’97 Wrestlemania 13 & RAW After Mania Review: March 23/24

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Here we are at Wrestlemania 13 which is baffling to think was 20 years ago. It was essentially a one match show so let’s quickly go over the results and some impressions and get into the RAW after Mania.

Wrestlemania 13 Results
Four Way Elimination Tag Match
The Headbangers def. The New Blackjacks, The Godwinns and Furnas & LaFon
The winner of this match would get World Tag Team Championship match the next night on RAW. Surprisingly the Headbangers won this one.

Intercontinental Championship Match
Rocky Maivia (c) def. the Sultan
A boring match where Maivia gets a bit of a fluke win. Sultan, Backlund and Sheik end up beating down Maivia and Rocky Johnson comes out to help his son. You could tell fans weren’t really into Rocky at this time because there was limited reception to this father-son tandem.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley def. Goldust
Two pros went at it in this one as they told a good story here. Chyna continued to prove her value and I’d anticipate that the WWE really liked Hunter having a female bodyguard to get heat. I thought Goldust would win here to have the babyface finally get retribution but Chyna’s addition definitely shaped the direction of this story.

World Tag Team Championship
Owen Hart & British Bulldog (c) vs. Mankind & Vader ends in Double Countout
A lot of brawling and seeking to beat down Owen only to have a dumb conclusion. JR tried to stir up Bulldog and Owen before the match but no teases of dissension during the match.

Submission Match
Bret Hart def. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
I cannot believe this masterpiece is 20 years old. This match was a brilliant culmination of the feud between Hart and Austin as they beat each other up the whole match. Bret proved he was a brilliant storyteller in this match as it looked like he led Austin through this match not that Austin was a slouch by any means. Austin did his part and as the match ended Austin looked indeed as one of the toughest men in that locker room. This match holds up well in 2017 and proved you can have great wrestling and storytelling without resorting to high-risk maneuvers and or false finishes.

Chicago Street Fight
Ahmed Johnon & LOD def. Nation of Domination
From a masterpiece to a dud. Ahmed and Crush are among the worst in-ring competitors and LOD appeared to be working off their reputation and looking to prove to those backstage they still get their “LOD pop”.

WWE Championship 
The Undertaker def. Sycho Sid (c)
A boring main event and I didn’t like Bret Hart’s interference leading to Undertaker’s win. Glad Undertaker is champion!

Here we go to the most anticipated Monday Night RAW of the calendar in recent years–RAW After Mania!!

World Tag Team Championship
The Headbangers def. Owen Hart & British Bulldog (c) by DQ
The story here was the dissension culminating at the end of this match. As Bulldog went to place Owen on one of the Headbangers, Owen took exception to being man-handled and began to shove Bulldog and exchange words. Owen gets on the mic as referees separated both men. Owen challenged Bulldog to a match next week for the European championship. Both men exclaimed they are tired of carrying the team.

Mankind is backstage as McMahon notes Mankind is the #1 Contender and they are trying to get a word from him. Mankind repeatedly states “Uncle Paul is gone.” Following this, Bret Hart comes on the titantron and says he’d like some time to get some things off his chest and McMahon notes Hart will get his opportunity.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley def. Bart Gunn
Goldust is in backstage feature and talks about the retribution he seeks to get on Helmsley. A match is announced for next week and both Marlena and Chyna will not be at ringside. McMahon mistakenly notes that it will be for the Intercontinental championship but JR quickly recovers and says both men are former champions but next week isn’t about titles. It was interesting to hear McMahon make such a blatant mistake in promoting a match when he is often described as a control freak and can be difficult over headset with former commentators. Chyna makes her presence known in this match as she pulls the top rope, bodyslams Gunn and then tosses him into the ringpost behind the ref’s back. McMahon notes Gunn cannot hit a woman back. Hunter brings Gunn back in the ring and hits a Pedigree for the win. Similar to Maryse and Miz, Chyna refreshes Hunter and strengthens the Helmsley character.

Venum, Super Nova & Discovery def. El Mosco, Hysteria & Abismo Negro
AAA action here. McMahon calls them matadores instead of Luchadores. Not much fanfare and McMahon also notes that the commentary probably didn’t do the athleticism in this match any favours.

Clip from earlier in the day with Rocky Maivia and Rocky Johnson. Rocky Johnson explains why he came out and promises not to interfere in Maivia’s matches moving forward.

Flash Funk def. Brooklyn Brawler
Honky Tonk Man was on commentary for this squash match as he continues to scout talent. Ken Shamrock is backstage after this match and talks about his job refereeing the Submission match last night. He justifies the stoppage and praises the toughness of Austin that was displayed in that match.

Bret Hart comes out next to get everything off his chest. He begins by apologizing to hi fans worldwide from Europe, Japan, the Far East, the Middle East, South Africa and Canada. Hart says he won’t apologize to the American fans. Bret says that the American fans treat him like he lost a match when he’s won (like last night) and then they’ll cheer Austin like he’s a winner even though he lost the match. He criticizes the American fans for cheering a “pretty boy” like Shawn Michaels. Bret takes a cheap shot and says Michaels is someone who poses in “girly” magazines and Hart thinks it’s a gay magazine. The inference of this comment couldn’t be uttered in 2017 and rightfully so. Bret goes on to recap all the events since late 1996 where he had a title match and was screwed out of the title by Michaels, then the Rumble where he was screwed by Austin. He notes Michaels forfeit of the title and having to go find his smile. Bret talks about the night after the Final Four and how Austin once again cost him the title. Bret notes the steel cage match which was to keep people out and yet the Undertaker slammed the door on him and he once again lost his chance at winning the title. Bret reminds me of current AJ Styles who is a heel yet presents factual events that actually garner sympathy even if it’s designed to sound whiny. Bret ends it by saying he knows the American fans don’t respect him and that he doesn’t respect them.

Shawn Michaels makes his way out. Michaels says he lives his life the way he wants and that that doesn’t make Bret better. Shawn calls Bret Markman, probably implying how seriously Bret takes holding the title and his standing backstage despite the work nature of their business. Michaels talks about the fans paying and their freedom to boo and cheer who they want. Shawn appears to improvise a sophomoric line and asks Bret how he knew Shawn was in that magazine. Bret doesn’t rebut but attacks Shawn’s injured knee and wraps it around the ring post with a Figure Four leglock. Fr a career ending injury tease, Shawn seems to be back and ready to get physical within weeks of his initial announcement. Sid makes his way ring side but Bret heads to the back. Bret continues to impress me on the mic and the animosity is only heating up between him and Michaels.

Rocky Maivia def. Leif Cassidy
Bret was on commentary during this non-title squash. Vince challenges Bret and asks why he’s changed. Bret says he’s opened his eyes. After being provoked about his character, Bret attacks Maivia after his match.

Ahmed Johnson vs. Savio Vega ends in a No Contest
Crush pulls Vega out of the ring before Johnson can hit the Pearl River Plunge. Ahmed challenges the Nation members to a match where if they lose they’ll have to leave the WWE.

Undertaker comes out in the final segment of RAW. McMahon congratulates him and Undertaker gives thanks to the fans and says they hold the title with him. Undertaker praises Sid for having the courage to step in the ring with him. They discuss the #1 Contender, Mankind, who has been Undertaker’s toughest opponent to date. Paul Bearer makes his way to the ring and says if Undertaker is going to beat him up then to do what you have to do. Mankind is seen on the titantron saying “Uncle Paul”. Bearer proceeds to tell the Undertaker something but JR notes they are out of time and RAW ends with no conclusion to the segment.

Overall, like I said Wrestlemania was a one match show but a tremendous match at that. This edition of RAW After Mania certainly was not like RAWs of recent years and only featured a heated promo by Bret. Some squash matches on this RAW means that it was business as usual and this RAW wasn’t really treated as a special edition. The abrupt ending was frustrating as a viewer and probably left McMahon irate.

 

 

 

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