From the moment my good friend, Jacob Waring, announced that he was resurrecting the Creature vs. Creature competition, I was astounded. The last time I participated in the CVC, I put my abilities to the test against some of the best writers in the pro wrestling section.
To my surprise, I did better than I originally predicted.
Despite numerous revisions and lack of votes, I was happy with my article.
When he informed us that the topic was to choose the best WrestleMania, I was mind boggled.
Two particular events arose in my mind, WrestleMania 17 and WrestleMania 23. In one of my past articles, I informed readers that I believe WrestleMania 23 to be the last of a dying breed.
Despite my love for Batista vs. Undertaker and John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels, there was one event that made WM 23 look like Child’s play.
It was WrestleMania 17, headlined by The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin.
I bet you’re sitting asking yourself, why?
Out of 26 editions of Mania, why choose 17?
Is it the popular choice? Indeed.
Is that the reason I chose it? Not at a chance.
In the world of pro wrestling there are numerous factors that make a PPV great.
The one thing that Mania 17 had that its successors didn’t is the lost art of match buildup. When Stone Cold Steve Austin won the Royal Rumble, we were left with two possibilities. Austin would face an old foe in The Rock or take on a new challenger in Kurt Angle.
The Rock silenced all doubters when he defeated the inexperienced champion in a WWF Title match at No Way Out.
And so it goes, the WrestleMania 15 rematch featuring The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. But this time, things changed drastically.
The Rock was no longer a puppet to Vince McMahon's Corporation.
His popularity surged and forced WWF Creative to shift his character into a face. On the other hand, the Rattlesnake had something to prove. After months out due to a hit and run by Rikishi, Austin hadn’t been WWF Champion for quite some time.
The Rock had become a bigger deal in Austin’s absence and most of us doubted if Austin could beat The Rock again.
Fueled by the heavy rock tune, My Way by Limp Bizkit, The Rock vs. Austin was the diamond that made WrestleMania 17 the greatest.
Whether it was the fighting over Austin’s wife Debra, or the classic RAW where Rock gave Austin a stunner, the buildup was incredible. It reminds us of the true build up the WWE took from us years ago.
But WrestleMania 17 also had something other WrestleMania’s did not.
When The Rock vs. Austin got under way, fans were split over which man would take the title home. Was it going to be the guy that had taken Austin’s place in his absence and become a superstar equal enough to challenge Austin or was it going to be the guy who ushered in the Attitude Era.
The guy who’d been on the highway to hell back to the WWF Title, Austin had nothing to lose.
Even if it was my first WWE PPV, I didn’t see the ending coming. Austin had been the most popular WWF Superstar in years and he sides with his worst enemy to defeat his greatest opponent.
That was a story to tell and it ripped the emotion right out of me.
Not just Austin and Rock but Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon was also a great story.
Before Shane appeared on WCW that faithful day, I had no prior knowledge of him or his father but I knew WWF was the competition and I was a team player.
I continued my WCW viewership and refrained from all things WWF related.
Shane grasped WCW right under his father’s nose and Vince’s actions against his wife Linda made the feud all the more believable. The involvement of Trish Stratus and Linda’s place at ringside really stirred my train of thought out of control.
Linda’s low blow to Vince and Shane’s coast to coast brought me back to reality but it also gave me another trait which made 17 the best.
The Rock and Austin’s match was indeed a five star performance and I can’t count the number of times I saw one execute their opponents signature on the other.
But that match was just the dessert because the TLC match between the Dudleys, Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian highlighted the words "match quality" and "hardcore."
Whether it was Jeff’s amazing and carefree stunts or the infamous spear he received by Edge, TLC II forever cemented my WWE viewership. That’s nothing compared to a match where the two greatest wrestlers ever step foot in the ring.
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit speaks for itself and the match made it all the more enjoyable. Chris Jericho vs. William Regal shouldn’t be taken lightly as it was another great match. But WrestleMania 17 remains significant because its second biggest match of the night will take place again.
Undertaker vs. Triple H was the appetizer before the main course. The streak wasn’t significant to most as it is today but when Triple H cracked Undertaker in the head with a sledgehammer, my siblings exploded as they believed Taker was done.
Undertaker shocked us all as he kicked out and crushed the Game with a last ride to keep his streak intact.
Will it happen this year? We’ll just half to wait and see.
The final reason WrestleMania 17 is the greatest is because what it means to me personally. As I’ve stated a million times before, it was my first WWE pay per view and it did not disappoint. I was crushed by the fact that I probably wouldn’t see Sting, Goldberg or Kevin Nash again but I found salvation in The Rock, Taker and Austin.
Unlike all of the others, I can say I enjoyed each match on the card and I was surprised by every outcome. The heel turns, matches, no sells, and hardcore moments made to be a perfect mixture in the WWE formula.
It is still the one WrestleMania to have a great follow up storyline in the two man power trip and the Invasion.
As I close out, I’ve read my competition say their mania created a future and Superstars of today but 17 was about living in the moment. Enjoying each and everything the WWE creative gave us and makes us cherish those moments we may never find an equal to.
WrestleMania 17 isn’t just the greatest Mania ever; it’s the greatest PPV ever.
It was the night where everything was perfect.