by Frank Lucci
Welcome to Spaceman Frank’s Top 10 WrestleMania moments! Rather than just create another generic Top 10 list, I will be discussing the greatest moments from WWE’s biggest show of the year and explaining why I consider them the cream of the crop. This is based on in-ring quality, storyline quality, meta quality, as well as my own unique bias. Be prepared to read about triumph, heartbreak, and above all else, some truly unique moments in this unique form of entertainment.
The Moment: The Battle of the Billionaires, WrestleMania XXIII
This moment may be controversial due to the current real life situations surrounding it, but it is still one of the more interesting ones in the company’s history.
Although there are plenty of ‘Mania moments that involve much more talented wrestlers and personalities along with moments that add more to the world of wrestling, this moment is on my top 10 list because there is nothing in wrestling period that can compare to something like this. That is the Battle of the Billionaires featuring the current President of the United States and WWE Hall of Famer Donald J. Trump.
Now Trump is an incredibly polarizing figure, and his very mention may incite plenty of negativity, but this is a column about WrestleMania moments and not a political forum. That said, it is now impossible to see the match between Umaga and Bobby Lashley and not find it surreal. What we have is one of the most powerful men on the planet shaving Vince McMahon’s (not exactly an insignificant businessman today as well as back in 2007) head. This is the President of the United States of America, and he is part of one of the marquee matches on the biggest wrestling event of the year. No other President has ever been involved in a sport or form of entertainment to this degree, with the possible exception of Teddy Roosevelt getting involved with football’s early outlaw history.
The match itself is pretty average, and just taken as Lashley vs. Umaga this feels like a main event of Raw instead of the third to last match at a WrestleMania, but Vinny Mac and D-Trump are having a bit of an issue, and these monstrous men are fighting for their honor like the billionaires are their maidens fair. In hindsight, it is slightly uncomfortable that these two old rich white men have two minorities fighting each other for their amusement, especially with Trump’s checkered history when it comes to race relations. What is at stake is not a title, or even simple bragging rights for that matter. The outcome of this wager is that whoever’s champion takes the pin must shave their head, and it is no surprise that Vince took the impromptu haircut here. To add to the proceedings, Stone Cold Steve Austin is here to collect a paycheck as a special guest referee in a role he goes back to every few years.
Nothing too special in the ring stands out, as Trump overshadows every single big move during the match. In 2017 every glance by the camera at the future President causes me to study the screen. I feel like I’m dreaming when I see the man with the nuclear codes throw possibly the worst punch in wrestling history. Then Stone Cold Steve Austin earns a spot on the no-fly list by giving the Stunner to a man with a fleet of Secret Service agents current protecting him and his family. All these moments are amazing in retrospect, and it is hard to compare something like the Undertaker’s WrestleMania win streak ending to something like this. What if Ronald Reagan actually played football instead of being in a movie about it? What if Grover Cleveland was on the New York Yankees before entering politics? I cannot wrap my head around any of that, but I have video evidence of the leader of the free world hanging out by a wrestling ring and being part of a Hair vs. Hair match.
Donald Trump will leave behind a complicated legacy when he passes, but for one night in Detroit he was the good guy fighting against the elitist billionaire. Much in the alleged fashion of his electoral campaign, he was standing up for the common man, using his resources to stand up against someone who usually is unchallenged in power. Trump gets the people behind him and promises to humiliate the people who have been in charge and unchecked for decades. In the end (via his champion Lashley) he managed to get a victory that he assured us he would get, despite his own hiccups performing on the big stage. We see his opponents humiliated and he eventually goes on to become the onscreen owner of the WWE. We should have seen his run at the Presidency coming, and seeing his ascent from WrestleMania 23 to kayfabe owner of the company and Hall of Famer mimics his rise in politics in such a way that is completely bonkers watching it now. For involving the President in a WrestleMania main event and giving WWE something they can brag about for the rest of the company’s history, the Battle of the Billionaires rolls in at number six on my list of WrestleMania moments.