The 2023 NBA Western Conference Finals start tonight between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets in a repeat of the match-up from 14 years ago. However, unlike in 2009, there will not be a WWE match between the “teams”.
In one of the stranger episodes of both NBA and WWE, WWE had booked Denver’s then-Pepsi Centre for the 25th May 2009 episode of Raw. But when the Nuggets made the Conference Finals, that date clashed with their Game 4 against the Lakers, eventually leading to WWE wisely switching venues to LA’s Staples Centre.
To even further prove which side he was supporting in the finals, Vince McMahon called out Nuggets (and Arsenal) owner Stan Kroenke publicly for not believing his side would go that far in the playoffs as to rent out his arena to someone else, and then have a parody version of him on the show that night. Of course.
This was all build-up to the first “match” between the two franchises on the night, which pitted the now-good guy babyface Lakers against the Nuggets, a team consisting of heels.
The Lakers, led by John Cena and Batista, and also featuring MVP, Mr. Kennedy and 60-year-old Jerry “The King” Lawler, defeated the Nuggets, who had WWE Champion Randy Orton, his Legacy stablemates Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr., Big Show and The Miz, in a highly entertaining if not bizarre encounter.
Take a look at some of its best bits below (shared on WWE’s official Twitter account)
Western Conf. Finals preview? 🤔
— WWE (@WWE) May 16, 2023
In real life, the Nuggets, led by Carmelo Anthony, defeated Kobe Bryant’s Lakers to level the series 2-2 on that night. The Lakers would eventually win the series and go on to defeat the Orlando Magic in the NBA finals. Might Lebron James and the Lakers do similar this season?
The whole tale of 2009 showed again that anything can happen in the WWE.