Last night saw the return of WrestleMania – the guiltiest pleasure of man-children who never quite grew out of seeing men in tights pretend to fight. We asked some dads to tell us about their favourite ever WrestleMania matches – matches that made them fall in love with the graps or proved the power of great storytelling between the ropes.
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The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
WWF Championship Match – WrestleMania X-Seven (2001)
“I need to beat you, Rock. I need it more than anything you could ever imagine.”
In hindsight, the clues were there when Steve Austin revealed his desperation ahead of the main event of WrestleMania 17. ‘Stone Cold’ had just lost a bitter feud to Triple H – showing the Rattlesnake’s vulnerability – following a nine-month injury layoff. But at the time the thought of the biggest box office star in WWE history turning heel, in his home state of Texas, was unthinkable.Nevertheless, that was the shocking finale to a clash between the two greatest stars of the Attitude Era at the Reliant Astrodome.
The build-up was majestic, the pre-match Limp Bizkit ‘My Way’ hype video legendary, and the match itself a red-hot, intense brawl. Austin would stop at nothing to regain his WWF Championship from the man he previously overcame at WrestleMania XV.
Both men bled from ring bell shots, traded Sharpshooters and Stone Cold even resorted to his old Million Dollar Dream submission. The Rock tried to defeat Austin with his own Stunner, so Stone Cold responded with a Rock Bottom. In-between, Vince McMahon appeared. The WWE chairman – Austin’s greatest nemesis – watched on at ringside as The People’s Champion survived a huge Stunner.
The tension and drama was unreal, yet more was to come, as inconceivably Vince handed Stone Cold a steel chair to thrash the Rock. Sixteen vicious chair shots finally got the job done, before a bloodied Austin earned a tainted pinfall, to the disgust of Jim Ross.
Good ol’ JR bellowed on commentary: “Stone Cold is shaking hands with Satan himself! Someone tell me, this is not happening!” To this day, there has never been a match or a moment like it.
Neil Docking @NeilDocking
Watch WrestleMania 34 on the WWE Network