March 15, 2009
Alexander Settee

Wrestlemania 13, March 23, 1997, Rosemont Horizon, Chicago, IL
Announcers: Vince McMahon, Jerry “The King” Lawler, & Jim Ross

Only a few more to go now, so it’s on to Wrestlemania 13 which holds the distinction of being the least successful Wrestlemania of them all. But it is an important one because on this night, in the span of one match, the career of the man who would go on to become one of the biggest drawing cards, if not the single biggest, in history gets made.

Opening Match, Fatal Four Way Match: The Godwinns (w/Hillbilly Jim) vs. The Headbangers vs. Doug Furnas & Philip Lafon vs. The New Blackjacks
Winner of this match gets a shot at the Tag Team Titles tomorrow night on Raw. That’s very TNAesque of them over five years before that company even came into existence. Eight way brawl kicks things off until Henry and Bradshaw are the last two left and thus start by default. Henry nails a clothesline and tags Thrasher, but Thrasher’s Irish whip is reversed and he takes a big boot from Bradshaw. Pumphandle slam hits then Bradshaw tags Phineas and nails him coming in. Thrasher controls briefly, but gets backdropped, and then just to emphasize the stips, Phineas tags Mosh to put the Headbangers in together. The feign going at it before Thrasher tags LaFon and the Bangers hit him with a double flapjack. Mosh tries a suplex, but it gets reversed and he takes one instead, followed by a dropkick. Mosh tags Windham, who walks right into a Northern Lights suplex for 2. Tag to Furnas, who gets Windham with a rana for 2. Windham then catches Furnas coming off, slams him and drops a leg. Tag to Bradshaw and the Blackjacks hit a double shoulderblock. Bradshaw then misses a clothesline and gets dropkicked to the floor. The members of both teams end up brawling out there and there and the bell rings at 4:46 to indicate both teams are out. How they were eliminated was never exactly made clear, but according to the Ring Results section of this fine site Bradshaw was disqualified for shoving the ref, while Furnas and LaFon were counted out and that’s good enough for me. This leaves the Bangers and Godwinns and it just turns in to a standard tag match from here. Henry slams Phineas on Thrasher for 2, and then a delayed suplex by Phineas gets 1 with Mosh making the save. Tag to Henry and he gets shoved off to the corner, but Thrasher’s corner whip is reversed and Henry nails a charge in the corner. Snapmare gets 2 and he tags Phineas. A slugfest breaks out, but Phineas wins and then nails a clothesline in the corner. Tag to Henry, who gets a splash for 2. Thrasher then rakes the eyes and makes the tag. Mosh sends Henry off, but puts his head down and gets kicked. Henry then clotheslines him to the floor, going over with him in the process. As they get back in, Mosh drops Henry on the ropes and then takes advantage with a springboard press to put him back on the floor. Thrasher goes up, so Mosh throws him out onto Henry. Back in the ring, Mosh gets 2 from that and then makes the tag. They hit a double clothesline, but Thrasher then misses a moonsault and Henry gets the cold tag to Phineas who works over both Bangers. Slop Drop attempt on Mosh is broken up and in the ensuing melee, Mosh then gets Phineas with a top rope sitdown splash for 3 at 11:40. Pretty boring and heatless match save for a couple of spots from the Headbangers. ½*

Intercontinental Championship Match: Rocky Maivia vs. The Sultan (w/Bob Backlund & The Iron Sheik)
No real setup here as Marc Mero was intended to get the Title shot, but got hurt and they had to scramble to find a replacement. Honky Tonk Man is here doing guest commentary during his quest to find a worthy protégé, but makes it clear that Rocky is not up for the spot as much as he may want it. Sultan shoves Rocky, who then starts firing away, but his Irish whip is reversed and he takes a shoulderblock. He kips up and sends Sultan to the corner, which is reversed, but Rocky comes out with a clothesline. Two dropkicks send Sultan to the floor, but Rocky gets dragged out with him. Rocky misses a shot there and hits the post. Sultan rams him to the barrier and then gets him back in where he goes to work on the arm. Rocky tries fighting back, but Sultan retains control. Clothesline gets 2 and he goes to a nerve hold as the crowd pulls out the famous “Rocky Sucks” chant. Rocky gets out, but runs into a knee. Sultan gets a backbreaker and then hits a headbutt off the top for 2. Belly to belly suplex gets another 2. To a rear chinlock now. Rocky’s arm drops twice, and then he starts his comeback to a round of boos. It was pretty clear by this point that weren’t digging The Rock yet. It makes how big he became even more impressive when you look back and see how soundly he was being rejected at this point. Back to the match as they both clothesline each other and Rocky then covers for 2. He then gets a dropkick and a belly to belly suplex for 2. Sultan rakes the eyes and sends Rocky off the ropes, but falls victim to the floatover DDT. Rocky then goes up and comes off with a bodypress, but Sheik has the ref distracted. Rocky goes over to confront them, but ends up getting crescent kicked for 2. Piledriver also gets 2 for Sultan, but then Rocky slips out of a bodyslam and gets a rollup for 3 to retain at 9:47. Sultan jumps him after the match and the heel beatdown is on until Rocky Johnson makes the save and Father and Son clear the ring together. I can say the same thing here as I said in the opener; boring and heatless. ½*

Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) vs. Goldust (w/Marlena)
This feud has gone on for a while as HHH had put the moves on Marlena only to be rejected. After failing to win the IC Title himself at the Rumble, Goldust helped cost HHH the Title to Rocky Maivia last month at Final Four, but in the process Marlena took a beating from HHH’s new bodyguard Chyna. So here we are with yet another chapter in the feud. Goldust starts with two clotheslines and then works him over with some punches. He even spits at Chyna, who just stands there and doesn’t even move. After an inverted atomic drop, Goldust clotheslines him to the apron and ties him in the ropes for more shots. He then clotheslines HHH back in, but puts his head down on an Irish whip and takes a facebuster. HHH then misses a clothesline and gets powerslammed. Goldust goes up, and HHH meets him there to try a superplex, but when Goldust blocks, HHH just drops him out to the floor. He gets Goldust back in and then nails him with a forearm off the top for 2. A couple of corner whips, followed by a swinging neckbreaker also get 2. He uses an abdominal stretch, using the ropes for leverage, but Goldust hiptosses out. Goldust comes off the ropes, but runs into a high knee for 2. HHH holds him down off a rear chinlock and gets a few near falls before ending with the “crotch himself on the opponent’s knees” spot. He still controls though and hits a suplex and a kneedrop for 2. Goldust comes back, but then puts his head down on an Irish whip and gets DDT’d. Irish whip by HHH, but Goldust blocks the hiptoss and gets a backslide for 2, followed by a small package for another 2. Goldust can’t hold him on a slam though and HHH gets 2. Irish whip by HHH, but Goldust ducks and comes back with a bodypress for 2. Goldust gets fired off again, and this time they collide and both go down. HHH goes up, but Goldust sticks out his ass and HHH runs into that. Goldust follows with a backdrop and a bulldog for 2. As he sets up for the Curtain Call, Chyna starts stalking Marlena. HHH slips out and tries the Pedigree, but Goldust in turn counters and slingshots HHH on to the ropes. Now Goldust sees what Chyna is up to, so he pulls Marlena up to the apron, but HHH nails him from behind and knocks Marlena right into Chyna’s bearhug. Pedigree finishes Goldust off at 14:29 while Chyna shakes Marlena around. Goldust is more concerned with his wife than with the loss and has a look that says this isn’t over. The match was definitely better than the one they had back at the Rumble, but that’s not exactly high praise or anything. **

WWF Tag Team Championship Match: Owen Hart & The British Bulldog vs. Vader & Mankind (w/Paul Bearer)
Here we have another Title match that was basically slapped together for lack of anything better to do. Owen and Bulldog were on the road to splitsville, which Jim Ross furthers in a pre match interview by confronting Bulldog with the fact that Owen has recently claimed Bulldog is a dummy and he’s the leader of the team, but they keep it together for now. The breakup would actually happen the next night before Bret made peace with them and got the family back together. Also, everyone is a heel here, which is always awkward, but Bulldog and Owen play the faces and actually do as good a job as could be expected of getting the fans behind them. Owen and Vader start, which doesn’t go well for Owen has he takes a beating right off the bat. He does come back with a clothesline, followed by a spinkick to take Vader down. He then tries a bodypress, but gets caught and slammed. Vader misses an elbow, so Owen tries a rana, but gets powerbombed. Vader goes for the Vader Bomb, but Bulldog knocks him down and now all four guys go at it. Bulldog gets double teamed, but comes back with a double clothesline, and then Owen hits a double dropkick. Bulldog and Mankind are legal now and Bulldog hits the delayed suplex. Vader gets in and tries his own suplex, but Bulldog reverses and then tosses Vader out. After holding a rear chinlock, Bulldog gets fired off, but Vader pulls the ropes down and Bulldog goes out. Mankind tries to nail him with the urn, but Bulldog uses a drop toehold to avoid it. He can’t avoid Vader’s shot with the urn though and goes down. Back in, Vader gets the tag and nails a suplex for 2. Tag back to Mankind who hits the running knee in the corner and drops a leg on the apron. After a backdrop, he tags out again. Vader takes Bulldog down with a bodyblock, but when he goes to the 2nd rope, he gets powerslammed off. Tag to Owen, who’s in with a dropkick off the top. His Irish whip is reversed, and he tries a sunset flip. Vader drops, but Owen moves. He goes up and comes off with a bodypress for 2. Of the ropes, but Vader finally catches him with a bodyblock. Tag to Mankind, who tosses Owen out and he and Vader do a Demolition Decapitation on the floor. Vader rams Owen to the barrier and then Mankind bites him. Back in, Owen elbows out of a rear chinlock and counters a neckbreaker to a DDT. Owen tries a splash, but he hits knees and Mankind covers for 2. Corner whip sees Owen hit chest first and Mankind charges in at him. Owen doesn’t really get the elbow up, but Mankind sells it like he did so there was some sort of communication breakdown there. Owen comes out with a spin kick for 2, but the Mankind makes the tag. Vader works over Owen in the corner. Owen slips out of a suplex and nails a spin kick, but Vader is up and drops an elbow for 2. Tag to Mankind who sends Owen to the floor again, but when he charges, Owen gets him with a belly to belly suplex. Back in, he nails the ensiguiri and makes the tag to Bulldog. Bulldog beats up both guys, sending Mankind to the post a couple of times. He sets him up for the running powerslam, but Mankind hooks the Mandible Claw. Vader and Owen are in and in the chaos, Mankind and Bulldog are knocked to the floor where Mankind reapplies the hold and they both get counted out at 16:08. Post match sees Mankind refuse to break until Vader finally manages to drag him off. Terrible ending, but I liked it up to that point. **1/4

Submission Match: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart
Oh yeah, here we go. These guys have been feuding ever since Austin began calling Bret out last Fall and Bret then came back to accept the challenge. Austin cost Bret the WWF Title against Sid on Raw last month, and that, combined with all the other instances of being screwed since his return has led to Bret being pissed right off and bitching to anyone who will listen. Last week on Raw he got a rematch with Sid in a cage match with the story being that if Bret won, this match would be for the Title. So you had Austin actually helping Bret out, while Undertaker was there to ensure Sid retained to protect his Title shot. Ultimately, Bret lost when Taker slammed the cage door in his face and Sid got out. This was the final straw for Bret as he shoved Vince McMahon down and then went on his famous profanity laced rant against everyone and everything he could think of. This leads us here to our submission match with Ken Shamrock as the special guest referee. Bret still gets more crowd support coming out, but it’s really a good mixed reaction for both guys, probably 70-30 in Bret’s favour at the start. Austin tackles him to start and they roll around on the mat trading shots. To the floor where the slugfest continues and Austin gets sent to the post. Bret tries a suplex, but Austin blocks and drops him on the rail, then follows with a clothesline to take things into the crowd. They fight further out where Bret gets whipped to the hockey boards and then they go over those and up the stairs. Kinda hard to see exactly what’s going on, but Austin gets backdropped up there and then they make their way back to ringside. The crowd, which has been pretty dead thus far, is alive and well now. Bret tosses Austin back over the barrier and then comes off of it with a forearm. Whip to the stairs is reversed and Bret goes into them hard. Austin drops a forearm from the apron, and then grabs the stairs, but Bret kicks them out of his hands. Austin then pulls the tights to send Bret to the post. We finally get back in the ring where Austin stomps a mudhole. Irish whip, but he puts the head down and Bret gets him with a swinging neckbreaker. He drops the 2nd rope elbow and then starts working on the leg. Austin’s knee injury was a recent development, I believe just from the Final Four, and it ended up forcing him to wear the brace for the rest of his career. Bret drops some elbows on it, but eventually he misses a drop down and Austin connects with the Stunner out of nowhere. They both struggle to their feet, but Bret remains in control and goes right back to the leg. Bret hooks the ringpost figure four, but Austin won’t give up. Now Bret grabs both the bell and a chair and looks to Pillmanize the leg, but as Bret goes up, Austin gets the chair off and nails Bret with it a couple of times. Now Austin controls with a slam and a suplex. He drops his own version of the 2nd rope elbow, then stomps the groin and hits a Russian legsweep. To an armbar, but Bret won’t give up, so next he switches to a Boston crab. Bret makes the ropes for the break, so Austin looks to hook a Sharpshooter, but Bret rakes the eyes to stop that. Bret fires away, but when he charges he ends up getting tossed to the floor. Austin tries a whip, but it’s reversed and Austin ends up hitting the barrier, which busts him open good. Bret rams him to the stairs and then to the post. Back in, he works the cut. Bret with a backbreaker, and then he drops the 2nd rope elbow again. Now he grabs the chair and goes back to work on the knee. Sharpshooter attempt follows, but Austin rakes the eyes to break it up. Bret takes him to the corner and starts working him, so Austin reels back and boots him right in the nuts. Corner whip sends Bret in chest first and then Austin stomps a mudhole again. He sets Bret on top and nails a superplex. After tossing Bret to the apron, he chokes him with some cable, but Bret grabs the bell that he conveniently placed on the apron earlier and rings Austin’s bell with it. Bret controls again now with more work on the knee and then he finally gets the Sharpshooter on. We get the now famous and constantly replayed shots of Austin struggling while he bleeds like a stuck pig here. He pushes up and nearly powers his way out of the hold, but Bret hangs on and cinches it back in. Austin keeps struggling, but has nowhere to go. He passes out, so Shamrock stops it and declares Bret the winner at 22:05, although they make sure we know that Austin never actually submitted. Bret celebrates for a bit and then goes right back to beating on the unconscious Austin until Shamrock pulls him off. Bret backs off from Shamrock and leaves to a round of boos. Another ref comes out to help Austin, but he takes a Stunner for his troubles. Austin walks out under his own power to nice positive reaction and an “Austin” chant. Wow, this was just awesome in every way. This match made the career of Steve Austin, and cemented the legend of Bret Hart. It also gave the WWF a huge shot in the arm at a time when it desperately needed it as the feud with the now babyface Austin against the new hottest heels in the business in the Hart Foundation began carrying the shows and led to business starting to pick up. It also stands as my personal favourite professional wrestling match of all time, so what other rating could it possibly get? *****

Chicago Street Fight: Faarooq, Crush, & Savio Vega (w/The Nation of Domination) vs. Ahmed Johnson & The Legion Of Doom
Ahmed’s war with Faarooq and The Nation of Domination continues and this time he’s got some backup in the form of the recently returned Legion of Doom. Besides the guys in the match, The Nation also has PG-13 to rap them ringside, Clarence Mason as the manager, and a bunch of random hangers on, one of whom grew up to become D-Lo Brown. Six way brawl starts up off with the faces clearing the ring. A bunch of the randoms try next, but they end up faring even worse. From there it’s on, but the action is kind of hard to follow as there’s always two or three separate things going on at once and the camera keeps cutting back and forth, but still missing a lot of action. Notable spots include Faarooq getting slammed through an announce table, and several guys being hung by a noose that The Nation brought with them. It’s the usual hardcore brawl, which was better at the time because the WWF hadn’t yet beaten the concept into the ground, but really doesn’t stand up well today. Crush takes the Doomsday Device and then gets nailed with a 2X4 for the pin at 10:47. The announcers make sure to note that Faarooq fled ringside prior to the finish so Ahmed still fails to gain his revenge in spite of the win. * for the whole thing, which was never boring, but as noted doesn’t really hold up too well. Post match sees D-Lo take a Pearl River Plunge, and PG-13 take a double Doomsday Device.

Main Event, WWF Championship Match: Sycho Sid vs. The Undertaker
Undertaker was named number one contender here by virtue of his being the last one eliminated in the main event last month at Final Four. Sid then defeated the winner of that match, Bret Hart, to win the WWF Title the next night on Raw. Shawn Michaels, smile nowhere to be found, makes his way out to do guest commentary. It’s funny to hear Shawn try to convince us that he’s just this humble guy, who loves everyone, and has no hidden agendas, yet about 75% of what comes out of his mouth throughout the match is cheap shots directed at Bret Hart. Talking out of both sides of his mouth non-stop probably played a big part in that smile falling off. Speaking of Bret, he joins us too before the match can get underway. He calls Shawn a faker, tells Taker that any friendship they had ended when he slammed the cage on him last week on Raw, and calls Sid a fraud for beating him for the belt under less than clean circumstances. He’s getting soundly booed by this point, so Sid gets a good reaction by powerbombing him and telling him to get lost. But this gives Taker the chance to attack, which he does. His corner whip is reversed, but Taker hits a big boot. He then gets a splash in the corner and a slam for 2. He hits the ropewalk and then tries the splash in the corner again, but gets caught in a bearhug by Sid. And there goes our fast paced start as this lasts for quite awhile. Taker finally gets out, but runs into a big boot. Sid clotheslines him out, but he lands on his feet. Sid is out with him and knocks him back over the Spanish table and then drops him on the barrier. Vince chooses this point to inform us that earlier today both men agreed to add a no DQ stip to the match. Nice to know, I suppose. Sid slams him on the table, runs him to the post, and then gets him back in the ring for a 2 count. Sid hooks a camel clutch for a bit and then lets it go to drop a double ax from the 2nd rope. He sticks the landing, thankfully. Taker comes back, but gets sent off and causght with a powerslam for 2. Sid tries a few more covers, but can’t hold him down. Legdrop gets a couple more 2 counts. Sid whips him off, but Taker ducks and comes back with the flying clothesline, but he’s too hurt to capitalize. Sid gets him outside again, but it’s he who gets tossed over the barrier. Taker wins a slugfest and rams Sid to the stairs. Back in though, he misses an elbow and Sid takes back control with a rear chinlock. Take escapes that and gets another powerslam for 2, and then it’s his turn to go to the resthold, choosing a nerve hold. Sid gets out, but then takes a clothesline for 2. Irish whip, and the hit each other with big boots. Sid covers and gets 2. He then goes back to the aerial tactics with another double ax from the 2nd rope, followed by a clothesline from there as well for 2. He goes to the 2nd rope again, but that’s once too many and Taker nails him on the way down. Sid rakes the eyes though and takes him down with a slam. He goes up again, this time all the way to the top, but Taker is there and crotches him. He then slams Sid off, goes up himself, and comes down with a flying clothesline for 2. He tries the Tombstone, but Sid manages to flip him over and hit his own version, but Taker kicks out at 2, which the fans really bought as a near fall. They fight outside, where Bret Hart joins us again and nails Sid with a chair a couple of times. A bunch of refs get Bret out of there, but Taker takes advantage, getting Sid in the ring and nailing a choke slam, but he only gets 2. Irish whip is reversed and Taker misses another flying clothesline, so Sid sets up the powerbomb, but Bret has made his way back yet again. Sid goes for him, but Bret pulls him down on the ropes. Taker takes advantage and hits the Tombstone, which gets 3 and the WWF Title at 21:24. Big moment for Taker fans as he wins his second WWF Title, but the first one where he was going to get an actual run with the belt. Match was ok, but nothing worthy of a Wrestlemania main event, and the attempted setup of a feud between Bret and Sid, which never went anywhere anyways as Sid left within a few weeks, probably should have been held off until Raw. *1/2

This is a total one match show, but that one match delivers huge and I could probably just sit here and watch that one over and over again all day long. As for the rest, the top rating goes to a slapped together tag match with a crappy ending which says a lot about what else we’ve got here. Main event is not that good, but considering Sid is involved that’s to be expected. If you’re an Undertaker fan however, you do get his first big championship moment as the previous one was all about Hogan and Taker just happened to be the one who beat him rather then having it be about him. Thumbs way up for the show based on the five star match rule but that’s the only thing worth watching for. Get the Bret Hart DVD, or whichever Austin compilation it’s on instead though because in both cases you’ll get much better supporting material.

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