Joel: There are plenty of disagreements as to when exactly the Attitude Era started. Some say it was before this WrestleMania. Some say it was at some point later down the line. Some get so precise as to say that specifically the match between Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold here was the kickoff moment for the Attitude Era. I’m not going to get as specific as all that, but i will say that this show very much feels like an Attitude Era WrestleMania. DX is in the main event. Undertaker is feuding with Kane. At the end of the night your champions are Stone Cold and The Rock. Everything on the show that was related to Sable in any way. This feels Attitude Era.
And it’s a good show. The Battle Royale to kick off the show was messy, but at least it felt like a big deal kick off moment instead of just whatever happened to be the first match on the card the way openers of previous WrestleManias have felt. There were also more good matches than bad matches on the card, something that has been surprisingly rare so far when it comes to WrestleMania cards, and really, no out and out garbage matches. Sure, there were some that didn’t exactly set the show on fire, but when you’re watching all the WrestleManias like this, two a week, you start to have some perspective.
Just a few things to point out real quick:
The show opened up with a video that seemed aimed at fans who had drifted away from the product but we’re coming back for WrestleMania to enjoy some good, wholesome wrestling. Just a pre-emptive attempt to let people know that everything was going to be crude now, but the prestige of wrestling was still there.
There was a lot of lightening being shot out of hands in the video package before the Taker and Kane match. I don’t know if it seemed like a lot because all of those moments were put in a row, but it really felt like there was still a ton of supernatural powers bestowed on these two.
There was clearly no double cross from Mike Tyson at the end of the main event. The man was asked to be the ref and he did his job there at the end.
Kue: Number fourteen marks the culmination to the beginning of the Austin main event run, and thus, the shift into the Attitude era. The event itself was not full of fantastic matches, and this includes the main event. In fact, the only two somewhat decent matches on the card were Cactus/Charlie vs The Outlaws and Taker/Kane, not for their actual wrestling, but rather for the impact the matches had.
Tyson’s involvement was kept at a minimum, which was both lackluster due to the hype and appropriate for the match itself. Speaking of the match, this was one of Michaels’ worst, obviously due to his injuries. Yet, despite all of this, the one thing we will remember from this Mania is the incomparable roar of the crowd reacting to the defining moment of Stone Cold Steve Austin winning his first WWF title.
Sanders: As a huge HBK fan, I am so glad this Wrestlemania match did not end up being his last because as impressive as his career was leading up to this moment, this match wasn’t exactly an accurate depiction of what he’s capable of doing. And it’s not like most of wrestlers’ final matches are accurate depictions of what they were capable of in their prime because so many of them continue to wrestle into their senior adult ages. This was a good hand-off to Stone Cold since his stock has sky-rocketed since the previous Wrestlemania and is the clear face of the company at this point. I will add this because I was such an HBK mark and absolutely hated Stone Cold when I was a kid because he beat everybody and I knew that if he had a match against Michaels, Stone Cold was gonna win and I was gonna be a sad 10 year old. I watched every video package with such hate towards Stone Cold and I hated the guy for years later because of it. It’s weird how heated you’ll get about something when you still believe in the kayfabe. All in all, thank the maker for HBK’s second chance in 2002.
Tags: clashy ring attire, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, WrestleMania