ATTITUDE ERA #8: WRESTLEMANIA 13 (Mar 23, 1997) PART 1

On the Card: Attitude Era #10 WrestleMania 13 – March 23, 1997

In the previous entry, I looked at In Your House 13: Final Four. It was okay. The next PPV was WrestleMania! The thirteenth of its name!

Over the next few weeks, I will review this PPV from the perspectives of a fan looking back at it after two decades as well as my original thoughts as a teenager watching it at the time (though this particular PPV was one I watched in 1998 as my family did not have the channels necessary to watch wrasslin’).

WWF In Your House 13: Final Four 1997

Heat!

That’s right, motherfuckers: heat!

If there is one thing I remember about WrestleMania 13, it’s that I was always told it was the greatest Mania of all time. Back in the day, my family couldn’t afford PPVs and sometime in 2000, Channel 4 here in Ireland got the WWF. It was terrific. Until then, I had to rely on my friends who sometimes taped parts of Raw and some PPVs. It was like a really bad jigsaw puzzle… or every JRPG where you need to collect the sacred relics to recreate the yadda yadda and one part is in the frigid northlands (my friend Peter may have had the first hour of the Rumble) and the second bit is in the swamp (my buddy Decky had a lot of Mania 14, but the rest was some badly-dubbed German porn) etc. etc. A lot of my wrestling knowledge of this time comes from these sketchy memories, later helped by the advent of DVD and my job in TK Maxx that fuelled my extensive PPV collection. What I remember about Mania 13 is that my buddy Shane had it on tape and it was amazing to watch.

This takes me back. The PPV opens with a WrestleMania retrospective (including, 30 seconds in, a lovely shot of Pamela Anderson). We see Undertaker, Stone Cold, NOD, Sid, Bret, LOD and an announcer who thinks that he is narrating Game of Thrones. He also calls WrassleMania “the granddaddy of them all”, which is great.

Brilliant early nineties snazzy music as the weakest pyro in Christendom announces our arrival to the Rosemount Horizon, Rosemount, Chicago, Illinois. Playstation presents WrassleMania 13! Our announcers are growling Vincent Kennedy McMahon… and we don’t know who else because he doesn’t introduce them! There were 19,197 in attendance, with 16,467 paying with 2,730 comps and an average ticket sale of $50 per person. 237,000 buys at home, a dip from the 290,000 the year before, but the lowest PPV sales since the 1986 Mania which had a quarter of a million buys. This marks the steady decline in sales that started in 1993 and just kept getting lower until the sales exploded again the next year. Since then, they have remained (fairly) steady and around the 1,000,000 mark.

It is worth noting that this is often cited as the beginning of the Attitude Era, along with King of the Ring (my own personal “beginning”) and Survivor Series 1997 and the “Montreal Screwjob”.

Some cunts in the front row, some smarky ones have Blue World Order signs and t-shirts.

And before anything else happens, just to remind people that before the Attitude Era, there was childish nonsense, the Godwinns music hits and the pair of them rock up with Hillbilly Jim.

 (Note: Before the PPV began there was a dark match featuring Billy Gunn defeating Flash Funk and his two Funkettes: Tracy and Nadine.)

The Fink introduces the four-team elimination match as Phineas I. Godwinn and Henry O. Godwinn slap the shite out of everyone’s hands.

We finally get introduced to our announce team: Jerry “The King” Lawler, Vince McMahon and Jumping Jim “JR” Ross. Out Spanish announcers and clear stars of the show are Hugo Savinovich and Carlos Cabrera. French announcers are Jean Brassard and Ray Rougeau. Great. Vince says, “In any language, it spells, ‘excitement’.”

The Headbangers come down, old Mosh and Thrasher, and we get told the rules: A tag can be made to any man. Any man at all. Two partners can tag themselves in, if they damn well please. When one member of a team is eliminated, they are both eliminated and the last team remaining wins. What do they win? They are the number one contender for the WWF Tag Team Championship of course! And where are the Tag Team Champions? Later in the PPV they wrassle, so chill young blood.

Down come Stiffy McStiff, Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon. There is little craic from the pair of them.

Before the New Blackjacks come down, we see the New Blackjacks, Cunt Bradshaw and Blackjack Windham AKA Barry Windham.

All hell breaks loose and the bell goes.

Four-Way Elimination Tag Match for the Number One Contender for the WWF Tag Team Championship: The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) def. The New Blackjacks (Blackjack Windham and Blackjack Bradshaw, The Godwinns (Phineas I. Godwinn and Henry O. Godwinn) (w/ Hillbilly Jim) and Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon in 10:39.

Christ, what a long title, by gum.

Everyone is fighting each other and trying to get the teams to their respective corners (which is stupid on his part, the ref should not have allowed the bell to ring). Bradshaw and Henry wrassle for a bit. Thrasher is tossed in and takes a boot from Bradshaw. Bradshaw, of course, in decent shape for a change. Bradshaw tags in Phineas and I can see that the wide-angle hard cam has some frame rate issues and I (hope) it’s not my ancient DVD that is doing it. Mosh is tagged in and the pair have to wrassle each other. Both the Headbangers have metal t-shirts on, with Mosh rocking a Metallica and Thrasher with a White Zombie T. The pair of them actually fight and tag in Phil Lafon with a lovely double flapjack. Blackjack Windham is in with his big moustache. Doug Furnas rocks in and hits a jumping hurricanrana. He tries a leapfrog, is caught, powerbombed and Bradshaw is tagged in.

King debates whether or not if two team members are in the ring and pin each other… do they both leave? Yes. Yes they do. Bradshaw drops Doug onto the outside. Bradshaw gets himself DQ’d by throwing the ref onto the ground.

Blackjack Bradshaw has been eliminated by DQ. The Blackjacks are eliminated in 4:55.

Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon have been eliminated in 4:55.

Stupid, stupid Bradshaw. He really does come across like the king of cunts, doesn’t he? Well he is. He’s the worst.

Phineas bodyslams Mosh then bodyslams Henry onto him. Silly gooses. Lovely huge delayed suplex. Jerry makes a Clinton joke. Say it to my face, Jerry, I dare you.

Henry tosses Thrasher into the corner. They spit on each other for a while. Thrasher does a lovely Flair flop spot and Mosh is tagged. Both Henry and Mosh go over the top rope. Mosh goes in first and guillotines Henry before jumping from the top rope. He shouts at the camera and then tosses Thrasher off the top rope. Vince tells us to forget about it and we do.

Jerry asks Vince if he has any White Zombie CDs. He doesn’t get it. Lovely big moonsault from Thrasher and he hits the hot tag on Mosh. Phineas clears the ring, throws Thrasher out, goes for the Slop Drop but it’s broken up. Mosh hits the seated senton and gets the pin in 10:39

Henry O. Godwinn has been eliminated by Mosh. The Godwinns are eliminated in 10:39.

The Headbangers are the winners and Number One Contenders for the WWF Tag Team Championship!

2017 comments:

Not bad, actually, and the crowd seemed to be into it. Seemed like a match called on the fly and would have preferred if it was just Godwinns vs. Headbangers without the bit at the start, being honest.

1997 comments:

I like these Headbanger yokes. Maybe I should listen to some White Zombie.

Grade: B

JR tries to explain the seated senton to us. They go backstage.

There is a promo for In Your House on April 20th. It doesn’t have a name yet. It will be “Revenge of the Taker”.

Back in the ring, it’s the fucking Honky Tonk Man. Captain Lou Albano is there. He’s the best. JR namedrops the fact that Honky and King are cousins.

The Sultan’s music hits and out comes Sheiky Baby with Rikishi, who, despite being a Samoan, is pretending to be Persian. Bob Backlund is there too, for some unknown reason. Sultan wears a mask. He could be a great gimmick, but it isn’t. This is an Intercontinental Championship match but there’s no history here.

Down runs Slammy Award-winning proto-Rock, Rocky Maivia. He has the old sideburns there as well.

Sheiky throws the flag about. Close up of Tony Atlas, tag partner of Rock’s dad, Rocky Johnson.

WWF Intercontinenatal Championship match: Rocky Maivia (c) def. The Sultan (w/ Bob Backlund and The Iron Sheik) via pin in 9:45.

Rock and Sultan are cousins in real life. Later, Sultan will run over Stone Cold Steve Austin for The Rock. Honky gives off because he says Rock is growing sideburns to impress him. Rock does this weird finger thing and Sultan bops him. Kip-up and the Rock kicks the shite out of Sultan, throwing him out. Rocky goes top rope but Sultan doesn’t see him. The crowd roar, “Rocky sucks!” and we see the beginning of the hatred for Rock. Jerry says that Rocky’s name should be Rookie! Brilliant.

Sultan kicks Rock in the gut and Rock is up, taking a choke-throw to the corner. Sultan attempts to pin Rock and fails. Rock covers his mouth to have a chat with Sultan, fights back, ducks a clothesline, takes a knee to the knee for his trouble and a lovely backbreaker. Sultan goes top rope and misses Rock, but both sell it anyways. Another cover, another fail. Irish whip and Rocky hits the sunset flip. Sultan double-chokes Rocky to lift him up, hits the belly-to-belly and another pin attempt. The announcers shit on Sultan and his speed.

Rest hold city from the pair of them. Earl Hebner is watching. Jerry makes a Christopher Reeve joke. Oy vey. More rest holds from Sultan. Rock looks like he might be out. The crowd is quite, quite dead. Earl hits my favourite spot – the hand drop! On the third, Rock wakes up and both men hit the clothesline at the same time. Rock rolls over onto Sultan and after a kickout, both men jump up. Shite selling, boys. You can’t be unconscious and wake up in seconds. Lovely punches, lovely dropkick, Rock hits the belly-to-belly, gets a kickout after two, hits a lovely spinning DDT, goes to the top rope, hits the cross-body and Sheiky Baby is distracting the ref. Sultan is up, but Rock hits the punches, the kicks, gets a superkick to the jaw, kicks out of a pin. Sultan piledrives Rock into the damn canvas and Honky makes a wheelchair reference. For shame, boys. Rocky hits the roll-up and gets the win by pin in 9:45.

2017 comments:

An okay match. Badly paced, though and neither men know how to sell.

1997 comments:

Are all these lads related?

Grade: B

JR goes to speak to Rock and Sultan is up and beating on Rock with the Intercontinental belt. Sheiky Baby, Backlund and Sultan beat on Rock. Sultan hits the frog splash, Sheik gets the camel clutch, breaks back, makes humble. Rocky Johnson is in the ring! By Christ, he’s in, he’s battering on Sultan and helping up Rock. Sultan gets the flag, beats on Rocky Johnson, tears off his shirt and Sheiky goes to camel Clutch but Rock is up, knocking Sultan out, turns on Sheiky Baby, hits a lovely scoop slam and Rocky does the same. Both men punch out Sheik and the pair of them hug mid-ring, shirts off. Earl cleans the house.

On the Card will return on March 30 2017 with the second part of WrestleMania 13.

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Attitude Era #6. Survivor Series (November 17, 1996) Part 2

Previously on On the Card: One amazing opening match.

Cut to the “bowels of the building” where Kevin Kelly is there to interview Mankind and Paul Bearer. Kelly tells them that Paul has to be raised above the ring in a cage. Paul claims that he is no animal. Mankind screeches out some threats to the Undertaker in the form of cannibalism.

Back in the arena, the cage is ready for Paul to enter. Mankind’s music plays and Paul comes out, claiming that he is not going into a cage, but we all know he will. He bumps into a cameraman and shouts at him for some time. Cheeky rascal. Paul gives Mankind the urn and the pair of them rock and screech mid-ring. JR reminds us that it has only been six years since Undertaker arrived in the WWF. The announcers wonder if Paul will fit into the cage.

The bells toll and the arena dips into darkness as the Undertaker descends from above with huge bat-like wings. As he lands, the spotlight on him disappear and some men get him out of his harness. When he reappears in the blue light, we see he has a teardrop tattoo on his cheek. The Undertaker has killed a man, it seems, and done hard time for it. JR comments on Taker’s ring attire. It’s very leather.

Paul is finally in the cage and as the bell rings, Mankind sneaks from behind and shoves Undertaker’s head into the metal bars of the cage. Bastard.

Paul Bearer in a cage match: The Undertaker def. Mankind via pin in 14:52.

Camera from within the cage – CAGECAM – shows Paul. We can hear him screech from within. Mankind and Taker beat on each other outside of the ring before rolling back in. Taker throws Mankind into the corner with ruthless abandon and follows it up with a drop-toe-hold, something that JR tells us he has never done before. Taker gets Mankind into an armbar in an attempt to hyperextend the elbow. He gives up, stomps Mankind’s right hand – his claw hand – and rolls outside to continue the battering. JR considers that Mankind’s hand is broken.

Undertaker goes for a big elbow and Mankind moves. He knocks Undertaker outside, but the Deadman lands on his feet. The fight spills into the fans. We have an idiot with an ECW shirt on. Fool. The men go back into the ring. Another shot from the cagecam featuring Paul Bearer. Mankind does a wee senton onto the standing Undertaker from the apron. JR considers that Mankind’s hand might well never function again. The boys are courting disaster being in the ring with Bearer suspended above them. Mankind flings Taker into the corner and Vince asks us to kindly forget about it. Another throw into the corner and Taker springs off it to hit the elbow. Mankind attempts to escape and fails. Taker actually bites Mankind’s fingers, becoming a cannibal in the interim. Taker gives Mankind the Irish whip, ducks for a slam and Mankind gives him a brutal piledriver.

Mankind calls for the claw but Undertaker refutes him, getting him into the chokeslam. The crowd ask them to “Rest in Peace!” Mankind escapes the chokeslam and is put into the Tombstone position. He escapes from this and gets Mankind in the Mandible Claw. Mankind is thrown into the barricade and JR tells us that Mankind wears no helmet. Undertaker goes for Old School and some smart cunt in the crowd hits the airhorn as the crowd hit a revival of the “Rest in Peace!” chant. Mankind goes to the top rope and Taker sits up – always a bad move when a big man goes aerial. Taker tries fight Mankind off, but is thrown to the mat. As Mick hits the double-axe-handle-nothing, Mark reverses it into a chokeslam which is reversed into a Mandible Claw and we have a lovely lie down from the lads. Vince says, “Progress is totally halted!”

My favourite spot comes up as the ref holds Undertaker’s hand aloft and drops it thrice. On the third drop, Taker holds tight and reverses the Claw into a chokeslam. JR tells us that Mankind’s hand is surely damaged. Mankind hits another senton but Taker dodges it. He rolls Mankind into the ring and gets the madman on the ropes. A reversed Irish Whip into a sleeper into a backdrop. Mankind pulls a shiv out of his trunks and hits Taker with it. The official sees naught. Paul Bearer shakes the cage – be careful, Paul, you could kill every man in the building if you fall. Mankind on Taker’s back in the corner and Taker turns it into a Tombstone Piledriver, pinning Mankind mid-ring for the win and Paul’s soul in 14:52.

2016 comments:

Good match. Shoot, that makes two matches in a row! What is this? The Attitude Era? Must be… oh wait, that’s not due to start for another year… oh well.

1996 comments:

I am so scared for Paul Bearer.

Grade: A-

Paul is lowered to the ring and Taker removes his prize. With Taker now being an ex-con, we can only imagine the horrors he has ready for Paul Bearer in the-

Oh wait, what the fuck? It’s the Executioner, Terry Gordy! Out he runs to defend Paul Bearer’s honour! Executioner beats on Taker mercilessly. Taker fights back and Exectutioner escapes with Paul and Mankind. Undertaker never got a chance to get his hands on Bearer. Rascally. Undertaker paces in the ring and we see some replays of the Tombstone Piledriver as Taker takes a knee in the blue ring.

Cut to backstage and the WWF is on AOL! Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon have two people with lanyards and the biggest laptops I have ever seen. They look very uncomfortable.

Back in the ring, Sunny runs down to the announcer’s desk, shaking herself with reckless abandon. Nice wee wave to our man Howard Finkel. Vince dances with Sunny and we cut to Dok Hendrix in the back with Crush, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Intercontinental Champion Trrrrrrrriple H and our boy Goldust with Marlena. Goldust plays with Hunter’s hair. Trips and Jerry both cut promos on Marc Henry. Crush and Goldust say about three lines. The music hits as Crush arrives to the ring, all dreadlocks and goatee, followed by The King, who shouts at the crowd and tells them to shut up. Goldust arrives with the letterbox screen. JR complains that Goldust was… “short” with him. Sunny complains that Triple H has the gold… but lost his valet. Sunny calls JR chubby.

Sable’s music hits and out she comes… with her husband, Wildman Marc Mero. No one pays attention to Mero. His Roman candles hit as Mrs. Future Lesnar claps politely. Sunny makes an implant joke. Out comes The… Stalker? Barry Windham? The member of the Four Horsemen? Some weird music hits and Rocky Maivia comes out. Who is this new man? Who is this- Oh, we all know who The Man Who Would Be The Rock is. Let’s not lie about it. He recently did a Rock Reacts video on this, his debut, and I will slip his reactions and points in with the review. He has a mop of curly hair. He looks like a Flintstones reject and he doesn’t know where the hard cam is. He thinks its behind him, so we’ll see him back a lot. The Rock looks amazing.

Mero is on the mic and hyping up the crown with his mental mullet. He introduces our man Jake Roberts, who walks out with Revelations his huge python. The size of his snake! He can barely lift it over his head, by God!

Wee shot of MSG on the outside as we get set up mid-ring.

Survivor Series Tag Team Match: Rocky Maivia, Jake Roberts, The Stalker and Marc Mero (w/ Sable) def. Crush, Jerry Lawler, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Goldust (w/ Marlena) via elimination in 23:44.

The faces chase the heels out of the ring and Mero is due to start with Jerry. The two men are about to fight until the audience chant, “Burger King!” to The King. The Stalker gets tagged in and Jerry tags out, pulling in Trips. Mero goes after him and the blueblood rolls outside, desperate to get his title back.

Straight-up Shoot Fact: Mero’s debut was at WrestleMania XII when Sable was his Valet. After a loss to a no-selling Ultimate Warrior, Trips beat on Sable mercilessly until her husband came out and saved her. Trips and Mero have a storied past, it seems.

Goldust slides in and the two married men with their wives outside beat on each other mid-ring. Lovely hip toss from Mero followed by a great back body drop. Goldust is being thrown about like a ragdoll. Attempted pin as Sunny rips on Sable and praises Marlena. The Stalker comes in and whips Goldust about until HHH is tagged in. They go for the test of strength and Mero is tagged in as Trips tags out. Crush pops in with his white-boy dreads and forehead tattoo. Rocky is tagged in and the “powerhouse” as Vince described him is thrown into the corner where The King legit cracks him a few times, shoulder barges him down and Rocky just pops right up. So sexy. Double jumps and a dropkick as King falls out of the ring, retreating from fear.

Vince then drops that Dwayne Johnson is taking the name of his father and grandfather. Alright.

Trips and Rock are in the ring and we see a foreshadowing of main events of future past. Goldust comes in after Trips hits a great suplex and hits an elbow. Cover attempt and Rock survives. Lovely drop on the top rope and Crush is in with a ribbreaker. Lovely slap to Rock’s face followed by a body slam and The King is back in, being an arse. Trips is tagged in and batters Rock in the corner. The two men share some sloppy punches with Rock lifting Trips for a back body drop, calling in Jake the Snake, who clears house. Another back body drop and Jake calls for the DDT but Hunter fights back. Mero jumps in to protect his friend but Goldust is taking over. Jerry is in now, a sequel to their matches earlier. Jake is sloppy on his feet and Lawler insinuates that he is drunk. Jake hits Lawler with the DDT and eliminates King with a pin.

Jerry “The King” Lawler has been eliminated by Jake “The Snake” Roberts in 10:01.

Goldust is in and taking over where Jerry failed. Goldie holds Jake in a sleeper hold for some time as The Stalker hammers his feet on the apron. Jake escapes and tags Barry who attacks Goldust with a brutal Irish Whip and great suplex. Harvey Whippleman is outside. Great lad. Goldust goes for the double-axe-handle nothing, gets a punch to the gut as he lands and hits a great flip. Crush kidney-punches The Stalker and gets a curtain call for the pin. The bell doesn’t even ring.

The Stalker has been eliminated by Goldust in 12:44.

Mero is in, kicking his husband-brother in the face. Goldust replies with a kick of his own and Hunter is tagged in to take over. Mero is beaten in the corner and Sable hits a terrible beat on the apron. 4/4 timing, Sable, for Christ’s sake. Trips hits an awful knee drop, missing Mero by a good half a foot. Crush is tagged in and gives Mero a bearhug as he walks him around the ring. A pair of rib breakers followed by a leg drop but Mero kicks out. Goldust comes in, hits Mero with a great shoulder barge and barely gets the pin. Crush comes back in and attempts the cover but Mero is still kicking out. Someone is battering the steps. Who is it? Some cunt.

Trips has Mero in the abdominal stretch and holds it forever as Sable attempts her beat but fails once again. Give it up, Sable, you’re never going to be a musician. Abdominal stretch city over here. Mero finally escapes, hits the sunset flip and Trips aloha-Arns it forever before finally tagging in Goldust. Goldust quickly tags out and Trips is back in, getting a spinning head scissors for his effort. Mero falls out of the ring, jumps to the top rope and hits the Merosault – a moonsault from the top rope – for the pin.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley has been eliminated by Wildman Marc Mero in 19:20.

Crush is in now, headbutting Mero, attempting a gorilla press, forgetting it and taking a dropkick from Mero. Mero attempts a senton suicide dive but hits the floor instead. In the ring, Wildman takes another headbutt and Jack comes in to save him-

Oh. Wait, what? It seems Wildman was actually eliminated. Huh.

Wildman Marc Mero has been eliminated by Crush in 20:36.

That was pathetic. Obviously the lads are running over time then because that’s two eliminations in just over a minute.

Jake is in with Crush and is hit with a brutal throat shot, the “Heart Punch”.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts has been eliminated by Crush in 20:54.

Rocky is on his own. He looks back to his corner and finds it wanting. He looks to Crush and Goldust. He’s fucked. The crowd legit starts chanting his name. For real. This is his debut match and the crowd are chanting The Rock’s name. Crush goes for the test of strength. The kids shout, “No!” yet he does it anyway. Rock goes for a small package and fails, hitting a body slam, beating on Goldust, getting some babyface fire. A double Irish whip followed by a crossbody on both heels. Rocky is pounding it stacks but Crush is taking over. Both heels are mid-ring and Crush attempts a heart punch, receiving a crossbody for his effort followed by a pin.

Crush has been eliminated by Rocky Maivia in 23:12.

It’s now Rocky and Goldust! Two of my favourite wrestlers!

Straight-up Shoot Fact: When The Rock pinned Crush, he hid his face and thanked him for it. So sweet.

Goldust takes a punch from Rock, fights back and Rocky hits his running shoulderbreaker, his original finisher, getting the pin and the win in 23:44.

Goldust has been eliminated by Rocky Maivia. The survivor is Rocky Maivia!

2016 comments:

Good debut from our man The Rock. The fact that this newcomer started in MSG, on Survivor Series, won his first match and eliminated two people in less than a minute is nothing short of prophetic. I don’t always like The Rock, especially later when his main events versus Trips were boring as all hell, but he pulls out all the stops here tonight. Fair play.

1996 comments:

I don’t like that Rocky lad. He looks like a Samoan Hogan. Samogan.

Grade: A

Three great matches in a row? Truly this is the end times.

Rocky is looking at the entrance, where he believes the hard cam is. It isn’t. He’s a damn fool. Why doesn’t the ref tell him? Sunny says she’s proud of Rocky and hasn’t even had the chance to seduce him yet. What the fuck?

On the Card will return on December 1 with the third part of Survivor Series 1996.