The show is famous for one match, but how is the rest of the event? Time to find out if there is a reason nobody really talks about anything else that happens!
Match 1 – The Godwinns Vs The Headbangers Vs The New Blackjacks Vs Phil Lafon & Doug Fernas – 4 way tag match with… nothing on the line? #1 contendership? Nope. Ok then lol. Big brawl to start with, initiated by the Blackjacks (Barry Windham and Bradshaw). Bradshaw should grow back his moustache. Ummm… what? Both Headbangers end up getting tagged into the match. And they have to fight each other. What? I get the rules are that anyone can tag anyone… but surely logic would dictate that you can’t have both team members in the match at the same time… what they gonna do? One pins the other, eliminating both of them from the match? LMAO, you know how I said there was nothing in it for the winning team? Well according to JR, the winning teams gets a shot at the WWF champion… Owen & Bulldog if they retain later. LOL. Dammit, the two good teams in this match (Lafon & Furnas and the Blackjacks) get eliminated together when they battle on the floor and shove the referee around. Bah. Godwinns aren’t too bad though, big tough team and I recall a good Free For All match between them and the Blackjacks either the Final Four PPV prior to WM or Canadian Stampede a few months after. Either way it was a fun stiff contest. Headbangers are more high fly-y that I remember them. Moonsault attempt, splashes from the ropes, crossbodies etc. Headbangers win. Match overall was… watchable. Shame the two good teams went first. **.
Match 2 – The Sultan Vs Rocky Maivia – Rock’s first WM. Against Rikishi. LOL ok. HONKY TONK MAN!!! For… some reason he’s doing commentary. Guess maybe he’s scouting for the next big star (which ends up being… Rock-A-Billy or Road Dogg Jessie James LOL)? Iron Sheik and BOB BACKLUND are the managers or whatever of Rikishi Sultan. TONY ATLAS. In the crowd. Arnold Skaaland. Lou Albano. Plenty of legends watching this match! LMFAO at Lawler when talking about Rock’ speech at the Slammy Awards: “It was so boring even Christopher Reeves got up and walked out”. And that holds true to this day when it comes to all his promos! And this match, for that matter. Boring chants and everything. Rikishi just sits in a sleeper hold. Rock pretends to fall asleep. I actually fall asleep. Best part of this match is Rikishi’s awesome superkick. Guy was just fucking BORN to superkick people. Should have been his finisher. Rock hits the worst school boy I’ve ever seen for the win. Then gets destroyed after the match. LOL. Then Rocky Johnson shows up for the save. ROCK HAD TO BE SAVED BY AN OLD MAN. Who then gets attacked anyway. Ha. Shit match. DUD.
Match 3 – Hunter Hearst Helmsley Vs Goldust – Oh great. They sucked at the RR, so let’s give them to chance to suck at WM! Yey! Well this starts off good at least. Goldust just kinda squats in the ring, which confuses HHH, allowing Goldust to attack him while he’s off guard. Goldust pretty much beats the shit out of Hunter, and they do a spot where he gets tried up in the ropes, only facing the outside which I don’t think I’ve seen, and Goldust rears back and smashes the future Game with a massive right hand. Pretty fucking sweet transition spot for HHH to get in control too. Great bump by Goldust. And now HHH sucks the life out of the match with his dull as shit offence. Like their RR match, it feels like it lasts forever. HHH wins. Urgh. *.
Match 4 – Vader & Mankind Vs Owen Hart & The British Bulldog – Tag titles on the line! Uncle Paul managing Vader and Mankind. What a mach this looks to be on paper. Never hear anything about it so I’m worried it’s gonna be shit. Paul Bearer, what a manager. He died 2 days ago. RIP Bill Moody. Tag champs have been having problems since the RR when Owen “accidentally” eliminated Bulldog. Nearly cost them the titles at The Final Four PPV last month. They even had a match against each other in the finals of the European title tournament to crown the first champion (which is incredible and imo the greatest Raw match ever). Can they leave WM with the belts? Can they leave on the same page? Time to find out! Last year Vader teamed with Owen and Bulldog, this year he’s fighting them! No Cornette though. Oh man, Cornette in one corner and Bearer in the other? Then the talent inside the ring? If that had happened, and happened in the 80’s in JCP this probably would have been ***** lol. I’m rambling. LOL, Owen tags Bulldog into the match… while both men are in the ring. And the ref is fine with it apparently. Bulldog shows his power, suplexing Mankind then suplexing Vader! Bulldog and Vader had a pretty great match in WCW in the early 90’s, definitely worth seeing. Both teams in this match are heel, and have no problems bending the rules and breaking them as much as possible. URN TO THE HEAD. Paul Bearer’s reaction to it is AWESOME. Mankind and Vader are great controlling the match, essentially being the heels leaving Bulldog and Owen as the babyfaces… or at least as much as they can be. Mankind hits his signature elbow off the apron to the floor, but Vader holds Owen in the back breaker position while he does it! Wish Vader and Mankind were a team for longer, they could have been great, especially if they kept bringing up their history and always teasing them fighting each other, finally leading to some crazy match between the two. Vader Vs Mankind HIAC? Nah, first HIAC was only in October later in the year, wouldn’t want them to team well past that to have one in 98. Just a cage would be fine then. Man, poor Owen really takes a fucking beating from Vader at one point. Man, just realised, only 2 people in this match (out of the 5 including Bearer) are still alive today. That fucking sucks. Owen’s comeback is nice, big belly to belly to Mankind on the floor, then a devastating enziguri that takes Mankind down long enough for the tag to be made! Mandible Claw to Bulldog! Vader smashes into Owen, who in turn falls into Mankind and Bulldog who fall out to the floor, where Mankind keeps the hold applied and they both get… counted out. Damn, was hoping for an actual finish here, but ah well. One question: WHY DOES NOBODY TALK ABOUT THIS MATCH? Seriously, it’s really fucking good! ***1/2.
Match 5 – Bret Hart Vs Steve Austin – It’s the infamous Submission match! Ken Shamrock, at the time known for being a big MMA star, is the guest ref. This feud is awesome btw. Whole build up in 96 with Austin drawing Bret out of retirement to face him at Survivor Series, to the changing of the guard almost with the fans slowly beginning to turn on Bret and cheering more and more for Austin because he was a bad ass who took shit from nobody. And of course this match is known for really being THE match where the fans finally make Austin a babyface and turn Bret heel. This match, and the feud leading into it really was the big game changer for the WWF at the time, and it helped their ratings sky rocket and overtake WCW who were on top of the wrestling world. Didn’t happen overnight of course, but this imo (not even sure if it’s opinion tbh) is the reason why things starting moving up for the WWF. These two men fucking HATE each other, and you feel like the moment they start wailing away at each other the moment the match begins. Austin takes an awesome bump into the ring post too, sounds tremendous. They battle into the crowd in something we would start seeing more and more often over the next year before it became a regular occurrence for 98 and 99 and ended up being meaningless and usually pretty shitty. This feels more like an Old School brawl than the AE “forced” brawls that we got for the most part. These two have reasons to hate each other beyond one of them holding a title and the other wanting it, plus some insults thrown in there. When they get back into the ring, Bret turns it into more of a wrestling match to suit him, and he begins to target the leg, to cause Austin pain and set up the Sharpshooter as submission is the only way to win this one of course. BUT there is still all that HATE here, so just kicking the leg and putting it in leg locks isn’t enough; time for a chair! Lol, Bret spills a can of coke or something onto the time keeper. Bret tries to “Pilmanize” Austin’s ankle, something of a revenge spot for what Austin did to Pillman, but Austin avoids it and uses the chair on Bret’s back, and now has a weak spot of his own to work over. Austin throws Bret outside right in front of his own family, just to really rub it in, so Bret makes him pay by smashing Austin’s head into the guard rail that Austin just sent him into when he flew out of the ring, and the BLOOD begins to pour! This whole feud between Bret and Austin is all about how Austin is a violent unforgiving no good SOB.. and the fans are starting to LIKE it, and Bret stands for everything good and pure and can’t believe that this is happening. So it’s interesting to see Bret slowly begin to get more violent the longer this match goes. Went from punches to the head to smashing it against the guard rail and making Austin bleed. Kicking the legs to smashing them with a steel chair. Bret is turning into the thing he is trying to fight… but the fans are seemingly still turning on him even though now he’s doing what they are cheering Austin for. Some of this stuff doesn’t mean that much to THIS match, but really helps fuel the rest of the feud and the whole US Vs Canada war that we end up getting. As far as this match goes, it still gives us a great story and some awesome action. SHARPSHOOTER! The infamous finish to this infamous match; blood pours down the face of Austin, Bret has the Sharpshooter locked in tight… and then Austin passes about before he even thinks of giving up! The match ends there, but the fans love and respect the sheer toughness of the Texas Rattlesnake! Sweet jebus this match is wonderful. It truly is. Without a doubt the best WM match up to this point, and unless I love a match or two even more than before when I get to them, only ONE match can stand up to this one. *****.
Match 6 – Faarooq, Savio vega & Crush Vs Ahmed Johnson & The Legion of Doom – Chicago Street Fight! Which… seems a little overkill after what we just saw lol. Young D-Lo in a tux! Ha, awesome. So this is… exactly as advertised: a fucking street fight. Looks and feels chaotic, just one giant brawl between the two teams. Perfect tbh. Was exactly what it should have been. Tons of fun. There is a fire extinguisher that they use a couple of times too… and fuck knows what’s in it but it seems to cover the place in dust and dirt almost, and gives this match a more gritty, real street fight kinda feeling. ***.
Match 7 – Sid Vs The Undertaker – For the first time at WrestleMania, The Undertaker finally got to main event the show and wrestle for the WWF Title! It had already been nearly 6 years since the Dead Man had held the belt, but could he overcome the massive “Psycho” Sid to remain undefeated at WrestleMania AND win the belt? No real story going into this match, which is REALLY weird considering it’s the MAIN EVENT to the biggest show of the year. The entire main event/WWF Title scene was all over the place for the first couple of months in 97, starting with Sid being the champion, losing to Shawn, who had to give it up because of a knee injury. Then Austin won the RR, but cheated to do so, and his title shot was at The Final Four PPV, which saw Austin, Bret, Undertaker and Vader battle for the vacant title. Bret won, but lost the next night to Sid. Vader disappeared from the WWF Title scene for a couple of months, Bret and Austin continued their feud, which left The Undertaker to be the most logical number 1 contender. And so we ended up with this match :p. The Undertaker was massively over still at this time, so it made sense for him to be in the main event. As for Sid, while he is far, FAR from the best wrestler ever, his size and look was perfect for the wrestling business, and he was one of the first real tweeners in WWF, as despite being a top heel, he would still get cheers (MSG cheered him over HBK at the 1996 Survivor Series). Plus, he was obviously a pretty good draw (he always claims he is, and it’s hard to prove otherwise) since they kept putting the belt on him, and had him main event WrestleMania. Before the match can officially start, Bret Hart comes out and starts to “shoot” on HBK (who was on commentary), The Undertaker, and Sid. Sid clubs his face with a huge right hand, and Powerbombs him! Sid then tells Bret to get his “whiney ass” out of the ring, which gets Sid a huge pop. Sid wastes too much time running his mouth at Bret, which allows The Undertaker to jump the champion and the match is underway! ‘Taker dominates early on, hitting a Stinger Splash to Sid in the corner, followed by a slam, and then Old School. Sid doesn’t go down from Old School, so The Undertaker comes at Sid with another Stinger Splash, only for the monster of a champion to catch the challenger with a bear hug! Nice work from Sid, he already felt the Stinger Splash, and knew The Undertaker was going for it again, so he was able to counter it into a power move that benefits him in his quest to Powerbomb The Undertaker! As The Undertaker tries to fight out of the bear hug, Sid lets go a couple of times and just smashed his first and forearm into the back of the Dead Man! Simple stuff, but really effective back work from Sid! Sid continues with the back work as they go to the outside, which includes a huge slam onto the announce table, followed by a slam into the ring post! Back in the ring, Sid locks in a camel clutch, which again concentrates on the back area of The Undertaker. Sid may not be a great wrestler in terms of having a large move set or being able to take certain moves, but the guys knows how to work the psychology side of a match really well. The Undertaker manages to get some rest when he throws Sid out of the ring and over the guard rail. The brawl on the outside for a moment, before returning to the ring where Sid regains control of this match. A big powerslam takes down Sid one more time, and The Undertaker locks in a nerve grip, which just seems to piss off the champion more than anything lol. We then get a repeat of one of my favourite spots, which actually happened a year earlier, where both Sid and The Undertaker boot each other in the face! This is actually only the second time I have ever seen this match, so I had no idea that was going to happen, as I had forgotten pretty much the entire match :p. Sid has hardly taken any punishment in this match, and because of this, he is the first to his feet, and is able to continue his domination of The Undertaker. Sid even comes off the second rope numerous times, but does it once too often, allowing The Undertaker to counter, just as Sid did with the Stinger Splash at the start of this match! With Sid down, The Undertaker goes to the ropes, but unlike Sid he is successful! Tombstone attempt coming up, but Sid reverses it, and Tombstones The Undertaker! He covers, and surely has this match won, right? NO! The Undertaker’s finisher didn’t work on the Dead Man, so there is only the Powerbomb left. Bret Hart shows up now, and levels Sid with a chair! Payback for the Powerbomb earlier no doubt. Back in the ring, things look bad for Sid as he gets Chokeslammed to hell! Somehow he still manages to kick out though, and even avoids the leaping lariat of The Undertaker! Sid sets him up for the Powerbomb, but Bret shows up again to distract Sid, allowing The Undertaker to land the Tombstone and win the WWF Title! Wow, this isn’t nearly as bad as people say it is! Despite being 21 minutes, which by all rights it never should have been that long, this is actually pretty good. It didn’t feel like 21 minutes, and never really had any dull parts. Sid did lock in a few submission holds, but they all had a reason and a purpose, and added to the match IMO. Both guys came out looking strong, Sid especially, who kicked out of the Chokeslam, countered so much of The Undertaker’s offence, and dominated the majority of the match. He also only really lost thanks to Bret too. As for The Undertaker, beating Sid for the title was big enough, but he also kicked out of the Tombstone, and survived the match long beating he took from Sid. The only thing I didn’t really like about this match was Bret’s involvement. It took away from the finish IMO, and really it was all rather pointless in the end. Bret didn’t feud with either man after WrestleMania (it wasn’t until 4 or 5 months later at SumerSlam that Bret had a match with The Undertaker), and Sid left not long after this match. But anyway, despite that, I still really enjoyed this match, and thought it was way better than basically everyone else makes it out to be. **3/4.