Disclaimer: This article, as always, is told from a biased perspective; MINE. As such, everyone is entitled to argue whether I’m right, or not. Either way, enjoy it!
People have said it for nearly twenty years now, Wrestlemania X-Seven is the best Wrestlemania of all time. It’s not something many people argue with, and as you can tell from the title, nor am I.
However, something that I haven’t seen many people discuss this, so WHY was it so awesome?
Some could say it’s because of the match card that was put together, and that’s my point of view too. So let’s briefly examine this match by match, see where the people involved ended up, and using a biased opinion, rate each match and see if, everything considered, it indeed makes it the reason it’s the best ever.
I won’t be talking about the Sunday Night Heat (effectively what the PPV Preshow is nowadays), match; X-Factor’s X-Pac & Justin Credible vs Grand Master Sexay & Steve Blackman. It was a solid match, but alas, it wasn’t part of the main show
The whole of the card was aided by the voice of the WWF, “Good Ol’ JR” Jim Ross, and the former owner of ECW, Paul Heyman. The soundtrack they provided massively helped, not least in the opening match.
“WWF Intercontinental Champion” Chris Jericho vs “WWF Commisioner” William Regal, for the WWF Intercontinental Championship
The backstory between these two amazing characters was well structured, from Regal’s return to the WWF at the time being disrupted by Jericho, to the aforementioned Y2J peeing in Regal’s tea. The match itself was a hard-hitting, fast-paced, technical opener. Thoroughly enjoyable, story well told, with ‘injuries’ well sold by Jericho, who won the match and retained the title.
William Regal would go on to win multiple championships in WWE, alas never a World Championship, became the General Manager of RAW, and is currently the General Manager of NXT and holds the title of WWE’s Head of Global Recruitment. This guy is bound to be in the Hall of Fame one day. How he never won a world title is beyond my imagination.
Chris Jericho would go on to become one of the greatest of all time, multiple championships across different promotions, a Hall of Fame spot guaranteed…….if only he hadn’t ignited a war of words with Vince McMahon….
Level of Mattnificence: 8/10
Tazz & The APA (Faarooq & Bradshaw) w/Jacqueline vs The Right to Censor (Bull Buchanan, Val Venis & The Goodfather) w/ Steven Richards
A short, but quick six man tag match, which spelt the end for the RTC as a group, in fact this would be their last appearance together on PPV. All of the people had a chance in the ring to showcase some of their more infamous moves; even Jacqueline managed to get a DDT in on Steven Richards, ‘Old White Socks’ as JR called him. The devastating Clothesline from Hell from Bradshaw to The Goodfather ended the match in under four minutes.
Tazz would spend more time at the announce table after this feud, lending his insights to the Smackdown, ECW, TNA and AEW commentary booths. Bradshaw would evolve into JBL, and become the longest-reigning WWE Champion for a decade (at the time), Faarooq would scale back his in-ring career, becoming more known for his “DAMN!” catchphrase. The Right To Censor disbanded a month later, with only Steven Richards really sticking around on screen long term, Val Venis would return to WWE for a mid-2000s run, before leaving for pastures new. Bull Buchanan would head to the indies after being briefly repackaged as John Cena’s muscle. The Goodfather would return to his pump gimmick for a short period in early 2002, before retiring to run a gentleman’s club in Las Vegas before his Hall of Fame Induction.
Level of Mattnificence: 6/10
Kane vs The Big Show vs “WWF Hardcore Champion” Raven in a Hardcore Rules Triple Threat Match for the WWF Hardcore Championship
Raven, one of the more recent additions to the WWF roster at the time, went into the event with the Hardcore Championship around his waist. Ten minutes later, he had lost it to Kane.
After two literal giants in the midst of their own rivalry, had battered Raven all over the Houston Astrodome, including throwing each other through walls and glass windows, strangling each other on golf carts, to the extent that they nearly pulled a cable out which would’ve shut the event down, it ended with Kane kicking The Big Show (who had Raven above his head in a military press) off the stage and dropping a leg drop onto them both for a 3 count. Less than ten minutes long, but felt much longer. One of the best Hardcore title matches in the history of the belt.
Kane and Big Show would both go on to have main event feuds for nearly two decades after this event, winning multiple championships in the process, whilst Raven would find more success post 2002 in TNA.
Level of Mattnificence: 9/10
“WWF European Champion” Test vs Eddie Guerrero w/ Perry Saturn for the WWF European Championship
What more needs to be said about this match?
Well, Test was finally getting the start of his singles push; he would go on to win both the Hardcore and Intercontinental Championships before the year’s end, and as always it takes two to make a great match.
However, it’s sooo much easier when your dance partner at Wrestlemania is one of, if not THE, greatest of all time in Eddie Guerrero.
In story terms, it took Eddie, Perry Saturn, a title belt shot to the head, and a run in from Dean Malenko to earn Eddie the European championship.
Eddie’s career may have been about to take a sharp downwards turn, but this was an early glimpse of how great a wrestler he was, and he sold a mid-carder like Test as a potential main eventer. Thankfully Eddie would recover and become one of the greatest of all time before his tragic passing in November 2005, joining the Hall of Fame posthumously in 2006. Unfortunately, Test never fulfilled his potential, and tragically passed away in March 2009.
Level of Mattnificence: 8/10
Kurt Angle vs Chris Benoit
Trying to provide analysis for any match featuring Chris Benoit, is very difficult for me personally – he was one of my all-time favourites, but while Angle has rightly gone on to receive his Hall of Fame spot, his opponent in this match will never receive the same honour; the reasons for which are obvious and well publicised.
Here goes nothing….
Two of the best of all-time in the history of the industry hooked up in a technical masterpiece, with both Benoit & Angle trading German suplexes, long before Brock Lesnar christened Suplex City. This was a prelude to their MOTY candidate from Royal Rumble 2003, less than two years later; a match which is harder to see for the tainted reasons. This match, however, was 14 minutes of great technical wrestling, ending with Angle reversing an attempt into the Crippler Crossface into a roll-up on Benoit, hooking the tights for the win. This rivalry would continue for a few more months, culminating with a Three Stages of Hell match at Judgment Day for Kurt’s Gold Medals.
Level of Mattnificence: 8/10
Chyna vs “WWF Women’s Champion” Ivory for the WWF Women’s Championship: The Right To Censor banned from ringside
As I mentioned in my article about the Women of the Attitude Era, this was the culmination of the angle that made me realise that professional wrestling was pre-determined, so I won’t go into that side of things again.
Ivory had a stipulation added before Wrestlemania, that the Right to Censor wanted Chyna to sign a “hold harmless agreement” as JR put it, Paul Heyman called it a “Letter of Indemnification”, to avoid Ivory being sued if she broke Chyna’s neck, with the other part being that Chyna wanted the RTC banned from ringside. Both sides agreed……
Chyna no sold Ivory before pummelling her future Hall of Fame opponent, eventually powerbombing and military press dropping Ivory for the squash win.
This would be Ivory’s last PPV appearance til Survivor Series, where she would challenge for the vacant Women’s Championship, which Chyna vacated off screen, with her last PPV appearance being a successful defence of the title against Lita
Level of Mattnificence: 4/10
Shane McMahon vs Vince McMahon w/ Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley & Trish Stratus in a Street Fight refereed by Mick Foley
A match which wasn’t brilliant in terms of wrestling ability; Shane worked hard, threw himself around like he would do in the future, Vince took bumps and attacks that nobody should have to.
But as I pointed out, again in the previous article I wrote, the storyline that finished here, wrapping up the Trish angle by having her turn on the McMahons, Mick Foley getting his retribution for his firing four months previously, and concluding Linda’s medicated state by the woman herself kicking her husband in the ‘grapefruits’. Seeing Shane do his Coast to Coast for the first time was awesome too.
Trish would go on to become arguably the greatest Women’s Champion in history, eventually retiring the night she won her seventh championship. Mick Foley would make sporadic appearances and compete multiple times after his retirement.
As far as the McMahons go, Linda would go on to make appearances on tv every now and then as the CEO of the company before embarking on a political career. Shane would compete in matches against big name wrestlers, taking risks he didn’t need to, for years after, before taking a break for many years before returning to do the same again before leaving an on screen role in 2019. Stephanie still appears on screen and is an active member of the WWE board as the CBO of the company.
As for what Vince is doing now…….well, if you need me to tell you that, you’re in the wrong place buddy!
Level of Mattnificence: 8.5/10
Where Legends Are Born
Edge & Christian w/ Rhyno vs The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) w/ Lita vs “WWF Tag Team Champions” The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von) w/ Spike Dudley, in Tables, Ladders & Chairs II for the WWF Tag Team Championship
This is the greatest match in hardcore wrestling history. Go watch it. Right now. There is no further discussion.
Ok, a little more discussion. As people know, this is my favourite match in WWE history.
The interference from Rhyno, including Heyman’s scream of “It’s Rhyno!”, which was great, and perfectly balanced in terms of timing, and story telling between the nine people in the match.
The spear on Jeff Hardy by Edge from a 20ft tall ladder was a spot that will never be repeated.
But the best part about this match, which was actioned by Rhyno, has been replicated multiple times, but never has it been executed as perfectly as in this match.
When Matt Hardy and Bubba Ray Dudley plunged from the top of the largest ladder in the middle of the ring, through the four tables set up at ringside, with them all breaking as one, it made JR trip over his words. The Astrodome erupted.
Quite simply, the second TLC match, of which there has been 25 at the time of writing, is the best ever.
Edge is currently back on the active WWE roster having had a nine year hiatus due to (what was assumed at the time) a career ending neck injury, and is a Grand Slam champion and Hall of Famer. Christian is also a multiple time World Champion, and is a certainty for the Hall of Fame too, and is making sporadic appearances on WWE television. The Dudleys both have been inducted to the Hall of Fame, D-Von now acting as a backstage producer, with Bubba working on the indies, until April 2020 when his contract with RoH expired. Jeff Hardy is an active member of the WWE roster, having just seemingly concluded a storyline with Sheamus at the time of writing, and is a multiple time world champion and headed for the Hall of Fame too. Matt Hardy is currently working for AEW, in his persona that was a creative success, “Broken” Matt Hardy. Like the others in this match, he’s held multiple championships across multiple promotions and is a sure fire Hall of Famer one day.
Rhyno is working for Impact currently, and has enjoyed success with WWE and Impact. Spike has retired from active competition, but also held multiple singles championships before his departure from the business. Lita would go on to be a four time women’s champion, become a Hall of Famer, and until 2018, would be the only woman to be involved in a TLC match
Level of Mattnificence: 10/10
The Gimmick Battle Royal, with guest commentary from “Mean” Gene Okerlund & Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
As I was still a relatively new viewer to wrestling at the time, I wasn’t sure about any of the people involved in the match. I knew what a battle royal was, but when people were being eliminated so quickly, I naturally assumed that’s how quickly they would happen. Boy was I wrong on that side of things!
Being able to go back and watch this match in hindsight, it’s a fun little nod to the past, on a night which closed the book on the past, after WWE had purchased WCW of course.
The fact that the match only lasted 3 minutes and 7 seconds, and the entrances lasted 10 minutes says a lot about the amount of ability some of these guys could go in the ring still. Still, a fun little battle royal, worth a look for sure
The Iron Sheik may have won the match, but Sgt Slaughter made the crowd pop with a Cobra Clutch after the match finished
Level of Mattnificence: 6/10
Triple H vs The Undertaker
Even without infamous incident of Lemmy from Motörhead singing Triple H to the ring, getting the words to his own song wrong, and the gong and Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin’” playing a motorcycle riding Undertaker to the ring, we knew this was gonna be a classic. We didn’t know it would be the first of three encounters at Wrestlemania between these two though.
At the time of writing, The Undertaker isn’t in the Hall of Fame. Triple H, as a part of DX, is. Such a surprising fact doesn’t change that this was a brutal match. At one point, JR even described this as an unofficial street fight, as referee Mike Chioda took a bump from Triple H, and therefore gave a slow count and got attacked by the Undertaker and remained laid out in the ring for most of the match. The competitors brawled up and down the ringside area, Triple H using chairs, and Taker chokeslamming Triple H off the camera tower. The tombstone was nailed and not counted due to the ref being down, and a sledgehammer to the head as Triple H was about to be given the Last Ride powerbomb busted the “Deadman” open. Eventually Triple H was nailed with a ropes assisted Last Ride powerbomb to allow the Undertaker go 9-0 at Wrestlemania
Triple H became a fourteen time world champion, won two Royal Rumbles, and had some amazing rivalries, and is now the man behind NXT, a Hall of Famer, a WWE board member, and the man who will one day run the whole company with his wife Stephanie McMahon
At the time of writing, with a Wrestlemania record of 25-2, The Undertaker has apparently retired from competition, having had arguably the match of the event at Wrestlemania 36, against AJ Styles; he even got to literally ride off into the night on his motorcycle. A fitting end, if it is indeed, to a guaranteed Hall of Fame career.
Level of Mattnificence: 8.5/10
A Match For The History Books
Royal Rumble Winner “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs “WWF Champion” The Rock in a No Disqualification Match for the WWF Championship
I had been looking forward to this match since I had first played the WWF Attitude video game. I had been looking forward to this match since I saw them square off in the Royal Rumble match a few months earlier. I wasn’t aware of the full history between these two til I was older. But I didn’t need to know.
The story they told was amazing. Worth a rewatch if you haven’t for years. The No DQ addition just before the match started surprised everyone, but by the end of the match, it was clear why. It was so Austin could beat the Rock with sixteen chair shots to get a three count and become the WWF Champion.
The infamous Austin heel turn, and alignment with Vince McMahon was arguably a disaster. I’m sure some people can give further analysis as to why it worked or didn’t. This match was crucial to the rest of the year panning out as it did, even if this writer didn’t personally think it was the best match of the card.
After this event, The Rock would begin his movie career with The Scorpion King, having debuted in the Mummy Returns the year prior, and of course is now the biggest movie star in the world. He would return to WWE multiple times for matches, promos, and the like, a guaranteed Hall of Famer for sure.
Austin would have a turbulent time with McMahon on and off screen, even “taking his ball and going home” for 8 months in 2002, before returning to face The Rock again, in what would be Austin’s last match before retirement at Wrestlemania 19. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame the night before Wrestlemania 25, and still makes appearances on WWE tv
Level of Mattnificence: 9/10
Having examined the card above, some of it in more detail than others I grant you, and what the competitors did subsequently, and examining from an admittedly biased perspective, I have come to the following conclusion to the question: Why was Wrestlemania X-Seven the greatest ever?
The reason it was the greatest, was in its perfection.
The card was perfectly assembled. The storylines made sense. The spots were well spaced and choreographed. Where mistakes happened, they were forgivable. The crowd was jacked. The commentary was flawlessly energetic, and brilliantly done.
Wrestling pay per views are rarely perfect, or anywhere close to it. Nothing will ever be close to this event. Ever
So, yeah, that’s it for now
I’ll be back soon with something else from the Attitude Era
I’m outta here