The Rif Files

Sports – Films – Reviews – Life Stories – Video Games It's all here on The Rif Files.

WWF WrestleMania X-Seven Review

WWF WrestleMania X-Seven

April 1st 2001

Reliant Astrodome, Huston, Texas

Attendance: 67,925

Announcers: Jim Ross & Paul Heyman

Buyrate: 1,040,000

 

The seventeenth edition of WrestleMania marked the return of hosting the show inside a stadium for the first time since WrestleMania 8. Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker returned after missing out on WrestleMania 16 due to injury and were both involved in high profile matches. The main event pitted Stone Cold against his old rival, The Rock for the WWF Championship. Austin won the Royal Rumble whiles Rocky defeated Kurt Angle for the title at No Way Out.  The undercard was coming along just fine with another TLC match being a highlight. WrestleMania 17 took place just 6 days after the WWF bought WCW effectively ending the Monday Night Wars in what was one of the most surreal moments in wrestling history.

WrestleMania 17 has always been considered to be the greatest wrestling pay per view ever. It’s easy to see why when you look at most of the matches on the card. Do I think it’s the greatest? Read on to find out….

 

The opening video package recaps classic WrestleMania moments from time gone by. Hall of Famer, Freddie Blassie welcomes us all to the “showcase of the immortals”. The “My Way” song by Limp Bizkit is playing and we get a shot of the massive crowd. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman welcome us to WrestleMania. Where was Jerry Lawler? King left the WWF in February after his then girlfriend Stacy “The Kat” Carter was released. He would return later in the year.

 

Our opening contest is for the Intercontinental Championship. Chris Jericho vs. the WWF Commissioner, William Regal. They played a recap video of the feud so far. It showed a clip of Jericho pissing in Regal’s Tea without William knowing. His face when he drank it was funny.

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship

Chris Jericho © vs. William Regal

The two men circle to start the match. Regal lays in a boot to get the advantage. Jericho fires back with a clothesline and a HBK like flying forearm. A spinning heel kick sends Regal to the floor, but Jericho follows with a slingshot crossbody to the floor. He throws Regal back in the ring and then comes off top with a flying back elbow. Jericho goes for the Walls, but Regal kicks him off into the buckles. Heyman has been playing up the fact Jericho is coming into the match with a damaged shoulder thanks to the Regal stretch. Sure enough, Regal sends Jericho into the post shoulder first. An overhand wristlock continues to put pressure on the shoulder. Regal gets dropped with a punch, but he is smart enough to block the lion-sault by raising his knees. Ever the evil bastard, Regal exposes the steel bolt in the corner, and sends Jericho shoulder first into the corner. Jericho has done a great job selling the damage even as he makes his comeback. He gets a two count off a second rope dropkick. He tries for a knee in the corner, but Regal was able to move. In a rather impressive spot Regal brings Jericho off the top rope with a double underhook suplex. Jericho is able to flip out of a suplex, and goes for the Walls, but his damaged shoulder keeps him from turning Regal. Awesome! Regal countered it into the Regal Stretch, which focused on Jericho’s left shoulder. Jericho fought out of it and rammed Regal head first into the turnbuckle. Jericho hit a facebuster, then a suplex and a Lionsault finished off Regal for the victory.

Winner and STILL WWF Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho via pinfall

Rating: ***

It was a solid opener with a good amount of psychology and drama. It could have benefited greatly with more time. I remember watching this thinking that Regal was going to win but it never came to. It was rare that Jericho won matches with the Lionsault but it made sense considering his injured shoulder. Good opener.

 

In the parking lot, a Limo pulls up. We get an up close of the licence plate and it says “WCW 1”. Shane McMahon walks out of the limo. He gets a good pop from the crowd.

 

Backstage, the A.P.A (Faarooq & Bradshaw) and Jacqueline were drinking beers and smoking cigars. Bradshaw did a promo to motivate his team by talking about the historical significance of being in Texas. He was from Texas, so it was an inspiring promo.

 

The Right to Censor (The Goodfather/ Val Venis & Bull Buchanan) /w/ Steven Richards vs. A.P.A (Faarooq & Bradshaw) & Tazz /w/ Jacqueline

The Right to Censor got massive heat upon arrival. They were a spoof of the Parents Television Council who were very outspoken about the WWE’s violent product. Bull hit a clothesline on Faarooq, but Faarooq hit a powerslam. RTC worked over Tazz in their corner with each guy getting their shots in. Goodfather hit a leg drop and back elbow. He hit the move formerly known as the Ho Train. Tazz escaped an attack to hot tag Bradshaw. He cleaned house, including a fallaway slam on Venis. Double chokeslam on Buchanan by Bradshaw & Faarooq. Bradshaw hit a back suplex off the top on Venis. Buchanan hit a powerbomb on Bradshaw. Goodfather went for another running corner splash, Bradshaw moved out of the way and hit the Clothesline from Hell for the win.

Winners: A.P.A & Tazz via pinfall

Rating: *

Another good match with a solid performance from the face team. You could tell Tazz suffered some sort of concussion after that clothesline from Bull. For all that he had done in ECW; it was weird seeing Tazz play the face in peril. He retired not long after this event.

 

Backstage, Trish Stratus was wheeling around Linda McMahon in her wheelchair, which she was in because Vince was drugging her. Stephanie McMahon showed up, she didn’t like that Trish was in the picture and told her to crush ice for the party after the show. Then she told her mom that she’d see her out there.

 

WWF Hardcore Championship

Raven © vs. Kane vs. The Big Show

Raven brings down a shopping cart full of weapons, and he’s not waiting for Show as he jumps Kane with them. Show’s music hits and he is no hurry as Kane destroys Raven in the ring. Kane presses Raven over his head and tosses him onto Show. He casually catches him though, and Kane decides to come off the top to the floor on both men. Nice start! Raven tries to run as he is totally outmatched here, but Kane catches up to him. Heyman thinks Raven’s best strategy is to let the monsters kill each other and then dive in for the scraps. Sound strategy there, as Heyman has to put himself over because Ross isn’t helping him. The brawl spills to the back of the arena, and Raven gets tossed into a wall. Show throws Raven into a storage area and locks Kane out, but the padlock doesn’t last long as Kane breaks through the door. The monsters brawl and Raven waits for his opportunity. He tries to choke Kane out with a garden hose, but he ends up getting choked and tossed through a plate glass window. Show came back to throw Kane through a door. Then Kane and Show fought each other so that they broke a wall. It was an area backstage that they used to obviously break for this match. Like a temporary room backstage. They drove golf carts which was pretty funny. Kane ran over Raven’s leg. The funniest part was ref Jimmy Korderas on the back of Kane’s golf cart. They ruined a tray of Snapple drinks. JR sounded sad about that. They fought their way back to the staging here as the crowd cheered because that meant they could actually see the action again. Big Show hit a clothesline on Kane. Show wanted to slam Raven off the stage, but Kane hit him with a boot. They went off the stage to some padded area beside the stage. Kane dropped an elbow on Big Show and covered him for the victory.

Winner and NEW WWF Hardcore Champion: Kane via pinfall

Rating: **

Well, that was fun wasn’t it? You had to laugh at the golf buggies part. That was creative. I was expecting Pete Rose to turn up and win the title because of its 24/7 rule, but that never happened L

 

In the locker room, Kurt Angle was watching tape of Chris Benoit making him tap on the build to the show. Angle was mad about it. He claimed that the “tap out” didn’t occur in an official match therefore he didn’t officially tap out. Edge & Christian tried to talk to him but Kurt is having none of it. I liked their chemistry with Kurt. Team ECK 4 Life!

 

They cut to WWF New York, which was their restaurant that wasn’t that successful. Jimmy Snuka was there. After Jonathon Coachman talked to an Australian fan, they showed The Rock arriving in his dressing room. The Crowd popped for that.

 

WWF European Championship

Eddie Guerrero /w/ Perry Saturn vs. Test ©

Eddie tries to jump Test before the bell (cheat 2 win), but Test is prepared, and controls early. They fight to the floor, and that doesn’t go well for Eddie, so he heads back to the ring. He catches Test as he makes his way in, but Test quickly regains the advantage with a gorilla press slam for a two count. This is a classic match of power against speed, and in the early going it is Test’s power. Eddie goes for a top rope hurricanrana, but Test simply holds on to the buckle to counter. The tide turns as Test misses a boot and gets it caught in the top rope. The ref gets distracted by Eddie, and that gives Saturn the chance to lay in a few shots. Test is finally freed from the ropes, and Eddie targets the injured ankle. The focus now is the abuse that the ankle is taking from a pissed of Guerrero. Eddie jumps on to lock in a sleeper, and slowly Test fades enough for Eddie to control him on the ground. For some reason Eddie just breaks the hold, and it costs him as Test counter a whip into a tilt-a-whirl slam. The helicopter powerbomb gets a two count to a decent pop. Saturn jumps in and lays Test out with the moss-covered three-handled family credenza. Eddie hits a suplex, and goes for the frog splash, but Test moves. Eddie is a step ahead though and rolls through, but a boot from Test stops that. Saturn distracts again, and eats a boot. Eddie charges and eats the same boot. He goes for the cover, but Dean Malenko ran down to the ring and pulled Test’s leg out of the ring. Eddie got the Euro Title and hit Test in the head with it for the win.

Winner and NEW WWF European Champion: Eddie Guerrero via pinfall

Rating: **

Nice match. Eddie was an elite worker so I guess they put him with Test because they wanted to see if he could pull out a good match from a young big guy like Test. It was a little bit on the short side but pulled off an acceptable wrestling match.

 

Backstage, Michael Cole interviewed Mick Foley who would be serving as the guest referee for the Vince vs. Shane match. Foley said that even though Vince fired him as commissioner, he would still call the match right down the middle…..and he’s going to do it right here in Huston, Texas!

 

In another part of the arena, Stone Cold Steve Austin has arrived. The fans go nuts for him!

 

Kurt Angle makes his way to the ring. He was a former World Champion who held the title from October to February, where he lost the title to The Rock at No Way Out. He needed a WrestleMania opponent and the challenge came from Chris Benoit. Angle cut a promo ripping on Texas. The Best part was when he said “Lose the freaking cowboy hats. You’re not seven years old anymore. Please!” That was hilarious! Benoit came out to a great pop as well. This was their first singles pay per view match, I was a massive fan of them both so I was very excited going into this one.

 

Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

The first few minutes saw some tremendous mat wrestling with each man going for holds and the other countering it. When they broke, the crowd applauded. They trade reversals as Heyman does an awesome job of putting over that this is all about leverage in the early going. Once again it’s a stalemate on the ground. They continued to exchange holds on the mat until Benoit attempted a Crossface and Angle made the ropes. Angle went to the floor out of frustration.  Angle is getting mighty pissed as Benoit is winning the mat wars, so he blasts Chris with a right hand. Nice! They start to brawl on the floor and Benoit gets sent into the announce table and then into the ring steps. Sick bump there from Benoit as he took all the impact flush on his back. Back in the ring a suplex gets a two count for Angle. Another suplex, this time a belly to back, and that gets another count of two. Benoit starts firing back with some chops, but Kurt catches him with a sweet belly to belly. That worked so well the first time that Kurt decides to snap off another one. He looks for a third one it seems, but Benoit cuts him off with a clothesline. They start trading blows in the corner, and Benoit takes control after burying a knee into Kurt’s midsection. A reverse able gets a two count for Benoit. He snaps off a suplex, and that gets another near fall. They head up top where Benoit brings Angle down with the superplex, which gets another two count. Kurt takes the Bret bump into the buckle and stumbles back into the triple Germans, but Angle counters to the ankle lock before the series can be completed. Benoit rolls and gets his own version of the ankle lock, but Kurt is able to escape. Benoit snaps right back in to the crossface, but Angle is able to reverse to one of his own. Angle went for the Ankle Lock again, Benoit kicked him off and Angle hit the ref, which knocked the ref down. Crossface by Benoit. Angle was tapping. Crowd was cheering loudly. No ref. Angle back up and he hit the Angle Slam. Ref recovered to count the pin for a two count. I remember thinking that was it. Angle hit a body slam and then he went up for a Moonsault, but Benoit got his knees up to counter it. Benoit went to the top rope and hit the flying headbutt that earned him a two count. Crowd thought that was it. They were popping for everything. Benoit goes back to the waist lock, but a low blow stops that. They trade a few holds, and it ends with Kurt getting a roll-up for the win with the use of the tights.

Winner: Kurt Angle via pinfall

Rating: **** ½

Superb technical wrestling match. The 2000’s version of Macho Man v Ricky Steamboat. It was straight up wrestling throughout the match. The parts where Benoit locked in an ankle lock and Angle put Benoit in the crossface were good moments. The counters were believable and the fans reacted positively to it all. The ref bump wasn’t needed and the finish could have been better. The finish was done like that to build up to rematches at Backlash and Judgement Day so in hindsight, the finish made sense.

 

Backstage, William Regal was shown walking down the hallway and into his office where Kamala was standing on his desk rubbing a picture of the Queen on his belly. Kamala wanted Regal to “rub the moons on his belly” but Regal shooed him out of his office and told him to “bugger off!” Great stuff right there!

 

Clips are aired of the WWF Superstars meeting the US Troops at Fort Hood, Texas.

 

Kevin Kelly caught up with Kurt Angle. Angle said that he didn’t respect Benoit. Benoit attacked Angle from behind and locked in the Crossface causing Angle to tap out. This set up rematches at the next 2 pay per views.

 

We got a video package of the Chyna/ Ivory feud. Chyna had been out with a neck injury after he received a spike piledriver from the RTC. The rest of the RTC were banned from ringside.

 

WWF Women’s Championship

Ivory © vs. Chyna

This is such a total mismatch. The fans aren’t buying Ivory being on Chyna’s level. I mean she was holding the Intercontinental title just a year earlier, and fighting people like Jericho as well as competing in the Royal Rumble and King of the Ring tournaments. Ivory is representing Right to Censor and she is royally fucked from the moment the bell rings. She does get in a cheap shot with the belt to the back of the neck (which was injured in earlier in the year). Chyna finally gets hold of Ivory and starts tossing her all over the ring. She stomps a mud hole in the corner. Hey, that’s for Austin later. Poor Ivory has to bump all over the place, and powerbomb looks to finish, but Chyna pulls her up at the count of two. Chyna delivers the Warrior gorilla press slam, and that is enough for the win and title.

Winner and NEW WWF Women’s Champion: Chyna via pinfall

Rating: Dud

Ivory had no chance of winning! It was so darn obvious that Chyna was going to win. Chyna would leave the WWF not long after the match. She was demanding more money, similar to what Rock & Austin were earning. Really?? It be interesting to see what Ivory thought about this match. She clearly didn’t look too happy when she lost.

 

Backstage, Vince told Trish to bring Linda down when Shane was immobile. Cole showed up to ask Vince about Shane buying WCW and Vince guaranteed that something shocking would happen later in the night. A sign of things to come perhaps?

 

We got the video package highlighting the Vince McMahon feud with his son Shane. Long story short was that Vince was treating Linda poorly and cheating on her with Trish, so Shane stood up for his mother. At the same time, WCW was being sold and Vince thought he was the one that was buying it. Then, in one of the most surreal images in wrestling history, Shane McMahon showed up on Nitro. “The name on the contract does say McMahon, however the contract reads Shane McMahon.” That happened just 6 days before this event! Very surreal moment.

 

No Disqualification Match

Special Guest Referee: Mick Foley

Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon

Before the match, Shane gives a shout-out to the WCW wrestlers in his skybox. Heyman is disgusted over the fact that WCW is in the building. Vince slaps Shane before the bell and then just stiffs the shit out of him with lefts and rights. Sadly, the knees he throws in the corner don’t look as good. Shane comes back with a leaping clothesline, and Stephanie comes in the ring to save Vince. The brawl heads to the floor as Shane drops Vince with a baseball slide. He grabs a sign next to the rail and goes crazy with it as he beats the piss out of Vince. Shane jumps off the security wall with a clothesline, and then looks under the ring for some plunder. He finds his trusty kendo stick, and lays into his father. Shane starts to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee as he throws some rights and lefts. The Spanish announce table gets prepped, and you know this won’t end well for someone. Vince gets laid out on the table with a shot from a monitor. Shane heads up top, but the elbow misses as Stephanie pulls Vince out of the way. With both men down and out, Trish wheels the sedated Linda down to ringside. Trish helps Vince to his feet, and we get a payoff to that angle as she slaps Vince in the face. Stephanie has seen enough and we get one hell of a catfight. Foley just stands by and watches until Stephanie gets the underhand. She slaps Foley, and both he and Trish give chase. The two ladies brawl back up the aisle while Vince gains control back in the ring. Vince wheeled Linda to the side of the ring and put her in the ring while crowd chanted “Asshole” as they liked to do. Vince put a chair in the corner of the ring and he put Linda on it. In the ring, Vince hit Shane in the head with a garbage can. He hit Shane in the back repeatedly with the garbage can. After Vince said “third time’s a charm” Linda got out of her chair. It seemed like everybody in the arena stood up too! What a reaction for a woman getting up out of her chair. That’s how you know a story was being told well. Vince had the garbage can over his head, Linda walked up to him and kicked him in the nuts. JR: “Right into the McMahon family jewels!” Great call. Foley went into the ring and decked Vince with fists followed by the running knee in the corner. The crowd popped huge for that too. Shane put a garbage can in front of Vince’s face and then he climbed the far turnbuckle. Dropkick from one corner to the other also known as the Van Terminator by Rob Van Dam. He covered for the win. After the match, Shane & Linda hugged which drew a large reaction.

Winner: Shane McMahon via pinfall

Rating; *** ½

Outstanding work from everyone involved. In my honest humble opinion, this is the best thing the McMahons have ever done on camera. The spot where Linda stood up from her chair drew a huge reaction. You could see it a mile off but it worked with her getting revenge on Vince for drugging her. Stephanie, Trish and Mick were also effective in their roles. From a pure wrestling standpoint, it wasn’t great but as a story, it was the culmination of an angle with the babyfaces coming out on top.

 

We cut to footage from Axxess where Kevin Kelly is questioning the Hardy Boys about the TLC match. They basically say that they’ll put it all on the line and they’d go into the match as if it were their final match.

 

We saw clips of The Undertaker and Triple H getting ready for their match. That will be later on tonight.

 

WWF Tag Team Championship

T.L.C II

The Hardy Boys (Matt & Jeff) vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boys (Bubba Ray & D-Von) ©

JR and Heyman sound legitimately concerned about what will happen to these 6 men in this match. I don’t blame them for being concerned either. Big ass brawl to start as Edge and Christian take the worst of the beating. Once they get disposed off the other two teams do battle. Both Dudleys get dropped with Poetry in Motion. E&C bring in some chairs to clean house, and then in a painful spot Matt gets hung in the tree of woe so that E&C can stand on his balls. Ouch! Edge starts to climb for the gold, but Matt recovers to stop him. Now he tries for the belts, but Edge stops him with a clothesline. Edge goes right back up, but Jeff comes out of nowhere to dropkick him off the ladder. Christian gets slammed, and the Hardys come off ladders with the legdrop/splash combo. Dudleys hit the Whassup Drop on Edge. “D-VON GET THE TABLES!” Huge pop for that spot. It was very over. Dudleys get the tables, then with Edge set up on the table, Bubba powerbombs Jeff on him and through the table. Wow! Great spot. Must have hurt like a motherfucker!The Dudleys set up a stack of tables on the floor instead of going for the titles. Matt and Christian know what to do as they set up ladders in the ring. Three ladders get set up in the ring and the race is on as all six men climb. Everyone gets dropped off the ladders with Christian clearing the rope to the floor being the scariest off all the bumps. No wonder JR & Paul E sounded concerned.  Edge starts to climb, but Spike Dudley drops him with the Acid Drop. Christian takes one as well, but he gets put through a table on the floor. Rhyno now makes his appearance and he breaks Matt in half with a gore through a table set up in the corner. Lita makes her way down and in JR’s words, “jerks Edge off……the ladder.” The pause on that is awesome considering what we would know just a few years later. Rhyno eats a Doomsday Device, and Lita kills Spike with a chair. She rips off her shirt, but her tits have zero effect on Bubba as she gets dropped with 3D. On the floor Jeff pulls out the biggest ladder he could find, and he comes off with the Swanton to put Rhyno and Spike through two tables. That boy’s just not right. Christian and D-Vo head up top and they dangle from the hook that holds the title, and both men crash to the mat. Jeff tries to walk across the tops off 4 ladders to get to the belts, but he falls short. He finally gets there, but Bubba pulls the ladder out from under him leaving his hanging. Then in the spot of the match, Bubba pulled the ladder out from under Jeff, he swung forward and Edge speared him off a high ladder all the way to the floor! WOW! What an insane bump that was. It hurts just looking at that. That resulted in one of the loudest crowd reactions I’ve ever heard, though. The place just went nuts for it. So did JR: “Oh my God Edge from the 20 foot ladder with a spear on Jeff Hardy! For the love of God Jeff Hardy may be broken smack dab in half!”. Matt and Bubba fought up on top of the big ladder, but Rhyno came back from the dead to shove the ladder and that sent Matt and Bubba onto those stacked tables (remember when the Dudleys set those up?) all the way in the aisle. Wow. In a match full of sick bumps that could have been the sickest bump of the match. It was a race between E&C and D-Von, but Rhyno assisted Christian by putting him on his shoulders and Christian grabbed the titles giving E&C win the match

Winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: Edge & Christian

Rating: *****

You want words to describe that??? I don’t care if it the concept was done before. It’s hard to take part in a match like this. This was the third match in the series yet they found ways of making it look fresh and unique. The inclution of Lita, Rhyno and Spike made things interesting. The bumps these guys took were sick. The Spear off the ladder was amazing. I’m surprised that he could walk after that one! It always amazes me that none of these suffered a major injury during these matches, especially Christian when he fell to the floor. That was scary as hell!

I absolutely love the chemistry these guys had together. They everything planned out to perfection. I also loved the finish with the heels cheating to win on the biggest stage of them all. Paul Heyman said it best when he said that they gave us a match that we will never forget. Outstanding match.

 

Howard Finkel announced the attendance for the show; 67, 925. Now that’s a record, guys.

 

The Gimmick Battle Royal is up next, and to give it that old school feel, Mean Gene Okerlund and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan were providing commentary for the match.

 

Gimmick Battle Royal

The Bushwackers (Luke & Butch), Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, The Iron Sheik, Earthquake, The Goon, Doink the Clown, Kamala, Kim Chee, Repo Man, Jim Cornette, Nikolai Volkoff, Michael “P.S.” Hayes, One Man Gang, The Gobbly Gooker, Tugboat, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love & Sgt. Slaughter.

After all of these years, The Goon and Gobbly Gooker made their debuts on the biggest stage of them all.  The entrances take twice as long as the match as it’s a chaotic mess. The eliminations are fast and furious, and really there’s no need to keep track of them this early. Tmatch is serving as a cool down spot following the show put on by the Dudleys, Hardys, and E&C so it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Doink gets eliminated by Kamala, and that pisses off the crowd. The final four are Sgt Slaughter, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love, and the Iron Sheik. Love goes first and Slaughter goes a few seconds later. Sheik sneaks behind Jim to eliminate him. Post match, Slaughter gets back into the ring and gives Sheik the Cobra Clutch, much to the delight to the crowd.

Winner: The Iron Sheik

Rating: *

This was harmless fun which served its purpose. Not great to watch but it was great for nostalgia.

 

We got the video package for the Undertaker/Triple H match. Hunter said he’s beaten everybody. Undertaker showed up on his motorcycle since he was in the American Bad Ass days. They did a story where Undertaker was trying to attack Triple H in the backstage area with various weapons. Stephanie had a restraining order against Undertaker, so Kane went after her for him. Undertaker wanted the match. Hunter also destroyed an Undertaker motorcycle with a sledgehammer and threw it off the stage. The match was set.

 

Triple H vs. The Undertaker

Motorhead plays their version of HHH’s them as he heads to the ring. Taker was still in his biker phase, and the extra long entrance ramp comes in handy as he finally gets to open things up with the bike. This was the first meaningful match between these two, and at does have a pretty big feel to it. They immediately brawl on the floor before the bell rings, and the remains of the Spanish announce table gets used. Poor guys can’t catch a break. They head into the ring, and we get the opening bell. Taker controls early with some soup bones, and elevates HHH with a high backdrop. Taker staggers HHH with a clothesline and looks to set up either the Tombstone or snake eyes, but instead he just hits a powerslam. That was weird. HHH can’t get any traction in the early going until he is able counter Old School by simply pulling Undertaker off the top rope. HHH goes to work on the throat of Taker with multiple elbows. The neck work continues with a nice swinging neckbreaker, but it only gets two. HHH keeps trying for the cover, but Taker kicks out each time. In a Flair spot, HHH gets in the face of the ref, and the ref shoves HHH back. That gives Taker a chance to recover, but he sets too early on a backdrop and eats a knee. We are just over 5 minutes in and HHH goes for the sledgehammer. Sadly, Chioda disarms HHH, but he pays for it as Taker reverses a pedigree attempt to a catapult, and it’s Chioda who gets crushed. Taker snaps off a chokeslam, but HHH is able to lift a shoulder at two. That’s pisses off Taker, so he takes out his frustration on Chioda by punting him in the head. Nice! Now we get the kick ass brawl we were hoping for as they brawl through the crowd. The brawl continues to a nearby platform and HHH is able to get hold of a chair. In a sign of things to come in the next match, HHH just beats the hell out of Taker with the chair. HHH goes for one more shot, but he gets goozled, and in a great visual Taker chokeslams him off the camera tower to the “concrete” floor. The impact is kind of ruined when Taker jumps down and you can clearlysee the padding give way under the black covering. Heyman said who gives a damn about the referee being down. Finally they made their way back to the ring. HHH gets his ass kicked all the way back to ringside, and both men head back into the ring.

Undertaker spots the sledgehammer, and that’s a bad thing for HHH. He does some high quality cowering however, and it gives him just enough time to punt Undertaker in the balls. Now HHH has his hands on the sledgehammer, but he runs flush into a boot from Taker. Both men struggle to their feet and start exchanging right hands. HHH tries a tombstone, and as expected, Taker easily reverses to one of his own. At the time, the tombstone was banned so to see Undertaker do the move was a pleasant surprise! The ref was still down. It’s been nearly 10 minutes now. Undertaker shoved Chioda, so suddenly he was able to wake up slowly. Undertaker signalled for the Last Ride, but as he tried it Hunter picked up the sledgehammer and hit Undertaker in the head with it. Hunter covered and 11 minutes after he got knocked down, ref Chioda counted to two with Undertaker kicking out at the last second. I thought that was it right there! Hunter took him to the corner, he attacked him with punches in the corner while standing on the middle rope and Undertaker came back with the Last Ride Powerbomb out of the corner. Undertaker used that finish a few times over the years. It was fresh here, though. He covered for the win. Undertaker is now 9-0 at WrestleMania.

Winner: The Undertaker via pinfall

Rating: ***

A very good, solid brawl. I can’t ignore the ref bump though. It has got to be the longest in wrestling history! It’s a shame that Triple H tore his quad in May. He was on such a roll at from 2000 onwards. Personally, I wasn’t a massive fan of Undertaker’s American Bad Ass gimmick thought but I can see why it was popular. It humanised him and the crowd loved just as much as they did when he was the dead guy. Impressive showing from both guys.

 

Now, it’s time for the main event. Austin vs. The Rock. We get a video package and it is the best video package in the company’s history. The song, “My Way” suited it. It exemplified what this match is about. Austin returned to the company in the Autum of 2000 after being out of action for almost a year with a neck injury. He won the 2001 Royal Rumble which cemented his place in the WrestleMania main event. Rocky won the title off Kurt Angle at No Way Out and that set up the WrestleMania main event. There was a storyline added in which Debra, who was Austin’ real life wife, was appointed as Rocky’s manager by Vince McMahon but that was dropped later on. Then they did this interview with Jim Ross in the Locker room where Austin said to Rocky, “I need to beat you Rock. I need it more than anything you could ever imagine.” Maybe that was a sign of things to come.

 

WWF Championship

No Disqualification Match

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock ©

Before the match, Howard Finkel announces that the following match will have no disqualification which throws JR off guard. The reaction Austin gets here is absolutely insane, and one of the loudest I’ve ever heard. The Rock made his entrance with the title. They were both babyfaces but Austin gets a much louder response since he’s the hometown boy. As soon a Rock turned around after posing on the apron, Austin met him with punches. Austin tries to use the belt, but Rock ducks and starts laying the smack down. Austin counters a whip with the Thesz press, and he drops some FU elbows. The counter comes back with a swinging neckbreaker and looks for the Rock Bottom. Austin elbows out and goes for the Stunner, but Rock shoves off and tries for a Stunner of his own. That gets countered, and Austin sends Rock flying over the top rope to the floor. They battle through the crowd and back to the ringside area. They trade shots with the announce table, and Austin seizes control once they head back in the ring. The Rock gets placed on the top rope and Austin brings him down the hard way with a superplex for a two count. Austin looks to take advantage of the no DQ rule and takes the cover off the buckle. This gives the Rock a chance to get back in the fight as he tosses Austin across the ring. He gets to his feet but staggers near the ropes and Rock sends him over the top to the floor with a clothesline. They head right back to the announce table, and Austin gets his heads bounced off it and the timekeeper’s table as well. Hebner tries to restore order, and he gets shoved by the Rock. That gives Austin the opening he needs as he blasts Rock with the ring bell. The bell shot draws a few trickles of blood from Rock’s forehead. That’s apparently not enough blood for Austin as he does everything he can to open the cut up even more.

Heyman and JR’s announce table gets destroyed in the chaos, and back in the ring Austin starts firing off right hands. Austin goes to a blatant choke and for reason Hebner tries to stop him. The Rock tries to fight back as the crowd boos, but Austin remains in control as he hits his own swinging neckbreaker. The Rock’s carcass gets caught in the corner and we get some high quality mud-hole stomping. The ref keeps trying to enforce power that he really doesn’t have in this match and it’s only serving to piss off Austin. Scratch that as it gives the Rock another opening to get in some shots to regain some momentum. Rock lets Austin know he is #1 before sending him into the exposed buckle in the corner. With Austin a bloody mess The Rock heads to the floor to grab the same ring bell that split him open earlier. Austin, already a bloody mess from getting rammed into the exposed steel, gets creamed with the ring bell. Now he is pouring blood from his head as the crowd is on the verge of heart failure.

They head right back to the floor, and Austin is back in his element. He makes his comeback and drops the Rock across the guard barrier. He follows that by catapulting the Rock head first into the ring post. The Rock took that like a champ, and it brings me joy seeing a man that dedicated to his art. More hatred and violence as Austin uses a nearby monitor to open the Rock up even more. This whole time Heyman and JR have been questioning who made the no DQ ruling. I’m sure we all knew at home, but most figured it may go a different way. They make their way back in the ring and Austin tries to Stunner, but Rock turns that into a sharpshooter. Now we get the deconstruction of the Stone Cold character. We hit WM 13 first where Austin would not submit, and instead passed out from the pain. Here in Houston, Austin takes the heel way out by crawling to the bottom rope to get a break (in a no DQ match?). It works though and Austin gets enough of an advantage to lock in his own sharpshooter. The Rock doesn’t head for the ropes though at first though and powers out of the hold. Austin is a vindictive bastard though and reapplies the hold next to the ropes. That’s an easy escape for the Rock though as the ropes are right there. Next we hit up Survivor Series 1996 as Austin breaks the Million Dollar Dream, and like in 96, the Rock uses Hart’s counter to get a pinning sequence. Back in 1996 Austin didn’t care about winning the match and maintained the hold to punish Hart. In this case the win is everything to Austin and he breaks the hold to make sure he still has a chance to win. The Rock damn near causes a riot as he gets a two count off his own version of the Stunner.

Vince McMahon starts power walking to the ring as both men are a bloody mess in the ring. Both men stagger to their feet, and Rock charges, but gets planted with a spinebuster for two. With each two count Austin gets more and more pissed. That starts to become his downfall as it gives the Rock a chance to regroup and he hits his own spinebuster. The people’s elbow follows, but McMahon pulls the Rock off of Austin to break the count. The Rock chases Vince and runs right into a Rock Bottom from Austin, but it only gets a hot two count. Austin looks for the Stunner, but the Rock shoves off again, and Hebner gets knocked out of the ring. Austin takes that opening as a chance to kick Rock in his Rocks. This was surreal because Austin and Vince were feuding for three years before this. Austin held up Rock. Vince hit Rock with the chair. Vince threw the ref back in and Rock kicked out. That’s why the ref got knocked down, so Rock could kick out of that pinfall attempt after a delay. Austin started swearing, yelling “Shit! Shit! Shit! Motherfucker!” to sell the frustration. That was a great little thing that added to the desperation story. Austin was going to hit him with a chair again. Rock hit a Rock Bottom while Vince distracted Hebner to prevent him from counting the pin. Rock destroyed Vince with punches. Austin hit the Stone Cold Stunner on Rock for the one…two…no! Rock kicked out! The crowd was ready to cheer loudly, but Rock kicked out. I thought that was it. The visuals and the reaction of the crowd during this stretch are absolutely amazing. Now Austin goes crazy with the steel chair on a fallen Rocky. Finally, after 16 chair shots, that’s enough to get the pin and the WWF Title. Post match, Austin shook hands with Vince McMahon. JR was freaking out about it. Ross: “I don’t believe this. What the hell!?! Son of a bitch! Son of a bitch I don’t believe this! Stone Cold has sold his soul to Satan himself to win the WWF Title. Why Steve? Why this way?” That’s why JR was the best. He put the angle over so much and had so much emotion when he called the action. Austin enjoyed beers together post match. Heyman said that Austin had sold out his fans to win the title. Ross continued to question it saying he thought he knew Austin and that he was his friend that was there when Austin got out of the hospital from neck surgery. Rock stumbled back to his feet. Austin knocked him down with a title shot to the head.

Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin via pinfall

Rating: *****

Best main event ever! I think what’s most impressive is that they went full force from the word go. There wasn’t a point in the match where it started to lag, everything they did made sense and done for a reason. Both guys were phenomenal and that’s no surprise when you’re talking about guys that are the calibre of Austin and The Rock. They’ve had a lot of matches in the past, their chemistry is top class but this match took everything to another level.

Rocky’s bumping was fantastic and the heart he showed in kicking out of Austin’s bug moves made him look like a tough guy in the eyes of the fans. He took a hell of a beating but never gave up. Austin on the other hand was fucking amazing. Clearly the star of the show by miles! He wrestled aggressively and viciously throughout the match. The emotion and facial expressions he used when he couldn’t get the win were excellent.  I absolutely love the bit where repeatedly yelled “Shit” because he was frustrated that he could put Rocky away. You could see the emotion in his eyes. Its little things like that which adds to the bigger picture.

This is one of those matches that I’ve seen many times but each time I watch it, it always feels fresh. In fact, it’s my 3rd favourite match of all time. Second favourite is Bret & Owen from WrestleMania 10 and my favourite match ever is still to come. In short, it’s an epic, kick ass brawl with one of the hottest crowds you will ever see. Fantastic match!

 

The show ended with replays of the finish followed by Austin leaving with McMahon while Rock was trying to recover in the ring. Ross sold it tremendously by asking for answers and ended it with: “Things will never be the same.” The Austin heel turn would be something new, so it was very interesting to see where things were headed.

 

**Random Thoughts**

  • Best professional wrestling pay per view in the history of business. I’m giving this a 10. It had everything you could ask for. The main event was a 5 star classic, the TLC match was an amazing spectacle which saw six people (Ten if you include Spike, Rhyno & Lita) putting their bodies on the line, The McMahon match was an emotional rollercoaster which ended up seeing the heel getting his ass kicked. Undertaker/ Triple H was a good match and the Angle/Benoit match was a technical masterpiece. The early matches were good and served their purpose.
  • My initial reaction to Austin’s heel turn was positive. Rock left to film a movie so I figured he’ll feud with Triple H who would turn face but he would end up tearing his quad. They ended up having Austin feud with Jericho, Benoit and Angle, all of whom were great talents but weren’t seen at Austin’s level.  The WCW invasion didn’t help either. Despite the crowd reaction, I still felt it was the right call to turn Austin heel, they needed to freshen the character up somehow.
  • The ref bump in the Undertaker & Triple H match was so silly. I guess they didn’t want to make it No DQ because there were a few other matches on the card with that stipulation, but having a ref knocked out for that long while two guys fight in the crowd was too unrealistic even for professional wrestling. Undertaker and Hunter would have better matches at WM 27 & 28.
  • The Ross & Heyman broadcast team did such a good job of putting over the stories and superstars. They had the right reactions to everything. I dare say if the pairing lasted longer they would have been the best announce team ever.
  • I loved the gimmick battle royal. People I know think it was a waste of time but they don’t seem to understand that it was just a bit of fun. Throw in the commentary by Bobby Heenan & Gene Okerlund, it felt like a match from 1991 not 2001!

 

Best Match: Stone Cold vs. The Rock – Best main event ever.

Worst Match: Ivory vs. Chyna – The crowd didn’t care and neither did Chyna. She left not long after.

WrestleMania Moment: Austin shaking hands with McMahon – It was so surreal seeing the former rivals shake hands. It raised a lot of questions as to what was to come from the partnership.

 

Top 5 Superstars

1. Stone Cold – His emotion and frustration were fantastic. Best match since neck surgery.

2. The Rock – Showed a lot of heart and refused to give up despite the beating he took.

3. Jeff Hardy – He was involved in some sick bump most notably the spear he took from Edge whiles hanging onto the belts.

4. Edge – Watching this match shows that it’s no surprise he had to retire early. I also believe that this was the match which convinced management to make him the King of the Ring of that year.

5. Kurt Angle – “Lost the frikken Cowboy hats!” That was such a funny quote. Showed some outstanding work in his match with Benoit.

 

Updated rankings chart:

Macho Man Randy Savage – 29pts

Hulk Hogan/ Bret Hart – 25pts

Shawn Michaels – 24pts

Stone Cold – 20pts

The Rock – 13pts

Ricky Steamboat– 10pts

Owen Hart – 8pts

Ultimate Warrior/ Roddy Piper– 7pts

Mick Foley/ Jeff Hardy – 6pts

Dynamite Kid/Rick Rude/ Ted Dibiase – 5pts

Terry Funk/ Bam Bam Bigelow/ Diesel/ Triple H- 4pts

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

Greg Valentine/ Scott Steiner/ Razor Ramon/Shane McMahon/ Christian/Edge-2pts

Sgt Slaughter/ Gorilla Monsoon/ Bobby Heenan/ Jim Ross/ Bubba Ray Dudley /Kurt Angle– 1pt

 

Overall Show Rating (Out of 10): 10

Best pay per view ever. What a performance from everyone involved. Historically this show was huge as it was the culmination of the Attitude Era, and though we didn’t know it at the time, the culmination of the last Golden Period in wrestling. I would love to see a show top WrestleMania 17 in terms of quality, that may be a long time from now but I’m confident that the day will come. This is by far Vince McMahon’s greatest masterpiece.

 

WrestleMania Rankings so far:

WrestleMania 17 – 10

WrestleMania 14 – 8.5

WrestleMania 10 – 8

WrestleMania 8 – 7

WrestleMania 3 – 7

WrestleMania 7 – 6.5

WrestleMania 6 – 6

WrestleMania16 – 5.5

WrestleMania 12 – 5.5

WrestleMania 15 – 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: Icon vs. Icon. The Rock takes on the returning Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X-8

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: