The X-Factor: WrestleMania 40… with attitude

When it all comes down to it, there’s no feeling like it. Even in recent years I still ‘mark out’. Who didn’t when Rey gave his boy that belt-whipping? When Sami Zayn and KO headlined and left with FOUR titles?

All those stars who enter the stadium and cross that item off their bucket list. Their body language tells it better than any words could. 

You can be the cynics if you need to, but remember this. It’s guaranteed that Vince McMahon won’t mess things up. 

It’s ironic. During their most known era, they only really had one great WrestleMania. 

All those calls to bring the era back. What I miss most about those times was the simplicity. Cody Rhodes can get beaten down and bloodied on cable TV but we’re not allowed to hear “holy shit” chants anymore. Just turn the mics down people!

The Attitude Era had a must-see atmosphere that they’ve found hard to duplicate since then. Everyone felt like a star. The preshow Heats were worth tuning in to because they impacted the PPVs themselves. “Would this match still go on”? Take King of the Ring ‘99. Lousy show, but throughout there was uncertainty about Shane McMahon competing. Why can’t we have that back?

If we’re being honest, the American Bad Ass persons worked. It allowed Undertaker to be himself more.

WrestleMania XV 

My favorite opening vid and it’s made all the better thanks to Freddie Blassie. 

Steve Austin and The Rock had a very fun match which played to the strengths of the Attitude Era and the chemistry between its two biggest stars. A bit sloppy but still fun.

Give Russo credit, even he knew better than to mess with finishing moves.

Mankind won the right to referee the closing match, but as was often the case in ‘99, twists and turns happened. Vince inserted himself as the ref, but Shawn Michaels showed up, reversed his decision, and barred the rest of the Corporation from ringside. Very entertaining segment, but when is HBK not entertaining? 

WrestleMania 2000

This was the year they could do no wrong. They got away with a bad WrestleMania. You’d be forgiven for thinking Russo booked it.

The Tag Team ladder match with Edge & Christian, The Hardys and The Dudleys tore the house down. E&C nabbed their first tag titles. Oh, and crybaby Kurt Angle lost both his singles belts without getting pinned.

Imagine if they had gone through with Chris Jericho in the main event. They didn’t know what they had with him.

Steve Austin was missed, but he wasn’t really missed. He spent nearly two years outright dominating the WWF. The Rock’s star rose as high as his, if not higher. His star power was great enough they got away with a lousy ending. We wanted The Rock raising the WWF Championship up high, not Vince McMahon screwing him out of it.

WrestleMania X-Seven

The greatest WrestleMania of all time! No question.

I spend my weekends during ‘Mania season watching my favorite matches. I save X-Seven for last.

It was the only ‘Mania to have Paul Heyman on commentary. Just sayin’. 

Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were the biggest alpha dogs around. Their main event practically wrote itself. Limp Bizkit’s “My Way” somehow got turned into a fight song.

Austin said he needed to be the champion. That should’ve been a dead giveaway, but the idea of Austin “[selling] his soul to Satan himself” was unthinkable. The match kicked ass at any rate.

It followed a Street Fight between the McMahon’s, the greatest TLC match of all time, and an in spirit No Holds Barred brawl between The Undertaker and Triple H. How did the crowd have any energy left? 

Look at the humiliation conga Trish Stratus suffered: soaked in dirty mop water; stripping; acting and barking like a dog; and playing tonsil hockey with Mr. McMahon in front of his medicated wife. She got to retire as champion. No one could ever accuse them of not paying it forward. 

What came next? 

WCW was done. On the heels of the greatest PPV of all time, all those “What if’s” and dream matches were about to become a reality. 

Or not.

Don’t mess with the X.