10 Reasons Why WWE WrestleMania 17 Is the Greatest PPV of the Attitude Era

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2020

10 Reasons Why WWE WrestleMania 17 Is the Greatest PPV of the Attitude Era

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    From an incredible main event to an electric undercard, WrestleMania 17 has earned a reputation for being one of WWE's greatest events.
    From an incredible main event to an electric undercard, WrestleMania 17 has earned a reputation for being one of WWE's greatest events.Credit: WWE.com

    Not only is the Attitude Era among fans' favorite periods in WWE history, but it also happened to host arguably the company's greatest pay-per-view of all time in WrestleMania X-Seven.

    Truth be told, none of the early installments of WrestleMania in the Attitude Era are remotely memorable outside of the blockbuster main event matches. WrestleMania XIV, WrestleMania XV and WrestleMania 2000 all featured too much filler and suffered from lackluster undercards.

    Perhaps the best year of the Attitude Era from an in-ring standpoint was 2000, which saw many of WWE's top talents do their best work and go all out whenever it mattered most. That momentum carried the company into early 2001 and culminated in the spectacle that was WrestleMania X-Seven.

    From top to bottom, the event had everything fans could want from the biggest pay-per-view of the year. The wrestling was excellent, the crowd's enthusiasm never wavered and there was some fun sports-entertainment silliness among all of the excitement.

    If you're looking to show a non-wrestling fan one Attitude Era event to give them a gist of its greatness, WrestleMania X-Seven is guaranteed to leave them wanting more. The near-four hours fly by and offer something everyone can enjoy.

    Nearly two decades later, this extraordinary event still stands the test of time. These are 10 reasons why.

All Killer, No Filler in the Undercard

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WrestleManias are notorious for having one or two excellent main events yet uninspiring undercards because the headline acts are largely what sell viewers on the event. As outstanding as the top attraction was at WrestleMania X-Seven, virtually everything that preceded it was entertaining and effectively filled the time.

    For starters, William Regal and Chris Jericho put on a perfectly serviceable opener that told a simple story and saw Jericho retain the Intercontinental Championship. Following that was Tazz and The APA defeating Right to Censor in an action-packed six-man tag team match that, at almost four minutes in length, was exactly what it needed to be.

    Even better than those bouts was the Triple Threat match for the Hardcore Championship between Big Show, Kane and Raven. The three went to the extreme, brawled all over the arena and didn't hesitate to put each other through walls in an effort to obtain victory.

    It was vastly different than everything else on the show, and that was why it worked.

    Although Eddie Guerrero vs. Test was by no means a 5-star mat classic,  but it served its purpose and got the European Championship on to Guerrero. Chyna vs. Ivory for the Women's Championship was also short and sweet and accomplished what it set out to do, with Chyna giving Ivory her comeuppance.

    Some of these matches were more important and more memorable than others, but none of them ever dragged or felt like they didn't belong on the event's loaded lineup. Fans wanted variety and they got just that in the first half of the show.

The Gimmick Battle Royal Provided the Perfect Amount of Fun Nostalgia

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    For all intents and purposes, the Gimmick Battle Royal should not have worked as well as it did.

    It was never meant to be taken seriously based off the participants. In fact, the entrances lasted significantly longer than the match itself and provided fans with just the right amount of nostalgia.

    Among the outlandish personalities involved were Sgt. Slaughter, Jim Cornette, Gobbledy Gooker, Doink the Clown and The Bushwackers. Although it was a  train wreck from when the bell rang to the moment it ended, there was no reason for it to be an instant classic to begin with.

    Rather, it took fans for a trip down memory lane and reminded them of some of WWE's most memorable (and worst) gimmicks from over the years.

    At only three minutes long, the Battle Royal was short, sweet and harmless. It also allowed the crowd to come down after the high of the Triple Threat TLC tag team match that preceded it.

    The Iron Sheik's victory was a questionable call considering who else was a part of this melee, but the real winners were the fans for having experienced it. Unfortunately, WWE has yet to hold another Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania.

The Dynamic Duo of Jim Ross and Paul Heyman Are a Great Soundtrack for the Show

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Jim Ross and Paul Heyman may go down as one of the most underrated duos in WWE commentary history, and their fantastic work together behind the booth at WrestleMania X-Seven is proof of that.

    Jerry "The King" Lawler, whom is J.R. is most synonymous with on commentary, quit the company in early 2001. WWE not only had to quickly find a replacement for The King but it also had to be someone that J.R. would gel well with.

    WWE was put in a precarious position with it being WrestleMania season but ended up taking that opportunity to introduce Heyman to the commentary team. He had chemistry with Ross from the get-go, and they provided the perfect soundtrack for WrestleMania X-Seven.

    Other than the Gimmick Battle Royal, which Bobby "The Brian" Heenan and "Mean" Gene Okerlund did commentary for, Ross and Heyman were on the call for the entire evening. Ross' iconic voice enhanced every match on the show, while Heyman served as the quintessential heel announcer without being too obnoxious.

    Ross questioning "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's antics at the conclusion of the night's main event added to the magnitude of the moment, and Heyman didn't miss a beat in making it feel like a true changing of the guard. They played off of each other exceptionally well.

    Unfortunately, their pairing was cut short that November when Lawler was rehired by WWE, but it was a blast while it lasted.

Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit Put on a Wrestling Clinic

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    For as many spotfests and hardcore brawls as there were at WrestleMania 17, the event also hosted one of the best pure wrestling matches you will see anywhere in the Attitude Era.

    Both Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle were still relatively early into their respective runs in WWE. They were involved in a Triple Threat match with Chris Jericho the year prior at WrestleMania, but it was much more personal this time around.

    They were looking to prove their superiority, and that was all there was to it. There weren't any championships on the line, and there didn't need to be because this was an exhilarating affair from start to finish.

    Angle was capable of getting a great match out of practically anyone at this point, but with Benoit in particular, it was effortless. Their chemistry was always on another level, and they didn't hold anything back on the Grandest Stage of Them All.

    After going counter for counter and move for move for almost a quarter-hour, Angle finally stole the victory with a roll-up. Benoit retaliated by attacking Angle afterward, sending the message that their heated rivalry wasn't over.

    For the first installment in their feud, this was darn good stuff.

An Electric Atmosphere in the Astrodome All Night Long

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    Credit: WWE.com

    One thing about the Attitude Era that may never be replicated is the electricity of the audience back then. The closest we have to that today is the atmosphere at AEW and NXT events, and even those pale in comparison to the weekly sold-out crowds WWE was pulling in every single week at the turn of the century.

    With nearly 70,000 fans in attendance at the Astrodome in Houston, WrestleMania X-Seven captured that vibe perfectly.

    Having a stacked card from top to bottom helped tremendously, but this event would not be remembered as fondly as it is without that rowdy crowd. They were into almost everything on the show, which gave every match a must-see feel.

    The abundance of signs in the audience was unbelievable, and the way they rallied behind the babyfaces (except for The Rock) was tantalizing. It was almost as if they knew they were witnessing the end of an era and were giving it the sendoff it deserved.

    WWE has attempted running WrestleMania in Texas two times since then, and it just wasn't the same. The arena itself was incredible, but it was the passion and energy from the fans that night that made 'Mania the spectacle that it was.

Mr. McMahon vs. Shane McMahon Was Sports Entertainment at Its Finest

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    A match pitting Mr. McMahon against his son, Shane, doesn't at all sound appealing in 2020, but at the height of the Attitude Era, it was a WrestleMania-worthy attraction with months of build behind it.

    With Mick Foley serving as the special guest referee, Stephanie McMahon standing in Vince's corner and Trish Stratus rolling Linda McMahon down to ringside in a wheelchair, it was hard not to be entertained by all the bells and whistles.

    Vince took great pleasure in not only beating up his son but also completely humiliating his wife, even after Trish ran Stephanie off. The storytelling was spectacular and was worth it for the moment Linda got up out of her wheelchair to reveal that her "vegetative state" was a ruse.

    The crowd collectively gasped once Linda delivered a low-blow to her husband, allowing Shane to pick up the pieces and score the win. Nothing about this screamed "smooth" in the slightest, but if there were ever one matchup that defined the term "sports entertainment," it would be this.

    Again, it was smart to make this different from everything else on the show because the fans ate it up. Variety is key, and this was a masterpiece in a train wreck kind of way.

The Hardyz, The Dudleyz and Edge and Christian Revolutionized Tag Team Wrestling

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    No tandems did more for tag team wrestling over a sustained period of time in WWE than The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz and Edge and Christian.

    The Hardy Boyz were taking the tag team division to new heights (both literally and figuratively) with Edge and Christian as early as 1999 when they had the first-ever tag team ladder match. Once The Dudley Boyz (who were table specialists) joined the fray, these teams were on to something special.

    That historic Triangle tag team ladder match at WrestleMania 2000 was amazing but only the beginning. They continued to trade the titles back and forth before finally settling their score at WrestleMania X-Seven in TLC II (with the first taking place several months earlier at SummerSlam 2000).

    The teams went to great lengths to electrify the audience and did not disappoint. Even the interference from Lita, Spike Dudley and Rhyno was masterfully done and added to the match's mayhem.

    Everyone came so close to capturing the titles that it was anyone's guess who would reign supreme. Edge and Christian came out on top, but the result was but a footnote; the match so wild that fans will forever remember how the bar was raised for tag team wrestling that night.

The Undertaker Cemented Triple H as a Star in Their Hard-Hitting Brawl

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Undertaker and Triple H are perhaps best known for their WrestleMania wars from the last decade, but their original encounter on the grand stage at WrestleMania X-Seven deserves an equal amount of recognition, especially since it was a terrific match and one of the best on the entire card.

    Triple H brought his A-game, and Undertaker had one of his better 'Mania performances to that point.

    Although The Game was already a made man by WrestleMania X-Seven, he gained a ton from taking Undertaker to the limit. Undertaker's storied streak didn't come into play much here, as it was more a matter of respect.

    Halfway through the bout, they brawled through the crowd and out into the arena, which was a spectacular visual. They powered out of every finisher the other had to offer, though The Last Ride was too much for Triple H to overcome.

    Undertaker and Triple H will never be mistaken for amazing in-ring technicians, so it was wise of them to play to their strengths by having more of a physical match than The Rock and Stone Cold or Shane McMahon and Vince McMahon. The crowd was satisfied, both guys benefited and it was an awesome piece of business all around.

The Rock vs. Stone Cold Is 1 of the Greatest WM Main Events Ever

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    An argument can be made for WrestleMania X-Seven being among greatest Attitude Era events ever for its undercard alone, but with the main event included, it can't be disputed that this pay-per-view is the best of the bunch.

    "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock had faced off in the main event of WrestleMania two years earlier, but it was a totally different story heading into this encounter. Rock was a full-fledged babyface, Austin was more of a tweener and Mr. McMahon wasn't actively trying to get Austin out of the title picture.

    The Texas Rattlesnake made it quite clear ahead of time that he would do whatever it took to reclaim the championship, but no one expected things to unfold the way they did.

    Before McMahon made his way to the ring, Austin and Rock were bringing out the best in each other as only they could. They hit all of their finishers multiple times, including the other person's, and dug down deep for that will to win.

    Rock was content abiding by the rules, whereas Austin had something else in mind. He made full use of the No Disqualification stipulation and battered Rock with a chair over and over, eventually receiving help from his archrival, Mr. McMahon, to secure the victory.

    It was baffling, to say the least, but Jim Ross and Paul Heyman questioning Austin's actions made the moment infinitely better. They were every bit as confused as the audience, and once Austin shook hands with McMahon, Ross sold his disdain beautifully.

    WrestleMania ended up on a cliffhanger. Unfortunately, Austin's heel turn proved to be a flop, but at least we got an outstanding main event out of it at WrestleMania X-Seven, along with an unforgettable hype video for the contest, set to "My Way" by Limp Bizkit.

A Fitting Way to Close Out the Attitude Era

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    In many ways, WrestleMania X-Seven marked the end of the Attitude Era, even though it technically lasted until the Invasion angle ended and "ruthless aggression" was ushered in a year later.

    Then again, the crux of the Attitude Era was the ongoing war between WWE and WCW. With that over, literally days before WrestleMania, the edgy programming didn't feel as organic anymore, and the storylines started to slack.

    On the bright side, this phenomenal pay-per-view was the best possible note to end on. The main event was remarkable, several scores had been settled and the talents of tomorrow were ready to rise up.

    It was almost as if the company was aware that the Attitude Era was about to be over, and thus it encouraged the fans to celebrate the conclusion of what was arguably the company's hottest and most exciting period ever.

    In watching WrestleMania X-Seven, you'll get a pretty good grasp of what the Attitude Era was all about as well as want to find out what happened next. Few shows can succeed at doing that quite like this event, making it the single greatest pay-per-view of this or any other era ever.


    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.