Tuesday, March 31, 2015

30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania X-Seven

Because of the WWE Network, fans can now watch every single WrestleMania from start to finish.

30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania X-Seven

Actor and WWE personality ´Stone Cold´ Steve Austin attends the UFC 170 event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on February 22, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Actor and WWE personality 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin attends the UFC 170 event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on February 22, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Because of the WWE Network, fans can now watch every single WrestleMania from start to finish.

So, for 30 days leading up to WrestleMania XXX, we will take an extensive look back at each event from the very first, to the most recent.

Here's the WrestleManias we've covered so far:

WM I | WM II | WM III | WM IV | WM V | WM VI | WM VII | WM VIII | WM IX | WM X | WM XI | WM XII | WM 13 | WM XIV | WM XV | WM 2000

WrestleMania X-Seven

Date: April 1, 2001

Venue: Reliant Astrodome, Houston, Texas

Attendance: 67,925

Match Results:

Intercontinental Championship – Chris Jericho def. William Regal

APA (Bradshaw & Farooq) & Tazz def. Right to Censor (Bull Buchanan, Val Venis, The Goodfather) w/Steven Richards

Hardcore Championship – Kane def. Big Show & Raven

European Championship – Eddie Guerrero w/Perry Saturn def. Test

Women’s Championship – Chyna def. Ivory

Street Fight – Shane McMahon def. Vince McMahon

Tabbles, Ladders and Chairs for World Tag Team Championships – Edge & Christian def. the Dudleys (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley) & Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy)

The Iron Sheik won Gimmick Battle Royal

Undertaker def. Triple H (Undertaker: 9-0)

WWE Championship – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin def. The Rock

Observations:

- I must preface my observations by saying that this particular WrestleMania will always have a special place with, as this was the first WrestleMania I watched live on pay-per-view. I can still distinctly remember my 12-year-old self, sitting in front of the television in the living room and being amazed by the enormity of the event. Every visual of wrestling I had to that point was of the shows taking place in arenas with no more than 20,000 people in attendance, the same black backdrop and the normal fixings. Gazing upon this show for the first completely blew me away. Like most 12 year olds, I had a massive imagination, but even this exceeded what I could drum up inside of my head. I never knew professional wrestling could look so grand. I never knew that more than 60,000 people could get together for something other than football games.

- I’m not the only one that looks back at this event with such fond memories. For my money and many others, this is the best WrestleMania ever from top to bottom. Almost everything from the first match to the last was at least good and it was complimented by such a great production. This is considered the height of the “Attitude Era” and WWE celebrated its success in grand fashion. The mid card it was building back at WrestleMania 2000 was on full showcase by WrestleMania X-Seven. The Intercontinental title match that opened the show was good, the Kurt Angle-Chris Benoit match in the middle of the show is a forgotten classic, the semi main even between The Undertaker and Triple H was a great fight and the main event between The Rock and Steve Austin is one of the best matches in WrestleMania history. But wait, there’s more. TLC II was an absolute classic, the gimmick battle royal was great nostalgia and even the Hardcore title match was very good for what it was. There are a lot of great WrestleManias. There are a lot of great pay-per-views in general, but I would be hard pressed to find one that was better and more complete than this one.

- The 67,925 people in attendance was the second-most in WrestleMania history at the time, second to only WrestleMania III, which still sits at the top of the list until this day.  This was also the first WrestleMania to take place in the state of Texas and the first time people from all 50 states attended the show.

- This was the first time WWE repeated a main event from a previous WrestleMania. Austin and The Rock headlined the event for the second time in three years with no added stipulations. Both matches were for the WWE Championship and that’s it. It goes to show just how popular those two were. No one was complaining of having essentially the same match for the second time in three years. They were just happy to have those two in the ring again. The fans weren’t let down either. Although it was the same two combatants, it was completely different match from the one at WrestleMania XV. Both guys beat the crap out of each other and in doing so, made the championship mean that much more.

- There was only one thing wrong with the main event: the finish. For me, the finish the does not overshadow how great the match was, but if it does some others I could sort of understand. Having Austin align himself with Vince McMahon was the wrong decision for a number of reasons. Austin himself has admitted this on numerous occasions. First, let’s explain why it happened to begin with. The finish was apparently Austin’s idea. Austin liked being a babyface, but loved being a heel. He figured that since The Rock was a very strong babyface that the WWE could afford to turn him into a bad guy. Since there was nothing major planned for the ending of the show, Austin figured this would be the major event that could take place. Now, let’s get to why this was the wrong decision. First, the ending of WrestleMania didn’t send people home happy. If anything, it left people confused and wondering what in the hell just happened. It just didn’t feel right. The ending of WrestleMania should leave people feeling good, not confused or angry. Secondly, no one wanted to boo Austin. Again, it just didn’t feel right. People had grown to love Austin so much that they never wanted to stop. As a result, Austin’s run as a heel fell flat.

- This was the first pay-per-view since WWE had purchased its main competition, World Championship Wrestling. That occurrence made WrestleMania X-Seven not only the peak/end to the “Attitude Era” in WWE, but also the end of an era in professional wrestling in general. WWE was now the only major professional wrestling promotion in the United States and its roster was chalked full of stars from WCW and Extreme Championship Wrestling, including Chris Jericho, Chris Benout, Eddie Guerrero, the Dudleys, Tazz and Raven.

- Among those stars from ECW was Philadelphia native Stevie Richards, who led the group Right to Censor to the ring in a largely forgotten six-man tag team match.

- As I mentioned earlier, the tables, ladders and chairs match was amazing. At WrestleMania 2000, the three teams took the bar to heights no one had ever seen before. At WrestleMania X-Seven, they somehow raised the bar even higher. The spot that will always stand out is when Edge gave Jeff Hardy the spear from about 20 feet in the air. This was the third final major match in the rivalry between these three teams with Edge and Christian winning all three of them.

- This was the first WrestleMania since WrestleMania IX that didn’t have Jerry “The King” Lawler as the color commentator. In his place was former owner of ECW Paul Heyman, who did a fantastic job at his first WrestleMania. Lawler had left the company a couple of months earlier after his then-wife and fellow talent Stacy “The Kat” Carter was released by WWE.

- The gimmick battle royal is still so much fun to watch. It’s even cooler after watching every single WrestleMania up to that point and seeing guys like Earthquake, who had been featured on a number of the earlier WrestleMania cards, become old timers. As the story goes, the main reason why the Iron Sheik won the battle royal was because his body was too banged up to get thrown out of the ring. His body apparently couldn’t handle the impact. He barely made it to the ring, as he walked very slowly to which Bobby “The Brain” Heenan said, “By the time the Iron Sheik gets to the ring, it’s going to be WrestleMania 38.” Got to love Heenan.

- This was Vince McMahon's first WrestleMania match, as he went up against his son Shane in a street fight. Even this match was entertaining despite boasting two non-wrestlers. The added angle of Linda McMahon being sedated and rising up out of her wheelchair only added to the match.

Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
About this blog
The Squared Circle is a one-stop shop of pro wrestling news, recaps and observations. You can also enjoy interviews with some of your favorite stars from the world of professional wrestling both nationally and locally. Reach Vaughn at vjohnson@philly.com.

Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
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