The Wrestlemania Countdown: Day Eight

March 24th, 2010 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

For today’s Tales of Wrestlemania profile, let’s go with Andre the Giant.

Wrestlemania 1: Andre battles and defeats Big John Studd with Andre’s very career on the line. In Studd’s corner is Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.

Wrestlemania 2: Andre continues to show his dominance by winning the big battle royal. Later, in the main event, Heenan’s acquisition King Kong Bundy fails to defeat Hogan for the title.

Wrestlemania 3: Andre and Heenan have joined forces to get the title off Hogan. Andre loses the match. Once again, Heenan has failed.

Wrestlemania 4: Andre has a rematch with Hogan, though this time represented by Ted Dibiase. Andre succeeds in taking Hogan out of the tournament, but when he tries to take out Savage, Hogan appears to strike him down. Also at this show, Jake Roberts has a match with Rick Rude that starts a feud between Jake and the Heenan Family.

Wrestlemania 5: Andre is back with Heenan and is going after Jake Roberts. Big John Studd is the referee. Andre is disqualified and chased off by Jake, giving Studd some face closure in their rivalry.

Wrestlemania 6: Andre and Haku are the tag champs. They lose the belts to Demolition and Heenan has had enough. Ever since turning heel, Andre has yet to get a victory at Wrestlemania. Heenan slaps Andre and sets him off.

Wrestlemania 7: Andre is too broken down to wrestle, but he does show up to help Big Boss Man fight the Heenan Family. After helping clear the area of Mr. Perfect, Haku and the Barbarian, Andre gives some words of encouragement to Boss Man and effectively passes the torch before moving on.

Has kind of an Anakin Skywalker ring to it.


Date: March 29, 1998
Era: Attitude Era
Location: FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts
Notable Debuts: Kane, Mark Henry, Michael Cole, Bob Holly

Wrestlemania 14 takes place in a very critical part of wrestling history. Just months before, WCW’s upwards rise leveled off thanks to the foolish ending to Sting vs. Hogan at Starrcade ’97. In the WWF, Stone Cold Steve Austin is building himself up to being a total top-level draw for the business. Some would say the WWF’s famed Attitude Era started the moment Austin won the King of the Ring in mid-’96, while others say that it’s the main event of this very Wrestlemania that does it. Either way, one can’t dispute that Austin vs. Michaels is one giant leap for the WWF’s survival and eventual dominance.

The Atmosphere

The actual setup leaves a lot to be desired, with nothing more than an uninspired blackness with red ropes and Wrestlemania logo. The opening video is rather nice, showing that even though Austin is a snake, Michaels is a degenerate and special celebrity guest Mike Tyson is a crazed rapist, everyone involved still respects the tradition of all the Wrestlemanias that came before. Other celebrities include Pete Rose, who would start an amusing trend, and Jennifer Flowers, whose only real claim to fame is that she may have handled Bill Clinton’s package. She’s used well, at least, by interviewing the Rock in a segment that not only polishes the Rock’s emerging character, but coins the phrase, “if you smell what the Rock is cooking.”

Working against the show is the awful set of video packages. These are outright bad, explained with voiceovers that make it look like an overly cheesy soap opera. Not that it isn’t, but I feel like I’m watching the opening moments of an old Soap episode. The Undertaker one feels like it’s ten minutes long too. You’re missing the point of the recap when it’s almost half as long as the actual match!

The Matches

It begins with Farooq and Kama Mustafa walking out as two of the final contestants for a big 15-Team Battle Royal featuring two teams of Los Boricuas (Savio Vega teaming with Miguel and Jose teaming up with Jesus), the Truth Commission (Recon and Sniper), two teams of the Nation of Domination (Farooq with Kama and Mark Henry teaming with D’Lo Brown), the team of Bradshaw and Chainz, the Quebecers (Jacques and Pierre), the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson), the Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher), the New Midnight Express (Bombastic Bob and Bodacious Bart), Too Much (Scott Taylor and Brian Christopher), the Disciples of Apocalypse (Skull and 8-Ball), the team of Steve Blackman and Flash Funk, the Godwinns (Phineas and Henry) and Legion of Doom 2000 (Hawk and Animal). The winning team gets a shot at the tag titles at the next PPV, which really takes away from the climactic feel of Wrestlemania.

Legion of Doom are the big surprise, having recently broken up due to their inability to win matches. They return with a new look and Sunny as their manager, wearing some kind of upside-down dress bra made of fire. I love battle royals, so I get enjoyment out of this match, but there’s some big road bumps. Mainly something that’s a big hindrance in this era of wrestling, which is the reluctance to have decisive wins and losses. That makes some sense in regular matches, but it’s a battle royal. Who gives a shit if you get thrown over the top rope? And yet, a big chunk of the contestants get cheated by outside forces. Barry Windham runs in to throw out Chainz and eliminate Bradshaw, Kurrgan walks over to pull Recon out of the ring and the Disciples of Apocalypse come back after elimination to eliminate the Godwinns. It’s overbooked.

The final two teams are the Legion of Doom and the New Midnight Express. There’s some good psychology in there by pushing Animal to the outside without attempting to throw him over the top rope, as it gives Bob and Bart the ability to team up on Hawk. Animal does return to help even the odds, leading to a screwy ending sequence that involves Bob almost completely no-selling one of Hawk’s running clotheslines. The Legion of Doom end up winning anyway, giving them a future title shot.

Taka Michinoku defends the Light Heavyweight Championship against Águila, otherwise known as Essa Rios. It’s a very entertaining face vs. face match with a lot of cruiserweight spots you would very rarely see in the WWF. The most impressive spot is an asai moonsault off the top-rope and to the outside via Águila. Lawler helps put over the match and division by giving each guy props, but insisting that Brian Christopher can take either one of them. The end has Taka miss a moonsault, but counter a top-rope attack by dropkicking Águila in the mush and nearly impaling him with his boots. Taka hits the Michinoku Driver and gets the victory in the one and only use of the Light Heavyweight Championship in Wrestlemania history.

Triple H defends the European Championship against Owen Hart with Commissioner Slaughter handcuffed to Chyna to prevent her from interfering in the match. Jesus, isn’t just easier to ban her from ringside? The DX Band is there to play Triple H’s theme, which is a nice touch, I guess. They play up the match with Owen’s limp, as he’s getting over an injury, and they also make mention that he’s beaten his brother Bret at Wrestlemania – an easy jab at the competition. The match has its moments for the better and its moments where the two can’t get on the same page. Mainly when Owen tries to make a comeback by punching Triple H back with some stomp-based punches that don’t quite work in that kind of spot. Despite Slaughter’s “brilliant” handcuff idea, Chyna is able to throw powder in his face, punch Owen in the crotch and let Triple H hit the Pedigree for the win. If anything, I get the feel that Owen Hart just works better as a heel and it looks like the WWF would feel the same way by turning him shortly after.

There’s a mixed tag match of Marc Mero and Sable vs. The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust and Luna Vachon. It’s a weird bit of setup with Sable as the only real face in the match. Mero is trying to both push her out of the spotlight and ride her coattails, while Goldust and Luna are shown to be completely OUTRAGEOUS… or in Goldust’s case, outrageously fat. I’ve never been too big on Mero (who has?), but he at least does a great job here carrying Goldust. The Sable vs. Luna angle doesn’t make much sense here, as despite all of Luna being a monster who wants to tear Sable apart, she spends most of the match running away from her all scared. Sable, by the way, is crazy over at this point. The crowd absolutely loves her. It’s her first WWF match at this point and her skills are very rough in the beginning, but as it goes forward, she pulls off some fairly impressive stuff, like a hurricanrana off the top rope, a powerbomb and a TKO. The Meros get the win and Marc makes attempts to celebrate with his disgruntled wife.

The Rock defends the Intercontinental Championship against Ken Shamrock with the stipulation that if the Rock gets disqualified, he loses the title. For no reason whatsoever, there’s a very bizarre introduction to this match. Tennessee Lee comes out first and introduces the duo of Jeff Jarrett and Jennifer Flowers. They banter for a moment and then announce the contestants. It beats having Jarrett wrestle, I suppose.

Rock couldn’t ask for a better opponent here, since for some reason he and Shamrock have always had insane chemistry. I’d easily rather watch a Rock/Shamrock match than a Rock/Triple H match any day. A lot of the match is brawling around on the outside, but the in-ring stuff is apparent too. Shamrock succeeds in getting his hands on the Rock’s ankle and twisting it enough to make him tap. The other members of the Nation of Domination rush to the ring, but Shamrock suplexes all of them, including Mark Henry. He goes back to the ankle lock on the screaming Rock, prompting Farooq to come to the ring, climb to the apron… then step down and leave the Rock to suffer. After a long stretch of Rock’s agony, Shamrock lets go and is cornered by various officials. Shamrock is disqualified for his refusal to break the hold, which causes him to toss the referees around like ragdolls, rush up the ramp, pull the Rock off a stretcher and continue the beatdown. It needs to be reiterated that Shamrock ruled back then.

The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Road Dogg) defend the Tag Team Championship against Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack in a Dumpster Match. The point of the match is to put both opponents in a dumpster and close the lid. In the beginning, there are several minutes of boring, boring brawling. Thankfully, this is a match with Foley and Funk, so they know how to make something as ridiculous as a Dumpster Match into an entertaining hardcore battle. There are a lot of inventive spots, like one where Cactus Jack places Road Dogg next to the dumpster and flies off the apron to crush him. Billy Gunn sees this, runs across the ropes and hits Road Dogg in the head with a Baseball Slide so that Cactus Jack only hits the dumpster. Or there’s a part where Cactus Jack and Billy Gunn climb a ladder in the middle of the ring and the brawl between Road Dogg and Chainsaw Charlie causes one of them to back up into the ladder, which falls over and dumps Gunn and Cactus into the open dumpsters.

The fight goes into the backstage area, where Cactus and Chainsaw are able to lay out both Outlaws and put them on a forklift. They find another dumpster back there and Chainsaw takes control of the forklift to dump in the champs. Of course, Billy and Road Dogg have to roll off the forklift in their unconscious states, but that nitpick doesn’t stop this from being a completely fun match.

The long-awaited Undertaker vs. Kane match is next and it isn’t pretty. Sure, the opening is fun, with Pete Rose brought in as the announcer. He makes fun of Boston until Kane arrives and Tombstones him. Then Undertaker gets one of his rad druid entrances. I think the world of Undertaker and Kane, but this is not one of their better matches. It’s slow and plodding and makes me think of that abortion of an Undertaker vs. Undertaker match they did at Summerslam years ago. Hell, it even ends almost exactly the same way!

Most of the match is Kane dominating and no-selling the Undertaker’s offense. Undertaker shows some agility that’s even impressive for him, like hopping up on Kane’s shoulders and punching him, only to be slammed down with an Electric Chair Drop. Kane decides not to pin Undertaker because he’d rather punish him more, but you’d think that he’s trying to punish us viewers by putting Undertaker in a never-ending rest hold. One spot has the Undertaker leap off the top ropes and at Kane on the outside, only for Kane to sidestep, and slam Undertaker through a table. It’s not perfectly done, but a good effort.

Kane hits the Tombstone, but Undertaker kicks out. Undertaker hits the Tombstone, but Kane kicks out. He hits a second one, but Kane staggers to his feet. Finally, a third one keeps him down long enough for the ref to count him for three. Not that it matters, since Kane gets back up and manhandles Undertaker post-match and hits a Tombstone onto a chair. Once Kane and Paul Bearer leave, Undertaker sits up and staggers to the back.

That leaves our main event of Shawn Michaels defending the WWF Championship against Stone Cold Steve Austin with Mike Tyson as the special enforcer. The entrance part is awkward, as the DX Band plays the DX theme for Mike Tyson (doing some very goofy looking X-chops on his way to the ring), Austin comes out to his theme, then the DX Band starts up the DX theme yet again for Michaels. Was it really necessary to bring these guys in to play the same song over and over again when the studio version sounds better anyway? What’s cool with the intros is how instead of just walking out from behind the curtain, we’d see Austin and Michaels backstage first. Michaels acts like a douche to the camera and plays it up, while Austin silently keeps to himself as the fans chant his name.

The crowd here is HOT, and it should be. Michaels has escaped comeuppance from every opponent that’s gunned for him since his heel turn. Austin is the perfect guy to shut him up. Well, not so much “shut up” as “pull down”, which is what Austin does to the back of Michaels’ tights. He spends a moment or two with his ass hanging out until Austin throws him out of the ring and into his DX brethren. Triple H and Chyna attack Austin, causing the ref to demand they leave. Tyson reacts the same way, which may or may not be a botch. On the DVD set, there’s an announcement for them to leave, which sounds completely tacked on to further explain their absence. Maybe I’m hearing things.

The brawling far overshadows any wrestling that these two men would have made godly, but consider both are hurting from injuries, I can let it pass. Michaels punishes Austin with cymbals, the dumpster from the earlier match and the ring bell itself. During that last one, the ref is “distracted”. By what, exactly? It’s just them and Tyson! Things pick up when Michaels has Austin beaten down and playfully flips him off. Austin immediately rushes Michaels, pins him down and goes on a punching spree. Michaels works Austin’s knee for a bit and the two accidentally knock out the ref.

The two keep countering each other’s finishers until Austin hits the Stone Cold Stunner. Tyson slides into the ring and makes a mighty fast – and unnecessarily so – three count to award Austin the title. The two patch things up, Michaels gets up and gets in an altercation with Tyson. Tyson punches out Michaels in a twist that is never really explained. Just a swerve for the sake of swerving.

I mentioned earlier how close this is to the Hogan vs. Sting match at Starrcade ’97 and the more I look at it, the more interesting it is to compare the two main events. Both are a scummy leader of a degenerate stable being challenged by a very specific hero who is the one final shot of dethroning them and taking the title. Sting and Austin HAVE to win and decisively. That’s how good vs. evil in fiction works. Hogan/Sting has a normal count that was supposed to be a fast count while Austin/Michaels has a fast count that didn’t need to be there. With Austin beating Michaels, DX evolves into something different and Austin leads the WWF into a new era. With Sting beating Hogan, he loses the title back shortly after and it’s the same feud going on and on, causing the company to slowly die from the inside.


Date: March 17, 2002
Era: Crossover Era
Location: SkyDome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Notable Debuts: Rob Van Dam, Booker T

The Crossover Era is a term I’ve made up to describe the time between the end of Wrestlemania 17 and the rise of John Cena as a household name. Having assimilated WCW and ECW, the WWF has gone into a habit of bringing in as many names as possible to pull off dream matches that were not possible years before. After the initial WCW/ECW invasion winds down, they bring in the likes of the New World Order, Rey Mysterio, Scott Steiner and Bill Goldberg until there’s no money matches left and they have no choice but to build up their own talent. If you ask me, this is an aspect that TNA fails at. If they die tomorrow and Vince bought them up, would the viewing audience truly care about Cena vs. Abyss or Orton vs. Styles? Does that even come close to Rock and Austin vs. the New World Order?

The Atmosphere

The show opens up to a performance by the band Saliva. Good God, why? That’s a horrible thing to do. Even worse is when Drowning Pool plays later on. I shit you not, the song they play is supposed to “tell the story” of the Triple H/Jericho main event. Rather than show a video package or anything like that, this would-have-been-a-one-hit-wonder-regardless group plays one of their songs and the video screen shows random shots of Jericho and Triple H doing stuff.

Considering the amount of name talent at the venue, the intro montage is played perfectly. Everyone discusses how big Wrestlemania is. Hogan discusses bodyslamming Andre, Hall discusses the Ladder Match, Austin talks about his first championship and so on. The backstage segments are good all around. Christian pulls off a fantastic promo against DDP while doing his ridiculous, extremely dorky smile. The Rock mocks Hogan’s “say your prayers and eat your vitamins” shtick by having the Coach get down on his knees and pray. Coach starts off his prayers with, “What up, G?” if you’re wondering. Booker T tries to prove how smart he is compared to Edge by wearing glasses. Then Hogan creates dissention in the nWo by suggesting they hang back and let him handle the Rock by himself.

The segment where they show highlights of Fan Axxess is one of the few times it doesn’t come off as a waste of a few minutes. They really make it look fun, despite Triple H spitting water all over the fans. The one snag is an incredibly creepy part where they show that on display is a statue of Stacy Keibler’s ass and legs. There is a lot of emphasis on how random guys would gladly be on camera and run their hands over her ass to the point that Stacy is openly concerned.

The Matches

William Regal defends the Intercontinental Championship against Rob Van Dam to open the show. This is when Regal is fully immersed in his gimmick where he’s constantly sneaking brass knuckles into the match and blaming his wins on the Power of the Punch. It’s truly worth it just to hear Jim Ross scream, “HE GOT THE KNUCKS!” once every match. Regal does make an early attempt to pull out the knuckles and they are promptly kicked away by RVD. RVD gets some momentum, but misses a Five Star Frog Splash. The two have a really good clash of styles that mesh incredibly well, making this a fantastic way to start off.

Regal gets a second set of brass knuckles, which are taken away by the referee. As the ref goes off to deal with that, Regal takes out a third set of knuckles and turns into a kick to the cranium. RVD hits the Five Star Frog Splash and it’s over. The Intercontinental Championship won’t be defended at Wrestlemania for another seven years.

Speaking of forgotten titles, Diamond Dallas Page defends the European Championship against Christian. DDP is in the middle of his motivational speaker gimmick and to this day it remains one of my favorite things about this era. After being ruined in his program with the Undertaker (I don’t know what’s worse: being pinned by Undertaker’s ex-wife Sara or the idea that someone would be stalking her to begin with), it was nice to see him momentarily get back on his feet with an over-the-top gimmick that played on DDP’s real life personality.

Like with the previous match, DDP and Christian mesh really well together. DDP would miss a discus punch and get punished with an Inverted DDT. Christian goes to the top rope and gets slugged a couple times. DDP climbs to the second rope and flings Christian into the center ring. Christian gets up and finally gets hit with a discus punch. A moment later, DDP feigns a punch and Christian ducks down. DDP grabs Christian and powerbombs him. Good stuff.

The angle going in is that Christian has been on a losing streak and his losses have caused him to go into insane crying tantrums. DDP turned that around and helped get him a win. Christian decided he didn’t need DDP anymore and attacked him. This plays flawlessly into the match, as Christian can’t quite put DDP away and it starts to mentally affect him. He keeps it calm and takes deep breaths. He misses a punch and gets a surprise Diamond Cutter. DDP wins and gets on the mic to congratulate Christian. By losing the match, he has ultimately won by taking his failure like a man. DDP then goes out of his way to remind Christian about what a high profile and highly watched loss this is and Christian succumbs to another crybaby fit.

And this isn’t a BAD match. This is a GOOD match.

Maven defends the Hardcore Championship against Goldust. The whole Hardcore thing is more of a subplot of the night, so I’ll treat it as one big match. Goldust shows off his hardcore side by bringing out gold trash cans and a golden shovel. The battle is fairly short, but does involve some good moments, like Maven dropkicking a gold trash can into Goldust’s face. The Can-Daminator?

The two smash each other upside the head with golden lids and they both go down. Spike Dudley runs in with a referee and takes advantage of the 24/7 rule by pinning Maven and winning the belt. He’s chased into the back in a series of bedlam that involves Al Snow and referee Teddy Long driving a cart straight into a wall of boxes as Crash Holly attempts to win the title off Spike. Though worse for wear, Spike escapes the melee, only to be taken out by the Hurricane swinging in on a rope. The new Hardcore Champion Hurricane escapes backstage and finds himself stuck in an Austin Powers skit as he watches the Godfather’s Hoes compare bra sizes from behind a white screen that shows off his silhouette. They find him holding up a broom in a way that insinuates his gigantic Hurriboner.

He later cuts a promo about that situation and his sidekick Mighty Molly brains him with a frying pan. She pins him, wins the title and tries to run off. The top half of a door closes on her face and a snickering Christian appears to win the belt. He sneaks off and puts his gear into a cab, but the moment he tries to climb into the car, Maven appears, rolls him up for a pin, gets the title back and steals his cab (along with all his stuff). Again, Christian goes into a fit.

I remember being psyched for Kurt Angle vs. Kane because it’s a pair that tends to put on some amazing matches, especially around this time, when Kane is at the peak of his career. This one is really good, but I’ve seen them do better. Angle hits Kane in the face with the bell at the start, which allows Angle to pick him apart for at least a moment. Kane comes back and manhandles Angle. He tries a chokeslam, but Angle grabs the rope before he can get any air on it. Angle gets the better of Kane and hits three German suplexes followed by a clothesline off the top rope. A second attempt at a top-rope clothesline is countered by Kane’s own clothesline.

Both tired, they start slugging it out until Kane gives a surprise chokeslam. Angle saves himself by putting his hand on the rope. Kane goes for a Tombstone, Angle slides out, fiddles with Kane’s mask to cause distraction, hits the Angle Slam and Kane kicks out. Angle puts Kane in the ankle lock – which Kane always sells to perfection despite his mask covering up his facial expressions – until Kane breaks it with an enziguri. Kane goes to the top for a clothesline, but Angle springs up and catches him with a suplex. As great as this all is, it’s ruined by an unfortunate ending. Kane goes for another chokeslam and Angle reverses it into a successful pinning combination. It’s just that he ends up falling all over the place by trying to hold Kane down and get his legs on the ropes that it looks really bad. Oh, well.

Ric Flair takes on the Undertaker in a No Disqualification Match. Undertaker’s doing his big bully biker thing where Jim Ross keeps calling him Booger Red for who knows what reason. Flair is the underdog and takes it right to the Undertaker from the start. It’s a really good brawl with good energy throughout. Flair finds himself bloody and on his knees; out of gas and unable to fight back against Undertaker’s onslaught. Undertaker plays with him until going to the top for Old School. Flair tosses Undertaker to the mat, runs over to Undertaker’s bike and steals a lead pipe. He smashes Undertaker with it a couple times and goes for the Figure Four. Really cool visual here as Undertaker sits up from the Figure Four and strangles Flair. Flair lets go of the hold and gets chokeslammed.

Arn Anderson runs in and takes Undertaker down with a picture perfect spinebuster. It’s one of those moments where non-fans would be wondering why the fans in the room are suddenly going nuts over what just happened. Undertaker busts Arn open and puts him in a Dragon Sleeper. Flair frees him by smacking Undertaker in the back with a chair. Undertaker smacks Flair aside and goes for the Last Ride. There seems to be some kind of miscommunication here as Undertaker can’t quite lift Flair and Flair falls over, so Undertaker cuts his losses and does a Tombstone instead. Another really great match with an ugly ending.

Booker T and Edge is remembered because of the story leading into it. Think of all the truly great Wrestlemania angles. Undertaker has no choice but to face his evil brother Kane in combat. The Ultimate Warrior puts his very career on the line to get revenge on the man who made him lose the championship. Bret Hart becomes so filled with bitter hate over what Steve Austin has turned the company into that he falls to his level and taints himself. Batista realizes that Triple H and Ric Flair have been holding him down and strikes back as his own man.

Booker T thinks he’s a shoe-in as spokesman for a Japanese shampoo company, but they give the endorsement position to Edge instead. Hence, wrestling match.


The match isn’t a bad one, but it certainly isn’t memorable. Every time I watch it, I tend to black out until the next match starts. I’m really not sure why. I have notes and scored it, so I know that stuff happened. There was a botched hurricanrana off the top rope and a scissor kick at some point, that’s for sure. Apparently Edge breaks out of the Bookend, does the Spear, performs and Edgeroonie and finishes Booker off with the Edgecution, but my memories of it are non-existent.

Maybe I have some kind of Ashton Kutcher Butterfly Effect power and by watching Booker T vs. Edge, I’m able to change the course of history.

”Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall is the first nWo match and on paper it looks like it should be awesome. In a perfect world – a WWE Alternate Universe, if you will – this would be a Wrestlemania main event. Austin’s neck and knees would be healthy and Hall would be straight edge. The commentators would be Joey Styles and Stevie Ray. Ah, the WWE Alternate Universe. Where Planet Stasiak became a successful gimmick and the Boogeyman has in-ring talent. Where Carlito gives a damn and “The Game” Shelton Benjamin can pull off a good promo. Where—I’m sorry, I got sidetracked.

This match takes place during a very unfortunate time in Austin’s career. This is during the year when Austin became a total cocksucker, not unlike Hogan. He refused to make his opponents look good and became more and more reluctant to put over new talent. It translates into this match, as Austin flat out doesn’t want anything less than complete domination. Considering the threat the nWo is supposed to pose and the Rock/Hogan match’s necessary ending, Austin should probably lose in some unclean way, but he refuses that direction. Even the video package of the lead-up shows that this feud has been very one-sided in Austin’s favor.

Kevin Nash comes to join Hall because he doesn’t have any matches on the card and it makes Hall seem more imposing. It doesn’t matter, as not only does Austin stomp through Hall for most of the match, but he’s able to beat up both of them at the same time too. Nash gets a couple cheap shots in, but Austin’s able to deliver Stunners to both nWo members. Every time Austin looks to have Hall taken care of, Nash would beat up a referee until he’s finally sent away. Hall is at least able to get Austin with a Stunner of his own, but it isn’t enough. Austin gets up, delivers a Stunner and Hall stands back up in a daze so Austin can get him with another Stunner. Austin gets the pin and the nWo angle has its first foot in the grave.

It’s hard to criticize it because while they are screwing up a money angle, the writing on the wall suggests that the nWo stuff would backfire due to Hall’s shady history and inability to stay clean for too long. So do you end an angle suddenly and anti-climactically or do you let it live and breathe so it can crash and burn? It’s a worthy discussion, but I still think Austin was out of line. Outside of that context, it’s still a pretty good match.

Billy and Chuck defend the Tag Team Championship against the Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy), the Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley) and the Acolytes (Farooq and Bradshaw) in a Four Corners Elimination Match. The Dudleys have another crap band play them to the ring, along with their valet Stacy Keibler. The Acolytes and the team of Chuck and Billy wrestle exclusively for quite a while, mainly because the Acolytes are going to be eliminated first, so they might as well get as much use out of them as possible. Bradshaw gets Billy with the Clothesline From Hell, then runs into a Dudley Death Drop. He’s pinned and gone. The Dudleys and Hardys let the champs rest and exclusively wrestle each other. A table is set up on the outside, then forgot about.

Stacy gets on the apron to seduce Jeff Hardy by hiking her shorts into her butt and becomes shocked – SHOCKED! – when he smacks her ass and starts kissing her. Well, I never! The Dudleys beat up on Jeff and try for the Whassup Headbutt. I was more a fan of the Won’t Pay a Lot for My Muffler Powerbomb, but that’s beside the point. D-Von is shoved off the top and through the table. Jeff does the Twist of Fate on Bubba, gets the Swanton and pins him. Billy Gunn gets Jeff with a Famouser, but Jeff kicks out. There’s some chaos in the ring and the ref can’t keep track of things, allowing for Chuck to nail Jeff in the face with one of the tag belts. One pin later and Billy and Chuck live to be ambiguously gay champions for another day. Average match.

The Rock vs. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan is an absolute classic and anyone who tells you different is a liar and possibly a child murderer. It starts with the two of them facing off and slowly turning their heads to take in the crowd response. It’s completely electric. At first, the crowd appears to be half behind Hogan and half behind Rock. Then the lock-ups begin and Hogan starts tossing Rock around the ring and flexing. That does it. The crowd becomes predominately Hogan and doesn’t look back. Lawler goes into a really cool speech about how in the jungle, the old lions have to face the young lions that challenge them for their spots.

Amusingly, you can audibly hear Hogan refer to Rock as “meatball”, which is the insult he used on Rocky Balboa in Rocky 3. To Hogan’s discredit, his age causes him to become sloppy at points, especially when he’s supposed to be punched out of the ring, but can’t make it over the top rope, so he rolls out under the bottom instead. Even when Hogan cheats, the crowd eats it up and cheers him over the Rock. Hogan accidentally knocks the Rock into the ref, which turns out to help him, since there’s nobody around when he taps to Rock’s Sharpshooter. He hits Rock with a low blow and then his own rendition of the Rock Bottom.

Rock gets back in the match and steals the same weightlifting belt that Hogan used to slap him around. Rock starts to improvise and plays the heel role to rile up the crowd by spitting on the belt before whipping Hogan’s back. He Rock Bottoms Hogan, but Hogan begins to Hulk up. He hits the boot and tries for two legdrops. The second one misses. Rock delivers two Rock Bottoms, kips up, delivers the People’s Elbow and finishes the match. Hogan gets up and clutches his hurting ribs, humbly asking Rock for a handshake. He looks so broken down and genuine that it comes off as so sweet.

The Outsiders show up and attack Hogan. Rock comes to the rescue and they start posing for the crowd. Even if the crowd acted like the company wanted them to towards this match, it still would have been top notch. Hogan and Rock took the explosive response the crowd gave them and molded it into one hell of a showing.

Jazz defends the Women’s Title against Trish Stratus and Lita in a Triple Threat Match. For a Triple Threat, it’s a pretty quick match. Lita attacks Jazz during Trish’s entrance. The two faces team up, but Jazz gets Trish in a half crab and takes her out of the match. It’s an otherwise good match, even with Lita’s sloppiness. Jazz delivers a Fisherman’s Suplex off the top rope to Lita and retains.

That leaves the main event of Chris Jericho defending the WWF Undisputed Championship against Triple H. Also known as the match that almost caused permanent damage to Chris Jericho’s career. For those who don’t know or blocked it from your memory, Chris Jericho won a one-night tournament to become the first Undisputed Champion after pinning both the Rock and Austin through unclean means. Surprisingly, he goes over the Rock at the Royal Rumble, meaning he’s up against Royal Rumble winner Triple H at this show. Triple H’s injured knee becomes a big bullseye and is taped up for the event. Naturally, Triple H will be the one to dethrone Jericho and has that fictional knee injury to keep things even. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough in the WWF’s eyes. Much like the last time Triple H was in the main event at Wrestlemania, this needs a McMahon.

Stephanie McMahon had split up with Triple H and aligned herself with Jericho because he admittedly always thought she was pretty hot. The main event for Wrestlemania is ultimately Triple H vs. Stephanie featuring some other guy. Jericho is an afterthought and a glorified butler for Steph. This guy is supposed to be the champion and they can’t even base the championship storyline on him.

The match is of course almost all Triple H. He works over Jericho’s leg and puts him in the Figure Four until Stephanie rakes him in the face. Triple H tricks Jericho into Spearing Steph, then tries to give her a Pedigree. Jericho makes the save with a Missile Dropkick. The fight goes to the outside. Triple H tries a Pedigree on the table. Jericho backdrops him off and Triple H goes through a separate table. Jericho gets Triple H in the ring and does a Lionsault, which garners a two-count. The normally hot crowd in no way believes that Jericho has a chance to win and doesn’t hold their breath during this part.

There’s a good part where Jericho tries to get Triple H in the Walls of Jericho again, Triple H reverses it and tries another go at a Pedigree and Jericho starts punching the hell out of Triple H’s injured knee until it allows him to successfully get the Wall of Jericho going. Triple H grabs the rope and Jericho starts celebrating his believed win. Once he comes back to reality, he brings in a chair and gets it kicked into his face. Triple H DDTs Jericho and surprisingly he gets a two-count. There is Jericho’s one moment of credibility. He gives Stephanie a Pedigree and gets plastered in the head with a chair from Jericho. Triple H kicks out. He slingshots Jericho into the corner, Jericho lands on the second rope, jumps at Triple H, gets kicked in the gut, is Pedigree’d and loses his title.

The PPV really shows the mindset of the company at the time. A lot of great matches and some dream pairings fans have been chomping at the bit to see, but it’s pulled back by some really stupid storylines and decisions.

Day One (#25-24)
Day Two (#23-22)
Day Three (#21-20)
Day Four (#19-18)
Day Five (#17-16)
Day Six (#15-14)
Day Seven (#13-12)
Day Eight (#11-10)
Day Nine (#9-8)
Day Ten (#7-6)
Day Eleven (#5-4)
Day Twelve (3-1)

Similar Posts:

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

3 comments to “The Wrestlemania Countdown: Day Eight”

  1. That Trips vs Y2J match actually sounds pretty decent from your description. Since it’s marred with HHHate I’ve only heard bad things about it, but I’ve yet to see it for myself. Ironically, I share time with Team Hunter and Team Jericho like a true turncoat, so maybe one of these days…

  2. “That Trips vs Y2J match actually sounds pretty decent from your description.”

    It’s not.

    Loving this recap, btw, Gavok.

  3. @BLUMERS: Just watched it earlier today. I actually really, really enjoyed it. Face gets his injury exploited by the heel, and then catches the harping valet and gives her her comeuppance for being such a bitch. Heel tries to capitalize, but gets caught in the act and gets hit with the finisher.

    The crowd didn’t seem to come alive until Steph got Pedigree’d though. Sounds like they were burned out from Rock vs Hogan.