The Original Plans For WrestleMania 23, Including Triple H vs John Cena & Shawn Michaels vs Booker T

Hamish Woodward

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One single injury changed the entire course of WrestleMania 23, with the original plans showing a much different show for the fans in Detroit.

WrestleMania 23 saw some huge matches taking place. John Cena defended his WWE Championship against Shawn Michaels at the event, while The Undertaker won the World Heavyweight Championship from Batista. Kane and The Great Khali imitated Hogan vs Andre, while Donald Trump starred in the high-profile “Battle of the Billionaires”.

However, not all of these matches were originally set to take place. While matches like Undertaker vs Batista were always planned, an injury to Triple H in early 2007 changed the entire card (including the main event) from top to bottom.

In this article, we’ll detail the matches that were originally planned for WrestleMania 23, but were changed at some point prior to the event. This included due to injury issues, contract disputes and simply just changes in creative plans, which generally turned out better for most of the changes made on the show.

WrestleMania 23 Original Plans

Triple H vs John Cena

If not for a horrific injury just before the 2007 Royal Rumble match, Triple H would have beaten John Cena for the WWE Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 23.

The Game was embroiled in a feud with Rated-RKO (Randy Orton and Edge) between 2006 and 2007, which saw D-Generation X reuniting to face the dastardly duo. Triple H and Shawn Michaels had some incredible matches during this run, which culminated at New Year’s Revolution 2007 for the World Tag Team Championships.

During that match, Triple H tore his quad in one of the worst injuries he has ever had. Shawn Michaels was forced to call the match on the fly, attacking the referee to end the match and begin a post-match beat down on their opponents. This included Triple H hitting Edge with a pedigree through a table, despite only having one leg in use at that time.

If he hadn’t got injured, Triple H would have gone on to beat John Cena in the WrestleMania 23 main event, which was the original plan going all the way back to his match with Cena one-year prior.

Booker T vs Shawn Michaels

With Triple H taking the spot in the main event of WrestleMania 23, that means that Shawn Michaels wasn’t originally planned to wrestle John Cena at the biggest show of the year.

Instead of facing Cena, Shawn Michaels was instead pencilled in to wrestle against King Booker – the then-gimmick of Two-time WWE Hall of Famer Booker T – in a marquee match-up at WrestleMania 23. King Booker was in the Money in the Bank ladder match for that event, a match that was made seemingly to get as many big stars on the card as possible (which we will see with another planned match, later in this article).

In an interview, Booker T named Shawn Michaels as his dream opponent for WrestleMania, revealing that the pair never actually faced off in a one-on-one match in the WWE. With King Booker just lumped into the Money in the Bank match, it seems like a match with The Heart Break Kid was actually a smart plan for WrestleMania 23.

Hulk Hogan vs Big Show

WWE tried to pay tribute to the iconic Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant match with another huge match at WrestleMania 23. Vince McMahon drew up tentative plans to pit Hulk Hogan against another giant in The Big Show for a huge marquee match, twenty years after Hogan and Andre’s Titanic clash at WrestleMania III.

Once billed as Andre The Giant’s son, Big Show seemed to be the perfect man to face Hogan. However, he was struggling with his weight at the time, having left the WWE the year prior to help rehab a back injury. Big Show wasn’t signed to the WWE, but was reportedly ready to come back for that match against Hogan.

However, plans changed that caused Big Show to pull out of the bout. According to Jim Ross, Big Show refused to lose to Hogan at WrestleMania 23, even though he’d lost to him in Memphis just a few weeks after WrestleMania, in a non-WWE sanctioned match.

You can click here to read more in-depth about the cancelled Hulk Hogan vs Big Show match.

Ric Flair vs Mr Kennedy

According to a shoot interview with two-time WWE Hall of Famer, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, he was supposed to wrestle a singles match against Mr Kennedy at WrestleMania 23.

The original plan for the match is unknown, including the story going into the bout and who would win the match. It is likely that Mr Kennedy was going to win the bout, given the huge push that was to come for him in the next few months.

Kennedy (Kennedy!) won the Money in the Bank briefcase in real life, although injury stopped him from cashing it in to become the World Heavyweight Champion. However, he was also planned to be named the son of Vince McMahon, leading him to have a huge push as the new owner of the company, and toward a WrestleMania match with Triple H the following year.

Instead, Mr Kennedy won the Money in the Bank ladder match, while Ric Flair secured victory in a tag team match with Gregory Helms on the pre-show of WrestleMania 23.

Edge vs Randy Orton

Another pair who were added into the Money in the Bank ladder match after the original plans changed were Edge and Randy Orton – likely due to the injury suffered by Triple H at New Year’s Revolution.

Rated-RKO were due to beat DX at the event, although this was to build to a rematch some weeks later, with DX picking up the win and the World Tag Team Championships.

This loss for the duo would have facilitated a turn by one of them, dismantling their tag team and leading to a grudge match at WrestleMania 23. Instead, they dropped their titles to Shawn Michaels and John Cena, which was a consequence of Michaels’ taking Triple H’s spot in the main event of WrestleMania.

The pair both competed in the Money in the Bank ladder match, although they began feuding after WrestleMania 23 for the WWE Championship (although neither man was successful). Edge also suffered an injury at WrestleMania 23, during a high-risk ladder stunt from Jeff Hardy.

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