Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Ramblemania Rewind 13 - WWF Wrestlemania 13 (1997)

Date: March 23, 1997
Venue: Rosemount Horizon, Chicago, IL
Attendance: 18,197

(Note: The following post was written prior to the McMahon lawsuit from January 2024).

The year is 1997. After a long period of trailing the WWF, Turner-owned promotion World Championship Wrestling had garnered the number one spot in wrestling with their red-hot nWo angle that has done nothing but kill the WWF in the ratings. It wasn't a secret that the WWF was really hurting during this time and while some would claim that the WWF product was much better than what WCW was offering, you certainly couldn't tell when the WWF produced shows like Wrestlemania 13, which is a show that was pretty substandard in terms of PPV standards and certainly downright abysmal by Wrestlemania standards. And while one would be hard-press to call this a worse Wrestlemania outing than Wrestlemania IX or Wrestlemania XV, the simple truth of the matter is by the thirteen iteration, the spectacle and pageantry that Wrestlemania once commanded was long gone.

Lacking celebrities and the sense of grandeur that had been enjoyed years prior, Wrestlemania 13 was a show that was, for intents and purposes, nothing special. For a PPV that was supposed to be a showcase of the immortals, one glance at the card would one confusing this for a In Your House PPV event of lesser stature. A bunch of matches that nobody could get excited over and a WWF championship match between two giant men that should inspire awe, but instead feel uninspired.

But Wrestlemania 13 is often referred to as a one-match show... and that one match - the now infamous submission match between Bret "Hitman" Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin - is considered by many to be one of the greatest, if not THE, greatest Wrestlemania match of all time. Yes, it does get a bit graphic. Yes, it does get a bit brutal... but at the end of the day, it told a very simple story of two guys who hated each other so much they were willing to put it all on the line and it was a match of such brilliance that it was able to pull off a double turn with relative ease, making the once-beloved Hart into a hated villain while turning the once-despised Austin into the sort of anti-hero that would plant to seeds to his nearing success.

One amazing match almost makes sitting through the rest of this show almost worth it... almost.

The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) defeated The New Blackjacks (Bradshaw and Windham), The Godwinns (Phinneaus and Henry), and Phil Lafon & Doug Furnas in a four-corners match to earn themselves a future tag title match on RAW... needless to say, they did not win the titles. The match itself was a whole lot of nothing.

Brian Pillman and Sunny are seen in the WWF Hotline room... yeah, this is pretty depressing for different reasons... moving on.

Intercontinental Champion Rocky Maivia defeated the Sultan in a bad match to retain the title. Rocky debuted at the 96 Survivor Series and then on the episode of RAW where Shawn lost his smile, he beat Hunter Hearst Helmsley for the IC title and now everyone thinks Rocky sucks because they feel he's being shoved down their throats... why does that sound so familiar? I can't really tell... anyway, Rocky beats the Sultan (who happens to be a masked Fatu a.k.a. the future Rikishi) and then the Iron Sheik beats up on Rocky for a bit, which prompts Rocky Johnson - the other Rocky's dad - to show up and try to give his boy some sympathy cheers. Needless to say, it didn't work... but I don't see Rocky Johnson coming back five years later challenging his boy to a WWF title match at Wrestlemania at the expense of your top guy whom you've been building up for the past year because that would be fucking stupid.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley pinned Goldust while Chyna, who had just debuted a month or so prior, was shaking around poor Marlena. This would begin a downward spiral for the Goldie/Marlena relationship while giving ol' Hunter a proper bodyguard. Also, unpopular opinion I'm sure, but I actually prefer the old Chyna with the square jaw and flat boobs. It made her more of an intimidating figure and I feel the cosmetic surgeries that she'd undergo would take away some of that aura... I'm talking purely from an optic standpoint. Sadly, this is the only thing worth talking about because the match itself is a total blank.

The match between World Tag-Team Champions Owen Hart and Davey Smith and Vader/Mankind ended in a double countout because Mankind had Bulldog in the Mandible Claw and never let go of the hold, even as they rolled outside. Crowd doesn't care and neither did I. Boring.

Bret "Hitman" Hart defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin in a "submission" match with Ken Shamrock as the guest referee. I've said my bit on this match in the opening spiel, so I'm not going to repeat it here. 

The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) and Ahmed Johnson defeated Nation of Domination (Farooq, Crush, and Savio Vega) in a "Chicago street fight" that I probably enjoyed more than I was expecting to. 

Undertaker defeated WWF Champion Sycho Sid despite numerous run-ins from Bret Hart to win the title. Yeah, Bret Hart would run in and either cut a promo or just be a general nuisance. I don't know the thought process behind this. Maybe it's to keep people from falling asleep during this otherwise anemic main event match that saw Undertaker come out to the same costume he did when he won the title the first time (gray gloves and boots, trenchcoat, black hat) and Sid possibly... potentially... crapping his shorts. May not have been this match. Then again, the depths that I have to dig to find some semblance of intrigue in this match because god lord this was boring as shit.

Wrestlemania 13 is a one-match show and that match isn't the main event. That match is probably on Youtube somewhere, so you can watch that match alone and not have to worry about the rest of this show because the rest of it is entirely skippable. I wouldn't call it atrocious; just largely boring... and quite frankly, I'm not sure if that's a worse sin.

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