It's "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock at the peak of the Attitude Era, main-eventing the pay-per-view event that I feel is the best ever.
It doesn't get much better than this.
The Rock was the babyface WWE Champion, having won it a month earlier from Kurt Angle. Austin was injured for most of 2000 due to neck surgery. He came back as the biggest hero in the company late in 2000. To start the year, Austin won the 2001 Rumble match and earned his WWE Title shot against Rock.
This was a rematch from their WrestleMania XV matchup, which Austin won. However, this time both guys were better performers going into it. I think Austin was too banged up in 1999, and it showed in his work. This time he was healthier.
Rock was much better this time around, too. The experience of working big matches for the two years leading up to this showed in his much-improved in-ring performances.
I think what's most impressive about the match to me was the fact that it never slowed down. Neither guy stopped. It was full of action, with memorable moments happening all the time. There wasn't a point in the match where you could say it lagged. It was fast-paced from the minute the bell rang until the match was over.
The match went nearly 30 minutes, with Austin winning the match after he turned heel thanks to the help of steel chairs and his arch-nemesis Vince McMahon.
He tried to win the match with signature moves like the Stone Cold Stunner, but that wouldn't work. That's why the heel turn worked during the match because he did what he had to do in order to get the victory.
I thought each guy was phenomenal, which is no surprise when you're talking about Superstars like Austin and Rock. I don't know if Rock was ever better than his performance here. His chemistry with Austin was always amazing.
They had several good matches before this, no doubt. It's just that this one went up another level. His bumping was phenomenal, and the heart he showed in kicking out after all the big moves made him a tougher guy in the eyes of the fans. He took a beating, yet he kept on coming.
The work Austin did here was the real story. He was, simply put, a machine. There was nothing flawed in his performance. The crowd was cheering him, but he wrestled as aggressively and as viciously as the best heels of any generation.
The facial expressions he used when he couldn't pin Rock were great. I loved how he sold the Rock's late kick out by yelling "s**t" repeatedly, because he was frustrated that he couldn't put him away. You could look in his eyes to see the emotion.
That's what professional wrestling is, at its best. It's one thing to have a great brawl, but to have that, plus each performer doing exactly what you'd hope for during the match, shows just how great both of them were on this night.
This is one of those matches that will never get old with me, no matter how many times I watch it. I've probably watched it a dozen times or so, yet it still feels fresh. When it comes to defining moments of the best era in WWE history, this match was it.
I don't think they could have asked for anything better as an example of the Attitude Era.
Looking back, was it a great move to have Austin turn heel, considering how much the crowd loved him? They did pop when he won, but there were boos when he shook Vince's hand, too. He's said over the years that maybe they should have ad-libbed and not done it, but that was the plan that they stuck with.
Because of the WCW angle that dominated the company soon after this, they both didn't turn out as well as it could have. It doesn't hurt this match, though. The story was that Austin heeled it up (I like that term) by doing what he had to do to win. That meant aligning himself with his enemy Vince McMahon and using a ridiculous amount of chair-shots. The match was a classic.
If I had to list my favorite matches ever, this would unquestionably be in the top five.
It's the best WWE Title match at WrestleMania—ever.
Thoughts? Comments? Fire away.
John Canton is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. You can read more of his work at his website TJRWrestling.com along with his talented staff of writers. He also writes at LayfieldReport.com. You can follow John on Twitter @johnreport.