Wrestler of the Day – May 2: The Rock

Time for another one that needs no introduction. It’s the Rock.

 

This is another instance where there are too many great matches to pick from to do the time line so it’s whatever order these come to me in.

We’ll start with Rock returning to the company (again) and getting a title match against CM Punk, who had held the title 434 days coming into the match. From Royal Rumble 2013.

Raw World Title: The Rock vs. CM Punk

Punk of course has Heyman with him. He charges right into the brawl and actually pounds Rock down into the corner. A quick Rock Bottom is countered but Punk is sent outside. Rock follows him outside and sends the champion into the barricade before loading up the announce table. Punk comes back with a shot to the ribs and puts the table back together in a great bit. Back in and Rock scores with more right hands to knock Punk to the floor again.

Punk is whipped into the barricade one more time but he gets a boot up to stop a charging Bull. He finishes fixing the announce table instead of following up on Rock before dropping Rock ribs first on the barricade. They head inside again for a body vice from CM followed by a knee to the ribs for two. Off to a freaky looking hold where Punk pins Rock’s shoulders down but pulls back on his head to crank on the shoulders and back.

More choking follows and a knee to the back has Rock on the apron, followed by a springboard dropkick to send him outside. Punk tries a top rope ax handle to take Rock down but injures his knee in the process. Rock scores with some kicks to the knee but the champion easily sends him out to the floor to stop the comeback. Back in and Punk misses the springboard clothesline and reinjures the knee, giving Rock his opening.

A DDT gets one on Punk but he fights out of the Rock Bottom. The GTS is countered into a Sharpshooter attempt but Punk counters into the Anaconda Vice in a nice sequence. Rock rolls over into a cradle, forcing Punk to let go of the hold. Back up and tries the Rock Bottom but Punk counters into a rollup for two, only to be countered into a low seated Sharpshooter. Punk is next to the rope so naturally he takes thirty seconds to get the break.

Rock takes him to the floor and loads up the announce table again. They fight on top but Rock counters a GTS attempt into what was supposed to be a Rock Bottom but was really more like the table collapsing with Rock’s arm around Punk’s chest. Rock comes up holding his knee and both guys make it back in at an eight count. Punk scores with a high kick but both guys are down.

Back up and Rock wins a slugout before scoring with the spinebuster. He loads up the People’s Elbow and there go the lights. Cole can see Shield pulling Rock to the floor and powerbombing him through the table. The lights come back up and Rock is laid out as the referee has no idea what’s going on. The announcers try to tell Mike Chioda what happened and Punk feigns innocence.

He throws Rock back in for the pin and celebrates but here’s Vince to say Punk is stripped of the title for the interference. Rock says no and to restart the match. The bell rings again and Punk stomps away as JBL threatens to put Cole through a table for playing cheerleader. The Macho Elbow gets two but the GTS is countered into a spinebuster, setting up the People’s Elbow to end Punk’s reign.

Rating: B. It’s another good match but it felt like they were dancing around for twenty three minutes before we got to the obvious ending. The Shield stuff was a decent fake out but it really didn’t need to be there. Rock winning was obvious though and that really put a ceiling on how high this was going to get.

Rock’s first Wrestlemania main event was at Wrestlemania 15, where he was basically Vince’s avatar against Austin.

WWF World Title: Steve Austin vs. The Rock

Vince is guest referee due to the issues earlier tonight. Oh wait here’s Shawn Michaels, the Commissioner, to say that Vince isn’t referee and that it’s going to be a normal referee. The Corporation is barred from ringside as well. Rock is defending if that wasn’t really clear. The place of course goes INSANE for Austin, who for some reason is in an Austin t-shirt instead of the trademark vest. It’s a brawl to start as you would expect with Austin being knocked out to the floor and sent into the announce table. Apparently Vince does have the power to make this No DQ.

Back in for more punching by Rock but he gets backdropped up and over to the floor a second later. They brawl into the crowd where we can barely see them but it’s Philly so it has to be expected. Austin blasts the Rock in the back and they head back to ringside. Scratch that as they’re already going back into the crowd on the other side of the arena. Back to ringside again and Austin is choked with a cable for a bit.

Now they fight up the aisle with Austin hitting a fast clothesline. Austin loads up a piledriver on the concrete, only to be backdropped onto a light instead. Rock is thrown into some kind of equipment and they clothesline each other. Now it’s Rock being choked by a cable and then being thrown into the Wrestlemania XV sign, which wobbles in a scary sight. Rock suplexes Austin in the aisle and spits some water in his face at the announce table. Austin drops him face first onto the barricade before laying him on the announce table for an elbow drop which doesn’t break anything.

The second attempt at an elbow puts Rock through the table and we head back into the ring after about eight minutes of brawling. Wait Rock bails to the floor and wraps Austin’s bad knee around the post. They’re still not ready to stay in the ring as Austin sends Rock into the steps and stomps away a bit more. NOW we head back inside but Austin walks into the Rock Bottom for two. Rock brings in a chair but Austin takes it away and cracks the referee with it by mistake.

A Stunner is blocked and Rock elbows Austin down before laying him out with the chair. Another referee comes in for a two count off a chair shot to the head. Off to a chinlock for an understandably needed breather. Austin fights back up, only to be clotheslined right back down. Back to el chinlock but they fight up again, only for the referee to go down AGAIN. The Stunner hits but Earl Hebner runs down for a very close two. Here’s Vince again as Austin gets a fresh chair.

The distraction lets Rock hit Austin low to block a chair shot and Vince gets in as well. Vince drops Hebner and it’s a double team beatdown on Austin. Cue a hobbled Mick Foley to beat up Vince and count a fast two on Rock. The Thesz Press takes Rock down but Rock comes back with a clothesline and another Rock Bottom. Austin avoids the Elbow, fights out of another Rock Bottom, and Stuns his way to a third world title.

Rating: B-. This one really depends on your taste. They didn’t try to have a regular match here at all and maybe that was the right idea. It’s definitely the weakest of the Austin vs. Rock at Wrestlemania trilogy but Rock wasn’t ready to hang with Austin in a match like this year. The rematch at Backlash would be AWESOME to make up for this, but even this wasn’t bad. It’s very typical of the time, which doesn’t make it dull. This was definitely entertaining, but it’s certainly not for everyone.

We’ll jump ahead to 2004 for a match I somehow skipped on Orton’s entry in this series. From Wrestlemania XX.

Evolution vs. The Rock/Mick Foley

It’s Flair/Orton/Batista here and Orton is Intercontinental Champion. The brawl is on to start with Rock fighting the young guys and Flair getting punched by Foley. Evolution is knocked out to the floor until we start with Rock vs. Flair. Rock immediately elbows him down and does the Flair strut to send Naitch to the floor. A backdrop puts Flair down and they fight to the floor, only to have Ric get caught in another backdrop. Foley drops an elbow off the apron and Evolution is in trouble to start.

Foley wants to come in to face Orton but Randy immediately bails to the floor to great heat. We finally get inside for the fight that people want to see as Foley pounds away and puts Orton in the Tree of Woe. Off to Rock who punches Orton in the “stomach” before clotheslining him down for no cover. Ric gets clipped in the back of the head by Flair which draws him into the corner, sending the fight to the floor. Batista drops Rock face first onto the barricade to take over.

Back in and Batista pounds on Rock, dropping him down with an elbow for two. Flair comes in again to chop at Rock before going up with even Lawler making fun of Flair for it never working. Big Dave comes in again to pound on Rock but the Brahma Bull gets over to the corner to bring in Foley. Mick pounds away on Batista and punches him down in the corner, only to be taken down by Batista’s big running clothesline. Foley goes after Orton on the floor but Flair jumps him to stop the comeback.

As is his custom, Flair is sent knees first into the steps, causing some cringing pain. Back in and Orton drops knees on Foley’s head before it’s back to Flair for a hard chop. That’s all for Ric right now and it’s back to Orton for a reverse chinlock. Batista takes Orton’s place and pounds away with rights and lefts, only to be caught in a quick Mandible Claw. Batista escapes but gets caught in a swinging neckbreaker. That’s STILL not enough for the hot tag to Rock though, and the crowd continues to want it more and more. A quick right hand to Flair is enough for the tag to Rock though, and the reaction isn’t all that great.

Rock cleans house with everything he can but walks into a spinebuster by Batista. Instead of a cover though, we get the People’s Elbow from Naitch, complete with strut! The elbow doesn’t have a chance to be launched though as Rock nips up and pounds away on Flair with right hands. The spinebuster sets up the real Elbow with Rock strutting for two. Another tag brings in Orton who walks right into a Rock Bottom for two. The big clothesline puts Rock down and there’s the Batista Bomb for good measure.

That gets two for Randy but Rock drops him again, allowing for the tag to Foley and there’s the pop we were waiting for. Evolution is knocked down and there’s the double arm DDT to Orton. Mr. Socko returns but Orton SNAPS off an RKO for the pin out of nowhere. The look of shock on Orton’s face and Foley getting up and three and a half and looking around as if to say “what happened” are great touches.

Rating: B. Very solid match here with all five guys feeling it at Wrestlemania. The ending is perfect and makes Orton look all the better as he got the fall on a fresh Foley with the RKO out of nowhere. This led to a great match at Backlash which cemented Orton as a player. This was also Rock’s last match for seven and a half years. Great match though and well worth checking out for a lesson in how to give a perfect rub.

Here’s the match that should have main evented Wrestlemania XVI. From Backlash 2000.

WWF Title: The Rock vs. Triple H

HHH is champion, Vince is in his corner, Shane is guest referee, Stephanie is HOT in a little dark blue dress. Vince points out the card subject to change line in the program, which means that Austin isn’t here. Slugout to start and Rock knocks him down after a delay into the spit punch. Rock stomps him down in the corner but Shane drags him off. Brahma Bull charges at HHH but gets sent to the floor.

HHH sends him into the steps and then the announce table. Vince posts Rock and throws him back in as the odds are stacked very high already. That only gets two, as do the suplex and knee drop. HHH hooks on a long chinlock and puts his feet on the top rope. Shane has been leaving his eyes elsewhere of course. Rock finally gets up and drops HHH onto the buckle to escape. He fires off right hands and they clothesline each other.

Rock knocks him into the corner but Vince pops up with a belt shot to put him down for a very close two. Rock gets up and throws HHH to the floor where he may have hurt his arm. Back in the ring Rock hits a spinning DDT but Shane won’t count. Rock goes after Shane and they head to the floor where HHH gets in a shot to take over. Pedigree through the table is countered by a low blow but Shane doesn’t DQ him for some reason. Instead he gets up on the table too and it’s a DOUBLE ROCK BOTTOM through the table.

Both guys are half dead but Rock gets up first. There’s no referee, but it doesn’t really matter as Shane wouldn’t count a pin anyway. Vince gets in the ring with the guys and hits Rock in the back. That goes badly as you would expect because HHH gets back up and hits a Pedigree. Here are Patterson and Brisco to count but Rock kicks out. The Stooges pound on Rock and HHH gets in some shots too. His arm is clearly hurt.

Vince hits Rock in the head with a chair so hard that he falls down too. CUE GLASS SHATTER! Austin, to a MASSIVE pop, comes out with a chair and murders everyone in sight. Everyone is down so Austin leaves as Linda and the recently fired Earl Hebner come out. Stephanie gets shoved down and it’s a spinebuster and the People’s Elbow to give Rock the title back.

Rating: B+. Why this didn’t happen at Wrestlemania I’m not sure. Either way, it happened here and it was GREAT. This was the Attitude Era formula of throw EVERYTHING out there but give the fans what they want in the end. That makes the wild brawling ok and it gives Rock the title back, which is how it should be. Austin’s pop was incredible and thankfully for Rock’s time on top, Austin wouldn’t be back to action for about six more months.

Austin lost the title to both Undertaker and Kane in September 1998 and we needed a new champion. The solution was of course a tournament, with Rock in the finals at Survivor Series 1998.

WWF World Title: The Rock vs. Mankind

Vince and Shane are back and are talking with Boss Man backstage. Feeling out process to start as Lawler makes fun of Halloween Havoc going off the air earlier a few weeks prior to this. Rock gets two off a clothesline and they head to the floor quickly. Rock gets rammed into the steps and Mankind takes over. Back inside for a chinlock as the McMahons come out. JR is very annoyed at various things and he vents a bit as they come to the ring. A suplex gets Rock out of the hold and Mankind is sent outside.

Rock suplexes Mankind on the floor but he has to go after the McMahons a bit. Into the crowd we go with Rock in control. He backdrops Mankind back to ringside and we head into the ring for a Rock chinlock. Mankind fights back up and hits a Cactus Clothesline to take it back to the floor. A chair takes Rock down again and Mankind gets the steps, only to have them knocked down onto him. Rock pounds on the steps on Mankind with the chair before cracking Mankind over the head with the chair.

That gets two back in the ring but Mankind kicks Rock low to take over again. Rock is sent back to the floor for the elbow off the apron. Mankind starts taking the announce table apart as JR loses it even more. Mankind is heel for the most part coming in but he’s a sympathetic heel. A legdrop on the table mostly misses Rock but it gets two back inside. Off to the chinlock again and Rock’s comeback is cut short by a backdrop to the floor again.

Back in again and Rock hits a DDT to put both guys down. Mankind sends him to the floor AGAIN but a middle rope elbow to the floor sends the masked one through the announce table. The crash looked great if nothing else. We head back inside and the People’s Elbow gets two. A double arm DDT puts Rock down and here’s Socko. Rock hangs on in the Claw forever and comes out of it with a Rock Bottom but it only gets a delayed two. Rock puts on the Sharpshooter and Vince says ring the bell just like last year, giving Rock the title, because Rock is Corporate. He’s also the new champion.

Rating: C-. This definitely wasn’t their best performance with the constant going to the floor getting old fast. Mankind would have his day but it would take awhile to get there. This was all about the shock which shouldn’t be a shock when you think about it. All night it was assumed that Mankind was the Corporate guy, but let’s look at this.

Rock’s first match was against a corporate guy and he just happens to get the easiest pin ever. Then a corporate guy throws in a nightstick so Rock can beat another corporate guy. Then Rock wins by DQ, and now this. That’s establishing a story and giving clues instead of an illogical swerve. It’s easy to tell which is better as this is shocking, but also MAKES SENSE. This is what Russo was capable of, but we almost never got to see it.

While we’re at Survivor Series, let’s take a look at the 1996 edition where Rock made his WWF debut.

Team Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Team Marc Mero

Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Jerry Lawler, Goldust, Crush
Marc Mero, Jake Roberts, The Stalker, Rocky Maivia

I think you know everyone here. Stalker is Barry Windham as a kind of military guerrilla warfare character. This is Rocky’s debut, so who do you think the focus is going to be on? Lawler and Roberts are feuding as well. Mero has Sable with him here. Sunny immediately freaks out on JR for suggesting Sable is hotter. She yells about being natural while Sable is about to melt near the fireworks. Rocky’s outfit looks ridiculous with kind of a cape but made of streamers that goes over his chest as well. Apparently Roberts was a surprise partner and the replacement for Henry.

Jake comes out with the big yellow snake sans bag and chases the team off with it. Goldust and Mero get things going with Marc cranking on the arm. They both block hiptosses so Mero rolls him up for two. Off to Stalker who is now just a guy in camo pants and a WWF t-shirt. Back to Mero to fire off a bunch of hiptosses to Goldie who is a bit calmer than he was last year. Rollup gets two for Mero and it’s back to the arm. Stalker pounds away at Goldie’s ribs before it’s off to HHH. Off to Mero to face Crush as HHH wanted nothing to do with Wildman (Mero).

Mero grabs the arm and for you trivia guys out there, Rocky’s first official time in a WWF ring is against Crush. It lasts all of six seconds before it’s off to Lawler who is immediately punched, kicked in the face, and knocked to the floor. You know Lawler is going to go insane with the selling too. Lawler wants nothing to do with Rocky so it’s off to HHH. Vince explains that Rocky’s name is Dwayne Johnson and that he took the name of his father and grandfather to come up with Rocky Maivia.

In the first of many matches, HHH stomps away in the corner and JR is in football mode. Goldust comes in and drops an elbow followed by some rights to the head. Crush comes in and works on the back for a bit before it’s off to Lawler. Back to HHH as Sunny makes fun of Vince for allegedly having a toupee. Rocky pounds away and backdrops HHH before it’s off to Roberts.

Jake beats up everyone but tries to get to Lawler instead of going after the legal HHH. The shortarm clothesline takes HHH down but the DDT doesn’t work. Off to Lawler who makes fun of Roberts for being an alcoholic. Lawler keeps doing it and there’s the DDT for the first elimination. Goldust comes in next as JR makes fun of the lack of tan on Roberts. We hit the chinlock for a bit until jawbreaker gets Jake out of it. Off to Stalker as JR and Sunny talk about Barry wearing lucky boots. Crush hits Stalker in the back and the Curtain Call (reverse suplex drop) gets the pin for Goldust to tie things up.

Mero comes in immediately to hit a knee lift to take over. Goldie gets in a shot and HHH finally comes in to beat on the other captain. A backbreaker puts Mero down and it’s back to Crush. This is during Crush’s gang member phase and he couldn’t look more out of place with his partners at this point. A legdrop gets two for Crush and it’s off to Goldie. Back to Crush for another backbreaker for two. Things are slowing down a bit here.

HHH comes in again and puts on an abdominal stretch. He gets caught holding the ropes and hiptossed out as is his custom with referees. A sunset flip can’t get HHH down before he makes the tag to Goldust. HHH is back in about five seconds later and let’s look at Sunny! Ok I can’t complain about that one as much. Jake is pulled in sans tag, allowing Mero to hit a moonsault press on HHH for the elimination. That was a very messy sequence with all the tags with nothing happening between them and the non-tag to Jake. Either that or I missed a tag and Mero was totally illegal when he pinned HHH.

It’s Mero/Rocky/Roberts vs. Crush/HHH. Crush comes in next and is almost immediately dropkicked out to the floor. Mero loads up a dive but Goldust makes a save and shoves Crush out of the way. Back inside, Crush’s Heart Punch (exactly what it sounds like) pins Mero. We were looking at a replay when it happened though so that’s hearsay. Roberts comes in, misses the short clothesline and is Heart Punched out as well.

We’re left with Rocky (who actually gets a face chant in MSG at this point) vs. Goldust and Crush. He starts with the one not painted like an Academy Award and accepts a Test of Strength for some reason. A small package out of nowhere gets two for Maivia and here’s Goldust again. Rocky cross bodies Crush for no count as both bad guys are in the ring at once. Goldust hits Rocky low which isn’t illegal apparently but Crush Heart Punches Goldie. Cross body pins Crush and about thirty seconds later, a shoulder breaker (Rocky’s original finisher) gets the final pin.

Rating: C+. This dragged a bit in the middle, but it accomplished three goals: Roberts got to knock Lawler out cold, Mero got to pin HHH to continue their feud, and Rocky got to debut strongly. The problem is the rest of the match wasn’t much to see. Maivia winning over guys like Crush and Goldust is a good thing because it’s unrealistic to have him beat the IC Champion and beating Lawler doesn’t mean anything because Lawler is a career jobber in the WWF. Crush is a big imposing guy who is also a jobber, but at least he looks intimidating. Goldust has credentials too and a loss isn’t going to hurt him. Smart booking.

Wrestlemania XV’s main event wasn’t the best match in the world and a lot of people have chalked it up to Rock’s nerves. Here’s a rematch on a slightly smaller stage: In Your House 28.

WWF World Title: The Rock vs. Steve Austin

This is no holds barred with Shane McMahon as referee and Austin loses the title if he touches Shane. Rock, still in possession of the Smoking Skull belt, gets a big pop of his own but of course it pales in comparison to Austin’s. Austin pounds away in the corner to start as the fans are immediately into this. Rock comes back with right hands of his own as the Smoking Skull belt is taken to the back. Austin hits the Thesz Press and the middle finger elbow for one.

The champion gets sent to the floor and clotheslined down before they head up to the entrance. Austin tries a comeback but gets whipped through a fence, knocking part of the set over in the process. Rock’s suplex is countered into one of his own to give Austin the advantage again. Now it’s Rock being sent into the pile of the set and clotheslined down on top of it. Rock is whipped through a barricade and gets rammed in the head by a rolling anvil case for good measure.

The Corporate one comes back by sending Austin into a camera and clotheslining him down. We shift momentum again with Austin slamming rock down on the concrete and whipping him into the steps back at ringside. Back inside and Austin stomps away in the corner, only to be reprimanded by Shane. The distraction lets Rock charge at Austin and get backdropped up and over to the floor in a big crash. Austin loads up a piledriver through the Spanish announce table but gets countered into a Rock Bottom instead.

Both guys are down with Shane telling Rock how excellent that was. Rock gets on Spanish commentary and calls Austin trash (in English) as Shane throws him a chair. Austin kicks him in the ribs to block the shot and they head back into the crowd for another clothesline to the champion. A low blow keeps Austin in trouble and Rock lays him across the announce table before taking over a camera for more comedy. Rock looks out at the crowd but pans back to Austin flipping him off and hitting a Stunner through the announce table. Nice idea there.

Both guys are down at ringside as we get a replay of the Stunner, this time entirely from Rock’s perspective. Back inside and Austin tries another Stunner but Rock shoves him into Shane. There’s the Rock Bottom for a close two after Shane put Rock’s hand on Austin’s chest. Shane grabs the belt (the regular one, not the Smoking Skull) but accidentally hits Rock. Austin covers for two but Shane flips Austin off at two. Shane starts bailing up the aisle but here are Vince and another referee. Vince knocks Shane out with the Smoking Skull belt and Austin hits a Stunner and belt shot to Rock’s head to retain the title.

Rating: B+. This was a solid Attitude Era style brawl and the match that should have happened at Wrestlemania. The ending is more shades of gray than I prefer with Vince helping his mortal enemy to take out his new enemy. That’s just not something Vince would do, especially with what’s coming in the near future.

Here’s a match that doesn’t need an introduction. It’s the real main event of Wrestlemania XVIII.

Hollywood Hogan vs. The Rock

Both guys get solid pops as this is an old WWF city, which means Hogan could set fire to a kitten orphanage and still be popular. The pre match chants seem to favor Hulk, but here are some Rock fans to counter them. They stare at each other and there’s the loudest pop for an opening bell I can remember. Hogan shoves him down to start and the fans go NUTS. You can tell Hogan is feeling it here. After a quick headlock Hogan runs him over and poses, sending the crowd further into a frenzy.

A clothesline puts Rock down as the crowd is almost completely one sided. Rock comes back with a jumping clothesline and the fans boo him out of the freaking building. Rock says just bring it and knocks Hogan to the floor with some right hands. Back in and Rock loads up the Rock Bottom but Hogan escapes and elbows out of it. He rakes his boot over Rock’s eyes to another big pop. There’s another big HOGAN chant for good measure.

A belly to back suplex gets two for Hulk and there’s an abdominal stretch for good measure. Hulk even adds in a rollup for two before raking Rock’s back. Rock escapes and comes back with some chops in the corner but walks into a chokeslam of all things from Hulk. He sends Rock out to the floor as this is still almost one sided so far. Rock goes face first into the steps and dropped on the barricade for good measure.

Hogan starts loading up the announce table but Rock fights back with right hands. Rock gets a chair but the referee takes it away, allowing Hogan to clothesline Rock down. Back inside and Rock is sent into the referee. Rock comes back with a lame spinebuster and the Sharpshooter. Hulk makes the rope but there’s no referee. Rock pulls him to the middle of the ring but there’s still no referee.

The fans just lay into Rock now with the Rocky Sucks chants as he checks on the referee. Hogan hits him low though and gets a pretty freaking good Rock Bottom for two. Hogan takes off his weightlifting belt to whip Rock’s back but Rock comes back with a DDT. There’s the Rock Bottom but Hogan HULKS UP. The fans absolutely lose their minds now as Hogan shakes his finger and hits the big boot, but the legdrop only gets two. Another big boot hits but the second legdrop misses. There’s the Rock Bottom again and a third for good mesaure. Rock nips up and hits the People’s Elbow to end it.

Rating: B. This is a hard one to grade but I think it’s a lot like the Hogan vs. Warrior match in the same building: the crowd carries it to a much higher level than it deserves to be at which is just fine. The crowd was completely eating up the nostalgia and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. Hogan would get one of the longest ovations in history the next night in Montreal and those two reactions were enough to put the world title on him for a month soon after this. It wasn’t the best idea in the world, but given those reactions I can understand why they did it. This was a very fun match and should have been the main event.

Post match they stare each other down with Hogan holding his ribs. Hogan extends his hand and Rock gladly shakes it. Hulk lets Rock pose but here are the Outsiders. They yell at Hogan and beat him down, but Rock runs back in for the save. Hall and Nash are dispatched and Rock and Hogan stand tall, apparently having made up after Hogan HIT ROCK WITH A HAMMER AND CRUSHING HIM WITH A SEMITRUCK. Rock has Hogan pose for the fans after the match in another nostalgia moment.

If you’ve read my work over the years, you know I generally hate triple threat matches. Here’s one I like, from Vengeance 2002.

Undertaker vs. The Rock vs. Kurt Angle

Taker, defending here, wants to fight Rock but is afraid to actually do anything about it. Angle shoves both guys and wants to fight which earns him a double beatdown. Rock clotheslines him out to the floor, leaving himself all alone with Undertaker. Taker pounds Rock in the corner but Rock makes a quick comeback with right hands of his own. Angle is knocked off the apron and out to the floor but he pulls the champion out with him, sending Taker into the steps.

It’s Rock vs. Angle now and there’s a belly to belly for the Brahma Bull. Angle chops away in the corner and drops Rock with another suplex. A DDT gets two for Rock and Angle rolls to the floor. Rock goes out as well leaving only the referee in the ring. Undertaker pops up and takes Angle’s head off with a clothesline and heads back inside to pound on Rock. Angle is punched off the apron by Undertaker but the champion walks into a chokeslam from Rock (you read that right) for two.

Angle is back in now but gets taken down and put in the ankle lock by the other challenger. Kurt pops up and Rock Bottoms the Rock for two as Undertaker makes the save. Angle tries the Slam on Undertaker but Taker escapes and hits the Angle Slam on Kurt. Rock nips up and sends Angle to the floor before hitting the spinebuster and People’s Elbow on Taker. Kurt pulls Rock out of the ring again and gets two on Taker, only to be launched into the corner and pounded on by the champ.

Kurt fights back but misses a charge, going shoulder first into the post, sending him out to the floor. Undertaker sends him face first into the post for good measure but here’s Rock with a spit of water into Taker’s face to slow him down. The champ throws Rock over the announcer’s table but here’s a busted open Kurt to keep things moving. Taker slugs him down again though and drops a leg on the apron before heading back inside. Old School puts Angle down but Rock makes another save.

Rock still can’t get any extended offense on Undertaker though as the champion hits a running DDT for two. Angle grabs a chair but Taker punches him down. Kurt gets ping ponged back and forth between the other guy guys, only to have Rock hit Undertaker low to put him down. That plus a chair shot to the head put Undertaker down and Angle lays out Rock with the Slam as well. A slightly damaged referee counts two on each guy for Angle but there’s the Sharpshooter from Rock to Kurt.

Taker makes a quick save with a big boot to Rock’s face and hits the Last Ride powerbomb but Kurt breaks up the cover with the ankle lock. Undertaker finally rolls through to counter and we get the same sequence from the July 4th show with Angle countering the powerbomb into the choke. Angle gets his shoulder up and even another powerbomb can’t break the hold.

Undertaker doesn’t tap but his arm is lifted and dropped twice in a row. Rock makes the save but gets caught in the ankle lock but Rock rolls Angle up for two. There’s the chokeslam to Angle but Taker gets a Rock Bottom for two. Angle hits the Slam on Undertaker and takes down the straps but walks into the Rock Bottom for the pin and the title.

Rating: B. Sometimes the solution to the problems a wrestling company is having is to have a good wrestling match. Instead of the old and slow guys in the world title scene, this had two young guys who could move very well out there to bounce off Undertaker’s power moves. This is easily the best PPV title match so far this year other than maybe Rock vs. Jericho.

I know this was listed on Cena’s entry about nine days ago, but how can I leave this off?

And now, it is time.

We recap Rock vs. Cena which is at least a year in the making. Something like seven years ago Cena insulted Rock in an interview, so when Rock came back to be guest host last year, he insulted Cena in his return promo. The night after Wrestlemania, Cena had challenged Rock to a one on one match at THIS Wrestlemania. This led to a year of build (minus six months for Rock to make a movie of course) which got me to the point where I HAD to see this match. I didn’t know if it was going to be great, if it was going to suck, or somewhere in between, but I needed to see it. That’s never happened to me as a fan before.

Diddy comes out to bring out MGK (a rapper) to perform some song called Invincible. He does this stupid monologue about how Cena is a huge underdog in this, despite Cena being active having more experience overall than Rock. Cena is booed out of the building but gives something to an old lady who apparently is related to some Hall of Famer. We should be ready for Rock’s entrance, but first we need Flo-Rida to perform two songs. I remember SCREAMING to get to it at this point. Oh and Flo has a bunch of dancers with him, presumably the same girls who were in the Bridge Club ten minutes ago.

John Cena vs. The Rock

Rock’s ovation is thunderous. There’s really no other way to put it as it’s very clear who the fans are for here. During the big match intros, Cena is booed even further out of the stadium. They stare each other down and FINALLY the bell rings. Cena shoves him away to start and the dueling chants begin. They lock up again and this time Cena goes flying. Rock grabs a headlock before they fight over arm control.

A few armdrags put Cena down and a cradle gets a quick two for Cena. Cena has to make sure it wasn’t three as he looks a bit shaken. Back up and John leapfrogs over Rock before taking him down with a headlock takeover. They get up again and Rock tries a quick Sharpshooter but Cena bails to the floor. Rock decks him as he gets back in but Cena charges at him in the corner with a hard shoulder to the ribs. Cena gets a quick one count off a clothesline before putting on a bearhug on the mat.

Back up and Rock punches away but gets low bridged out to the floor. Cena drops him ribs first onto the barricade and announce table before going to the ring for a seat. When Rock won’t quit Cena throws him back inside and gets a two count. We’re definitely in another gear now. Off to a bearhug on Rock’s bad ribs but he won’t quit. Rock finally comes back with right hands to escape and a DDT for two.

Rock wins a quick slugout and hits the spinebuster but Cena picks the leg to break up the Elbow. Cena comes back with his finishing sequence but the AA is escaped. A double clothesline puts both guys down as they take a breather. After a few moments on the mat they slug it out with Cena punching Rock down to his knees. Rock fires off more punches and does You Can’t See Me before trying the spit punch, only to get caught in the AA for a close two.

Cena goes to pick Rock up but takes the Rock Bottom for two for the Brahma Bull. Rock stomps away in the corner but walks into a side slam for two. John goes up top for a very delayed top rope Fameasser for another near fall. Rock comes back with a spinebuster into the Sharpshooter but he doesn’t have it on well. Cena crawls to the rope so Rock lets go and pounds away. Back to the Sharpshooter (why don’t more people do that? Even if Cena won’t quit you can still do more damage) but Cena makes the rope immediately again. Gee maybe if he had pulled Cena from the rope it would have been harder to escape.

Rock fires off some elbows to the chest and sends Cena into the steps for good measure. Back inside and Cena tries a sunset flip of all things but immediately shifts into the STF in the middle of the ring. Cena drags him back to the middle of the ring and Rock is starting to fade. We get an old school arm check and Rock holds it up on the third drop. I love stuff like that. Rock makes it to the ropes and as they get back up, Cena walks into a Samoan drop to put both guys down.

Another slugout goes to Rock and the spinebuster sets up the Elbow……for TWO. The place is losing their minds on these kickouts and can you blame them a bit? Both guys are spent here but Cena hits a catapult into the corner for two. With nothing left to try, Cena loads up the middle rope AA but Rock shoves him off and tries a top rope cross body but Cena rolls through into the BIG AA for an even closer two. Cena begs the referee to call it three. That gets him nowhere so Cena loads up a People’s Elbow. As he hits the second rope, Rock nips up and hits the Rock Bottom for the shocking pin.

Rating: A+. What else do you want from this? This is one of those matches which could have gone either way as they beat the tar out of each other. They had the big fight atmosphere down to perfection here and while the ending is still questionable (yet not completely wrong), it’s exactly what you want a Wrestlemania main event to be. This somehow surpassed the hype and was excellent in every sense of the word.

Cena sits on the ramp, stunned.

Rock poses to end the show.

I have to have a Foley match on here. From In Your House 27.

WWF World Title: The Rock vs. Mankind

Last man standing meaning there are no pins but the first person to not answer a ten count loses. Also remember Mankind has a bad knee coming in. Mankind turns his back on the Rock to intentionally allow him a cheap shot to start but Rock goes after the bad knee in a smart move. Mankind lets him do it again and Rock blasts him in the back of the head but this time Mankind blasts Rock in the face with the title belt for an eight count.

They fight up to the entrance with Mankind being whipped into a piece of the set. Mankind finds a table near the production arena and DDTs Rock through it for a nine count. Now we head over to some tarped off bleachers for nothing of note before Rock suplexes Mankind onto the exposed concrete. Back to ringside with Rock being whipped into the stairs for a five count before heading back inside. Mankind slams him down and loads up his own version of the People’s Elbow but only hits mat.

Back to the floor again for another suplex on the floor, allowing Rock to go over to the announce table to offer Mankind a Rock Burger with some Rock Sauce on the side. The champion dives across the table to take Rock out before laying him on the announce table and dropping him to the floor with an elbow from the apron. Mankind rips at Rock’s face before throwing both Rock and the steps back inside.

Rock kicks them back into Mankind’s face before bringing in a chair to fire away at Mankind’s knee. Rock misses a big chair shot by hitting the ropes, knocking it back into his face instead. The Cactus Clothesline puts both guys on the floor again and Mankind drags him back to the announce table. He loads up a piledriver through the table but Rock backdrops him off the table and into the timekeeper’s table to hurt the leg even worse. Just to further the injury, Rock goes inside and throws the steps over the top rope to land on Mankind again.

Somehow Mankind gets up again so Rock takes him back inside for the People’s Elbow. Rock grabs the microphone to talk more trash and sing a little Smackdown Hotel. Mankind apparently doesn’t like Elvis tributes and puts on the Mandible Claw but the referee is taken out. Mankind gets him back to the ring and helps start the count but Rock gets up at nine with a low blow.

Rock hits a DDT but Mankind is up at seven for a double arm DDT onto the chair for nine. The Mandible Claw is broken up by a knee to the ribs and the Rock Bottom puts both guys down. Both guys slowly get up and hit each other with chairs, knocking them both out for ten and a draw. Remember that line about there must be a winner? Neither do I.

Rating: B-. Definitely the best match of the night so far but it’s still not all that great. Mankind had definitely earned the right to leave a pay per view as champion so this was a nice treat for him. The ending doesn’t work though as such an emphasis had been put on the match needing a winner.

He had to do it eventually. From Wrestlemania 19, in Austin’s last match. Allegedly this was going to go on last but Austin got sick the night before and the order was changed.

Steve Austin vs. The Rock

Austin pounds away to start but can’t hook an early Stunner. Rock bails to the floor but gets clotheslined down in the aisle. Austin rams him into the steps and chops away before dropping him onto the barricade a few times. Rock is whipped HARD into the steps before they head back inside. A big clothesline puts Rock down but he takes out Austin’s bad knee to send Steve to the floor.

Rock stomps away on the knee as Austin stumbles around ringside. The leg is wrapped around the post but Austin pops up with more right hands. Rock kicks the leg out again and puts on the Sharpshooter, only to have Austin crawl to the rope. JR goes on a big rant against Lawler about how this is a wrestling match and not about puppies or Hollywood. Rock wraps the leg around the post a few more times before heading outside and putting on Austin’s vest.

Austin comes back with a clothesline and the Thesz Press to pound away on Rock. The middle finger elbow keeps Rock down again and it’s time to stomp a mudhole, but Rock comes back with right hands. Austin counters with a Rock Bottom of his own for a very close two. Rock fights up and hits a Stunner of his own out of nowhere for two more. Back up again and Rock pounds away, only to walk into the real Stunner for another close two.

Austin goes to pick Rock up but the guy with Austin’s vest on hits him low to break it up. The People’s Elbow misses but the Stunner is countered into a spinebuster, followed by the removal of the vest and the Elbow for two. A Rock Bottom gets two on Austin, another Rock Bottom gets two but a BIG Rock Bottom is finally enough to end Austin.

Rating: B+. It’s definitely a step or three below the one from two years ago but it’s definitely still entertaining. My problem with it as usual though is that it doesn’t have anything on it. When you have two huge matches between the two before when they were on top and now you get them both well past their primes for nothing but pride, it’s a bit harder to get into it. Still very good, but not as great as their others.

One more title win, from No Way Out 2001.

WWF Title: The Rock vs. Kurt Angle

It’s pretty much one sided as to who is going to win here and even Ross and Tazz acknowledge it. Long staredown to start and we’re on. The straps are down before we even start as we hear about him using some hold called an ankle lock. Rock hits a jumping Russian leg sweep for two. Ankle lock goes on about a minute in but Rock makes the ropes. These two always have had good chemistry together so this should be solid stuff.

A pair of belly to bellies but Rock almost gets dropped on his head the first time. He clearly tucks his head more on the second one so at least he can learn on the fly. Sharpshooter goes on and Angle is in trouble. This is very fast paced so far. A belly to back suplex from Kurt but he didn’t spin slightly so it’s not the Angle Slam. Second rope suplex gets two for Rock.

I’m not sure if I like Rock’s DDT or not. He does it oddly for some reason. And here’s Big Show for no apparent reason. Chokeslams for everyone including the referee. Show’s music plays him out as I expect us to cut to a commercial or something. Angle covers Rock but there’s no referee. He pops Angle with the title as there’s another referee. What a heelish thing to do but Angle gets up anyway.

Ankle lock out of nowhere and Angle drops some nice cursing in there. Rock gets the counter and initiates his ending sequence. The elbow gets two to a huge reaction as everyone thought it was over. Rock Bottom is blocked and there’s the Olympic Slam for two and a freaking ROAR. Rock starts his punches but Angle kicks him in the ankle in a nice counter.

Angle gets rammed into the buckle chest first and walks into the Rock Bottom for….two? Angle did not move at all and the announcers sound very confused. The referee seemingly just stopped counting instead of doing the three. Either that was a botch or there’s something I’m missing here. The fans boo the heck out of it as Rock picks him up and hits another Rock Bottom for the clean pin. That had to be a botch on the first one.

Rating: B. Solid match here, but the Big Show thing was just totally pointless. The ending was just weird though as that had to be a botch though as it just made no sense at all. These two always worked well together and this was no exception. Solid match and definitely worthy of a main event on a PPV.

Eh one more Wrestlemania main event for the road. From 2000.

WWF World Title: The Rock vs. Mick Foley vs. HHH vs. Big Show

There are no tags here, no disqualification and you have to win by pin. Why there are no submissions is beyond me but whatever. Rock and Big Show fight as do the other two with the champion being punched down. Allegedly Foley was told a week before this match that he would be participating so he isn’t in the best of shape. Granted that’s normal for him so maybe it won’t be that big of a deal.

Big Show runs over everyone and gorilla presses HHH and Rock. Foley gets a headbutt but tries to jump on Show’s back, only to have the giant crush him against the mat. Rock comes back with right hands on Big Show but walks into a side slam for no cover. HHH jumps into a chokeslam attempt but Foley breaks it up with a low blow. Everyone triple teams Big Show to a big reaction and a running clothesline from Rock puts him down. They all stomp away at the giant but HHH and Foley just can’t work together that long.

Foley blasts HHH in the ribs with a chair and hits Show in the back with it as well, allowing the Rock Bottom to get rid of the biggest guy in the match. We’re down to three now and Shane is ticked off. HHH offers Foley an alliance against Rock but Foley says no. Instead HHH offers Rock an alliance against Foley but we get a Rock and Sock Connection reunion as HHH gets beaten down. HHH gets punched down and dropped with a double clothesline.

The champion is sent to the floor but the Connection won’t fight each other. Instead they head to the outside and beat up HHH even more to the fans’ delight. Rock picks up the bell but accidentally blasts Foley in the head. Foley gets up quickly and finds a barbed wire 2×4. HHH saves himself with a low blow and a shot to Foley’s ribs with the board. Rock comes back in and is backdropped to the floor, allowing Foley to hit the double arm DDT on HHH. It’s Socko time and Rock adds a belt shot to take HHH down.

Rock loads up the Elbow but Foley puts the Claw on him to break it up. HHH hits them both low to put them both down but Rock gets back up first and pounds away on the champion. Foley gets in a shot to Rock for two and a double arm DDT gets the same. Vince slides in a chair for no apparent reason but Foley gets it first. It gets kicked back into his face by Rock for two as HHH makes the save. Why would he do something like that? A running knee lift gets two on Rock but HHH doesn’t save this time. Interesting.

HHH and Mick start working together for a bit and a knee drop gets two on Rock. They head to the floor with Mick’s knees being sent HARD into the steps. Mick picks up said steps and cracks Rock in the head with them as Stephanie yells at Linda. HHH puts Rock on the table for the Foley elbow through it….but Mick can’t jump that far and crashes ribs first into the edge of the table. HHH hits about three elbows of his own to put Rock through the table as the match continues to drag.

Back inside and HHH Pedigrees Foley for two and a big eruption from the crowd. A BIG chair shot to the head puts Foley down and Linda is panicking. HHH Pedigrees Mick onto the chair and the career is over again. We’re down to two now and HHH is somehow even more hated than he was before. Foley gets a big standing ovation but turns around to come back to the ring. He picks up the barbed wire and blasts HHH in the head to give us one last BANG BANG moment.

We’re finally down to HHH vs. Rock after twenty minutes of glorified preliminary stuff. Rock gets two off the barbed wire stuff and they head up to the stage for the required main event brawling. Rock suplexes HHH down on the concrete and does the same with a clothesline. They head into the crowd for even more “fighting” which means walking with the occasional punching. A backdrop puts HHH back at ringside where Rock picks up the steps, only to have HHH knock them onto Rock with a chair. He pounds on the steps with the chair to crush Rock even further underneath them.

A piledriver on the steps keeps Rock down even longer before we head inside again. The piledriver only gets two and Rock is somehow up again to slug away with right hands. Rock Bottom and Pedigree are both countered with HHH being backdropped out to the floor. Rock hits a kind of spinebuster to put HHH down and there’s a suplex through the table for good measure. Both guys are basically dead now but it’s Rock up first.

Vince can’t handle the lack of the spotlight anymore though and rams HHH into the post. Cue Shane again to take out Vince with a monitor shot to the head but Papa gets up a few seconds later to beat up his son. Shane comes back with a chairshot as we’re ignoring THE MAIN EVENT OF WRESTLEMANIA to see Shane and Vince fight. As a bleeding Vince is taken out, we cut to a shot of Stephanie with the most vapid look you’ll ever see on her face.

We’re allowed to return to the match now with right hands from Rocky. A DDT gets two on the champion as does a tilt-a-whirl slam. HHH comes back with a facebuster and a barbed wire shot to the head of Rock. At least he’s nice enough to loudly ask “ARE YOU OK” before being catapulted into Shane. There’s the Rock Bottom but Rock can’t cover. Instead here’s Vince for the 87th time tonight to slap Shane around. Then, as if you would expect anything else, he turns on Rock with a chair shot. Stephanie still fails at acting as HHH chairs Rock down again for the pin to retain and kill the crowd even deader.

Rating: D+. And that’s being VERY generous. This was the definition of McMahon overkill as it was ALL about them with the match literally being ignored at times while they had their repeated drama. On top of that the match sucked with the first 20 minutes being there to get us to the last 20 minutes which doesn’t do anyone any good. The rest of the match was just a big mess with no real story to it as we were all at the mercy of the McMahons. Instead of focusing on HHH vs. Rock, we had to wait 40 minutes for Vince to turn on Rock for no apparent reason. Also Rock would win the title at Backlash, making this entirely pointless.

From No Mercy 2001, with Rock giving Jericho the rub of a lifetime.

WCW World Title: The Rock vs. Chris Jericho

Feeling out process to start and Rock grabs a headlock. Jericho grabs an armbar but shifts over to chopping instead. Rock Bottom and Walls are both countered so Jericho dropkicks him to the floor. Back in Jericho hits a top rope back elbow for two. They’re starting kind of slow which says to me that they have a ton of time to work with. They chop away in the corner but Rock walks into a spinwheel kick to take him down for two.

Senton backsplash puts Rock down even more. Rock fires off a jumping clothesline but walks into a Stun Gun. Belly to belly by Rock puts both of them down. It’s been mostly Jericho so far but Rock is hitting enough stuff to stay in there. There’s another suplex and a Samoan Drop for two. Jericho knocks him down so Rock nips up. Rock knocks him to the floor for a bit. Back in a vertical suplex gets two for Rocky.

Rock throws him to the floor and once we’re back in, Rock throws on a chinlock for awhile. Jericho gets catapulted into the corner so Rock can load up a superplex. Chris knocks him off and a missile dropkick puts both guys down. Jericho wins a slugout and a rana gets two. Rock comes back but Jericho catches him in a Rock Bottom. Lionsault gets two as this has gotten awesome.

Jericho loads up a People’s Elbow but Rock moves. Because, you know, it’s an elbow. Rock hooks a Sharpshooter and the Canadian is in trouble. Jericho finally gets to the rope and the fans aren’t sure what to do. Out to the floor and it’s Spanish Announce Table time. Rock Bottom puts Jericho through the table and the place pops big. Back in the ring and Rock stalks Chris.

Another Rock Bottom is countered but Rock manages a spinebuster and loads up a People’s Elbow of his own. Jericho picks the ankle into the Walls and Rock is in trouble. Rock reaches for the rope but Jericho pulls him back to the middle. And here’s Stephanie because what’s a great title match without a McMahon? She throws in a chair and Rock DDTs Jericho. She cheers for Rock so Rock brings her in for a Rock Bottom. Jericho catches Rock in a Breakdown (Skull Crushing Finale) onto the chair for the pin, the title and a BIG pop from the crowd.

Rating: A-. I’m bringing this down a bit because of Stephanie. I mean there just was no need for her to be in there. It was minor but what in the world does she need to be there for? Jericho winning is still huge, but it should have been without her out there. The chair is fine, but why did we need her? The match was GREAT otherwise though with them mirroring each other perfectly.

Now for my favorite Rock match and one of my favorites ever. From Summerslam 1998 to blow off DX vs. the Nation once and for all.

Intercontinental Title: The Rock vs. HHH

Rock has held the title since December and there hasn’t been a longer reign since. The DX band plays HHH to the ring. Chyna and Mark Henry are the seconds here. The referee takes a long time to get the belt ready which is why it’s usually above the ring when the match begins. Rock talks some trash and the fight is on. A quick clothesline takes the champion down and a facebuster does the same. HHH escapes the Rock Bottom but gets punched down in the corner.

A quick Pedigree attempt is countered with a backdrop to the floor and Rock goes for the ladder. As is the custom, there’s a fight over who gets to bring the ladder into the ring. HHH takes the fight back to the ring before going after a ladder. This time it’s Rock’s turn to stop the attempt and they fight in the aisle again. Rock gets a ladder up against the ring and whips HHH HARD into the steel.

The champion starts his climb but HHH flies in off the top to break it up, but the ladder falls on him to keep both guys down. A hard ladder shot puts Rock down again and HHH drives the top of the ladder into his ribs. Rock pulls HHH off the ladder and the future Game lands on his knee, legitimately injuring it and requiring several months off to heal up. Some elbows to the knee make the pain even worse but the ladder being dropped on it is far more painful.

Rock puts the leg between the ladder legs and crushes it with the chair for good measure. Now the leg is wrapped around the post and the fans are split. Rock bridges the ladder between the steps and the barricade so he can drop the knee across the steel. The ladder is barely in one piece so Rock’s climbing is very slow, allowing HHH to make a last second save. He also shoves the ladder down until his knee can recover a bit.

Rock is shoved to the floor but he catches HHH in a catapult face first into the ladder. The champion tries to slam the ladder onto HHH but a kick to the ribs makes him drop the ladder. A clothesline puts Rock down but he counters a Pedigree into a backdrop onto the ladder. Mark Henry throws in another ladder but Rock does the slowest climb in recorded history, allowing HHH to shove it down again. HHH baseball slides the top of the ladder into Rock’s face to send him to the floor, busting him open bad.

Now it’s time for HHH to climb up but Rock makes another save to send HHH crashing to the mat. Rock puts a ladder on top of the corner and plants HHH with a DDT. Both guys slowly climb for a slugout on top but it’s HHH being shoved off into the ladder in the corner. With one last rush he shoves Rock’s ladder over to get us back to even again. Chyna slides HHH a chair and knocks the ladder into Rock before beating the chair into the ladder over and over again.

HHH can’t follow up so Rock slams him down onto the ladder and hits a People’s Elbow to get the crowd on his side again. HHH somehow gets up again and tries a climb but makes the mistake of diving onto Rock for a Rock Bottom. Rock goes up but HHH pulls him back down for a Pedigree as JR is losing his mind on these big moves. HHH tries to get up but Henry throws powder in his eyes. A blind HHH goes up but can’t see the belt. Rock goes up as well but it’s Chyna with a low blow, allowing HHH to pull down the belt for the win.

Rating: A+. This was a history making match as these two are officially the future and it was time for Rock to ascend to the top of the company. The match is one of my all time favorites and it’s an overlooked masterpiece because of the series these two had in 2000. These two went to war and had Madison Square Garden, the smark capital of the world, eating out of the palm of their hand. That’s only happened a handful of times ever and this was one of the best ever.

As for the match itself it worked for a variety of reasons. More than anything else though it was due to the ladder being a prop for the guys rather than the focus of the match. The story built around the leg injury and the drama instead of the big spots. It’s very rare that you get a ladder match like this anymore and the match is absolute required viewing as a result.

Is there anything else I could end this with? From the greatest show of all time.

As JR says, the time is upon us.

We recap Austin vs. Rock II which is summed up by one line from Austin: “The fact is Rock, you got the WWF Title and I want it.” This is backed up by the mother of all hype videos, set to My Way by Limp Bizkit. I’m not a fan of their music but this video is AMAZING. Debra was originally involved but thankfully that was dropped after about eight seconds. This was the best kind of build there was: take two superstars who seemingly cannot lose and put them together in a title match. These two beat on each other for months on end until this night arrived.

WWF World Title: Steve Austin vs. The Rock

Heyman says this is the match that both men need to win and neither man can afford to lose. Right before the entrances, Fink tells us that this is now No DQ, which is a surprise to everyone. Austin’s pop is awe inspiring as the face absolutely lose their minds at his entrance. Rock gets a VERY mixed reaction as Austin is a folk hero here in Texas. The brawl is on immediately and Austin hits the Thesz Press and middle finger elbow, only to be taken down by a swinging neckbreaker. The Rock Bottom and Stunner are countered and Austin throws Rock to the floor. We’re maybe 45 seconds in at this point.

They fight into the crowd with Rock taking over with more right hands. Back to ringside with Austin hitting a clothesline to put Rock down before adjusting his knee brace for a bit. They’re back in the ring now with Austin hitting a running crotch attack in 619 position followed by a superplex for the first two count of the match. Austin takes off the turnbuckle pad and pounds away to A LOT of booing from the crowd. A back elbow gets two for Rock before he clotheslines Austin to the floor.

They fight over to the announce table with Austin coming back with a bell shot to the face. Rock is knocked onto the announce table which breaks a few seconds later. We head back inside for Austin to pound away to even more pops from the crowd. Rock comes back with right hands but Austin drops both him and a leg for two. Rock is busted open and Austin chokes away in the corner. Austin stops to yell at the referee and gets his head taken off by a lariat from Rock.

The champion pounds away with right hands before getting the bell. It goes upside the head of the also bloody Austin but only gets two. We’re at the point now where the pinfall attempts get more and more intense. Rock keeps pounding away but Austin won’t stay down. Back to the floor with Austin firing off more fists as JR is in all his glory calling it. A slingshot sends Rock head first into the post and man did he BOUNCE off that thing. Back inside and Rock scoops the legs for the Sharpshooter in a call back to WM 13 where Austin is dripping blood while in the hold. He makes the rope this time though and we keep going.

Rock flips Austin off, earning himself a Sharpshooter from Austin. Well there’s a twist. It’s a terrible Sharpshooter but it gets the job done. Rock powers out though with blood dripping in between his teeth, again ala Mania 13. Back to the Sharpshooter on Rock but he makes the rope this time to escape again. Austin busts out the Million Dollar Dream of all things and the bloody Rock is in trouble. Rock fights up though and we get another callback to a Bret vs. Austin masterpiece with Rock climbing the rope and backflipping onto Austin for two, making him break the hold in the process.

Out of nowhere Rock hits a Stunner on Austin but he can’t follow up. It eventually gets two…and here’s Vince. Austin’s whip spienbuster gets two but he walks into one by Rock which sets up the People’s Elbow. Vince breaks it up though by pulling Rock off Austin, earning himself a death stare from the champion. Now we know something is afoot given the history between Vince and Austin. Rock chases Vince but runs into a Rock Bottom from Austin for another very close two.

The Stunner is countered and Hebner is knocked to the floor, allowing Austin to hit a low blow. Vince brings in a chair and clocks Rock with it on Austin’s instructions, getting another delayed two count. Now the fans are cheering for Rock a lot more but aren’t as pleased when Rock hits a Rock Bottom out of nowhere. Vince gets pulled into the ring for a beatdown but it’s a Stunner to Rock for only two. That probably should have been the finish, but instead Austin gets the chair and gives Rock the mother of all beatdowns with it, hitting him SIXTEEN TIMES. Rock is DEAD and Austin covers the body for the pin and the title.

Rating: A+. Yes there’s kind of weak ending, yes there were some lame points, but it’s Rock vs. Austin II for the world title in the main event of Wrestlemania. This is a masterpiece by definition alone. I think I might be the only person on the planet that likes this turn still, but it was in front of the wrong crowd. If this was ANY other state in the country it would have been booed like there was no tomorrow, but instead gets cheered, which is where the problem came from. Still though, excellent match and worthy of being the main event of the greatest show ever.

The Rock isn’t a guy you put on a list of the greatest of all time. He’s a guy where you figure out who is ahead of him on that list. He’s one of if not the funniest and best talkers ever but people forget how great he was in the ring. Those showdowns he had with Austin are as good of a series as you’ll ever see, with Wrestlemania X7 possibly being the best Wrestlemania main event of all time. Rock is amazing, and the fact that he was as good as he was when he came back eight years later is astounding.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book of on the History of Survivor Series at Amazon for just $3.99 at:

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3 comments

  1. #MrScissorsKick says:

    This was awesome KB. Thank you sir.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Much appreciated.

  2. Heyo says:

    I view Rock as a good, not great in-ring performer, but in the top 3(at worst) charismatic performers of all time. Maybe even THE best.