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Dolfan Watches Every Wrestlemania On Lockdown


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10 minutes ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

 

Anyway, Lemmy pops up on my screen and tells me he's going to kick my ass.  So, yes, for the remainder of this project, "Time To Play The Game" means it's time to sprint.  Do not question Lemmy.

 

Does forgetting the lyrics and mumbling through them count?

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1 hour ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

So, the first 8 matches of The STREAK~ have all been guys who are mid-carders, there to put over The Undertaker, or are on their way out.

Kane was a mid carder?

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They couldn’t make it No DQ because they were saving that for the main event. So there had to be a work around for HHH/Taker they could have called it a street fight or booked it so that the ref just decided to be lenient and “let them go” instead of counting them out.

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3 hours ago, Eivion said:

Kane was a mid carder?

No, IMO Kane fell under the "there to put over The Undertaker" category. The Kane character was clearly created just to give Undertaker a massive threat to overcome.

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DAY 51

"Fuck you Rocky.  Lie there and bleed."

Steve Austin spent the first part of 2000 MIA after taking time off for neck surgery (which was leftover from injuries from Owen dropping him on his head). He came back in April helping Rock beat the McMahons & HHH and take the WWF Championship. But then, despite being upper card, didn't get a PPV main event title match until December. He went on to win the 2001 Royal Rumble and allows this match to be the first one one one PPV title shot he's gotten since No Mercy 99 - eighteen months prior. So, to say he's desperate is an understatement. 

The Rock on the other hand has enjoyed possibly his most successful year as a pro wrestler.  He won the WWF Championship three times and gaining national fame and attention, and was legitimately the first guy since Hulk Hogan to start to crack that mainstream fame bubble.  (More on that next Mania.) As it is, he's the biggest star that the WWF has, and despite having run it two years ago, the world absolutely wanted Austin-Rock 2 for the main event here.  A fantastic No Way Out saw Rock take the title from Kurt Angle and Austin barely lose a 3 Stages of Hell match to HHH.   So the stage is set...  

God damn that promo video.  So to answer my question from 2 months ago, yes, this is the first time a mainstream song is used to theme the story.  They really get over the fact that these are two S-Tier level guys who are both at the absolute top of their game.  They get over Austin's desperation.  They get over Rock's obsession with being champ. It truly just gets over, you're about to watch a war.   So, let's get to that. 

Stone Cold comes out to the Disturbed version of his song and a TITANIC pop.  Austin is to the vast majority of the crowd the sympathetic babyface in this situation and they're screaming their heads off for the home-state boy.  The Rock's reaction is... mixed.  Loud cheers, but a very noticeable section of boos. Oh, and unbeknownst to everyone...  Howard Finkel announces the match is No Disqualifications.  That was the beginning. 

Basically as soon as Rock hit his corner pose, Austin hit him, and we're off.  Now, the story is that Austin is trying to end this relatively quickly and he's pressing every advantage he can get. However, Rock's good enough that he's got answers to most everything Austin can put in his way. The match very clearly lifts from the Austin/Hart series, which is a very good thing. Austin takes firm control for the first part of the match after a superplex and he starts cheating as rampantly as he can. Rocky does his very shitty blade job somewhere around here. 

Now, I should mention, Austin is very clearly trying to heel it up. He's very much trying to get the crowd to turn against him by flagrantly disobeying the ref, breaking the rules, and generally being an asshole to Rocky. The problem is, this is Stone Cold Steve Austin.  His WHOLE CAREER is based on that.   So, doing this is only getting this rabid crowd further and further behind him.  Paul E. at one point starts chastising JR for being so rabidly pro-Austin... an accusation which JR has no real answer for. 

Austin himself blades after a bellshot and Rock redoes the famous Sharpshooter/Austin screaming pose.  Then they annoy me by going to the ropes for a break -- in a No DQ match.  Austin eventually puts ROCK in the sharpshooter and Rocky eventually finds a way to break. Austin slaps on the Million Dollar Dream and Rock does the corner floatover cover for a VERY close 2. Now Austin is REALLY getting desperate and it's written all over his face.  Fantastic character work by both guys. 

And here comes Vince...  So, the crowd seems very confused by the sudden presence of Vince.  They know he's a heel, they know he hates both guys, so what the actual fuck.  Austin is playing a little coy at first, but that's only until Vince pulls Rocky off a near fall. Rock is kicking out of everything that Austin can throw, so Vince is ordered to get a chair.  JR is finally beginning to question Austin's motives at this point. The crowd is firmly pro-Austin and pretty much has bought Vince as turning face here.  Which is absolutely not what they were going for.

The end is a famous near fall by Austin after a stunner that the crowd thought was it.  Rock hit a Rock Bottom that Austin only survived because Vince distracted the ref. A *MASSIVE* chairshot followed by a quick cover will do i.... NO.  Rock just won't die.  Austin clearly has a moment of self-doubt, collects himself, and proceeds to give Rock roughly 827 chairshots.... OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER.... Jesus Christ. Yeah, that'll do it.  

The crowd goes ballistic.  The home state boy has done it. He's slayed the demon and he's back on top of the world.  (But they're still cheering.)

Austin cements his heel turn by shaking hands with Mr. McMahon (which also gets cheers).  And he starts posing with his newly won prize. Rock is out cold.  

Back to the quote at the beginning, a buddy of mine went to X7 and was surrounded by a bunch of Texas guys there who were all pulling for Austin. They were laughing their damned heads off, as he recalls, when Vince gave Austin the chair and beat Rock to within an inch of his life. When Austin won, my friend described the absolutely inhuman cheer that went up everywhere and was sustained until Austin left the ring with Vince.  

Rock began to stir again finally after Austin left the ring, but Steve decides.... one more for the road.  Back in the ring --- kick, wham, stunner.   Rock is out cold again, Austin is victorious, and Texas loves him.  

The guys in front of my friends then said it.... "HAHAHA.  FUCK YOU ROCKY.  LIE THERE AND BLEED."

----

So yeah, X-Seven is very easily the best of the 17 so far. Everything delivered or over-delivered.  History would not look fondly on some of the booking choices (Chyna & Steve's heel turn particularly).  But overall, it's the absolute classic I remember, with the matches I didn't like being a lot better on re-watch.  

That being said, this was the best product the WWF had ever put out.  This was the Attitude era at its peak. And as I likened the previous Mania's, this is the Attitude Era's maturity.  X8 would show the excesses, the incongruities, and would mark the beginning of the end of the Attitude era.   More on that soon. 

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Re: Rock's blade job

I watched X7 not too long ago. You can see Earl (?) Hebner pass Rock the gimmick as they do some spot (someone went into the stairs IIRC). Then, they do the spot where he is suppose to get color. When Rock is suppose to work his magic, they cut to his (Rock's) mom in the crowd. I'm not sure what happened because at first very little comes out. Then, at some point late in the match, it just starts fucking flowing. I dunno if he or the ref did it all over again or he got his fucking blood pumping. Whatever happened, he got enough late in the match to create a good visual. 

And yes, say whatever you want about Limp Bizkit but WWE managed to make some awesome video packages for X7.

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WRESTLEMANIA X8

Any sane person would have started the WCW Invasion angle the day after Raw (which they did) and built a big long term storyline that culminated here.  The final battle between WCW and WWF (*and ECW*). Well, years later, we learned from various interviews that Vince never wanted that.  He just wanted to stick a final knife in the heart of WCW, rather than rehabbing it and making it into another viable brand of his organization. So since Vince doesn't know who Billy Durant is... the Invasion story got flushed after about 6 months.

There's some interesting stuff going on in the undercard, but the top of the card has seen the ascendance of Jericho, the absence of the Rock (movie), and HHH (ow, my quad). Austin has spent half the year as a heel and then rehabbing his image. Taker has been riding his bike all over the place. And Angle keeps getting hamstrung because he'll switch back and forth on a dime, turning heel to join the Alliance, and then turning super DUPER babyface taking the WWF Title off Austin in his hometown two weeks after the 9/11 attacks. Then heel... then face... then heel.  Seriously, Big Show has nothing on ol' Kurt.  

So, the top of the card is scattershot to say the least.  Oh, and the nWo is back now.  

Well, as I recall, this was a massive disappointment at the time, let's see how it holds up.  

And we're back in SkyDome, this time with a super duper huge entranceway.  We start with the Intercontinental Championship, held by William Regal. Nothing makes me sadder than to think of what Regal could have been if not for injuries and personal demons.  As it is, he's now in a great job and has indelibly put his mark all over the WWE and it's current product, but in the ring... jeez, the mind boggles at the possibilities.  So his opponent is ECW/Alliance refugee Points To Self (hi CRZ).  This is Van Dam's big Mania debut and the crowd is suitably going banana.  He has a cute moment when he is so taken in by the entrance, he COMPLETELY forgets to do his gimmick while Fink says his name.

You know, sometimes, you can tell, just on the entrances who's going to win the match.  (Pyro vs No Pyro is usually a good indicator.)  Regal is such fun because he's very much acting like he knows he's got this well, well in hand... because he uses brass knucks to win every match.  And sure enough, about a minute in of taking a lot of shots from RVD, Regal forces a break long enough to go for his Brass Knux in his tights.   His plan goes to shit though when RVD kicks them into the 4th row.  So he's in trouble now, but still keeps his cool, because he's still got this.  

The match is very quick (5-6 minutes), and so the end comes as Regal is now in desperate waters, so he pulls out a SECOND set of knucks.  But, these also get knocked out of his hand before he gets a chance to use them.  Van Dam gets a beautiful 5 Star Frog Splash, and Regal's IC title reign ends rather abruptly.

The match was a glorified squash, but Van Dam being such a unique talent, and Regal being a master storyteller, makes it a very fun start to Mania.  A very good opener.

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Christian is making a goofy face... well more so... because he's making fun of Diamond Dallas Page, who's doing a self-help gimmick.  Boy life imitates art, huh...  Edge & Christian have split and it's not going well for Christian.  He's just broken a huge losing streak, thanks to DDP's "mentoring" (which, much like MVP in 2020 is basically him spouting a bunch of inane platitudes at the wrestler, then blatantly cheating on his behalf).  Of course, Christian is dumb, so he wins and instantly turns on DDP.   And that's the setup.  The opening promo existed just to make sure the crowd popped correctly when Christian came out -- they did this by saying he'd moved from the GTA to Tampa.   That's not something I'd brag about. 

JR acknowledges that this is actually DDP's second time at Mania... coincidentally, his last appearance was also in this same venue.  Christian gets his absolutely awesome sparkle shower & opera entrance.  That's unfortunately the last awesome thing about this match.  

Now I'm not sure if it's Page being too excited, if Christian is nervous, or the short time allotted... but this just wasn't good.  Both guys missing timings and just weren't working to each other's strengths.  The slapdash nature of this feud is really on display as they're not telling a story, they're just having... "a match."  Now that's fine for Raw or Main Event or Smackdown... but this is fucking WrestleMania.  The only little bit of storytelling is Christian was doing a whiny temper tantrum whenever he'd lose, and after Page kicked out of an Unprettier, he got very upset and flailed.   This distraction led to the Diamond Cutter and the pin.  

Page then made fun of Christian on the mic to no reaction, and Christian flailed again.   Yikes.  Whatever they were selling, I wasn't buying.  

One more quick match before we end the day...

Goldust had come back to the WWF and is challenging the winner of the very first Tough Enough, Maven, for the Hardcore Championship.  Now it should be noted that Maven won the title originally from... The Undertaker, which is a hell of a trivia question.  (He lost and regained it after, but still.)  Now, it's clear that Goldie is out here to babysit and walk the absolute greener than grass Maven through the Mania match. The one thing they'd failed to mention until mid-way through the match was that the 24/7 rules of the Hardcore belt (apparently) very much still existed during the match itself because Spike Dudley runs down to the ring, hits a Dudley Dog, and we have  a new champion?   (His first.) 

I'm confused and tired and we've got a day tomorrow, so that's it.  An... uneven start for Mania X8, but the high from the main event of X7 willed me through.  

End of Day 51. 

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DAY 52

Drowning Pool is here to sing "Tear Away". Since it's not "Bodies", (and even if it were...) hard pass.  

Hurricane Helms wins the Hardcore title backstage. 

Kane and Kurt Angle are in the the void of "Creative Has Nothing For You", so they get to fight each other.  Kurt making fun of Canada's figure skating team gold at the '02 Olympics, which frankly gave me a reason to go down a Wiki rabbit hole. The gist is that a Russian oligarch bought off a French & Canadian judge in Nagano in '98, and the payback was the Canadians winning the gold in Salt Lake City '02. Which, if you've watched Icarus is a relatively quaint scandal. 

The match itself screams 10pm Raw match where Kurt is getting punished for mouthing off.  Kane is basically trying to keep up with Kurt the whole time and not really succeeding.  The crowd is also not particularly into this match either and this is quickly becoming a struggle.  It's just like Kurt sets something up and has to delay for like half a second for Kane to do his thing and it's taking me out of this. The crowd in fact doesn't wake up until the Ankle Lock gets put on.  Of course, Kane has to milk that, so it's like a full minute before he can make the ropes for a break... which he actually makes into a pretty sweet enziguri. Angle then shows what a fucking freak athlete he is because Kane is on the top and Angle is up there with him in less than a second, like a fucking cheetah.  

Angle cheats to win, and oof, that just wasn't anything other than "a match." 

Hurricane is backstage and hides in a locker room and it turns out this is the women's locker room -- and oh boy... this segment has aged extremely poorly.  ESPECIALLY this week. 

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24 minutes ago, Morganti said:

Oh for sure. I don't even think I have watched any part of X8 but Rock Hogan and Austin stunning Hall.  I just vaguely remember it being the theme of the game cube wrestling game the next year.

Yeah, man.  I loved that game.  Heck, even the GBA game at that time featured X8 and was surprisingly good.  As for the show those are the two things I remember most about X8.  Austin did say he wished he had another crack at his match again Hall as he didn't like it.

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