The Best and Worst Moment of WrestleMania 13
WrestleMania 13 saw WWE on the cusp of the Attitude Era as the aesthetics and moral sensibilities of the company were definitely under transition. It’s also an oddball ‘Mania that fell victim to relatively last minute changes. Most reports suggest that the intention was for Bret Hart to challenge Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship, and likely as not get his win back from the previous year’s main event.
However, when Michaels “lost his smile” the whole card felt the ripple effects. A less than inspiring Undertaker vs. Sid main event closed out the show for the world title, while Bret Hart and Steve Austin revisited an issue that had mostly seemed resolved months earlier. This article takes a look back at the best and worst of WrestleMania 13.
Best Moment: Bret Hart and Steve Austin execute the double turn
As referenced in the introduction, Bret Hart and Steve Austin had feuded and by all indications blown off their rivalry at Survivor Series 1996. Pushing them back together for the biggest show of the year felt a bit redundant and forced, not to mention that booking Austin into an I Quit Match when he wasn’t using many proper submission holds didn’t exactly come across as a fit.
Little could fans know the magic that was in store. Yes, Hart and Austin were both very good and had proven chemistry. But more than put on a strong match, the two executed the greatest double turn in wrestling history.
Capitalizing on the groundswell of fan support behind anti-hero Stone Cold, as well as fans beginning to organically turn on The Hitman, WWE brilliantly cast Hart as the relentless, whiny, generally unlikable heel for particularly the late stages of this match.
Though Austin lost, he never actually submitted, passing out instead to the Sharpshooter as he bled all over the ring, positioning him as a never say die, fight to the end rebel, on his way to becoming the best-liked star in the business.
Worst Moment: Rocky Maivia pins The Sultan
The idea of The Rock battling Rikishi at a WrestleMania doesn’t sound so out of place from historical hindsight. While Rock is clearly the bigger icon, Rikishi was nonetheless a key supporting player of the Attitude Era, and the kind of star who conceivably might have been a world champion had he hit his prime in a less stacked era for the WWE locker room.
What we got at WrestleMania 13, however, was The Rock as Rocky Maivia—a white meat babyface third generation star who worked hard and smiled compulsively. Opposite him stood The Sultan as a masked big man with evil heel foreigner undertones.
The match wasn’t necessarily bad, but felt like a dying gasp of the pre-Attitude WWE, stuck in old school thinking and casting guys in the wrong roles rather than letting them be themselves. It’s telling that, rather than The Rock getting a crowd response for himself, WWE instead leaned on his father making the save for him after the match.