And we're LIVE from Chicago, Illinois on March 24, 1997. Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and Vince McMahon.
Match 1: The Headbangers v. The Blackjacks v. Furnas & Lafon v. The Godwinns. Utterly uninteresting opening match with no one anyone cares about in it. Mosh hits a cannonball on Phineas Godwinn (later known as Mideon) for the victory, earning the Headbangers a title shot at the WWF Tag Team Championship the next night on RAW.
—The Honky Tonk Man comes out for a token celebrity appearance and stays to do commentary for the next match.
Match 2: Rocky Maivia v. The Sultan for the WWF Intercontinental
Championship. Imagine for a moment that The Rock was just some clean cut midcard babyface whose biggest claim to fame was that he was a third-generation wrestler. Further imagine that Rikishi
was an Evil Arab. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Rock vs. Rikishi in 1997, before either of them were famous, over, or worth a booger. It was supposed to be Rocky vs. "Wildman" Marc Mero, but he was out with an injury. Awful, awful match that ends with Rocky winning with a roll-up out of thin air. Crowd actually boos the allegedly babyface Maivia.
Match 3: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Goldust. Chyna is here with HHH, before any of her eight hundred trillion plastic surgeries. Goldust is with Marlena. Crowd is absolutely dead, and for good reason—This Match Sucks. HHH wins with a Pedigree after copious interference.
Match 4: Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith v. Vader & Mankind for the WWF Tag Team Championship. This match is between four heels... you can guess how well the crowd reacts. Owen and Davey Boy keep the belts via a count-out in a sub-par match for all involved.
Match 5: Bret Hart v. Stone Cold Steve Austin in a Submission Match. Ken Shamrock is the Special Guest Referee. To quote the Comic Book Guy... "Best. Match. EVER." This was the match that MADE Austin's career, as both men were in their prime, uninjured, and ready to go above and beyond for a Wrestlemania. You can see the subtle differences in how Austin moves here, before the neck injury he suffered at SummerSlam '97 at the hands of Owen Hart. This is probably the most famous and well-executed double turn in wrestling history, as Austin ends up as a tough son of a BITCH that would rather pass out and lose rather than submit—even hurt and bleeding buckets—to the Sharpshooter. Bret finishes his descent into total dickhood by assaulting Austin's leg with a chair after the match. Consider this: Bret and Austin had an absolutely outstanding match five months earlier at Survivor Series '96, a match that is a perfect ***** in its own right, and this match is EVEN BETTER. Austin and Hart would go on to feud on and off until Hart's untimely departure that November. Had that not happened, Bret would've returned the job to Austin at Wrestlemania XIV, probably with the WWF Championship on the line.
Match 6: The Legion of Doom & Ahmed Johnson v. Faarooq, Crush & Savio Vega in a Chicago Street Fight. This was the biggest surprise out of the whole day—this match DOESN'T SUCK! I know, I know. Faarooq and company are Version 1.0 of The Nation, in case you were wondering. D'Lo Brown is at ringside as a Nation flunkie, but he hadn't even been given a name at this point. The faces win after LOD gives Crush the Doomsday Device.
Match 7: Sid v. The Undertaker for the WWF Championship. This would THANKFULLY be the last time two tall, big, talentless hacks would headline a Wrestlemania, as Vince McMahon would finally realize that you CAN succeed in professional wrestling even if you're not eight hundred
feet tall. Shawn Michaels does guest commentary. Bad match that sees Bret Hart interfere TWICE to make sure we all know he's a heel now. No, really, he runs out once, gets dragged backstage, and comes out again to interfere some more. Undertaker wins his second WWF Championship after a tombstone piledriver. Sid would thankfully be gone from the WWF soon afterwards and show up in WCW later.
If the Austin/Bret match hadn't been here, this would've easily been a candidate for Worst Wrestlemania Ever. Wrestlemania IX still takes the cake, but this one is still a stinker. Austin/Bret is required viewing, skip everything else.