Their rivalry propelled the World Wrestling Federation to the top of the business and ushered in the now fizzling pro wrestling boom. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin portraying the working man’s wrestler rebelling against his boss, Vince McMahon, touched a nerve with the general public. Who would have thought then that the sworn enemies who would stop at nothing to destroy each other would join forces. That’s what happened at WrestleMania X-Seven pay-per-view broadcast from the Astrodome in Houston, Texas.
Over and above turning Austin heel there were no major surprises at WrestleMania, an event recognized as the premiere sports entertainment show. No appearances by WCW superstars besides a shot of some of them sitting in a Skybox cheering Shane McMahon on in his street fight with his father Vince McMahon. No hometown boy Shawn Michaels who left last week’s Smackdown! taping in a huff. No real twists and turns in the storylines either. Altogether there wasn’t too much there to astonish fans who turn to the Internet for their daily dose of wrestling news.
As at last year’s WrestleMania, the Tables, Ladders and Chairs match between Edge, Christian, The Hardy Boys and The Dudley Boys stole the show. Unlike a slew of poorly conceived finishes that plagued and brought down the broadcast, TLC2 was once again a first-rate example of highly creative and superior booking. The inclusion of former ECW hardcore veterans Rhyno, Spike Dudley and Hardy Boys’ valet Lita injected some new blood and fresh faces into the mix as well. Considering that the teams had to live up to the death-defying, daredevil feats that made the original TLC2 match such a fan favourite and an instant classic, TLC2 was undeniably the best match on the card.
The second-place spot definitely has to go to the WWF World Heavyweight Title bout in which challenger “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and champion The Rock really turned it loose like never before. This was by far the best performance by either wrestler in their WWF careers so far. About the only things that took some of the shine off this No Disqualification match was that The Rock might as well of had a big, fat “S” painted on his chest because like Superman nothing could keep him down and involvement of Aust in’s real-life wife — Debra McMichael — as The Rock’s manager was dropped from the storyline without any substantive explanation.
You have to give the WWF credit too for even attempting to mold Austin into a baddie in his home state of Texas where fans are behind him no matter what he does. The WWF took a chance and it paid off handsomely. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman also delivered by convincing us that Austin would do anything to win back the WWF World Title including siding with his arch-nemesis, Vince McMahon.
Austin’s transformation was alluded to throughout the match as “Stone Cold” played dirty more than he usually does. It was almost as if we had gone back in time to WrestleMania 13 where Austin and Bret “The Hitman” Hart eventually traded roles. Austin pushed around the officials and production crew, hit Rock with a ringbell (which busted him open), raked his knee brace across The Rock’s eyes and even locked on the Million Dollar Dream submission hold he once used as The Ringmaster. Imitating a unforgettabl e spot from WrestleMania 13, The Rock and Austin traded Sharpshooters. Both bleeding at that point, each grimaced in pain as blood dripped down their faces and onto the mat while they were in the unforgiving submission maneuver.
Closing in on the finish of the match, Vince McMahon — still dressed in his wrestling attire — came down to ringside. As The Rock dropped a People’s Elbow and was going for the pin, McMahon pulled him off Austin from outside the ring. An irritated People’s Champ pulled McMahon into the ring by his hair and beat on him. Turning his attention back to Austin, the champion landed a Rock Bottom that earned him a two count.
With the referee knocked out Austin told McMahon to bring a chair into the ring. McMahon did and as Austin held The Rock, McMahon labeled him with it. McMahon roused the ref who made a two count before The Rock kicked out. Austin went to hit Rocky with the steel chair but The People’s Champ kicked him in the gut and hit The Rock Bottom. McMahon began jawing with the referee distracting him from The Rock’s attempted pinfall. The Rock attacked McMahon. Austin executed a Stunner on Rocky. Again, The Rock kick ed out. McMahon gave Austin the steel chair and Stone Cold wailed on The Rock with it over and over again. The steel chair thrashing was finally enough to allow Austin to pin The Rock and win the WWF World Heavyweight Title. McMahon and Austin shook hands and drank beer together. Getting in one more cheap shot, Austin brained The Rock with the WWF World Title belt.
The next WWF pay-per-view is BackLash on April 29th.
WWF WrestleMania X-Seven Results
Chris Jericho (champion) versus William Regal (challenger) (WWF Intercontinental Title Match)
- Great opening match with Jericho’s high-flying moves countering Regal’s technical skills. Jericho’s shoulder injury is played up by the announcers. Jericho begins favouring it and teasing a possible loss after being thrown into the steel post and suffering a double underhook suplex from the top rope by Regal. Jericho has trouble implementing the Walls Of Jericho because of his shoulder. The Commissioner flips it into a Regal Stretch. Jericho reaches the ropes breaking the hold. A Lion Sault hands Regal the loss.
- Winner: …and still WWF Intercontinental Champion…Chris Jericho at 7 minutes and 8 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7 / 10.
- Shane McMahon arrives in his WCW limo. In the APA office, Bradshaw (a native Texan) gives Jackie and Faarooq a history lesson as to why their match with Right To Censor means so much to him.
Tazz, The Acolytes versus Right To Censor
- Tazz’s entrance music cuts Richards off from cutting a promo. Tazz makes the hot tag to Bradshaw. The hometown boy goes over as The Goodfather misses with his finishing move and Bradshaw almost takes his head off with his Clothesline From Hell.
- Winners: Tazz, The Acolytes at 3 minutes and 52 seconds.
- Match Rating: 4 / 10.
- An ad airs from the special edition WrestleMania magazine. WWF’s Shop Zone hocks their WrestleMania merchandise. Trish Stratus runs into Stephanie McMahon as she pushes Linda in a wheelchair backstage. On Steph’s black jump-suit “Daddy’s Girl” is stitched across the back. Stephanie orders Trish around. Trish accepts the abuse with a smile.
Raven (champion) versus Kane (challenger) versus Big Show (challenger) (WWF Hardcore Title match)
- This one is just nuts. Backstage, The Big Show locks himself and Raven in a storeroom. Kane rips the door off its hinges. Kane chucks Raven through a plate-glass window. Gripping each other by the throat, Kane and Big Show slam through a wall. Raven tries to drive away in a golf cart. Big Show climbs on the back causing them into crash into some steel fencing. Along with the referee, Kane commandeers one too and almost accidentally runs over Raven’s leg. Everyone fights back to the main stage where Big Show looks like he is going to chokeslam Raven down onto a structure below. Kane kicks them both off and they fall through the stage. A diving legdrop wins Kane the Hardcore Title.
- Winner: …and new WWF Hardcore Heavyweight Champion…Kane at 9 minutes and 17 seconds.
- Match Rating: 6.5 / 10.
- Kurt Angle is reviewing footage of Chris Benoit making him tap out in the Crippler Crossface. Edge and Christian stop by. Angle vehemently argues that since it wasn’t an official match and there was no referee, he didn’t officially tap out. Sensing that Angle has lost it, Edge and Christian slink away. Jimmy Snuka is shown at the WWF restaurant. The Rock is unpacking his bags in his dressing room.
Eddie Guerrero (challenger) versus Test (champion) (European Title Match)
- Saturn is wearing some furry, Buff Bagwell-like top hat. J.R. calls it “borderline ridiculous”. Test is upended in the ropes. His foot gets stuck in them and referee can’t get him loose. Guerrero eventually frees him. Saturn and Dean Malenko both interfere on Eddie’s behalf. Test punches Malenko. Saturn throws the European belt to Eddie. Eddie smashes it over Test’s head for the win.
- Winner: …and new WWF European Champion….Eddie Guerrero at 8 minutes and 30 seconds.
- Match Rating: 4 / 10.
- Michael Cole questions Foley backstage about whether he can be an unbiased official. Foley jokes that in the “interest of fairness” he will “call it right down the middle” even though Vince McMahon assaulted and fired him on national television.
Chris Benoit versus Kurt Angle
- The first four or five minutes is spent with Angle and Benoit doing some wicked amateur mat wrestling as Benoit tests Angle. Fed up with being upstaged by Benoit, Angle resorts to punching him in the face. An exceptional pure wrestling match that ends with Angle kicking out of Benoit’s Swan Dive flying headbutt and him rolling up with a handful of tights. Angle did tap out to the Crippler Crossface again earlier in the match but there was no ref to call it.
- Winner: Kurt Angle at 14 minutes and 4 seconds.
- Match Rating: 8 / 10.
- William Regal heads back to his office with an ice pack. Kamala is standing on his desk rubbing his picture of the Queen Mother on his belly. Regal screams “Get down, you heathen!”. Funny stuff that. Footage of the WWF’s Pep Rally at Fort Hood airs. That’s great but we already saw it on Heat. In an interview, Angle comments that he still has no respect for Chris Benoit. Benoit jumps Angle and put him in the Crippler Crossface. Angle taps out as officials try to pull Benoit off of him.
Ivory (champion) versus Chyna (challenger) (WWF Women’s World Heavyweight Title Match)
- Thank goodness they keep it short and sweet. Chyna appears to have lost weight and her muscular physique too. Dressed up in her Wonder Woman garb she looks more like Cher now. Ivory sneaks attacks Chyna from behind hitting her in the back of the neck with the title belt. Chyna powerbombs Ivory. Instead of pinning her, she lifts her up for some more punishment. An Ultimate Warrior-like Gorilla Press Slam puts Ivory down for the count.
- Winner: …and new WWF Women’s Heavyweight Champion…Chyna at 2 minutes and 39 seconds.
- Match Rating: 0 / 10.
- A promo for Kurt Angle’s “It’s True. It’s True” on pay-per-view this month. Two Houston Astro baseball players are interviewed. Vince, Trish, Steph and Linda are in Vince’s office. Vince asks Trish if she upped Linda’s dose for this evening. Trish answers in the affirmative.
Vince McMahon versus Shane McMahon
- Shane is billed as the WCW Chairman. Shane gives a “shout out” to the young WCW talent sitting in a Skybox. The cameramen can’t find the box at first. When they do, we can barely make out who is sitting there. The fans boo at mention of WCW. Shane waffles Vince with a Kendo stick and hits him upside the head with a television monitor. Shane puts Vince on the Spanish Announce Team’s table. He tries for a flying elbow smash off the top rope. Steph pulls Vince out of the way and Shane crashes through the table. Trish wheels Linda down to the ring. Trish helps Vince to his feet and slaps him! Steph and Trish cat fight to the back. Menacingly, Vince approaches Linda. Foley cuts him off saying…”Don’t even think about it, Vince!”. Vince chairshots Foley twice to the back. Vince brings Linda into the ring and sits her in a corner on a steel chair. Vince bashes Shane with some steel trash cans while taunting Linda. Linda stands up. It’s a miracle! She weakly kicks Vince in the “family jewels”. Shane puts Vince in a corner with a trash can over his face and then amazingly enough he does RVD’s Van-Terminator on Vince. The WCW talent (Lance Storm, Shawn Stasiak, Mike Awesome and others) cheer as Shane pins Vince.
- Winner: Shane McMahon at 14 minutes and 12 seconds.
- Match Rating: 5 / 10.
- A previous interview with the Hardys at Axxess. Triple H and Taker gear up for their match.
The Hardy Boys (challenger) versus Edge and Christian (challengers) versus The Dudley Boys (champions) (WWF Tag Team Title, TLC2 Match)
- Awesome. Some of the insane spots are Buh Buh powerbombing Jeff Hardy on top of Edge and putting them both through a table. Christian falling off a ladder in the ring to the floor. Spike Dudley Acid Dropping Christian out of the ring and through a table. Lita does her Hurracanrana on Rhyno. The Dudleys 3-D Lita. Jeff Hardy hits his Swanton Bomb off a huge ladder on top of Rhyno and Spike smashing them through two tables. Jeff Hardy tries to walk across the tops of four ladders to the hanging belts but loses his balance on one and falls to the mat. Jeff has a hold of the tag belts but is swinging in mid-air. Edge spears him from the top of a ladder. Rhyno pushes Buh Buh and Matt Hardy off a ladder. They fall through a stack of tables outside the ring. Rhyno carries Christian up a ladder on his shoulders so he can snatch the belts.
- Winner: …and new WWF World Tag Team Champions…Edge and Christian at at 15 minutes and 47 seconds.
- Match Rating: 10 / 10.
- It is announced that the attendance for WrestleMania X-Seven (67, 925) has set a record in the Astrodome.
Gimmick Battle Royal
- The fastest battle royal ever seen in the history of pro wrestling. Mean Gene and Bobby Heenan call the action. Heenan says that by the time the Iron Sheik gets to the ring it will be WrestleMania 38. Heh. Heh. The Iron Sheik stands in a corner for the majority of the match holding onto the top rope. He dumps out Hillbilly Jim for the victory. Sgt. Slaughter makes things right by putting Sheik in the Cobra Clutch.
- Winner: The Iron Sheik at 3 minutes and 7 seconds.
- Match Rating: 0 / 10.
Triple H versus The Undertaker
- Motorhead ushers Triple H to the ring with his theme song. Leisurely paced match that just drags. A brutal spot also ruins things. Triple H pulls the sledgehammer out from the ringside area though the official yanks it out of his hands in the ring. Undertaker ends up laying out the official who oversells the injury laying unconscious in the ring for like ten minutes or more as Triple H and Undertaker brawl in the crowd to an electronic production area. As with most of the brawling in the stands at Wres tleMania X-Seven, we can see much of the action because there are too many people on the floor and the cameras can’t track the wrestlers. In a poor spot, The Undertaker chokeslams Triple H off a platform. When it happens live Triple H just disappears from view and the bump looks impressive. On the replay we see that he hits a comfy inflatable stunt bag below which cushions his fall. You have to wonder why they even bothered with the spot to begin with. Taker Tombstone Piledrives Triple H. The ref is still out. What? Did the guy get shot or something? Taker hoists Triple H up for the Last Ride. As he goes up, Triple H grabs the sledgehammer off the mat and bonks Taker in the head. Taker bleeds. A Last Ride and the ref slaps the three count on Hunter. Based on the outcome of this match it appears that The Undertaker is being readied for another WWF World Title run.
- Winner: The Undertaker at 18 minutes and 57 seconds.
- Match Rating: 4 / 10.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin (challenger) versus The Rock (Champion) (WWF World Heavyweight Title Match)
- Winner: …and new WWF World Heavyweight Champion….”Stone Cold” Steve Austin at 28 minutes and 7 seconds.
- Match Rating: 9 / 10.
- Total Event Time: 3 hours and 50 minutes.
- Overall Event Rating: 8 / 10.