PodMania Retro Reviews: WWF WrestleMania X-Seven Review
Updated: 7 days ago
This PPV was already record-breaking before the first match, with WWE reporting that 67,925 people crammed themselves into the Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas. With this in mind, the company was under pressure to deliver a show-stopping event, and that’s exactly what it did.
With one of the hottest wrestling rivalries since Hogan and Savage, or Michaels and Hart, Wrestlemania X-Seven’s main event was centred around The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, feuding over the WWF Championship.
Having feuded for the Championship on two separate occasions, once at Wrestlemania XV and again at Backlash 1999, it’s a testament to the charisma of these two characters and the creative team at the time that this feud had not gone stale, or that the WWF universe hadn’t lost interest in it. At this point, there were no hotter talents in the USA and the feud had reached fever point in the build up to the PPV. Throw the enigmatic character of Mr Vincent Kennedy McMahon into the mix, and you had the recipe for an outstanding night. The Rattlesnake was inserted into the main event following his Royal Rumble win, whilst the People’s Champion was the current WWF Champion having defeated Kurt Angle at No Way Out in February.
The catalyst for this feud proved to be Austin's wife Debra, forced into the reluctant management of The Rock, against the wishes of both Rock and Austin, by Mr McMahon. Despite Austin’s express warnings about what would happen to The Rock if Debra was hurt, both found themselves locked in Ankle Locks courtesy of Kurt Angle. Austin arrived, scaring off Angle before delivering a stunner to The Rock for allowing his wife to be subject to Angle’s finisher. During a handicap tag match at a later RAW, Austin made his way to the ring, only to receive a Rock Bottom for his trouble. As a result of her lack of control over her husband and The Brahma Bull, Debra was later relieved of her management duties on the March 29th episode of Smackdown.
A feud between the Brothers of Destruction – Kane and the Undertaker – and Triple H and the Big Show, with various interference from either side in each other’s matches, led to bouts being finalised for this event by then commissioner William Regal; Kane would face The Big Show for the Hardcore Championship, and Triple H would face The Undertaker in an attempt to ‘beat the streak’, which then stood at 8-0.
The final background story revolved around the ever controversial authority figures of the McMahons. Looking back on it, this storyline had possibly the most awkward moments of the Attitude Era, if not the entire of WWE/F’s history. After a disagreement led to Vince filing for divorce against Linda, the latter had a nervous breakdown and was left in a comatose state. Vince then took great delight in having an open affair in front of her with Trish Stratus who, in a way that is extremely hard to watch now, was constantly degraded by being made to perform such heinous acts as; crawling around on her hands and knees whilst barking like a dog and stripping down to her lingerie, whilst performing what still looks to this day, the most awkward and unpleasant kisses ever with the boss.
Furious with his father’s behaviour, Shane McMahon was drawn out of the woodwork. During Vince’s victory speech, having bought out WCW, Shane appeared on the Titantron, explaining that he was the owner of WCW, not his father. It is still one of the biggest swerves in wrestling history, and is a real goosebumps moment.
This, of course, led to the Invasion angle which was incredibly successful, and is still lauded today as one of the greatest... oh no wait....
As a result of this treachery, Vince demanded a fight with his son at Wrestlemania. This was granted with two further stipulations being added afterwards: Mick Foley as the special referee, and the match being made a Street Fight.
Match #1 - Chris Jericho (c) def. William Regal
[WWF Intercontinental Championship Match]
A lot of the time, a match can suffer from its placement on the card - this is one of those matches!
Though the talented duo (Regal is one of the most underrated wrestlers of all time in my opinion) display a lot of creativity and tell a cohesive story throughout this bout, you can’t help wondering how this match is the opener and not the Tag match that succeeds it.
The two put on a solid bout, with Regal playing hugely on Jericho’s kayfabe injured arm. A strange end, however, marred this match, with Jericho getting the pinfall by using a Moonsault, a move that looks technically excellent, but very rarely ends a match.
However, that was the end, and though not the most satisfactory of endings, you can always rely on these two to produce good, solid wrestling matches.
PodMania Star Rating: 6 stars
Match #2 - The APA & Tazz def. Right To Censor
I really enjoyed the APA.
Bradshaw and Farooq (Ron Simmons) were up there with some of the hardest hitting and stiffest fighters known in the WWF. This match, coupled with Tazz against the frankly terrible heel posse of the Right to Censor group, was a standard tag match: no frills, few spills and very little to write home about.
To be honest, this match may merely have been a vehicle for Bradshaw to receive a huge pop come the face team’s inevitable victory.
In a fairly short match, Bradshaw cleaned house after a hot tag from the floundering Tazz, the APA Chokeslammed Bull Buchanan and Bradshaw sewed up the match with a Clothesline From Hell on the Good Father before a pinfall sent the Texas crowd wild.
A huge down for this match was Tazz’s performance, usually such a reliable worker, his work appeared slow, sluggish and generally poor. Unfortunately, this proved to be one of the final matches for the Suplex Machine before retirement and a successful commentary career post brand-split. Shame, though
PodMania Star Rating: 2 stars
Match #3 - Kane def. The Big Show & Raven (c)
[WWF Hardcore Championship Match]
This match encapsulated everything that was excellent about the Attitude Era. Many people who watch this match, or who indeed watched it at the time, wrongly criticised it for being too over the top. However, me? I loved it!
What isn’t to love? You have the two biggest men in sports entertainment (Kane and the Big Show) launching a small and frightened Raven through walls and sheet glass! It is hardcore at its bizarre, brilliant best.
Even the golf-cart chase was enjoyable to watch and the referee clinging onto the back of Kane’s just added to the fun and strange nature of this match.
The finish was excellent – Kane leg dropping a prone Big Show from the stage. The only qualm that I have with this is the shoddy camera work that leads to us, as a television audience seeing little to nothing at all of the final fall, which is a shame.
However, this remains my favourite Hardcore match (with the possible exception of Triple H vs. Cactus Jack at the Royal Rumble 2000) and its place on the card is exceptionally well planned, having brought a nearly dead crowd back to life ready for the rest of the night.
PodMania Star Rating: 7 stars
Match #4 - Eddie Guerrero (c) def. Test
[WWF European Championship Match]
Test got a pop on his entrance. At what other event has this ever happened? This shows just how rabid this crowd was. He started the match like a charging bull, hitting a Powerbomb early on and controlled the early running before comically getting his foot caught in the ropes, leading to a sarcastic cheer from the crowd once the combined efforts of Guerrero and the referee prevailed in freeing it.
The match then descended into a series of dramatic slams with Test hitting a well-executed tilt-a-whirl slam before Saturn entered the fray with possibly one of the most complexly named moves in history – the ‘Moss Covered Three Handed Credenza.’
A bit more 'to and fro' before Dean Malenko entered the ring pulling Test's leg out of the ring. Guerrero won the match with a title shot to the head of Test.
Nothing spectacular but a solid outing for both of these wrestlers: Guerrero was, and always will be one of the finest in-ring technicians of the era and it was interesting to see him pull a good match from Test, who was fairly green entering this match-up despite being the Champion.
Good match but ultimately nothing special, especially as it was sandwiched between two of the best matches on the card...Spoilers.
PodMania Star Rating: 6 stars
Match #5 - Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit
Kurt Angle is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Period. It goes without saying that Chris Benoit was too before his untimely death and subsequent black veil over his career and his life, as WWE continue to try and wipe all memory of The Rabid Wolverine from existence.
This match, however, showcases both athletes at their absolute pinnacle. It was built around Angle’s tapping to the Crossface during the build to the rivalry. This lead to several attempts to lock in the Crossface from Benoit before one of the greatest sequences I’ve ever seen, led from Benoit locking in the Crossface, only for it to be reversed by Angle into one of his own.
This just after Angle attempted to lock in the Ankle Lock, only for Benoit to reverse it and lock in one of his own.
Eventually, a Crossface lead to Angle tapping out once again, only for the referee, pre-occupied with a bump taken earlier in the sequence to miss it entirely. Quite literally edge of your seat viewing.
Several huge spots followed, with Angle Slams, power-slams, reversed Moonsaults and a flying headbutt from Benoit that earnt him the closest 2-count of the match.
PodMania Star Rating: 9 stars
Match #6 - Chyna def. Ivory (c)
[WWF Women's Championship Match]
Erm...I’m not really sure what to say about this match in truth: it’s very rare to see a squash match (note the word rare, not completely unheard of) on the grandaddy of them all but this was about as close as you will get, with the exception of the 18 second debacle of Wrestlemania 28.
Sure, Ivory got in some early offence, including a title shot to the back of Chyna’s head upon her entrance, but that was it. A few stiff moves from Chyna, a stalled two-count so that she could get one last Gorilla Press onto the Champion before a cover for the win, after 2 minutes and 38 seconds.
It is hard to see the positives in this match as it did nothing for either woman: Chyna fought her last match for the company at Judgement Day in May of the same year, whilst Ivory never won the Championship again, despite being a fan favourite for the remainder of her tenure with the company.
Baffling booking, but the strength of the remainder of the card allowed us to push this match into the back of minds for the rest of the night. Something we are most thankful for.
PodMania Star Rating: DUD
Match #7 - Shane McMahon def. Vince McMahon
[Street Fight w/ Mick Foley as Special Guest Referee]
I’m going to be honest now: I remember not looking forward to this match at all. And this was when I was 11. However, I also remember not hating it, so I approached it this time with a far more open mind. Remember what I said earlier about the placement on the card being key?This rings completely true for this match - it could hardly be worse than the women's match, could it?
Built centrally around the idea that Shane had bought WCW from under Vince’s nose after he had declared the crushing of his former rivals, but also plucked on the heartstrings as Shane was portrayed as a character standing up for his mother after Vince had drugged her and then taken every single opportunity to kiss Trish Stratus.
With Mick Foley as guest referee, a guest referee who had unceremoniously been fired earlier in the year by Vince, it was bound to be a savage fight. Vince started stronger, but Shane came back with his usual death-defying spots, including a clothesline from the security fencing and a spot with the TV monitor from the Spanish announce table.
Vince brought the tide back his way, however, after Shane failed with a flying elbow onto the announce table. This led to Trish wheeling out Linda, still in her wheelchair, leading to a brawl between Stephanie McMahon and Trish, which wound its way back up the entrance ramp.
Seemingly to protect Linda, Foley attempted to wheel her from ringside, only to be slammed in the back of the head with a chair by Vince. The crazed owner then put his wife (very easy to forget that these two are married during this) in the corner in order for her to watch as he slams his son over the head repeatedly with a garbage can.
Who says family reunions aren’t fun?
Linda then stood, achieving a huge pop and delivered a low blow to end all low blows to her husband, before a returning Foley then obliterated Vince with punches and a running knee.
Shane ended the match with a Coast-to-Coast to the garbage can-protected face of his father before covering.
A genuinely very enjoyable match, with a really good back story and a lot to find yourself invested in, which is sadly more than you can say about quite a few McMahon storylines.
The camera cuts to a box where various WCW talents applauded the big boss’ win, and you just knew something big was just over the horizon; something history making; something that would take fantasy booking to the next level; a ready-made storyline that the WWE couldn’t possibly mess up...
PodMania Star Rating: 7 stars
Match #8 - Edge & Christian def. The Dudley Boyz (c) & The Hardy Boyz
[WWF World Tag Team Championships Triple Threat Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match]
The trust and chemistry between the three biggest tag-teams of the noughties was, and still is, unparalleled and leads to some truly unforgettable moments; from Jeff Hardy performing a Swanton Bomb from a ladder onto two bodies below him, to Christian have the Dudley-Dog performed from inside the ring to the outside area, to Matt and Bubba Ray Dudley’s insane fall from atop the tallest ladder to the stack of tables below.
Of course, the most incredible spot of the match, and of the night, fell to Jeff Hardy and Edge. A vulnerable Jeff was dangling from the title as Edge ascended the ladder next to him and 'Speared' him from a height of what must have been 30 feet (if it wasn’t it looked it!)
Even the addition of Spike, Lita and Rhyno added more to the match, and each of them performed their relevant parts admirably! It is a match the company, or it’s fanbase will never see again, due to the sheer heights that these six men were willing to take this match. An outstanding flawless match!
PodMania Star Rating: 10 stars
Match #9 - Gimmick Battle Royal
I’m not reviewing this match on a serious level when you consider the match it followed. However, perhaps it did what it was supposed to do. After watching six men legitimately try to one up each other and end each other’s careers with spots that continue to make my hair curl, the audience needed both a breather and something that didn’t require much watching just to recover before the night continued.
This ‘match’ saw the return of such unforgettable faces as The Gobbeldy-Gooker, The Goon (whose ability to wrestle whilst in full Ice Hockey gear is a real achievement), The Repo Man and the eventual winner ‘The Iron Shiek.’
Now bearing in mind that a lot of these wrestlers weren’t exactly prized on their in-ring skill whilst they were at the peak of their careers, this is not easy watching. Even Jim Cornette, entering and wrestling without loosening his tie, couldn’t make this match relevant.
The Iron Shiek ultimately wins, eliminating Cornette, though he then has the Cobra Clutch applied by Slaughter to the biggest pop of the match. The only real positive from this match was that it only last 3:04. The entire Battle Royal from start to finish lasted just over 3 minutes! Extraordinary.
PodMania Match Rating: DUD
Match #10 - The Undertaker def. Triple H
In a match that lasted 18 minutes and 12 seconds, the referee was out for 11 minutes of it! Possibly the longest referee bump in the history of professional wrestling. This isn’t just a statistic, however, it is something that in my opinion, stopped this from being the absolute classic it had the potential to be.
Built around Triple H’s inability to beat The Amercian Badass, the match began with Hunter, who was going through a highly successful heel turn at the time, peppering ‘Taker with a volley of early chair shots.
After the referee’s dramatic bump, the two fought into the crowd before the action turned to the stage (with The Game being flung by the neck from the stage to the floor, 10 feet below) and then the ring. The two closing spots, however, were up there with some of the greatest of the night.
As Undertaker called for the Last Ride, Triple H dove for his now trusty Sledgehammer, clocking the Phenom about the head and covering him for a close 2-count from the conveniently roused referee. The match culminated with HHH taken from the middle rope into an enormous Last Ride.
A great match that continued ‘Taker’s Wrestlemania legacy, which at this point stood at 9-0, and possibly more importantly, a match that proves that Hunter Hearst Helmsley does occasionally take a loss to aid those around him.
PodMania Star Rating: 8 stars
Match #11 - Stone Cold Steve Austin def. The Rock (c)
[WWF Championship Match]
One of the greatest WrestleMania main events, and potentially one of the best WWE matches ever. The only reason that this match isn’t 10/10 is the timing of the turn at the end, which we will get to shortly.
The match itself was an all out brawl and an all out slugfest! Austin and The Rock were truly in top form, buoyed by possibly the best hype package ever produced by the WWE. From the opening, where Rock turned round from his standard pose on the apron to a series of punches from the Rattlesnake to the very end, this was pure savagery.
Heads were slammed into posts and railings, turnbuckles were removed as the two went all out to win. At one point, even the bell was used as a weapon as The Rock repeatedly slammed Austin’s head into it, before Austin then retaliated by slamming The Brahma Bull neck-first onto the security railing, before even a TV monitor was used as a weapon.
There was some actual wrestling that took place as well, though it seemed secondary to the ferocity of the bout: Austin had a Stunner countered into a Sharpshooter, with the camera panning superbly onto Austin’s bloodied face, reminding us of the match-up between Bret Hart and The Rattlesnake at Wrestlemania four years earlier, before the Rock then hit a stunner.
It was all happening.
However, the climax came. Vince McMahon entered the ring, only to beaten down savagely by The Rock. In reaction to this, Vince slid a chair to Austin, who then destroyed The Rock with a devastating amount of chair shots. Austin had the win, the Championship, and possibly the most unlikely alliance in all of wrestling was formed.
Though an Austin heel turn would ultimately provide the universe with such nuggets as Kum By Yah, it seemed an odd time to do this. The handshake after the match is now one of the most iconic moments in wrestling, but once again it seemed to be a McMahon taking the limelight during a Wrestlemania in Texas (Austin’s home state), which in my opinion, impaired the ending of an absolute classic.
PodMania Star Rating: 9 stars
Is the PPV worth watching then?
Of course, it is!
This PPV had everything you could possibly want from a single wrestling event: Drama, unbelievable matches, unforeseen heel turns, amazing spots and an unforgettable main event – this literally had everything you could want.
Some would argue that Pay-Per-Views in the modern era drag (to be honest, even a 3-hour episode of RAW drags in today’s WWE) but this was the epitome of how to book a PPV. Stellar matches littered this card, from the Jericho and Regal opener to the genre-defining TLC match, to the incredible main event, one that is yet, in my opinion, to be surpassed.
This isn’t to say this event was perfect. It’s as close to perfect as the WWE has come thus far, in my opinion, but there were still little bits that could be tweaked: The Gimmick Battle Royal, though full of nostalgia was pointless and was only remedied by its short length.
The Women’s match was terrible and did nothing for either of the competitors, but the pros so drastically outweigh the cons that the negatives pale into relative insignificance.
Another major issue in a lot of PPVs is the over-reliance on backstage segments and hashed together comedic routines: this Wrestlemania proves that if you let the wrestling do the talking, people will buy into it!
This is, simply put, is the greatest WWE wrestling PPV ever, one the promotion is constantly trying to recreate with nowhere near the same result or success. It took the hype surrounding wrestling at that point and delivered an absolute masterclass, an event that, despite being upwards of three and a half hours, I could quite literally watch again, and again.
Well done WWE, well done.
Matches You Need To Check Out: Steve Austin vs. The Rock, The Tag Team TLC Match, The Undertaker vs. Triple H, Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit
Matches You Need To Avoid: The Gimmick Battle Royal, Chyna vs. Ivory, Tazz & The APA vs. Right To Censor