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WWF WrestleMania 13 Review

WWF WrestleMania 13

March 23rd 1997

Rosemount Horizon, Rosemount, Illinois

Attendance:  18,197

Announcers: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

Buyrate: 237,000

 

After coming off a difficult year, where rivals WCW took the lead in the Monday Night ratings thanks to the successful nWo angle, things were getting interesting for the WWF. The roster was staring to fill out with new talents, Rocky Maivia and Mankind, were making their WM debuts whiles Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Stone Cold Steve Austin were booking in higher profile matches in their 2nd ‘Mania appearance.

The main event scene was a complete mess. Shawn Michaels had forfeited the title earlier in the year because of a Knee injury and that he had also “lost his smile”. Many believed he faked the injury because he didn’t want to drop the title to Bret Hart in a re-match from last year. Since the title was vacant, a 4-way match was booked at the February “In Your House” PPV where Bret won his 4th WWF Championship but he dropped the title the next night on Raw to Sid after interference from Stone Cold. Because of all this going on, the two main event matches for WrestleMania were Undertaker & Sid for the title and Bret v Austin in a submission match.

On a personal note, the Austin/Bret feud was one of the best rivalries in wrestling history. The lines were blurred and they made you believe that they truly hated each other. Did they deliver? Oh hell year!!

 

A video package plays focusing on the seriousness of the feuds going on at the time. There was a nice shot of the crowd, the two things I’ve noticed right off the bat were the amount of signs in the crowd and the amount of teens/young adults in the crowd. That would be the target audience for the next 4 years. Our announce team are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon. This would be Vince’s final announce job at WrestleMania.

 

Four Team Elimination Match

The Godwinns (Henry & Phineus) /w/ Hillbilly Jim vs. The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) vs. Phil LaFon & Doug Furnas vs. The New Blackjacks (Bradshaw & Barry Windham) 

You can tag to anyone in this match and once one man is pinned or submits, the team is gone. The winner gets a tag team title match the next night on RAW. Todd Pettengill interviews the New Blackjacks in the back as footage of the original Blackjacks is shown. Barry Windham’s father, Blackjack Mulligan, was a member of the original team. Chaos reigns at the start until it settles into Henry Godwinn and Blackjack Bradshaw (The current JBL). Henry gets the best of things and tags in Thrasher. Bradshaw drops Thrasher with a pump handle slam and tags Phineas in. Phineas tags Mosh in and the Headbangers are supposed to go at it, but they just mosh instead. LaFon and Bradshaw go for a bit before Furnas tags in and wows the crowd with a hurracuranna, which was still rare in WWE as late as 1997. The Blackjacks work on Furnas both in and out of the ring. Referee Mike Chioda goes out to break it up and gets shoved down by Bradshaw, so he disqualifies BOTH teams. Oh well, there goes the uniqueness of the match. It’s down to the Godwinns and the Headbangers as the pig farmers work Thrasher over. This is The Headbangers first WM. The commentators, who seem to have lost interest, make jokes about the Bangers’ attire and the Godwinns’ associations with farm animals. Mosh and Henry spill to the outside. Mosh beats Henry back in and then throws his partner off the top and onto Godwinn. Thrasher misses a moonsault back on the inside and all four men get into it. As Henry and Thrasher battle in the corner, Mosh comes off the top with a Stage Dive on Phineas for the victory.

Winners: The Headbangers via pinfall

Rating: * ½

The first part of the match was poor but the Headbangers/Godwinns part was actually quite good. I always thought it was silly to have a number one contenders match at WrestleMania. Phil LaFon and Doug Furnas were good workers but were never over as characters. That’s a shame.

 

Honky Tonk Man was introduced as guest commentator for the next match involving the Intercontinental Championship. Honky Tonk is the longest reigning IC Champion in history; he defeated Ricky Steamboat back in ’87 but lost the title to Ultimate Warrior at Summerslam ’88. Vince actually seemed impressed that Honky knew the words to his own theme song. Jerry Lawler makes Honky Tonk feel welcome. “You guys are close, you’d think you were cousins,” shoots JR.

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship

The Sultan /w/ The Iron Sheik & Bob Backlund vs. Rocky Maivia ©

The Sultan is better known to many as Rikishi. He’s dressed in a silly Arabian get-up. Thirteen years earlier, The Sultan’s managers battled each other for the WWF Championship in a match that saw the just mentioned Skaaland, as Backlund’s manager, throw in the towel and give the championship to the Sheik. Tony Atlas, former tag team partner of Maivia’s father Rocky Johnson, is shown in the crowd. The commentators are trying everything to put Rocky over but nothing’s working. The crowd do cheer Rocky but it isn’t very loud. The Sultan asserts himself with power at the start but a Rocky dropkick sends him to the outside. Rocky posts his shoulder on the outside and we go back into the ring. Honky Tonk is all over Rocky on commentary and saying how they should rename him “Rookie Rocky”. Sultan takes his time going to work on Maivia and gets two with an arrogant chest press pin. Sultan rests with a nerve hold. Sultan lands a backbreaker and goes to the top to land a headbutt, but he waits an eternity to make the cover and Rocky is out at two. Lawler and Honky Tonk are really hammering home that Maivia is a rookie and nothing but a fluke champion. Sultan settles into another rest hold, this time a reverse chinlock. Crowd starts to turn and a few “Boring” chants are heard. Rocky fights up, but the crowd doesn’t seem to care. They weren’t buying into the goodie – goodie character that Rocky was portraying. A double clothesline sends both men down. Referee Earl Hebner gets to eight before Maivia rolls over to make a cover, but the Sultan is out at two. They slug it out and Rocky scores a dropkick. Belly-to-belly by Rocky gets two. Float-over DDT by Rocky and he goes to the top. Maivia scores a cross body block off the top, but the Iron Sheik has the referee distracted. Rocky clears the Sheik off the apron, but the Sultan sneaks in with a stiff kick and another arrogant cover. Maivia kicks out. Sultan works a piledriver, but Rocky still gets the shoulder up. Maivia gets to his feet and scores a surprise roll-up to get the win and keep his title. Ross tries to gets the word from Rocky after the match, but The Sultan immediately attacks Maivia. Sultan throws Rocky into the ring and he, Sheik and Backlund all go to work on the youngster until Maivia’s dad Rocky Johnson shows up to try to make the save. The Sultan crowns Johnson with the Iranian flag, but Rocky Jr. gets to his feet to clear the ring. Father and son take turns bodyslamming The Iron Sheik and all is well at last. Rocky & Rocky Jr hug and salute the crowd.

Winner & STILL WWF Intercontinental Champion: Rocky Maivia via pinfall

Rating: *

It was okay but far too basic. Rocky was green as grass and it showed, fans weren’t that supportive of him but all that changed when he turned heel and was able to show more personality. The Sultan gimmick never worked either. It’s weird re-watching Rocky’s early career and seeing him doing dropkicks and cross body blocks from the top rope but it was cool re-watching all that and seeing just how far he has come.

 

Backstage, Todd Pettengill is interviewing Ken Shamrock who would be the guest referee for the submission match. He says he’ll not be intimidated.

 

Doc Hendrix is standing by with Hunter Hearst Helmsley & Chyna. He asked about what her role is. He said Dok didn’t need to know anything about it. The camera focused on Chyna’s face as Hunter made threats to Marlena. This was before Chyna got her face fixed up. Hunter’s heel promos would get better over the years.

 

Clips were shown of the 1997 Slammy awards. Hunter won an award for “best hair”. I guess he’s proud of that accomplishment, huh? Rocky Maivia won the “New sensation” award. Jerry Lawler mocked his acceptation speech saying that “it was so boring even Christopher Reeve walked out”, that was hilarious! See, I told you that Jerry Lawler was an awesome commentator back in the day.

 

Hunter Hearst Helmsley /w/ Chyna vs. Goldust /w/ Marlena

The issue here is apparently Hunter’s unwanted advances toward Marlena. Both these guys are good technicians, but in a match built on “personal issues” we’re not likely to see much of that here. Indeed, Goldust starts fast with a lot of brawling and clotheslines Hunter to the outside after an inverted atomic drop. Hunter gets tied up in the ropes on the outside and Goldie hammers away before clotheslining Helmsley back in. Hunter finally gets into the match with his facebuster, but Goldust responds with a tight powerslam. Goldie to the top, but Hunter cuts him off and dumps him to the outside. Hunter retrieves Goldust and then comes off the top with a clothesline for two from referee Mike Chioda. Helmsley stomps the hell out of Goldust in the corner and draws some heel heat. Lawler makes a very funny joke, saying they filmed the movie Gorillas in the Mist in Chyna’s shower. That was a laugh out loud moment. A Hunter neckbreaker gets two before Helmsley cinches in the abdominal stretch. Hunter goes to the ropes for leverage, but Chioda sees it and Goldie hip tosses out. Hunter works a nice key lock arm submission and uses it to bring Goldust to the mat for a few near falls. Goldust goes low with a knee to escape but Hunter recovers with a vertical suplex. Another near fall for Hunter after a knee drop. Goldust manages a cross body block before a double shoulder block sends both men down. Hunter goes to the top, but he eats Goldie’s rear end on the dive, Vince calls it a “keister blaster”. Both men are down again. Goldust dodges a corner charge and Hunter goes forehead first into the buckle. Ouch. Backdrop by Goldie. Hunter Flair flips in the corner and gets bulldogged for two when he staggers back into the ring. Goldust sets up for the Curtain Call as Chyna stalks Marlena. Hunter counters and looks for the Pedigree, but Goldust backdrops out. Goldust looks for the Curtain Call again, but he sees Chyna moving in on Marlena and goes after her. Marlena gets up on the apron. Hunter knees Goldie into Marlena, who falls into the waiting arms of Chyna. Chyna shakes Marlena around like a rag doll, back in the ring; Hunter finishes Goldust off with the Pedigree.

Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley via pinfall

Rating: *1/2

Bear in mind that the rating doesn’t judge how I feel about these guys as performers as they are talented guys. They worked hard but the pace was far too slow at times. I also question the time length given to this match. Had this match been for the intercontinental title rather then forced Rocky Maivia push match we got, it would have meant a little bit more. Their match at the Royal Rumble was a lot better in my opinion (and it was for the IC title too!)

 

WWF Tag Team Championship

Vader & Mankind /w/ Paul Bearer vs. Owen Hart & British Bulldog ©

Jim Ross tries to interview the champs before the match, asking Owen about negative comments he’s made about his partner in recent weeks. Owen denies it, but does take the time to say he’s the leader of the team. Bulldog also holds the European Championship at this point. He was the first man to win that title, he tells Ross to ‘quit stirring it”. Mankind had an extended feud with The Undertaker, so he’s kind of slumming it here in a team with Vader, who was getting lost in the pack after making such an impact upon his debut. Vader batters Owen to the mat in the corner at the start. Vader uses his power on offense, but Owen uses his speed to evade a lot more moves than Vader manages to land. Vader finally floors Owen and goes for the Vader bomb, but Bulldog breaks it up. All four men battle with the champs getting the better of things. It settles into Bulldog and Mankind with Mick selling Davey Boy’s offense like crazy. Bulldog hits his suplex on Mankind and then hoses Vader up in it as well when the big man tries to interfere. Wow. Davey rests with a reverse chinlock and he and Mick plan the next spot. Vader low bridges Davey on a whip and the Bulldog falls to the outside. Mankind use the urn on Davey Boy as referee Jack Doen restrains Owen. Bulldog crawls back in and gets suplexed by Vader for two. Vader adds an avalanche and then comes off the second rope with a splash, but Davey Boy still kicks out at two. Mankind tags in and continues the heat segment with a backdrop. They double-team Bulldog as the ref keeps Owen at bay. Vader goes to the second rope and dives, but Bulldog turns it into a nice slam and tags Owen. Hart uses his speed to keep Vader off balance and gets two with a cross body block off the top. Vader manages to slow it down and he and Mankind double-team Owen on the outside with the Cactus Elbow. Mankind hangman’s Owen over the top and he falls to the floor in front of his parents Stu and Helen, who are in the first row. Back in the ring, Owen turns a Mankind neckbreaker into a DDT, but Mick regains the advantage. Owen takes a Bret bump in the corner and gets two on Mankind after a spinning heel kick. Vader tags in and it’s more slow, battering offense. Mankind tags in and tosses Owen to the outside, but Hart works a belly-to-belly on the floor to turn the tide. Owen regains the ring and finally makes the tag. Davey Boy goes nuts on Mankind and tosses him hard into the buckles. Bulldog goes for the running powerslam, but Mankind catches him with the Mandible Claw. They spill to the outside (and land on their heads) as Owen and Vader battle in the ring. Mankind never lets go of the claw and the referee counts them both out.

Winners: Double Countout

Rating: ***

I’m a huge fan of all four guys in this match (Foley, Owen & Davey being in my top 10 favourite wrestlers list) however  they were all heels! History has proven that heel vs. heel never works and that was certainly the case here. Saying that, it was an enjoyable match.  Owen and Davey Boy would join Bret after this.

 

They aired a video package about the Bret Hart/Steve Austin feud. The idea was that after Bret left post WM12, things changed in the company and so did his attitude. Austin challenged Hart at Survivor Series 1996, which was a fantastic match and the feud continued into the Royal Rumble leading to this Submission Match at WrestleMania 13. Even though Austin acted like a heel, people were starting to cheer him as his character was fresh and unlike anything else before him. It was also the point when Bret was yelling at Vince McMahon, which was when they were beginning to acknowledge that Vince was the owner of the company.

 

Howard Finkel introduced the crowd to the guest Referee, Ken Shamrock. Shamrock had signed a contract for the WWF a month before this event. He hadn’t wrestled a match yet but was put over as a tough guy who knew submissions and was able to call this match down the middle.

 

Submission Match

Guest Referee: Ken Shamrock

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart

This match is no count outs, no disqualification and now holds barred. You can only win by making your opponent submit. Austin is out to a mixed reaction (more cheers then boos), this time next year he’d be the most over face in the company. Bret gets more cheers than boos as the fans give him the benefit of the doubt. Austin tackles Bret to the mat before the bell and hammers away. They tumble to the floor and slug it out. Shamrock doesn’t follow, as he’s only here to call for the bell in the event of a submission. Bret posts Austin’s shoulder, but Stone Cold comes back by draping Bret’s crotch over the guardrail. Austin clotheslines Hart into the crowd and they start to battle through the masses, this time with Shamrock in tow. Fighting in the stands was not really done at all in WWE at this time, so the fans and the announcers are pretty excited that it’s happening here. As a 10 year old kid, I was gripped at this point. Austin goes for a piledriver on the steps of an aisle, but Bret backdrops out. Bret drives Austin back toward the ring as Shamrock parts the sea of people for them. Bret knocks Austin back over the railing, but Stone Cold whips Hart hard into the steel ringside steps. Austin goes to the apron and drops an elbow on Bret’s head. Bret manages to shove Austin into the toppled steps, but Austin pushes Bret back into the post.

They climb into the ring for the first time since the opening seconds of the match and Bret scores a swinging neckbreaker. Bret goes to work on Austin’s legs as Vince derides him on commentary, saying that if Hart loses this match, he’ll have some sort of excuse as to why. Bret kicks and pulls away at Austin’s legs as Shamrock asks Stone Cold if he submits. Austin gets some separation and nails the Stunner, but pinfalls don’t count, so Austin uses the time to crawl away and recover. Bret comes around pretty quickly and catches Austin coming in. Bret drags Austin to the corner and wraps him in a figure-four leg lock around the ring post. Man, that move looked so F’N painful. Shamrock checks, but Austin won’t give. Bret turns Austin loose and grabs the ring bell, putting it on the apron. Remember it’s there. Bret then brings a chair into the ring. Bret puts the chair around Austin’s leg and goes to the top to break the ankle, but Austin springs up and crowns Hart with the chair before he can leap. Great psychology there, as Austin basically tricked Bret into giving him the chair to use as a weapon. Austin hits Bret over the back with the chair and goes to work with a suplex. Austin lands Bret’s elbow off the second rope as Ross takes a shot at Hulk Hogan (who was ruling WCW at the time) on commentary saying something along the lines of “It’s not about posing, or talking about the past, or covering up a bald spot”. Austin uses another of Bret’s moves; the side Russian leg sweep and wraps Hart up in an octopus submission. Bret won’t give, so Austin rearranges things into a Boston Crab. Shamrock is right there to check, but Hart won’t give. Bret makes it to the bottom rope, and Austin has to turn him lose. Austin, looking for the ultimate humiliation, looks for the Sharpshooter, but Bret goes to the eyes to makes sure that doesn’t happen. Vince said “it could happen” to the possibility of Bret giving up to the sharpshooter leaving viewers at home to wonder about THAT statement. He could have said “it will happen on November 9, 1997 in Montreal” although I guess he didn’t want to go into details. Hart with right hands, but Austin tosses him to the outside. Bret reverses a whip and Austin is sent headlong into the timekeeper’s table. Austin is busted open. Hart sends him head first into the remaining steel steps and then the ring post. Bret takes his time putting Austin back inside the ring and hammers away directly on Stone Cold’s head laceration. Hart scores his backbreaker and his elbow off the second rope. Bret retrieves the chair and rams it into Austin’s knee brace several times. Bret looks for the Sharpshooter, but Austin, like Bret did earlier, goes to the eyes to break it up. Hart moves things to the corner and hammers away, but Stone Cold goes low. That was class! Crowd still seems evenly divided at this point. Bret takes his bump in the corner on a whip and Austin stomps a mud hole in him. Austin puts Hart on the top and lands a modified superplex, but the impact worsens his own bleeding head. Austin goes out and gets an electrical cord. He wraps it around Bret’s neck on the apron, but Hart grabs the ring bell from the apron (where he’d left it earlier) and clocks Stone Cold over the head with it. Austin tumbles back into the ring and Bret immediately pounces on him with the Sharpshooter.

Shamrock is over immediately to ask for the submission but Stone Cold, in agony, won’t give it to him. Crowd is chanting “Austin! Austin!” Stone Cold emits a primal scream and, with the supreme effort, breaks the Sharpshooter! That had NEVER been done in Bret Hart’s main event run; he had beaten everyone in the company with that move. Bret, not shaken, quickly re-establishes the hold and this time really bears down. In a famous shot, the blood-soaked face of Austin looks directly into the camera as he screams. They’d later use that shot during the opening of RAW. Shamrock begs Austin for the submission as Stone Cold starts to fade, but it still doesn’t come. Bret pulls Austin to the middle of the ring to ensure Austin doesn’t get to the ropes, but Stone Cold has passed out. Shamrock screams at the unconscious Austin, trying to get the submission, but Stone Cold is out. With no other alternative, Shamrock calls for the bell to end the match. After the match, Bret, unhappy that the crowd has come down on Austin’s side, looks to take it out on the man himself. He tries to hook the Sharpshooter in on Stone Cold again, but Shamrock is there to stop him. Bret ignores Shamrock and goes for the hold anyway and Shamrock throws him to the mat to a huge pop. Bret and Ken have a stare down, but nothing comes from it. Hart slowly leaves the ring to boos and his journey to the dark side is complete. On his way up the aisle Hart, always thinking, gives a hard high-five to one of the few fans that still wants one as if to say: There, see. SOMEONE knows I’m still number one around here.

Meanwhile in the ring, Austin has comes around. He kicks Shamrock away from him when Ken tries to help him up. Shamrock leaves and referee Mike Chioda comes down to try to attend to Austin. Assuring the crowd that he’s not going to be THAT kind of face, Austin Stuns Chioda (to a big pop) and staggers out of the ring on his own steam, a huge pool of his blood dominating the centre of the ring. The crowd chants his name as he heads up the aisle. The announcers put Austin over huge as a man’s man and the toughest wrestler they’ve ever seen. They all make sure to point out that Bret Hart was AWARDED the match, Austin never submitted. Vince apologises for the brutal nature of the match, but all three announcers seem to know they’ve just seen something important.

Winner: Bret “Hitman” Hart via TKO

Rating: *****

To be blunt, it was fucking amazing. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a match. It was pure solid action throughout and every little thing they did made perfect sense. Two great competitors, a terrific storyline, an extremely high workrate, plenty of crowd heat, one of the greatest blade jobs ever, a vicious heel, a courageous babyface and the greatest double turn in the history of the business. Everything that makes wrestling great was present in this match. Bret was incredible as the aggressive veteran who took it to Austin. He didn’t care what the fans thought about his tactics just as long he put Austin away was all he cared about. Austin showed the type of heart you’d expect from a face, even though he wasn’t the typical face we all grew up with. He showed a lot of heart, kept on fighting and won the respect of the fans as a result of this match. This was the type of guy people wanted to root for, the “never say die” attitude is what made Stone Cold such a massive draw and without this match, who knows what level he would have achieved.

Jim Ross was outstanding on commentary. The passion he showed proved why he’s the greatest sports announcer ever (and I mean that in all sports btw) he made sure to point out that the fans were chanting for Austin. That’s the goal they set to achieve. It worked. Great work from everyone involved in this match. Simply the best!

 

How were they going to follow that?!? Todd Pettengill is standing by with Faarooq and the Nation of Domination. There were a lot of members in this group including a young D’Lo Brown as a non-wrestler. Faarooq, Savio Vega and Crush were the 3 wrestlers of the group with PG-13 serving as part timers.

 

Chicago Street Fight

Nation of Domination (Faarooq, Savio Vega & Crush) vs. Ahmed Johnson & Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal)

This is basically a glorified handicap match considering the amount of members the NOD had at the time. You can use any weapons you want and both teams have brought an assortment with them. LOD actually has the kitchen sink with them! There are no tags in the match. The Nation members in the match are Faarooq, Crush and Savio Vega, but there are some assorted cronies around ringside as well. It’s chaos in and around the ring at the start. The faces beat up all the Nation cronies before Animal sets Faarooq up for a piledriver on the French announce table, but he blows it and they just kind of fall off the table to the side. Savio goes to work with a garbage can in the ring as Animal blasts Faarooq with a fire extinguisher. Ahmed slams Faarooq through the French announce table in a pretty stiff spot. The fire extinguisher is used again and this time it catches the announcers as well. Everyone moves into the ring where Savio wraps a noose around Ahmed’s neck. I thought the noose was a bit silly. Hawk double clotheslines Savio and Crush. Savio spills to the outside. Ahmed goes out and gets attacked by D’lo, who’s referred to by Ross as “that other guy.” Ahmed fights “that other guy” off, but Savio tosses him into the crowd and goes out after him. Meanwhile in the ring, Faarooq tries to hang Hawk and Crush nails Animal with a wrench. Savio and Ahmed return to ringside and all the cronies beat Johnson down. Faarooq gets pulled off the top and hits the floor on the fly  Ahmed nooses Faarooq and pulls him into the ring, but the cronies free their leader. Johnson pulls Faarooq in and spinebusters him. Everyone ends up in the ring for a moment before Ahmed ends up in there alone with D’lo of all people. Johnson disposes of him and then the faces triple team Crush. LOD holds up a 2X4, Ahmed whips Crush into it and THAT’s enough to get the 1-2-3 from referee Billy Silverman. Post-match, the fight continued. Ahmed gave D-Lo a Pearl River Plunge in the ring. I can remember him doing that through a table at one point and that was one of those cool visuals I won’t ever forget. They put the white rappers of the Nation on their shoulders and Hawk came off the top with a Doomsday Device clothesline for each of them. The crowd was popping huge for them.

Winners: Ahmed Johnson & Legion of Doom via pinfall

Rating; ** ½

This match does receive a lot of unfair criticism but I found it to be enjoyable. The hardcore style, which was clearly influenced by ECW, was fresh and new to WWE audiences at that time and was a sign of what was to come in the years ahead. They were a bit repetitive with the gimmicks but these hardcore matches were still in the infant stages and better matches were yet to come.

 

Ring announcer welcomed Shawn Michaels to the ring. Shawn, who had “lost his smile” a few months before, was all smiles as he made his way to ringside. Shawn was still a babyface but he would turn heel come summer time.

 

Todd Pettengill interviews Sid. The World Champion says that he’s the only person who isn’t afraid of the Undertaker. As usually, Sid screws up his promo as always.

 

WWF Championship

The Undertaker vs. Sid ©

Taker’s entrance is pretty elaborate with lots of thunder and lightning effects. Ross recaps Taker’s WrestleMania record, he’s unbeaten starting with a squash of Hall of Famer “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka at WM VII. J.R. warns us this will not be a “technical masterpiece”. Ya don’t say!!! Referee Earl Hebner holds the belt aloft and we’re off. Bret Hart immediately comes down to the ring and calls for the mic. The Hitman warns Michaels to stay where he is, (truthfully) saying his injury is faked. Vince holds Shawn back which was a pretty funny sight, but Michaels has no intention of getting up. Bret then verbally lays into both Sid and Taker, rightly calling Sid a phony champion. Sid has had enough and powerbombs Bret to a big pop. In theory that’s dumb as Sid is the heel in this match, but the theme tonight is everyone hates Bret, so it makes sense on that basis. Of course, it also means that the WWF title is not involved in the main storyline of WrestleMania and that’s NOT good. Officials help Hart to the back as Taker attacks Sid from behind and a second bell officially starts the match.

Taker with a Stinger Splash and a slam for a near fall. Taker goes to the top for what is known today as “Old School,” but Sid turns another corner splash into a bear hug. Let the resting begin. Michaels and Lawler spar on commentary in the absence of anything to talk about. Sid clotheslines Taker to the outside and drives him through the Spanish announce table. Two down, one to go. Sid slams Taker onto what’s left of the table as Vince tells us WWF President Gorilla Monsoon has made this a No Holds Barred Match. Sid gets a near fall back on the inside. Sid rests again, this time with a modified camel clutch. Sid comes off the second rope with an axe handle and now the crowd boos him. Undertaker mounts a comeback, but Sid cuts it off with a powerslam for a pair of near falls. Sid drops the big leg and gets two. Taker comes back with his flying clothesline, but it doesn’t do much as Sid goes back to work. Lawler makes an astute observation, saying that they may be afraid to hit their finisher for fear that the other guy will kick out, and THEN what? They go outside where Taker flips Sid into the crowd, but doesn’t go out after him. Back inside, Sid dodges the elbow drop and resorts to another rest hold, a reverse chinlock. Meanwhile, Vince tries to get SHAWN over on commentary. No one cares about this match. Taker fights back with a flurry of punches and a powerslam, but he’s too weak to make the cover. He finally does, but Sid is out at two. Now it’s the Dead Man who wastes time with a nerve hold. I think I hear some “Boring” chants, but that may just be the voices in my head. Taker counters a big boot and clotheslines Sid down for two. A double big boot spot sends both men down. The referee gets to five before Sid makes the cover for two. Sid hits the ax handle off the second rope again and then uses a clothesline from the same position. Sid gets two before going to the second rope for a third time, but Taker finally catches him in the gut with a right hand on the way down. Sid quickly regains control with a slam and this time goes to the top, but Undertaker sits up and cuts him off. Taker slams Sid off the top and then goes up himself for a flying clothesline that would later be one of his “brother’s” signature moves. Taker covers, but only gets two. Undertaker looks for the Tombstone, but Sid reverses and delivers the move himself. 1-2-Taker kicks out. Sid is stunned, but recovers and tosses Taker to the outside. They battle on the floor and here comes Bret Hart again. The Hitman smashes Sid in the back with a steel chair before referees and officials arrive to move him back up the aisle. Undertaker takes advantage by driving Sid’s back into the ring post and we go back inside. Chokeslam! 1-2-Sid gets the shoulder up. Sid ducks a flying clothesline and goes for the powerbomb, but here comes Bret again. Sid goes after Hart, but Bret choked on the top rope, Sid staggers back to the waiting Undertaker, who scoops him up for the Tombstone. 1-2-3. The Undertaker wins the match and the WWF Championship.

Winner and NEW WWF Champion: The Undertaker via pinfall

Rating: *

Whose idea was it to give Sid 15 minutes? The final 5 minutes were okay but the rest sucked. I didn’t like the idea that Undertaker won because of interference from Bret Hart. That tainted the victory for him in my opinion. Sid was hardly used after ‘Mania so he never got his revenge on Bret. There’s also a rumour going around that Sid apparently shit his pants during this match. No idea if that’s true or not but I’m keen to find out if he did. Might ask him on twitter! 😉

 

The show closes with Undertaker on one knee, holding the WWF title for all to see. That was a cool moment. This was also Undertaker’s second reign as champion; he won it back in ’91 but only held it for a week so this victory felt more legit. He had a damn good run as champion and would hold onto the title until Summerslam. He is not 6-0 at WrestleMania.

 

Random Thoughts

  • This was Bret Hart’s final WrestleMania as an active competitor. Sure he’d return at WrestleMania 26 but he was in a different physical condition at that point. It’s sad that he left the company the way he did but he did leave us with this parting gift.
  • I’d never get bored of the Austin/ Bret match. It was perfect in every way. I hope I did a good job covering it because I really want to give it the respect that it truly deserves. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend that you view it. One of my favourite matches ever!
  • This would be Vince’s final WrestleMania was the play by play guy after 4 years. I felt Vince was a good play by play commentator. Not in the same league as Jim Ross or Gorilla Monsoon but Vince was terrific at selling the angles and getting excited at the right moments.
  •  The Undertaker had an amazing year in 1997 but this match was one of his worst. He would have matches with Austin, Bret and Shawn which were a lot better than this. This was also the year where he would find out that his younger brother, Kane, was still alive.
  • A lot of people frown upon ’97. Not me. The show (and a few other shows throughout the year) were poor but when you look at the talent; Undertaker, Stone Cold, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Triple H, Goldust, Vader and the Rock. That’s an impressive talent pool right there. It wasn’t an money making year (far from it, they were on the verge of bankruptcy) but the seeds were planted for the success they’d experience in the next few years. It wasn’t an overnight sensation. It took years of planning and the planning paid off!

 

Best Match: Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold – One legend helps out another. Awesome match.

Worst Match: Undertaker vs. Sid –  Giving Sid 15 minutes? C’mon son.

WrestleMania Moment: The imagine of Austin fighting out of the Sharpshooter with blood running down his face is one of the most iconic moments in the companies’ history.

 

Top 5 Superstars

1. Stone Cold – The match that pushed him into the main event spot. He wouldn’t look back and would end up becoming one of the biggest draws in history.

2. Bret Hart – It takes two to tango. A great technician but this brawl may have been one of his best.

3. Owen Hart – Was able to work a unique style which had elements of face and heel styles.

4. Mankind (Mick Foley) – Impressive in his WrestleMania debut. I wish the match was booked better though.

5. Jim Ross – Deserves huge credit for the passion he showed in the Austin/ Bret match. Greatest announcer ever!

 

Updated rankings chart:

Macho Man Randy Savage – 29pts

Hulk Hogan/ Bret Hart – 25pts

Shawn Michaels – 19pts

Ricky Steamboat – 10pts

Ultimate Warrior/ Roddy Piper/ Owen Hart– 7pts

Stone Cold – 6pts

Dynamite Kid/Rick Rude/ Ted Dibiase – 5pts

Terry Funk/ Bam Bam Bigelow/ Diesel- 4pts

Tito Santana/Andre the Giant/ Ric Flair/ Mr Perfect/ Lawrence Taylor/ Undertaker- 3pts

Greg Valentine/ Scott Steiner/ Razor Ramon/ Mick Foley-2pts

Sgt Slaughter/ Gorilla Monsoon/ Bobby Heenan/ Jim Ross – 1pt

 

Overall Show Rating: (Out of 10): 4

WrestleMania 13 will forever be remembered as a one match show. The Austin/ Bret match was been released many times on many different DVD sets and I would strongly recommend that you give it a shot. The Street fight was okay but nothing exciting. Everyone calls this “the worst WrestleMania ever”, yeah it was a poor show but worst ‘Mania ever? Nah. WM9, 11, 2, 5 and 4 were a whole lot worse than this. I’m putting this ahead of WM 5 (also ranked 4) because of the Austin/ Bret match, without it, it would have been below WM11.

 

WrestleMania Rankings so far:

WrestleMania 10 – 8

WrestleMania 8 – 7

WrestleMania 3 – 7

WrestleMania 7 – 6.5

WrestleMania 6 – 6

WrestleMania 12 – 5.5

WrestleMania 1 – 4.5

WrestleMania 13 – 4

WrestleMania 5 – 4

WrestleMania 11 – 4

WrestleMania 4 – 3.5

WrestleMania 2 – 3

WrestleMania 9 – 0.5

 

Up Next: The Austin era begins at WrestleMania XIV along with a new “attitude” for the WWF.

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