My favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania X-Seven
As Wrestlemania 34 draws near, a lot of people have been talking about how good the card looks, top to bottom. It’s hard to argue. From Ronda Rousey’s WWE debut, to Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles, to Charlotte and Asuka, this card has something for everyone. All 12-14 matches should be very good and entertaining and tell a great story.
Personally, the build-up has reminded me a lot of what is widely regarded as one of the best Wrestlemania's of all time, and my personal favorite: Wrestlemania X-Seven.
Wrestlemania X-Seven was a huge deal for several reasons. First, it was technically the first Wrestlemania ever in which WWF didn’t have a rival promotion to worry about, as WCW had shut down just a few weeks earlier. It also marked the first Wrestlemania in Texas, and the first Wrestlemania to take place in a football stadium since Wrestlemania VIII was in Indianapolis’ Hoosier Dome nine years earlier. So, right off the bat, X-Seven had a huge feel to it.
Did it deliver? Yeah. It did. People still talk about to this day. While I could go in-depth with every match on the card (because they’re all awesome), I’m gonna just focus on my three favorites.
Kurt Angle d. Chris Benoit
A rivalry that would stretch from Wrestlemania 2000 to Benoit’s eventual Royal Rumble win and transfer to Raw, Angle and Benoit had no shortage of classic matches in that four year stretch. This one stands out as one of the three or four best.
There wasn’t really much of a story behind this match (or their feud in general) except for they were the two best submission artists in the WWF and constantly wanted to make each other tap out. Coming off years of overbooked NWO angles and Attitude Era shenanigans, it was nice to get a match where two guys try to make each other tap for 15 minutes. It was also incredibly smart booking, as Angle tapped while the ref was knocked out and eventually made Benoit tap while the ref was looking. It made it so they could continue the feud. Benoit would get hurt shortly later, but they would pick it right back up when he returned in 2002.
TLC II: Edge and Christian d. Dudley Boyz and Hardy Boyz
It’s 2018 and TLC matches are pretty much not a special thing anymore, due to the advances in concussion research and the toning down of WWE in general. Plus, they have a pay-per-view dedicated to the match every year.
Back in 2001 though, this was still incredibly fresh and new. And while these were the only good tag teams in the company at the moment, they sure knew how to put on a show.
This TLC match has no shortage of memorable moments. From Edge spearing Jeff Hardy out of mid-air, to the super tall ladder, to everyone going through at least one table, it’s pretty amazing that all six of these guys still had careers after this match and are still in relatively good shape today.
Stone Cold d. The Rock
Look, the ending was really really stupid and unnecessary and one of the dumbest things WWF/E have ever done. I’ll be the first to agree. But damn, this match is one of Austin’s three best of all time.
I think it’s right up there with his match against Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13. It checked every single box for me. Obviously, Austin had to main event the first Wrestlemania to ever be held in Texas, and the crowd loved him. Austin using the Million Dollar Dream was an amazing callback. Rock hitting a Stunner and Austin hitting a Rock Bottom was awesome.
It would have been a perfect ending to a great night if only he hadn’t sided with Vince McMahon. But, the match itself is still absolutely excellent.
Does Wrestlemania X-Seven still hold up today? Yes. Absolutely. The impact was felt throughout much of the 2000s, as it made Angle and Benoit into stars, was the start of a change from the Attitude Era to the Ruthless Aggression Era (which technically started here despite not getting named as such until 2002), and gave us another classic in the Austin/Rock rivalry. I didn’t even get into things like Undertaker vs. Triple H, or one of the most entertaining hardcore title matches in WWF history between Big Show/Kane/Raven. Simply put, this show is just as entertaining today as it was 17 years ago, and I hope Wrestlemania 34 holds up just as well.