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30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania 13

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

30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania 13

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

WrestleMania 13

Date: March 23, 1997

Venue: Rosemont Horizon (Allstate Arena), Rosemont, Ill.

Attendance: 18,211

Match Results:

No. 1 Contenders Tag Team Fatal Four Way Elimination Match – The Headbangers (Thrasher & Mosh) def. The Godwinns (Phineas I. Godwinn & Henry O. GOdwinn) w/Hillbilly Jim, The New Blackjacks (Barry Windham & Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw) & Doug Furnace & Phil LaFon

Intercontinental Championship – Rocky Maivia def. The Sultan w/Bob Backlund and The Iron Sheik

Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/Chyna def. Goldust w/Marlena

World Tag Team Championship – Owen Hart & British Bulldog vs. Mankind & Vader w/Paul Bearer went to a double count-out

Submission Match – Bret “Hit Man” Hart def. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Chicago Street Fight – Ahmed Johnson & Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) def. Nation of Domination (Farooq, Savio Vega & Crush)

WWE Championship – The Undertaker def. Sycho Sid (Undertaker 6-0)

Observations:

- The WWE seemed to be turning the corner from the doldrums of 1995 and 1996 and had begun taking a new gritty, darker tone to its product. WWE even acknowledged the shift in the video opening the show.

- Much like WrestleMania XII, WrestleMania 13 was a showcase of some of the fresh talent WWE was bringing up during this time period. Among those appearing at their first WrestleMania were Rocky Maivia (The Rock), Blackjack Bradshaw (John Bradshaw Layfield), Mankind (Mick Foley) and Chyna.

- The main event of this show was The Undertaker challenging Sycho Sid for the WWE Championship. But the match everyone walked away talking about was Steve Austin versus Bret Hart in a submission match. The craziest thing is that this match was actually kind of thrown together at the last minute. Hart was scheduled to face Shawn Michaels for the WWE title in a rematch of the previous year’s WrestleMania main event, but Michaels suffered a knee injury that kept him off the show. Hart was then slotted to face Austin, whom he had faced at Survivor Series. With Austin tormenting Hart for months, it made logical sense to have a rematch between the two at WrestleMania.

- Not much can be said about the match itself that hasn’t already been said. It is not only a great match as far as what happened in between the bells, but it is one of the greatest stories ever told in one match in wrestling history. Austin came in trying to be the biggest bad guy he possibly could, but he did his job so well that the fans began cheering him. To the fans, Austin was everything that previous wrestling heroes weren’t. He wasn’t squeaky clean, he was unpredictable and he bucked authority. He was the perfect character at the perfect time as that’s what people wanted to see at that point. Hart represented a bit of the old guard in storyline and in reality. People began to resent him. By the end of the match, both men had completely switched roles with the fans. It looked simple. It even looked inevitable given where the characters were going, but pulling off a double switch is one of the hardest to do and succeed at in wrestling. It was played to perfection that night and will probably never be that good ever again.

- The Austin-Hart match proved to be the launching pad for Austin’s career, as he became arguably the most popular all time along with breaking multiple live gate, merchandise and pay-per-view records. This was also Hart’s last WrestleMania appearance for 13 years. Hart appeared at 12 consecutive WrestleManias — a record at the time — but left the company on as bad of terms as anyone had ever left under that November after the infamous “Montreal Screwjob.”

- As far as the main event between Undertaker and Sid, it was pretty standard fare. Nothing from the match itself felt like it was worthy of the main event of WrestleMania other than the fact that the WWE Championship was at stake. However, it was big moment for The Undertaker, who had gone six years between title reigns.

- Helmsley underwent quite the maturation from WrestleMania XII to WrestleMania 13. At WrestleMania XII, he was a Connecticut blue blood that was getting squashed by the Ultimate Warrior. In one year, you can see the change in attitude in he spoke and in the way he carried himself. Not to mention he had Chyna at his side. Even more important was that he actually won his match as opposed to being destroyed in a matter of seconds.

- During Helmsley’s match against Goldust, Chyna got a hold of Marleena and literally swung her around like a rag doll. We were supposed to feel sorry for poor Marleena. Instead, it was downright comical.

- Rocky Maivia was still a smiling babyface when went up against The Sultan at WrestleMania 13. Although WWE was making its shift to the “Attitude Era”, Maivia’s character was stuck in 1987 and the people did not buy any of it. The fans on this night didn’t, which eventually forced Maivia to change lanes himself. By the way, The Sultan was a heel that had no legs during this time period. The man under The Sultan mask eventually became Rikishi.

- The longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time, the Honky Tonk Man, was on commentary during the Intercontinental title match. Honky Tonk Man and Jerry “The King” Lawler had a good time clowning Maivia. Jim Ross said that Honky Tonk Man and Lawler had such great chemistry together, you would have thought that they were cousins. That was a nod to the fact that Honky Tonk Man and Lawler are indeed first cousins in real life.

- The six-man man match between the Legion of Doom and the Nation of Domination was a good match overall, but felt like it went maybe five minutes too long. The crowd was into it at first, but when it began to drag on they kind of fell out of it. However, the wrestlers got the crowd back into the match at the end.

- This was the second WrestleMania to take place at the Rosemont Horizon. The first took place in 1986 for WrestleMania II. WWE ran that building for WrestleMania again in 2006 for WrestleMania 22, which is the last to take place in an arena to date.

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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