WWE PPV Flashbacks: Wrestlemania X-7 - April 1, 2001

WrestleMania X-7
April 1, 2001
Reliant Astrodome, Houston, TX

The seventeenth WrestleMania is a very significant show for a number of reasons. Firstly, its the PPV that most fans will point to as the greatest PPV in professional wrestling history. Its very difficult to argue that as well, although there are some contenders out there. Secondly, the event served as the culmination of the Attitude era that brought the WWF back into prominence after being destroyed during the early Monday Night Wars. It was therefore quite fitting that this was the first PPV held after WCW closed its doors. About a week before this show, Vince McMahon finally put the nail in the coffin by purchasing WCW. I'll go into that a little later on, but this would become a focal point of storylines later in the year. For now the point was that with WCW (and also ECW quite recently as well), the WWF was the undisputed king of sports entertainment. Adding to the significance of this show, I really think WrestleMania X-7 is the one where Mania finally became the event we know it to be today, taking place inside the Astrodome and expanding to four hours. With a few exceptions, from this point on, Mania would be held in large stadiums rather than arenas. Anyway, enough of setting the stage, lets dive in to one of the greatest shows of all time. As always, I welcome all thoughts and feedback on Twitter at @Mpmcc91.

We kick the night off with an awesome video package looking at the history of WrestleMania. The music in that video gives me goosebumps to this day. We then head into the dome where our new announce team of Jim Ross & Paul Heyman welcome us to the show. Heyman had been brought in a few weeks ago when ECW folded to replace the now departed Lawler. I remember as a kid being upset with the change as JR & King will always be the voices of my childhood, but going back now, JR & Heyman made a pretty amazing announce team for this run. As the competitors in our first match head out, we go to a video package looking at their rivalry.

WWF Intercontinental Championship:
Chris Jericho (c) vs William Regal

Our first match of the night pits the popular I.C champion against the Commissioner of the WWF. Since being appointed commissioner a few months ago, Regal had found himself at odds with the outspoken Jericho who would humiliate Regal at any chance possible and even go so far as to urinate in Regal's coffee cup. Regal would retaliate in the weeks that followed by placing Y2J in a series of handicap matches. Jericho would respond the week before this show on Raw by impersonating Doink the Clown and using the disguise to pick up a victory over the commissioner, but Regal would respond later that week on Smackdown by injuring the champion's shoulder with the Regal stretch to bring us to our opener here. After a little back and forth, Jericho controls the match in the early going and sends Regal to the outside with a spinning heel kick. He goes after Regal and brings him back into the ring, but after some more offence, Regal counters out of a Walls of Jericho attempt and sends the champion into the turnbuckle, injuring Jericho's shoulder in the process. Regal follows up by targeting Jericho's shoulder some more, blocking an attempted Lionsault comeback with his knees in the process. Wanting to do some more damage, the commissioner exposes the turnbuckle by taking off the padding and sends Jericho's shoulder right into it. This is the point where Jericho begins to mount his comeback but as he goes for the Walls yet again, his injured shoulder makes it impossible to lock in the hold. Regal utilises the opportunity to get Jericho into the Regal Stretch, but the champion gets to the ropes to force the break. Jericho comes back yet again and this time sends Regal into the exposed buckle before following up with the Lionsault to score the pin on the commissioner at 7:08. Y2J retains his title in a short, but solid opener. This could have been better with more time, but I liked the story being told with Regal targeting the injury whilst Jericho fought through to come out with his title. Good way to start the show.
Grade: **3/4

We now cut to the back where we see a limo with a WCW number plate. Shane McMahon is seen stepping out. More on that later.

Elsewhere, the APA and Jacqueline are hanging out in their "office" smoking cigars and playing cards. Bradshaw fires them up for their upcoming match saying the RTC was in for a Texas sized ass kicking.

Tazz & APA w/Jacqueline vs Val Venis, Bull Buchanan & The Goodfather w/Steven Richards
This match was really just thrown together to get these guys on the card. The Right to Censor wouldn't last another month as they would be destroyed by the Undertaker shortly after this show. Tazz is basically just floating around in the hardcore division but was pretty much transitioning into the announcer role for the most part now. I think he may have already started calling Smackdown with Cole following Lawler's departure. The APA are also just hanging around after the T&A feud, but they get a big pop here due to Bradshaw and Jacqueline both being from Texas. This starts out as a brawl before the match even gets under way, with Jacqueline even hitting Val with a DDT before the match starts. Once things settle down we start things off with Faarooq and Buchanan. Tazz is tagged in soon enough and spends the next minute or so getting worked over by the RTC members. This leads to Bradshaw coming in off the hot tag to a big pop and cleaning house. All chaos breaks loose from here as everyone goes at it, and Bradshaw connects with the Clothesline from Hell on Goodfather to win the match for the face team at 3:52. Pure filler here that was exactly what it was expected to be. The home town hero gets the victory to make the crowd happy.
Grade: *

We now see Trish Stratus pushing the wheelchair bound Linda McMahon backstage. They run into Stephanie who tells Trish to prepare the celebrations for when Vince destroys Shane later on. Linda is completely out of it.

WWF Hardcore Championship:
Raven (c) vs Kane vs Big Show

After the craziness in the Hardcore division last month, things have been fairly stable for the most part here. Of course, at No Way Out, the Big Show defeated Raven to win the title. In the weeks that followed, the giant would be a dominant champion, destroying anyone who attempted to invoke the 24/7 rule. That was until an episode of Raw is War a few weeks before this show however were Raven pinned Big Show backstage to win back the title. Kane was really just thrown into this to give him something to do, as he had mostly been involved in his brother's storylines since reuniting, however he was instrumental in Show losing the title to Raven in the previously mentioned match. Anyway, this match is a lot of fun. I loved it as a child and still do today. Raven has his usual trolley full of weapons and he starts brawling with Kane before Show even gets to the ring. Kane quickly dominates Raven and throws him out of the ring and right into the Big Show's hands as the third man in the match makes his entrance. Kane goes up top and dives onto both his opponents from here. The action quickly moves backstage and this is where things really become entertaining. Raven and Show end up fighting into some kind of storage area and lock Kane out in the process. Kane manages to break in through the gate though and starts to brawl with Big Show. Raven uses the opportunity to attempt to choke Kane out with a hose, but the Big Red Machine throws the champion through a glass window for his efforts. The two big men continue to go at it and end up breaking through a wall to get back to Raven. Raven tosses a table onto Show and attempts to flee on a nearby golf cart and almost severs the live feed cable in the process. Show chases in another cart and crashes into Raven. Kane jumps onto his own cart with the ref and almost runs both guys over. From here all three men brawl back out onto the stage. Show fights off Kane and then picks Raven up over his head. Before he can slam Raven or anything however, Kane delivers a big boot to Show which sends both the opponents off the stage and crashing through another stage below. Kane follows up with a legdrop from the stage onto Show and score the pin at 9:17. Kane is the new WWF Hardcore Champion! A really fun and different match that is one of my personal favourites when it comes to the backstage brawling hardcore matches. The only thing it was missing was a Pete Rose cameo!
Grade: ***

We now go to Kurt Angle in the locker room, who is watching a video of Chris Benoit making him tap out. Edge & Christian attempt to lighten the mood, but Angle is focused on payback tonight.

Over at WWF New York, the special guest of the month is Jimmy Snuka. Back at ringside, Jonathan Coachman interviews some fans who came from my home country of Australia to be there. Having done the same for WrestleMania XXX, I'll just say its an amazing experience filled with emotion. Before our next match we see the Rock arriving backstage to a big pop.

WWF European Championship:
Test (c) vs Eddie Guerrero w/Perry Saturn

The build to this feud had been fairly basic. Test has had a pretty uneventful reign since winning the European title back in January and tonight puts his title up against Eddie Guerrero, who has his buddy Perry Saturn at ringside. Eddie was actually the guest referee for a match between Test and X-Pac on the Raw before this show. Another referee would come down to officiate the match, but as Test had the match won, Eddie would pull him out of the ring and allow Albert to beat down Test. Eddie would then count the three for X-Pac and put a beating of his own on the champion heading into their match here. Eddie attempts to jump Test to start but the champion is ready for him and fights him off as we get under way. Test is in control in the early going and the action goes to the floor with Test continuing to use his power advantage. Eddie briefly gains momentum back in the ring but Test gets back in control until he misses a boot and gets caught in the ropes in the process. Eddie resorts to his cheating ways by distracting the referee and allowing Saturn to do a number on Test whilst he is trapped in the ropes. Test eventually gets free, but Eddie locks in a sleeper to remain in control. Test fights back with a tilt a whirl slam and starts to build momentum again, but once again Saturn interferes. The distraction gets Eddie back on offence and he goes for a frog splash only for the champion to move out of the way. Test follows up with the big boot to Eddie and then delivers the same thing to the interfering Saturn on the apron. Test delivers another boot to Eddie but just as the champ has the match won, Dean Malenko (no longer Light Heavyweight Champion by the way having lost it to Crash Holly a few weeks ago on Heat) breaks up the count. Eddie follows up with a shot from the title belt to Test as the ref is distracted and covers to win the title at 8:30. This was a fun little match for the short time it got. Like the opener, with more time it probably would have been better. Putting the belt on Eddie was the right call as Test's reign was going nowhere.
Grade: **1/2

Backstage Michael Cole is standing by with Mick Foley, who is the referee for the McMahon street fight later on. Foley says despite Vince firing him in December, he will still call the match right down the middle. Elsewhere, Stone Cold is shown arriving at the building as JR mentions how important winning tonight is to the Rattlesnake. Huge pop for Austin of course.

Chris Benoit vs Kurt Angle
This was another match that didn't have a huge storyline going in. After losing the WWF Championship last month at No Way Out, Kurt Angle complained on an episode of Raw is War about not having an opponent to face at Mania. He was interrupted by Chris Benoit, who accepted his challenge and effectively turned face in the process, a role he would stay in for most of the remainder of his career. The match was about proving which of the two was the best wrestler. It was that simple. Of course, Angle is also out for retribution for Benoit making him tap out heading into this show. Angle comes out first here and rips on the Texan crowd, which Heyman joins in on from commentary - "lose the freaking cowboy hats - please!". Benoit follows and we are under way. The two men start out in a mat wrestling contest in the early going and its fairly even with both men trading counters. The crowd are all over Angle here, and Benoit eventually goes for the Crossface, only for Angle to get to the ropes. Benoit goes for it again, but this time Angle bails out to the floor frustrated at being outwrestled by his opponent. This is where the dynamic of the match changes as Angle just comes in a decks Benoit to make the match turn into a brawl. Heyman is absolutely brilliant on commentary for all this by the way. The action goes back outside and Kurt continues his offence by sending the Wolverine into the announce table and the ring steps. They then go back into the ring and go back and forth with a series of suplexes and near falls. After some more action Benoit delivers the triple German Suplex to Kurt, but Angle counters out of the last one into the Ankle Lock. Benoit rolls through and traps Kurt in the same move, but Angle escapes. Benoit doesn't let up however and locks in the Crossface instead. Once again Angle counters it into a crossface of his own. Nonetheless the hold is broken and from there the ref gets taken out in the action. Benoit gets Angle in the crossface yet again, and this time Kurt taps out, except there's nobody to see it. Benoit releases the hold to check on the ref but this leads to him taking an Olympic Slam, but by the time the count is made, Benoit manages to kick out. Angle goes to follow up with a moonsault, but Benoit blocks and goes for the Diving Headbutt. Angle manages to kick out of that as well! With both men back to their feet, Angle suddenly goes for a low blow and then rolls Benoit up out of nowhere to score the cheap pin with a handful of tights to win the match at 14:04. This was just a really phenomenal match. They started out playing it fair with technical exchanges until Angle got pissed and the action really picked up. After being unable to beat Benoit despite everything he threw at him, Angle resorted to the cheap win which sets up the feud to continue. On another show this could have been the match of the night. Tonight however, we're just getting started.
Grade: ****

In the back we see Regal heading back to his office when He spots Kamala dancing on his desk. Regal yells at him until he leaves. Fun comedy segment hyping up the gimmick battle royal later on. We now then go to a video package highlighting an appearance with the armed forces during the week.

From there we go back to Kevin Kelly who is with Kurt Angle. Angle says he has no respect for Benoit despite their match when Benoit jumps him from behind and makes him tap out to the Crossface yet again. We then cut to a video package highlighting the Ivory/Chyna feud as that match is coming up next.

WWF Women's Championship:
Ivory (c) vs Chyna

This obviously stems from the Royal Rumble where Chyna aggravated her injured neck during a match with Ivory after being piledriven by the RTC a few weeks before that event. Chyna had been out of action since the Rumble whilst Ivory had continued to take credit for sidelining the Ninth Wonder of the World. This was Chyna's big return as she looked for revenge by taking Ivory's title whilst Ivory looked to end her challenger's career once and for all. The RTC had also been banned from ringside for this one. Chyna gets a good pop and looks incredible here. Of course, this is a foregone conclusion as Ivory should not be booked competitively against Chyna. Ivory gets a cheap shot on Chyna's neck with the title belt before the bell rings and goes after the challenger's neck in the early going, but Chyna soon comes back once she gets her hands on the champion. She decks Ivory with a clothesline and beats on her until finally delivering the powerbomb. Chyna covers but pulls Ivory's shoulder up at two, not satisfied just yet. She picks Ivory right back up and takes her out with the press slam which gives Chyna the easy victory at 2:39. Obviously with that time this wasn't much of a match. It was all about Chyna getting her retribution and was exactly what the storyline called for. It would also pretty much serve as the blow off for the RTC faction as they would break up shortly after this as mentioned earlier.
Grade: *1/2

Back on the floor of the dome, Jonathan Coachman talks to some sports stars in the crowd. We then go back to Mr McMahon's office where he is with Trish and Stephanie and tells the former to bring Linda down to ringside when he has beaten Shane down. Michael Cole comes in and asks Vince whether he was shocked about Shane buying WCW this past week on Raw. Vince says tonight, we'll get shocking. We definitely did.

Street Fight:
Shane McMahon vs Mr McMahon w/Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley
Special Guest Referee: Mick Foley

Well this match has quite the mix of storylines involved. When we last left off in the whole McMahon saga, Vince had booked a match the night after No Way Out putting Stephanie & Regal against himself and Trish. Vince would turn on Trish during that match and it would lead to her being covered in sewerage. In the weeks that followed, Trish would beg Vince for forgiveness, whilst he would continue to degrade her, including the infamous "bark like a dog" segment. With Vince completely out of control with his abuse of power, Shane McMahon would make his return to TV a few weeks later on Raw and started throwing punches at his father. Later that week on Smackdown, Shane would state that he was sick of watching his father mistreat his mother and challenged his father to a match at WrestleMania. Vince would accept the challenge and the match was set. Things would take an unexpected turn however the week before this show on Raw is War. Vince would come out to the ring to announce that he had purchased WCW, but was going to wait to sign the contract of sale at WrestleMania. He would be interrupted when the unthinkable occurred and Shane McMahon walked out on Monday Nitro, which was being simulcast with Raw. Shane would tell the world that the contract had been signed, and that the name was McMahon...however the new owner of WCW was himself, Shane McMahon! Hence the limo earlier. As far as Foley goes, he's the ref here as he apparently signed a contract saying he could referee a Mania match of his choosing before Vince ended his commissionership late last year. Anyway, Shane still has Vince's theme here and he makes his way out before getting on the mic to give a shout out to a bunch of mostly lower card WCW wrestlers watching from the skybox. Vince follows with Steph by his side and we are set to go. Vince starts things with a slap to his son and then proceeds to punch away at Shane. Shane fires back with some offence of his own when Stephanie attempts to get him to stop. The action does not though, as they go out to the floor where Shane grabs a sign off the barricade and beats on Vince with it. Having enough of that, he goes under the ring and gets a kendo stick which he also uses to do a number on his father. The brawl moves over to the Spanish announcers, and Shane wallops Vince with a monitor and lays him out upon the table. Shane then gets up on the top turnbuckle and looks to deliver his elbow drop only for Steph to pull her father out of the way, leaving Shane to go crashing through the waiting table below. This brings out Trish who is pushing Linda out with her. Trish goes to tend to Vince, but once he gets to his feet, she slaps him across the face, getting her revenge for the weeks of humiliation and turning face in the process. Big pop for that. Stephanie starts a catfight with Trish for her betrayal and Foley goes to break it up after a while. The women fight to the back and meanwhile Vince turns his attention to Linda. Foley tries to stop him, but the evil McMahon delivers a chair shot from behind, laying Foley out. Vince drags Linda into the ring and props her up on a chair before going back after Shane. He tosses his son into the ring and throws in some trash cans. Back inside, Vince goes to whack Shane with his back to his wife, only for Linda to rise to her feet to a HUGE pop. Vince turns around and his wife kicks him right in the groin in an unforgettable moment. Meanwhile Foley recovers and gets some own shots in on Vince of his own. Shane finally gets back up and puts Vince in the corner with a trash can. He then climbs to the top on the other side of the ring and busts out his first Van Terminator as the crowd goes wild. Shane covers his father and Foley makes the three count to end the match at 14:12. Shane is victorious and hugs his mother at ringside after the match. This was a lot of fun all round as it delivered the pay off on a number of storylines centred around Vince's evil ways and culminated in him getting the ass kicking he deserved. Yeah, its not a workrate marvel, but if that bothers you, you're really missing the point. Very memorable stuff.
Grade: ***1/2

The second ever TLC is up next so we get a prerecorded interview where Kevin Kelly gets a word from the Hardy Boyz at Axxess about the match. Back live, we see the Undertaker and Triple H preparing backstage for their match later in the night.

WWF Tag Team Championship - TLC Match:
Dudley Boyz (c) vs Hardy Boyz vs Edge & Christian

This match has had quite the build since the Dudley Boyz retained their titles last month at No Way Out. The popular tag team champions had been feuding with Edge & Christian since the turn of the year, whilst the Hardy Boyz had reentered the mix after missing last month's PPV outing. In fact, the Hardy Boyz would actually defeat the Dudley Boyz on an episode of Raw at the start of March to win the tag titles. A few weeks later, the Dudleyz were set to exercise their rematch. Come match time however, Edge & Christian would come out and say the Dudleyz were not in the building, which led to them taking the match instead. It would be in that match that E&C would win the titles with the assist of their debuting buddy, ECW alumni and last champion, Rhyno. That same night the Dudley Boyz would arrive and confront Commissioner Regal, forcing to him giving them a shot at the new champions. During that match, another ECW alumni in Spike Dudley would debut and assist the Dudley Boyz to regain their titles. This would all lead to a TLC match being signed between the three teams at Mania. The war continued in the remaining weeks, with Rhyno making a statement by delivering the gore to Lita. Anyway, this is another one of those matches that is impossible to do comprehensive play by play for. The contest starts off as a six man brawl, with the two face teams disposing of Edge & Christian before going at it themselves. As they go at it, Edge & Christian grab some chairs and start to clean house on their opponents. Ladders are brought into play early on as E&C continue to dominate. Edge attempts to climb for the belts, but Jeff Hardy dropkicks him off the ladder and Christian is taken down moments later. This leads to both Hardy Boyz coming off a separate ladder for the Event Omega on Christian. This gives the Dudley Boyz the chance to regroup before coming in and hitting the Whazzup on Edge before going for the tables. They set them up with Edge on top as Bubba catches a flying Jeff into a powerbomb through the same table. The Dudleyz now take the time to set up some tables outside the ring whilst Matt and Christian start positioning ladders. This leads to all six men climbing at once, with Christian taking his trademark bump to the floor as they all go flying back down. Edge is the first man to recover and he attempts to climb, but Spike Dudley runs out and delivers the Dudley Dog to him. Spike follows up with one to Christian which sends him crashing through a table outside the ring as well. Rhyno is the next man out and he decimates the face teams, goring Matt Hardy through a table in the corner. Edge attempts to climb yet again, but he is stopped by Lita, who pulls him down into a Dudley double team, before she hits Spike with a chair. This leads to the Dudley Boyz taking her out with the 3D, only for E&C to take them out with some chair shots of their own. Meanwhile Jeff goes under the ring and pulls out a massive ladder. With Spike and Rhyno laying on stacked tables, Jeff goes up and hits an insane Swanton off the top to take them both out. Crowd went crazy there. Christian and D-Von are left to go at it in the ring and they attempt to climb and end up dangling from the titles only to fall. We then get a memorable moment as Jeff gets back into things and walks across the top of a set of ladders from the corner to get under the belts. He goes to retrieve them, but Bubba pulls the ladder out from under him. With Jeff dangling, Edge comes off the huge ladder with a Spear sending both men crashing and burning to an insane pop. Holy shit moment there for sure. Matt and Bubba now take a turn to go for the titles, but Rhyno comes back and knocks the ladder over and sends the two men crashing through the stack of tables set up in the aisle earlier in the match. This leads to Edge & Christian being the last team standing, and with Rhyno assisting them up the ladder they retrieve the titles to win the WWF Tag Team Championship yet again at 15:47. The masters of the TLC match do it again and prove they are the top team in the company. I don't really know what to say. This match is phenomenal and in my opinion the best of the three major matches between these teams. This match had it all and was filled with moments that would be played on highlight videos for years to come. The bumps were insane, with the Spear to Jeff being the most memorable. This was a very fitting culmination of the feud that revitalised the tag division in the second half of the Attitude era.
Grade: *****

We now get a video package highlighting WrestleMania Axxess. Having just attended Mania myself this year, its a great experience. Back in the Astrodome, Howard Finkel announces an attendance record of 67,925 has been set. At the time that was the second highest in Mania history, obviously behind III.

Up next we get an awesome moment as Mean Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan are introduced to the crowd. I remember as a kid not knowing who these guys were, but obviously having gone back now its a great homecoming. They had not been with the WWF since 1993 and had spent most of the time since in WCW. You can see by their faces how happy they are to be back as well. They are here to do commentary on the upcoming gimmick battle royal.

Gimmick Battle Royal:
This was a lot of fun as it consisted of a bunch of superstars from the past getting their nostalgia pops. The participants were the Bushwhackers, Duke Droese, Iron Sheik, Earthquake, The Goon, Doink the Clown, Kamala, Kim Chee, Repo Man, Jim Cornette, Nikolai Volkoff, Michael Hayes, One Man Gang, Gobbeldy Gooker, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love and Sgt Slaughter. Doink seemed to be the crowd favourite. Lots of fun seeing everyone back on the grandest stage. Bobby was back to his old form cracking off the one liners, the best being "by the time Iron Sheik gets to the ring it will be WrestleMania 38". Seeing Gene was cool too, but I wish Monsoon was still alive for this as it would have been a fitting reunion for one of the greatest announce teams of all time. The eliminations are quick as you wold expect in a comedy match like this. It comes down to Slaughter, Hillbilly and the Sheik at the end. Slaughter gets dumped by Hillbilly, and Sheik sneaks up on him to toss him out and win the match at 3:07. In reality, he was apparently too old to take the bump to the floor. Afterwards Sarge comes back in and locks the Cobra Clutch in on the Sheik for old times sake. Lots of fun. Again, if you complain about stuff like this, you're missing the point. I can't grade this like a regular match, but it was a good nostalgia comedy segment.
Grade: N/A

Gene and Bobby leave commentary and we are back to JR and Heyman for the rest of the show. We go to a video package of the rivalry behind our next match.

Undertaker vs Triple H
This all started on Raw is War the night after No Way Out. Triple H came out to the ring and bragged about his victory over Austin at the PPV and claimed by virtue of his victory, and having beaten everyone that there was to beat, he should be fighting for the title at Mania. He was interrupted by the Undertaker who said he had never beaten him. Triple H would respond later that night by assaulting the American Bad Ass before a match against the Big Show. Undertaker attempted to get revenge later that week on Smackdown by attacking Triple H & Stephanie from their limo, but he was arrested and Stephanie subsequently filed a restraining order against Taker. With Taker unable to get anywhere near Steph, he would send Kane down to ringside on the next Raw during a match between Triple H and Test. Kane would abduct Stephanie and hold her hostage up on a high balcony whilst Taker used the situation as blackmail to force Commissioner Regal to sign a match between himself and Triple H for Mania. With that, the first time PPV meeting between these two superstars was set for the biggest show of the year. Triple H has his entrance played live here by Motorhead, whilst Taker gets some good speed on the bike down the long ramp for his entrance. The two men brawl outside the ring before the match even gets started and fight around the previously destroyed Spanish table. They get back into the ring and the match officially gets under way from there. The early part of the match is all Taker as he dishes out his power offence on his opponent. The Game finally gets his chance when he knocks Taker off the ropes during Old School and starts to punish the neck and throat of his opponent as he takes control. Triple H gets frustrated after a few near falls and starts shoving the ref around. After fighting off an attempted Taker come back, Trips goes under the ring for the sledgehammer. The ref takes it away though, so the Game decides to go with the Pedigree instead. Take manages to back drop out of the move however, and Trips goes flying into the ref. Taker follows up with the chokeslam, but when Trips kicks out at two, the American Bad Ass gets pissed and knocks the ref out cold. This allows the match to really pick up as it becomes an all out brawl. The two men fight through the crowd and over to a technical area. They fight up onto some camera platforms and Triple H grabs a chair. Trips destroys Taker with it, but as he goes for a final blow, Taker stops him and delivers a chokeslam from the platform down to the floor. Taker jumps down to join the beaten Game and proceeds to dominate, beating him all the way back to the ringside area. The ref is still out by the way, hence why there's been no count-out. Taker grabs the sledgehammer back in the ring, but Trips starts begging him off, only to deck his opponent with a low blow. Trips now goes for the sledge, but Taker fires back with a boot sending both men down. They get back to their feet and begin to trade blows until Trips attempts to go for a Tombstone. Its a foolish move though, as Taker counters into his own, but there's still no ref to count it! Taker now goes for the Last Ride, but as he's being put into position, Trips grabs the sledgehammer and whacks Taker with it as he's being taken up, busting him open in the process. The ref recovers to count and we get a very close near fall. That was the moment in the match that you really thought Triple H would win, although the Streak wasn't being talked up just yet. Trips sends Taker into the corner and goes up to beat on him, but Taker catches the Game into a Last Ride from the corner, and that finishes Triple H off at 18:57 to go 9-0 at Mania. This was yet another great match tonight that really picked up after the ref got taken out. It was a chaotic brawl which fit the storyline being told here with both men wanting to destroy one another. Some people will criticise the ref being out so long, but I really think you're looking for things to complain about if you're going that far. Definitely Taker's best singles match for a while. Another very good one on the line up tonight, and we've got one more still to come.
Grade: ****

Coach talks to some more fans in the crowd before we throw to our last video package of the night. Its obviously hyping the main event and is set to the awesome "My Way" which was the theme of the PPV.

WWF Championship - No DQ Match:
The Rock (c) vs Steve Austin

Well here we go, the culmination of the Attitude era. The two biggest stars in the company squaring off in a rematch from their encounter at WrestleMania XV. Things are quite different now as both guys are insanely popular faces at this point in time. Anyway, Rock obviously beat Angle last month to win the title, whilst Austin won the Rumble back in January. This marks the first time since Austin's win in 98 where the Rumble winner actually got his one on one title match. Anyway, in the weeks that followed, Austin's wife Debra - I believe this relationship being acknowledged on screen for the first time around this show, decided she wanted to be a manager again. Wanting to screw with two of his biggest adversaries, Mr McMahon decided that she would be the new manager of the Rock. Neither Rock nor Austin were happy with the arrangement and Austin warned Rock that he would kick his ass if something happened to her. On an episode of Raw, that is exactly what happened as during a match between Rock and Kurt Angle, Angle got Debra in the Ankle Lock, which led to Austin kicking both men's asses. The next week, Austin would make the save for Rock in a handicap match, but Rock would hit Austin with the Rock Bottom in retribution for the Stunner the week prior. Anyway, the whole Debra part of the storyline was not really working for the fans, so Mr McMahon would relieve her of her managing duties, pretty much writing her out of the build for the match in the process. Instead the focus became Austin's desire to win the WWF Championship. A sit down interview took place between the two men on Smackdown a week before the PPV, where Austin straight up told the Rock he would do anything to win - "I need to win the title". Foreshadowing something perhaps? Speaking of foreshadowing, before the participants make their entrances, Finkel announces that the match is now a No DQ match, and JR wonders when that was added. Both men get pretty good reactions from the crowd, but being in Texas, Austin's pop absolutely blows the roof off the place. Austin plays up his more relentless side from the get go as he jumps Rock as soon as he's done posing for the crowd and that gets things started. He even attempts to whack Rock with the title belt but Rock ducks and the two men trade blows. Rock looks for the Rock Bottom early on, but Austin counters and attempts a Stunner. Rock counters that into a Stunner of his own, but Austin blocks that and sends him to the outside where they brawl into the crowd who are incredibly hot. Rock gains control as he fights Austin back to the announce table, but the Rattlesnake takes advantage of an opening and brings his opponent back into the ring before removing the padding on a turnbuckle. Rock goes back on offence yet again and the action spills back out to the announce table. After Rock rams Austin up against it, the ref attempts to restore order, only for Rock to shove him away, but that gives Stone Cold the chance to fire back by busting the champ open with a shot from the ring bell. Austin fires off some more shots with the bell and Rock ends up on the announce table which collapses underneath him. Austin follows up by trying to choke Rock out back in the ring, but the champion fights off as the crowd start to boo the Great One. Austin remains in control and stomps a mudhole in his opponent, but Rock gets the chance to flip Austin off before sending him into the exposed turnbuckle which busts the challenger open as well. Rock now goes out and gets the ring bell and takes shots at Austin's bloody skull with it. The fight spills back outside yet again, and Rock ends up getting catapulted into the ring post. Back in the ring Austin attempts the Stunner, but Rock blocks it and ends up getting Stone Cold in the Sharpshooter. Austin gets to the ropes to force the break and responds by locking in his own Sharpshooter on the champ. Rock ends up fighting his way to the ropes to get out as well. After a little more action, Rock hits Austin with the Stunner, but it only gets two. This is where the real story comes out though, as Mr McMahon makes his way to the ring to some huge heat and "asshole" chants. Both competitors get back to their feet, and after a Spinebuster is unable to get the job done, Rock goes for the People's Elbow. He connects, but as the cover is being made, Vince pulls the Rock off of Austin. This leads to Rock chasing Vince around ringside, but the champion runs right into a Stunner, only for Rock to block it and shove Austin into the ref. This is where we finally understand what is going on, as Austin hits Rock with a low blow and then yells at Vince to get him a chair. The heel turn is on. Austin holds Rock whilst Vince whacks Rock with the chair and wakes the ref up. Rock manages to kick out though and Austin is absolutely furious. Austin goes for the chair again, but Rock connects with the Rock Bottom. Vince distracts the ref so Rock throws punches at the boss. Austin uses this opportunity to hit the Stunner, but Rock kicks out after a very close near fall! Vince hands Austin the chair, and the Rattlesnake hits Rock with it, but the Great One kicks out once again! Austin is furious now and he absolutely destroys the grounded Rock with over a dozen chair shots. Austin covers and that gets the three at 28:07. Austin is the new WWF Champion and he gets a huge babyface pop from the crowd despite the way he won. After the match, Austin shakes hands with Vince. JR is freaking out on commentary asking why, whilst Heyman says Austin has sold his soul for the title! Rock staggers back to his feet, but Austin wallops him with the title belt and then shares a beer with the evil Mr McMahon in an image we never thought we would see. The crowd is still cheering, but Stone Cold has officially turned heel in his home state and that is how we go off the air. As far as the match goes, this is the perfect main event and my favourite of the three big encounters between these guys. The story played out perfectly with Austin becoming more and more frustrated with being unable to get the job done, until he finally resorted to Vince's help and a relentless beat down to win the title that he needed to get back. Now, as far as the heel turn goes, was it the right move? Austin has said no and wishes it never happened. Personally, I think it sets Austin up for one of the best in ring runs of his career for the rest of the year, but we'll watch that as things play out. I do think they probably didn't need to make the McMahon allegiance so explicit here since the crowd were clearly still going to cheer Austin, but you could have planted the seeds and followed through with it on Raw. It doesn't hurt the match though. A classic to cap off one of the greatest shows of all time.
Grade: *****

The night ends with a highlight video of the night set to "My Way".

FINAL THOUGHTS:
This show is an all time classic and in contention for the best PPV of all time. It had a bit of everything and the big matches all delivered. Austin/Rock was a classic main event, Taker/HHH was a brawl, TLC was a spotfest, the McMahon street fight was an emotionally charged spectacle that had several hot storylines paid off, and Angle/Benoit was a great technical encounter. The gimmick battle royal was also a fun homecoming for everyone involved. Add in the awesome JR/Heyman commentary team calling the action, and this show is phenomenal. There wasn't even anything bad on the undercard. Everything worked on this night. Along with the fact that this show was the culmination of the hottest mainstream era in the history of the company, thats why this show has such a high reputation. I'm sure everyone who is reading this has watched it at least once, but if you haven't, fire up the Network right now. Greatness.

Three Stars of the Night:
1. Steve Austin - you can debate the heel turn all you want, there's no doubt that his performance in the main event was phenomenal at telling the story they wanted to get across. After being without the title since the summer of 1999, Stone Cold is on top of the wrestling world once again.
2. The Rock - just like Austin, he was on fire for the whole main event. He didn't let the lack of crowd support during the match phase him, and he played his part well too. This would be his last PPV for a few months, as he would be out filming 'The Scorpion King' until the summer. He would be on Raw the next night, but aside from that, this was an awesome send off for a while for the Great One.
3. Edge & Christian/Hardy Boyz/Dudley Boyz - yeah, I picked six guys. Who cares? Their performance in TLC was awe inspiring and topped the previous matches of its kind.

Just to put something into perspective, there were two other **** matches with guys who I couldn’t even fit in this list! What a show!

FINAL GRADE: 10 out of 10

ALL TIME PERFORMANCE TALLY:
What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1.

Steve Austin = 99
Bret Hart = 83
Shawn Michaels = 67
The Rock = 52
Triple H = 49
Mick Foley = 38
Randy Savage = 28
Undertaker = 26
Owen Hart = 21
Hulk Hogan = 18
X-Pac = 18
Diesel = 15
Chris Jericho = 14
Matt Hardy = 14
Jeff Hardy = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 12
Kurt Angle = 12
Christian = 12
Edge = 11
Ted DiBiase = 10
Razor Ramon = 10
Vince McMahon = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
Bubba Ray Dudley = 7
D-Von Dudley = 7
Jerry Lawler = 6
Chris Benoit = 6
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Bob Backlund = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
D’Lo Brown = 4
Rikishi = 4
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
Tanaka = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Sato = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Hakushi = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Savio Vega = 3
Ken Shamrock = 3
Shane McMahon = 3
Chyna = 3
Kane = 3
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Billy Gunn = 1
Bart Gunn = 1
Marc Mero = 1
Flash Funk = 1
Animal = 1
Hawk = 1
Taka Michinoku = 1
Test = 1
Big Show = 1
Dean Malenko = 1
Scotty 2 Hotty = 1

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