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15 years ago today, the greatest wrestling show of all time took place

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Anth0ny

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First of all, listen to this while reading for full impact.



Time flies indeed. 15 years have passed since we were presented with the greatest celebration of sports or entertainment ever recorded: Wrestlemania 17. 68,000 strong sold out the Reliance Astrodome in Houston, Texas that night. Tickets sold out within hours of going on sale. Experts say WWF was hot enough at the time that they could have sold 100,000 tickets with ease if they had the space.

Now, the card and workrate on the show speaks for itself. But to truly appreciate the gravity of this show, we have to look at the state of pro wrestling at the time, AND where pro wrestling has gone since this groundbreaking show.


In 2001, pro wrestling was enjoying an all time high in popularity. Thanks to the NWO breaking onto the scene in WCW in 1996 and the emergence of Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1997, along with other once in a lifetime megastars like The Rock and Bill Goldberg, what was once a dying business in the mid 90s became the hottest attraction on television. On January 4th, 1999, a pre-recorded Raw drew a 5.8 rating competing against a live, 3 hour Nitro, which did a 5.0. To put that into perspective, last week's Raw drew a 2.66 without any competition.

The Attitude Era officially kicked off at Wrestlemania 14, where Stone Cold would win the WWF title from Shawn Michaels with the help of Mike Tyson. The Austin era had begun! WWF ratings began to skyrocket, and it was that year in 1998 that they would finally begin winning the ratings war against WCW. But Wrestlemania 14 didn't have that big fight feel. Hell, Wrestlemania 15 was arguably the peak of the Attitude Era and featured a Rock vs. Austin main event, and even that show didn't have that big fight feel.

2000 rolled around, and WWF enjoyed arguably its greatest year of all time from an in ring work perspective. Each and every pay per view that year was incredible to watch, as more and more WCW workers made their way to WWF and the roster got more and more deep. However, NeoGAF veteren DMczaf's all time favorite wrestling show, Wrestlemania 2000, somehow managed to disappoint most viewers, with a terrible fatal four way main event that focused more on the McMahon family than the actual wrestlers in the ring.

Despite the immense popularity of pro wrestling during this Attitude Era period... we did not get a truly great Wrestlemania that lived up to expectations until 2001 with Wrestlemania X-Seven.

Just weeks before the show, WWF announced that they had purchased their main competition, WCW. Paul Heyman had begun to work as an announcer in WWF, and ECW was history. Change was clearly in the air, you could feel it.

However, looking back on the event 15 years later, two things become clear as day:

1. This show marked the end of the Attitude Era, the hottest period in pro wrestling history.

2. The death of WCW was the worst thing that happened to this business, and the WWF began a downward spiral from X-Seven forward that continues to this day.


The Attitude Era was over, and with WCW out of the picture, things were about to change. But not before we throw one HELL of a party celebrating the last four years, where wrestling ruled the world. And that's exactly what X-Seven felt like: A celebration of the Attitude Era. The best wrestlers of the era putting on their best matches. Unforgettable moments. A main event between the two biggest stars of all time, pulling out EVERY move they could possibly think of.

Wrestling hit its peak that night.

And, controversially, putting a definitive end to the story that kicked this whole boom period off in the first place:





So, without further adieu, lets take a look at the card, and the appropriate gifs, complete with Dave Meltzer star ratings:



What a stage.

WWF Intercontinental Title: Chris Jericho (c) vs. William Regal = **

Tazz & The APA (Bradshaw & Faarooq) (w/Jacqueline) vs. The Right To Censor (Bull Buchanan, The Goodfather & Val Venis) (w/Steven Richards) = 1/2*

WWF Hardcore Title Triple Threat: Kane vs. Raven (c) vs. The Big Show = *3/4

WWF European Title: Eddie Guerrero (w/Perry Saturn) vs. Test (c) = **1/4

Kurt Angle vs. ***** ****** = ****1/4



Must watch match. Both guys worked their asses off.

WWF World Women's Title: Chyna vs. Ivory (c) = -*

Street Fight (Special Referee: Mick Foley): Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon (w/Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley) = ***





Another great match that has become one of the iconic, high flying Shane McMahon matches that everyone remembers. If you want to get a sneak preview of what Shane is likely to pull out this Sunday, give it a watch.

WWF World Tag Team Title Tables, Ladders & Chairs: Christian & Edge vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley & D-Von Dudley) (c) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Jeff Hardy & Matt Hardy) = ****3/4







Speaking of iconic... holy fucking hell. One of those matches that you can't really top. Today they're not even allowed to try.

Gimmick Battle Royal = DUD



The GOAT returns to call a match in WWF :)

The Undertaker vs. Triple H = ***1/2



Another damn good match that WWE has tried to erase from existence for some reason.

WWF World Heavyweight Title No Disqualification: Steve Austin vs. The Rock (c) = ****1/2



First, you must watch the greatest hype video in the history of anything ever.

I recently went back to watch the build up for this match... absolutely fucking electric. You didn't need a bad guy or a good guy here. On one of the Smackdowns leading into the show, the two just sat down backstage with Jim Ross and explained why they were wrestling. Austin wants the title. Rock doesn't want to give it. SIMPLE AS THAT. It helps that these are two of the greatest to ever do it, but it's amazing how simple and low key the story was. All they had to do was stare at each other to get that huge crowd reaction.







Even though the ending was the wrong decision (Austin himself agrees), this match is still, in my opinion, one of the greatest matches of all time. Probably in my personal top 5.

Recently, Stone Cold himself looked back on the match and provided his own audio commentary, covering the behind the scenes, his thoughts during the match and his thoughts looking back on it years later. It's a MUST WATCH. Part 1 and Part 2

Special thanks to friend Strobogo for some of the gifs used for this post. READ HIS FULL REVIEW HERE

MORE IMPORTANT LINKS:

Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez review of the show the night it aired from 2001
The Lapsed Fan breaks down the entire show and its importance with a podcast befitting to the greatest show of all time... A SEVEN HOUR PODCAST: Part 1 Part 2
I assure you, it's worth a listen. They cover fucking EVERYTHING. But if you don't have 7 hours, Here's their 25 minute interview with Dave Meltzer about Wrestlemania X7 and its legacy


So, what do you think of Wrestlemania X-Seven? What are you memories of this show? Do you think it's the greatest show of all time, or am I just blowing smoke up Austin's ass? Do you think it was the peak of WWF wrestling? Will Shane fly from coast to coast this Sunday?
 

Indelible

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One of the best shows with the most pointless heel turn ever, they should have known that Austin wouldn't work as a heel.
 

Nerdkiller

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One of the best shows with the most pointless heel turn ever, they should have known that Austin wouldn't work as a heel.
I believe it was actually Austin's idea that he should turn, as he thought he peaked as a face. Too bad that went nowhere, given that the fans still loved him regardless.
 

UrbanDandy

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I very much marked out at Austin's heel turn. Overall, I loved the entire event, from the look of the logo font, and yes, even the gimmick battle royale.
 

Acorn

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I believe it was actually Austin's idea that he should turn, as he thought he peaked as a face. Too bad that went nowhere, given that the fans still loved him regardless.
It was, Vince was against it. Austin has talked about it alot and said he regrets it.
 
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Truly the greatest. The only bad thing on the show is the awful Chyna/Ivory match. The Gimmick Battle Royal has Heenan on commentary, so that's a win in my book.

"By time the Iron Sheik gets to the ring, it'll be Wrestlemania 38!"
 
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Looking back on it though, its a depressing show because it ends that era, and it never got back to that point again.
 

Joe Prodigy

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I definitely agree it's my favorite Wrestlemania. Runner up would be 21 for me.

I really liked the Hardcore title match, TLC 2, McMahons and Rock vs Stone.
 

NYR

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Wow, awesome OP, that is some passion right there. Disagree with you because this was an example of the worst booking of Austin in history and ruined his character.
 

User1608

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I'm getting nostalgic and teary eyed. What a great WM and PPV.

The TLC match is my favorite. Edge spearing Jeff was fucking nuts.
 

Jimmy King

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Wow, awesome OP, that is some passion right there. Disagree with you because this was an example of the worst booking of Austin in history and ruined his character.

Disagree. It didn't work out, ultimately, but it was a good character move. Austin was paranoid about Rock stealing his spot in his stead.
 

ThisGuy

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Back when limp bizkit was hot. Lol, taking me back, waaaaaay back.

That video was straight hype in a syringe.
 

Acorn

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Looking back on it though, its a depressing show because it ends that era, and it never got back to that point again.
The last Rock Vs Austin was close. I mean the match sucked but seeing the rock nearly crying and leaving the ring to Austin for his final goodbye hit me right in the gut.

That was when I knew it would never be the same for me.
 

jogarrr

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I haven't watched wrestling in a looong time but I still remember that Stone Cold v The Rock promo. I remember feeling that it was one of the best things I had ever seen. Jaw dropping levels of awesomeness. The Rock, Stone Cold, the song. It was perfect.
 

Jimmy King

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The last Rock Vs Austin was close. I mean the match sucked but seeing the rock nearly crying and leaving the ring to Austin for his final goodbye hit me right in the gut.

That was when I knew it would never be the same for me.

The match didn't suck! But Rock thanking Stone Cold and telling him he loves him is my favorite Mania moment.
 

Acorn

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The match didn't suck! But Rock thanking Stone Cold and telling him he loves him is my favorite Mania moment.
Austin was beat up man. That's when I realised how fucked his body was, grabbed his neck after every single bump not just shit that was targeted at his neck.
 
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Thanks for reminding me I'm old.
 

Jimmy King

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Austin was beat up man. That's when I realised how fucked his body was, grabbed his neck after every single bump not just shit that was targeted at his neck.

I definitely might have rose tinted glasses on that one. The backstory on that match is insane.
 

Exr

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Would love more of these threads, thanks OP.
I remember watching that Edge Hardy match and losing it a bunch of times.
 

Lothar

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Oh god, this feels like only a few years ago. I was finishing my second year of college at this point. I must be about to die.
 

Lothar

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It was, Vince was against it. Austin has talked about it alot and said he regrets it.

The truth is the heel turn was great for him. He needed a freshing up of his character. Honestly the same old routine and babyface matches was starting to get tired. Heel Austin rejuvenated my interest in him and that was what I most looked forward to seeing each week.
 

Davilmar

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Feels as if my entire childhood just went before my eyes. Having Direct TV, my original PlayStation with Smackdown, that long, lazy summer and my best friends. This thread brought back a lot of old memories.
 

MrChom

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The first Wrestemania I watched live from 1am to 5am before school...it was epic but left me feeling sad later that 18 and 19 just weren't as good.

Amazing, amazing card. I didn't like Austin or Rock but that was one hell of a match, Taker vs HHH was my personal highlight, and these days it's just good to hear JR on commentary MY GAWD SOMEBODY STOP THE DAMNED MATCH!!!!
 

mreddie

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GOAT Show
GOAT Theme
GOAT

Too bad everything fell apart after then and wasn't til post Invasion things recovered.

It felt really big with ECW/WCW closing up around 2 weeks before.
 

Acorn

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The truth is the heel turn was great for him. He needed a freshing up of his character. Honestly the same old routine and babyface matches was starting to get tired. Heel Austin rejuvenated my interest in him and that was what I most looked forward to seeing each week.
Sure go heel but what he has said in the past is he shouldn't have aligned with Vince. It broke everything.
 

Lothar

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Sure go heel but what he has said in the past is he shouldn't have aligned with Vince. It broke everything.

Eh, it needed to happen for him to be a heel and that feud had run it's course.

The Invasion ruined everything. Heel Austin was one of the few entertaining things in the company for most of 2001.
 
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