WWF WrestleMania XIII
by Scrooge McSuck
I'm running out of introductions! Live from the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago, IL, held on March 23rd, 1997. Commentary is handled by Jim Ross, Vince McMahon, and Jerry Lawler tonight. Other than the Free For All match, which is coming up below this paragraph, there's nothing much of note that happend on the 30-minute pre-show other than having to listen to Todd Pettengill for 20 minutes. This marked his last WrestleMania appearence, for those who care.
- Flash Funk vs. Billy Gunn:
From the Free For All, and yes, this is a randomly thrown together match to get the crowd going. Billy was still working the gay cowboy character out of his system, but unfortunately, he debuted his newest gimmick a month later: Rockabilly. Flash Funk, for those who don't remember, is 2 Cold Scorpio dressed like a pimp. Much like every other Billy Gunn match in the history of wrestling, when hes in control, the match drags down to the pace of a snail, but when his opponent controls, and in this case 2CS' high impact and high flying manuevers, it's really entertaining and the crowd is into it. Since both guys are pretty much a couple of JTTS at this point, someone has to win, and it's Billy, courtesy of a Tornado DDT at 7:04. Funny seeing someone not having to job to the Fame-asser at this point in Billy Gunn's career. (*3/4)
- The Godwinns (w/ Hillbilly Jim) vs. Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon vs. The New Blackjacks (Windham & Bradshaw) vs. The Head Bangers (Mosh & Thrasher):
The winner of this match gets a Tag Team Title shot at some point in the near future. Sounds to me like the WWF is stealing WCW's stupid booking ideas, having people win contender matches on PPV, and then forgeting about the whole thing the next night. 3 of these teams are making their first WrestleMania appearence: Blackjacks Bradshaw (formerly a Stan Hansen clone) and Windham (formerly the Stalker), Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon (good wrestlers but heatless), and the Head Bangers (they suck). The only good team in the match (Furnas/LaFon) is counted-out fairly early in the match, along with the NEW Blackjacks. Note: Any team with the word "New" in the title never gets over. The Godwinns and Head Bangers go through a Raw quality match until the Butt Bangers steal the match when Mosh pinned Phineas with the Stage Dive off the top rope at 10:39. I wonder if the Bangers ever got that title shot... (*1/2)
- WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Rocky Miavia © vs. The Sultan (w/ The Iron Sheik):
AAAAAAAAAAH! Witness the horror story that is the Rocky Miavia Tale! Pushed to the top of the midcard within months of his debut, despite lacking any skills in the ring and microphone, and having the fan base of a Barry Horowitz Pre-1995. The Sultan is the Samoan formerly known as Fatu, who always wanted to make a difference, but couldn't because he couldn't win matches. Really bad match, and it's amazing how much Rocky improved by the next year. All basic moves from Miavia, and the Sultan doesn't help any. The pain ends with a stupid roll-up finish at 9:47, allowing Miavia to retain the Championship. After the match, The Sultan and Iron Sheik lay a shit kicking in on the Future-Rock until Rocky Johnson, Miavia's father, jumps the rail and cleans house of the evil foreigners. It would've been cooler if he beat up a Wild Samoan, but whatever. (DUD)
- Goldust (w/ Marlena) vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna):
I was out of the loop for wrestling at this point, so the hell if I can remember what the fuck is going on between these two. All I remember is Chyna debuting a few weeks earlier, maybe at IYH: Final Four, and beating up on Marlena. YOU THE MAN! Another boring match that has no place on a WrestleMania. Blah blah blah, stuff happens, yada yada yada, I'm bored out of my school, etc. etc. etc., and Hunter wins with the Push-Killer at 13:17 while Chyna keeps beating up on Marlena. I guess this was the end of their feud, since Helmsley moved on to Mick Foley not too long after. Weird how I can make more conversation out of 3 minute matches than I could for this. They don't call Triple H the Game for nothing... and that joke doesn't make sense. (1/2*)
- WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Owen Hart & The British Bulldog © vs. Mankind & Vader (w/ Paul Bearer):
Another match I don't get. The WWF was booking a teased break-up between Owen and the Bulldog (the reigning European Champion, as well), but that went out the window when they decided to turn Bret heel, who in turn wanted to keep Owen and Bulldog together to build up a new stable. To explain why Mankind and Vader are a tag team here, both were managed by Paul Bearer, so there you go. Pretty sad state when 2 thrown-together teams of upper-card heels are fighting over the worthless Tag Team Titles. Much like every other match featuring all heels, the crowd never really knows who to back, so the match just seems to drag endlessly. The originally booking had Mankind and Vader winning the titles, but that was changed of course, to a cheap Double Count-Out at 16:07 when Mankind had Bulldog locked in the mandible claw. 16 minutes for that finish? No wonder the WWF was in the shitter for these past few WrestleMania's. Mankind and Vader would both turn face in the up-coming months, but someone didn't care much for Vader, who was shown the door in the Fall of '98. (*1/2)
- Submission Match:
Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin:
Special Referee for the match is Ken Shamrock, fresh from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. If I had to sit through the entire undercard again to see this match, I would. Fairly deep background for a 1997 feud. Let's set the WAYBAC machine to... uh, somewhere in the summer of '96. Austin was doing nothing after winning the King of the Ring, but did manage to send out several challenges to Bret Hart, who was gone from the promotion for the time being. Bret finally returned the night after IYH: Buried Alive, and accepted Austin's challenge for a match at the 1996 Survivor Series. Bret won, earning a shot at the title, but at IYH: It's Time, was screwed over by Shawn Michaels. Then at the 1997 Rumble, Hart was screwed again, this time by Austin. Bad luck continued for Bret, who won the title for the 4th time at IYH: Final Four, but lost it to Sid the next night thanks to Stone Cold. With all of Bret's crying about being screwed (hmm...), the fans started rallying behind Austin and were turning on Bret, who still represented the baby kissing good guy, while Austin was the take no shit from anyone bad ass heel. Finally, the last piece of puzzle came a week ago on Raw, when the Undertaker costs Bret the title in a Cage match with Sid (in a weird bit of psychology, Austin was HELPING Bret, for the obvious reasons). Following that match, Bret "snapped" and unleashed a flurry of naughty words in a whining promo.
With all that out of the way, we finally head to ringside. All you need to know about the story of the first half of the match is it's two men, who hate each other's guts more than anything else, beating the shit out of each other all around the arena. After a while of them brawling around the ring and in the crowd, Bret decides now is the time to take out Austin's "injured" knee (he recently started wearing a brace on his left leg). relentless attacks on the leg by Bret, including my first viewing of the Figure-Four around the ring post spot. Bret probably did this before, but no times that I remember watching. To work in a Star Wars style reference, Bret allows the hate within himself to take over, as he brings a chair into the ring to further injure the already prone Austin... or was he? As Bret attempts to Pillmanize Austin's ankle, Austin manages to pop up long enough and bash in Bret's skull with the chair. Now it's Austin's turn to get his licks in. Although Austin got a mild babyface pop for his entrance, the crowd is almost completely behind him now, popping for everything he does. Since this is a Submission match, Austin busts out an octopus stretch type-hold, something I don't remember him doing often. Hart won't give up though. The action spills outside, and it's time for the blade-job seen 'round the world. Austin must've fucked up, because he's bleeding all over the place just seconds after. Bret goes from his regular formula of working over a body part to relentless attack, targeting the cut on Austin's head, and then using a steel chair numerous times to bash the knee. Austin low-blows Bret to catch a breather, and suddenly gets his second wind, whooping Bret all over the ring. Austin gets careless though, as Bret escapes being choked out with cable wires by bopping Austin with a ring bell that he brought in the ring earlier. Bret quickly applies the sharpshooter, and Austin's fucked. We get the famous "Austin screaming while blood is pouring down his face" camera shot as Austin uses his last bit of energy to power out of the hold, to the biggest pop of the night. Too bad Bret still has the legs grapevined, and reapplies the hold. Austin passes out, and Shamrock awards the match to Hart at 22:03.
Not pleased enough with the win, Bret continues his attack on Austin's knees to major heel heat, until Shamrock throws him off. Bret, being the smartest person around, DOESN'T try and fight Shamrock, and decides to just walk away. Referee Mike Chioda comes to ringside to help Austin back up, but Austin gives him a Stunner for his troubles, and walks back the locker room on his own to a standing ovation. That's Stone Cold being Stone Cold. Jokes aside, one of the greatest matches in the history of the WWF. Like I mentioned already, it's two men who hate each other doing everything they can to make the other suffer, with Hart taking it too far, going from his traditional and respectable wrestling style to sadistic madman looking for vengeance by any means necessary. Although famous for the double turn, both men worked a masterpiece of a match and the crowd ended up being puddy in their hands. Anyone who can't appreciate this match for being the true classic it is has something wrong with them. (*****)
- Chicago Street Fight:
Legion of Doom & Ahmed Johnson vs. The Nation of Domination:
(Hawk & Animal w/ Ahmed Johnson vs. Faarooq, Savio Vega, Crush)
Poor bastards, having to follow that last match. Johnson had been feuding with Faarooq and his lackies since the Summer of '96, when Faarooq, dressed in a goofy Gladiater costume, rupturing Ahmed Johnson's kidney (kayfabe). The LOD made their returns a month earlier at the Manhattan Center, and since this WrestleMania is in Chicago, we get a Chicago Street Fight. They all work the formula of what would eventually become your typical Hardcore rules match, including trash can shots, fire extinguishers, and a table spot thrown in for fun. Speaking of fun, this match is rather entertaining, but only because people getting beat up with weapons is always a great thing to see. After a back-and-forth match, the LOD and Johnson finish off Crush with the Doomsday Device for the victory at 10:45. After the match, PG-13 and lacky D'Lo Brown get their asses kicked, too. The Nation/Ahmed feud just kept on going after this though, and was never resolved, thanks to shitty booking and Ahmed being released for refusing to job to Kurrgan sometime after the 1998 Royal Rumble. Note the rating is for an entertainment scale. If you're looking for wrestling, then just pass over this one. (***)
- WWF World Championship Match:
Psycho Sid © vs. The Undertaker:
Blech... what a wonderfual match to put on as the Main Event of WrestleMania. No reason for this match, other than the fact the only other possible contenders to Sid's title were Bret Hart (busy with Austin), Steve Austin (busy with Hart), and Shawn Michaels, who cried his way out of jobbing the belt and "lost his smile" as a result. Speaking of the piece of shit asshole, he joins the commentary team for this match. Before the match can begin, Bret Hart comes back to ringside, hurling insults at anyone he can, and taking a cheap shot at Shawn's "career-ending knee injury." And people question why everyone loves Bret Hart. Oh yeah, and Sid gives him a Powerbomb for being a complete jackass. Undertaker has his "retro gear" on for this match (the gray gloves and cut-sleeve top), but it's not the same with all those damn tattoos. This match sucks, by the way. I mean REALLY sucks. Heroes of Wrestling sucks. After over 20 minutes of mind-numbingly boring crap, Bret Hart comes out again, causes a distraction against Sid, allowing the Undertaker to scoop him up and plant him with the Tombstone Piledriver for his 2nd World Championship at 23:54. Who in the fucking hell booked THE UNDERTAKER vs. SID to go nearly 25-minutes?! That could've been trimmed down to 15 at most and given more time to Bret/Austin, or even fill up the card more with another midcard match. Hell, anything would be better than this being so long. I'll be generous though, since I don't believe in negative stars for the WrestleMania main event. (DUD)
Final Thoughts: Just watch Bret vs. Austin, and maybe the 6-Man Tag Street Fight. Everything else sucks or is boring enough to be classified as Fast Forward material. Mild Recommendation, only for the fact that Austin/Bret is that damn good of a match and should be viewed at least once by anyone who calls themself a true wrestling fan.