Date: April 1, 2001
Location: Reliant Astrodome, Houston, Texas
Commentators: Jim Ross, Paul Heyman
This is one of the rare shows that is almost universally praised. A lot of this is due to the atmosphere around this time. WCW has gone under and wrestling was entering a new era with the WWF in particular seeing themselves as the ultimate victors in a long war against their greatest competition. This show is the reward for everything they’ve done to get here. Let’s get to it.
Sunday Night Heat: Steve Blackman/Grandmaster Sexay vs. X-Factor
X-Factor is a three man team made of X-Pac, Albert (the odd man out here) and Justin Credible (former ECW and WWF wrestler). Blackman and Sexay aren’t a regular team but Scotty is out with a neck injury. Earlier today, Sexay recruited Blackman to dance and the eternally serious Steve actually agreed. Before the match, Blackman actually lives up to his promise and it’s better than I was expecting.
It’s a brawl to start and the fans are already some of the loudest I’ve ever heard. Albert gets in a shot to Sexay, setting up a big spinning kick from X-Pac. Sexay clotheslines both of them and it’s off to Blackman for his martial arts. Everything breaks down and a double superkick puts Blackman away at 2:44. Not a bad little match actually.
The opening video makes Wrestlemania seem almost like a religious experience. People around the world are shown watching (On televisions that probably don’t have pay per view, including one couple watching in the back of their car. I’m also not sure why they showed a sad clown or women dancing in a field.) as Freddie Blassie narrates about how this is the night where moments and legends are made. This is one of the first years to make Wrestlemania out to be exponentially bigger than anything else in the WWF and it really adds a lot to the show.
The Astrodome looks amazing with a sea of people and the very cool looking ceiling with daylight still coming in. The ramp is really long as well which makes for some lengthy entrances.
Intercontinental Title: Chris Jericho vs. William Regal
Jericho is defending. Regal (who comes out second) is WWF Commissioner and Jericho found him very boring. This didn’t set well with Regal, who started tormenting Jericho by putting him in various handicap matches, such as against the entire Right to Censor or one on two against the Dudley Boyz. Jericho relieved himself in Regal’s tea and dressed up as Doink the Clown (I still don’t quite get that one) to get on Regal’s nerves. Regal attacked Jericho and injured his shoulder so the champion isn’t totally healthy.
They start fast with Jericho hitting a forearm and spinwheel kick to knock Regal to the floor, setting up a nice plancha. Back in and Regal (with his chest blood red from some chops) has to escape a Walls of Jericho attempt and sends the left shoulder into the post. That shoulder wasn’t injured coming in but maybe Regal just wants to keep them even. Regal takes the turnbuckle pad off like a true villain is supposed to do. This is before he had VILLAIN written on his trunks as he was still just a friendly (yet evil) British ambassador.
A quick Lionsault attempt hits knees so Regal flips Jericho over with a release German suplex. Jericho misses another charge and almost goes head first into the post, setting up a nice top rope butterfly superplex from Regal. These are some hard hitting shots and both guys are already looking banged up. The arm injury won’t let Jericho hook the Walls and Regal grabs a modified Regal Stretch (similar to the STF), sending Chris right to the ropes. Back up and Jericho rams Regal into the exposed buckle (the announcers don’t seem to notice), setting up the Lionsault for the pin to retain at 7:08.
Rating: B-. This was two guys who didn’t like each other beating each other up and the fans were loving every bit of it. Regal was much more of a character than a wrestler at this point but he could still get in there every now and then for a physical match like this where he did horrible things to someone’s limbs. Jericho was more than capable of working that style and we got a good match as a result.
Shane McMahon in his WCW limo arrives.
Bradshaw is worried about Tazz not being around for a six man tag and gives one heck of a speech about what this building and Wrestlemania mean. That’s enough for Faarooq and they’re ready to go.
Tazz/APA vs. Right to Censor
The Acolytes are now the Acolyte Protection Agency (“We need beer money!”). The Right To Censor (RTC, comprised of leader Steven Richards, Bull Buchanan, Goodfather (the gimmick change I mentioned from last year.) and Val Venis.) is a censorship group parodying the Parents Television Council who had given the WWF headaches for years over what they considered immoral programming. Richards and company didn’t like the fact that the APA drank beer and since they weren’t big enough to go after Austin, they went after Smackdown commentator Tazz instead.
Everyone brawls to start and Buchanan hits his top rope clothesline so Faarooq brings in Tazz. The numbers get Tazz in trouble too and he’s whipped so hard into the ropes that he falls face first onto them instead of turning properly. Goodfather scores with the Ho Train but misses a Vader Bomb, allowing Bradshaw to come in and clean house. Native Texas Bradshaw picks the RTC apart with Venis getting the worst of it with fall away slam and belly to back superplex. Goodfather misses another Ho Train and Bradshaw’s big clothesline is good for the pin at 3:53.
Rating: D+. Totally fine match here to fill in a little time. It’s nothing that couldn’t be done on Raw but they kept it quick and let a guy from Texas beat a team that the fans couldn’t stand. That’s how to keep a hot crowd even hotter and it worked very well here. Tazz never did much in the WWF and his best years were behind him but he was fine for a tough guy role like this.
There’s a special Wrestlemania magazine.
Trish (now the evil Vince’s mistress) wheels in a catatonic Linda (who Vince had put in a special home to prevent her from meddling while he had his affair) but runs into Stephanie (Vince’s little girl again who talks down to Trish like a slave). Stephanie says Linda must be happy that she had one child that came out ok. Trish is told to have plenty of champagne and strawberries to celebrate Vince’s victory with and Stephanie even throws in a tip on how to crack the ice properly. You can see that Trish isn’t going to take much more of this.
Hardcore Title: Raven vs. Kane vs. Big Show
Raven is defending and Heyman’s advice is to run as fast as he can. Kane comes out first and Raven uses all the weapons he brought with him to little success. Big Show, in his tights that looked like a woman’s one piece swimsuit, comes out a few moments later. Kane isn’t one for tardiness so he throws Raven outside takes Show down with a top rope clothesline for two.
They’re quickly in the crowd and then backstage because there’s no point in trying to make this a regular match. Raven tries to attack Kane with a sign but gets thrown halfway through a wall. Show slams Kane onto some wooden pallets and chases Raven into a caged off storage area. A padlock doesn’t do any good as Kane catches up and rips the door off but Raven chokes him with a gardening hose.
Kane isn’t happy and breaks down part of the fence despite being a few feet from the door. He doesn’t have to be so destructive. As I say that, Kane throws Raven through a window. Show isn’t pleased with this destruction and knocks Kane through a door into a dressing room. They grab each other by the throat and fall into another little room where Raven shows up and hits Show with a card table. These people have no respect for private property.
Now it’s time for a golf cart chase (Which according to Raven was supposed to go all around the building in a Benny Hill style comedy bit. Instead they crashed the carts right before they hit some cables which could have taken the show off the air.) but Kane catches them and they fight through the Snapple table. They wind up on the stage with Show pressing Raven over his head, only to get kicked in the face by Kane, knocking both Show and Raven through part of the set. Kane isn’t done though as he dives into the hole with an elbow to pin Show for the title at 9:18.
Rating: C+. That’s probably a bit high but I had fun with this. They did some creative stuff and didn’t bother trying to make this anything it wasn’t. It’s an entertaining match and let the power guys do their stuff while Raven ran around getting in shots where he could. This is the only way to make the title fun more often than not and I had a good time here.
Kurt Angle is zoned in on Chris Benoit and freaks out friends Edge and Christian. It’s amazing to see Angle in his different modes and makes me appreciate his abilities even more.
Jimmy Snuka is at WWF New York (a WWF themed night club/restaurant).
A fan from Australia is here. It’s kind of amazing how far people will go to see something they love.
The Rock has just arrived.
European Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Test
Eddie is challenging and has Saturn, in a big furry white hat, in his corner. There isn’t much of a story here. Eddie just started going after the title one day and attacked Test when he was guest refereeing one of the champ’s matches. Heyman tries to explain that Texas is part of Mexico and JR clearly doesn’t want to hear this. Test takes over with a quick layout powerbomb for two and Eddie bails to the floor. Back in and a good looking gorilla press sends Eddie face first into the buckle.
Heyman laments Saturn taking his hat off as Eddie can’t get a top rope hurricanrana. Test scores with a top rope back elbow to the jaw (Jericho used the same move earlier. It must be a Canadian thing) for two but he misses a big boot and gets his foot caught in the top rope. The match stops cold as it’s kind of hard for a 6’8 man to do much when his leg is caught and he’s hanging upside down.
Saturn and Guerrero try to get in a few shots to keep the match from falling apart even further. Eddie finally has to help the referee get Test’s leg free and thankfully JR points out that Eddie can’t win the title with Test in the ropes. What an embarrassing moment for Test, even if it wasn’t his fault. If nothing else Guerrero has a target on the ankle but he goes for a sleeper instead.
Test fights up again and grabs a tilt-a-whirl helicopter bomb but Saturn sneaks in for the Moss Covered Three Handled Family Gradunza (it’s a fisherman’s neckbreaker). Test is up at two and gets in a pumphandle powerslam for the same. Saturn comes in again and takes a big boot to the air in front of his face but Malenko runs out for a distraction, allowing Eddie to hit Test with the belt for the pin and the title at 8:07.
Rating: D+. Again this was fine but that tieup in the ropes killed the momentum they had going. Test was little more than a midcard guy at this point but Eddie was getting more and more over every week. Unfortunately he was also getting more and more into substance abuse and would be gone by the end of the year for a long time.
Mick Foley promises that Vince firing him will have no bearing on him being special referee for Vince vs. Shane tonight. He’ll call it right down the line, and he’s going to do that right here in Houston, Texas! I love cheap pops.
Austin arrives nearly an hour into the show.
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit
This was literally thrown together on Raw six days before the show when both guys had nothing else to do. Angle says he isn’t a fan of Texas because its flag is missing 49 other stars. Oh and people here need to stop wearing the cowboy hats because they’re not seven years old anymore. Angle scores with two very quick takedowns to start but Benoit gets out of them with some incredibly fast counters to get us to a stalemate.
They hit the mat again and go for the legs but roll into the ropes for another break. The fans are all over Angle and he has to get to the ropes to escape a Crossface twice in a row. Back in and Benoit tries a third straight Crossface so Kurt punches him in the face for the first real advantage.
Kurt sends him hard into the steps and it’s time for the suplexes. Benoit tries some chops so Kurt calmly throws him flying with an overhead belly to belly. Some elbows to the face have better effect for Benoit and he goes back to a superplex for two. Now it’s time for Benoit to roll some Germans before he puts Angle in the ankle lock for a change. Angle reverses out of that into a Crossface on Benoit but Chris gets to the ropes.
The referee gets bumped because of course he does and Angle taps to the Crossface with no referee because of course he does. The Angle Slam gets two on Benoit but he gets his knees up to block the moonsault. Now it’s Benoit with the Swan Dive for two, meaning it’s time for a suplex. Angle counters with a low blow into a rollup and grabs the tights for the pin at 14:02.
Rating: A-. This is a pairing that never fails to work and somehow this is nowhere near their best match ever. Both guys looked awesome out there and the amateur stuff at the beginning is some of the best you’ll ever see. Benoit was one of the few people who could hang in there against Angle and he made Kurt look like he was really sweating. It’s a great story as well with Benoit matching him move for move until Angle had to cheat to win. Great stuff.
Regal goes into his office (sporting the awesome Wrestlemania X7 baseball jersey) and finds Kamala (a legend here for the gimmick battle royal later on) on his desk rubbing a picture of the Queen of England on his stomach. I really don’t think there’s anything I can add here.
Video on the WWF going to Fort Hood for a pep rally with the military. There was a parade with a cadence for Undertaker and the wrestlers all got plaques. Angle of course wanted a medal instead. This was cool stuff and something that would be amplified by the Tribute to the Troops show in a few years.
Angle says he proved that he’s the best when Benoit comes in and puts on the Crossface to make Kurt tap again.
We recap Chyna vs. Ivory (also part of the RTC). Chyna injured her neck in a feud against the RTC, who hated the fact that she posed for Playboy. Chyna destroyed Ivory at the 2001 Royal Rumble but hurt her neck before she could win the Women’s Title. This is the rematch and Chyna has signed away her right to legal recourse if she hurts her neck again.
Women’s Title: Ivory vs. Chyna
Ivory is defending and Chyna has that fireworks gun again. An early belt shot puts Chyna down and Ivory (described as looking like Lilith Sternin-Crane by JR) hits some very weak forearms to the back. Chyna grabs a kick to the leg and throws Ivory away with ease. Some clotheslines set up a powerbomb but Chyna picks Ivory (further described as a yapping female dog by JR) up at two. Instead a gorilla press drop completes the squash and Chyna is champion at 2:39. This is the most logical way to go with this match as there was no way anyone was going to buy Ivory putting up a fight against Chyna here.
Trish assures Vince that she doubled Linda’s medication for tonight.
We recap Vince vs. Shane. Vince went on a power trip and Shane came back to take him out for cheating on Linda. This led to a street fight at Wrestlemania but Shane upped the ante by buying WCW out from under Vince six days before this show. This is a match with a very deep backstory and a bunch of stories are going to be intertwined.
Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon
Street fight. Mick Foley is guest referee due to a contract he signed back in December (when he as still Commissioner), allowing him to pick whichever match he wanted to at Wrestlemania. Shane says hi to some WCW wrestlers in a sky box, including Lance Storm, Stacy Keibler, Mark Jindrak and Hugh Morrus. This doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the future for the company if those are the representatives. Stephanie is with Vince but Trish and Linda aren’t here yet.
Vince hammers Shane down in the corner to start until a clothesline and some elbows get Shane out of trouble. Stephanie comes in to break it up and slaps Shane in the face. That’s it for her right now so Shane follows Vince outside and beats on him with a sign. A nice clothesline off the barricade drops Vince again and Shane follows up with some good looking kendo stick shots to the back.
Dancing punches drop Vince again and it’s time to load up the Spanish announcers’ table. A sick sounding monitor shot to the head knocks Vince silly and Shane jumps to the top rope (literally). Shane tries a great looking flying elbow but Stephanie pulls Vince off the table, sending Shane through the table in a glorious crash. Cue Trish pushing Linda’s wheelchair down the aisle as we hit the second act.
Trish helps Vince up but slaps him to turn face, triggering a catfight with Stephanie. Unfortunately Trish has no idea what she’s doing yet so it’s your standard catfight until Foley pulls them apart. Stephanie slaps him too and it’s time for a chase up the aisle, with Stephanie doing her horrible acting on a fall (her arms were in the air to catch her balance before she even tripped), allowing Trish to get closer to her as they leave the arena. Back at ringside, Vince calls Linda a very bad name but Foley steps between them.
That earns Mick a chair shot to the back and now Vince can do what he wants. First he puts Linda in the corner in a regular chair before throwing Shane (who is still down from that crash) inside as well. Some trashcans to the head knock Shane even more out of it…..and Linda stands up, drawing one of the biggest reactions of the night. A kick between Vince’s legs draws an even bigger ovation.
Foley gets back in and pounds Vince down in the corner, allowing Shane to debut the Coast to Coast (A dropkick from one corner across the ring to another. Rob Van Dam calls it the Van Terminator but Shane didn’t even use a springboard. Again: that’s incredible athleticism.), driving a trashcan into Vince’s face for the pin at 14:12.
Rating: C+. This isn’t a great match but it’s some of the most intricate storytelling as you’ll ever see in WWE. There are an astounding five stories (Vince vs. Shane, Trish and Vince, Stephanie vs. Trish, Vince and Linda and Vince vs. Foley) all being paid off in one match. That just does not happen in wrestling and it’s even more impressive when you saw it all building over the previous months.
Yesterday at Axxess, the Hardys said the feud with the Dudleyz and Edge and Christian ends with TLC II.
Tag Team Titles: Edge and Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz
The Dudleyz are defending and this is tables, ladders and chairs, meaning a ladder match with even more carnage. Just like last year there isn’t a big backstory other than they’ve been trading the titles for over a year (since February 27, 2000, only three other teams had held the titles for a combined 63 days) and this is the big final match.
Edge and Christian get thrown to the floor to start and the other teams slug it out in the ring. The Canadians come back in with the ladder to clean house and even tie Matt in the Tree of Woe to stand on his crotch. Jeff gets back up and dropkicks Edge off the ladder and the Hardys baseball slide another ladder into the Dudleys’ faces. The legdrop/splash combo crushes Christian and Edge takes a What’s Up from the Dudleys.
It’s table time but for some reason D-Von isn’t happy with one of the tables that was set up at ringside. Two tables are brought in with one being set up in the corner. Edge is laid on one of the tables and Jeff (who walks under a ladder to get back in) gets powerbombed through Edge in a big crash. Heyman tries to explain the history of the Dudley Construction Company and again JR is not amused. On the other hand, he is interested in Bubba and D-Von stacking up four tables in a two by two pile.
Back in and there are two ladders set up but Bubba grabs a third and BLASTS Matt in the head with it. That even made JR gasp. All six go up on the three ladders and it’s time for the falling. Christian and Matt go down first with Christian again doing the insane fall from the ladder to the floor with Matt being smart enough to land on the ropes. Jeff and D-Von hit the ropes as well while Bubba and Edge knock each other backwards. Christian, somehow without a broken hip, sets up another table on the floor.
Cue the Dudleys’ cousin Spike, a small guy who was taken out by Edge and Christian’s friend Rhyno, with some Dudley Dogs (a run up the corner into a Diamond Cutter) for Edge and Christian with the latter going through the table at ringside). This brings out Rhyno, an explosive powerhouse, to clean house with the ladder and a bunch of Gores, including one to put Matt through a table in the corner.
Now it’s Lita (Matt’s girlfriend) to pull Edge off the ladder and take Rhyno out with a top rope hurricanrana. Spike hits Rhyno with a chair to knock him into the ladder and put Edge down again. Lita chairs Spike in the head and takes her shirt off, only to walk into 3D. Edge and Christian take the Dudleys out with chairs….and it’s time for the big ladder. There’s no way this is going to end well.
Rhyno and Spike are laid across tables in front of the big ladder and Jeff goes up for an insane Swanton (The same as last year. Notice that they got this out of the way quickly so we can get to this year’s even bigger spot.) through Rhyno and Spike (In theory at least as Rhyno is barely touched and Spike, who might weigh 140lbs, takes almost all of it. Rhyno’s table doesn’t even break).
The big ladder is brought into the ring and it’s D-Von and Christian climbing up, only to have Matt move the ladder, leaving the two of them hanging from the belts. That goes as well as you would expect and Jeff tries to tightrope walk across the top of some ladders but they topple over for the closest thing to a botch in this whole match. Jeff is left hanging from the belts trying to get his feet on a ladder as Edge climbs the big ladder.
Bubba pulls Jeff’s ladder away and lets him swing forward, right into the biggest spear of all time as Edge dives off the big ladder and hits Jeff in perfect stride. That’s the spot that made Edge a star and you still see it on highlight reels to this day. As soon as we look at the replays, Bubba and Matt climb the big ladder, only to have Rhyno shove it over, sending the two of them through the four tables in an even bigger crash. Back in and Rhyno puts Christian on his shoulders for the climb up and the titles at 15:41.
Rating: A+. Carnage, violence, destruction. Pick a few more words like that and you’ll get close to what we had here. This was one of the wildest matches you’ll ever see with all nine people taking bump after bump as they got bigger and bigger every time. This somehow topped last year’s triangle ladder match and the first TLC match, which both set what seemed to be unreachable bars. The last few moments of the match with the spear and the double stack of tables are as violent a stretch as this company has ever had, save for maybe Mankind vs. Undertaker in the Cell. Another must see match.
The new attendance record is 67,925, meaning we get some more awesome wide shots of the crowd.
Gimmick Battle Royal
Luke, Butch, Duke Droese, Iron Sheik, Greg Valentine, The Goon, Doink the Clown, Kamala, Kim Chee, Repo Man, Jim Cornette, Nikolai Volkoff, Michael Hayes, One Man Gang, Gobbledy Gooker, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love, Sgt. Slaughter
I think you get the idea here. Mean Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan come out to do commentary to make this even better. Heenan looks genuinely thrilled to be back. Droese is a wrestling garbageman, the Goon is a wrestling hockey player (a gimmick which was originally planned for Chris Jericho), Kim Chee is Kamala’s handler, Hayes is a legendary heel and the leader of the Freebirds, Gooker is a dancing humanoid turkey and Tugboat was Typhoon’s original character.
Everyone brawls to start and Repo and Gooker are out very soon. There go Tugboat and Earthquake, followed by Kamala eliminating his own man Kim Chee. Luke and Cornette follow them out and Droese is gone a few seconds later. Volkoff and the Goon go out at the same time. Butch is tossed as well. Doink gets eliminated and the fans are devastated. Hayes and the Gang go out off camera and Slaughter dumps Kamala to get us down to Love, Slaughter, Jim and Sheik. Slaughter dumps Love, Jim throws out Slaughter and Sheik, who can’t take a bump to the floor, eliminates Jim to win at 3:03.
Rating: A. The match was just an afterthought as the entrances were the real appeal here. This was nothing but a nostalgia match and they nailed it with a bunch of fun characters getting one last hurrah at Wrestlemania. You might have noticed the eliminations and I wasn’t skipping anything in between. Good stuff here and a really fun with the fans eating it up.
Slaughter gives Sheik the Cobra Clutch one last time.
We recap Undertaker vs. HHH. This was set up really well with HHH saying he had beaten everyone there was to beat, drawing out Undertaker to simply say HHH had never beaten him. This led to a kind of lame restraining order story from Stephanie but Kane kidnapped her instead, forcing Regal to make Undertaker vs. HHH for Wrestlemania. HHH responded by wrecking one of Undertaker’s bikes, which is the last thing you wanted to do around this time. This is when HHH was near the peak of his awesome heel run, having beaten Austin 2/3 falls at No Way Out so Undertaker is probably the underdog coming in.
HHH vs. Undertaker
Motorhead plays HHH to the ring in a really cool entrance. A wide shot of the arena shows how big the set really is as HHH is just a blip in front of the curtain. Undertaker might one up HHH’s entrance by gunning his motorcycle down the ramp, which is actually long enough to get some speed going. A quick Undertaker pose is the extent of the preliminaries and the slugout is on outside. Undertaker throws him through the makeshift Spanish announcers’ table and we get the opening bell.
HHH loses a slugout and gets powerslammed but he breaks up Old School. I’m not sure what tipped him off: Undertaker standing on top and looking at the crowd or shouting OLD SCHOOL before he went up top. A neckbreaker gets three straight near falls on Undertaker and HHH shoves the referee to no avail. It’s already time for the sledgehammer but the referee takes it away.
The Pedigree is countered with a catapult but it takes out the referee. There’s the chokeslam for two and Undertaker isn’t happy so he lays out the referee again. With no one to stop them (like many people could), it’s time to go into the crowd. They brawl to the technical area with Undertaker knocking him around the production tower.
HHH finds a chair and destroys Undertaker but he takes too long with a big swing, allowing Undertaker to grab him by the throat for a terrifying chokeslam off the tower. The visual is kind of ruined as we see HHH laying on a big pad but it looked great until then. Undertaker makes up for it by dropping an elbow off the tower and beats up the EMTs who dare try to help HHH.
They go back to the ring where the referee hasn’t moved after nearly eight minutes. It’s sledgehammer time again but HHH saves himself with a low blow. They slug it out some more and Undertaker grabs a Tombstone but the referee is STILL down. It’s been ten minutes now man. I know Undertaker is tough but it was just a forearm to the head and an elbow drop.
The Last Ride (an elevated powerbomb) is loaded up but HHH grabs the sledgehammer and blasts Undertaker in the head for a VERY close two. That was one heck of a near fall. Undertaker is busted open so HHH hammers away in the corner, only to have Undertaker come out with the Last Ride for the pin at 18:17.
Rating: A. Another great brawl here with both guys beating the tar out of each other for nearly twenty minutes. The referee being out cold that long was a stretch (and no medical assistance was a bit ridiculous) but it let the match make more sense. This was when HHH could do no wrong and Undertaker always makes it work at Wrestlemania. Really good stuff here and a forgotten classic.
Of note: JR says Undertaker is 9-0 at Wrestlemania. This is the match that really made the Streak a thing for the first time.
A fan won a contest to get tickets to the show.
Rock and Austin are ready.
We recap Austin vs. The Rock. I’ll leave out the pretty worthless part of Vince making Austin’s wife Debra manage the Rock and thankfully it was only mentioned in passing on the show. Rock became the biggest star in the company in Austin’s absence but Austin came back and won the Rumble to set this up. As JR put it at No Way Out: “60,000 in the Astrodome to see the Rock and Stone Cold!” Heyman sums it up very well too with “It’s the match that both men need to win but neither man can afford to lose.” The video is set to Limp Bizkit’s My Way and is on a very short list for best hype video of all time.
WWF World Title: Steve Austin vs. The Rock
Rock is defending and this is made a No DQ match just before the entrances. JR: “WHAT?” Austin’s pop is one of the all time greats as he’s a folk hero in Texas. Rock’s reaction is VERY mixed but he does have some loud cheers. They waste no time and slug it out with Austin scoring with the Thesz Press. Neither guy can hit their finisher early and it’s on the floor less than two minutes in.
Both guys go into the announcers’ table but Austin takes over with a clothesline. A superplex gets two on Rock and it’s time to remove a turnbuckle pad. Rock’s comeback isn’t very well received and they head outside again with Austin nailing him with the bell (after sneaking in a sip of water). There’s a trickle of blood on Rock’s head so Austin goes after the cut with everything he has. Now we’ve got some good blood flowing and Austin grabs a swinging neckbreaker (popular move tonight) for two.
Austin stomps away in the corner but stops to yell at the referee, allowing Rock to explode with a clothesline, drawing more boos than he’s received in years. Rock sends him into the exposed buckle to draw blood as well, followed by a bell shot to make it even worse. Back to the floor and Austin catapults Rock face first into the post (great looking bump) before hitting him right in the hand (called the head but whatever) with a monitor.
Austin can’t get the Stunner (great pop for the double middle fingers though) and it’s time for Rock’s bad looking Sharpshooter. That brings Rock’s fans back to life and the match feels a lot more normal. Austin crawls to the ropes with the blood flowing down his face in a nice callback to Wrestlemania XIII. Now it’s Austin grabbing an even worse Sharpshooter and the fans aren’t happy when Rock makes the rope.
There’s the Million Dollar Dream for another flashback but Rock climbs the ropes and kicks back into a cover (the way Bret beat Austin at Survivor Series 1996 for two. Back up and Rock grabs a Stunner of his own for a delayed two. Cue Vince McMahon of all people as Austin wins a slugout but charges into a spinebuster. The People’s Elbow gets two with Vince breaking up the pin. The fans aren’t sure of this and Rock chases Vince around, only to walk into a Rock Bottom for two.
Vince looks very disappointed and Austin throws the referee out. He tells Vince to get a chair so Vince knocks Rock out for two with McMahon throwing the referee back in. A quick Rock Bottom puts Austin down but Rock pulls Vince in for interfering. The distraction lets another Stunner connect for a very hot near fall. With nothing else working, Austin erupts on Rock with the chair, hitting him an insane sixteen times. Rock’s carcass is covered for the pin at 28:05 and the fans explode with cheering.
Rating: A+. This is the main event style done almost as well as it’s ever been done. It’s a great stadium style main event with both guys knowing how to keep the crowd on their side the whole way through. Austin winning here made sense as there isn’t really anywhere Rock can go if he retains the title here. Also he was heading off to make Scorpion King so the result wasn’t the biggest surprise in the world.
What was a big surprise was Vince and Austin uniting, which is also a very questionable decision. Austin was still red hot and certainly could have carried the company as the lead star but this took the Austin train off the tracks (outside of Texas of course, where Austin could do no wrong). Vince and Austin coming together signaled the end of an era and a bold move, but it was part of a string of decisions that helped bring the company down from its peak and sent it into a tailspin for a few years.
The best option probably would have been to have Austin accept Vince’s help to take the title and then Stun him to end the show. This lets Austin stay on top and rekindle his feud with Vince until something new can be found. Rock leaving took away any reason for him to keep the title so Austin had to win, but this wasn’t the best way for him to get the belt back.
Austin shakes Vince’s hand and they share a beer, officially ending the Attitude Era as JR is beside himself. Rock gets hit in the face with the belt to knock him out one more time before Vince and Austin leave together to end the show.
Overall Rating: A+. I’m really not sure what else I need to say here. A show is considered good if it has one classic and this has an unheard of four. The fifth best match is above average and the worst match on the card is probably Eddie vs. Test, which is totally watchable. The wrestling here is amazing but it’s the crowd that really carries it higher. The fans were all over everything here and are some of the loudest people you’ll ever hear at a wrestling show. All in all, this is as close to perfect a wrestling show as you’re going to find and holds up incredibly well to this day.
Remember to check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com, follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up the History of the WWE’s Big Four Pay Per Views, now in PAPERBACK. Check out the information here:
And check out my Amazon author page with cheap wrestling books at:
The post Wrestlemania XVII: I’m Running Out Of Ways To Praise This Show appeared first on WrestlingRumors.net.
Powered by WPeMatico