Wednesday, May 25, 2022
HomeWWE | Pro WrestlingWWE WrestleMania XIII: One Match Wonder

WWE WrestleMania XIII: One Match Wonder

-What makes this show fascinating is that my brother’s senior trip to Florida began the day before the event, and he didn’t make it home until Wednesday night afterward. He had just got back into WWE after his 18 month WCW love-in not long before the show, and was bummed that he missed it. You know you’re a mark when your parents go to the airport to get him and you stay up until he gets home at 11:30 PM on a school night so you can blurt out the results to him.

-So for those of us not in Florida for the Disney trip (like 13 year old me), let’s go back to March 23, 1997 to the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago, IL. The tagline for WrestleMania XIII was “Heat”. I found that appropriate, since about 60% of the performers on this card should have been relegated to the Sunday night jobber show.

-Also of note, on the pre-show, Billy Gunn defeated Flash Funk. Wait, my apologies. That actually WASN’T worth nothing. Again, my bad.

-Our hosts tonight are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry Lawler. This was the final commentary performance at the big event for Vinnie Mac, as he would go on to become perhaps the greatest heel in wrestling history. That’s like Joe Buck quitting broadcasting to become a Colombian drug baron. I’m all for it, too. Well, the part where he quits broadcasting, anyway.

[adinserter block=”1″]-To open the show, we have a four tag team train wreck where the winners get a shot at the WWE World Tag Team Titles. The teams vying for the chance are The Godwinns, The Headbangers, The New Blackjacks, and Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon. And….yeah. I’m supposed to pick a winner out of THIS group? Between the outdated cowboys and farmers, and the bland-but-talented Furnas and Lafon, I’m almost forced to cheer the Bangers, who are at least playing a gimmick suited for the late 90’s, and have a unique charm to them. And even THEN, I don’t buy them as a serious threat. Already, I’m miserable.

-Quick, spot the future World Champion heel. Give up? It’s the boring stiff with the mustache! No, the other one. Yeah, that one.

-The only fun spot so far is both Headbangers being tagged in and then slam dancing into each other. The Dead Kennedys would be so proud. Usually these days when you can’t figure out what to do with your wrestlers, you stick them in the Money in the Bank match. Back then, it was “top contender” Hell. Not a good choice for an opener.

-Hey, good news, The Blackjacks and The Vanilla Workrate Connection have just been double DQed. That should speed things along a little more.

-I have to say, I know I bring up underrated talents a lot, but I always had a soft spot for the Headbangers. They may not have been the best, but they were interesting in a time period where not many wrestlers were. They’d sell for anyone and the fans seemed to like them, even as heels.

-Now for a semi famous spot: The Headbangers perform a rocket launcher to the floor onto Henry Godwinn. Sayeth Vince: “He threw him like he was a dart!”. The only thing that keeps it from being in the annals of great WrestleMania moments was…..that it was done by the freakin’ Headbangers.

-Finally, Phineas takes a flying sit down thingie for the the loss, making the Headbangers #1 contenders. Remember when wearing a Marilyn Manson shirt meant that you were with the times? Maybe the Hart Dynasty should wear shirts depicting Muse. Or not. Not the opener I was hoping for, but what could I expect?

-Just to show how out of touch Uncle Vinnie was, here comes the Honky Tonk Man to do commentary on the next contest. Yeah, like fans from 1997 are going to understand why Honky was so important in the 1980’s. A match ago, we had two men who worshipped Manson and Tool and Gravity Kills. Now we have an Elvis impersonator from 1988. Gag me.

-So it’s the IC Title match with The Sultan challenging against….Rocky Maivia. Yes folks, that would be The Rock himself, albeit as a smiling lovemonger with a positive attitude. Seriously, if you watch this match, you can’t even believe it’s him. It’s like he was possessed by aliens who commanded him to suck and suck royally.

-Remember when the Sultan ran over Austin to impress Rocky? Oh wait, that comes later.

-As Rocky works in his dad’s 1981 offense, I have two questions: One is what the Hell was that thing that Sultan wore on his head? Not the face mask, but the hat. It was like a velvet Hershey’s Kiss. The other is why have we never gotten a dual promo from The Rock and The Iron Sheik, who is seconding Sultan? Could the universe handle that level of awesomeness? Probably not.

-Funny, Sultan seems to be dominating this match. Maivia was pretty much being prepped to be the star of the future, and yet Sultan is taking pretty much 80% of this match. And it all sucks. At least get it up to three years later when Rock could be free to to be Rock, and Sultan was dancing and…umm…wearing a thong? Okay, maybe we’re better off in 1997….

-And umm…..Rock wins with a roll-up? That’s the whole match? IF YA SMELLLLLL-LALALALALALALALALAAA! Well, something smells, and I don’t think many fans like it. Sultan, Sheik, and Bob Backlund beat Rocky down afterward, and Sheik locks on a Camel Clutch (henceforth referred to as a ““) to humble The Great One, but Rock is saved by 96 year old Rocky Johnson. Johnson takes his shirt off, which is enough to scare the three hooligans away. See, had The Rock waffled his dad with the IC Title and then dropped the elbow on him, he’d have been a megastar THEN. But alas, we had to wait.

-Pettengill interviews Ken Shamrock of the “ultimate fighting world”, as Shamrock is the guest referee for tonight’s big submission match. We get a sampling of Shamrock’s expertise on submissions with a video package of him dismantling Billy Gunn on a recent Raw. They could have shelved the first two matches on this show and had Shamrock destroy Gunn for 45 minutes. Would ANYONE have objected?

-Dok Hendrix interviews Triple H, and apologizes in advance for ruining his wedding reception.

-So now it’s Goldust and Triple H one on one in a match rooted in a story where HHH made a pass at Marlena, and Goldust flipped. Here’s the brilliant part: HHH whispered something to her and we never heard what it was. When Marlena was asked about it in a WWE chat, she kayfabe responded that she can’t even repeat it, because for Goldust to see or hear it makes him murderously angry. See? Instead of giving a lame answer, the story has a mystery to it, forcing you to make your own theory. How Hitchcockian! Good stuff.

-Remember in the WrestleMania 12 rant when I said that HHH was a midcarder at this point, despite his claims? Well, he’s in the third match of the show and he just got kissed by Goldust. Yep, that Hunter, always a main eventer.

-Triple H unzips Goldust’s jumper and then chops away on him. Either the gold suit is heavily padded, or Hunter just longs for the feel of another man’s chest. I’m not implying anything, I mean, we’re all God’s children, right?

-This thing is dragging like Frankenstein’s foot, and I’m just glad that Marlena’s here to give me something to look at. She was really something in the days before she forgot how to digest food.

-Hunter hooks an abdominal stretch and JR references oft-forgotten wrestler Wilbur Snyder, prompting Vince to go “WILLLLLLL-BUUUUUUUR” in Mr. Ed’s voice. Way to know your audience, V-Mac.

-This match is so boring, that I have no choice but to acknowledge poster Ultimo Chocula, who responded to my post and gets a free mention. Good on you, Choc. Now, back to the crap at hand.

-Goldust lands a butt-butt on Hunter. Make your own joke here, I’m already disheveled.

-Chyna (yes, she’s here or it’s here or….) stalks Marlena around ringside and manages to corner her on the apron. Hunter knocks Goldust into her, sending her flying into Chyna’s clutch, who does a primo job of ragdolling and manhandling her. Yes, I used “manhandling” for a reason. Goldust eats a Pedigree to put HHH in the Mania win column. God, that was long and boring.

-You know, I really think Goldust and Marlena could have been a good low rent version of Savage and Liz. They had the crazed-but-likable male/alluring and innocent female dynamic going. Granted, it’s hard to top Savage and Liz, but you could have done worse by trying to mold these two after the original golden couple.

-Now for something that might break things out of the doldrums. It’s the Tag Team Title match with Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart defending against Vader and Mankind. What made this interesting is that both teams were comprised of heels, though Davey was leaning toward turning face, mostly due to annoyance at Owen’s constant cheating, as well as Owen’s underlying jealousy of the Bulldog’s European title. Hey, for 1997, that’s pretty deep. Usually, we get stuck with “Faarooq hates white people so he’s imitating Louis Farrakhan”.

-Hey wait, wasn’t Vader just friends with Owen and Davey for, like, a year? Now they’re enemies? The continuity police may wish to investigate. That and about 4000 other infractions.

-Everyone’s getting their work in: Owen’s providing the quickness and taking bumps off of Vader, Bulldog’s using his power moves, Vader’s clubbing as he always does, and Mankind’s bumping for everybody. The fans are kinda confused, though, but they seem to have caught on that Davey’s the closest thing to a babyface here. Still, what a badly booked angle for the biggest card of the year.

-Owen becomes the heel in peril(?) and Davey prepares himself for the hot tag. I think they may have made a mistake in not having Owen turn on Davey here. Actually, wait, I just realized that it wouldn’t have worked. If you don’t know why, the answer rhymes with Art Soundation.

-So it turns into a double countout after Mankind gags Bulldog on the floor with the Mandible Claw. Well, that does nothing for anybody. I understand that for all four men, you had to keep them strong, since they all had value. For Owen and Davey, they had to remain strong to be Bret’s under bosses in the Hart Foundation relaunch, and Vader and Mankind were going to have to be strong so that they could be fed to the Undertaker for his title run. So I guess the real question is why have them face each other at all on the biggest event of the year? It’s a mystery.

-And now, I present to you the all time greatest match in WWE history. Throw in Capitol Sports while we’re at it. But first, we have a video and some backstory to establish.

-Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. Basically, while Hart was away for the summer and fall of 1996, Austin was branding himself quite the monster heel. After becoming a character unlike any ever seen in WWE history, Austin began to garner a cult following for his foul mouth, violent antics, and utter disdain for everyone, including his fellow heels. He began to call Hart out in September, trying to goad Bret back to the company when he was on sabbatical, possibly considering going to WCW or even retiring. Austin managed to rope him back in and faced him in a great match at Survivor Series with Hart narrowly winning. The difference was that while before, Bret was considered a hero to millions of fans,the the new “Attitude” like the one displayed by Austin was the hotness du jour. Hart’s heroics were old hat, and many of his fans had shifted their sensibilities Austin’s way. Bret began to display signs of whining and bitterness, while Austin’s stock rose every day. And it boiled down to this: a submission match to see who the better man really was. If Bret wins, it shuts Austin up for good. If Austin wins, it could very well be the end of Hart, who will have been beaten by the young lion in his own game.

-I think that’s more story than the first four matches combined.

-As mentioned earlier, Ken Shamrock is the guest referee. Last I heard, he took steroids before his fight with Bobby Lashley JUST so he could be suspended and duck the match. Hey, high voice or not, I ain’t messing with Lashley.

-Austin gets the famed “glass shatter” entrance stunt that would appear in the WWE Attitude video game. That’s quite the sizable pop he gets as well. Hart’s pop is great as well; I’d say it’s about 70-30 for the Hitman.

-It’s a slug fest to start and it quickly spills to the floor, as any six month long feud would tend to cause. Immediately, Austin takes a smacking bump right into the post. Austin responds by crotching Bret on the guardrail. This is gonna be ugly.

-Now for a hallmark of any Attitude era show, as the match spills amongst the people. It’s not often you see Bret Hart brawling in the audience, but this era made some serious cosmetic changes to a lot of characters. Bret brings Austin back, flings him over the rail, and then pounces on him with a diving elbow. The tide turns, however, when Bret goes flying hard into the ring steps and actually dislodges them. So far, so good.

-We get back inside the ring, and Hart’s strategy becomes more than apparent: go for the leg. Bret begins some barbaric tactics to ravage Austin’s leg, and things are going swimmingly, until Austin drops him with a Stunner out of nowhere. However, pins don’t count here, but the move does buy Austin a moment to recuperate.

-The crowd’s really shifting Steve Austin’s way at this point. Bret tried to keep up with Austin in the donnybrook, but the fans compared them side by side and said “Yeah, Austin’s our guy”. This will be interesting down the stretch.

-The Stunner wasn’t enough to keep Bret Hart is dead, as he methodically goes back to the knee, and applies his amazing ringpost figure four. Austin’s not quitting however and Bret breaks the hold.

[adinserter block=”2”]-Bret Hart brings a chair inside and decides to recreate one of Austin’s greatest inventions: the Pillmanizer, in which one wraps another man’s ankle inside the seat of a steel chair and then stomps it to crush the bone. It’s named for Brian Pillman, who was the first victim of such a tactic, and a naming honor that I’m sure thrilled the late Loose Cannon. Bret wraps the ankle and then goes up top, but Austin springs to life and smashes Hart with the chair. Lawler’s cry of “IT’S WrestleMania, BABY!” makes me smile for some reason. Austin lands another deadly shot with the chair, and the crowd is TOTALLY buying Stone Cold.

-Austin embarks on a relentless assault, punishing Bret’s back and then by locking Hart into his own Sharpshooter. Lawler remarks about having to submit to your own hold and then Vince, eerily, retorts “Hey, it could happen. It’s just that painful”. Anybody else pause when they heard that?

-After Bret refuses to give in, the action spills outside, where Hart whips Austin into the rail, and it opens up maybe the most famous blade job in wrestling history, as Austin is just gushing all over ringside. Hart pounds the wound and blood is everywhere. Back inside, Bret uses the chair to rip apart Austin’s knee, and Vince foreshadows the heel turn by pointing out just how low Bret’s fallen. Bret’s heel turn, not Vince’s heel turn, for the record.

-What do you do if you’re Austin? Kick Bret in the nuts, duh. Good kick, too. I think I could feel Julie smirk.

-Austin bathes in more than blood, as the fans shower him with cheers during the mud hole stomping sequence. JR proclaims that Austin’s a stud, and I can’t disagree. You could sense watching this match that something very special was happening.

-Austin goes out to retrieve an extension cord in order to choke Bret on the apron. As he wraps the cord around the throat, Bret grabs the ring bell (which was nearby) and wallops Austin in the head. With Stone Cold disoriented, The Hitman locks on the Sharpshooter in mid ring, while Austin continues to bleed.

-Steve Austin refuses Shamrock’s inquisitions on possible surrender, and then tries to power his way free from the hold by nearly pushing Bret off. And THERE is your iconic image of a wracked Austin screaming with blood pouring down his face. Hart falls, but holds onto the legs and stands up, keeping the hold latched. Austin soon passes out from the pain and blood loss to give Hart the win.

-Afterward, Hart continues to attack and Shamrock harshly throws him off. Kenny wants to fight Bret, who merely walks away to a chorus of boos. Meanwhile, Austin pulls himself up, hobbling all the while and Stuns the first referee who tries to assist him. Austin walks away under his own power, never having given up, while the fans cheer and chant “AUSTIN”. Ladies and gentlemen, THAT is the greatest example of making a star. You’ll never see it done better than Stone Cold Steve Austin on March 23, 1997.


-What do you mean that it didn’t end the show?

-Faarooq cuts a promo with the Nation of Domination around him. Yes, he does in fact say more than just “DAMN!”. That’s actually what he said when he was told he was going to play an Islamic militant, I think.

-It’s a Chicago Street Fight with Faarooq, Crush, and Savio Vega of the Nation taking on Ahmed Johnson and native sons The Legion of Doom. Early in the brawl, the faces clean house and beat up some nameless thugs in suits. Out of the six men in this match, the only one still employed two years later was Faarooq. Even odder, one of his lackeys was also still employed: a young D-Lo Brown. Kinda funny who makes it in life. Until he broke Droz’s spine into a million pieces, of course.

-While things completely break down in chaotic and disorganized fashion, I have to note that it was pretty wise putting Crush and Savio in the mock Islamic radical group. You know, you gotta shoo away any potential racial overtones by having the white Hawaiian and the snarling Puerto Rican with the black militants. This way, it seems just a TAD more innocent.

-Ahmed hits a somersault over the rail. No, I haven’t been eating white out.

-Animal and Crush go at it, and I’m the only person who remembers that they were the new Legion of Doom for about 3 weeks in 1992 after Hawk quit. Even Animal and Crush themselves don’t even remember that.

-Animal tries to piledrive Faarooq through the table and then wusses out, instead doing a lame pratfall when he realizes that it was gonna hurt bad. Way to expose the business, Joe.

-Here’s some fun: Savio Vega wraps a noose around Ahmed’s neck and tries to hang him from inside the ring. Maybe it’s my ignorance talking, but I think that’s the first time there’s ever been anything remotely racist in professional wrestling. I’ll wager my Saba Simba trading card that I’m right.

-Why is THIS match following Bret-Austin? Two violent matches in a row? Besides, this is the only other match of the night that I really liked. Why not put this match earlier in the card to set the tempo and get the crowd pumped up? WWE was really on the cusp of striking WCW in the face at this point, but they kept getting things backward, and muddling some minor details. It would be a full year before they’d contend, too. That’s kinda what TNA is like right now, so given history, don’t count the Orlandophiles out of the war just yet.

-Long story short, Crush eats a Doomsday Device and then is nailed with a 2X4 to end it. Also, D-Lo and Nation rappers PG-13 get destroyed post-match. Way to strike a blow for racial equality! Coming up next: Ahmed Johnson destroys MOVE headquarters with a 2X4.

-And now for the alleged main event, as Sycho Sid defends the WWE Title against The Undertaker. And here comes Shawn Michaels and his career ending knee injury to do commentary. Look at Shawn bounce down the aisle! Ah, the miracles of Mighty Putty.

-To further drive home Bret Hart’s new bad attitude, he comes out to yell at everyone (even using the word “pussyfoot”) before Sid powerbombs him. That’ll learn em.

-What follows is the most boring twenty minute match in the annals of WrestleMania history, one that is only fascinating because Michaels sits on commentary and runs his mouth about Bret while using a lame knee inury to avoid dropping the title legit. As a penance, Shawn was forced to age 35 years over the next 12.

-As Sid and Taker exchange the most basic of offensive slugs, Vince suddenly announces that the match is No DQ. Making up rules in mid match? Russo, that’s brilliant!

-Brawl. Brawl. Brawl. Table gets broken. Brawl. Brawl. Brian Griffin should be narrating this match for blind people. Except he would say “It’s over. A lot of people look relieved”.

-With Taker down, Sid would like to remind all of us to go visit for all of the latest on sports, wrestling, MMA, American Idol, and life. In other words, he put Taker in the Camel Clutch. I hope this reference catches on. I’m trying, Eric.

-My word, this match is booooooooooring. Was there a dare in the office to make this match a reality? First, drunk JR said “Let’s put SID in the main event!”. Then drunk Brisco said “Let’s make him work 20 MINUTES!”. Then drunk Vince said “And he’ll face Taker so the pace will be SLOWER THAN USUAL!”. Then there was laughter, followed by drunk Patterson saying “I love you guys!” and the party came to an abrupt end. That Pat, what a buzzkill.

-Sid hits a pair of double axe handles! Amazing! I guess I have to rank it above a DUD now.

-Bret comes back out with a chair and hits Sid, because you can never have enough Bret. Except for his brother Bruce. Yes, Bruce seems to have had enough Bret for one lifetime.

-Sid manages to choke slam Undertaker and then signals for the power bomb, but Bret comes back out. He throats Sid across the apron, and the champ falls victim to the Tombstone to give Undertaker his second WWE Title. Horrible match, and Bret’s interference was moot, since Bret and Sid never wound up facing off. Still, Taker deserved the gold after the horrible angles he was forced to work over the years. So it definitely has a happy ending.

-CYNIC SAYS: Oh man, did Bret and Austin ever save this one. Without their contribution, it EASILY is the worst WrestleMania ever. Thankfully, they had the best match of all time, and that’s counting everything, not just WrestleManias. Both singles titles matches sucked, and the roster felt so thin that you could slide it through a car window to jimmy a lock with. I can’t believe this helped lead to the Attitude era, because fans today would piss all over this show.

So check out the submission match for sure, and the street fight as a curiousity. Everything else, feel free to avoid at all costs. But it’s not like you needed my permission. Just use common sense.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at and He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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Justin Henry
Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at and He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.


  1. This is one of those frustrating PPV's that I would love to go back in time and re-book. They had the talent that they needed to put on a good show, but they (almost) completely screwed it up. Just look at the Tag Team Title match. Why not have Bulldog face Owen for the European championship instead? Vader and Mankind could have faced off as well, with Paul Bearer caught in the middle of the two. Or have Rocky Maivia defend the IC title against Vader or Mankind instead of the worthless Sultan. Instead we got four talented wrestlers booked in a complete waste of a match.


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