Date: 17th March, 2002
City: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
For the second time in WWE history, WrestleMania went international when the 18th annual event took place in front on 68,237 fans inside Toronto's Skydome. The opening contest was for the Intercontinental Championship, which saw William Regal defend, unsuccessfully against Rob Van Dam! This was Van Dam's first reign as IC champion.
I was watching this WrestleMania CountDown PPV with Anuj and my good buddy Hinal, who was also an old school wrestling fan. He was a WWF guy, and I was a WCW guy. Now this next match would feature two guys who were in very different positions on their respective promotions' card through the late 90s but somehow DDP had ended up European Champion in the WWE and was set to defend his title against 'At Last You're On Your Own' Christian. Diamond Dallas Page was a MAIN EVENT PLAYA (and no... not like Brodus Clay) in WCW and I just didn't get the way they used him in the WWE, but good old Dallas Page always seems to make the best of any situation. As is the case we've seen him do with Scott Hall and Jake the Snake. It seems like a watching a watered down WWE version of DDP, in comparison to the WCW World Heavyweight Champion that had an epic encounter with 'Da Man' Goldberg. It's a shame really, but that's WWE for you. Anyone who's never seen any of WCW will only ever see the DDP character as a midcard European Champion who stalks women. At least until the WWE Network goes live - go and watch some quality WCW programming! In short, he beat Christian. That's not a bad thing... THAT's a GOOD thing!
The longest running joke of the night was involving the Hardcore Championship. What a great idea to have 24/7 rules! I miss those days when Maven would come out at WrestleMania X8 to defend his championship against Goldust, only to have Spike Dudley sneak across into the ring (I don't know why I said that in Zeb Colter's voice in my head just now) and get a pinfall to steal the championship! Utilizing the 24/7 rule, Spike Dudley, The Hurricane, Mighty Molly (with the assist of a frying pan), Christian and then Maven again would capture the Hardcore championship throughout the night! Unpredictably entertaining.
Kurt Angle and Kane were in a singles contest with the finish coming as Kane would seemingly go for a chokeslam. Angle would reverse this into a roll-up pin and use the ropes for leverage. Angle was successful in picking up the 'W'.
One of the best promo video packages of the night, had to be for the match between The Undertaker and Ric Flair. We watched it twice and Hinal kept saying, "That's what wrestling was about! Not giving a shit and going after someone by any means necessary to make point!" - He was referring to the beat down that David Flair took by The Undertaker. To Hinal (a WWF guy), Flair's son was just some defenseless kid in some training facility. Being a WCW guy I knew better! /-) I'd seen David Flair, Crowbar and Daffney on WCW being complete nutters! One thing we both saw from the same perspective however, was the awesomeness of this match. Two absolute legends going one on one. After watching this it makes me wish that The Undertaker would come back with his Biker gimmick. He was truly an American Badass! Flair would flow color like no one else, and no one bleeds better than the Nature Boy - all over that blonde hair for added effect! But not even the master of the Figure-Four Leglock could stump the deadman, as Flair was on the receiving end of a Tombstone Piledriver and was set to rest in peace! As Taker stood on the apron on his way out, he raised both his hands and extended his fingers one by one indicating that Flair was victim number 10 in the undefeated streak.
Edge and Booker T would square off in a singles match which would see Edge kicking out of a scissors kick by Booker, and even attempting his own version of the spinaroonie. Edge would pick up the victory over Booker T, following an Edgecution!
Another awesome promo video package in the night was for the contest between the Texas rattlesnake, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and the nWo's Scott Hall. Everything from Scott Hall being taped up and kidnapped by Stone Cold, to the nWo smashing a cinder block across the knee of Austin - this was the 90s Attitude & nWo era in a nutshell! Scott Hall as he would come out, do his signature nWo double point taunt at the entrance way to indicate that 'Big Sexy' Kevin Nash would be in his corner at ringside. These two icons put on a great showing and Nash would involve himself in the mix! Scott Hall took a double Stunner, sold to perfection - and the Texas rattlesnake would gain the victory, handing the nWo their first loss of the night.
The WWF Tag Team championship would be defended next in a Four Corners Elimination match as Billy & Chuck would defend against the A.P.A., The Hardyz and The Dudleyz. Saliva would sing The Dudleyz (with Stacy Keibler) out to the ring to "Turn the Tables". As I'm writing this blog post I've been watching TNA's One Night Only Tag Team Tournament to determine 'The Greatest Tag Team in TNA History' and Team 3D just went on to win the whole damn thing! Bully Ray and Devon should one day, be in the WWE Hall of Fame! If Drew Carey is in it, there's no reason that these two icons of tag team wrestling shouldn't be. The way that Bubba Ray has re-invented himself is amazing. Only one other transformation to success comes to mind at the moment, and that's of JBL, who was also in this match at WrestleMania X8. However, on this night, the A.P.A. were the first team to be eliminated, followed by The Dudleyz. The Hardyz would fall next as Billy hit Jeff with one of the tag team championships, allowing Chuck to gain the pinfall and successfully retain their tag belts.
Nina years after making his last WrestleMania appearance, Hulk Hogan returned to the spotlight to battle The Rock. This match was dubbed 'Icon vs. Icon'. In my opinion THE most electrifying match in ALL of WrestleMania History. By no means a technical clinic, but with larger than life characters such as 'the Immortal' Hulk Hogan and 'The People's Champion' The Rock you only need a finite number of moves. The status of these two men allowed facial expressions alone to elicit reactions greater than some of the most impressive maneuvers we've witnessed at WrestleMania. The crowd in the Toronto SkyDome added to the electric feel and even 14 years after this match was done, we all sat in front of the TV in awe, and covered in goosebumps. Nothing else that night compared! If you've never seen this match, I won't describe it because you'd be better off watching it... Also if you haven't already seen it you should have your 'True Professional Wrestling Mark/Smark' license revoked until you do watch it. But I fear it may be too late to save you! A forever iconic moment after the match when Hogan extended his hand to The Rock - the symbolic passing of the torch. A torch which The Rock would then defend 10 (and 11) years later against John Cena of the next generation. WrestleMania X8 proved to be a tough night for the nWo. Not only did Hogan falter, but Scott Hall also came up short in his contest against Stone Cold Steve Austin. By the end of the night, the nWo was a mere shell of itself, as Hall and Nash attacked Hogan after his match with The Rock, officially marking the beginning of the end for the feared faction.
Jazz successfully defended her WWF Women's championship in a triple threat match against Lita and WWE Hall of Famer, Trish Stratus. It begs the question on whether Lita will some day be inducted into the Hall of Fame?
Triple H's long journey back to the WWF after suffering a quad injury would culminate in the main event match of WrestleMania X8 as he would challenge Chris Jericho for the Undisputed WWF Championship. Triple H would have his entrance played out by Drowning Pool on his way to the ring but how on Earth were they planning to follow up on Rock vs. Hogan? Although from a 'wrestling match' standpoint these 2 wrestled a much better match than Hogan and Rock but the crowd were pretty burnt out at this point, and who can blame them? Triple H and Jericho would go to battle with the occasional interruptions from Stephanie McMahon who was in Jericho's corner on this night. Triple H would eventually hit a Pedigree on his own wife! Jericho would attempt his own version of the Pedigree on Triple H but to no avail, as the Game sent him catapulting. The Pedigree was the final blow delivered by Triple H to Jericho. 1-2-3. Triple H was back on top of the mountain again. I can only imagine what that feeling must be like, coming back from an injury that severe, winning the Royal Rumble and coming full circle at the main event of WrestleMania by becoming the Undisputed Champion. What a Journey.
WrestleMania Moment: The iconic handshake between The Rock and Hollywood Hulk Hogan
Move of the Night: Steve Austin's double Stone Cold Stunners on Scott Hall
Match of the Night: The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan
If you watched WrestleMania X8, let us know what you thought and fill us in on your favorite moments! Do you think it was the greatest WrestleMania of all time? Join the blog next weekend as we take a look back at WrestleMania XIX from 2003 as a part of the 'WrestleMania CountDown'! You can also tweet to us from anywhere! Whether you're in the United Kingdom, United States, India, Germany, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the Maldives, Italy, the Philippines, or your name is Neo and you're in Sri Lanka, send us a shout via our Twitter:
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There's plenty more to come! /-)
Mau (15/01/14) 22:50