Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mania Memories: Unlucky 13

Undertaker pins Sid
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

Wrestlemania 13 was the first in the franchise that I did not watch live or soon after the event on tape.  I was getting married a few months later and opted to save money by watching (more like listening) to the show on scramble vision.  Back then, you could still do that.

It seems like there was a lot of turmoil behind the scenes leading up to Wrestlemania 13.  Of course, I am merely speculating when I say that, perhaps at the end of the day it was all a part of the plan.  But this was really the point when the WWF title started feeling more like a prop and not the top prize in the game.  When 1997 started, Sycho Sid was the champion.  He dropped the belt to Shawn Michaels at the Royal Rumble, who was shortly stripped of the title.  Bret Hart won it at the February pay per view In Your House: Final Four, only to drop it the next night on Raw to Sid.  So Sid headed into Wrestlemania as the WWF champion... his opponent the Undertaker.

Taker had been on a role as we all know by this point, his Wrestlemania streak is still alive.  And in a less than stellar main event he tombstoned and pinned Sid to become a two time holder of the WWF title.  It may have been one of the weakest Wrestlemania main events to that point.  (I wasn't a huge fan of Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy either)  Shawn did do commentary for the match, but did not wrestle.  I don't know if he was really hurt at that point or if he'd been in trouble.  I've heard different stories on this topic.

Hitman vs. Stone Cold (WWE)
The undercard featured Hart versus his nemesis "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.  This was without a doubt the best match on the card, proving that the main event is always the greatest contest.  By the time this match rolled around, the two had started showing signs of reserving roles as the baby face and heel.  When the match ended (Hart won as Austin passed out in the Sharp Shooter and deemed unable to continue), Austin was over like never before and Hart was now getting more boos.  It worked brilliantly and may have been the start to the change in momentum for the WWE.  I know people will argue the exact time things started turning around, but the solidification of Austin as a face could probably be traced to that night.

Rocky gets some air (WWE)
Rocky Maivia defended the Intercontinental title against the Sultan in what was probably the worst IC title defense since the Randy Savage-George Steele match at Wrestlemania 2.  (What is it about these two cards?)  For those of you who didn't know, the Sultan (managed by Bob Backlund and the Iron Sheik) eventually became Rikishi.  Based on this match though, it's hard to believe the Kish ever became as popular as he did, and Rocky for that matter too.

My favorite team of that era the British Bulldog and Owen Hart battled Mankind and Vader to a double count out in a rare Wrestlemania heel vs. heel tag team match for the WWF tag team titles.  I liked all four men involved in this one, and thought the team of Vader and Mankind was ironic given the history between the two in WCW.  Another tag team note, there was a 6 man tag match on the card too, featuring the Legion of Doom and Ahmed Johnson against the original Nation of Domination (Faarooq, Crush, and Savio Vega), AND a four way tag match between the Headbangers, Godwins, New Blackjacks, and Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon.  By my count that's 8 tag teams, which is unheard of today (plus PG-13 was in the corner of the Nation, really making it 9 teams on the roster).  Also on the card, Hunter Hearst Helmsley beat Goldust.

So if I had to pick a favorite moment from the entire card, it'd have to be the end of the Austin-Hart match and how it helped shape the landscape of the WWF and wrestling in general.  What are your thoughts on the 13th Mania, was it unlucky for you?  Share here or on our Facebook wall.

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