March 30, 2017
This is one of my favorite weeks in sports with the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Final Four and WrestleMania held on the same weekend. Looking at the card for WrestleMania 33, it could be a dud, but the in-ring action may surpass expectations, depending on the angles that the company wants to go with post-show.
If you checked out The Slate in the Jackson Free Press this week, there is a tease about a future president taking part in a past WrestleMania. No, not The Rock, although he might one day run for the office, and he has the charisma and charm to win.
WrestleMania 23 took place at Ford Field in Detroit on April 1, 2007, and while it wasn’t the greatest “showcase of the immortals,” it wasn’t horrible and does have an interesting place the event’s history.
In the run-up to the event, WWE owner Vince McMahon entered into a feud with longtime friend Donald Trump. This feud started when Trump interrupted McMahon on “Monday Night Raw,” stealing the WWE chairman’s spotlight and laying the groundwork for their future match.
This wasn’t the first time Trump ended up as part of McMahon’s traveling show. Trump signed a deal to have Trump Plaza sponsor WrestleMania IV and WrestleMania V, even though the events took place at Atlantic City Convention Hall, now known as Boardwalk Hall.
In WrestleMania history, this is still the only time that the event took place in the same location in back-to-back years. Trump was in the crowd as a fan at WrestleMania VII and WrestleMania XX, making him a fixture at the event four times before the 23rd “show of shows.”
At WrestleMania 23, the Trump-McMahon match was billed as the “Battle of the Billionaires.” So what would these so-called billionaires battle over but hair-vs.-hair, with the loser having his head shaved? What else would the two battle over if not their locks?
Instead of fighting each other, the two men chose proxies to fight in their place, with Trump picking ECW champion Bobby Lashley and McMahon going with Intercontinental champion Umaga. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin came in as a special guest referee for the match to add more sizzle.
Interesting fact: McMahon wanted Hulk Hogan to be Trump’s pick for the match as a callback to WrestleMania III, but money issues between the two kept the Hulkster from taking part in the event.
As for the match, it isn’t a classic for its in-ring work, but Stone Cold handed out his signature move, the “stunner,” to McMahon’s son, Shane, after he entered the match when Umaga had “knocked out” Austin. That set the IC champ up for the finish with a stunner from Austin and a pin by Lashley.
After the match, Trump, Lashley and Austin helped shaved McMahon, and as it turned out, Vince, with no hair, has the tiniest head in the history of wrestling. Stone Cold did his normal post-match celebration of drinking beer with Trump and Lashley before making the crowd go nuts.
Just before leaving the ring, Austin turned around and gave the future president a kick to the gut to set up another stunner. It was one of the worst taken stunners in the history of the move, with Linda McMahon, the WWE owner’s wife and the current administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration under President Trump, being one of the other bad stunners. Still, it produced one of the biggest crowd pops at a WrestleMania, and who doesn’t love seeing a rich guy getting his a** kicked, even if it isn’t real?
In January, Austin told the story to about how the stunner on Trump got into the event in an interview with pop-culture media source Complex. On the day of the event, according to Austin, McMahon introduced him to Trump and asked him to take a stunner after the match.
Trump’s right-hand man tried to talk him out of taking the move. In order to “put the match over,” a wrestling term that means to make it popular with fans, Trump agreed to take the move.
Austin gave the future president a major compliment when he said Trump “was there to do business, and we did business, and I respect the man for that.” In wrestling, to “do business” is to agree to an angle no matter if it makes you look bad. Few outsiders of the industry would have received this compliment, so it’s likely a big deal to Austin.
WrestleMania ended up being a successful production for McMahon and the WWE. The event set an attendance record at Ford Field with 80,103 fans and set a then-record for WrestleMania pay-per-view buys with 1.2 million sales. That broke the old record at WrestleMania 21, which had 1.085 million buys. WrestleMania 28, which featured the first Rock-vs.-John Cena main event, holds the current record, 1,217,000.
Trump was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in the celebrity wing just before WrestleMania 29 on April 6, 2013. Just over three years later, the American people elected him as the 45th president of the United States.
To this day, there is just about nothing better than watching Trump take a Stone Cold Stunner over and over and over again. After 24 hours of watching this, check back on the JFP Sports blog tomorrow for WrestleMania 33 predictions.