WrestleMania 23 was the twenty-third annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It was presented by 360 OTC and took place on April 1, 2007, at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The event was the first WrestleMania at Ford Field and the second to take place in the Detroit metropolitan area (following WrestleMania III, at the Pontiac Silverdome, in Pontiac, Michigan).
The event was a joint-brand pay-per-view, featuring performers from the Raw, SmackDown!, and ECW brands. Eight professional wrestling matches were featured on the event's supercard, a scheduling of more than one main event. The main match on the Raw brand was John Cena versus Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship, in which Cena won. The predominant match on the SmackDown! brand was Batista versus The Undertaker for the World Heavyweight Championship, in which The Undertaker was victorious. The primary match on the ECW brand was an eight-man tag team match between The ECW Originals and The New Breed; The ECW Originals claimed victory in the match. Other featured matches on the card included ECW Champion Bobby Lashley (representing Donald Trump) versus Intercontinental Champion Umaga (representing Vince McMahon) in a match where either Trump or McMahon would be shaved bald if their wrestler lost, and an eight-man interpromotional Money in the Bank ladder match.
Tickets for the event went on sale on November 11, 2006. The all-time Ford Field attendance record of 80,103 consisted of people from all fifty U.S. states, twenty-four countries, and nine Canadian provinces. WrestleMania 23 grossed US$ 5.38 million in ticket sales, breaking the previous record of $3.9 million held at WrestleMania X8. WWE estimated that $25 million was pumped into the Detroit economy. With about 1.2 million buys, the event was the highest WWE pay-per-view buyrate in history. WrestleMania XXVIII in 2012 passed 1.2 million buys with 1.21 million buys. It also has the fourth highest attendance in WrestleMania history behind only WrestleMania III and later WrestleMania 29, and WrestleMania 32 which drew 80,676 fans in 2013 and 101,763 in 2016, respectively.
WrestleMania 23 featured professional wrestling matches involving wrestlers from existing scripted feuds and storylines played out on WWE's television programs. Wrestlers portrayed faces (heroes) or heels (villains) as they followed a series of events that built tension and culminated in a match or a series of matches.
The main staged rivalry heading into WrestleMania 23 was between WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and Donald Trump. On the January 8 edition of Raw, Trump faced off against his real-life rival, Rosie O'Donnell. Trump won the contest, although local wrestlers portrayed Trump and O'Donnell. During McMahon's "Fan Appreciation Night" on the January 29 edition of Raw, Trump interrupted and dropped large sums of money into the arena. The following month, the two came up with a match for WrestleMania, where the stipulations for the match were that they each had to choose a representative to wrestle for them and the loser would have his head shaved bald. This match was then billed as the "Battle of the Billionaires". McMahon picked Umaga as his representative, while Trump picked Bobby Lashley. After successfully defending his ECW World Championship against Hardcore Holly in a Steel Cage match, a match in which the ring is surrounded by a steel cage on an edition of ECW on Sci Fi, Lashley charged at the cage, slammed through it, and landed atop of Umaga, who was at ringside. On the March 5 edition of Raw, Steve Austin was appointed as special guest referee for the "Battle of the Billionaires" match at WrestleMania 23. On the March 26 edition of Raw, McMahon faced off against Lashley in a No Disqualification match. In the match, several people interfered on McMahon's behalf, including Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, Chris Masters, Johnny Nitro, and Umaga. This interference allowed McMahon to win the bout.
The main rivalry on the Raw brand was between John Cena and Shawn Michaels over the WWE Championship. After The Undertaker, the winner of the 2007 Royal Rumble match, made his decision to face Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, a match to determine the next challenger to the WWE Championship was announced. Michaels defeated Randy Orton and Edge in a match involving three wrestlers to win a chance to face Cena at WrestleMania. On an edition of Raw, Orton and Edge, who were tag team partners as Rated-RKO, attempted to attack Cena, but Michaels ran-in and attacked them with steel chairs. Before a scheduled tag team match between Rated-RKO and Cena and Michaels, Orton played a video that highlighted the past friendships that Michaels was involved in, before turning on the friend. In the match, Michaels nearly superkicked Cena after Orton moved. Due to a later disagreement, Edge left Orton and walked off backstage, which allowed Cena and Michaels to win the match. The following week, Michaels responded to the video set-up by Orton, and made comments regarding Cena.
I will have your back until WrestleMania. I’ve turned against all my partners and more importantly, I’ve stabbed all my friends in the back. But with you, John, it’s different.
After Michaels defeated Orton, Cena ran-down to the ring and saved Michaels from an attack by Edge and Orton. On the final Raw before WrestleMania, Cena and Michaels would team up to face Batista and Undertaker in a rematch from their match at No Way Out. Cena and Michaels looked set to win after performing a synchronized Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Michaels turned on Cena and superkicked him, which allowed Batista and Undertaker to win the match.
The main feud on the SmackDown! brand was between Batista and The Undertaker over the World Heavyweight Championship. Undertaker won the 2007 Royal Rumble match to earn a championship match against any one of WWE's three world championships (WWE, World Heavyweight, or ECW). On the February 5 episode of Raw, Undertaker chose to challenge Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship when he chokeslammed him at the center of the ring. In the weeks leading to WrestleMania 23, Batista and Undertaker partook in tag team matches. In the beginning of the feud, Batista claimed to have great respect for The Undertaker; however, after several attacks by The Undertaker, Batista claimed to have lost all respect for him especially at No Way Out when Batista gained some payback by delivering a Spinebuster to The Undertaker, allowing Raw's WWE Champion, John Cena and Shawn Michaels to deliver their signature moves on The Undertaker for the victory during their interpromotional WrestleMania 23 tag team main event.
The main feud on the ECW brand was between two teams of four; The ECW Originals and The New Breed. The feud mainly revolved around which team was the "dominant force" in the revived ECW brand. The two factions of four faced off in several tag team matches throughout the weeks prior to the event. The New Breed seemed to have dominated for several weeks; however, ECW Originals leader, Rob Van Dam, defeated New Breed leader Elijah Burke in a singles match. ECW Original Tommy Dreamer issued the challenge to the New Breed for an eight-man tag team match at WrestleMania 23, which was accepted by Burke on behalf of The New Breed.
The last major feud involved eight men. Several weeks before WrestleMania 23, it was announced that the Money in the Bank ladder match would be held again, as it was in the last two years. This year, however, there would be eight men involved, rather than six the two previous years had. Throughout the weeks leading up to WrestleMania 23, qualifying matches took place on all three shows. On an edition of Raw, Edge, the winner of the match held in 2005, defeated Rob Van Dam, the winner of the match held in 2006, to earn the first spot in the match. The next night on ECW, another cross-brand match took place, with CM Punk defeating Johnny Nitro to qualify. On that week's SmackDown!, King Booker became the third man to qualify, defeating Kane in a Falls Count Anywhere match after The Great Khali interfered. On the next edition of Raw, Jeff Hardy pinned Shelton Benjamin in a match to become the fourth man to qualify. The next night on ECW, Mr. Kennedy defeated Sabu in an Extreme Rules match to earn the fifth spot. On the next SmackDown!, two qualifying matches took place, with Matt Hardy and Finlay winning their respective match to qualify when Matt Hardy defeated Joey Mercury and Finlay defeated WWE US Champion, Chris Benoit & Montel Vontavious Porter in the Triple threat qualification match. The final qualifying match took place on Raw between Carlito and Ric Flair. The match was deemed a no contest after The Great Khali interfered and attacked both men. The following week, on Raw, Randy Orton defeated Flair and Carlito in an elimination match to become the final man to qualify. After Edge and Orton had split as a team, the two attempted to get the other taken out of the Money in the Bank ladder match. Both men failed, however, as Edge won a "last chance" battle royal to retain his spot and Orton won a match on ECW to retain his.
At No Way Out, WWE United States Champion Chris Benoit and the Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff) defeated MNM (Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro) and Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP). After Benoit and MVP had some matches with the two in them (tag team and triple threat matches), MVP decided to start showing he was the "true" United States Champion. MVP would then have matches against the "champions" of other countries (including Luxembourg and Scotland, who in reality were jobbers), beating them within minutes. MVP then challenged Benoit for the title at WrestleMania 23.
The set design for WrestleMania 23 began development in October 2006 after WWE set designer, Jason Robinson, first received the final logo for the event. Robinson and his team first surveyed Ford Field in July 2006 and began planning out the staging and lighting designs. After returning to the stadium in January 2007 for more site surveying, Robinson and his team finalized the set's design in February. The final design resulted in WrestleMania 23 having the largest set ever built for a WrestleMania event. It incorporated 414 LED video screens and automated lights, 10 spotlights, 56 searchlights, 50,000 ft of cable for pyrotechnics and other use, and 35 stage flamethrowers used to produce 30 ft high and 6 ft wide flames, all which gave the set a unique look for each performer's entrance and an expanded stage lighting element of 300 ft in width and 100 ft in height using the specialized stage lighting instruments. The ramp used to reach the ring from the entrance set was 187 ft in length.
Though it took three weeks to fully prepare Ford Field, set assembly began the week before WrestleMania 23 and was completed shortly before the day of the event. It took a week for three hundred staff members, unloading and working from forty semi-trucks, to build the set and assemble the event's lighting within Ford Field, far more than the usual forty hours, one hundred staff members, and fourteen semi-trucks required for the production of WWE's weekly television events. After the event concluded, it took around thirty hours to disassemble the set and lighting, also far more than the usual three hours required for WWE's weekly television events.
|Commentator||John "Bradshaw" Layfield (SmackDown!)|
|Michael Cole (SmackDown!)|
|Jerry Lawler (Raw)|
|Jim Ross (Raw)|
|Joey Styles (ECW)|
|Carlos Cabrera (Spanish)|
|Hugo Savinovich (Spanish)|
|Ring announcer||Tony Chimel (SmackDown!)|
|Lilian Garcia (Raw/Money In The Bank)|
|Justin Roberts (ECW)|
|Howard Finkel (WWE Hall of Fame)|
|Theodore Long (Batista/Undertaker match)|
|Referee||Charles Robinson (SmackDown!)|
|Jim Korderas (SmackDown!)|
|Mickie Henson (SmackDown!)|
|Marty Elias (Raw)|
|Jack Doan (Raw)|
|Mike Chioda (Raw)|
|Chad Patton (Raw)|
|Scott Armstrong (ECW)|
|Stone Cold Steve Austin (Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga)|
Before the event went live on pay-per-view, Raw's Ric Flair and Carlito faced SmackDown!'s Gregory Helms and Chavo Guerrero in a tag team lumberjack match. Flair and Carlito controlled the early part of the match until Helms threw Flair over the top rope. SmackDown! lumberjacks attacked Flair before throwing him back into the ring. Helms and Guerrero continued to beat on Flair, but couldn't pin Flair. Chavo tried to end it with his frog splash, but Flair moved. Chavo tagged in Helms, but Flair tagged in Carlito. Carlito dominated Helms, leading to Guerrero coming in to help Helms, but Flair came in and fought Guerrero. Flair and Guerrero took each other out of the ring, and before the lumberjacks could throw them back in the ring, Carlito hit the Backstabber on Guerrero to pick up the win for himself and Flair.
In the first match that aired, Raw's Edge, Randy Orton, and Jeff Hardy Smackdown!'s King Booker (with Queen Sharmell), Mr. Kennedy, Matt Hardy and Dave Finlay and ECW's CM Punk competed in the third annual Money in the Bank ladder match. The match featured many notable spots, including points where Edge performed the Spear on all the other opponents, followed by Randy Orton doing the same by leveling many of the participants with his RKO later in the match. Mr. Kennedy missed a Kenton Bomb and landed on a ladder on the back of his neck. He instead received a Swanton Bomb from Jeff Hardy. Several dangerous ladder spots were also featured, including Orton performing an RKO on CM Punk whilst standing on the ladder, and King Booker performing his Book End to Orton from the top of the ladder as well. Midway through the match, Jeff Hardy climbed a fifteen-foot-high ladder inside the ring and on his brother, Matt Hardy's urging, he performed a leg drop off of that ladder onto Edge, who was lying prone on another ladder outside the ring, set-up on the ring apron and the barricade. Due to the impact, the ladder on which Edge was placed, broke in half and he, along with Jeff, were severely injured. They were carried off on stretchers by the paramedics. Later, when Booker was about to retrieve the contract briefcase, Matt Hardy held Booker's wife, Queen Sharmell as a hostage, threatening to perform his Twist of Fate on her. Booker went to her aid and received the Twist of Fate from Matt. Finlay fought Matt for sometime in the ring, and also performed his Celtic Cross to Matt onto a ladder. Finlay's associate Hornswoggle emerged from under the ring and attempted to retrieve the briefcase for Finlay. He was stopped by Kennedy, who performed his Green Bay Plunge on Hornswoggle. Kennedy went on to win the match, only after knocking CM Punk off a ladder by hitting him with another ladder.
The next match was billed as a "SmackDown! versus Raw Interpromotional match". Raw's The Great Khali faced SmackDown!'s Kane. It was a short match, but contained a notable spot. In homage to Hulk Hogan slamming André the Giant twenty years earlier at WrestleMania III, Kane picked up Khali for the first time and body-slammed him to the mat. The match ended with Khali pinning Kane after a Giant Chokeslam. After the match, Khali choked Kane out with Kane's chained hook, which was a reference to Kane's movie, See No Evil, where his character used said hook as a signature weapon.
A backstage segment was featured next, which involved Cryme Tyme persuading Eugene to dance with Extreme Expose instead he danced with Mae Young and The Fabulous Moolah, who were dressed as strippers as Cryme Tyme danced with Extreme Exposé. Also featured in the segment were WWE Legends Slick, Ricky Steamboat, Jimmy Hart, Irwin R. Schyster, Dusty Rhodes, Sgt. Slaughter, Howard Finkel, Gene Okerlund, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, many of whom had not been seen on television in years until Farooq interrupted the festivities with his signature "DAMN!" catchphrase.
In the fourth match, Chris Benoit faced Montel Vontavious Porter for the United States Championship. The match started off with a chain of takedowns, holds, and reversals, with MVP keeping up with Benoit, even going for some submission holds. The match lasted almost ten minutes, with Benoit attempting to lock in some of his signature submission holds, but MVP successfully reversed them, including the Crippler Crossface. The two exchanged suplexes and holds until Benoit executed a Diving headbutt on MVP, which led to Benoit getting the pinfall victory to retain the WWE United States Championship.
Long time ring announcer Howard Finkel then introduced the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2007. The next match featured Batista defending the World Heavyweight Championship against The Undertaker. The match started with Batista performing a Spear on Undertaker as the bell sounded. The match went back and forth, with both men countering each other and performing their finishers. Undertaker performed a Chokeslam, but Batista kicked out of the pinfall attempt. The Undertaker was then able to perform a Last Ride to Batista for a near-fall. Midway through the match, Undertaker performed an Over The Top Rope Suicide Dive on Batista. At one point, Batista was able to perform a running powerslam on The Undertaker through a broadcast table. Back in the ring, Batista executed a Spinebuster followed by a Batista Bomb for a near-fall. Undertaker then pinned Batista following a Tombstone piledriver to become the World Heavyweight Champion and emerge from WrestleMania with his winning streak intact. The Undertaker's win made him the first wrestler to have won both the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.
The ECW Originals (Rob Van Dam, Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, and The Sandman) took on The New Breed (Elijah Burke, Kevin Thorn, Marcus Cor Von, and Matt Striker) next. The match started off with Cor Von working over Sabu. That changed when Cor Von tagged Striker, who missed an elbow after whipping Sabu into the ropes, allowing The Sandman to get tagged. The Sandman dominated Striker, and eventually tagged Van Dam. Van Dam used also dominated Striker, but was poked in the eye, allowing Striker to tag in Burke. Burke had early success, but Van Dam regained the advantage and tagged The Sandman again. The Sandman worked on Burke until tagging Dreamer. Dreamer also beat down Burke until Cor Von received a blind tag and hit Dreamer from behind. Cor Von attacked Dreamer relentlessly and went over and punched Sabu, which distracted the referee and allowed Dreamer to be triple-teamed by Thorn, Burke, and Striker. Cor Von tagged in Burke who almost pinned Dreamer. Thorn entered next and almost performed his finishing move called the Original Sin. Dreamer managed to escape but was unable to tag his partners. Thorn tagged in Cor Von again who also almost pinned Dreamer. Cor Von tagged Thorn again, and Thorn resumed the beat down on Dreamer. Thorn tagged Striker next, and Striker attempted a suplex that Dreamer blocked and Dreamer suplexed Striker instead. Striker did not try to tag his partners and tried to stop Dreamer, but Dreamer tagged in Sabu. Sabu began to manhandle Striker and executed a leg drop from the top rope. Van Dam was then tagged in. Burke broke up Van Dam's pin attempt, which led to all competitors entering the ring. While the referee was distracted, Ariel gave Striker a chair. But Van Dam gave Striker an Van Daminator when he kicked the chair into Striker's face. Van Dam pinned Striker after a Five-Star Frog Splash to win the match for The Originals.
The match that WWE billed as the "Battle of the Billionaires" was next, as Intercontinental Champion Umaga (accompanied by Vince McMahon and his handler Armando Alejandro Estrada fought ECW Champion Bobby Lashley (accompanied by Donald Trump). Stone Cold Steve Austin served as the special guest referee. Umaga was accompanied to the ring by Vince McMahon and by his "handler" Armando Alejandro Estrada. Trump was attended to by Tara Connor. Midway through the match, Austin was attacked by Umaga, causing him to become incapacitated and was taken out of the match for several minutes. Shane McMahon, who attempted to replace him as referee, called the match while being biased towards Umaga. After Umaga got a near-fall on Lashley, Austin pulled Shane out of the ring, gave him a Stunner, and continued refereeing the match. Lashley won the match after a Stunner from Austin and a Spear. After the match, Trump and Lashley shaved McMahon's head bald, followed by Austin executing a Stunner on Trump.
The next match was Melina against Ashley in a Lumberjill Match for the WWE Women's Championship. The match was short, as Melina Bridge pinned Ashley to retain the title. After the match, the lumberjills began brawling in the ring.
The main event was World Tag Team Champion, John Cena against his World Tag Team Champion partner Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship. The match contained several notable spots, including Michaels delivering a Piledriver onto Cena through the steel steps. Cena couldn't execute an FU and Michaels also missed Sweet Chin Music during the match. Later in the match, Cena applied the STFU on Michaels, who reached the ropes to break the hold. Cena then placed Michaels in the STFU again, and in result, Michaels submitted and Cena retained the title.
John Cena and Shawn Michaels continued their feud, with Michaels betraying Cena the night after WrestleMania on Raw. During the second of two battles royal, Michaels eliminated himself and Cena, resulting in The Hardys winning the World Tag Team Championship. On the Raw before Backlash, Cena and Michaels wrestled an almost hour long non-title match, which Michaels won.
Batista also continued his feud with The Undertaker, facing off against him in a Last Man Standing match the following month at Backlash. The match ended in a draw after both men failed to answer the ten count, therefore resulting in Undertaker retaining the title. The two faced each other in a Steel cage match on the May 11, 2007 edition of SmackDown!, which ended in a draw after both men escaped the cage at the same time. The feud ended when The Undertaker dropped the World Heavyweight Championship due to a legitimate injury. Edge, who won Kennedy's Money in the Bank contract in a match on Raw the previous Monday, cashed it in and defeated The Undertaker after the Steel cage match to win the title.
Bobby Lashley's feud with Vince McMahon continued for a further three months after the event. Vince, livid after being embarrassed at WrestleMania, vowed to destroy Lashley and take his ECW Title. At Backlash, Vince, his son Shane and Umaga teamed up a Three on one handicap match against the champion, and after two Samoan Splashes by Umaga from the top rope, Vince pinned Lashley to win the title. The feud continued for a further two pay-per-views, with Lashley pinning Shane in a repeat match from Backlash at Judgment Day, but Vince ruled that as he did not get pinned, Lashley did not win the title. At One Night Stand, Lashley finally defeated Vince in a Street Fight to reclaim the championship. Donald Trump would later be involved in another Raw storyline in 2009, and be inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.
The match between Chris Benoit and Montel Vontavious Porter expanded into a lengthy feud for the WWE United States Championship, resulting in Benoit retaining via pinfall at Backlash and Porter winning the title in a Two out of three falls match at Judgment Day, winning 2–0.
The feud between the ECW Originals and the New Breed continued, with the New Breed defeating the Originals in an Extreme Rules match on the next edition of ECW. Sabu was released from the company shortly after WrestleMania, and The Sandman was drafted to Raw a few months later in the 2007 WWE Draft. Kevin Thorn left the New Breed shortly after WrestleMania and Marcus Cor Von was also released shortly thereafter. By this point, Elijah Burke and Matt Striker had ceased associating with one another, with Striker eventually being relegated to a manager role for Big Daddy V. In addition, Rob Van Dam left the company when his contract expired shortly after One Night Stand. As a result of all of this, the feud eventually puttered out and was rarely mentioned again.
Mr. Kennedy lost his Money in the Bank contract to Edge on the May 7 episode of Raw, after Edge defeated Kennedy in a match with the briefcase on the line. On the May 11, 2007, episode of SmackDown, after Undertaker retained the World Heavyweight Championship in a steel cage match against Batista via a draw and was attacked by Mark Henry, Edge successfully cashed the contract in on Undertaker and won the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time in his career.
The event received generally positive reviews. Canadian Online Explorer writers Dale Plummer and Nick Tylwalk rated the entire event 8 out of 10 stars, which was the same rating as the previous year's event. The lowest rated match on the card was Kane versus The Great Khali with a 0.5 out of a 10 star rating, the WWE Women's Championship match between Melina and Ashley was the second lowest rated match; it was rated 2 stars. The "Battle of the Billionaires" match was rated an 8 out of 10 stars. Batista versus The Undertaker for the World Heavyweight Championship match, one of the matches from the double main event, was rated 8.5 out of 10 stars. The main event match for the WWE Championship was rated a 9 out of 10 stars, and the Money in the Bank ladder match received the same rating. The attendance was reported to be 80,103 by numerous sources, a Ford Field record.
|1D||Ric Flair and Carlito defeated Gregory Helms and Chavo Guerrero||Lumberjack match[Note 1]||Unknown|
|2||Mr. Kennedy defeated CM Punk, Randy Orton, Finlay, Matt Hardy, King Booker (with Queen Sharmell), Jeff Hardy, and Edge||Money in the Bank ladder match||24:10|
|3||The Great Khali defeated Kane||Singles match||05:30|
|4||Chris Benoit (c) defeated Montel Vontavious Porter||Singles match for the WWE United States Championship||09:15|
|5||The Undertaker defeated Batista (c)||Singles match for the World Heavyweight Championship||15:51|
|6||The ECW Originals (Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu and The Sandman) defeated The New Breed (Elijah Burke, Marcus Cor Von, Matt Striker and Kevin Thorn) (with Ariel)||Eight-man tag team match||07:27|
|7||Bobby Lashley (with Donald Trump) defeated Umaga (with Mr. McMahon and Armando Alejandro Estrada)||Hair vs. Hair match with Stone Cold Steve Austin as special guest referee||13:00|
|8||Melina (c) defeated Ashley||Lumberjill match for the WWE Women's Championship[Note 2]||03:40|
|9||John Cena (c) defeated Shawn Michaels by submission||Singles match for the WWE Championship||29:27|
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