As we continue down the road to the biggest show of the year, I’ve been going through each event to prepare for the big day.
Instead of doing recaps for every WrestleMania (other people here do that much better), I’ve been putting together a Top Ten list of WrestleMania matches and have been updating it after each show.
WrestleMania 13 – March 23, 1997
I don’t think this one worked out the way that the WWF wanted it to. About 5-6 weeks before WrestleMania 13, WWF Champion Shawn Michaels claimed a knee injury and vacated the title, seemingly sending the company – and the biggest show of the year – into a bit of disarray. The company was still rebuilding from the loss of Hall and Nash and the competition was running circles around them in terms of product interest. So maybe a dose of “ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION” would be a panacea for the product?
A rematch with Bret “Hitman” Hart was rumored to be the main event, with Michaels returning the favor to Hart after beating him last year. “Losing his smile” meant that, instead, Hart would go on to continue his feud with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. And the WWF Title? Hoo boy.
Once again, nothing really terrible on the card, but very little that was memorable outside of the top two matches (one great, one terrible).
Best Match: Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Submission Match. Maybe it’s best that Hart-Michaels II didn’t happen, because it would have deprived us of one of the most amazing matches in WrestleMania history. Special guest referee Ken Shamrock plays his role perfectly, not disrupting the flow of the match the way Roddy Piper did at WrestleMania XI. Instead he let these two master storytellers work their craft. While Hart was already planting the seeds of his heel turn, the submission match pulled the trigger and managed to lay the groundwork for the short-term and long-term future of the WWF. It would be 13 years before Bret Hart appeared in a match at WrestleMania again, and this was a fitting swan song for Hart in this era.
Worst Match: Sid vs. Undertaker – No DQ WWF Title Match. Two former members of the NWA tag team The Skyscrapers collide in what may be the worst title match in the history of WrestleMania. Undertaker proved last year that he can work a near classic with a big man opponent when he beat Diesel, but he and Sid did not click in any way. Who thought it was a good idea to give Undertaker and Sid 21 minutes? The best part of the match happened before the opening bell, when Bret Hart came out to complain about being screwed and Sid power bombing him. Shawn Michaels on commentary was also high quality, but not enough to save this match from being the pits.
Rebook: I try not to have multiple sections on the same matches, but there’s really not much else to talk about with this show. Hart-Austin should have been the main event, and it should have been for the WWF Title. Undertaker vs. Sid could have been a big man match without a title on the line, and it could have cut 10 useless minutes from a terrible contest. And nothing that Undertaker did from WrestleMania to SummerSlam 1997 (when he lost the title to Bret Hart) needed the title. Hart, on the other hand, was the hottest heel in the WWF from this show right on through to Survivor Series, when he was unceremoniously turfed from the company.
Future Is Now: Three eventual WWF/E Champions made their WrestleMania debuts with this show – Mankind, Rocky Maivia and Blackjack Bradshaw all wrestled their first WrestleManias on this show. In addition, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who was squashed by Ultimate Warrior the previous year, got his first win at the Showcase of the Immortals. WrestleMania 13 happened one week after what I consider to be the start of the Attitude Era (Bret Hart’s tirade after losing a WWF Title Steel Cage match on Monday Night Raw on March 17, 1997), so it’s fitting that the stars of the Attitude Era were showcased right here.
The Top Ten
We have a new number one! Let’s go to the list.
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Submission Match (WrestleMania 13)
2 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
3 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
4 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
5 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
6 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
7 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
8 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
9 – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania VIII)
10 – Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake vs. The British Bulldogs – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania 2)
For the second year straight, no celebrity involvement and no musical acts. So, if you REALLY want to see the Top 10 celebrities or Top 5 Musical Acts, go check out either the WrestleMania XI or WrestleMania XII editions. This time around, we’re doing something new.
Rank The Streak
Undertaker vs. Diesel (WrestleMania XII)
Undertaker vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts (WrestleMania VIII)
Undertaker vs. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka (WrestleMania VII)
Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy (WrestleMania XI)
Sid vs. Undertaker – No DQ WWF Title Match (WrestleMania 13)
Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez (WrestleMania IX)