The X-Factor: WrestleMania – The era we all miss

There will be those in the fanbase making their high-and-mighty comments. They’ll say they won’t watch. It’s WrestleMania. They’ll watch. It’s the show that gave us memories we’d remember forever: Steamboat vs. Savage; the most famous body slam ever; Hogan vs. Warrior; the boyhood dream; Austin’s bloody face; X-Seven; The Rock and Hogan just standing there; “Once in a Lifetime”; 21-1; KofiMania; Becky Two Belts; and that’s just scratching the surface.

WrestleMania has given us plenty, and it’ll keep giving. 

Some of us are fond of it to this day. The Attitude Era. Anyone who says they don’t miss it have no heart, but we could never have it back, not in todays age. 

It was ridiculously entertaining, and I know it would kill some of you to admit it. Vince Russo was a key reason why. 

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?

WrestleMania XV

Of all the ‘Mania opening vids, this one is easily my favorite thanks to Freddie Blassie’s narration. Watch the opening vid to ‘Mania XIV. The difference is night and day.

It was billed as “The Ragin’ Climax”. It’s fitting. Mr. McMadman – I’m quoting J.R. – had thrown everything at his worst enemy. It was all leading to this.

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? 

However, he was still at his worst from a political viewpoint. Russo had successfully pitched to add Mankind in the main event as a challenger, not a ref. For some reason Michaels threw his two cents in and it didn’t happen. While Russo is often full of it, it’s not a leap HBK would play politics. 

If you wanna know why Vince had put so much faith in his son, check his match with X-Pac.

WrestleMania 2000

This was the year they could do no wrong. They got away with a bad WrestleMania.

The Tag Team ladder match with Edge & Christian, The Hardys and The Dudleys tore the house down. E&C nabbed their first tag titles. Other than that, Kurt Angle losing his two singles titles to up-and-comers was a good call. Angle was never pinned, which served to protect him AND provide the comeuppance he deserved.

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, and I always 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” was the perfect theme 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. It’s no wonder why Trish retired with such grace. 

During this time, Stephanie got hers, a lot. She needed a good pasting during the Authority years.

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.