WrestleMania 23 will go down in the history of the company as the highest grossing event that has ever been held. It broke a record for attendance at Ford Field, got huge mainstream attention for the whole McMahon-Trump saga, and will have a massive amount of PPV buys around the world. But now that all is said and done, and the mega-event is behind us, how will history treat this event. In 23 years of WrestleMania, where will this one sit? Was it the best ever? Far from it in my opinion, but giving credit to the company, I thought that Sunday’s event was very good, and I think that it was a better event that over time will be looked at in a favorable light.
The one glaring thing that still stands out to me is the fact that they rolled out just eight matches, and that included the forgettable Kane-Khali match, and a women’s throw-in between Ashley and Melina. In comparison, the crowd never really got into the ECW match, and the Chris Benoit vs MVP match, which actually turned into a much better match than I expected, was the type of match where you basically were thinking to yourself – “what’s next?” Could the company have thrown in another match or two? For sure. But the decision to give Shawn Michaels and John Cena 28 minutes and the long Money in the Bank and 16 minute Batista vs Undertaker match really is what will be remembered about this card. Any match or matches they added after the eight they did would likely have been quickly forgotten.
I think that the company has slowly been moving in the direction of really focusing in on PPV’s built around 1-2 matches, and in this case, Mania was built around four matches. The two title matches, Money in the Bank, and of course the Trump-McMahon (Lashley-Umaga) match. I think this trend goes back to about December, when they decided that the failed ECW PPV was going to be all about two matches, the Extreme Rules Elimination Chamber match, and the MNM vs Hardy’s match. Look for that type of trend for the future as well, where PPV’s are all about 1-2 matches, and everything else is more or less a throwaway.
Being at the event live, and then watching it on replay, I think that just about everyone got what they wanted from this card. While it seemed somewhat obvious that Undertaker and John Cena would leave Ford Field with belts, I do stand by my commentary on Sunday night in saying that both matches I thought were well done. I have waited a long time for Batista to step up, and I thought that Taker and he did have a solid match. Now the key will be in the series of rematches if they can keep that trend going. I knew all along that Cena-Michaels would be borderline great, and it was. No doubt that this match was better than last years Cena-HHH match. It just had a better flow to it, and you can credit Michaels for being, as always at Mania, at the top of his game.
So as the company moves forward, WrestleMania 23 should be credited as a landmark event that gave the company mainstream attention for the record crowd, as well as for the Trump-McMahon saga. As far as the actual in-ring wrestling – that will be something that will take time to see where it falls in the rank of WWE history.