Eric Goldin | When Trump Beat McMahon at WrestleMania

SCV Voices: Guest Commentary
SCV Voices: Guest Commentary
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Throughout his illustrious and chaotic life, President Donald Trump has been in many feuds. When somebody mocks him, he’s not one to take it in stride. He has an insatiable desire to show his dominance and conquer all his enemies — while also humiliating them. When somebody says negative things about Trump, he sees it as a direct challenge and regards them as an adversary who needs to be destroyed. 

It wouldn’t surprise me if he kept a frequently updated list of the people he hates. Anyone can become Trump’s foe at any time, and as the wrestler Chris Jericho would say, “You just made the list!”

Trump has taken the fight to many giants — including (but definitely not limited to) Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Angela Merkel, Qasem Soleimani and CNN (Fake News). The most amazing thing about Trump’s numerous squabbles is the fact that he always comes out on top. Hillary Clinton, for example, was blindsided by the fierce competitive prowess of Trump. She would’ve been immortalized in textbooks for all eternity if she had become the first female president in the history of the U.S. But Trump eviscerated Hillary, and now her name will slowly wither away in the cesspool of presidential wannabees. 

All of this begs the question: What was Trump’s biggest victory? I believe his greatest triumph was when he defeated World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon (the only man who can say “You’re Fired!” more emphatically than Trump) on McMahon’s home turf at WrestleMania 23. 

Two decades before WrestleMania 23, McMahon and Trump had a positive working relationship. In the late 1980s, McMahon held WrestleMania, the biggest annual event for WWE, two consecutive years in Atlantic City at the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. This partnership was a huge success for both and everything was bliss for a while, but things would deteriorate. 

The animosity between these men started in early 2007 when Trump was in the middle of his rivalry with Rosie O’Donnell. Trump was infuriated by O’Donnell’s soliloquy on “The View,” where she ridiculed his hairstyle and called him a “snake-oil salesman.” Like a true gentleman, Trump fired back by calling her “a disgusting fat slob” and an “ugly pig!” All this drama amused McMahon, and he decided to take advantage of it to entertain his audience. On a 2007 edition of the weekly WWE program “Monday Night Raw,” McMahon brought out a fake Trump and Rosie to have a mock wrestling match. 

During the early going of the contest, the fake Rosie threw the pretend Donald around like a rag-doll and overwhelmed him with powerful aggression. The fake Trump got the upper hand when he took some chocolate cake that had been sitting on the announcer’s table and smashed it into the face of the Rosie impersonator. He then climbed onto the top turnbuckle and did a splash onto Rosie. This thunderous dive was enough for him to get the three-count and pick up the victory. 

Even though fake Trump won the match, the real Trump wasn’t amused one bit. The two caricatures of Trump and Rosie weren’t taken kindly to by the wrestling crowd. The live audience, who wanted to see serious wrestling, booed unmercifully, and the television audience changed the channel. The real Trump felt that this mock wrestling match made him look ridiculous, and he swore that McMahon would pay for this travesty. 

A few weeks later, Trump unexpectedly appeared on “Monday Night Raw” and dropped vast sums of money into the arena. McMahon was livid! That night was supposed to be “Vince McMahon Appreciation Night” — an evening meant to honor him, the greatest wrestling promoter of all time. Trump unceremoniously crashed the celebration uninvited and one-upped McMahon by giving the audience a lot of money. 

That night, Trump overshadowed McMahon and became the star of the show. With their tempers boiling, Trump challenged McMahon to a match at WrestleMania. McMahon, initially hesitant, accepted after prodding from Trump. However, they agreed they didn’t need to fight each other directly since they’re both so rich. They each hired a wrestler to represent them. McMahon selected Umaga; Trump picked Bobby Lashley. 

There was an added stipulation: The man whose representative lost would have his head shaved! And to add even more intrigue to the match, the WWE board of directors, against the wishes of McMahon, named Stone Cold Steve Austin as the “special guest referee!” Austin absolutely hated McMahon, but because of his working-class roots, he was no friend of Trump’s, either. The anticipation was very high for this match and it was dubbed “The Battle of the Billionaires.”

In the weeks leading up to WrestleMania 23, many celebrities gave their opinions on what they thought would happen. The Rock chimed in by predicting that McMahon would lose, and he also said some hilarious disparaging remarks about the literal meaning of the name “Umaga” — I wish I could repeat what he said, but it probably wouldn’t make it past the censors. 

WrestleMania 23 took place at Ford Field in Detroit on April 1, 2007. There were exciting matches, but the biggest spectacle was Trump vs. McMahon. The match was an entertaining schmoz filled with wild antics. McMahon and his son, Shane, tried to cheat multiple times by illegally getting involved in the action, but Trump took matters into his own hands and gave McMahon a brutal Clothesline From Hell that incapacitated him. Bobby Lashley finished the match by spearing Umaga and getting the pinfall victory, making Trump victorious.  

McMahon was denigrated when he got his head shaved, kicking and screaming. Injury was added to insult when Austin gave McMahon a vicious Stone Cold Stunner. Trump and Stone Cold celebrated with a beer bash, but when Trump had his guard down, he too received a Stone Cold Stunner! 

WrestleMania 23 had the second highest pay-per-view buy rate of any WrestleMania (only being bested by WrestleMania 28 — which featured a main event of John Cena vs. The Rock). The huge success of this WrestleMania can largely be attributed to the star power and allure of Trump. 

Next year’s WrestleMania was scheduled to take place in Inglewood at SoFi Stadium on March 28. I was planning on attending. However, because of the pandemic, it’s unclear if it’ll be possible to have a large stadium crowd. WWE might once again be forced to have their biggest event in an empty arena. But regardless if there’s a live audience or not, there’s one match I definitely want to see: Trump vs. Coronavirus!

Eric Goldin is a Santa Clarita resident.       

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