Maybe an inter-promotional Tag Team match between Carlito & Flair and Londrick! Okay, I’m just deluding myself now though a classic tag team match-up is the only thing missing from the card in my opinion. But anyway, we’ve got this battle royal and so many people in it and there are only two people I could see winning it: Snitsky & Flair. Why Snitsky? Well, despite what you think of the guy, WWE obviously has plans to feed him to Lashley in a program after Mania so this might be a good chance to do that. But if they keep Flair off the actual Mania card, they might as well float him this one and given that it’s treated much like a match that would be on a house show compared to past winners and matches…I don’t see them not doing it. The only thing I’m hoping for if I get to see this match is Londrick taking insane bumps while being eliminated, comedy brought out by William Regal, and some deafening reactions to the Nature Boy.
Predicted Winner: Ric Flair
WWE United States Championship
Chris Benoit’s on the Mania card on the flip side again this year, though practically in the same position. I’m actually looking forward to this match for some odd reason. MVP’s got a lot hate out there, but is he really that bad? Yes, I saw his debut at No Mercy and the subsequent feud against a guy that WWE has no business putting in with rookies to give them “credibility,” no offense to any Kane fans. But the character has actually gotten pretty good and in the tag roles, especially at No Way Out, he’s been in, he’s been pretty damn good. Here, you have someone like that going up against someone like Chris freakin’ Benoit in what will be MVP’s biggest night of his career as well as the definitive match of his career thus far, even if it stinks…and come on, it’s Chris Benoit; we know it won’t. Last year Benoit had a decent nine minute match with JBL. This year, I’m expecting something along the same lines, maybe more if it breaks ten minutes. Nothing great, nothing special, but it is Chris Benoit, it is WrestleMania, and it does have some significance being for a title and what-not. Benoit’s apparently heading to RAW after Mania which is good considering he’ll most likely get more of a push there, but bad considering that will be the last of the Finlay/Regal matches for a while…and also bad considering he’s said himself that he’s not going to turn heel and a heel Benoit versus a face Cena could easily be something to flip out over. In an ideal world, I’d have Benoit win the match tonight and jump to RAW, but Teddy Long saying SmackDown! contractually owns the United States Championship and he strips Benoit of the title. Then you just have an old-fashioned sixteen man or whatever tournament ending in MVP against someone like Matt Hardy and that way, you get another person over in the process as well as elevating MVP to the top of the undercard. But we know that’s not going to happen. MVP’s going to win here tonight most likely by cheating and like I said, at least we know the match isn’t going to suck because it’s Chris freakin’ Benoit.
Predicted Winner: Montel Vontavious Porter
Kane Vs. The Great Khali
If this match is kept under seven and a half minutes, I don’t see why anyone should have a problem with this match, even if you hate Khali or Kane. They are two guys on the roster getting some of the biggest reactions in the company from the crowd and while I do like Londrick better, you can’t tell me a crowd is going to want to see that match over this one. Is it going to be bad here? Probably only because Undertaker squeezed out a decent one last year when he was in super carrying mode…and you can say a lot of things about Kane, but never that he legit carried anyone in a match ever. Kane’s also heading out to rehab his knee that he’s got injured so there’s hopefully a sign that this match won’t go long. I don’t think anyone expects this match to be anything else except the bottom of the barrel, but let me just remind you that while this match might flat-out suck, there have definitely been worse matches on WrestleMania…some in the freakin’ main event.
Predicted Winner: The Great Khali
WWE Women’s Championship
This is my pick for worst match of the night. I’m not even going to begin to rant about the current state of the Women’s Division – laying it out on paper says enough and even six months ago with Trish and Lita, it still wasn’t anywhere near the definition of “good” or even “acceptable.” If you want good Women’s wrestling, go watch joshi puroresu from the 90s. Aja Kong, Akira Hokuto, Manami Toyota, Toshiyo Yamada, et cetera. Hell, if you’re not watching the PPV live tonight, go download some joshi and watch it. My personal favorites would be Akira Hokuto versus Shinobu Kandori from April 1993 and Aja Kong versus Manami Toyota from the V*TOP tournament in November 1994. Actually, seeing as we have a hair versus hair match on the card, go watch one of the greatest ones of all time – Manami Toyota versus Toshiyo Yamada from August 1992. All these matches are easily five star level matches and some anyone can get enjoyment out of. Or if you’d prefer wrestling in your own language, check out SHIMMER which is pretty cheap, all things considered…though comparing SHIMMER to joshi is literally like comparing Gunner Scott to Chris Benoit. Whoa, sorry for the rant – back to the match. Yeah, this match is definitely my pick for worst of the night, despite the rumors that Melina was told to either have a good match or find a new profession. Don’t even get me started on that since I’m sure you couldn’t get Batista to if you told him that point blank. Considering all they’ve done in the feud, how Ashley’s been built up, and the heat magnet that Melina is backstage, there’s really not a doubt in my mind we will crown a new Women’s Champion tonight. I just hope the two ladies don’t botch horribly inside the ring – or the other dozen ladies don’t botch horribly outside of the ring. This will be like watching NASCAR if a few of the drivers were a bit tipsy; you know you’re going to get a car wreck, you just hope it’s not going to be life-threatening.
Predicted Winner: Ashley
Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, Sabu & Rob Van Dam Vs. Elijah Burke, Matt Striker, Marcus Cor Von & Kevin Thorn
I actually really, really like this match because it gets over the only actual storyline ECW has had in…forever…as well as gets eight people on the card for WrestleMania, at least five of which would have never gotten on period and will probably never again. Most multi-man matches are decent and good, especially in WWE which is why I’m surprised we don’t see more on PPVs and what-not to hold off on angles and matches for a few months, so I’m not expecting anything bad here. Like some others have said, it would be nice for it to be Extreme Rules considering nothing else on the card is in that frame, it’s ECW, and it’s Sandman, Sabu, and Tommy Dreamer. But again, there’s still no reason this shouldn’t be a decent match if not more-so. It will definitely be interested hearing how the crowd reacts to some of these people though, most notably Sandman and Tommy Dreamer. In the end though, anyone thinking the Originals have a chance are seriously deluded and seeing as how Elijah Burke is seen as a break-out star of the pack, we’ll most likely see him pin Sandman or Sabu for the win after some tomfoolery.
Predicted Winner: Elijah Burke, Matt Striker, Marcus Cor Von & Kevin Thorn
Money In The Bank
Phew, eight men. Last year, there was six and you had Finlay and Flair in there as glue to hold the match together. This year, they added two more and took away Flair. Will this still be good if not great? Of course, but the term “clusterf***” does not begin to do this match justice. This match will be interesting to say the least…as well as the finish to the match. If you had asked me a month ago who was going to win this match, I would have said Ken Kennedy and viewed anyone thinking otherwise as stupid. Then Kennedy jobbed to Matt Hardy and Finlay…two people who have no chance whatsoever of winning this match. Hell, he even did the job to Matt Hardy clean. As much as Ken Kennedy looks to be the best pick on paper and logically to win this one, I just have a hard time seeing Ken Kennedy job that much (as well as in the tables match) only to win the MITB match. With that said, I think we can easily eliminate Matt Hardy and Finlay as not winning. King Booker’s nowhere near close to winning this one either, though probably has better chances than poor, poor Matt Hardy. Randy Orton’s on the company shit-list and may not even be in WWE next month (though we know TNA will take him with open arms). That leaves CM Punk, Jeff Hardy, and Edge. Punk, I feel, is a pretty good candidate to get the win here in my mind, though we all know that has no chance of happening. He’ll most likely get very, very, very close like Chris Benoit in 2005, only to get squandered, most likely again by Edge. Then we have Edge which is a pretty tricky boat considering he’s already on the level this match is supposed to propel you to and he’s already won it before. Then again, he’s undefeated at WrestleMania, but now would be the best time to get that moniker off of him especially considering the main event we have with Undertaker. So we end up with…Jeff Hardy…and despite him being demolished by Umaga, I think it’s a pretty safe bet, if you can say there is one in here. Yeah, I’ll go with Jeff and say he’ll most likely challenge the belt on a stacked PPV like Summerslam, only to become the first to lose their shot albeit in a very close match. Jeff Hardy’s someone we should all definitely be looking for in the future as a short-time transitional champion for either a feel-good moment or a shocking upset – nothing more, nothing less, but definitely not this year even if he wins this match. This match has some big shoes to fill with the two previous ones and it being only three months removed from the great, great, great ladder match at Armageddon last year, which had both Hardyz in it. I really don’t see them coming close to those matches, but this is definitely going to be a kick-ass spotfest match.
Predicted Winner: Jeff Hardy
Hair Vs. Hair Match
Monday night, they get me all pumped for this match with all the vignettes and what-not…and then they take it away by having Vince pin Lashley after a Samoan Drop while it was visible to even someone the IQ of Eugene that he kicked out. But that’s ok; I’m still very pumped for this match. The IWC dubbed “black Brock Lesnar” may not be anywhere near the level he’s being pushed at, but Umaga definitely is – in character, in crowd reactions, and in the ring. His match with John Cena at Royal Rumble was a hundred different kinds of awesome and I’m sorry, if you didn’t get any enjoyment out of that match, you need to be slapped because that is pro wrestling at it’s finest. To be honest though, I wouldn’t have even put Umaga in this match. I would have put Ken Kennedy in, even with Umaga being a far superior wrestler. This match was designed for the mainstream publicity and we all know how wrestling’s viewed at in the mainstream. What’s going to attract more people in mainstream wise and give more credibility to pro wrestling? A guy with a medium build and undeniable good mike skills – or a Samoan with paint all over his face. Granted, that Samoan can wrestle circles around Ken Kennedy, but just look at the point I’m trying to make. I would have much rather them held off on the Kennedy-Lashley stuff till Mania and stuck Umaga in the MITB match so he can butt bump the ladders over and over again so Jeff, Matt, and Punk go flying somewhere every five minutes. But here we are. The good thing is that the match finally started getting the mainstream publicity it was supposed to get. Better late than never I guess. Will this match be a classic? No. Will it be great? Probably not. But it will most likely be a decent match that people just nitpicking WWE for will criticize beyond belief. In the end, shut up because no matter what you say – watching Steve Austin shave Vince McMahon will be will worth sitting through what you may deem a bad match…especially if Austin goes nuts and stuns everyone.
Predicted Winner: Bobby Lashley
No way in hell is this not going to be great and the match of the night. It’s freakin’ Shawn Michaels and while I wouldn’t have him in the main event only because it states “the winner of the Royal Rumble gets a shot in the main event of WrestleMania,” we know this is going to be last match of the night. So like I said, it’s HBK and it’s the main event – what else are we to expect? They’ve got the heat, they’ve got the crowd peeked, and they’ve got the story – they’ve been firing on all cylinders since day one of the angle. Will Cena get booed? Who knows? It’s Detroit which booed Cena endlessly in 2005 at the Survivor Series against Angle, but there are also a big, big, big amount of Canadians here and let’s not forget it’s Mr. Montreal Screwjob on the other side of the ring. This atmosphere is going to be electric no matter how you cut it. Last year, the crowd booing relentlessly Cena created an atmosphere so great that it carried what as a match that might be viewed as good, but nothing special – to an absolute must-see match. This year, it’s Shawn Michaels. The showstopper. Mr. WrestleMania. You don’t think he’s going to take Cena miles ahead of the match last year, especially looking at how much Cena’s improved since this time last year? This match will rule. No doubt about it. The doubt remains over who will win. You can go back and forth over all the talking points: Taker will most likely win so they may not want to change both belts as well as not put two veterans in that slot, they may just be feeding him to Cena, et cetera. This match is amazingly unpredictable in the finish sense which again, adds so much to the atmosphere of the match. In the end though, I’m going to be banking on Shawn Michaels winning and a show of respect after the match between the World Tag Team Champions. It could definitely go either way though.
Predicted Winner: Shawn Michaels
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
And now we have what should be the main event. Look at last year’s win with Rey Mysterio. His eight minute win in what was supposed to be the main event at WrestleMania. You remember Mysterio winning the Royal Rumble with the announcers screaming “He’s going to the main event of WrestleMania!” Well he didn’t. Now try and tell me that didn’t take anything away from the match or post-match celebration. Forget all the Eddie Guerrero tasteless shit and just look at where the match was. It was an afterthought in the long run…and that’s not what the Royal Rumble’s for. Undertaker won the Rumble and this will only be his second chance at main event Mania ever and second chance at a title, whereas Shawn Michaels has already three times and been in a title position an extra time. Even more, this is much more than the championship – this is the undefeated streak of Undertaker, something most fans view as one of the few real things left in the business today. This match isn’t going to be better than Cena-HBK. This match may even suck. But since when did that honestly matter at WrestleMania? Count off in your mind the greatest Mania matches ever – I bet only three or four of them were the actual main event of the show. It’s about importance here and what’s more important than someone WWE billed to win the Royal Rumble and put his streak on the line against the golden boy of SmackDown!? Ok, enough ranting. This match might be good. It’s all on how far Batista can go because I think it’s an understatement to say that Undertaker will be trying his best tonight. Batista may be too, but if he was doing that in 2006, then I think we can safely say his best is nowhere near good enough. Cryptic, but true. This match might also suck. Who knows? It’s a wild card match, but I think we definitely know it won’t be the best or worst match of the night which is something you can’t say for some Mania main events in the latter. Who will win? It’s got to be Undertaker. Like so many are saying, if Batista wins, there’s no way he can’t turn heel and the only reason they’d put over Batista here is to give him the big rub babyface wise. It’d backfire probably worse than John Cena pinning Shawn Michaels, mostly because of the streak. And what about the streak? Batista is I think 39 years old, only about two or three years younger than Undertaker. He’s got a shelf life of maybe two or three years more and I doubt maybe even one more Mania main event left in him. Is this really who they want to sacrifice a streak being built up since 1991 for? Randy Orton, despite what you think about him; you could see why they might have sacrificed the streak then. Orton was very young and has an amazingly bright future ahead of him, despite his backstage antics and what-not. Batista doesn’t need this kind of rub especially if the rub’s only going to last him a few months before he tears another a muscle. It’s all Undertaker here and for every reason you can list for Batista to win the match, you can list about ten or twenty more as to why Undertaker should. It’s got to be Undertaker.
Predicted Winner: The Undertaker
There you have it – WrestleMania 23. On paper, it definitely doesn’t look like one of the best Mania ever, but WrestleMania’s unpredictable and electric – that’s what makes it so special. Anything can happen and you can even take what may be the worst match ever, but it in the spotlight at WrestleMania, and with 70,000 people screaming their lungs out – you could get something enjoyable.
This is WrestleMania people and like WWE or not, this is wrestling’s grandest stage. Like I said earlier, I will be doing live play-by-play coverage of WrestleMania 23 Starting at 6:45 PM EST at TheWrestlingVoice.com. It’s the fastest on-line on average by fifteen minutes as well as completely pop-up free. I invite you all to come join me and check it out if you’re unable to watch the PPV or you just can’t afford it. You can get more information on that here. I’ll also be doing a radio show with fellow columnist Tim Wronka tomorrow covering the event at TheWrestlingVoice.com so check that out as well. If you’re watching it live, I hope you enjoy it and if you’re not going to, I’m definitely going to urge you to somehow.
It’s WrestleMania people.