WrestleMania 13 – The Match That Made Austin

WrestleMania 13 (1997)Event: WrestleMania 13
Date: March 23, 1997
Venue: Rosemont Horizon (Rosemont, Illinois)
Attendance: 18,197

Brief introduction package on what we’re going to see this evening. Vince, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler on the call which is a great announcing lineup. We get right into the first match.

Four-way Tag Team Elimination Match
The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) defeated The New Blackjacks (Blackjack Windham and Blackjack Bradshaw), The Godwinns (Henry and Phineas) (with Hillbilly Jim), and Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon
I’m not a big fan of tag team wrestling to begin with so I’m certainly not a fan of 4 bad teams wrestling in a tag team elimination match. The Blackjacks quickly get DQ’d and Furnas and LaFon get counted out. Pretty lame way to get down to 2 teams if you ask me. From there, we get a decent tag match between the Headbangers and the Godwinns. In the end the Headbangers get the win. OK match at best obviously on the card to get a lot of talent a spot on the show.

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Rocky Maivia (c) defeated The Sultan (with Bob Backlund and The Iron Sheik)
The first WrestleMania appearance of the man that will eventually be known only as The Rock. Rocky looks good early until he goes for a clothesline on the outside and misses and hits the post instead. (Damn did that look painful). Sultan takes over and we get a rest hold. Sultan has terrible pin attempts throughout the match with a ton of rest holds thrown in. Rocky fights back to a double clothesline spot. Rocky hits a huge belly to belly for a close pin and then follows up with a HUGE cross body off the top. Match would have been over but Sheik is on the apron and breaks the count. Crescent kick by the Sultan followed by a big pile driver. Rocky gets a pin to retain the title out of nowhere. Sultan beats down Rocky post match and Iron Sheik slaps on the Camel Clutch. Out of the crowd comes Rocky’s dad Rocky Johnson to make the save. Super lame finish.  Rock and Rocky look like chicken flapping their wings in the middle of the ring.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Chyna) defeated Goldust (with Marlena)
HHH in full blue blood mode here. Goldust in charge from the get go with a nice spot where HHH gets tied up in the ropes OUTSIDE the ring. I can’t remember seeing that particular spot before. After that spot, HHH takes over and lays a beating on Goldust.  Chyna standing stoic on the outside, but announcers are referencing and showing her constantly pretty much guaranteeing that she’s getting involved. Marlena is SMOKING hot here (pun completely intended) as this was her “smoke a cigar ringside” phase. Good back and forth action here but the pace of the match feels like we’re waiting for something. Goldust in charge and Chyna finally makes a move toward Marlena. Goldust has his finisher locked in but releases it to go to Marlena’s aide. HHH hits Goldust and he inadvertently throws Marlena into Chyna who throws her around like a rag doll. This allows HHH to hit the Pedigree for the win. Decent match, but obviously the start of a program between these two rather than a resolution.

WWF Tag Team Championship
Owen Hart and The British Bulldog (c) fought Mankind and Vader (with Paul Bearer) to a double countout
Owen and Vader in to get us started. Vader in charge as you’d imagine and hits a Vader bomb relatively early in the match. He goes for his corner drop and Bulldog over to break it up. Bulldog manages to take over and hits a huge suplex on Vader which is damned impressive.  Vader’s a HUGE dude.  Good teamwork from Mankind/Vader and they take over control of the match. Pretty typical back and forth tag match here with Mankind/Vader generally working to keep Owen on the ring and isolated. Hot tag to Bulldog and Mankind manages to work in the Mandible Claw. They dump out of the ring and Mankind refuses to release the hold. Bulldog selling hit like he’s dead but they both get counted out. Could have been a decent match but had a terrible ending.

Submission Match
Bret Hart defeated Steve Austin
This is the match the made Austin a household name. Not only that, but it started Bret Hart down the path of a heel which was some of the best work in his career in my humble opinion. Forgetting how great the match itself was, these two momentous things alone easily put it in my Top 10 WrestleMania Matches of all time. We start out quick with Austin pouncing on Bret. In quick order, they’re outside of the ring and into the crowd. They’re battling up the stairs of the arena and we get a nice back body drop on the stairs spot. Back in the ring after a few minutes of crowd battling we get an awesome looking swinging neck breaker by Bret. He then starts to work on Austin’s knee obviously setting him up for the Sharpshooter later in the match. Austin manages to hit the Stunner to turn the tide a bit, but there’s no pin falls in the match so it’s irrelevant. A while later, Hart debuts (I believe this was the first time we saw it) the “around the post figure four” which I always liked. Not sure how bad it would hurt, but it looked fucking sweet and Austin sold it like a champ. Hart goes for the “break the ankle in the chair” spot which had been featured on Raw in recent weeks and Austin pops up and WAILS on Bret. Wow. Austin starts in on some submission stuff including a neck crimp and a Boston crab. He goes for the Sharpshooter but Hart gets a thumb in the eye to break it.  Back outside and Austin gets whipped into the guardrail and gets busted open.  Not sure if this was a legit cut or not but DAMN is he bleeding.  This is of course what leads to the most iconic bloodied Austin ever.  Blood just POURING out of Austin’s head.  He manages to hit a low blow to mount a comeback.  Vince makes a reference to the fact that blood doesn’t happen often in the WWF.  Austin has Hart wrapped with a mic cord and Hart uses the ring bell to “ring Austin’s bell”.  He then locks on the Sharpshooter.  This is where you get the shot that’s been in so many montages where Austin’s got blood pouring down his face.  Austin almost breaks out but Bret hangs on and reapplies it.  Austin “passes out” from the pain/blood loss and special ref Ken Shamrock stops the match.  Bret goes after Austin again post match and Shamrock throws him off and squares off against Bret in the ring to a chorus of boos – double turn complete.  Austin to face, Hart to heel.  Announcers totally talking up Austin and what a bad ass he is.  Outstanding match.

Chicago Street Fight
The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) and Ahmed Johnson defeated The Nation of Domination (Crush, Faarooq and Savio Vega) (with Wolfie D, J.C. Ice and Clarence Mason)
This has crap written all over it from the get go.  The Nation is in total “blaxploitation” mode.  LOD and Ahmed coming out looking awesome in their shoulder pads.  No rules, no tags… just a fight.  There are all kinds of weapons in the ring and the action is everywhere.  Kind of difficult to follow cause there’s so much going on (similar to early in a battle royal or when the Royal Rumble gets busy).  Animal goes for a pile driver on the Spanish announce table on Faarooq which was fucking lame.  He just kind of knelt down.  These street fights are typically nothing more than a cluster fuck and this one is no different.  Fire extinguishers, rope, garbage cans, etc.  Naturally they eventually introduce the kitchen sink.  Eventually, LOD hits their finisher on Crush and follow with a clothesline with a 2×4 for the win.  Double Doomsday after the match on Wolfie and J.C. Ice which was pretty cool.  In the end I found myself enjoying it more than I thought I would.  Good work rate from these guys and they put on a decent match.

No DQ Match For The WWF Championship
The Undertaker defeated Sycho Sid (c)
Shawn Michaels is announced and comes to ring area in street clothes to do commentary for the match.  Hi fives around the ring and hamming to the crowd.  Give the “Cliq/ NWO/WolfPac” hand signals all around.  We get a weak ass promo with Sid before the match doing his “master and the ruler of the world” crap.  God is he terrible on the mic.  Taker is out first as the challenger in the old school gray outfit from back in the day.  They go nose to nose in the middle of the ring and before we really get into it Bret Hart makes his way to ringside.  He grabs the mic and starts to bitch at Shawn.  He then tells Taker that they’re no longer friends and tells Sid that he’s a fraud.  Punch and power bomb from Sid for his troubles and the crowd pops further cementing Hart’s heel turn from earlier.  Typical Undertaker to start with some old school moves.  Taker comes out of the corner right into a bear hug from Sid.  Really?  Do we need a rest hold this early?  Sid works on the back and is in charge of the match.  He throws Undertaker out and through the French announce table.  Vince chimes in that this is now a no holds barred match.  I’m thinking they realized that Sid fucked up by bouncing Taker through the table so they had to make the switch on the fly.  Sid locks in a Camel Clutch and keeps working on the back.  Taker has NO offense at all.  Side with a super weak “power slam” and tries to go for 3 pins in a row.  Taker comes back with a crappy looking “jump high and hit a clothesline” move.  Sid back up quickly and they take it outside with Sid into the first row of fans.  They’re outside for like a minute with no count out so apparently it’s no holds barred and no count outs now.  Sid in charge for quite a while until Taker hits a small offensive burst, a power slam and into a rest hold.  Nice spot with a double boot to the face and both guys down.  A few minutes later, Taker manages to make an attempt at the Tombstone but Sid reverses is and hits a Tombstone of his own.  Sid crosses Taker’s arms over his chest and Taker kicks out.  At this point Taker’s “streak” wasn’t what it is today, so this before he kicked out it was looking pretty dicey.  Sid throws Taker outside and goes to work.  Bret Hart shows up yet again (Jesus Bret… go away) and hits Sid with a chair (huh?).  Back in, Taker hits a choke slam but Sid kicks out.  Sid fights back and has Taker set up for the power bomb but fucking Bret is back.  Sid releases Undertaker and goes after Hart on the apron.  Hart give him a “stunner” which sends Sid right into Taker for the Tombstone and the win.  I didn’t remember all of the outside interference in this match.  I wish The Undertaker could have gotten a clean win but I’m happy to see him get the title.  Vince talks about hos Taker is “finally” the champion.  Um… hey Vince.  Did you forget about Tuesday In Texas?  Overall a good title match that sends the fans home happy with Taker getting the belt while forwarding the Bret Hart heel turn.

General Thoughts

  • Before the event, there was a Free For All match where Billy Gunn defeated Flash Funk.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… there’s a reason these Free For All matches are NOT on the PPV.
  • It’s amazing how much bigger HHH is currently than he was during this event. I’m not saying he’s roided up, but he might be using steroids.
  • Funny to hear Jim Ross pimp the AOL chat room during the event. Oh how the times have changed.
  • There should be a rule that no match on a PPV can end via count out or via outside interference. It’s just fucking stupid and does nothing put piss off the paying customer both at the arena and at home.
  • The “thumb to the eye” move. It’s been around wrestling for years and everyone just takes it with a grain of salt. Have you ever actually stuck your thumb in your eye? This hurts like a son of a bitch.
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