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When people talk in a historical context about wrestling supercards, the conversation almost always seems to drift in the direction of WrestleMania III.
Armed with a main event featuring Hulk Hogan versus Andre The Giant, it’s easy to see why. However, while many wrestling fans romanticize WrestleMania III, it should not hold the proverbial championship belt for greatest pay-per-view ever.
That distinction should go to WrestleMania X-7.
The seventeenth edition of WrestleMania took place in Houston, Texas in front of over 67,000 fans.
While the WWE enjoyed perhaps its greatest talent rush ever (Chris Jericho, The Hardy Boyz, Triple H, The Undertaker, He Who Shall Not Be Named, Eddie Guerrero and many more), two stalwarts collided in the main event for the world title.
In the annals of WWE history, few stars captivated the WWE Universe like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.
Austin represented the working man who enjoyed slamming Budweisers, starting bar fights, and flipping off their boss.
The Rock provided a flashy alternative. He often dressed like a guy headed to a trendy big city nightclub. He was a tool but a loveable one.
Their feud appeared to be an updated version of the legendary Ric Flair/Dusty Rhodes.
At the time, it proved to be a rare face vs. face match used to push sales for the WWE’s first WrestleMania dome show in nearly a decade.
Thus, two of the biggest stars in WWE history would headline one of the company’s biggest shows ever in what turned to out to be the Attitude Era’s blowoff show.
THE SKINNY: Prior to WrestleMania X-7, the WWE’s last foray in a dome for their annual supershow was back in 1992 for WrestleMania VIII, held in the Indianapolis Hoosier Dome.
As for the show’s big drawing card, Austin missed a year due to a neck injury and returned to action during the fall of 2000. After diving headfirst into a titantic war with Triple H that lasted four months, Austin came up for air to go after The Rock and the WWE title.
Austin’s logic for wanting to defeat The Rock for the gold was simple:
“Rock, you have the WWF title….and I want it.”
That’s good enough for me, Steve.
BEST MATCH: Austin/Rock II.
The second WrestleMania main event match between Austin and Rock stands as the greatest WWE championship bout ever.
It had everything. Blood, guts, a sense of urgency, controversy, a hot crowd, and an unexpected finish.
Austin’s alliance with the evil Vince McMahon proved just how far the Texas Rattlesnake was willing to go to win the WWE title.
Oh, back to the finish for a moment.
After Austin literally emptied his artillery out on The Rock during the match’s final five minutes, the former champion quickly grew extremely frustrated.
Then, he decided to go all medieval on The Rock and bashed him with a chair for what felt like 30 times.
The best part of Austin’s beating?
Go back and watch the close of the match. As the three-count is administered by referee Earl Hebner, Austin leans into The Rock and says “Yahtzee.”
What a glorious man.
WORST MATCH: Chyna vs. Ivory. This made the gimmick battle royal look like the ’92 Royal Rumble. It’s not a terrible match but weighed against everything else on the card, it sticks out badly.
BEST MOMENT: Edge spears Jeff Hardy from a ladder in Tables, Ladders, and Chairs III.
HONORABLE MENTION: Shane McMahon goes coast to coast.
When the WWE brought out Shane McMahon to wrestle, it normally ended with some pretty serious high-flying action or someone taking a terribly unnecessary bump.
During his street fight match with Vince, his father, over Shane’s involvement with the newly purchased WCW and due to Vinny Mac’s treacherous treatment of his wife Linda, Shane-O-Mac took to the air to leave a dramatic impact on the Astrodome fans.
The younger McMahon dove from one corner into another to dropkick a trash can into Vince’s face.
To the surprise of few, Vince didn’t recover from that one…until much later into the evening.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The real hot button issue from the Houston show stemmed from Austin’s heel turn at the end of the match.
Positioned as the company’s biggest babyface for nearly four years, Stone Cold turned evil in front of the hometown fans.
The turn fell mostly flat. The Rock left for Hollywood. Triple H, who was rumored to be facing Austin at that year’s SummerSlam, tore his quad. Thus, Austin’s only credible challengers were Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Kurt Angle.
Thus, the Austin heel run didn’t work. It wasn’t for a lack of effort. However, as Jim Ross once put it, no one wants to boo John Wayne.
Incredibly, this marked the final WrestleMania main event of Steve Austin’s super box office run from 1998 to 2002.
Meanwhile, the first Houston WrestleMania set the stage for a new wave of WWE dome shows. Outside of a three-year arena run from 2004 to 2006, WrestleMania is a regular in domes and outdoor stadiums.
Yet, unlike several of the dome/stadium WrestleManias that followed, this card possessed a lot of bite to it:
- Triple H vs. Undertaker
- Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle
- Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon in a street fight
- The Hardys vs. Edge & Christian vs. Dudleys in a Tables, Ladders, & Chairs match.
The worst match out of that bunch was arguably H vs. ‘Taker but that’s no slap in the face because even that managed to entertain.
While WM III will always be the most beloved big show ever, WrestleMania X-Seven doesn’t need to take a backseat to any pay-per-view.
Match for match, it just might be the greatest pay-per-view card ever.
Categories: WWE Network