It’s bigger than the Super Bowl, more grandiose than the World Series, more important than the playoffs. Of course, I’m talking about Wrestlemania. This annual extravaganza will be coming to you live on pay-per-view this Sunday, Apr. 1 from Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. It is the pinnacle in our business, the most ground-breaking event of the year for the 23rd time. Soul legend and 19-time Grammy Award winner Aretha Franklin will perform ” America the Beautiful” at the start of the event, reprising her role from twenty years earlier at Wrestlemania 3.

WrestleMania is important for the wrestlers involved, not just because of big paychecks but because it is a milestone event in a wrestler’s career. It also shows that a wrestler has finally made it in the wrestling industry. Championship wins at WrestleMania has led to the start of eras in wrestling: The era of Hulkamania led by Hulk Hogan, the era of Bret Hart, the Stone Cold era and now the contemporary John Cena era.

WrestleMania XXIII matches and predictions

World Heavyweight Championship Match: Batista (c) vs. the Undertaker

Following his win at the Royal Rumble, the Undertaker earned the right to face Batista in the main event. Batista has reigned as World Heavyweight Champion since November, when he won the belt at the Survivor Series.

Rider’s Pick: The Undertaker. His win/loss at Wrestlemania is 14-0 and this year will be no different. He’ll be walking out of ‘Mania as the new World Champion and that’s a guarantee.

WWE Championship: John Cena (c) vs. Shawn Michaels

When the WWE title is on the line, friendships don’t matter. This one is between the two tag team champion, Cena and what’s that other guy’s name? Oh yes, that’s right.the “Has Been Kid” Shawn Michaels. John Cena has been WWE’s poster boy for a couple of years now and will most likely go over for the 4th consecutive year.

Hair vs. Hair match: Bobby Lashley (w/ Donald Trump) vs. Umaga (w/ Vince McMahon) (w/ Steve Austin as Special Guest Referee)

This match has been hyped up as the “Battle of the Billionaires”, with either Trump or McMahon having to get his head shaved if his representative loses. Since winning the ECW Championship, Bobby Lashley has been dominating all comers and the Samoan Bulldozer Umaga will be no different. With Stone Cold Steve Austin as the guest referee, there’s no way that the Donald will be getting his head shaved. Expect to see McMahon wearing a wig very shortly. Or a hair transplant. Or something. Maybe he’ll decide to stay bald. How about a Mohawk? Okay, that’s going a little too far now. Onto the Money in the Bank.

Money in the Bank ladder match: Edge vs. CM Punk vs. King Booker vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Mr. Kennedy vs. Matt Hardy vs. Finlay vs. Randy Orton

My money is on Edge winning this one. He’s definitely got the advance having been a participant in both previous MITB matches and will come out on top. Otherwise, CM Punk, Mr. Kennedy, and even Randy Orton have a shot at winning. Well one thing’s for sure, we definitely know Matt Hardy has no chance of getting the title shot.

Extreme Championship Wrestling Match: The ECW Originals vs. The New Breed

I would have to go with The New Breed. After Wrestlemania, the only wrestler that WWE has plans for is Rob Van Dam because they don’t want him to go to Total Non-Stop Action. Tommy Dreamer may go back to his office position as there has been heat on his replacement Mike “Simon Dean” Bucci. Both Sandman and Sabu are currently on the bubble and might lose their jobs. It’s time for the new generation of ECW wrestlers to rise to the top, and become the crème de la crop. Pun intended.

WWE Women’s Championship: Melina (c) vs. Ashley Massaro

Ashley Massaro is a ditz. I cannot stand her. She won the 250,000 Diva Search in 2005, and yes, I’m aware of the fact that she is on the cover of the April edition of Playboy magazine. But what has she done in the wrestling business? What makes her worthy of women’s title contention at the biggest show of them all? Plus, the sad part is I think that she is going to win.

WWE United States Championship: Chris Benoit (c) vs. Montel Vontavious Porter

Benoit is an amazing competitor. He should not be competing for the U.S. but for one of the World titles. Unfortunately, his career reached its peak in 2004 and it seems as if the much-talked about rookie Montel Vontavious Porter a.k.a. MVP should be winning this one.

Kane vs. The Great Khali

Khali Chop. Khali Headbutt. Khali Slam. And at that point the match will be over, just like this column is now. Phone a friend, get tons of refreshments, and check out the show because you don’t want to miss this one even if your life depends on it. It’s Wrestlemania baby, Woooooooo!

I must give a big thanks to independent wrestler Johnny North, who helped contribute this week.


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