March 5, 2011
We are finally back to the WrestleManias Iíve seen before, because as you should all be aware, I was at this WrestleMania sitting in the WCW private box. The box seats were awesome we had a small buffet of food and drink set up for us, as well as monitors and great seats. I donít remember who all was there but there was likely 10-12 of us from WCW. If memory serves we got the call that we would be going only a couple days before the event and flew in Sunday morning, I believe in hopes of keeping as low a profile as possible.
They flew us in, put us up at a different hotel, and had a bus booked to sneak us in the back door of the arena. We were even brought over a little bit late in hopes that all the fans would be in their seats and no one would see us. Unfortunately all these effort to keep our Mania appears secret were for not because Shawn Stasiak did a radio or Internet interview the day before and stooged off the whole thing. The office was furious and many of us speculated that it might cost him his job. I was even told that at one point the plan was to have us do a run in on the Vince vs Shane match, but Vince was so mad word had leaked that he killed the angle and almost sent us all home. Thankfully we at least got to stay and watch the show.
Mania X-Seven was from the Astro Dome in Houston and the place was huge and jammed packed. They announced the crowd size at 67, 925. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman were doing commentary and they were awesome. They talked about the matches and angles and got over what was going on in the ring. Both of these guys would be a huge step up from the current broadcast teams on any show. Okay enough of that, lets get to the matches.
Chris Jericho vs. William Regal (IC Title):
This match was fine but nothing to write home about either. Much like Jericho discusses in the book something just didnít click. Jericho over shot a dive to the floor early. Audio sounded weird during this one in that the crowd noise seemed to be very distant, which did not help the match any. Not sure if this was a result of the huge building or what but I didnít notice it by the end of the show so they either fixed it or I got used to it. Finish was good except for Jericho having to reposition Regal for the Lionsault; Jericho retained the title. On a side not this was the one match we missed live, as we were just getting to our seats when this match was wrapping up.
Right to Censor vs. Taz & The Acolytes:
Was not a fan of this match, it was just a bunch of moves done way too fast. This was more a result of too man guys having too little time than anything else; the match was less than 4 minutes. JBL won with the clothesline from hell. 6 guys with 4 minutes, what do you do?
Raven vs. Big Show vs. Kane (Hardcore Title):
I donít like hardcore matches but this was good for what it was, people just want to see some unique violent mayhem and thatís what these guys did. Raven was very thin back then, and looked very small beside Kane who was huge even for him and Big Show who is well BIG. Kane did a clothesline of the top rope to the floor right at the start of this match and then all three guys brawled to the back for a bunch of hardcore stunt type things. Raven got thrown through a window, Kane and Big show crashed through a door and a wall. They chased each other on golf carts. At one point Kane was racing after Show and Raven and it appeared Raven was going to take a bump off the side of the golf cart but slipped right before he was going to jump and hell down and damn near got run over. Thankfully nobody died. They finally made their way back on the stage and Kane knocked Show and Raven through a part of the stage and then did a big elbow drop (which they repeatedly called a leg drop) down into the rubble onto Show for the pin. Kane wins Hardcore Title from Raven by pinning Show. Match was probably exactly what fans expected and wanted, and they got it, so thumbs up.
Test vs. Eddie Guerrero (European Title):
This match was really hurt by not knowing the build up to it. I had no idea that Test was a baby face here and he did nothing to help get me behind him. Perry Saturn was out with Eddie and was wearing a ridiculous hat. This match fell apart in the middle when Test accidently got his foot tied in the ropes trying to take a bump to the floor. Test was hung upside down for quite a while and it took Eddie, Perry and the Ref to finally get Testís foot out of the ropes. To make it worse when Eddie got out of the ring to check on Test he slipped and hell taking a big bump on the floor. This pretty much killed all the flow of the match. They got the match back together okay for the last few near falls and the finish of Eddie pinning Test after a belt shot came off fairly well. Eddie wins the European Title.
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit:
This may have been the first Benoit match Iíve seen since his death and I found it a little uncomfortable at first. Benoitís cold almost emotionless stare at the beginning of this match bothered me. Without the TV build I found Benoit was a lot like Test in that he didnít give me enough emotion or fire to get behind him as a baby face either. I felt he were out there doing a match ignoring me as a fan. They did some great mat work early that I liked and the match picked up and built very well. They traded some great counters into submissions, there was a ref bump and Kurt tapped when the ref was down. Eventually they did a great counter on a roll up and Kurt pinned Benoit with a hand full of tights; a very good match.
Ivory vs. Chyna (Womenís Title):
This match was awful and really pissed me off. Ivory jumped Chyna with a belt shot before the bell in order to get 30 seconds of offense before Chyna just stopped selling and beat the shit out of her. Chyna power bombed Ivory but picked her up off the pin at 2, and then press slammed Ivory and covered her in the most disrespectful cover possible. There is a way to beat someone and look strong and not treat them like a piece of shit, this was not it.
Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon (Mick Foley as Ref):
They did a great video package leading up to this match so I pretty much had a handle on how it was built and where everyone stood. As a pure wrestling match this was horrible but as an entertaining drama this match was awesome. Vince got in some really bad offense early but Shane took over and beat the hell out of Vince. The tide finally turned when Shane missed the big elbow off the post through the announce desk. From here everything got awesome. Trish Stratus and Stephanie got in a fight which got a huge pop. Vince Koíd Foley with a chair, and then dragged the catatonic Linda into the ring (she was doing the deal in the wheel chair back then) to watch him beat the hell out of Shane. Next was the spot of the match when Linda got up out of her chair (the place exploded) and kicked Vince right in the nuts. This lead to Shane hitting the coast to coast drop kick on Vince who had a garbage can in front of his face. Place went nuts and this was awesome.
Dudley Boys vs. E&C vs. Hardy Boys (TLC for Tag Titles):
I remember not being able to enjoy this match live because I was too concerned for the safety of the guys involved. Watching it after you know they all lived was much better. I liked this match better than the ladder match at Mania 16. I thought the run ins in the middle by Spike, Rhyno, and Lita really helped the drama and I thought they did a better job of guys getting stuff set up when other guys where the center of attention so the match didnít slow down as much. The huge spear on Jeff Hardy by Edge was AMAZING. I though the actual finish was a little bit flat but on the whole super exciting and just amazing. E and C win to take the titles from the Dudley Boys.
Gimmick Battle Royal:
This was awful but I remember everyone getting a nice nostalgia pop on their entrance. The Bush Whacker had different gear than they did during their earlier WWF run, Iím curious of the Dudleys put the kybosh on them wearing camo-shorts. In the WCW box we were all taking guesses at who would win, I picked Sgt. Slaughter, but Iron Sheik won. After the match Slaughter got back in and put Sheik out with the Cobra Clutch. My guess is the office wanted Slaughter to win too, for the baby face pop, but Sheiky wasnít physically capable of going over the top rope, so he had to win. Dreadful but thankfully very short, match was 3 minutes.
The Undertaker vs. HHH:
This was back when Taker was the American Bad Ass and was a biker rather than the dead man. It was interesting watching this match considering their Mania rematch is right around the corner. This was 10 years ago so Taker was 8-0 going for 9-0, this year HHH is again the obstacle but the streak is 18-0 going for 19-0. Match started hot and after a ref bump both guys brawled out into the crowd which added a lot of drama to the match. Taker did a choke slam to HHH off a camera platform followed up with an elbow drop, which got a great reaction live but on camera you could clearly see they were on a big padded surface. Jim Ross at one point used the phrase, ďVintage UndertakerĒ; I guess this is where Cole got it. They got back in the ring and traded some great stuff, most notably a near fall where HHH managed to hit Taker in the head with the sledgehammer while up for the Last Ride. That was awesome. Taker was busted open but kicked out. Taker eventually won with the Last Ride (which was a horrible bump for HHH) to end a great dramatic match and go 9-0. The ref bump in this match had to have been the longest in history. Through out the match live we kept pointing out, ďAnd the ref still hasnít movedĒ.
The Rock vs. Steve Austin (WWF Title):
The video to build up this match was awesome; they made the match feel epic and the title seem important. I couldnít believe how Mickey Mouse this video made almost everything I see to day seem. Rock and Austin came off like men going to battle over something worth fighting for, not teenagers joking around like nothing mattered. This match started hot and just continued to build. Both guys got busted open and the drama and intensity here was awesome. The selling of punches and the emotion they both generated and displayed during this match is untouched today. Austin eventually turned heel joining forces with Vince McMahon to defeat the Rock and win the title. This was fantastic and then some.
Iíve got to give this show a HUGE thumbs up, probably the best Mania up to this point. There were 11 matches 5 of which I would say were great, and only 3 that were bad. Three bad matches sounds worse than it really was too, because together they only accounted for 10 minutes of action so they were a pretty insignificant part of the show. Just a fantastic show.