Thursday, 1 October 2020

PPV REVIEW: WRESTLEMANIA 17

April 1, 2001 
Reliant Astrodome, Houston, Texas

Before we begin today, I want to point out that, having watched all of the previous sixteen Wrestlemanias, this is the first event that truly felt like a modern 'Mania.

You know how Wrestlemania has the huge entranceway, the massive ramp, and the general sense that this is an event beyond any normal pro wrestling event?

Wrestlemania 17 was really the first event that had all of that and was the first event which truly felt like the spectacle of all spectacles.

Don't believe me?

Let's head on down to the Houston Astrodome for an event many consider to be one of the best Wrestlemania's of all time.







Welcome to the Showcase of The Immortals

Our opening video package was melodramatic in the best sense of the world.

It showed us a whole different bunch of people, from farmers somewhere in middle America to street food vendors in Asia all finding a way to huddle round a television - proving that no matter what their circumstances, they had always found a way to watch past moments like Mike Tyson knocking out Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 14 and Yokozuna enjoying his short-lived title reign at Wrestlemania 9.

Credit where it's due, this was a well-done intro.

Then, as Limp Bizkit's My Way blasted out, we got a quick opening credits package featuring tonight's main stars followed by a deliberately dramatic greeting from lead announcer Jim Ross.

Ross' broadcast colleague for the evening was Paul Heyman, who was insanely excited about making his first Wrestlemania appearance.

If you're wondering where Jerry 'The King' Lawler was, he had recently walked out of the World Wrestling Federation after his real-life wife, The Kat, had been fired for apparently being a bit of a spoiled diva.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho vs. William Regal

This all came about because Chris Jericho besmirched Commissioner William Regal. Regal retaliated by booking Jericho in a match against half the world, but Y2J then got his own back by peeing in Regal's tea and dressing up as Doink to beat him up.

Tonight, they looked to settle the score in a fun opening contest that really could have been even better had they given it five more minutes.

As it was, Regal/Jericho was a fine opener but then given the talent of both men, it was probably always going to be good.

The story going in was that Jericho's shoulder was injured and Regal spent the majority of the match going after it. This wasn't enough to secure a victory, however, as Y2J hit the lion sault to retain his title.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho

Out in the back, Shane McMahon arrived in a limousine bearing the license plate 'WCW 1.'

Elsewhere in the arena, The APA smoked stonking-big cigars with Jacqueline. Texas native Bradshaw was super excited about being in the Astrodome and proceeded to recall every major event that had happened in the arena.

He and Farooq were in action next.

Six-Man Tag Team Match
The Right to Censor (Bull Buchanan, The Goodfather, and Val Venis w/ Steven Richards) vs. Tazz and The APA (Farooq & Bradshaw w/ Jacqueline)

This started as your standard six-man but soon disintegrated into a free-for-all and a pretty decent one at that.

Ok, so this was never going to win Match of the Night honours, but it served a purpose and, as short little brawls go, was pretty good fun.

After a few minutes of hard-hitting offence, Bradshaw hit the Clothesline from Hell on The Goodfather and won the match for his team.
Your Winners: The APA & Tazz

Backstage, Trish Stratus wheeled an apparently catatonic Linda McMahon in her wheelchair. Stephanie McMahon approached and ordered Trish to hand crush some ice ready to celebrate her pops beating Shane McMahon later on.

This was during the time that Vince had committed Linda to an institution, had an affair with Trish, and then turned on Trish and started treating her like trash for no reason.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship Triple Threat Match
WWF Hardcore Champion Raven vs. Kane vs. The Big Show

This was very entertaining.

Most of the match was fought backstage, with people being slammed through windows, doors and tables, riding around on golf carts and generally beating the crap out of each other.

The main story of the match was The Big Show and Kane colliding while Raven was kind of lucky to be there, but even he played his part well and contributed to an enjoyable garbage brawl.

Eventually, all three men made their way back to the stage where Show lifted Raven up to throw him off the stage. Kane kicked them both off then jumped on top of Show and pinned him for the three.
Your Winner and NEW Hardcore Champion: Kane

Backstage, Edge and Christian wanted to know if Kurt Angle wanted to go and celebrate with them after they all won their matches tonight, but The Olympic Gold Medalist was too concerned with watching a video of Chris Benoit making him tap.

"If your hand taps the mat but there's no official referee and no official bell and it wasn't an official match, then officially you didn't tap," said Angle, mesmerised by the video on the screen.

Meanwhile, at WWF New York, Superfly Jimmy Snuka stood around posing.

The Champ is Here

Out in the crowd, Jonathan Coachman interviewed a fan who had travelled all the way from Brisbane, Australia for Wrestlemania.

Meanwhile, WWF Champion The Rock arrived at the arena, hung up his title belt and jacket, and wandered off again.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship
WWF European Champion Test vs. Eddie Guerrero (w/ Perry Saturn)

Whenever people talk about the greatest Wrestlemania matches of all time, nobody in history has ever mentioned Test vs. Eddie Guerrero for the European title at Wrestlemania 17.

And that's OK.

Not every match has to be an absolute showstopper. Some of them can just be a fun way to fill a few minutes, and that's exactly what this was.

Sure, the ever-talented Guerrero managed to get the best out of his opponent and give us a solid match, but this wasn't going to win any awards.

After a very good effort, Test took out Eddie's cornerman, Perry Saturn, only to get distracted dealing with Dean Malenko. Eddie then clocked the champion with the title belt to claim it for himself.
Your Winner and NEW European Champion: Eddie Guerrero

Backstage, Michael Cole interviewed a homeless man who vaguely resembled Mick Foley.

The man told Cole that even though Vince McMahon had embarrassed and humiliated him, he was still going to be impartial when the boss took on his own son Shane later on in the show.

Elsewhere in the arena, Stone Cold Steve Austin was so over that he got a huge pop for walking into a dressing room and sitting down.

Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

Before the match, heat-seeker Angle ripped on the Texan crowd and mocked them for being Texan.

The actual match started good, got better, became great, and then kind of went out on a whimper.

Forget your sports entertainment, this was proper professional wrestling. At one point, somebody breathed hard in the referee's general direction, causing the official to collapse to the mat and go into a coma.

While that was going, Angle tapped to the Crippler Crossface but, as he said earlier since there was no official and no bell, it didn't count.

More excellent action continued, then after several close, dramatic near falls, Angle scored the win with a sloppy-looking roll-up.

As finishes go, it was very anti-climatic, but everything that went before it was brilliant.
Your Winner: Kurt Angle

Backstage, William Regal was mortified to find Kamala standing on his desk and rubbing himself with a framed picture of Her Majesty The Queen.

Though I'd like to think this was just a call-back to Drew Carey mentioning The Ugandan Giant to Triple H back at Royal Rumble 2001, he was actually there to compete in tonight's gimmick battle royal.

Eventually, with a little help from Kimchee, the Commissioner managed to talk Angle down.

The Rabid Wolverine Attacks

Up next, a video package showed us some of the WWF superstars taking part in a Wrestlemania pep-rally with members of the armed forces.

Back in the arena, Kevin Kelly tried to interview Kurt Angle, only for Chris Benoit to appear and attack our Olympic Hero and slap him in the crossface.

A second video package followed this one highlighting the rivalry between Chyna and WWF Women's Champion Ivory.

That match was next.

World Wrestling Federation Women's Championship
WWF Women's Champion Ivory vs. Chyna

Right To Censor banned from Ringside

The story was that Chyna had been injured at the hands of Right to Censor and had to sign a waiver insisting that she wouldn't sue the WWF if she got re-injured in this match.

For what it was, this was OK, but it was basically just The Ninth Wonder of the World making short work of her much smaller opponent and destroying her in about three minutes.

This was Chyna's final Wrestlemania appearance.
Your Winner and NEW Women's Champion: Chyna

Backstage, Vince McMahon made sure that Trish Stratus knew when to bring his catatonic wife down to the ring during his match with Shane.

Michael Cole then interrupted him to discuss Shane McMahon buying WCW, but Vince wasn't interested in that.

We then got a look back at the rivalry between the McMahon boys, including Vince telling his son that he wished he'd never been born.

Nice.

Street Fight
Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon (w/ Stephanie McMahon)

Special Referee: Mick Foley
Shane McMahon didn't have his own Here comes the money theme yet, so came down to the same No Chance in Hell theme as his old man. Before the bell rang, Shane shouted out to his WCW boys -namely Lance Storm, Hugh Morrus, Chavo Guerrero, Shawn Stasiak and Stacy Keibler- who were watching the big event from a skybox.

Then, the bell rang, and this turned into a thoroughly enjoyable bit of storytelling.

Yes, there've been greater street fights in history from an actual wrestling perspective, but this was the perfect way to bring the months-long McMahon saga to a close.

After a few minutes of brawling, Trish Stratus wheeled the catatonic Linda McMahon to ringside but then turned on Vince and gave him a good slapping. That led to a Trish/Stephanie McMahon brawl, taking the two ladies out of action.

The evil Vince McMahon then propped his wife up in the corner of the ring so that she'd have to watch her own son get destroyed, but at the last minute, Linda stood up, revealed that she was fine, and kicked her husband straight square in the bollocks.

Shane O' Mac then debuted Coast to Coast, and that was all she wrote.
Your Winner: Shane McMahon

Earlier that weekend, at the Axxess convention, Kevin Kelly interrupted The Hardy Boyz autograph signing to ask them about TLC. Matt and Jeff were nervous but also excited.

Back in the arena, Triple H sat in his dressing room grunting while Undertaker hung out in the boiler room, shadow boxing. The two would meet later on in the show, but TLC was next.

Tables, Ladders and Chairs II
World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship TLC Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (D'Von & Bubba Ray Dudley) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy) vs. Edge & Christian

At Summerslam 2000, these three teams had changed the game by competing in the incredible TLC I. Personally, I think I preferred that match to this one, but don't get me wrong, TLC II was still all kinds of awesome.

The big difference this time around was that we got run-ins from former ECW Stars Spike Dudley and Rhyno. The latter was a friend of Edge & Christian while the former was, obviously, there to help out his family members. Lita got involved too, and with nine different people involved it at times got a little chaotic, but it was still several shades of epic and a joy to watch.

The highlight was the famous moment that Edge lept off a ladder and speared Jeff Hardy who was hanging from the device that suspended the title belts over the ring.

After many similar insane spots, Edge and Christian won the match just as they had done at Summerslam, this time with Christian sat atop Rhyno's shoulders while The War Machine scaled the ladder.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: Edge & Christian

We then got another look at Axxess with both fans and superstars alike talking about how awesome the whole thing was.

Following some banter from Ross and Heyman, Howard Finkle told us that Wrestlemania X-7 had set an all-time attendance record for any event at the Houston Astrodome of 67, 925 fans.

Heenan and Okerlund Return Home

Before the Gimmick Battle Royal, Mean Gene Okerlund was introduced as our guest play-by-play announcer before Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan made his first 'Mania appearance since Wrestlemania 9 as our special guest colour analyst.

Heenan clearly forgot he wasn't on Nitro any more and immediately called Mean Gene 'Tony.'

Oops.

There was also this gem:

Heenan: "Repo Man, last week he repo'd his own car. This man is nuts."
Okerlund: "About four years ago, he got my mother-in-law's"
Heenan: "About four years ago, everybody got your mother-in-law."

Genius.

Gimmick Battle Royal
Featuring The Bushwhackers, Duke 'The Dumpster' Drosse, The Iron Sheik, Earthquake, The Goon, Doink The Clown, Kamala (w/ Kimchee & Harvey Wippleman), Repo Man, Jim Cornette, Nikolai Volkoff, Michael P.S Hayes, One Man Gang, The Gobbledegooker, Tugboat, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love, Sgt. Slaughter

The individual entrances for the old-school performers lasted twice as long as this very brief battle royal, but that was kind of the point.

This was never about giving us a good match, it was about the nostalgia trip, and it was a lot of fun, especially with Heenan and Okerlund cracking wise the whole time.

The interesting thing was how over Doink The Clown was. He easily got the biggest pop of the whole match and there was very loud booing when he was
finally eliminated.

Eventually, The Iron Sheik won.

I say 'eventually' the whole battle royal lasted about three minutes.
Your Winner: The Iron Sheik

Post-match, Sgt. Slaughter returned to the ring and slapped Sheiky Baby in the cobra clutch.

This was supposed to create a feel-good moment, but you sort of got the impression nobody ever really cared about Slaughter as much as the WWF often thought they did.

We're Motorhead and We'll Kick Your Ass


A video package followed highlighting the rivalry between Triple H and The Undertaker. This came down to The Game bragging that he had beaten everybody there was to beat only to be reminded that he'd never beaten The American Bad Ass.

Those two would meet next, but first HHH got a Super Special Entrance in which Motorhead played a version of his theme song live.

God bless the legendary Lemmy Kilmister, but there was no hiding the fact that he forgot the lyrics to this song of the way through it.

Triple H vs. The Undertaker

This was by far The Undertaker's best Wrestlemania match up to this point and perhaps even one of his best individual matches ever - at least at this stage of the game.

They started in the ring, went for a crazy brawl through the crowd and returned to the ring again, all the while building the drama.

After an incredible battle, 'Taker sent The Game for his Last Ride to go 9-0 at Wrestlemania.

The Streak continues...
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Finally, after a look back at their epic rivalry set to Limp Bizkit's 'My way' it was time for The Rock to defend the WWF Championship against Stone Cold Steve Austin in a showdown for the ages.

No Disqualification Match for the World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

And man, what a showdown it was.

Surpassing just about every Wrestlemania main event that had ever come before it, Rock/Austin quickly developed into an all-time classic.

It had the huge, big-match feel of Hogan/Andre, the drama and intensity of the very best Attitude Era matches, and a certain intangible quality that came as a result of Rock and Austin's unmatched star power.

Apart from an unnecessary ref' bump, everything about this match was perfect, violent, brutal perfection that was drenched in blood, and forced you onto the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Speaking of the finish, that came when Vince McMahon came down to the ring and Austin revealed that he had sold his soul to The Devil Himself, making a pact with the Chairman and turning heel in the process.

When Rock refused to die, Vince handed Austin a chair which the Texas Rattlesnake used to just bludgeon his opponent before finally securing the pinfall.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Post-match, Austin and Vince shared a beer and toasted over the prone, lifeless body of The Great One.







Wrestlemania 17 has often been described as the greatest Wrestlemania of all time, and after watching it today, it's obvious that it at least deserves to be in the running.

Rock/Austin, HHH/Taker and TLC 2 were the real highlights, but in between everything else worked well and served its purpose. Even the Gimmick Battle Royal -while not great from an in-ring perspective- was a welcome bit of nostalgia and gave us some hilarious banter between Heenan and Okerlund.

Overall, an exceptional show that is very much worth tracking down.



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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.