The build. The face vs. face main event. The theme song. The video packages. The face-to-face interviews. The undercard matches. The shocking heel turn to end the pay-per-view.
WrestleMania 17 was as good as it gets.
By 2001, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin had cemented himself as one of the top WWE performers of all time, selling the most merchandise and being the frontrunner of bringing "attitude" to the WWE. His feud with Vince McMahon was a stroke of genius, and his popularity could only be compared to the likes of Hulk Hogan. The "What?" chants gained the crown of being the most polarizing of its kind, and the anti-establishment persona paved the way for the likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.
The Rock was running virtually parallel in popularity with Austin. His "Finally...!" line, coupled with his comedic promos, made him a red-hot star in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Rock also had a heated rivalry with Vince McMahon, seeking retribution after formerly being aligned with him in the Corporation.
WrestleMania 17 set the perfect stage for the two top names. Austin won the Royal Rumble of that year, while the Rock defeated Kurt Angle at No Way Out to capture the WWE Championship. The match was billed as two men respecting each other, but desiring to be the undisputed No.1 guy for the company.
The Texas native, Steve Austin, garnered the majority of the fan base heading into the main event. The crowd participation during the bout was feverish, becoming unglued many times due to close calls.
And then, the unthinkable happened.
Vince McMahon comes to the ring, and many expected him to join forces again with the Rock. However, the opposite happened. He assisted Steve Austin in becoming victorious, and Austin shockingly shook hands with McMahon in celebrating his WWE Championship win.
WrestleMania 17 was the pinnacle of WWE pay per view television. It set the standard of what PPVs should look like, and is arguably the greatest top to bottom WrestleMania of all time. The match between Austin and Rock was an amazing moment of storytelling, with the crowd favorite selling his soul to the corporate villain.
Classic pay per view. Classic match. Classic turn. By the way, although it was short-lived, this was the best theme song that Austin ever had.
Feel free to share you favorite WrestleMania below.
Author's Link: What a difference 20 years make.