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From the Bowery: WrestleMania 13

June 2, 2009 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
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From the Bowery: WrestleMania 13  

From the Bowery: WrestleMania 13
-March 23, 1997
-Chicago, IL

-After WrestleMania XII Shawn Michaels was the man in the WWF, but his run as champ wasn’t as successful as most hoped. Shawn was doing his best in the ring though as he had great match after great match. The main problem was Shawn’s reign was during the introduction of the n.W.o in WCW and that angle was helping WCW dominate the Monday Night Wars. While Shawn kept stealing the show in the Main Event, Steve Austin was catching on with fans, and a rivalry with Bret Hart was turning Austin into a Main Event star. Rumors flew that Hart/Michaels II was set for WrestleMania 13, but Shawn lost his smile/injured his knee/didn’t want to do the job, and was out of the Main Event picture. The WWF opted to go with a battle of the big men with Sid and Taker and have Austin/Bret as the other top match. The results were hit or miss. I should also mention that the sub-title for this WrestleMania was Heat.

Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

4 Team Elimination Match: The Godwins vs. Furnas and Lafon vs. The New Blackjacks vs. The Headbangers

-The added stipulation here was that the winning tag team received a title shot on RAW the following night. The New Blackjacks would be Barry Windham and Bradshaw. All 8 men brawl before the opening bell, and things finally settle down to Henry and Bradshaw. A clothesline drops Bradshaw to the mat, and Henry makes the tag to Thrasher. A blind charge runs square into a boot from Bradshaw. He follows up with a pump handle slam before tagging out to Phinneas. He controls with a backdrop, and decides to tag in Mosh. Now we have a battle between the two Headbangers. They decide to slam dance much to the delight of the crowd. Lafon gets tagged in and eats a double team flapjack. Windham gets a tag and has a go with Lafon. He does the smart thing and tags in his own partner, Furnas. He pops the crowd with a hurricanrana, but Windham quickly turns the tide. Bradshaw returns and he blows a suplex to the floor. The Blackjacks and Furnas/Lafon brawl on the floor. Bradshaw shoves the ref, and gets his team disqualified. While that went on Furnas and Lafon were counted out leaving us to just two teams. What a pretty crappy way to get rid of two teams. Phinneas controls with a suplex and makes the tag to Henry. He clubs away in the corner, and they screw up a corner spot. Henry gets a little pissed at the mistake and fires off a stiff shot. Phinneas comes back and he spits on Thrasher. He returns in kind, and they exchange right hands. Henry gets another tag, but Thrasher is able to make the tag to Mosh. Henry clotheslines Mosh to the floor, and his momentum takes him over as well. Mosh springboards off the middle rope over the top rope and delivers a crossbody to Henry on the apron. Thrasher heads up top and gets launched by Mosh to the floor on Henry. Nice! The Bangers continue to control with more double team moves, and it gets the crowd back into the match. A moonsault misses and Phinneas gets the tag. He cleans house on both Bangers, and sends Mosh to the floor. He sets up for the slopdrop, but things break loose. All four men brawl and in the chaos Mosh flies off the top with a seated senton for the pin at 10:39 to a rather nice pop from the crowd.

Winners: The Headbangers via Mosh pin on Phinneas at 10:39
-This was a pretty bland match to start things off for the biggest show of the year. The crowd was behind the Bangers when they started to fire off their unique offense, but this was still one of the worst openers in Mania history. *1/2

Intercontinental Championship: Rocky Maivia © vs. The Sultan w/ The Iron Sheik and Bob Backlund

-The Greatest IC Champ off All Time, The Honky Tonk Man joins the announce team for this match. The Sultan as most know would be Rikishi doing your standard foreign menace character. Rocky had been shoved down the fans throats and the backlash was already starting at this point. I am already annoyed as Vince and JR have said “WWF” about 5 times a piece, so it keeps getting muted. The Rock tries to get the crowd on his side, but they aren’t really in the mood for that right now. A kip up from the Rock sets up a charging clothesline, and a few dropkicks. Those send the Sultan to the floor to regroup with the two former WWF champs in his corner. The “Rocky Sucks” chants start as they fight on the floor. The Rock makes a mistake on the floor and the Sultan takes over once they get back in the ring. The offense of the Sultan consists of some karate chops and a few boots. He varies things up with a clothesline, and that gets a two count. He locks in a Vulcan (Go Cal!) nerve hold to kill the crowd even more. The Sultan heads to the top and drops a headbutt to pop the crowd. The Sultan actually gets a nice roar from the crowd as he continues to kill the rookie. He sets too early on a backdrop, but it doesn’t come back to bite him as he hits a belly to belly suplex. Things drag down some more with a chinlock. The best part of this match so far has been Honky and the King burying Rocky on commentary. Good times! A few people in the crowd rally Rocky and we get the double clothesline spot. Rocky starts to Hulk-up, I guess, and fires off some dropkicks. He hits his own belly to belly for a two count. He ducks a clothesline and floats over for the DDT. A people’s elbow would usually follow, but he’s not that awesome yet. Instead he heads up top and hits the crossbody. There’s no count though as the Sheik distracts the ref. Rocky goes to check on the ref, and the Sultan kills him with a superkick. He follows up with a swank piledriver, but it only gets two. He goes for a scoop slam, but Rocky pushes off and gets a roll-up for the win at 9:45. JR tries to get a word with Rocky after the match, but he gets attacked by the Sultan. He comes off the top with a splash, and the Sheik locks in the camel clutch. Rocky Johnson comes down for the save. He gets cracked with the Iranian flag to many boos. A massive USA chant, and the Rock gets to his feet to save his father. The loudest pop comes when the Sheik gets slammed.

Winner and Still IC Champ: Rocky Maivia via pin at 9:45
-To recap Rocky won the match with a fluke roll-up and had to be saved from a beating by his father. Wonder why the crowd didn’t buy into him? The match wasn’t very good as the Rock was still green. The Sultan fired off some nice moves, but wasn’t enough to carry the Rock at this point. *1/2

-Todd Pettengill interviews Ken Shamrock. He was making his WWF debut as the special ref for Austin/Hart. We get footage of him abusing Billy Gunn on RAW. Good stuff!

-Dok Hendrix interviews HHH. He was just paired with Chyna shortly before this and she was the thing that finally gave HHH enough heat to get noticed.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/ Chyna vs. Goldust w/ Marlena

-The history here is that Chyna made her debut at the last PPV (In Your House: Final 4) when she attacked Marlena. Goldust had turned face since Mania XII and allusions that he was gay were dropped. Instead they were all mind games and he was outed as being with Marlena. That all culminated on a famous episode of RAW where Lawler asked Goldust if he was a queer. He answered no and then decked Lawler. Goldust plays mind games to start to throw Hunter off his game. He fires away with right hands, and hits his patented uppercut. Hunter gets the ten count punch treatment in the corner. Goldust hits an atomic drop, and sends Hunter to the floor with a clothesline. He slides through the ropes to deliver another punch, and that gets Hunter tied in the ropes. He is easy pickings for the Golden One, and he boots him in the balls. Goldust sets too early on a backdrop and pays by getting rammed into Hunter’s knee. He doesn’t stay down for long though as he snaps off a powerslam. They fight on the top rope, and Hunter tries a super-plex, but Goldust blocks. Hunter regroups though and drops Goldust off the top onto the apron face first. Nice! Hunter unzips the body suit of Goldust to make his chops more effective. Hunter stomps a mud hole in the corner, and then fires Goldust from corner to corner. A neckbreaker gets a two count. HHH’s boring offense continues as he was still trying to find out what worked best for him at this time. He goes to the abdominal stretch, and Jim Ross kills time by talking about Wilbur Snyder. Things get moving again and Goldust runs flush into a high knee that gets another two count. Helmsley gets several two counts on the mat, but Goldust breaks with a knee to the balls. Hunter doesn’t sell that for long though and drops a knee. Goldust starts to egg on the crowd and they respond for a few seconds. After that we get dead silence once again. Goldust fires off with some right hands, but makes the mistake off setting too early again and eats a DDT. They fight over a backslide and it ends with Goldust getting a two count. He gets another two count off a small package. Hunter kills the momentums with a clothesline. Goldust bounces back with a crossbody for a two count. They two men collide center ring to leave them both down for the ten count. Hunter heads up top, but gets hit with Goldust’s backside on the way down. A charge in the corner misses for Hunter, and both men sell the beating they’ve taken. Goldust goes back to the right hands, and someone finally gets the elusive backdrop on this show. Hunter pinballs out of the corner and a bulldog gets a close near fall for Goldust. Chyna starts stalking Marlena on the floor. Goldust goes for the Curtain Call, but Hunter reverses to the Pedigree, which is reversed back to the Curtain Call. Goldust sees Marlena is in trouble though and pulls her up to the apron. Hunter delivers a knee to Goldust and that sends Marlena flying into the arms of Chyna where she gets rag dolled. Hunter finishes things with the pedigree at 14:29.

Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley via pin at 14:29
-Just another step for Helmsley as he was starting to get a push to the upper midcard. The match itself was pretty boring at times, but was perfectly acceptable wrestling at other times. **

WWF Tag Titles: Owen Hart © and The British Bulldog © vs. Mankind and Vader w/ Paul Bearer

-They were teasing tension between the Bulldog and Owen. The pot was stirred more when the Bulldog defeated Owen in the finals to crown the 1st European Champion. The breakup was put on hold though, and they opted to go with an infinitely superior storyline. Vader and Mankind were the charges of Paul Bearer, and were given this title shot. That makes this a heel/heel dynamic, which usually doesn’t generate a hot crowd. Vader and Owen get the start for their teams, and that goes badly for Owen. He gets caught in the corner and mauled by the big man. Owen quickens the pace, but can’t drop Vader with a clothesline. A spinwheel kick does the job though. He gets too cute and tries a crossbody, which ends about as well as expected. Owen tries for a hurricanrana, but Vader casually kills him with a powerbomb. Vader sets up for the Vader Bomb, but Bulldog stops that. All four men brawl, and Owen dropkicks both men at the same time. Mankind and Bulldog do battle when things finally settle down. The crowd seems to be behind the Bulldog and Owen. The Bulldog shows off the power with the delayed suplex on Mankind, and then hits a standard suplex on Vader. The Bulldog gets low bridged by Vader and ends up on the floor. He gets blasted by Paul Bearer’s urn, and it gives Mankind the chance to make the tag. Vader returns the suplex to Bulldog, but it only gets a two count. An Irish whip to the corner ends with Vader splashing the piss out of the Bulldog. A middle rope splash gets a two count. Mankind gets back in the ring and pounds away on the Bulldog in the corner. The running knee in the corner follows, and after a backdrop, Vader gets the tag back into the match. Vader gets slammed off the middle rope, and the tag is finally made to Owen. He drops Vader with a top rope dropkick, and gets a two count off a top tope crossbody. Vader is just too damn strong though and drops Owen with a shoulder. Vader and Mankind actually do a version of the Demolition Decapitation on the floor from the apron. Nice! Owen continues to get his ass beat on the floor right in front of Stu and Helen Hart. That gives Lawler the chance to fire off his laundry list of jokes. I always appreciated the fact he kept that feud simmering. It was a great character touch for Lawler. Back inside the ring they botch a corner spot, but Owen covers with a spinwheel kick. Mankind does the smart thing and makes the tag to Vader. He continues to dominate as Owen is your two time slammy winner in peril. Owen escapes a suplex, and hits another spinwheel kick. It doesn’t do him much good though as Vader just simply drops an elbow. The tag is made to Mankind and he fights with Owen on the floor. Mankind charges and Owen drops him with a belly to belly. One enziguiri later the hot tag is finally made to the Bulldog. Mankind gets tossed over the buckle and hits his head on the post. Bulldog tries for the powerslam, but Mankind turns that into the mandible claw. All four men brawl, and it ends with the Bulldog and Mankind on the floor where they are counted out at 16:09.

Double Count-out at 16:09
-That is a shitty ending to decent tag match. The crowd was more alive than I thought, and they worked the tag formula well. The ending sucked a fat one, and really took away from the match though. **

-They show the awesome video package detailing the history of Austin/Hart. This is just great, and watching it now after Montreal only adds to it.

Submission Match: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin
-Special Ref: Ken Shamrock

-They debut the kick ass shattering glass entrance for Austin here. Vince never mentions the UFC, but instead keeps calling it the Ultimate Fighting World. The crowd is pretty split as the match starts, but that would change shortly. No lock-up or stare down here as they just beat the hell out of each other to start the match. The fight heads to the floor, and they don’t let up one bit. Austin gets posted, but Bret gets dropped on the guard rail crotch first. Advantage Austin I would say. They fight over the railing and head through the crowd. This is just an intense, hate filled brawl and we are only two minutes into the match. Bret gets tossed into the hockey boards, but he fires back with some right hands. They head off the arena floor and up the steps through the crowd. Austin tries a piledriver, but gets back dropped down a few of the stairs. Ouch! They work back through the crowd, and make it back to the ringside area. Bret comes off the rail with a forearm as the crowd is popping like crazy. They haven’t seen anything yet. Austin regains the advantage after firing Bret into the ring steps. Austin flips him off, and hits a clothesline from the ring apron. Austin tries to use the steps, but Bret is able to land a boot to the mid-section. Now it’s Bret’s turn to get posted. They finally end up back in the ring, and Austin is in control. He makes the mistake of setting too early, and Bret snaps off a neck breaker. Vince says Bret will have an excuse if he loses this match. Awesome! Bret smartly goes after the injured knee of Austin and targets the big ass knee brace. Smart plan, I’d say. Austin gets out of the way off a move and snaps off the Stunner. It does no good though since there are no pin falls. Austin can’t capitalize though, and Bret locks in the ring post figure four to a huge pop. I appreciate the constant trash talking between the two as it adds to the hatred of the match. Bret grabs the ring bell, but stops because a chair looks better. He tries to Pillmanize the ankle, but he basically gave Austin a weapon and that’s never a smart move. Austin kills Bret with two chair shots much to the crowd’s delight, and now he is in control. He works the injured back of Bret with a snap suplex. JR mentions this match isn’t about posing or covering a bald spot. Funny that the man he is talking about ended up getting a run as the WWE champion years after the Austin and Hart had their last reigns. Austin sinks in a Boston crab to continue the damage on the back. Bret is able to get to the ropes, but that shouldn’t matter. Shamrock makes Austin break though. Austin decides to be a smart ass and go for the sharpshooter, but Bret breaks. Lawler says it would be great if Bret had to give up to his own move, and Vince mentions that it could happen. Damn and Montreal was still 7 months away. The brawl heads back to the floor and Austin gets whipped into the guard rail. This is where his head gets split, and we got some blood flowing now. Bret continues to be a merciless bastard as he pounds away at the open wound. The crowd pops huge at the site of the massive blade job. Bret starts to go through his patented Five Moves of Doom, but decides to grab a chair instead of applying the sharpshooter. He kills the knee of Austin with the chair and now goes for the sharpshooter. Austin is able to stop that with a rake to the face, and a well placed kick to the balls stops Bret cold. Bret takes his trademark corner bumps, and Austin stomps a mud hole in the corner. He gives Bret the double bird, and sets hip on the top rope for the superplex. That leaves both men down as Austin is now wearing the crimson mask. Austin recovers first and grabs some electrical cord. He starts choking Bret, but the ring bell comes into play as Hart clobbers Austin. Now we get the sharpshooter and one of the most famous finishes in wrestling history. Austin fights off the sharpshooter while the blood pours down his face and into his mouth. Sweet! The crowd has lost their minds at this point as Austin starts to fade. A massive Austin chant gives him a rush of adrenaline and he is able to power out, or so it seems. Hart still has the hold applied and just sits right back down. Shamrock keeps checking on Austin, but he won’t submit. Finally he passes out and Shamrock has no choice but to stop the match at 22:05. McMahon puts Austin over as the gutsiest man he’s ever seen. We aren’t done yet though because Bret isn’t finished. He attacks the knee to major boos from the crowd. Shamrock tosses Bret to a huge pop and the crowd wants to see them go. Bret says hell with that and walks away to a loud chorus of boos from the crowd. Austin gets medical attention, but is having none of that and stuns a ref. He walks out under his own power to a great reaction from the crowd, and that’s your double turn.

Winner: Bret Hart via ref stoppage at 22:05
-Really what can you say about this match that hasn’t already been said? This is by far one of the most historic matches in wrestling history with one of the most famous finishes ever. This is the match that made Steve Austin, and started the downfall of Bret Hart (though nobody knew it at the time). Just an intense, hate filled classic that goes down as one of the greatest matches ever. *****

Chicago Street Fight: The Nation of Domination vs. Ahmed Johnson and The Legion of Doom

-This would be the culmination of the Ahmed Johnson/Faarooq feud that started the previous summer. The Nation here is the original group of Faarooq, Savio Vega, and Crush. They are also accompanied to the ring by PG-13, Clarence Mason, and a bunch of other nameless members. One of those members would be D-Lo Brown. Ahmed needed 2 partners for this Street Fight and who better than hometown boys Hawk and Animal? In a cute bit the Hawk comes down to the ring with the kitchen sink, literally. Nice! Naturally, the LOD is over huge with the crowd. This is going to be a chaotic brawl, so we’ll see what I can keep up with. PG-13, Clarence, and the Nation interns get abused to start the match. The 3 members of the Nation finally get involved, and Faarooq uses a night stick on Animal. Ahmed flies over the guard rail with a plancha on Crush and then abuses him with a trashcan. Hawk opts to use a 2×4, but Savio smartly bails. Animal and Faarooq do battle on a table and we fucked up piledriver that misses the table. How the hell did they did the table? A fire extinguisher gets set off on the floor, and back in the ring Savio uses the trashcan on Hawk. He sells for a few minutes and then says enough of this shit. He stuffs Savio in the can, and starts pounding away. Ahmed slams Faarooq through the French announce table. The extinguisher gets set off once again, and it makes things hard on Vince and company at the announce table. Clarence Mason and “that other guy” (as called by JR) use a rope to hang Ahmed. That other guy would be D-Lo. Ahmed escapes the use and goes after D-Lo, but Savio uses Marlena’s director’s chair to kill that noise. The two of them brawl on the floor while the LOD use a Horizon Stadium Parking sign to beat on Faarooq. Crush turns the tide with a wrench, and Faarooq decides to hang Hawk. He tries to come off the middle rope to the floor, but Hawk just yanks the rope and Faarooq takes a nice bump to the floor. Savio wears out anyone he can see with the night stick. PG-13 removes the noose for Faarooq as things start to slow down. Crush eats the Doomsday Device from the LOD and then gets blasted with a 2X4 to end things at 10:46. Post match D-Lo receives the Pearl River Plunge, and PG-13 receives the Doomsday Device.

Winners: Ahmed Johnson and The LOD via Hawk pin on Crush at 10:46
-An intense brawl and probably the best choice to follow the epic Austin/Hart match. It was kept short, and contained enough energy to keep things entertaining throughout. There was nothing really memorable, but it was a fitting way to end the Nation/Faarooq feud. **1/2

-Shawn Michaels limps (Ha!) down to the ring to join the announce team for our Main Event. In a moment that made me shit by pants as a teenage kid, Michaels flashes the Wolfpac sign to the camera, and I swore he was jumping ship to WCW and the n.W.o. Shawn gets a long entrance here complete with pyro, and Lawler’s rant about him wanting the spotlight over Sid and Taker is pretty awesome.

WWF Title: No Disqualification: Sid © vs. The Undertaker

-Not to be outdone by Shawn, Bret makes his way to the ring. Shawn goes off on a rant about Hart being resentful of not being in the Main Event! Wow, don’t even know where to go with that one. Bret calls Shawn and faker and tells him to go to the back to find his smile. I would much rather watch Shawn and Bret verbally abuse each other than this match. Bret gets lippy with Sid, and receives a powerbomb for his trouble. Sid tells him to take his whining ass to the back, and the crowd roars. Damn! Taker jumps Sid before the bell. Sid reverses a whip, but runs into a boot. Now Taker charges and hits a splash in the corner. A slam gets him a two count. Taker goes up top and delivers Old School. Lawler asks Shawn which is more painful the powerbomb or the tombstone because he has been in the ring with both men. That’s actually not true though as history has stated his first match with Taker was still 6 months away. The action in the ring grinds to a halt as Sid locks Taker in a bearhug. The hold starts to loosen, so Sid releases, delivers some blows to the back, and locks the hold back in again. He repeats the process again, but Taker breaks. He charges, but now he runs into a boot, and Sid clotheslines him to the floor. They brawl on the floor and Sid drops Taker through the Spanish table. Has been a bad night for the foreign announce teams. Sid continues the back work with a camel clutch, but it’s still pretty damn boring. Taker tries to fight back, but Sid catches him with a powerslam for a two count. Sid keeps going for the cover, but only gets two each time. Sid drops a leg, and Shawn seems to take a small dig at Hogan. Taker pops the crowd by ducking a clothesline and hitting his leaping clothesline. The fight heads back to the floor and Sid gets tossed over the rail. The trade blows before Sid gets sent into the stairs. Back in the ring Taker misses an elbow, and Sid slows the pace again with a chinlock. Not really sure why he stopped working on the pack, but we’ll just go with it. Taker starts fighting from below with body shots, and hits his own powerslam. Things slow down again (which is kind of scary for this match) as Taker locks in a nerve hold. Thankfully that doesn’t last long, and Sid gets clotheslined for a two count. In a unique spot at the time each man boots the other in the face, and it leaves them down for the count. Sid gets to his feet first and goes for the pin, but only gets two. Sid heads to the middle rope, and comes off with a double axe handle. He heads up again to the middle rope, and this time hits a clothesline. He tries one more time from the middle rope, but Taker catches him this time with a right hand. Sid starts heading to the top rope (??) this time, but Taker slams him off before he can presumably snap his leg. Now Taker heads to the tope and hits the flying clothesline for a two count. Taker calls for the Tombstone, but Sid reverses to his own. He drills Taker with the Tombstone, but it only gets two. Sid is pissed and decides to fire Taker to the floor. Things pick up as Bret Hart comes down with a chair and he waffles Sid. Lawler points out the hypocrisy of Michaels calling Bret out for needing the spotlight. Props to the King for that one. Back inside the ring Taker drops Sid with a chokeslam for a hot near fall. The crowd was buying that one. Sid ducks another attempt at the flying clothesline and he sets up Taker for the powerbomb. Bret comes back again, and distracts Sid. That leads to Taker getting the Tombstone for the win and WWF title at 21:22.

Winner and New WWF Champion: The Undertaker via pin
-This was all kinds of boring as they had to fill over 20 minutes and couldn’t. This would have been fine if they cut out some of the rest holds and gone only 15 minutes like Diesel/Taker did a year earlier. The ending sequence was pretty good, and Shawn added some entertainment on commentary, so all was not lost. *1/2

1) IC Title: Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat *****
2) Submission Match: Bret Hart vs Steve Austin *****
3) Career vs Career: Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior *****
4) IC Title: Ladder Match: Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels *****
5) WWF Title: Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage ****3/4

The 411: This is a one match show, and that one match can be found on other DVDs. Just a boring show that showed why WCW was ruling the roost as the WWF had no real direction. That would all change shortly however.
Final Score:  5.8   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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Robert Leighty Jr.

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