So for a good portion of the day today, I threw on the second disc of WrestleMania 2000.
For those of you not familiar with the WrestleMania 2000 DVD, it’s a fairly rare gem these days due to it being one of the rare “pre-WWE” name changeover titles. The first disc is the event istself and some extras. The second disc is a complete recap of WrestleMania events 1-15. Now, when WM2000 aired on Pay-Per-View television, you had the option of paying about $15 extra to get access to “WrestleMania All Day Long,” which was an additional 6 hours of programming.
This six hours mostly featured various WWE hosts interviewing Wrestlemania alumni, previewing the days event, and recapping all the past WrestleMania’s. The second disc is basically all the pre-taped footage they showed. Regardless, it was a fun little trip down memory lane.
Even at it’s lamest, it’s fun to get caught up in the hype of WrestleMania. I don’t follow so-called “real” sports, so I don’t get hyped up over the SuperBowl or Stanley Cup. This is my big event of the year.
While mulling it over with myself, and feeling a little frustrated at the terrible build to this years’ event, I asked myself two all-important questions, which, shock-n-horror, I will answer for you right here on my blog, blog, bloggeroo!
What is my favorite Wrestlemania, and what is my favorite WrestleMania match? Why, I thought you’d never ask!
My favorite WrestleMania event is WrestleMania III from the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan in 1987. Yes, this is the famous event that boasts the mightyl “93, 173″ attendance record figure. I put the attendance in quotations, because that wasn’t the real attendance, although it is generally understood that had there been a bit more time, they’d easily have sold that many seats. It’s more a case of a lie being told so many times that it sort of becomes true.
This is my favorite simply because it was the first WrestleMania that I saw all the hype and ballyhoo for. Being just a kid, I didn;t quite understand pay-per-view at the time, and played sick to get to stay home from going to church so I could try to find the show somewhere on TV. Of course i failed at this, but it was a big enough deal that they actually showed clips on the news that night!
My favorite match is a lot harder to pick. To understand it, you have to know a bit about the wrestling climate when it took place.
In 1997, the pro wrestling world was a much different place. Things were changing. Both in and outside of the ring. Styles were being altered, with more risks being taken than ever before. There seemed to be a huge turnover as older, veteran talent that had become perhaps disenfranchised in the middle 1980’s were now nowehere to be seen, yet a new crop of younger wrestlers with new ideas and moves were ready to step in.
The WWF wasn’t doing very well at all. They were on the wrong side of a war with WCW, who, at the time, lacked the wrestling knowledge in the front office that the WWF had, but had plenty of young talents and dollars at their disposal. WWF had a track record and a demand to create new stars, FAST. ECW was catching on, filling a niche that both WCW and the WWF had neglected for years.
Seemingly in one match, the WWF fixed their problem, set a course for a successful new direction, and appeased everyone from the most die-hard “rasslin’” fan to the sports-entertainment junkie. I give you, Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13.
This single match has it all. A legend (Hart) with legions of fans, and more importantly, the RESPECT of even those who despise him. It has the brash, up-and-comer (Austin) who fights for everything and want help from nobody. You can’t stand him, but at the same time, you have to respect him for backing up what he says he’s going to do. He might be a jerk, but at least his word is worth something. And he’s good. Rough around the edges, but dangerously good.
Don’t forget you’ve got a special referee, Ken Shamrock from this new little group called the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Yeah, he’s the real deal, so you know neither guy will want to mess with him.
But, honestly now, the match has everything in it that I love about wrestling. Strong personalities, identifiable characters, contention, physicality, realism, action, and technique. These two are SO good at what they do that over tens years after the match and after about as much time of my own put into the ring I still sit back and marvel at their performance. This was quite simply a big fight. The type that you would go to school the next day and everyone would be talking about it. They were fighting for no belt, but respect, honor, and bragging rights.
Oh, and they seamlessly pulled off a DOUBLE FREAKING TURN during the match. Yes, the hero entered the arena to a chorus a cheers, but left a scolded weasel, while the venomous Austin was applauded for doing his all to back up his words, no matter how harsh they were, and never truly backing down. They outwrestled the “rasslers” at WCW, they pulled off the blood ‘n’ guts of ECW more realistically than ECW. They even out WWF’d the WWF. The outcome of this match would set a course that would eventually lead the company to bigger success than they had even seen before in their history. Within a year, even the local magazine rack at the mall would be selling Austin 3:16 shirts.
So what is YOUR favorite WrestleMania event and WrestleMania match? The comments function on these posts actually work, you know! Let me know your opinions.
Thanks for reading,