wrestling / Video Reviews

Kevin’s RetrospectiveMania Series: WrestleMania 13

August 9, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Steve Austin WWE WrestleManias
WWF WrestleMania 13
March 23rd, 1997 | Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois | Attendance: 18,197

A new era was dawning on the WWF. The Attitude Era was on the horizon. The main event scene was kind of a mess due to Shawn Michaels losing his smile. That meant the planned rematch with Bret Hart was off. The card was reshuffled and this is what we ended up with. Would it turn out to be a great show or a problematic one?

Where will it rank among the rest of the WrestleManias so far? We’ll find out here. As a reminder, I’m reliving these WrestleManias and rating them on a 1-10 scale in these seven categories. They’ll be ranked by their total score.

• Match quality – Self-explanatory. Will always be the longest section.
• Memorability – How memorable is the show?
• Historical significance – The impact the show had on wrestling
• Booking decisions – Did the event have logical booking decisions for the stories they told
• Presentation – Things like stage setup, video packages, commentary, etc.
• Pacing/Flow – How well is the show laid out? Does it drag or move along smoothly?
• Entertainment – The non-wrestling elements like promos, celebrity interaction, concerts, etc.

 


 

Match Quality


Number One Contender’s Match: Doug Furnas & Phil Lafon vs. The Godwinns vs. The Headbangers vs. The New Blackjacks ~ Seriously, people. Stop complaining about the tag division in 2019. The division didn’t matter in this era and the teams were rough. This was held under elimination rules and anyone could tag anyone. For, um, reasons. The New Blackjacks and Furnas/Lafon got eliminated together for fighting outside. That meant we were left with Godwinns against the Headbangers. That’s not a good decision. This segment went on for far too long. It broke down into a brawl and Mosh pinned Phineas with a Whoopee Cushion in 10:38. That was a whole lot of boring. Just a truly boring match. [*]


WWF Intercontinental Championship: Rocky Maivia [c] vs. The Sultan ~ The WrestleMania debut of The Rock! Also, Rikishi is there. It has been said before, but Rocky looks nothing like a major star here. To camouflage the fact that nobody cared about the guys in the ring, they added Honky Tonk Man on commentary, Bob Backlund and Iron Sheik at ringside, and Tony Atlas, Arnold Skaaland, and Captain Lou Albano in the crowd. Yikes. Sultan worked a ridiculously lengthy chinlock that nearly put me to sleep. Rocky made the generic babyface comeback, overcame some outside distractions, and retained with a cheap rollup in 9:45. A terrible start to Rocky’s Mania career. That was painfully dull and did nothing to get the champion over. [½*]

Goldust vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley ~ Since the last Mania, Goldust turned face and HHH is above getting squashed in a minute. Goldust came out hot and had the crowd engaged. Then he got dropped on the steel steps and Helmsley took over. And boy, Hunter had some really dull offense in this era. It dragged on for what felt like an eternity. Goldust began to rally until Chyna threatened Marlena at ringside. Goldust got distracted and was knocked into Marlena, which launched her into Chyna’s arms. Chyna shook her like a rag doll as HHH hit the Pedigree to win in 14:28. That was pretty bad. The crowd and the match died when HHH got on offense. It wasn’t until 98 that he started showing potential and not until 2000 that he was great. [*¼]


WWF Tag Team Championship: British Bulldog and Owen Hart [c] vs. Mankind and Vader ~ I never understood this match. Four heels and none were exactly popular enough for it to make sense. They were teasing the Bulldog/Owen split, but I don’t think it was enough. Without a true babyface duo, the crowd had trouble finding someone to get behind. It made it so the match was kind of just a collection of stuff happening with nothing behind it. Even when Mankind put Owen Hart in the Mandible Claw in front of the Hart family, it had little to no effect. Bulldog got the mild tag and it set up a big brawl. Both teams got counted out in 16:08 to give us an underwhelming ending to a mediocre match. A disappointment considering the talent but understandable given the circumstances.[**]

Submission Match: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin ~ This is my favorite rivalry ever. I love that this starts with Austin tackling Bret. It set the tone for the kind of war this would be. They fought through the crowd in the early stages but got back to the ring pretty quickly. All the little things went so well here. Like when Austin had his knee worked over and Ken Shamrock (the guest referee) asked if he was okay and Austin flipped him off. The awesome ring post Figure Four meant more here because it could win the match thanks to the no countout/DQ situation. This really picked up when Bret went to PILLMANIZE the ankle, only for Austin to get up and wreck him with a steel chair shot. The fight went back outside and Austin did his infamous blade job here. Like a shark smelling blood, Bret got more vicious at the sight of blood. Austin fought back and Bret took the sternum bump, kick starting another jump in intensity for this contest. Bret got the Sharpshooter on and we get the incredible shots of a bloodied Austin fighting to get free. The shot of him powering up and nearly breaking the hold while covered in blood is one of the best things the company has ever done. The pop when he seemed to break it was insane. Alas, Bret kept it on and Austin passed out, giving us a finish in 22:05. A masterclass in storytelling and the perfect way to send Austin into the next level as a megastar. It was everything you want from this kind of match. A molten crowd, intense action, late drama, and anything else you could think of. Incredible. One of the greatest matches of all-time. [*****]


Chicago Street Fight: Ahmed Johnson and The Legion of Doom vs. The Nation of Domination ~ Odd placement as you basically put on back to back No DQ matches. Ahmed came out with a Legion of Doom shoulder pad gimmick. I will give this match props for being something different. The WWF wasn’t putting on hardcore brawls to this extent often. This felt like something out of ECW. They used random weapons like a parking sign and just spent the whole time wailing on each other. And that’s fine. I don’t want to see these six guys try and have a traditional wrestling match. Brawling is their specialty so let them do it. Animal failed to piledrive Faarooq through a table so Ahmed body slammed him through it instead. That was the best moment. Crush took a Doomsday Device and then got clotheslined with a 2×4 to end it in 10:45. It was a wacky brawl that kept me entertained, even if it did go too long. [**½]


WWF Championship: Sycho Sid [c] vs. The Undertaker ~ Return of the gray gloves Undertaker for one night. That’s fine because purple gloves Taker is his worst era. Shawn Michaels was on commentary. Bret came out to complain, so Sid powerbombed him. Undertaker started hot but Sid slowed the pace almost instantly with a bearhug. These guys probably had a decent six or seven minute big man match in them. The problem here was that they went way longer than they had any right to go. Both guys filled some of that time with various rest holds. None of them really worked in the way of psychology or logic. They were literally just resting. Sid busted out an unsafe Tombstone for a late near fall. Bret Hart showed up again, clocking Sid with a chair that somehow didn’t result in a disqualification. He also dropped Sid’s throat across the top rope, causing him to fall into a Tombstone that made Undertaker champion after a long 21:19. A dreadful match that is only saved by the fact that the last three to five minutes weren’t awful. They need to go ten minutes at the longest. [¼*]

Yeah, this is a one match show. I will admit I came away surprised with the Chicago Street Fight. It was decent. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin is where this show excels and it ranks as the best WrestleMania match to this point. The rest of the card is pretty atrocious. The Tag Titles were okay, but disappointing considering who was involved. The main event is bad and the first three matches capped out at *¼. That’s not what you want to see. Hart/Austin is good enough to bump up this score higher than it otherwise would be and it’s still not good.

SCORE: 3.0

 


 

Memorability

 


We all remember a few things from this show. For one, there’s the obvious shot of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin bleeding as he attempted to break the Sharpshooters. It’s an iconic moment in company history and a huge turning point in Austin becoming the biggest star on the planet. I also feel like many of us recall the shot of The Undertaker posing with the WWF Title to close the show. It’s not a good match at all, but it’s a memorable moment. There may only be two notable moments, but they’re huge.

SCORE: 6.5

 


 

Historical Significance

 


There’s a lot to cover in this section. We have a similar case to WrestleMania XII in that this was the Mania debut of a future legend. Rocky Maivia starting a WrestleMania career that would see him headline multiple times is a big deal. There’s also the little caveat that Sycho Sid is the only man to main event each WrestleMania he appeared in. He closed out both Mania VIII and 13. That’s the kind of thing mentioned in a random trivia question. Throw in the historical bits mentioned in memorability and you’ve got a great score here. Undertaker’s first WWF Title and main event win at a WrestleMania, as well as the defining moment of Steve Austin’s career.

SCORE: 8.0

 


 

Booking Decisions

 


In terms of results, they got a lot of this show right. I think everyone who needed to win did. Traditional thinking would have Bret Hart lose, but Austin gained so much more in that defeat that the outcome was perfectly done. Undertaker as champion was the right call, as was having the babyfaces win the Chicago Street Fight. The earlier stuff may have done right by the call, but not by the way it was handled. Maivia looked like a chump in victory and the Tag Title ending was lame as hell.

SCORE: 6.5

 


 

Presentation

 


The last three WrestleManias have all been similar in terms of the stage setup. It has kind of been the same thing each time out and it never looks convincing. However, I do think this one succeeded in a few ways. One, I thought the little effect of glass breaking during Austin’s entrance was fantastic. It was a cheap gimmick but it worked wonders. I also found the video packages they ran to come across very well. You could tell things were stepping up in that department. The Rosemont Horizon is a nice arena and an improvement on Mania XI.

SCORE: 4.5

 


 

Pacing/Flow

 


It’s hard to fault a show on its pacing when it lasts just under two hours. In fact, I believe this was the shortest WrestleMania to date. That automatically should make it an easy watch. However, I still wouldn’t say it was paced out very well. The two enjoyable matches come back to back, meaning other parts drag. The main event seems to go on for an eternity and you feel the length of both Goldust/HHH and the Tag Team Title match. Not a terrible flow to the show, but not a very good one either.

SCORE: 4.5

 


 

Entertainment

 


Surprisingly, there were no celebrity appearances on this show. Instead, the entertainment came in the form of some non-wrestling segments. We had the run-in by Rocky Johnson to stand side by side with his son. That was a cool moment. There was Steve Austin walking out on his own despite being beaten in a great show of toughness that cemented who he was as a character and Ken Shamrock being part of this. I even got a kick out of the silly moment where Shawn Michaels struggles to chat with fans using AOL. There just needed to be a bit more because I had to stretch to pull these out.

SCORE: 4.0

 


 

Overall

 


I expected this WrestleMania to be one of the bottom three. Instead, it surprised me by scoring higher than four other Manias. That’s mostly because some of those were worse than I remembered and because this event featured a few notable moments. Undertaker winning the title, the debut of Rocky Maivia, and the unbelievable Steve Austin/Bret Hart match were enough to vault this up the standings a bit.

TOTAL: 37/70

 

WrestleMania Rankings
1. WrestleMania III – 55/70
2. WrestleMania X – 52/70
3. WrestleMania VIII – 50.5/70
4. WrestleMania I – 50/70
5. WrestleMania XII – 48.5/70
6. WrestleMania VII – 46/70
7. WrestleMania VI – 44/70
8. WrestleMania V – 39/70
9. WrestleMania 13 – 37/70
10. WrestleMania IV – 32/70
11. WrestleMania XI – 31.5/70
12. WrestleMania IX – 31.5/70
13. WrestleMania II – 29/70

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WrestleMania 13, Kevin Pantoja