It's undoubtedly going to be a slow Saturday night, so instead of sitting around and twiddling our thumbs how about we make use of that certain over-the-top service so many of us pay $9.99 a month for and go retro with a live blog?
Our latest retro live blog will cover WrestleMania 17, which took place on Sun., April 1, 2001, at Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas and featured The Rock defending the WWF championship against Stone Cold Steve Austin in the night's main event.
We'll treat this live blog like we would any show airing live. It will kick off at 8 p.m. ET tonight, so if you want to follow along and chat with your fellow fans and friends here on the site, make sure you click "play" on the WWE Network at 8 p.m. ET and come back here for all the fun.
Coverage will roll below.
WRESTLEMANIA 17 LIVE BLOG
The General in the house. Let's make it happen.
Going blow-by-blow for these retro live blogs is problematic to say the least, so I'll hit you up with quick recaps while we all enjoy the show together.
Outstanding video package to open the show welcoming us to the celebration of greatness that is WrestleMania. Totally forgot that "My Way" by Limp Bizkit was the theme song for this show. While I'm not on the "LIMP BIZKIT IS THE WORST" bandwagon, this was one of the worst popular songs in history.
Jim Ross and Paul Heyman are on the call with Heyman playing heel as the former owner and operator of ECW.
Chris Jericho vs. William Regal
This was for the Intercontinental championship. Regal, by the way, was the commissioner of the WWF at the time. They showed a quick video introducing what led to the match.
Regal worked over Jericho's shoulder while Heyman put over how brilliant the game plan was because the Regal Stretch would be that much more effective. Moreover, the Walls of Jericho would be difficult to lock in thanks to the lack of one fully functioning arm.
The finish was odd, however, as Jericho made a comeback, hit the Lionsault, and got a pinfall no one in the crowd expected after about 10 minutes or so.
Jericho def. Regal
Shane McMahon was shown rolling up to the arena and we're reminded he bought WCW last month.
They quickly cut to the APA backstage smoking cigars. Bradshaw was cutting a promo about the city of Houston. He was getting hyped for their match.
Right to Censor vs. APA & Tazz
They brawled right away before settling into a more traditional six-man tag team format. The match wasn't particularly memorable but for a couple impressive feats of strength from Bradshaw to save a broken neck or two.
The finish came quickly with Bradshaw hitting the Clothesline from Hell on the Goodfather and scoring the pin while Faarooq and Tazz were on the outside brawling.
APA & Tazz def. Right to Censor
They showed Trish Stratus wheeling Linda McMahon into the building. Stephanie McMahon stopped them and cut a promo on Linda and Trish.
Raven vs. Kane vs. Big Show
This was a triple threat match for the Hardcore championship. That means pinfalls count anywhere, there are no rules, and brawling everywhere is not only strongly encouraged it's expected.
They were going at it in the crowd after the first minute. The camera crews had trouble actually making their way to the action because fans surrounded the wrestlers. Eventually, they made their way backstage where Raven was trying to run away from the two big men. Show used a padlock and chain to lock Raven into a room with a chain link fence and Kane just tore it right off with next to no trouble. One of the lamest spots you'll see.
Kane put Raven through the fence before choking him with a hose and throwing him through a window. Big Show put Kane through a door and fell over in the process. Then they did the old "you grab my throat, I grab your throat" spot and just sort of fell through a wall.
Raven stole a golf cart and drove off with Big Show on the back. Kane grabbed a golf cart of his own with a referee in the back and damn near ran Raven over.
This was the dumbest match.
Eventually, of course, they made their way back out to the stage because this is a wrestling show with like 70,000 people in the arena who shouldn't have to watch a match on the big screens.
Big Show had Raven up over his head like he was going to throw him off the stage when Kane hit him with a big boot and they both went crashing through some weird set up. Kane then just sort of threw himself down onto them and pinned Big Show to win the title.
Kane def. Raven & Big Show
Edge & Christian were hanging out with Kurt Angle backstage. Angle was explaining that if a match wasn't official then no one officially tapped. I'm not entirely sure what the hell he was going on about. E&C seemingly felt the same because they just bailed.
They interviewed some Australian folks in the crowd. They did a chant.
The Rock was shown arriving to his locker to get ready to defend the WWF title later tonight against Steve Austin.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Test
This was for the European championship, as Test was the titleholder coming into the match.
The match was laid out psychologically to focus on Test having such a big size advantage on Guerrero. Test worked power moves while Eddie frequently put himself in position to distract the referee and allow his buddy, Saturn, to get in and do some damage.
Test eventually overcame the constant Saturn interference but Dean Malenko, another one of the Radicalz, ran out to interfere too. While he did so, Saturn threw the European title in to Eddie and he used it to put Test down for the count to win the strap.
Guerrero def. Test
Michael Cole interviewed Mick Foley about being a fair and impartial referee in the Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon match. He said he would call it right down the line RIGHT HERE in Houston, Texas.
Steve Austin was shown throwing his gear bag down in his locker. Crowd popped huge for it, no different than The Rock.
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit
This was just one of their many matches focused on how technical the two of them are, both with a super over submission finish. That's what Angle was going on about earlier to Edge & Christian, complaining about Benoit tapping him but unofficially.
They got more and more physical as the match went along, laying into each other like it was a blood feud. Late in the match they traded submission attempts, including each guy using his opponent's finish. Angle was far better with the Crippler Cross Face than Benoit was with the Ankle Lock.
They did a ref bump spot and he missed Angle tapping to the Cross Face. When he got up to rouse the referee, Kurt hit the Angle Slam for a nearfall. From there they traded big spots, with Benoit countering a moonsault with his knees up before hitting a flying headbutt for two.
Angle got away with a low blow then reversed an armdrag into a pinfall into a cradle. He grabbed the tights and got the three count on that.
Angle def. Benoit
Michael Cole interviewed William Regal to ask if he was okay. He went into his office and found Kamala standing on his desk rubbing his belly.
"Bugger off, you!"
They replayed footage of a pep rally at Fort Hood for this show.
Kurt Angle was interviewed saying he deserves respect for his win. Benoit attacked him from behind and locked in the Crippler Cross Face. Angle tapped to it before passing out before referees could pull Benoit off him.
Ivory vs. Chyna
This match was for the women's championship. They played a video package of what got us here, including Ivory hitting a piledriver to injure her neck.
Chyna came out with a firework gun and shot off some pyro at the crowd. They ate it up.
Ivory was strong early but Chyna took control fairly quick and never let up. The finish was Chyna deciding to play with Ivory by hitting a powerbomb but picking her up before the three count to hit her with a press slam. She allowed the three count on that one.
Chyna def. Ivory
Vince McMahon was in the back cutting a promo on his wife Linda. He said she should be wheeled out for his match with Shane.
Cole came in to ask about the shocking developments with Shane buying WCW. Vince blew it off.
That led into a video package recapping the past few weeks, which was essentially Vince feeling up Trish in front of Linda multiple times.
Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon
This was a Street Fight with Mick Foley as special guest referee. Stephanie McMahon was ringside at the start.
Shane cut a promo before the match shouting out WCW wrestlers up in a skybox. Those wrestlers? Only the elite. You know, like Lance Storm and Stacy Keibler.
They had to pull out all the gimmicks for this match. Vince's offense was laughably bad, with his punches looking like they came from a five-year-old kid just flailing his arms about wildly. They used a lot of foreign objects and interference to get by, all while Heyman and Ross talked about how much they couldn't believe this was a father and son doing this to each other.
Shane, because he's Shane, attempted an elbow through the Spanish announce table but Stephanie pulled Vince out of the way. It was then that Trish Stratus rolled Linda McMahon out ringside. When Trish went to Vince to help him up, she smacked him hard across the face. Stephanie returned the favor, slapping Trish, who responded witha spear into the side of the ring. She went to attack and Stephanie tried to run. Trish caught her and they brawled in the ring. Foley broke it up and Stephanie slapped him for it. Stephanie ran up the aisle after that with Trish following her.
They cut back to ringside and Vince coming to, noticing his wife Linda in the wheelchair.
"You bitch," he mouthed.
Foley showed up to stop Vince from trying to mess with her. When he turned his back to wheel Linda out of there, Vince nailed him in the back with a chair. He then picked Linda up and rolled her into the ring. Shane, meanwhile, was still laid out for all this. Vince set Linda up in the corner on a chair.
Vince then threw a bunch of garbage cans in the ring and went to beating on Shane with them. As he was doing so, Linda stood up, seemingly coming out of her trance. The crowd went NUTS for this. Vince turned around and she hit him with a nut shot. HUGE pop. Foley then climbed in the ring and started wailing on Vince for laying him out with the chair shot earlier. That included clobbering him into the corner with a running knee.
That was the set up for Shane to put a garbage can in front of Vince and going coast-to-coast to another monster pop.
He pulled Vince out, covered him, and scored a pinfall win.
Shane McMahon def. Vince McMahon
Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian
This was the second ever TLC match for the tag team championship titles.
Like the first TLC match, this was a spotfest through and through, with each tag team working their big spots to pop the crowd while each and every participant in the match sold their body for the sake of entertainment and glory on the biggest stage possible.
Big spots included but were not limited to: Buh Buh Ray Dudley powerbombing Jeff Hardy through a table that had Edge laying on top of it; Christian flying over the top rope out to the floor from a falling ladder; Spike Dudley putting Christian through a table with a bulldog from the apron down to the outside; Rhyno putting Matt Hardy through a table set up in the corner with a Gore; Edge racking himself on the top rope after tipping off a ladder when Rhyno took an unprotected chair shot to the head; a lot of guys taking a lot of chair shots; Jeff Hardy hitting a Swanton Bomb from the top of a gigantic ladder through a table that had both Rhyno and Spike Dudley on top of it; Christian and Devon falling to the mat after dangling from the cables holding the titles; Edge spearing Jeff Hardy as he swung from the cables holding the tag titles; Buh Buh Ray Dudley and Matt Hardy falling from a gigantic ladder down onto four tables set up on the outside after Rhyno pushed them over;
Ultimately, Christian snagged the titles with an assist from Rhyno holding him up on his shoulders while Edge held Devon back from climbing up any further.
Edge & Christian def. Dudley Boyz & Hardy Boyz
Gimmick Battle Royal
The idea here was a bunch of old wrestlers who worked ridiculous gimmicks were involved in a battle royal. That's pretty much the gist of it.
It was dumb as hell and Iron Sheik won by tossing out Hillbilly Jim. This went all of three minutes and not a soul on Earth cared about it.
Iron Sheik wins
Undertaker vs. Triple H
The build up was simple but effective: Triple H was campaigning for a main event slot on the show by rightfully pointing out that he had defeated everyone in the WWF up to that point, and more specifically Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.
Naturally, Undertaker stepped forward because the two had never had a singles match at a pay-per-view. That's all that was needed to book this one, though they played out an intense feud in the weeks leading up to the eventual showdown.
That's why it was nice to see good psychology early in the form of Triple H not allowing Undertaker to complete his entrance before going out and kicking off what would turn out to be a strong brawl between two of the top stars in the business.
It got really good when the referee took a bump that was choreographed to the max. What made it good was how they made up for it. After a chokeslam got a two count, Undertaker just laid the ref out.
To hell with good guys and bad, this is a brawl and the referee was in the way. As commentator Jim Ross put it, "this has turned into a glorified street fight". They battled through the crowd, using props and lifts and camera towers and everything else they could find. Then Undertaker chokeslammed Triple H off said camera tower to "holy shit" chants. Then he came down and dropped an elbow off said camera tower. Amid the sea of fans in Texas, it made for a great visual.
It was also just incredibly fun.
By the time they got back to the ring, they had a finish set up really nice. Actually, it may have been one of the best set ups ever. Triple H had grabbed a sledgehammer early but had it taken away by the referee, who was knocked out by Undertaker not long after. The sledgehammer, however, remained in the ring while the two were brawling all over the arena, as mentioned previously.
The finish saw Undertaker pick Triple H up for the Last Ride but as he was doing so, "The Game" grabbed the sledgehammer, unbknownst to "The Deadman", and used it on him right after he was lifted up. He ditched the evidence just as the referee was finally coming to, roused by Undertaker not long before following a Tombstone I didn't even mention here, and got an incredibly close near fall on it.
Pissed, Triple H took to the corner and unloaded on Undertaker with punches but left himself open to be picked up and slammed with the Last Ride anyway. His anger and frustration cost him and Undertaker won again.
This was a damn good match, easily the best one of the streak up to this point.
Undertaker def. Triple H
The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
This was for the WWF championship.
I'm not even going to attempt to live blog this, instead stepping aside for BIGPALE and his breakdown of the story told in this match. You have to see it for yourself, but this is amazing:
The match was fast and furious with both men connecting and reversing signature moves on the other. Though the crowd had been treated to the greatest WrestleMania and arguably the greatest PPV of all time, and though they had showered the event with cheers and boos where appropriate, they had saved enough of themselves to give the main event a crowd befitting such a spectacle. Ross was in great form and played off Paul Heyman (whose thick and gruff accent sometimes could grate) solidly.
The story of the match was two-fold. First, Rock was not the same man he was two years prior. Everything Austin threw at him, Rock had a counter, a reversal, a kick out, a block, something. Second, everything Rock withstood only angered Austin more and more. Toward the end of the match, Stone Cold was busting out Rock Bottoms and Million Dollar Dreams but still, Rock refused to give up. As the match wore on, the challenger seemed to become more and more desperate.
And then Vince McMahon appeared.
I can't do it justice. Not the build up, not the match, not the finish. I've rewritten paragraph after paragraph trying. Just watch it for yourselves and enjoy it.
I'll say this: I refuse to let the disappointment of Austin's initial heel turn (by the way, once he found his groove I think he did some of his best work as a heel in 2001) take away from the awesomeness of the story told with this main event on April Fools 2001. It doesn't matter that the follow up was a letdown. What matters is the story told with this main event. The story was a desperate challenger doing everything he could to win the match, being so insecure before the match ever started that he made a deal with the devil himself to ensure his victory, and then, with victory achieved, shook hands with that devil in triumph.
That story, played out on that stage, between those two primary actors, at the absolute peak of not only their popularity but the popularity of their medium around them, makes this the greatest WrestleMania main event of all time.
Steve Austin def. The Rock
One of the best WrestleMania events in history.