Ruthless Aggression #16. WrestleMania 23 (April 1, 2007) Part 1

On the Card: Ruthless Aggression #16 WrestleMania 23 – April 1, 2007

The Ruthless Aggression Era was a time when the WWE roster was so huge and so varied that they had no way of continuing storylines each week on their two main shows – RAW and Smackdown – and so they created the draft where wrestlers and announcers would be drafted onto either one of the two shows. Smackdown wrestlers would not (usually) be able to appear on Raw or interact with Raw wrestlers and vice versa.

Ten years ago, on April 1, 2007, WrestleMania 23 aired. It was a WWE PPV, the first one since Royal Rumble back in January. Personally, the PPV came at a time where I had grown weary with professional wrestling, confused by the sheer number of wrestlers and unwilling to spend so much time per week watching hours of footage and trawling through shows, replays, promos and matches. I simply watched the PPVs. Over the next few weeks, I will review this PPV from the perspectives of a fan looking back at it after a decade as well as my original thoughts as a younger man watching it at the time.

WWE WrestleMania 23

All Grown Up.

Ha ha! All grown up. Because, you see, it’s the old blood versus the new blood. Cena and Michaels. Batista and Undertaker.

If there is one thing I love about each year being a wrestling fan, it’s the Royal Rumble. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s WrestleMania. Yep, there, I said it. WrestleMania has so much hype surrounding it that it cannot help but disappoint. The best thing about Mania is normally the entrances and the crazy spots. The matches are sub-par, normally, and half of it is aimed at the people who don’t watch wrestling but want to see celebrities. I would hate, hate, hate to go to WrestleMania and be anywhere but the front row. I’ve seen pictures of the ring from the nose-bleed seats. It is no way to spend your money.

WrestleMania 23 was at a time when wrestling ratings were low but spending was high. Trying to recoup losses, WWE made ‘Mania as crazy as possible and called in some old friends and crazy matches to intrigue and entertain fans. Let’s see if it’s just a full undercard!

Old promo package showing the titles of the last twenty-two WrassleManias. We see Hogan, Andre, Warrior, Stone Cold, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Rock, Shane McMahon, Triple H, Eddit, Cena etc. There’s a big pop for the fact that WrassleMania is all grown up. Hey! That’s the tagline!

Here we are in Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan, the city that never stops stabbing, we join 80,103 people in attendance with 1,188,000 at home (higher than the 930,000 from the year before) as the Queen of Soul, Miss Aretha Franklin sings America The Beautiful with a whole fucking choir and a piano and shit. Lovely promo package showing some soldiers, bombers, mountains, a woman in a sea of soldiers, firemen, the statue of Liberty, Shawn Michaels, more soldiers on parade, John Cena, Maria, a bald eagle, Abraham Lincoln’s statue, more bombers and big pyro. USA! USA! USA!

Fucking jingoistic bollocks.

Cut to everyone in a corridor, being kids, saying one line each and looking into the camera. It’s actually a fucking brilliant promo package. It looks amazing. Except for the laughable bits with the women. You’re not champions, ladies.

Raw, Smackdown and ECW present WrestleMania 23! Big pyro hits and we are officially welcomed in by Jim JR Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler. The other announcers are Cunt JBL and Maggle Cole. ECW is here as well: Joey Styles and Tazz.

(Note: Before the PPV began, there was a dark match that featured Ric Flair and Carlito teaming up to defeat Gregory Helms and Chavo Guerrero. It was a lumberjack match and an excuse for some lads to get a WresleMania payday without doing much. They included: Viscera, Shad Gaspard and JTG of Cryme Tyme, Chris Masters, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas of the world’s greatest tag team, Robbie and Rory McAllister of the Highlanders, Val Venis, Super Crazy, Johnny Nitro, Jim Duggan and Eugene, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, Kenny Dykstra, Daivari, Shannon Moore, Sylvain Grenier, Deuce n’ Domino, Paul London and Brian Kendrick who should really have been on the fucking show, The Miz, Vito, Scotty 2 Hotty, William Regal, Dave Taylor, Jimmy Wang Yang, Jamie Noble, Sho Funaki, Balls Mahoney, Stevie Richards, Little Guido, Cunt Bob Holly and Snitsky. Phew!)

The opening contest, as Lillian and her plunging neckline tell us, is for a contract to allow the winner to have a championship match at any time.

First down is Jeff Hardy, first appearance in five years. He hardly gets halfway down the ramp before Booker T comes down with his King gimmick and his mental wife Sharmell. What a guy. Thankfully, she does not hail him.

Fucking Finlay is next, shaming all Irish people with his bollocks.

CM Punk comes down with his electric guitar entrance. No Cult of Personality to be heard.

Kennedy! Fuck right off. The camera can’t have him at all. His mic actually falls from the roof. That’s quite cool, actually.

Ooooooh yeaaaah! It’s fat Matt Hardy. Jeff! Matt! Hardys! Hardyz! Team Extreme! Same match!

What? Randy Orton! Hey! There’s nothing in my way! Nothing gonna change what you done to me! Brilliant. It’s a great matchup already.

The other member of Rated-RKO turns up. Big Edgey. Down he comes, face on him. He’s desperate to kick the shite out of everyone tonight. The announcers put over tag team dissension.

Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Mr Kennedy def. CM Punk, Randy Orton, Finlay, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy and King Booker (w/ Queen Sharmell) via ascension to the heavens in 19:10.

Referees on the outside. All the men stare at the ceiling and then leave the ring. Kennedy and Randy pair off. Finlay takes his damn time, goes top rope and has a bowling ball spot, knocking everyone off. Edge gets a ladder, sets it up mid-ring and Matt pulls him down from it. Randy and Finlay take their place, punching atop the ladder until it falls over. Jeff goes up, damn near gets the briefcase until Kennedy takes him down. Outside, Booker goes for a ladder and finds a tiny stepladder. It is used by CM Punk as a weapon until Edge tosses it at his face and busts him wide open. Blood already.

The ladder is set up against the barricade like a bridge and CM Punk reverses a suplex to avoid being put through it. Booker cleans house in the ring and does a spinneroony before the Hardys knock him down. Matt hits a Side Effect on Edge and set up the ladder in a repeat of the Joey Mercury spot that opened it up but escapes and suplexes Matt onto it instead.

It’s Kennedy’s turn to be in the ring and sets Matt up for the Kenton bomb, bopping the back of his head off the edge of the ladder. Jeff hits the Swanton and both Hardys use the ladder to clear house. They both climb the ladder and fight each other on top. Finlay tosses the ladder over and batters everyone, clearing the house and lifting up the ladder before Edge spear him followed by Randy, Booker, Finlay, Matt, Jeff and attempts to spear CM Punk but he leapfrogs. Then we have a Three Stooges spot with CM Punk putting the ladder on his head and knocking the shit out of everyone.

Edge is alone and getting big boos when he leaves to get the biggest ladder. The announcers make penis jokes.

Edge lifts up the ladder and sets it near the briefcase. Randy is up and pushes the ladder – and Edge! – over, out onto the concrete. Jeff knocks Randy down, sets the ladder up and moves the ladder about. Matt sets up Edge on the ladder-bridge and Jeff decides not to climb the ladder to get the briefcase (it’s miles away anyways) and hits a dumb leg drop onto Edge. Lots of time spent focussing on these two men. Edge looks legit hurt and Matt looks worried.

Randy RKOs Matt then Finlay and Kennedy. He sets up a ladder – very small ladder – and slowly ascends it. CM Punk is up, hits Orton and sets the two ladders next to each other. Both men climb the ladders and the video cuts to Edge being “eliminated” by being sent out on a stretcher. Randy and Punk have a lovely RKO off the top rope but Randy is up to beat on Booker and sets up another RKO but booker reverses into a Book End and goes back up the ladder. Matt Hardy enters and so does Sharmell. He threatens to give the Twist of Fate to Booker’s wife if he doesn’t descend the ladder. Booker, to his credit, does, and gets a Twist of Fate for his effort. Finlay comes in, lifts the ladder, sending Matt flying. Finlay is bust open. He gives Matt the Celtic Cross on the ladder and sells it like it hurt him. It did not.

Finlay is bust badly, having difficulty getting up. And then Hornswoggle comes in. Oh God. He goes up the ladder himself to help Finlay. He’s nearly there and Kennedy is in, up the ladder and shouting at Hornswoggle. Little Bastard slaps Kennedy and gives him a lovely rolling senton from the ladder. Finlay throws the ladder straight at Kennedy’s face. Finlay is climbing, inches away when Punk dropkicks the ladder and sends him off. Punk sets up the ladder, he could win this, there are no others in the ring… until Kennedy comes in and the pair exchange blows. Punk kicks Kennedy and the blonde bastard picks up a ladder, throws it, repositions the ladder mid-ring and gets the briefcase to win the Money in the Bank in 19:10.

2017 comments:

Good opener. High-octane, lovely spots, setting the scene and getting a little blood in already. Only downside is that not everyone in the match was equally used, especially Finlay (apart from the end), Punk (who seemed to just fill in when no one was available), Edge (in, out, shake it all about) and Jeff Hardy (who did one spot and left).

2007 comments:

Fucking Kennedy. Why did it have to be Kennedy?

Grade: B

Kennedy runs out of the ring and up the aisle, away from the ring, happy to be shot of the place. Some great replays of the last few minutes. Hornswoggle took a great hot on the ribs, boy.

Cut to the theatrical release of The Condemned with Stone Cold Steve Austin. The release was basically like a wrasslin’ match. Lots of cheering and that.

Backstage, Todd Grisham is speaking to Mr. Kennedy, who is inspecting his briefcase as if to ask, “How does this open?” and, “Where are the sweets? I was promised that sweets would be inside.”

Oh, Kennedy,

He interrupts Todd, congratulates himself and sends a message to the lads in the back with gold because Kennedy has a contract to kill any of them… with a referee and ring permitting, of course. He is, after all, Mr. Money in the Bank… Bank.

Cut to Baby Batista promo where our boy Dave talks about his childhood. Is it legit? Is it kayfabe? We may never know. He says he has a focus – wrasslin’ – and it’s his passion. That and going to space.

It’s time for the piss break match as Khali enters to a silence. Fuck off. You’re no good and you’re pushed to be better than Taker. Nonsense. He’s fighting Kane and not even Jobber to the Stars can help this nonsense.

Big pyro and down he comes, walking with a purpose and big chubby belly on him. He gets into the ring, smiles creepily and the bell rings.

The Great Khali def. Kane via pin in 5:31.

Khali pushes Kane to the ground and the Big Red Machine sells it like a shotgun blast. Kane boots him in the nuts, runs the ropes and Khali says no. Chop attempts from the Punjabi Playboy and Kane goes flying. Kane gives Khali a wee guillotine, gets a clothesline for his efforts. JR and King are trying to put over this match and failing. Khali hits the Vulcan Nerve Pinch and Kane fights to his feet. The crowd are dead. No interaction with them. Khali has Kane in the corner and chokes him for a bit. Kane fights back, gives Khali big right hands and is tossed back. Kane goes top rope, attempts a clothesline and a boot. Khali gets stuck in the ropes, tied up like Andre. Kane goes under the ring, gets a hook and chain – like the ones used in See No Evil! – and it hooks onto the ropes. Khali rips off the turnbuckle pad and Kane uses the chain to hit the low blow. Big body slam from Kane and there’s a huge pop! WrestleMania 3 callback! Andre! Hogan! Kane! Khali! Kane and Khali shake chokes for a bit until Khali chokeslams Kane, puts a foot on his chest and gets the pin in 5:31.

2017 comments:

I love Kane and this was guff. Other than the body slam and the pop, this was a waste of time.

2007 comments:

Oh Kane, how far have you fallen?

Grade: F

Khali chokes Kane, gets some extra heat and leaves.

On the Card will return on April 8 2017 with the second part of WrestleMania 23.

Ruthless Aggression #12: Armageddon (Dec 17 2006) Part 1

Ruthless Aggression #12: Armageddon – December 17, 2006.

The Ruthless Aggression Era was a time when the WWE roster was so huge and so varied that they had no way of continuing storylines each week on their two main shows – RAW and Smackdown – and so they created the draft where wrestlers and announcers would be drafted onto either one of the two shows. Smackdown wrestlers would not (usually) be able to appear on Raw or interact with Raw wrestlers and vice versa.

Ten years ago, on December 17, 2006, the seventh Armageddon aired. It was a SmackDown! PPV, the first of its kind since No Mercy in October. Personally, the PPV came at a time where I had grown weary with professional wrestling, confused by the sheer number of wrestlers and unwilling to spend so much time per week watching hours of footage and trawling through shows, replays, promos and matches. I simply watched the PPVs. Over the next four weeks, I will review this PPV from the perspectives of a fan looking back at it after a decade as well as my original thoughts as a younger man watching it at the time.

Armageddon 2006

The End… Is Only The Beginning

Oh yeah. That’s a tagline and a half. Seems like a movie tagline. Oh, it’s good. I like it. Ten out of ten. The cover has Batista dressed up like one of the Road Warriors or something. Very snazzy.

After ye olde wrasslin’ video, there is – would you believe it – a biblical promo package which defines the word “Armageddon”. We see the MVP vs Kane Inferno Match which involves one opponent setting the other on fire. Then there’s a bible verse and a promo for the Last Ride match where Undertaker and Kennedy fight to throw the other into a hearse. Another definition and we see the team of Batista and Cena get ready to fight Booker T and Finlay. It’s a triple main event! Which, of course, means no mean event. Of course, one of these main events takes place… first. Huh.

(Note: Before the PPV began, there was a dark match featuring Vladimir Kozlov and Scotty 2 Hotty. Yeah, of Too Cool fame.)

Big pyro and we are told that the end is here. Moustache Michael Cole and Cunt JBL invite us to the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia, for the final PPV of 2006. A measly 8,200 people in attendance with a total of $423,500 in ticket sales at the door. Total PPV buys of 239,000, which is down from the 320,000 in 2005. JBL talks about the Inferno match but who gives a fuck because there’s a green-haired kid standing behind my boys, Hugo Savinovich and Carlos Cabrera, who actually chat for ages before Tony Chimel interrupts them.

MVP’s music hits and out comes the man himself, who has even more pyro behind him as he enters the arena. Around the ring, there is an odd contraption that the flames roll from. As he walks about the ring, the flames shake scarily. We see a promo for MVP as he jobs out boys left and right. He was desperate for competition and got our boy Kane. MVP kicked Kane in the balls and Teddy Long, upset with this, made the inferno match. Kane racks up losses to MVP Kane is livid. We have a flashback to the first Inferno match with masked Kane.

Back in the arena, the air is thick with smoke already. It is about to be roasting up in there. Big pyro from Kane and he comes down with the worst theme tune he had since the start of his career. He raises his hands and the flame contraption burns higher. What a lad. JBL calls him a bastard. Fuck off, JBL. The flames burn higher and the bell rings as MVP falls to his knees.

Inferno Match: Kane def. MVP via combustion in 22:33.

Well, let’s get into this piece of shit quickly. Kane hits the big boot, throws MVP into the corner and the crowd apparently cheer and ooh and aah as MVP climbs to the corner and regrets it. Each big bump makes the flames burn higher. MVP crawls about and is beaten down. Kane gets MVP into the corner and is about to hit the superplex when MVP fights back, flames jumping. MVP throws Kane down, but he just sits up. Michael Cole reminds us that the competitors cannot leave the ring. Kane calls for the chokeslam and the flames burst. Cole then calls them, “the exclamation point.” Yes, Cole. We got it.

Kane removes the turnbuckle covering and leans over the flames to set it alight. As Kane goes to hit MVP, he drops the cover. MVP lands on it briefly, but quickly takes and chucks it out to safety. Kane has MVP in the corner and beats him without mercy. He who is without mercy now pleads for it. Lovely Bossman Slam from Kane. Cunt JBL speaks for a while though no man cares.

Kane shouts at MVP in the corner and gets a punch for  his efforts. MVP goes to the top rope and is pushed off onto the floor. Kane then goes to the top rope and actually jumps! The two men fight and struggle to push the other into the flames. Why does Kane like fire so much? He was burned as a child! Crazy stuff. Kane has the hand on MVP’s throat and pushes MVP into the flames, burning his arse where he has fire-retardant pants on, giving Kane the win in 8:14.

2016 comments:

I was thinking it was going to be a shitshow, but it was actually good. The whole gimmick of an Inferno match requires that the wrestlers be a bit more careful with one another, and they were. The entire piece was a well-rehearsed piece of very dangerous theatre and because there was a clear and present danger there with the flames, the audience were rapt, knowing that at any point, one of the two of them could be hurt.

2006 comments:

Did you see your man’s arse get set on fire?

Grade: B

MVP runs up the aisle before men with fire extinguishers put him out. It’s actually pretty fucking awesome. We see replays. It’s fun. Cunt JBL gives off that no human being should be set on fire… he seems to forget about his time as a crucifier back in the day.

Cut to the ladies in Teddy’s room. We have Forgettable Girl 1-4 and Teddy Long. Teddy tells them that there’s going to be a Naughty or Nice lingerie contest. Who gives a fuck?

Back in the arena, Cunt JBL ruins the craic.

The tag team champs appear first, sliding out and getting little applause. Regal and Taylor soon follow. Dave Taylor looks to be at least one hundred years old. Teddy Long comes out and tells all the players that there will be a Lingerie contest. No cunt cares. He then informs everyone that the tag match will be a ladder match… and some ladders appear, as if to punctuate the sentence. He then reveals that two teams have been added to the match: MNM (with Melina), who are apparently back together; and The Hardys, who the crowd are already clamouring for. When the two daredevils come out, the crowd go bananas. The Hardys pose for a while before the bell rings

Ladder Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship: Paul London and Brian Kendrick (c) def. William Regal and Dave Taylor, MNM (w/ Melina) and The Hardys via ascension in 20:13.

The matchup is underway and already there’s a schmoz. Everyone is chucked out except London, Kendrick and the Hardys. London (white pants) gets a jawbreaker and the Hardys hit a lovely swinging backdrop on Kendrick. Regal, Taylor and MNM come back in, desperate to slow the match down to a crawl. Regal and Taylor aren’t really known for their skill in a ladder match but if they’re rough enough, it shouldn’t matter.

This match is so hectic and hard to write about, I’m just going to hit the big spots. Lovely Poetry in Motion in the corner followed by a Snapshot. All four teams are in the ring now as well as three ladders. Jeff doesn’t know what to be doing with himself. Kendrick and London are thrown out, leaving only the Hardys. Matt Irish Whips Kendrick into the corner where Jeff waits with a ladder to throw it into his face. Nitro jumps into the ring and misses the ladder. Joey Mercury has the ladder, goes up it and is inches away from winning when Hardys and Kendrick/London lift the ladder up and toss him into Nitro on the outside.

Hardys set up a ladder in the corner and whip Kendrick, then London into it. Attempt at Poetry in Motion but London moves. Double suplex from London and Kendrick to Matt. Matt tosses London off the ladder and then does the same to Kendrick. On the outside, the other two teams fight but no one cares. Matt goes to suplex London but he fights back. Matt falls onto the ladder and Kendrick stops him from the turnbuckle. MNM hit the double gutbuster on London and the pace slows as the two men set up the ladders for a superplex spot onto a ladder. Jeff is top rope and Matt helps him fight off MNM. Jeff jumps onto the ladder and, like a see-saw, one end propels upwards, cracking Joey Mercury with a legit injury to the face.

Straight-up Shoot Fact: Although we have seen many legit injuries on this blog – some serious and some superficial and many more self-inflicted – this one is legit dangerous and could have ended far worse for our boy Mercury. He received five stitches on the inside of his nost and fifteen on the outside of his nose and cheek. His eye swelled shut pretty much instantly and he received four fractures on the inside of his nose including his orbital bone.

Like a tap, blood streams from our man Mercury. He is crawling backstage as the match continues, the camera moving back and forth when necessary. In the ring, the action never stops. A replay shows the ladder hitting Joey, his body remaining static and his head moving unnaturally from the force of the shot. Christ of almighty. This is wrestling, I suppose.

Taylor tosses Kendrick onto a ladder and Regal German suplexes London onto it. The crowd cheer for the Hardys as Regal rises up the ladder. He stops, terrified of heights and Taylor takes his place. Great storytelling here. If Regal goes to the top rope and then steps down because of his vertigo, this would be perfect. Jeff brings another ladder in as Matt hits two Twist of Fates on Taylor and Regal. Just as Jeff is about to jump, Nitro baseball slides the ladder, knocking Jeff off. Nitro has the ladder and bulldogs it onto Regal. Cunt JBL says that he now likes MNM. He’s still a cunt, but now a gloryhunting cunt. A glorycunter.

Nitro goes to the top of the ladder and London dropkicks him. Matt goes up a ladder and tosses boys off left and right. We have London vs. Matt at the top of a ladder, inches from the belt. Matt gives him the back body drop and Jeff appears with a ladder, climbing but too far away from the belts. Jeff sunset flips him, hitting a powerbomb and essentially legdropping the canvases. Matt sets up two ladders and Regal and Taylor move them apart, wishboning him. The two powerhouses set up the ladder to great boos. Regal goes a bit higher, overcoming his fear of heights, and Kenrick is up, punching at Regal until Taylor drags him off. Kendrick attempts the Shiranui and does not land it. Potential botch two of the night.

London is dragging himself towards the middle of the ring. Matt Hardy is back in, and London just… gets the belts in 20:13.

2016 comments:

Great match except for the beginning and the end. The teams were great at parts, but, the parts did not mesh together as well as they should have.

2006 comments:

If Mick were in the match, it would have been best match.

Grade: A

The winners celebrate, the losers go to the hospital and we see Joey Mercury’s face erupt.

On the Card will return on December 24 2016 with the second part of Armageddon 2006.