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From the Bowery: WrestleMania X-Seven

September 1, 2009 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
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From the Bowery: WrestleMania X-Seven  

From the Bowery: WrestleMania X-Seven
-April 1, 2001
-Astrodome, Houston, TX

-This marked the first time in 9 years that the WWE returned to a stadium for WrestleMania. Many had hoped we would see the return of the kick ass ring carts to take the wrestling down the aisle, but it wasn’t to be. Since WrestleMania 2000, both the Undertaker and Steve Austin made their returns from various injuries. The immediate big money match for Mania was Rock vs. Austin, and after winning the 2001 Rumble, Austin was the #1 contender. A month later the Rock regained his WWF Title by defeating Kurt Angle in a fantastic match. That match feature the debut of psycho, wrestling machine, Kurt Angle, and his classic line: “tap or I’ll break your fucking ankle.” Everything on the under card came together well, and we had what looked to be a pretty stacked card. Add to all of this that the Monday Night Wars ended on 6 Days earlier when Vince bought WCW, and you quite possible the most mind blowing wrestling in the history of the business.

Commentators: Jim Ross and Paul Heyman
-Heyman joined the WWE shortly after the fall of ECW as a replacement for Jerry Lawler. The King bounced when he took The Kat’s (his girlfriend at the time) side in a dispute with the WWF. I think the inclusion of Heyman as Ross’ partner only adds to the surreal nature of this show.

Intercontinental Title: Chris Jericho © vs. William Regal

-This feud featured the classic moment of Chris Jericho pissing in the tea of Regal. What is it with Jericho feuding with guys over hot beverages? It also featured Jericho dressing as Doink the Clown to piss off Regal ever more. The crowd is pretty damn massive I must add, and the stage setup is pretty damn sweet as well. The two men circle to start, and Regal lays in a boot to get the advantage. Jericho fires back with a clothesline and a HBK like flying forearm. A spinning heel kick sends Regal to the floor, but Jericho follows with a slingshot crossbody to the floor. He throws Regal back in the ring and then comes off top with a flying back elbow. Jericho goes for the Walls, but Regal kicks him off into the buckles. Heyman has been playing up the fact Jericho is coming into the match with a damaged shoulder thanks to the Regal stretch. Sure enough, Regal sends Jericho into the post shoulder first. An overhand wristlock continues to put pressure on the shoulder. Regal gets dropped with a punch, but he is smart enough to block the lion-sault by raising his knees. Ever the evil bastard, Regal exposes the steel bolt in the corner, and sends Jericho shoulder first into the corner. Jericho has done a great job selling the damage even as he makes his comeback. He gets a two count off a second rope dropkick. He tries for a knee in the corner, but Regal was able to move. In a rather impressive spot Regal brings Jericho off the top rope with a double underhook suplex. Jericho is able to flip out of a suplex, and goes for the Walls, but his damaged shoulder keeps him from turning Regal. Awesome! Regal takes advantage by turning things into the stretch, but Jericho is able to crawl to the ropes. Irony rears its ugly head though as Regal gets sent into the exposed steel. That is the beginning of the end for Regal as a bulldog and lion-sault finishes things at 7:08.

Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho via pin at 7:08
-Decent, but short opener. They did as much as they could in 7 minutes and Jericho sold the hell out of the shoulder throughout. **3/4

-A Limo with a WCW license plate arrives, and Shane McMahon (the new owner of WCW) makes his appearance. Just as a wink-wink moment for WCW fans, it would have been boss if Shane arrived in a Hummer.

Right to Censor (w/ Steven Richards) vs. The APA (w/ Jackie) and Tazz

-The Goodfather, Val Venis, and Bull are the three men representing Right to Censor here. Big brawl to start with no opening bell, so Jackie gets involved by giving Val a DDT. Finally we get a bell and Faarooq controls Bull. He makes the tag to Tazz and fires off suplexes. Bull drops Tazz with a clothesline and it may have been that shot that gave Tazz a legit concussion in this match. He can’t even run the ropes properly at times because he is so out of it. To his credit (stupidity) he stays in the match and plays the face in peril role as best as possible. For all he did in ECW, it is pretty weird seeing Tazz in such a weak position. Bradshaw gets the hot tag and drops Venis with the fall away slam. The APA clean house while Tazz collects himself on the floor. Things break down and Bradshaw destroys the Goodfather with the clothesline from hell after a missed splash in the corner. That is enough to get the pin at 3:53.

Winners: The APA and Tazz via Bradshaw pin on The Goodfather at 3:53
-Energetic, but way too short to really have any meaning. The Tazz concussion kind of hampered things, and basically took him out of the match. *1/2

-Trish wheels in a sedated Linda, and they are greeted by Steph (wearing a “Daddy’s Little Girl” jumpsuit). She bosses Trish around and promises Vince will beat Shane’s ass.

WWF Hardcore Title: Raven © vs. Kane vs. The Big Show

-Just to clear some things, most people think Crash Holly has held the Hardcore Title more than anyone, but it’s actually my boy Raven. (The final count was Raven 27, Crash Holly 22, and Stevie Richards 22) The division actually had a brief resurgence with Raven holding the strap as he put on some damn fine brawls with Rhino among others. Raven brings down a shopping cart full of weapons, and he’s not waiting for Show as he jumps Kane with them. Show’s music hits and he is no hurry as Kane destroys Raven in the ring. Kane presses Raven over his head and tosses him onto Show. He casually catches him though, and Kane decides to come off the top to the floor on both men. Nice start! Raven tries to run as he is totally outmatched here, but Kane catches up to him. Heyman thinks Raven’s best strategy is to let the monsters kill each other and then dive in for the scraps. Sound strategy there, as Heyman has to put himself over because Ross isn’t helping him any. The brawl spills to the back of the arena, and Raven gets tossed into a wall. Show throws Raven into a storage area and locks Kane out, but the padlock doesn’t last long as Kane breaks through the door. The monsters brawl and Raven waits for his opportunity. He tries to choke Kane out with a garden hose, but he ends up getting choked and tossed through a plate glass window. Nice! Kane and Show brawl through a door, and then end up tumbling through a wall in another nice visual. Raven busts through a door and tosses a table on Show. He hops in a golf cart, but Show hops on, and the two crash into a nearby fence. Raven said in a shoot video that he came a few inches away from severing the power cord to the arena. In a surreal moment Kane hops into his own golf cart, and the ref hopes in because naturally, you need the ref there for the pin. Raven is a bloody mess from the window and he continues to bump his ass off for the other two. All three men end up back in the arena floor on the stage. Kane fires away shot after shot on Show, but one clothesline from Show turns the tide. Show presses Raven over his head, but a boot from Kane sends both men off the stage and through another section of the stage that was covered by plywood. Kane drops a leg off the stage onto Show and that gets the pin and title at 9:17.

Winner and New WWF Hardcore Champion: Kane via pin on Big Show
-This was a fun match with a decent story as Raven did all he could to survive what was basically a horror movie. Kane and Show did what they did, and Raven kept everything together with some crazy bumps. ***

-Edge and Christian try to cheer up Kurt with offbeat shenanigans, but he too focused on the fact that he “unofficially” tapped to Benoit.

WWF European Title: Test © vs. Eddie Guerrero (w/ Perry Saturn)

-Paul Heyman is my hero with his continued abuse of Texas. I miss heel commentators. Eddie tries to jump Test before the bell (cheat 2 win), but Test is prepared, and controls early. They fight to the floor, and that doesn’t go well for Eddie, so he heads back to the ring. He catches Test as he makes his way in, but Test quickly regains the advantage with a gorilla press slam for a two count. This is a classic match of power against speed, and in the early going it is Test’s power. Eddie goes for a top rope rana, but Test simply holds on to the buckle to counter. The tide turns as Test misses a boot and gets it caught in the top rope. The ref gets distracted by Eddie, and that gives Saturn the chance to lay in a few shots. Test is finally freed from the ropes, and Eddie targets the injured ankle. The focus now is the abuse that the ankle is taking from a pissed of Guerrero. Eddie jumps on to lock in a sleeper, and slowly Test fades enough for Eddie to control him on the ground. For some reason Eddie just breaks the hold, and it costs him as Test counter a whip into a tilt-a-whirl slam. The helicopter powerbomb gets a two count to a decent pop. I remember DDP busting that out in a match with Chavo at Fall Brawl 96, and the crowd lost their minds. Saturn jumps in and lays Test out with the moss-covered three-handled family credenza. Eddie hits a suplex, and goes for the frog splash, but Test moves. Eddie is a step ahead though and rolls through, but a boot from Test stops that. Saturn distracts again, and eats a boot. Eddie charges and eats the same boot. He goes for the cover, but Dean rushes down to pull Test out of the ring. This gives Eddie the chance to grab the European title and cheat to win said title with a belt shot at 8:06.

Winner and New European Champion: Eddie Guerrero via pin at 8:06
-This was better than expected as these two worked well together. The match was a little on the short side, but they had a perfectly acceptable wrestling match. **1/2

-Mick Foley discusses how he will be a fair ref for McMahon vs. McMahon later in the show.

-Austin arrives, and just his appearance gets one of the louder pops of the night.

Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

-One night on RAW Kurt complained he had nobody to fight at Mania. Benoit came out and said he didn’t have a match either, so here we are. I think that is lost sometimes in today’s wrestling world. These guys are pro-wrestlers and they are paid to wrestle no matter if they have a personal beef or not. Kurt draws some great heat as he makes fun of the Texans in the crowd and their cowboy hats. Mat wrestling sequence to start and the crowd is actually appreciative. Angle shoots for a takedown, and we get another intense mat sequence. Credit to the crowd as they are all for the mat wrestling. They trade reversals as Heyman does an awesome job of putting over that this is all about leverage in the early going. Once again it’s a stalemate on the ground. The crowd stays hot with a massive “Angle Sucks” chant. Benoit goes for the crossface, but Angle’s able to get to the ropes. Benoit nearly gets the crossface on a second attempt, but Angle squirms out and bails to the floor. Angle is getting mighty pissed as Benoit is winning the mat wars, so he blasts Chris with a right hand. Nice! They start to brawl on the floor and Benoit gets sent into the announce table and then into the ring steps. Sick bump there from Benoit as he took all the impact flush on his back. Back in the ring a suplex gets a two count for Angle. Another suplex, this time a belly to back, and that gets another count of two. Benoit starts firing back with some chops, but Kurt catches him with a sweet belly to belly. That worked so well the first time that Kurt decides to snap off another one. He looks for a third one it seems, but Benoit cuts him off with a clothesline. They start trading blows in the corner, and Benoit takes control after burying a knee into Kurt’s midsection. A reverse able gets a two count for Benoit. He snaps off a suplex, and that gets another near fall. They head up top where Benoit brings Angle down with the superplex, which gets another two count. Kurt takes the Bret bump into the buckle and stumbles back into the triple Germans, but Angle counters to the ankle lock before the series can be completed. Benoit rolls and gets his own version of the ankle lock, but Kurt is able to escape. Benoit snaps right back in to the crossface, but Angle is able to reverse to one of his own. The ref gets bumped and Angle taps to the crossface, but it means nothing when the ref is down. Benoit checks on the ref, and Kurt capitalizes with the Angle Slam. The ref crawls, but Benoit is able to kick out at two. Angle heads up top for the moonsault, but Benoit brings up the knees. Now Chris heads up top to deliver the flying headbutt, but Angle is able to kick out at two. Benoit goes back to the waist lock, but a low blow stops that. They trade a few holds, and it ends with Kurt getting a roll-up for the win with the use of the tights (all about leverage as Heyman said at the start of the match) at 14:02.

Winner: Kurt Angle via pin at 14:02
-Strong match here, but the ending was pretty crappy. These two would only get better the more they worked together. The opening mat sequence was refreshing, and they seemed to hit their groove just as things ended. ***1/2

-Benoit jumps Kurt backstage as he is being interviewed, and locks him in the crossface. Kurt made a strong point before being jumped as he stated “The better man won, so I don’t have to respect anyone.” Man’s got a point there.

WWF Woman’s Title: Ivory vs. Chyna

-This is such a total mismatch, and even the fans aren’t buying Ivory being on Chyna’s level. I mean she was holding the IC strap just a year earlier, and fighting people like Jericho. This would be her last Mania though as she felt she was worth more than they were paying her and wanted something similar to what Rock and Austin were getting. Seriously! Ivory is representing Right to Censor and she is royally fucked from the moment the bell rings. She does get in a cheap shot with the belt to the back of the neck (which was injured in earlier in the year). Chyna finally gets hold of Ivory and starts tossing her all over the ring. She stomps a mud hole in the corner. Hey, that’s for Austin later. Poor Ivory has to bump all over the place, and powerbomb looks to finish, but Chyna pulls her up at the count of two. Chyna delivers the Warrior gorilla press slam, and that is enough for the win and title at 2:37.

Winner and New Woman’s Champion: Chyna via pin at 2:37
-What else can be said: SQUASH

Street Fight: Vince McMahon (w/ Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley) vs. Shane McMahon

-Mick Foley is your special ref for this one. Quick recap as Foley was the commissioner at one point, but was fired by Vince. In a great bit of dues ex-machina, Foley claimed he signed several contracts that were approved before midnight on his last night on the job. One those contracts let him be the ref for any match at WrestleMania. Thus he picked this one. The story is that Vince has been keeping Linda sedated so he can screw around with Trish. Trish felt she was becoming the dominant female in the McMahon female, but that role belonged to Stephanie, and Vince put Trish back in her place. He did that by making her strip to her bra and having her crawl on all fours and bark like a dog. This was Heyman’s first night on RAW and he caught heat for saying, “Hey ma, I came to Washington, and I’m going to get to see Bush!” Tremendous! Shane was defending the honor of his sedated mom, and to add more gasoline to the fire, he slipped in through the back door to buy WCW from under his dad’s nose just 6 days earlier. This may actually be the best storyline involving the McMahon’s ever. Shane gives a shout-out to the WCW wrestlers in his skybox. Heyman is disgusted over the fact that WCW is in the building. Vince slaps Shane before the bell and then just stiffs the shit out of him with lefts and rights. Awesome! Sadly, the knees he throws in the corner don’t look as good. Shane comes back with a leaping clothesline, and Steph comes in the ring to save Vince. The brawl heads to the floor as Shane drops Vince with a baseball slide. He grabs a sign next to the rail and goes crazy with it as he beats the piss out of Vince. Shane jumps off the security wall with a clothesline, and then looks under the ring for some plunder. He finds his trusty kendo stick, and lays into his father. Shane starts to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee as he throws some rights and lefts. The Spanish announce table gets prepped, and you know this won’t end well for someone. Vince gets laid out on the table with a shot from a monitor. Shane heads up top, but the elbow misses as Steph pulls Vince out of the way. With both men down and out, Trish wheels the sedated Linda down to ringside. Trish helps Vince to his feet, and we get a payoff to that angle as she slaps Vince in the face. Steph has seen enough and we get one hell of a catfight. Foley just stands by and watches until Steph gets the underhand. She slaps Foley, and both he and Trish give chase. The two ladies brawl back up the aisle while Vince gains control back in the ring. Vince goes for Linda, but Foley cuts him off before anything can be done. Vince opts for a chair and Foley takes a sick shot to the head. Linda gets dragged into the ring, and Vince puts her in a chair in the corner. Shane gets tossed into the ring as Vince brings garbage cans into play. After some abuse, Linda rises from her chair. Vince spreads his legs and Linda gets him in the balls. The crowd loses their fucking minds as Foley returns to beat the hell out of Vince. The running knee leaves Vince out cold in the corner. Shane than blows everyone’s minds as he breaks out the Van Terminator (or Coast to Coast, if you prefer) for the first time in the WWF. Clearly that’s enough for the pin at 14:12.

Winner: Shane McMahon via pin at 14:12
-This was overbooked all to hell, and that’s a good thing. They tied up quite a few storylines, and gave us a match with a lot of memorable moments. This match was all about story and spectacle and for that it more than delivered. ***1/2

TLC II: WWF Tag Titles: The Dudley Boyz © vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian

-JR and Heyman sound legitimately concerned about what will happen to these 6 men in this match. I don’t blame them for being concerned either. I’ll do my best to keep track off all the mayhem this match is sure to bring. Big ass brawl to start as Edge and Christian take the worst of the beating. Once they get disposed off the other two teams do battle. Both Dudleys get dropped with Poetry in Motion. E&C bring in some chairs to clean house, and then in a painful spot Matt gets hung in the tree of woe so that E&C can stand on his balls. Ouch! Edge starts to climb for the gold, but Matt recovers to stop him. Now he tries for the belts, but Edge stops him with a clothesline. Edge goes right back up, but Jeff comes out of nowhere to dropkick him off the ladder. Christian gets slammed, and the Hardys come off ladders with the legdrop/splash combo. The Dudleys return and Edge’s groin gets abused with “What’s Up.” Bubba tells D-Von to get the tables, and the crowd seems happy with that. Jeff gets caught by Bubba and the poor bastard gets powerbombed onto Edge through a table. The Dudleys set up a stack of tables on the floor instead of going for the titles. Idiots. Matt and Christian know what to do as they set up ladders in the ring. Three ladders get set up in the ring and the race is on as all six men climb. Everyone gets dropped off the ladders with Christian clearing the rope to the floor being the scariest off all the bumps. It still amazes me he is able to take that crazy ass bump without killing himself. Edge starts to climb, but Spike Dudley drops him with the Acid Drop. Christian takes one as well, but he gets put through a table on the floor. Rhyno now makes his appearance and he breaks Matt in half with a gore through a table set up in the corner. Lita makes her way down and in JR’s words, “jerks Edge off……the ladder.” The pause on that is awesome considering what we would know just a few years later. Rhyno eats a Doomsday Device, and Lita kills Spike with a chair. She rips off her shirt, but her tits have no effect on Bubba as she gets dropped with 3D. On the floor Jeff pulls out the big ass ladder of death, and he comes off with the Swanton to put Rhyno and Spike through two tables. That boy’s just not right. Christian and D-Vo head up top and they dangle from the hook that holds the title, and both men crash to the mat. Jeff tries to walk across the tops off 4 ladders to get to the belts, but he falls short. He finally gets there, but Bubba pulls the ladder out from under him leaving his hanging. Then we get the craziest fucking spot ever in one of these matches as Edge spears Jeff from a ladder 20 feet above the ring. That is absolutely insane no matter how many times you see it. Bubba and Matt start to climb, so Rhyno tips the ladder sending both men out of the ring and through the stack of tables on the floor. This shit is just insane. Rhino puts Christian on his shoulders and gives him a boost up the ladder to grab the titles at 15:41.

Winners and New WWF Tag Champions: Edge and Christian via climbing the ladder to grab the gold at 15:41
-I really don’t know what to say about this match. The addition of Rhyno, Lita, and Spike only added to the awesomeness, and it still amazes me they were able to top what they did the previous year. *****

-Fink announces the crowd of 67,925

Gimmick Battle Royal

-Mean Gene and Bobby Heenan handle commentating duties. Bobby immediately brings the awesome as he “accidentally” calls Okerlund, Tony. The entrances were the hi-light of the match. Your participants for those keeping score at home: The Bushwhackers, Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, The Iron Sheik (future Hall of Fame member), Earthquake, The Goon, Doink the Clown (getting the loudest pop), Kamala, Kim Chee, Repo Man, Jim Cornette, Nikolai Volkoff (future Hall of Fame member), Michael PS Hayes (to a good pop as you would expect in Texas), One Man Gang, Gobbly Gooker, Tugboat, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love, and Sgt. Slaughter. The entrances take twice as long as the match as it’s a chaotic mess. The eliminations are fast and furious, and really there’s no need to keep track of them this early. Much like the Kat/Terri match the previous year, this match is serving as a cool down spot following the show put on by the Dudleys, Hardys, and E&C. Doink gets tossed by Kamala, and that pisses off the crowd. The final four consists of Slaughter, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love, and the Iron Sheik. Love goes first and Slaughter goes a few seconds later. Sheik sneaks behind Jim, and tosses him to win the thing at 3:04. Slaughter locks in the cobra clutch after the match to send to the delight of the crowd.

Winner: The Iron Sheik by eliminating Hillbilly Jim at 3:04
-Sheik got the win because he physically couldn’t take the bump over the ropes to the floor. This was harmless fun, and served its purpose quite well.

-We get a video recap of the HHH/Taker feud. The build to this was pretty good actually, and the restraining order stuff with Steph, Taker, and Kane was pretty damn funny.

The Undertaker vs. HHH

-Motorhead plays their version of HHH’s them as he heads to the ring. Taker was still in his biker phase, and the extra long entrance ramp comes in handy as he finally gets to open things up with the bike. This was the first meaningful match between these two, and at does have a pretty big feel to it. They immediately brawl on the floor before the bell rings, and the remains of the Spanish announce table gets used. Poor guys can’t catch a break. They head into the ring, and we get the opening bell. Taker controls early with some soup bones, and elevates HHH with a high backdrop. Taker staggers HHH with a clothesline and looks to set up either the Tombstone or snake eyes, but instead he just hits a powerslam. That was weird. HHH can’t get any traction in the early going until he is able counter Old School by simply yanking Taker off the top rope. The man’s called the cerebral assassin for a reason, you know. HHH goes to work on the throat of Taker with multiple elbows. The neck work continues with a nice swinging neckbreaker, but it only gets two. HHH keeps trying for the cover, but Taker kicks out each time. In a Flair spot, HHH gets in the face of the ref, and the ref shoves HHH back. That gives Taker a chance to recover, but he sets too early on a backdrop and eats a knee. We are just over 5 minutes in and HHH goes for the sledgehammer. Sadly, Chioda disarms HHH, but he pays for it as Taker reverses a pedigree attempt to a catapult, and it’s Chioda who gets crushed. Taker snaps off a chokeslam, but HHH is able to lift a shoulder at two. That’s pisses off Taker, so he takes out his frustration on Chioda by punting him in the head. Nice! Now we get the kick ass brawl we were hoping for as they brawl through the crowd. They head to tech area as JR accidentally refers to HHH as Kane. I know they fought a shit load of times, but how do you confuse those two? The brawl continues to a nearby platform and HHH is able to get hold of a chair. In a sign of things to come in the next match, HHH just beats the hell out of Taker with the chair. HHH goes for one more shot, but he gets goozled, and in a great visual Taker chokeslams him off the camera tower to the “concrete” floor. The impact is kind of ruined when Taker jumps down and you see the padding give way under the black covering. The replays didn’t help things either, but still, the thought was there. JR informs us the ref is still motionless, and Heyman asks who gives a damn about a referee. Ha! HHH gets his ass kicked all the way back to ringside, and both men head back into the ring. Taker spots the sledgehammer, and that’s a bad thing for HHH. He does some high quality cowering however, and it gives him just enough time to punt Taker in his booger reds. Now HHH has his hands on the sledge, but he runs flush into a boot from Taker. Both men struggle to their feet and start exchanging right hands. Had this been a Cena match you would be hearing “Boo, Yeah” right about now. HHH gets dumb and tries a tombstone, and as expected, Taker easily reverses to one of his own. Unfortunately for Taker he pays for punting the ref earlier as there is nobody to count the fall. Taker goes for the last ride, but HHH is able to grab the sledgehammer, and he fires off a shot as he was being hoisted up. That gets a hot near fall, and it also splits Taker wide open. Again, HHH gets stupid however as he mounts Taker in the corner to fire off some right hands. It sucks for him though as he is prime position for the last ride, and that’s exactly what happens to give Taker the pin at 18:17.

Winner: The Undertaker via pin at 18:17
-This match is often forgotten about when it comes to this card, and I’m not sure why. They basically said forget this wrestling shit, and went out to have a kick ass brawl with no slow spots. I’ll even forgive the ref bumps because he was only slowing down the chaotic brawl this match ended up being. ****

-We get what may be the greatest video package ever to hype Austin/Rock II. Sure, “My Way” may have drive into the ground, but it’s still a kick ass song when you play it over a kick ass Rock/Austin video. Thankfully, the story of Debra managing The Rock was dropped before these two made it to Houston. These two could feud for the rest of eternity, and I don’t think I would ever get sick of it. Austin: “I need to beat you Rock. I need it more than anything you could ever imagine.”

WWF Title: No DQ: The Rock © vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

-The reaction Austin gets here is absolutely insane, and they should have just called off the heel turn based on this reaction alone, or at least delay it until they were out of Texas. The Rock gets booed out of the building, and the crazy thing is it only got worse for him a year later in Toronto. Unlike Hogan/Andre at WM III, we get no stare down here as Austin jumps the bell to a thunderous pop and fires away on the Rock. Austin tries to use the belt, but Rock ducks and starts laying the smack down. Austin counters a whip with the Thesz press, and he drops some FU elbows. The counter comes back with a swinging neckbreaker and looks for the Rock Bottom. Austin elbows out and goes for the Stunner, but Rock shoves off and tries for a Stunner of his own. That gets countered, and Austin sends Rock flying over the top rope to the floor. They battle through the crowd and back to the ringside area. They trade shots with the announce table, and Austin seizes control once they head back in the ring. The Rock gets placed on the top rope and Austin brings him down the hard way with a superplex for a two count. Austin looks to take advantage of the no DQ rule and takes the cover off the buckle. This gives the Rock a chance to get back in the fight as he tosses Austin across the ring. He gets to his feet but staggers near the ropes and Rock sends him over the top to the floor with a clothesline. They head right back to the announce table, and Austin gets his heads bounced off it and the timekeeper’s table as well. Hebnar tries to restore order, and he gets shoved by the Rock. That gives Austin the opening he needs as he blasts Rock with the ring bell. The bell shot draws a few trickles of blood from Rock’s forehead. That’s apparently not enough blood for Austin as he does everything he can to open the cut up even more. Heyman and JR’s announce table gets destroyed in the chaos, and back in the ring Austin starts firing off right hands. Austin goes to a blatant choke and for reason Hebnar tries to stop him. The Rock tries to fight back as the crowd boos, but Austin remains in control as he hits his own swinging neckbreaker. The Rock’s carcass gets caught in the corner and we get some high quality mud-hole stomping. The ref keeps trying to enforce power that he really doesn’t have in this match and it’s only serving to piss off Austin. Scratch that as it gives the Rock another opening to get in some shots to regain some momentum. Rock lets Austin know he is #1 before sending him into the exposed buckle in the corner. With Austin a bloody mess The Rock heads to the floor to grab the same ring bell that split him open earlier. Austin, already a bloody mess from getting rammed into the exposed steel, gets creamed with the ring bell. Now he is pouring blood from his head as the crowd is on the verge of heart failure. They head right back to the floor, and Austin is back in his element. He makes his comeback and drops the Rock across the guard barrier. He follows that by catapulting the Rock head first into the ring post. The Rock took that like a champ, and it brings me joy seeing a man that dedicated to his art. More hatred and violence as Austin uses a nearby monitor to open the Rock up even more. This whole time Heyman and JR have been questioning who made the no DQ ruling. I’m sure we all knew at home, but most figured it may go a different way. They make their way back in the ring and Austin tries to Stunner, but Rock turns that into a sharpshooter. Now we get the deconstruction of the Stone Cold character. We hit WM 13 first where Austin would not submit, and instead passed out from the pain. Here in Houston, Austin takes the heel way out by crawling to the bottom rope to get a break (in a no DQ match?). It works though and Austin gets enough of an advantage to lock in his own sharpshooter. The Rock doesn’t head for the ropes though at first though and powers out of the hold. Austin is a vindictive bastard though and reapplies the hold next to the ropes. That’s an easy escape for the Rock though as the ropes are right there. Next we hit up Survivor Series 1996 as Austin breaks the Million Dollar Dream, and like in 96, the Rock uses Hart’s counter to get a pinning sequence. Back in 1996 Austin didn’t care about winning the match and maintained the hold to punish Hart. In this case the win is everything to Austin and he breaks the hold to make sure he still has a chance to win. The Rock damn near causes a riot as he gets a two count off his own version of the Stunner. Vince McMahon starts power walking to the ring as both men are a bloody mess in the ring. Both men stagger to their feet, and Rock charges, but gets planted with a spinebuster for two. With each two count Austin gets more and more pissed. That starts to become his downfall as it gives the Rock a chance to regroup and he hits his own spinebuster. The people’s elbow follows, but McMahon pulls the Rock off of Austin to break the count. By the reaction of the folks in Houston, McMahon just turned face. The Rock chases Vince and runs right into a Rock Bottom from Austin, but it only gets a hot two count. Austin looks for the Stunner, but the Rock shoves off again, and Hebnar gets knocked out of the ring. Austin takes that opening as a chance to kick Rock in his Brahma bulls. The shocking happens as McMahon and Austin team up to blast the Rock with a chair. Vince puts Hebnar back in the ring, but Rock is able to kick out at two. Austin goes for the chair again, but the Rock catches him with the Rock Bottom. Once again McMahon detains the ref, so the Rock starts kicking his ass. He turns right around and Austin gives him the mother off all Stunners, but again it only gets two. The look on Austin’s face was priceless after that one. McMahon hands Austin the chair, and the Rock gets absolutely creamed, but again he kicks out at two. The visuals and the reaction of the crowd during this stretch is absolutely amazing. Now Austin goes crazy with the McMahon endorsed chair and wails on the Rock until he is a quivering mass. Finally that’s enough to get the pin and the WWF Title at 28:06. McMahon and Austin stare at each other and we get the handshake we thought we would never see. Jim Ross is having the worst day of his life as Austin and McMahon share some beers over the lifeless body of the Rock. Austin has since stated had he known how things would have turned out he would have called an audible right there and given McMahon the stunner. The Rock staggers to his feet, so Austin blasts him with one last belt shot just for the hell of it. I also want to mention that Heyman is spectacular as he rubs all this in JR’s face.

Winner and New WWF Champion: Steve Austin via pin at 28:06
-Just an epic, kick ass brawl with one of the hottest crowds you will ever see. This was one of the most intense matches you will ever see, and the story of Austin drifting into his new paranoid heel persona was top notch. You can debate if the heel turn should have happened, but it doesn’t take away from this match. I picked this as my match of the Year for 2001, and I still stand by that choice. *****

-Things finish with “My Way” being played over the recap package, and it’s as epic as the show that preceded it.

Top 5 WrestleMania Matches (To this Point):

1) IC Title: Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat *****
2) Submission Match: Bret Hart vs Steve Austin *****
3) WWF Title: The Rock vs Steve Austin *****
4) Career vs Career: Randy Savage vs The Ultimate Warrior *****
5) TLC II: WWF Tag Titles: The Hardys vs The Dudleys vs Edge and Christian *****

The 411: What else can you say. Clearly the greatest WrestleMania, and it gets for vote for the greatest PPV ever. The only bad thing about this show was the Woman's title match and that was a squash (as it should have been). Historically this show was huge as it was the culmination of the Attitude Era, and though we didn't know it at the time, the culmination of the last Golden Period in wrestling. Things would start to go down hill following the botched Invasion, but for this one night WrestleMania was everything it should be.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  9.5   [  Amazing ]  legend

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