History of Wrestlemania with KB – Wrestlemania 17 – Oh Yes.

Wrestlemania 17
Date: April 1, 2001
Location: Astrodome, Houston, Texas
Attendance: 67,925
Commentators: Jim Ross, Paul Heyman
Star Spangled Banner: N/A

And here it is. This show makes up for the back to back lousy shows. This review is going to be extremely biased as I’ve made no secret to the fact that I think this is the greatest PPV of all time, as do many others. Some, including me, say that this was the end of the Attitude Era. WCW and ECW were both gone in their original forms by this point and the WWF reigned supreme.

While I’ll save the backstories for the individual matches, WCW going out of business plays a role later on in the show in case you didn’t know. I used to have the original on video but I’ve misplaced it since then. It might have ran away as I’ve probably watched this show 75 times all the way through. Does it still hold that honor, almost 8 years later? Let’s find out.
We start with a bit of a strange video of people all over the world watching Wrestlemania, implying that it’s almost a spiritual event. One thing I don’t get though: a man and a woman curl up in the back of a car to watch it. Since when can you get PPV in the back of a car? I think I’m looking too deeply into this. Let’s get on with the show.

The main event here is the face vs. face rematch of Austin and the Rock, which was absolutely the only choice for the main event as neither had anyone even remotely close to them. If this tells you anything, the second biggest match on the card was Taker vs. HHH. Even that, two of the biggest stars of all time going at it pales in comparison.

The version I’m watching has Limp Biskit’s My Way in it.  The edited version sees it replaced by a song called Adrenaline Rush. This was used as the recap song for Impact, and this DVD of WM came out after that song was used by TNA. There’s something great about that. We are live in the Houston Astrodome, making this the first of the stadium Manias in quite some time.

It really makes it look better to me as there are almost 4 times as many people as there were at some Manias. The ring looks tiny and I love the visuals here. Paul Heyman is your analyst tonight as Lawler had quit the company. His wife, diva the Kat, had been released from the company for reasons unclear. Lawler thought it wasn’t fair so he quit as well. The witch then left him, causing him to lose his pride and come crawling back to Vince.

Enough talking.  On with the action!  And more talking, but I guess that goes with the territory.
Intercontinental Title: Chris Jericho vs. William Regal

This was during the time when Regal was the Commissioner of the company. On his first night with that job, Jericho had some out and asked him to shut up. Regal responded by putting Jericho in various handicap matches. Jericho fights back by having Kane and Undertaker destroy his office and pissing in Regal’s tea. We get this match to resolve this feud. In the time it took me to type that, Jericho has finally made his way to the ring.

Jericho also did a thing on Raw where he dressed up as Doink to beat up Regal. Never got the point of that one. Another aspect of the story is Regal beat up Jericho on Smackdown, injuring Jericho’s left shoulder with his finishing move known as the Regal Stretch.  During Regal’s entrance we see the recap of what I just told you about.  The aisle is LONG here so there’s time for a lot of talking and recapping during entrances.

Jericho gets a clothesline to start and the forearm sets up some mounted punches.  Spinwheel kick puts Regal on the floor and Jericho is like screw it and hits a plancha to take Regal down.  Heyman is fired up to be here to put it mildly.  Top rope back elbow gets two and Jericho tries the Walls which he can’t hook on.  Regal’s chest is RED from those chops.  He manages to send Jericho shoulder first into the post and there goes the momentum.  He does it again just for emphasis.

Suplex gets two and Regal works over the arm again.  Jericho tries a quick Lionsault which misses and Regal gets a rollup for two.  Another suplex gets two.  Regal pulls the turnbuckle pad and Jericho’s shoulder goes into it twice.  The referee is all cool with this I guess.  Jericho fires off some enziguris to break things up a bit, called martial arts by Ross.

Missile dropkick from the middle rope gets two for Jericho.  He charges at Regal in the corner but misses.  Regal manages to get a butterfly suplex off the top which oddly works for him.  No cover though as Regal is down.  Scratch that as it was just delayed and it gets two.  Belly to back is reversed into a Walls attempt but the shoulder gives out and he can’t do it.

Regal locks on the Regal Stretch and Jericho is reeling.  There’s the rope though with a lunge.  That’s not quite the STF as it’s more of a half nelson instead of a crossface.  More chops by Jericho and he rams Regal into the buckle that was exposed.  Bulldog sets up the Lionsault and it’s over very abruptly.  I think they ended it early as Ross sounded surprised that it ended there.
Rating: B. Not long enough to be great, but there’s no dead spots and both guys beat on each other really well. Solid opener between two guys that know what they’re doing out there.  It always helps when you can tell these guys know what they’re doing and want to be out there.  Good stuff and a very good opener.

Shane arrives late, complete with a WCW license plate.  Surely a collector’s item.

APA and Jackie are in the back but they can’t find Tazz. Bradshaw doesn’t like that, and he says a great promo: “You don’t understand. It’s Wrestlemania! Heart are going to be broke. Legends are going to be made. Egos are going to be shattered and people are going to be kicked. We’ve got a match, LET’S GO!” Dang indeed.

APA/Tazz vs. Right To Censor

It’s my Lee special here. Very simple backstory here: RTC hates the APA because they smoke and drink. Tazz is just kind of there for the ride. I think RTC got on him for being a thug but that was minor. Paul Heyman makes some jokes saying they’re extremists, and when I hate something extreme, you know it’s bad. The one flaw to this show might be the entrance to the ring. Tazz is still walking when APA’s music hits.

Heyman’s jokes about Texas are great as you can tell he doesn’t like the place. If there’s a bad match on the show, this is definitely it. RTC in this case is Val Venis, Godfather and Buchanan.  Jackie and Stevie are the backups on the floor.  Val and Taz start slug it out on the floor and then in the ring so they start us off I guess.

Jackie DDTs Stevie as this is a big brawl to start.  Ok never mind as it’s Buchanan vs. Farrooq to officially get us going here.  Buchanan could certainly move for someone his size but he walks into a powerslam by Farrooq.  Off to Tazz now as the beating is on.  Big boot breaks that up and here comes the RTC.  That could be a really bad sitcom.

Val comes in with some knees to Tazz’s ribs.  Russian Leg Sweep gets two.  Tazz is sent into the ropes and falls into them in something resembling a botch.  Goodfather gets an elbow to take him down and a belly to back gets two.  The former Ho Train hits but a Vader Bomb misses.  Bradshaw comes in and cleans house, barely getting Goodfather over with a backdrop.

Everything breaks down and it’s a double spinebuster for Val, followed by a belly to back off the top rope.  The roof looks like a spaceship or something and every time they show it the thing looks awesome.  Another not Ho Train misses and the Clotheslin ends Goodfather.

Rating: C-. It wasn’t exactly bad, but it was far from great. They kept this short, which is good because there was really no point to this. Fast paced and the APA beating people up was always fun.  If this is the worst match on the show, I can more than live with it as this was perfectly fine but would have been better suited on Raw I think.

In the back, Trish brings in Linda in her wheelchair to meet Stephanie. Might as well give you the story now. Vince had said he wanted a divorce from Linda, who had a nervous breakdown because of it. Vince put her in an asylum or a rest home or something like that while he had an open affair with Trish. This was highlighted by a famous scene where Trish said she’d do anything for him so in the ring he had her strip to her underwear and crawl around, barking like a dog.

Shane reappeared and was furious with his dad for all of this so he challenged him to a street fight. With HHH’s help, Vince beat Shane down. However, the Monday before Mania, it was announced that Vince had (legitimately) bought WCW. However, in kayfabe, he had wanted to sign the contract at Wrestlemania.

Shane took this opportunity to sneak in and buy WCW from Vince, signing the papers that Monday instead of waiting. Shane showed up on the final Nitro to announce it, 6 days before the street fight. This eventually led to Stephanie “buying” ECW and the dreadful Alliance angle that took over the company all Summer. Had it not been for HHH tearing his quad, this angle could have been the biggest of all time. But that’s another story for another time. Anyway, Stephanie treats Trish like crap and she just takes it.  There’s a joke there somewhere.

Hardcore Title: Raven vs. Kane vs. Big Show

No real story here other than giving Raven an impossible set of opponents to defend the title against.  Paul’s advice to Raven: run a lot.  I can’t say I disagree.  Heyman says he’s a fearless man which gets a funny response from Ross of “let’s not get carried away here.”  Kane and Raven go at it before Show gets here.  Raven jumps him with a piece of plastic which gets him nowhere.

Here comes Show who takes his time getting to the ring.  Someone in the front row wave a Twinkie and he’ll be here in seconds.  With Show on his way, Kane presses Raven onto him over the top.  Show catches him and tries the Final Cut (why call it that anyway?  I never got that name) but Kane takes Show down with a top rope clothesline to the floor for two.

We’re in the crowd already and that’s the last time we’ll be in the ring all match.  Show is in his swimsuit here.  The cameraman has to try to follow these guys which doesn’t work at all.  Show and Kane hammer on each other as Raven is nowhere to be seen.  Ah there he is with a plastic something or other.

Kane grabs Raven and throws him into a wall which has a hole in it now.  Show slams Kane onto some pallets that are made of wood and chases Raven down.  They go into some caged storage area which Show locks.  Kane is like screw that and rips the door off and they keep up the fight.  They look like it’s all cleaning supplies or something like that.

Raven tries to choke Kane with a gardening hose and they go out of the cage place.  Kane keeps choking with the hose and then picks him up, throwing him by the neck through a glass window of an office kind of place.  Show, not to be out done, knocks Kane through the door.  Show wants the chokeslam on the floor but Kane fights him off, knocking him through the wall into another room.

Raven stumbles in and tries to get a shot in which gets him nowhere.  The champion steals a golf cart but Show jumps on the back.  Kane gets one of his own and brings the referee to chase after Raven and Show.  He almost runs over Raven’s leg as we hit catering.  Raven is thrown into the Snapple and the coffee much to Paul’s dismay.

You can tell they’re getting tired here as we hit the Gorilla Position.  They come out to the stage as the giants stalk Raven.  Kane goes off on Show but runs into a clothesline to take him down.  Show picks up Raven to toss him off the stage but Kane kicks Show off the stage and into part of the set.  Kane drops an elbow/leg onto them and pins Show to get the title.

Rating: C+. Not bad but not great. It was meant to be a wild brawl and that’s exactly what it was. We knew Raven would lose, just not who he would lose to. Quite well done and fine for what it was.  This was designed to be a fun hardcore match and it worked just fine as that.

Angle is watching a video of him tapping to the Crossface. Edge and Christian come up to talk but Angle doesn’t feel very chatty. He looks for what it means to officially tap out, saying that since it wasn’t a match, he didn’t actually tap. This is intense Kurt and it works really well.

Jimmy Snuka is at WWF New York, a nightclub/restaurant that was WWE themed. That would have been awesome.

There’s an Aussie at the show. Kind of cool actually that someone flew 30 hours from Australia for the show. There’s a REALLY bad edit here as I remember the woman saying WWF at least twice. It’s really badly covered up here.  Stupid panda loving hippies.

Rock arrives at the arena, 45 minutes into the show.

European Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Test

Always sad to see the two dead people wrestling on any show.  Dang Eddie’s music was sweet. Don’t really think there was much of a story here other than Eddie is your challenger. That belt just looks tiny on Test.  Eddie was a guest referee on Raw in a match with X-Pac which I think happened once the match was made.  Paul explains that Texas is part of Mexico.  I love Heyman at times.

Test gets a gutwrench powerbomb almost immediately so we hit the floor after the two.  Saturn is on the floor and in Eddie’s corner.  Test dominates with power here but gets caught going up on the inside.  Eddie tries a rana and either they botch it or Test didn’t know what was coming as he just stays there.  Test gets a shot from the middle rope for two and hammers away even more.

A big boot by the Canadian misses and Test gets all caught up in the ropes.  Eddie more or less rolls his eyes as he has to unhook Test who falls to the floor.  Eddie hammers on the ankle and we go back into the ring.  We kind of hit a lull as there isn’t much going on here.  A sleeper by Eddie wastes some time.  Test gets a tilt-a-whirl slam to break the momentum and they slug it out some.

Another tilt-a-whirl is spun into a powerbomb by Test for two which looked awesome.  Test wants the Full Nelson Slam but Eddie gets a low blow, allowing Saturn to hit the Moss Covered Three Handled Family Credenza (it’s a neckbreaker and yes that’s the real name) for two.  Ross shouts about there being a third man in the ring.  That’s very true JR.  He’s called a referee.

Frog Splash misses and the pumphandle slam only gets two as Saturn distracts.  Big boot is loaded up and Saturn interferes again, taking the least convincing big boot ever.  Another boot to Eddie gets two as Dean Malenko interferes.  Test had to wait to cover Eddie forever because Dean took awhile to get to the ring.  Saturn throws in the belt and Eddie pops Test to win the title.
Rating: C-. This is easily the worst match of the show and it’s not completely terrible. Eddie clearly carries it but Test’s power offense was always fun. Not terrible, but for a Mania match, this was pretty bad. Definitely could have been left out and put on Heat instead.  Also this probably should have been about two minutes shorter.

Mick Foley, the guest referee for the street fight says that he’s not at all biased towards Vince for beating him up and firing him on national TV. He’s calling a fair match tonight.

And he’s going to do it right here, in Houston, Texas!

Austin is just getting here. Good grief the tardiness!  We’re an hour into the show almost and he’s just getting here?  Someone fine this guy and give him a stern lecture!

Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

Ok, here’s your story reenactment. 6 days ago on Raw:

Benoit: I don’t have a match at Mania.

Kurt: Neither do I.

Both: Let’s have a match.

Seriously, that’s it. This was thrown on the card because two top stars had nothing to do at all.  Angle runs down the Texas fans for the cowboy hats.  Also the flag is missing 49 stars.  That’s hilarious.  Paul: “This is as excited as a man can get with his clothes on.”  Never let it be said he doesn’t say what he was thinking.

Naturally we hit the mat to start as this is about as technical as you can get.  The fans applaud the standoff as they probably should.  Back to the mat and it’s another standoff.  We hear about how great they both are and it’s amazing to me that Angle has only been a pro for a year and a half now.  That’s incredible.  Angle overpowers Benoit and grabs a suplex kind of move.

Back to the mat again as this is almost all grappling so far.  Angle tries for the ankle but it’s back to just laying on Benoit.  This is very different but still incredibly interesting as you can see that they both know what they’re doing on a man.  Benoit almost gets the Crossface but Angle makes a rope.  Another single leg by Angle but Benoit tries the Crossface again, only for Angle to get to the ropes again.

More grappling and again Benoit can’t quite get the hold on before the rope is grabbed.  Angle pops him with a right hand and it’s time to fight.  Out to the floor and Angle whips Benoit into the steps to really take over.  Back in the ring and Angle gets a vertical suplex for two.  Make it a pair of both.  Benoit fights back with HARD chops but walks into a belly to belly to get a woo out of Angle.

Another belly to belly has Benoit in trouble.  We get a Jack Brisco reference which results in another argument from Ross and Heyman.  More chops by Benoit and momentum shifts a bit.  Snap suplex gets two as Benoit channels his inner Dynamite Kid.  Superplex off the top puts Angle down but Benoit can’t cover.  Blast it stop with the delayed covers!!!  It gets two as you would expect.

Time for the Rolling Germans as Angle is in trouble again.  Angle reverses into the ankle lock attempt but Benoit counters into an ankle lock of his own.  Crossface attempt number four but Angle has a hand between the grip and the face, allowing him to get a rollup to escape.  Angle grabs a Crossface of his own which might look more painful than Benoit’s.

Down goes the referee (of course) and Benoit gets the Crossface.  Angle taps (of course again) but there’s no referee.  Benoit (of course) lets go of the hold instead of waiting on the referee and Angle gets the Angle Slam for two (wow these guys are predictable).  Moonsault misses (that might have hit 5 times ever.  I’ll stop with the parentheses now) but the headbutt gets two.  Benoit tries a suplex but Angle gets a low blow and cradles Benoit with tights to end this out of nowhere.
Rating: B+. The finish kills this for me. These two are two of the best workers of all time and we need a pull of the tights for a pin? That doesn’t fly with me. However, the other stuff they did is absolutely great. If you can believe this, this isn’t even close to their best match ever. For that, check Royal Rumble 2003. That match is a candidate for greatest match of all time. I’ve been watching these two for years and I’ve yet to see a bad match from them.

Kamala is in William Regal’s office. Hilarity ensues. Heyman shakes his head like he’s waking up from a nightmare.

We see a video of a Wrestlemania pep rally in Fort Hood, Texas. This was really cool I thought. A bunch of wrestlers, mainly some divas, Angle and Taker visited the soldiers. Factor in that 9/11 was about 5 months away so soldiers at home were still the biggest thing I suppose. The commander got a nice WWF recliner and the wrestlers got plaques. Lita doesn’t seem thrilled about being there. Angle like it but would rather have a medal.

Angle is upset about something, saying he deserves the title. Benoit attacks and locks on the crossface and Angle taps again.

We see the recap of Chyna vs. Ivory. The idea here was that Chyna had a bad neck, allegedly caused by Ivory. Ivory, as a member of RTC, wasn’t happy with Chyna being in Playboy. Now this is the time where I’ll embarrass myself. When I was about 12-13, I was obsessed with Chyna. It was literally my mission in life to see her naked. I heard about the Playboy shoot and nearly died of happiness. To this day, I’m not sure what I was thinking. At the time, Ivory was kind of like the evil feminist. To steal the term from JR, imagine Lillith from Cheers or Frasier as a wrestler.

Women’s Title: Chyna vs. Ivory

The only good thing here is Chyna more or less in a purple bikini.  She launches a bunch of pyro with this big gun she carried with her at this time.  What do you expect here? This might last three minutes as Chyna annihilates Ivory.  Ivory gets in a few shots and that’s about all.  It ends with a press slam and Chyna officially murders the division to get the title. It took that mistress from Canada and the redhead to save it.

Rating: N/A. Not a match, but a squash. The problem here was that Chyna was a former IC Champion and had some great matches with men, including clean pins over guys like Jericho. Why should we believe that anyone else had a chance against her? Simply put, we didn’t. There was one good thing though. At this time, Chyna wanted money the likes of which Taker and HHH were getting.

Vince is a bit loony some times, but even he knew that was never going to happen. Chyna was gone within three months and the real women’s wrestlers were able to revive the division, including one of the best rivalries I’ve ever seen in Trish vs. Lita. This was a total slap in the face of the Women’s Division though.

In the back, Vince tells Michael Cole that he’ll get something shocking tonight.

I already recapped this feud above so read about it there.

Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon

Naturally this is a street fight.  Can someone explain why Shane, the face, is the one owning the invaders but Vince, the guy that represents the home grown talent is the heel? No one else could either so finally in June they made the change to fix this and we got the Alliance. We see some WCW people in a box in the rafters. Some faces I can identify: Stacy Keibler, Shawn Stasiak, Bobby Eaton, Chavo Guerrero and that’s it. Seriously? That’s the best you’ve got? And people have the nerve to ask why this bombed.

Vince and Shane have the same music which is kind of odd. Foley is the referee. Stephanie is with Vince and there’s no sign of Trish or Linda.  Vince pummels Shane to start us off and Shane is in trouble.  Shane fires back with basic strikes until Stephanie comes in to distract him.  He hammers on Vince with a sign of some kind and adds a clothesline to keep Vince down.  Some kendo stick shots have Vince in big trouble.
After some punches, Shane smashes him in the head with a monitor in an absolutely sick shot and lays him on the… wait for it. Wait for it. It’s coming. HE LAYS HIM ON THE SPANISH ANNOUNCE TABLE!!! WOW! What a cool idea! Who would have ever thought of putting someone on there? Also, who makes those tables? They’re making a fortune which is impressive because they apparently make REALLY bad tables.

Shane goes to the top and launches a picture perfect elbow drop onto Vince but Stephanie pulls him out of the way as Shane “crashed, and he for sure, BURNED!” according to your favorite Oklahoman. At this point, Trish brings out Linda in the wheelchair.  The cleavage on Trish is mind blowing here, especially compared to Stephanie who hasn’t had her boobs done yet. It’s kind of odd looking actually.

Anyway, Trish starts helping Stephanie up but turns face by slapping the tar out of Vince.  We get a cat fight and Foley pulls them apart before Stephanie slaps him. Trish chases her down the aisle and in the worst acting job of all time, she “falls” running down the aisle and Trish nearly catches her. Back at ringside, Vince nails Foley with a chair as Foley tries to protect Linda from Vince.

Vince puts Linda in the ring. He throws Shane and four garbage cans into the ring. Linda stands up and the crowd pops. Vince turns to see her and spreads his legs open to set up Linda kicking him low. Foley beats the tar out of Vince to allow Shane the chance to set up a Coast to Coast in an amazing athletic move to get the pin, as apparently he, Trish, Foley and Linda worked together to screw Vince over. They walk to the back as Vince’s, uh I mean Shane’s, or is it Vince’s, no wait it’s Shane’s I think, music plays. Get your own bad rap music already Shane!

Rating: B. This was a messy brawl, but given who it was and the ending, it was fun. Vince and Shane aren’t wrestlers, but they can put on a passable fight. That dropkick from Shane is always cool and this was its debut.  To have all of these angles come together in one match is really quite impressive.

We see the Hardys at Access talking about how they’re going to put their bodies on the line to win the tag titles. Truer words have never been spoken.

We cut to HHH getting ready for no apparent reason before cutting to Taker for no apparent reason. Dang that X7 baseball jersey was sweet. Always wanted one of those.

Tag Titles: Edge/Christian vs. Hardy Boys vs. Dudley Boys

This is yet another match with no story but it never needed one. These three teams all wanted to be the champions and this match was fairly obvious.  The Dudleys come in as champions here.  All four faces jump the Canadians to get us going here.  The Dudleys hit a flapjack to Christian as the beating is on.  The Hardys take down the Dudleys for awhile until Edge and Christian bring in a ladder.

Edge grabs a chair and he and Christian stand on Matt’s balls in the corner.  A double drop toehold by the Canadians puts Jeff into the chair.  Edge tries to get the belts but Jeff makes the save.  The Hardys get a double baseball slide into a ladder into the Dudleys on the floor.  Using a pair of ladders, Matt drops a leg and Jeff drops a splash on Christian at the same time.  Nice move.

There goes Matt’s shirt and there go the girls.  What’s Up to Edge And now it’s table time.  Edge is laid out on one so Bubba picks up Jeff and powerbombs him right through Edge and in turn the table.  On the floor now and the Dudleys stack up two tables on top of two more tables for the big spot later in the match.  Paul talks about Big Daddy Dudley’s construction company in Dudleyville.  Oh dear.

More ladders are brought in and in a spot that still makes me and the crowd breathe in, Bubba takes a ladder and just bashes Matt in the head with it.  That has to hurt something fierce.  All six guys go up at once and all six guys come crashing down almost at once with some hitting ropes, some hitting mat and some hitting ropes.  Christian goes flying to the floor which looks AWESOME from the above the ring camera.

He sets up a table on the floor as Edge tries to go up.  Spike Dudley who was injured by Edge and Christian’s friend Rhyno, comes out and takes down Edge and hits a Dudley Dog to Christian through the table.  Jeff goes up but it’s Rhyno out now for the save.  Gee I wonder who will come out to help out the Hardys.  Rhyno destroys everyone and here’s Lita.

She stops Edge from going up but gets caught in a gorilla press by Rhyno.  Spike saves her and it’s a Litarana for Rhyno.  Spike hits Rhyno with a chair and he falls into a ladder, sending Edge down.  Dudleyville (Doomsday) Device to Rhyno and he’s finally down.  Lita takes her top off (looking incredibly good in a black bra) but walks into a 3D.  Chair shots by the Canadians take out the Dudleys and Edge wants the big ladder.

Jeff gets the large ladder though and hits a Swanton onto Rhyno and Spike who are both on tables.  Spike takes the whole thing and Rhyno’s table doesn’t even break.  That was ALL Spike.  The big ladder is in the ring now and set up in the middle of the ring.  Christian and D-Von go up but Matt moves the ladder under them (with a shout of HERE WE GO first) and they’re stuck hanging there.

After both fall, Jeff walks across the top of the three other ladders (kind of as the third one falls) to get to the titles.  The big ladder is in the corner and Jeff goes up a regular one.  The ladder is moved by Bubba and since Jeff’s feet were on it, Jeff goes swinging in the opposite direction, right into a spear by Edge from the super ladder, which is not only Edge’s Wrestlemania moment, but the moment that made him a star.

Back after about 5 replays with Bubba and Matt going up the big ladder.  Rhyno shoves the ladder over and they go crashing through the four tables that were set up at ringside earlier.  D-Von and Christian go up but Rhyno gets beneath Christian and climbs up with Christian on his shoulders, giving him the needed assist to win the titles again.  Incredible match all around to say the least.
Rating: A+. These guys nearly killed each other. You can see that it’s miles better than last year because they knew what they were doing to a greater extent. That spear from Edge more or less ended Christian’s usefulness in the WWF as Edge began to get the singles push from here on out.

Either way, this match is great as it’s a total spot fest but it is still better than all of the MITB matches that would follow in its footsteps. If you’re bored here, go get a blood injection. The crowd ate this up and it just clicks all around as they somehow top the other matches they had which are also greats.

JR looks at the carnage and says it looks like a tornado went through a mobile home park.  There are wrestling rings and ladders at a destroyed mobile home park?

Video on Axxess, which looks AWESOME.  Various wrestlers say this is awesome, and they’re right.  You can call matches, get autographs and see all kinds of exhibits.  I’d love to go to something like this to say the lease.
There’s a record crowd for the Astrodome of 67,925. That’s very impressive.

Gimmick Battle Royal

Luke, Butch, Duke Droese, Iron Sheik, Goon, Doink the Clown, Kamala, Kimchee, Repo Man, Jim Cornette, Nikolai Volkoff, Michael Hayes, One Man Gang, Gobbledy Gooker, Tugboat, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love, Sgt. Slaughter

To any other old school freak like me, welcome to nostalgia heaven. We have 18 men in this and it’s nothing but the most off the wall gimmicks that the company could think of. Given some of the stuff WWF had done up to that point, this could be mind blowing. As an added bonus, Gene freaking Okerlund and BOBBY HEENAN do the commentary.

Oh my goodness, we have found the greatest Wrestlemania match of all time.  During the entrances Bobby calls Gene Tony in a funny bit.  Butch licks Mean Gene just like he did to me at a house show.  The pop for Jim is ridiculous.  You need to look all of these people up if nothing else to learn what bad gimmicks are all about.

The introductions took 5 minutes and the match lasts three minutes. The commentators mention that they’ve never seen a battle royal that ends so fast. Doink getting eliminated brings forth the loudest booing all night which doesn’t surprise me at all. The fans are totally into this which makes me smile.

Sheik wins if you’re interested. After that Slaughter comes back in and beats him up. Sheik won this because he wasn’t able to be thrown over the top rope due to age.  Nothing in the match means anything which is why I’m not even going to list it off.  Slaughter puts him in the Cobra Clutch post match because he’s an AMERICAN.

Rating: N/A as it’s not a serious match but I don’t ever remember having more fun with a single match. Even at 13 I knew this was cool and it still is to this day. The fans being 100% into it makes me very happy as it’s obvious they still like these guys. While a lot of matches like these bomb badly, the battle royal was a great idea as it kept things quick. Excellent match and all kinds of fun.

Now it’s time to get to the real meat of the show. Somehow, everything we’ve seen so far has been appetizer. That is unbelievable considering what we’ve seen so far. Seriously, TLC, Benoit/Angle or the street fight could be the second big match on any other card, but that’s not what we get as the second big match. We get this.

We recap HHH vs. The Undertaker.  HHH beats Austin twice in a row and says there’s no one left for him to beat. We hear a gong, and I lost it. This was amazing and I knew it would be a classic. Taker gets in HHH’s face and says that HHH has never beaten him, but if HHH tries, Taker will make him famous. Over the next 5 weeks, we got the great build up.

HHH destroyed one of Taker’s bikes, had Taker sent to jail, etc. Taker gets ahold of HHH one night, so Stephanie issues a restraining order on Taker. However, there isn’t one against Kane. Kane chases Stephanie, allowing Taker to beat up HHH. Kane holds her over his head and threatens to throw her down from a balcony, unless Regal makes the one on one match at Mania. Taker obviously gets his wish, and here we are.

Undertaker vs. HHH

Back then, HHH was a bigger star than he is now. He beat Austin, the king of the world, twice in one night the previous month. Taker was about 8 months into his biker gimmick and was a step behind what he used to be at though. However, this was his hometown and it’s Wrestlemania, although this is before the Streak became important.

Motorhead plays HHH to the ring and it is freaking awesome. They play the verse and chorus all the way through before we cut to a long shot of the arena and we see Triple H, Start Game flash on the screen, then a small object appears beneath it. Cut to a shot of HHH and then back to the arena. My goodness these stadiums are awesome. The live band is always cool as they play him through the long walk down the aisle.

HHH does a double water spit so you know this is an important show. The song ends and HHH paces back and forth. We hear gong strikes, and the lights go out. DEAD MAN WALKING. Instead of walking down the huge ramp, Taker drives his bike down instead in another famous shot. The cool thing here is it’s long enough that he can crank it up and gets the bike flying down the aisle. Taker jumps in the ring, rips the shirt off and we’re on.

Just as Taker is about to start the fight, JR mentions that he is 8-0, undefeated at Wrestlemania. Ladies and Gentlemen, the streak is born. That’s the first time that it’s mentioned on WWF television to my knowledge, but certainly the first time at Wrestlemania.  The fight starts on the floor with Taker hammering away.  Guess what Taker knocks HHH through. Go on, I want you to guess. It rhymes with French announce table. You guessed it. Twice in one night has to be a record.

They slug it out in the ring and the knee to the face gets HHH nowhere.  BIG back drop puts HHH down.  Powerslam gets two and a big clothesline takes down HHH.  Old School is countered. Not sure how HHH knew it was coming. Might be that Taker shouted out OLD SCHOOL right before he went for it. Just a hunch mind you. The Game hammers away on Taker including a trio of elbows.  That and a neckbreaker gets three straight two counts.

HHH goes after the ref and gets shoved back which gets a huge pop. My goodness this crowd is white hot. Six minutes in and HHH gets the sledgehammer. Referee takes it from him so HHH tries a Pedigree which is blocked into a catapult and the referee goes down. Chokeslam gets two because the referee was slow thanks to him getting bumped.

Taker, being the ticked off man that he is, beats the referee up because of this. The throw that Taker sends HHH to the floor with is either great selling or a real throw. We go into the crowd and actually wind up at the production tower which has been seen maybe twice in company history. This is what the cameras sit on in the arena and where the sound is adjusted etc. Quite simply if they screw up here, the PPV goes off the air.

HHH now has a problem. He’s trying to run from Taker, but the only way to run is to keep climbing the tower. HHH finds a chair up there though and lands about 10 sick chair shots to Taker. They’re in a tiny place so Taker is laid out and HHH just hits him wherever he can with the chair. Great visual on that. Taker gets up and catches HHH after the Game poses. The flashbulbs are going so crazy it’s hard to see them for a little bit.

He then chokeslams him off the tower. Now think about why this is cool. No one has ever seen them fight here before so it’s unknown. There’s no referee as Taker beat him up. Most importantly, we don’t see HHH land. What did he land on? That’s what makes this cool: the total mystery of it. Sadly, we see he landed on a big pad, but it still must have knocked him out a bit. If not, the elbow Taker drops on him does. What’s a good American to do now? He beats up the EMTs of course.

They fight back to the ring and the referee is still down. What the heck? He got kicked and elbowed, not shot in the forehead. Taker gets the hammer and a low blow to make him drop it a few seconds later. Heyman talking about how dangerous weapons are is either a rib by him or the best unintentional comedy I’ve heard in a long time. HHH gets a tombstone countered because he’s not the Undertaker, and Taker breaks out the Tombstone for maybe the first or second time in a year plus.

The crowd loves it, but still there’s no referee. In a sweet finish, Taker goes for the Last Ride but HHH picks up the hammer and nails him in the head with it. That somehow only gets two. Taker is bleeding and HHH sends him to the corner to rain down right hands. He pauses for a split second to yell at the crowd, and Taker reaches up and grabs him before stepping forward, lifting him into the air and drilling him with the Last Ride! He gets the pin as the crowd explodes.

Rating: A+. This is an outstanding match and would have main evented any other show of the year. The story was great, the fighting was off the charts, and you never knew who was going to win until the very end. Excellent job from both guys involved and probably the true forgotten classic in Wrestlemania history.

Rock has a song coming out called Pie.  The CD has Rock’s custom internet browser.

A kid that talks way too fast made some poster or visual thing and won a contest.  Ok then.
Good grief what in the world could follow that? Somehow, that’s nowhere near the main event, as no one came to see anything but the real main event: the two biggest stars on the freaking planet, one on one for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.

I can’t say anything that’s going to build this match up better than the actual video, so here it is.

If that doesn’t embed for you, go Youtube it.  It’s incredible.

I’m not a big fan of Limp Biskit, but that was awesome. By far the best recap video I’ve ever seen and one of the only times the theme song could not have been any better for an event. Great job.

WWF World Heavyweight Title: Steve Austin vs. The Rock

This is made No DQ just before the match starts which is a surprise to everyone and it comes back to play a factor later. JR’s saying WHAT as soon as that’s announced made me laugh quite loudly. The glass shatters and the ovation is deafening. Austin is so over it’s amazing. He hits the first corner and the pop grows somehow. He turns around to cross the ring and it’s as if everything goes into slow motion. Austin climbs to the middle rope, throws two fingers into the air, and the flashbulbs go insane. It’s that moment that defines this whole show I think.

All of the other great matches all night long, from the wrestling classic to the ladders to the war we just saw, none of that means a thing anymore and every single eye in the building is on this man right here. It’s the peak of Steve Austin’s popularity and it’s amazing to say the very least. JR’s commentary is absolutely perfect here. It’s that perfect voice that we all know, but the words simply couldn’t be better. He builds this match up to be as epic as it should be. The music ends, and we hear the sound of his opponent.

Rock comes out to an INCREDIBLY mixed reaction. He’s either being cheered all the way to heaven or being booed out of the building. Not sure which. He hits the corner, throws the belt over his shoulder with his arm raised in the air, and we get the staredown from one side of the ring to the other. The feeling is all there too. You can tell what you’re watching is absolutely epic and it feel just right.

The fight starts almost immediately with Austin jumping Rock as he gets off the ropes.  Thesz Press takes down Rock seconds into it but Rock fights back with a swinging neckbreaker.  Rock Bottom and Stunner both don’t connect and we hit the floor.  Out into the crowd they go with neither guy keeping an advantage at all.  Back to the ring now with Austin having a brief advantage.

Superplex gets two and Austin takes the turnbuckle pad off.  Rock fights back to massive booing and a clothesline for two.  Back out to the floor again and Austin gets a shot with the bell to take Rock down.  Rock is sent onto the table which breaks on a delay so the camera misses it.  This is so epic.  These two are the biggest stars in the world and this is the biggest match of the year.  What more can you ask for?

Austin hits a neckbreaker for two.  Mudhole stomping commences but Rock comes flying out with a clothesline to huge boos.  More slugging it out with Rock in control now.  Rock grabs the bell and gets a shot to the head with it for two.  Austin is busted open and Rock hammers away.  Oh man he’s bleeding BAD.  Back to the floor again and they fight it out even more.

Another important thing to note is Ross.  Ross has been mostly reserved all night but now he’s pouring it on.  This makes this look FAR more interesting and intense while at the same time not diminishing the other stuff.  Austin gets a slingshot to send Rock into the post.  Monitor to the head and Rock is down on the floor.  THAT gets two.

Austin flips Rock off and gets caught in the Sharpshooter for his efforts.  Rock is busted now too.  Great throwback here to Mania 13 as Austin screams in the hold.  Rock pulls him back to the middle and Austin is in big trouble.  Finally there’s the rope.  Now Austin throws it on Rock and the people are loving it.  After it gets broken it goes on again and this time it’s a rope used to escape.  HUGE booing when he gets there too.

The Million Freaking Dollar Dream goes on and the bloody Rock is in trouble.  Rock pushes off the corner ala Bret vs. Austin at Survivor Series 96 but this time Austin kicks out.  Little things like those make matches AWESOME.  Rock gets a Stunner out of nowhere for two.

And now we set up the ending as Vince McMahon is here.  Both guys get spinebusters but Rock’s sets up the People’s Elbow.  Vince slides in and breaks that up though, shocking everyone.  Rock chases Vince but runs into a Rock Bottom from Austin for two.  Crowd is losing it on these kickouts.  Stunner is blocked and there goes the referee again.

A low blow puts Rock down and Austin asks Vince for a chair.  Vince cracks Rock with it as the crowd isn’t sure what to do.  Vince puts the referee back in but THAT gets two.  A Rock Bottom out of nowhere but Vince has the referee.  Rock pulls Vince in but walks into another Stunner for ANOTHER two.  Austin is all pissed off now and Vince hands him a chair, drilling Rock with it for two.  Austin absolutely explodes, drilling Rock with the chair an insane 19 times and getting the academic pin for the title.  Rock is DEAD.

Rating: A+. The repeated finishers and chair shots hurt this quite a bit, but the crowd, the commentary and the overall feeling push this to the sky easily. Epic feeling the whole match and the crowd was in the palm of their hands. Not great wrestling, but the crowd carries this to greatness.

Austin and Vince shake hands, ending the Attitude Era and also ending the superpower that WWE was and marking the beginning of the decline of the company.  They share a beer and another Stunner to Rock ends this very long but incredible show.
Overall Rating: A+. This is the greatest PPV of all time, bar none. The worst match is passable at worst. The crowd never once dies, even popping a bit in the European Title match. Looking back, you have the following matches that would either steal the show or main event any other show: Angle/Benoit, TLC 2, Street Fight, HHH/Taker.

Those are all top shelf matches anywhere you look at them, and then with the crowd as hot as they were for the main event and how it’s solid in its own right, this show is amazing all around. All night long the stuff was fast paced, everyone was having fun, and the matches are all intriguing. Can’t recommend this one enough.

2 comments

  1. Brillyunt says:

    I have the original on VHS taped from ppv, the two matches that always stood out for me were Benoit v Angle and the main event, great ppv.

    I’m actually watching all my taped ppv’s again, so will probably add comments as I go, I taped pretty much everything from 2000 to 2004 when I lost interest in the WWF and started watching TNA, I was always a bigger WCW fan anyway.

    [Reply]

    Cockadoodledoo Reply:

    wwf/e from 99 to 04 was GOAT wrestling

    [Reply]

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