WrestleMania 16: The McMahon Helmsley era begins
Hello everyone, and welcome to yet another edition of WrestleMania Rewind. This is the part where I tell you that I dedicate three hours of my not so busy life a day to watch the previous WrestleManias, so that I can give my reviews, thoughts and analysis of the PPV. Last edition I covered was WrestleMania 15, where Steve Austin won the WWF title with a little help from Mankind, thus overcoming the odds that Vince McMahon and the Corporation had set for him. Austin had defeated the Rock who had aligned himself with Vince’s Corporation, and became the face of the WWF once again by claiming the WWF title.
After the PPV, the big story in the coming months involving Austin and McMahon was McMahon claiming he was ‘The Higher Power’ than the Undertaker and his Ministry of Darkness. This led to the formation of the Corporate Ministry, as they tried to take on Steve Austin and finish McMahon’s job. Now, WrestleMania 16 was different from WrestleMania 15 in two ways. One was that Steve had to undergo his neck surgery, and was written off from TV with the infamous ‘Running him down’ angle (And what followed was a stupid ‘I did it for the Rock’ line by Rikishi). The other was that the Undertaker didn’t take part in this WrestleMania, as he was injured as well.
The main feud going into the event was between Triple H and the Rock. Steph had turned against her father at Armageddon, aligning herself with her on-screen ‘husband’, Triple H. This led to Vince being in the Rock’s corner, who had won the Royal Rumble to earn the right to face the WWF Champion at WrestleMania. But for some illogical reasons, the powers that be (Creative..psst) had thought a 4-way elimination would be the way to go. This match now also included Big Show with Shane in his corner and Mick Foley, with Linda in his corner. The other big match saw Kurt Angle, who was the WWF IC and the European Champion taking on Chris Jericho and the superstar formerly known as Chris Benoit in a two fall triple threat match for both the championships. Another interesting thing about this WrestleMania was that there was only one singles match. I am almost in pain at the thought of that.
This WrestleMania came to Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California. The card had also featured a Triangle Ladder match for the WWF tag team championship between the Dudleys, E & C and the Hardyz. This was the beginning of a boom in tag team division in the WWF, and also featured the WrestleMania debuts of future stars like Edge, Christian, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero and a certain Chris Benoit. Anyway, without further ado, let us jump in right into the action.
Lillian Garcia opened with the American National Anthem (I love her voice).
The Big Boss Man and Bull Buchanan defeated The Godfather and D’Lo Brown (With Ice-T and The Godfather’s ho**)
This is the time when I miss WrestleManias like WrestleMania X, which had a 5-star opening match. This match was just a filler, and a way for the WWF to push Bull Buchanan. The match went for over 7 minutes, and the end came when BBM delivered a Side walk slam to D-Lo, and Bull delivered a leg drop off the top for the pin and the win. Bad opening bout which the crowd didn’t really care about.
Hardcore Battle Royal for the WWF Hardcore title: Hardcore Holly defeated Crash Holly, Tazz, Viscera, Joey Abs, Pete Gas, Rodney, Taka Michinoku, Funaki, Mosh, Thrasher, Bradshaw and Faarooq to become the new WWF Hardcore Champion
Another over kill of a match. It got around 15 minutes. The match followed Hardcore rules, which is for the 15 minutes time limit, where any number of pins can be done. That is, if a guy won the match in 4 minutes, anyone else can pin the champion, and the same would follow until the full 15 minutes. It had a lot of shots to the head; that’s the one thing I never liked about, hard open shots to the head which were unprotected. No wonder many suffered concussions and other types of injuries. Anyway, Crash had the second last pinfall, and as the 15 minute time limit was about to end, his cousin, Hardcore Holly smashed a bottle on his head and pinned him to become the new WWF Hardcore Champion. Horrible match, and the crowd popped for only certain parts in the match. I won’t blame them. It was an overkill.
T & A (Test and Albert with Trish Stratus) defeated Head Cheese (Al Snow and Steve Blackman with Chester McCheeserton).
Chester McCheeserton. What an awful gimmick. This was the time when Trish debuted in the WWF, while managing Test and Albert (And the team was called T & A. Get it? No? Never mind). They were facing the team of Snow and ‘The lethal weapon’ Steve Blackman. Their team was called the ‘Head Cheese’. Who comes up with these awful names? Anyway, the match got about 7 minutes, and the crowd was only cheering for Trish (And I don’t blame them). The end came when Chester started following Trish which distracted Blackman. Albert took advantage and hit a Gorilla Press, followed by a big flying elbow by Test for the pin and the win. Awful match once again. Will this WrestleMania have a singles match? Sadly, there’s only one, and that’s the divas’ match.
Edge and Christian defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) and The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff) in a Triangular Ladder match for the WWF tag team championship
The match I’d been waiting for. Before the invention of Tables, Ladders and Chairs (TLC) match, this was the match that showed what these three teams were capable of. The match involved some iconic spots too, like the huge Swanton by Jeff onto Bubba Ray. What a tremendous performance by all the teams! These were high risk moves, and arguably saved the first half of the PPV. A huge leap by Christian from the top of the ladder to the floor was also pretty awesome to watch. The match got about 23 minutes and the end came when E & C shoved Matt from the ladder onto a table, and climbed up to get the tag team belts. Awesome stuff.
Terri Runnels (With The Fabulous Moolah) defeated The Kat (With Mae Young) in a cat fight with Val Venis as the special guest referee for the WWF Women’s championship
There was no Sable or Debra and Kat was the centre of attraction. No point in concentrating on the match. The abysmal match ended when Terri pinned Kat in under 3 minutes. Thank god that got over. Oh, and there was a Bronco buster by Mae to Moolah too.
Too Cool (Grand Master Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty) and Chyna defeated The Radicalz (Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko) in a 6 person inter-gender tag team match
The story was that Eddie was hitting on Chyna. Yes, that’s the only story the match had. After the awesome Radicalz debut on RAW, this was what they were fighting for at WrestleMania. Horrendous booking, although Malenko was the Light Heavyweight Champion. The match had three solid workers in the Radicalz, and it got about 10 minutes. The end came when Chyna powerslammed Eddie and then pinned him for the win. Average match.
Chris Benoit defeated Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho for the WWF IC title and Chris Jericho defeated Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit for the WWF European title in a two fall triple threat match
Going into the match, Angle was the WWF IC and European Champion and both his titles were on the line. There would be two matches, one for the IC title and the other for the European title. A good match between the three gifted athletes, but nowhere near their calibre. The match consisted of three of the best technical wrestlers in the history of the business, so the match was well below their standards. Anyway, the first fall saw Chris Benoit hitting his Swandive headbutt on Jericho, thus pinning him to win the WWF IC title. The second fall saw Jericho hitting his Lionsault on Benoit for the pin and to win the WWF European title. The match went for about 14 minutes, and Angle wasn’t involved in either of the pins, but he lost both his titles. Those are the stipulations in a triple threat match. Good bout, but nothing close to what these guys were capable of, or would deliver later in their careers.
Rikishi and Kane (With Paul Bearer) defeated D-Generation X (X-Pac and Road Dogg with Tori)
Two guys from DX faced off against Rikishi and Kane. This was the point where X-Pac had betrayed Kane, and so did Tori. It wasn’t more of a match as much as furthering the angle between Pac and Kane. The match lasted for about 4 minutes. The end came when Kane hit Pac with a Tombstone piledriver for the pin and the win. After the match, Too Cool came down and danced with Rikishi, along with the San Diego Chicken. Last year, Pete tried to attack Kane dressed as the Chicken. Kane went after it, but this time it wasn’t him. Instead, Pete tried to attack Kane from behind with a baseball bat. Rikishi took away the bat, and Kane give him a Choke Slam. Paul did a crotch chop over Pete. Rikishi then gave him a stink face. The baseball legend, Pete Rose everyone! Meh.
Triple H (With Stephanie) defeated the Rock (With Vince), Mankind (With Linda) and Big Show (With Shane) in a 4-way elimination match for the WWF Championship
An over kill of a match where Show and Mankind were thrown in just because they wanted the whole McMahon family involved somehow. Show was eliminated first within the starting 5 minutes of the match. What was his purpose in the match again? As always, Mick took some insane shots and some good bumps, but was eliminated next around the 20 minute mark. This was after Foley had retired, so there was no point in bringing him back. Oh well, down to the main two people.
During the match, a brawl broke out between Shane and Vince, and the match actually stopped. Why? Because even Hunter and Rock wanted to see the McMahons fight. An insane chair shot to the head by Shane to Vince busted him open. Wow! Which Billionaire would do that? Anyway, Shane tried to interfere, but was taken out. Vince came back running down and threw Shane out. Vince grabbed a chair, and as it looked like he would deck Hunter with it, he turned around and smacked the Rock. There’s your swerve everybody. Hunter covered, but Rock kicked out at two. Vince decked the Rock once more, and this time it was enough as Hunter pinned Rock to retain his WWF title. After the match, Steph embraced her father. Really, who writes this nonsense? Oh, I know, anyway. Rock came back to give a Rock bottom to Shane, then one to Vince, and the last to Steph! Hunter was thrown out, and Rock hit the People’s Elbow on Steph! Crowd went crazy for that. The night ended with Rock standing tall over Steph. Where were the women’s activists then? A good match which set up the McMahon Helmsley Era in the WWF.
Analysis: *** ¼ (Out of 5 stars)
It was an above average PPV. Austin’s absence was so evident here, along with Undertaker’s. The end saw the beginning of one of the more dominant eras in the WWF. The PPV had its ups and downs. Mostly downs, but a couple of really good matches saved the PPV. Well, that does it from me for this edition. Join us next time as we continue to look back at the previous editions of WrestleManias, as we reach closer to this year’s WrestleMania.
Read the rest of the WrestleMania rewind series here