WrestleMania and celebrity involvement are a potent brew with long-standing success. When Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper linked up to Vince McMahon's sports entertainment machine in the mid-eighties, a template was drawn up for WrestleManias of the future. To expand his empire, McMahon had to use skyrockets from the A-and-B-lists to convert non-fans into obedient Universe inhabitants. Draw 'em with the gaga, hook 'em with the product.
In 2007, McMahon reached out to an old friend, one with a concrete WrestleMania heritage: Donald Trump. The future 45th President of the United States had previously appeared at four WrestleManias, two of which he outright sponsored, so he was no stranger to McMahon's pageantry. For WrestleMania 23, Trump would become an active participant in the hoopla, trading barbs with McMahon, and wagering his unorthodox combover against McMahon's coif in a hair-vs-hair match, fought by Bobby Lashley and Umaga as their proxies.
Love Trump or not, the man understands salesmanship, and he and McMahon know all too well that fans across the planet would pay good money to see one pretentious tycoon lose his locks. Which is precisely what happened.
Taking place twenty years after the monumental WrestleMania 3 in Pontiac, MI, the twenty-third incarnation out of neighboring Detroit made many allusions to its predecessor, seeking to equal the event's grandeur. A number of fans would say, "close enough".
10. Lance Russell Was Nixed As Jerry Lawler's Inductor Because "Nobody Knows Who He Is"
There are many critics of the WWE Hall of Fame, usually for a common reason: it's not the most accurate representation of wrestling history. Honestly, it isn't really designed to be. It's a "feels" night for nostalgia-minded fans to see stars of their youth, smiling and praising WWE for being so gracious to them. The Hall has its positives, sure, but there is a palpable hollowness.
Take the 2007 ceremony, which saw Jerry Lawler receive a more-than-deserved induction. For his inductor, Lawler chose dear friend Lance Russell, the eternal voice of Memphis Wrestling, whose calm, sweet-voiced delivery made him an institution in the territory.
Reportedly, oft-criticized WWE director Kevin Dunn shot down Lawler's request, because he felt fans would have no idea who Russell was. Some younger ones, sure, but that would be WWE's job, to explain why Lawler holds this individual in such high-esteem.
Instead of Russell, who would have given a profound speech for his friend, Lawler was stuck with William Shatner, who had taken part in a throwaway angle with "The King" in 1995. Shatner, in his speech, seemingly knew nothing else about Lawler, except for their silly TV encounter.