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WrestleMania 17: The beginning of the end

Image Courtesy: blog.americansoda.co.uk

Hello folks, and welcome once again to yet another edition of WrestleMania Rewind. I have to say, it’s been a happy two week period for me, as I’ve been going through all the previous editions of WrestleManias to give my reviews, thoughts and analysis of the PPVs, and even though some of them have been horrendous to say the least, looking back brings up some fond memories, as well as the opportunity to look back at some of the true classics. Whether it is the Steamboat – Savage match, or the Harts’ match at WrestleMania 10, I’ve absolutely enjoyed myself with recapping them.

Saying that, last time, we saw the beginning of the McMahon – Helmsley Era, when Triple H defeated Rock, Show and Mankind with the help of Stephanie and Vince McMahon. The last WrestleMania also missed two guys who’d be back for this edition of WrestleMania: Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Undertaker. This WrestleMania is remembered for so many reasons; it is considered to be the best WrestleMania till date (We’ll see if it’s true as we go along). This year in wrestling was also pivotal in the pro wrestling history, as Vinnie Mac bought out his competition, WCW. This WrestleMania is also considered to be the start of the end of the Attitude Era (we’ll know why soon).

WrestleMania 17 came to us from Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas. A record breaking attendance of nearly 68,000 people were present at the Astrodome, and the ticket sales grossed about 3.5 million dollars! And you wouldn’t be surprised if you knew what the main event was. Going into the event, the main feud was between two bitter rivals, and the pioneers of the Attitude Era, Austin and The Rock. Austin was gone for most part of 2000, because of his neck surgery, which took 9 months out of his career. Austin won the 2001 Royal Rumble, thus winning the Rumble match a record third time, and earning the right to face the champion at WrestleMania. Rock won the WWF title from Kurt Angle, and their feud escalated when Vince ordered Austin’s then real life wife, Debra, to be the Rock’s manager, with Austin warning Vince and Rock that he would take them down if something happened to Debra. Debra was hurt during Rock’s match with Angle, and Austin ran down to protect her, and ended up stunning Rock. The next week, Rock returned the favour by giving Austin the Rock Bottom. This intensified their feud going into the mega event.

The next big feud going into WrestleMania was between Triple H and the Undertaker. Undertaker had missed the previous WrestleMania due to an injury, and had returned as the American Badass. After beating Austin at No Way Out, Triple H said he should main event WrestleMania as he had defeated everyone. Undertaker took an exception to this, saying Triple H had never defeated him before in singles competition. This sparked a feud between the two, with Kane and Big Show involved. This set up their match at WrestleMania, along with Kane’s rivalry with the Big Show.

Just a few days before WrestleMania 17, reports emerged that Vince had bought WCW. This would further the storyline animosity between Vince and his son, Shane McMahon, who went against his dad for Vince’s treatment of his wife, Linda, and Trish Stratus. This culminated in their match at WrestleMania, with Mick Foley as the special guest referee. This WrestleMania saw Paul Heyman at the announcer’s table along with Jim Ross. I love Paul, he’s one of the best heel announcers, and as the show went on, he had great chemistry with Jim Ross. Also, this WrestleMania ran for 4 hours, and has been running for that amount of time after this. Great, I was wondering what I could do with that one hour I get to sleep on. Anyway, now since we’re done with the background of the event, let us jump right into the action.

Under card:

Chris Jericho defeated William Regal for the WWF Intercontinental title

The very first match of the evening saw two of my all time favourites. I love it when the show opens with a solid match. Jericho and Regal are two of the finest technical wrestlers you can ever see, and the match also involved a lot of intensity, in-ring action and psychology. The end came when Jericho hit Regal with a facebuster, and then the Lionsault for the pin and the win. The match got just under 10 minutes, which I’m perfectly okay with. A very decent, solid opening bout. This gets me interested with the rest of the show.

Tazz and The APA (Bradshaw and Faarooq with Jacqueline) defeated Right to Censor (The Godfather, Val Venis and Bull Buchanan with Steven Richards)

Tazz was in his last days as a performer. I miss the old Tazz, who was a submission machine back in ECW. Anyway, getting back to the match, it was a basic tag team match. The Godfather was a part of RTC, which was a knock at all the over protective moms and parents, and he had changed his name to the ‘Goodfather’. Anyway, it was only a 5 minute match which was used as a filler. The end came when Bradshaw delivered his clothesline from hell to the Goodfather for the pin and the win.

Kane defeated Raven and The Big Show in a triple threat match for the WWF Hardcore title

“Quote the Raven”. I loved Raven’s character in ECW. It was dark and sinister like the Undertaker’s character, but a completely different version. He was the bad guy, Kane was the face going into the match. I explained the deal with Kane and Big Show, so that was how Show was included in the match. Show looked muscular at this point; he might have taken some pointers from Triple H. If you don’t understand, this was the point when Triple H was alleged to have been pumping up. Anyway, the match went for less than 10 minutes. It was a fun match, with the backstage antics along with golf carts. The end came when Kane came down on Show with an elbow for the pin and the win. The match was different from all the other matches, and so was a fun little period.

Eddie Guerrero (With Perry Saturn) defeated Test for the WWF European Championship

Eddie Guerrero was in the middle of his push in the WWF. So was Test. The match went for about 10 minutes, and was a way to put Eddie over. Saturn tried to interfere in the match, but was taken out by Test. The end came when Malenko ran out to interfere in the match and pull Test out, thus enabling Eddie to get the European title in the ring and hit Test with it for the pin and to win the WWF European Championship. A decent match that could have been way better if Eddie faced a decent worker.

Kurt Angle defeated Chris Benoit

The other member of the Radicalz faced Kurt Angle. This match was thrown in at the last moment, as Angle was the WWF Champ till No Way Out, and after he lost the title, he needed an opponent and Benoit answered the challenge. This is a dream match for all the wrestling fans. The match started with great mat wrestling, followed by brilliant counters. You have two of the best technical wrestlers in the history of professional wrestling, so you can bet on witnessing a classic. Great reversals followed by great counter reversals. Awesome display of chain wrestling by two greats who’d go into the WWE HoF soon. Wait, maybe not. Anyway, the match was given about 15 minutes, which saw Angle tapping out to the Crossface, but the ref was knocked out. The end came when Kurt rolled up Benoit with tights in his hands for the 3 count. An awesome display of wrestling, and a better match of theirs would follow at Royal Rumble 2003, which, in my book, is one of the best matches in the history of professional wrestling. Here we go with an awesome PPV from now.

Chyna defeated Ivory for the WWF Women’s title

Maybe I spoke too soon. This was the period when HHH was having an open affair with Steph, and that put Chyna on her own. The match was bad, and was given about 150 seconds, which I guess is a good thing. The match ended when Chyna gave Ivory a Gorilla Press for the pin and to win the WWF Women’s title.

Mid card:

Shane McMahon defeated Vince McMahon in a Street Fight with Foley as the special guest referee

Shane was the storyline owner of WCW, and he had come back to get his revenge on his father, who had humiliated his mom, and storyline-wise, drove her to the hospital and made her condition worse. Vince followed and then Foley. The match was slow to begin with, but then Steph came down. The story in the match would be memorable. Anyway, Shane put his father on the Spanish announcer’s table (Gracias el Table!), but missed with his huge leap from the top rope. Vince took control and Trish wheeled out Linda, and then Steph and Trish got into it. They fought all the way to the back, and Vince took control of the match. Then he put Linda in the ring, and started smacking Shane. Then, all of a sudden, Linda got up on her feet, which received great reaction from the crowd. This is when you know the story is great in a match. She kicked Vince in his jewels, as Foley decked Vince to get his own revenge. Shane gave a coast to coast to Vince for the pin and the win. Great story telling, although not a good match. But it concluded a great McMahon family angle, and the WCW guys were in the top box cheering Shane.

Edge and Christian defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) and The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff) in a TLC match for the WWF Tag team championship

Alright folks, gear up for another excellent TLC match. The first took place at Summerslam in 2000, but doesn’t mean this is any less important. The match received about 20 minutes in total, and there were some insane spots, like Christian flying out of the ring on to the floor. That bump must hurt like crazy. In the best spot of the match, Jeff was left hanging in mid-air while he was holding the titles when Edge gave him a spear off a ladder. Insane spot which drew great reaction from the crowd. The match neared the end when Bubba and Matt were shoved from the ladder onto stacked tables, which probably was the best bump in the match. Edge and Christian climbed up the ladder to get the tag titles. What an awesome bout! The best of the lot.

Iron Sheik defeated Luke & Butch Bushwhacker, Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, Earthquake, The Goon, Doink The Clown, Kamala, Kim Chee, Repo Man, Jim Cornette, Nikolai Volkoff, Michael PS Hayes, One Man Gang, Gobbly Gooker, Earthquake, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love and Sergeant Slaughter in the Gimmick Battle Royale

Jim Cornette was involved in the match, which I marked out for. Goon was also present, along with Kamala. It’s sad that Kamala’s legs have been amputated; my prayers and thoughts are with him. Anyway, it went only for about 3 minutes, and the finish saw Sheik winning it after eliminating Hillbilly Jim. After the match, Slaughter put Sheik in his Cobra Clutch, which received a big pop. A fun 3 minute event.

The Undertaker defeated Triple H

The second last match of the evening saw the Phenom taking on Triple H. Hunter came out first followed by Big Evil, to a very loud ovation. The match was an all out brawl between the two with great reversals. The ref got knocked down, and the two spilled the fight outside, with foreign objects getting involved. And oh, the ref was down for about 11 minutes. Wonder why no one came out to check on him. There should be a ref union for that. Anyway, the ref finally woke up when Taker shoved him after giving Hunter a tombstone, to which he kicked out. Hunter nailed Taker while going for a Last Ride with the sledge hammer, only for Taker to kick out at 2. The match lasted for nearly 19 minutes, when a bleeding Taker gave Hunter the Last Ride to go 9 – 0 at WrestleMania! Great brawl, and a great way to set up for the main event. Till this WrestleMania, this was Taker’s best match at the grandest stage, which wasn’t something he was proud of.

Main event:

Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Rock in a No DQ match for the WWF title

Finally, the big match came along. This was a no DQ match, so everything was legal. The two guys gave it everything, and had a great brawl. The match had great intensity, and I loved their feud till this point. This was hands down the best match in their feud. The idea was that Austin would do anything to win the title. That was what he said to JR in a back stage segment before the match. Anyway, the match was absolutely fantastic, with great reversals and counter reversals. Rock gave Austin stunners while Austin ‘Rock Bottom-ed’ the Rock. Austin, at one point, applied the Million Dollar Dream to the Rock, as well as the Sharpshooter. Both the men were bleeding, and Rock also applied the Sharpshooter to Austin. Shades of Austin/Hart. Great action till this point and the crowd was absolutely loving it, as they were going wild. All of a sudden, Vince came out to the boos and jeers from the crowd. Rock had delivered the People’s Elbow to Austin, but Vince pulled Rock off of Austin. A swerve, as Vince had aligned himself with his biggest nemesis, Austin. Austin came back with about 15 chair shots to the Rock, and after nearly half an hour, Austin pinned Rock to win the WWF Title as the crowd erupted.

Analysis: ***** (Out of 5 stars)

Yep, complete 5 stars. Best PPV in the history of the WWE (And the only other PPV which came close was MITB ’11). The best WrestleMania till then, and the best till date. Watching it once more showed how great the card was back in ’01, and it just got better with a couple of acquisitions from ECW and WCW. Austin had turned heel and aligned himself with the Devil, after feuding with him for more than 3 years. There was your surprise element, although Austin’s heel run sucked; people loved him too much. Anyway, the PPV had three 5 star matches, and was the beginning of the end of the Attitude Era, as Austin aligned with Vince and WCW went out of business. I’m glad I got to watch it once more. Anyway, that does it from me for now. Join us again as we continue looking back at previous WrestleManias, as we move towards WrestleMania 29.

Read the rest of the WrestleMania rewind series here

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