Last weekend marked the 34th anniversary of the Show of Shows. That’s 34 years of some spectacular moments to some we would rather forget.
But you always remember your first, and my first WrestleMania was ‘in the year 2000’ (Busted reference), otherwise known as WrestleMania 16.
Now it’s been some time since I actually watched this PPV in its entirety, but let’s see what memories come immediately flooding back.
I started watching wrestling at the Royal Rumble in 2000 and every week between that night and Backlash of that year, WWE was couldn’t miss TV for me.
In the UK they only way we could see Raw or SmackDown was (and remains) if you had Sky TV – which my family didn’t. I would rely on going to friends’ houses or tape (VHS) trading, or if that wasn’t a possibility then I would settle for Sunday Night Heat on Channel 4.
One of the first matches that comes to mind at WrestleMania 16 is the triangle ladder match between The Hardys, The Dudleys, and Edge & Christain, which was also unofficially the first TLC match and lead to the first ever proper TLC at SummerSlam that year.
As a newcomer I didn’t think anything could top the Hell in a Cell match between Triple H and Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) a month earlier, but I was blown away by what these guys did to become Tag Team Champions.
Another match that comes to mind is the 15 minute hardcore battle royal.
When Crash Holly became the hardcore champion, he decided that he would ready and willing to defend the title 24/7. As long as a referee was present, Crash would have to answer any challenge – which resulted in matches taking place everywhere from the parking to lot to a hotel room.
The 15-minute battle royal was pretty much a precursor to the Championship Scramble first seen at Unforgiven 2008, the only difference being that everyone started at the same time.
The Hardcore title changed hands many times in the match, but the Houdini of Hardcore managed to retain.
And let us not forget the triple threat, featuring what might be a first and I believe the only time this ever happened at a WrestleMania:
Kurt Angle was in his rookie year in sports entertainment and went into WrestleMania as the Intercontinental and European Champion, but unfortunately for him he would have to defend both titles in a triple threat against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit.
It was a bad night for Kurt as although he entered with two titles, he would leave with none. Y2J landed a pinfall and made off with the European title while Benoit would get the other and leave with the Intercontinental Championship.
Then last but not last we had the fatal four-way elimination match for the WWE Championship – and there is a lot of story here.
The Rock was the biggest baby face at this time as Stone Cold was still out after neck surgery. Triple H was the biggest heel and I hated him with a passion. At the Royal Rumble The Rock was announced as the winner of the rumble match, but as the weeks went by the Big Show proved that The Rock’s feet did in fact hit the ground before his did. This led to a match at No Way Out between Rock and Show with the winner going on to WrestleMania.
Just as it looked like The Rock would win, Shane McMahon hit him with a chair and Show became the number one contender.
On the same night, Triple H defended the Championship against Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) in a Hell In The Cell Match. If Cactus lost he had to retire.
Triple H did in fact win, so it looked like it would be Triple H vs. Big Show at WrestleMania, but as the weeks went by the McMahon family would try to one up each other and before you knew it The Rock and Mick were added to the match at WrestleMania 16.
When Mick was announced in the match Triple H sold it perfectly, he totally made me believe that he was genuinely scared of Foley.
There was a McMahon in every corner supporting each wrestler: Triple H had Stephanie, Big Show had Shane, Mick had Linda, and The Rock had Vince.
The match itself came down to The Rock and Triple H and in true WrestleMania fashion there was what seemed and unlikely assist for Triple H as Vince would turn on Rock and hit him with a steel chair and cost The Rock the WWE Championship.
At that point I didn’t know much about Vince – in fact I thought he was a good guy – so I was not happy when he cost Rock the title.
After that ‘Mania I was hooked even more as it made me tune in when I could and watched eagerly for The Rock to get his revenge.
Over the years WrestleMania has made us cheer feel frustrated but above all entertained us to the point where we can’t stop watching every year.