WrestleMania X-Seven Backlash (2001)
Theme song(s) "My Way" by Limp Bizkit
|City Houston, Texas|
WrestleMania X-Seven WrestleMania X8
Date 1 April 2001
|Tagline(s) Houston... We Have a Problem|
Location Astrodome, Houston, Texas, United States
Other Instances WrestleMania 33, WrestleMania 32, WrestleMania XXX, WrestleMania 29, WrestleMania XXVIII
WrestleMania X-Seven was the seventeenth annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It took place on April 1, 2001 at the Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas, the first WrestleMania held in the state of Texas. A record-breaking attendance for the Reliant Astrodome of 67,925 grossed US$3.5 million.
The main event was a No Disqualification match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock for the WWF Championship. The undercard included Triple H versus The Undertaker, the second Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match for the WWF Tag Team Championship and a Street Fight between Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon.
The main feud leading into WrestleMania X-Seven involved Stone Cold Steve Austin challenging The Rock for the WWF Championship. The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin had fought for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania XV and Backlash in 1999. Stone Cold Steve Austin earned his opportunity to compete for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania X-Seven by winning the 2001 Royal Rumble match when he last eliminated Kane, while The Rock became the first ever six-time WWF Champion when he defeated Kurt Angle at No Way Out. During their feud, Austin's wife Debra, who was trying to get back into managing, was ordered by WWF chairman, Vince McMahon, to be The Rock's manager against her wishes as well as both Rock and Austin's. As a result, Austin would hold The Rock and McMahon responsible if any harm came to her. On the March 12 episode of Raw is War, The Rock was placed in an overlong Ankle Lock hold during his rematch with Kurt Angle. When Debra went to check on The Rock, Angle also placed her into an Ankle Lock hold. Austin soon ran in to save her and knocked Angle out of the ring. Keeping to his word, he immediately gave The Rock a Stone Cold Stunner as punishment. The following week on Raw is War, during a handicap tag team match involving The Rock, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, and William Regal, Austin made his way down to the ring and ended up getting a Rock Bottom from The Rock as a result of the stunner the previous week. On the March 29 episode of SmackDown!, Debra was relieved from her managerial role by Mr. McMahon after failing to prevent a brawl between Rock and Austin.
The secondary feud leading into the event pitted The Brothers of Destruction (The Undertaker and Kane) against Triple H and The Big Show. After defeating Stone Cold Steve Austin in a Three Stages of Hell match at No Way Out, Triple H felt that he deserved to be in the WrestleMania main event having defeated everyone in the WWF, including The Rock and Austin. The Undertaker took exception to that and told him that Triple H had never defeated him. Before WrestleMania X-Seven, the two had never faced each other in a one-on-one match on a pay-per-view event. During his entrance for a Hardcore Championship match against The Big Show, Triple H ambushed Undertaker. Kane ran in and saved the Undertaker from a further attack but was met with his own ambush by The Big Show. On the following episode of SmackDown!, Undertaker tried to break into the limousine of Triple H and his wife, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, on arrival but ended up being arrested by the police. As a result, Kane requested a match against Triple H later that night but lost when The Big Show interfered on behalf of Triple H. In retaliation, Kane interfered in The Big Show's Hardcore Championship match against Raven on Raw is War, helping Raven pin Big Show to become the new Hardcore Champion. Undertaker's arrest led to a restraining order from Stephanie. To circumvent this, the Brothers of Destruction interfered in Triple H's match against Test, with Kane ordered to run after Stephanie. With Stephanie held at ransom on a balcony in the arena, WWF commissioner William Regal gave Undertaker and Kane matches at WrestleMania against Triple H and The Big Show respectively. After being attacked during a Hardcore Championship title defense, Regal would later include Raven into Kane and Big Show's match, making it a Triple Threat Hardcore match for the Hardcore Championship.
Another major feud that was built up in the lead to WrestleMania was the one involving Vince McMahon and his son Shane McMahon. The feud started with Vince's disapproval of Mick Foley's job as then-WWF commissioner as well as Foley's decision of holding a six-man Hell in a Cell match at Armageddon 2000, taking into consideration about the well-being of the wrestlers involved in the match. Despite his attempts Foley was given full support by Linda McMahon, Vince's wife and the WWF's CEO. Not pleased with this result, Vince immediately demanded a divorce from Linda. Shortly after Armageddon, secretly to Vince's delight, it was revealed Linda was rushed to hospital suffering with a nervous breakdown. With Linda hospitalized, the Board of Directors appointed Vince as the new CEO of the WWF, allowing him to fire Foley as commissioner. With Linda in a comatose-like state, Vince started to have a public affair with Trish Stratus. Vince's daughter, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, was at first far from pleased about the turn of events. At No Way Out, Stephanie and Trish squared off, with Stephanie scoring the victory after a run-in by William Regal. On the February 26 episode of Raw is War, however, during a match that placed Vince and Trish against Stephanie and William Regal, Stratus was turned on by the other participants in the match and had sewage dumped over her. In the following shows, Vince continued to demean Trish by having her do such actions as bark like a dog around the ring and stripping down to her lingerie. Despite this, Trish remained loyal to Vince and begged for his forgiveness. On the March 12 episode of Raw is War, Shane McMahon made his return to the WWF. Angry with his father's actions, Shane started to throw punches at Vince only to be stopped by William Regal. Shane explained his actions on the following episode of SmackDown! as a result of frustrations over the manipulation of his sister, his mother's state and Vince's treatment of Trish. On March 23, World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. purchased their longtime rival promotion, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) from Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. With it, the purchase brought in an extra twist to the storyline. On the March 26 episode of Raw is War, Vince McMahon made a live speech that was also simulcast on the series finale of WCW Monday Nitro. In the speech, Vince announced that the signing was not final and that he wanted Ted Turner to come to WrestleMania to hand-deliver the contract for signing. He then promised that with the purchase he was going to bury his rival forever. However, Shane, who was at the venue for Nitro, interrupted the speech and said:
Because, dad, the deal is finalized... with WCW, and the name on the contract does say McMahon. However, the contract reads Shane McMahon. That's right! I now own WCW! And, dad, just like WCW did in the past, how it kicked your ass in the past and it will again, that's exactly what's going to happen to you this Sunday at WrestleMania!
To make matters worse for Vince, Mick Foley appeared shortly afterwards that night and revealed that prior to his firing, Linda had made multiple contracts for him to sign, one of them was for Foley to referee a match of his choice at WrestleMania. Foley then chose the match between Vince and Shane, which was designated a street fight.
Before the event aired live on pay-per-view, a Sunday Night Heat match was aired with Steve Blackman and Grand Master Sexay squaring off against X-Factor members X-Pac and Justin Credible. Near the end of the match, fellow X-Factor member Albert interfered by pulling Sexay out of the ring, allowing X-Pac and Credible to hit their X Marks the Spot finisher on Blackman for the win.
The first match of the event was the Intercontinental Champion between Chris Jericho and WWF commissioner William Regal. During the match, Regal exposed one of the top turnbuckles to throw Jericho's shoulder into it before giving him a double underhook superplex. Jericho attempted the Walls of Jericho submission hold but had it reversed into a Regal Stretch. After Jericho managed to grab a ring rope to break the hold, he retaliated with numerous chops before throwing Regal into the exposed turnbuckle and finishing him off with a Lionsault to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
Tazz and The APA (Bradshaw and Faarooq) took on Right to Censor (The Goodfather, Val Venis, and Bull Buchanan) next in a short match that ended with Bradshaw pinning the Goodfather after a Clothesline from Hell.
The third match was the triple threat hardcore match between Raven, Kane and The Big Show for the Hardcore Championship. During the match, the three wrestlers fought their way out of the ring and through the crowd into the backstage area. Big Show tried to lock himself, Raven and the referee in a security cage but Kane broke the padlock and afterwards threw Raven through a glass window. Big Show and Kane continued to brawl ending with the two throwing each other through a wall. Raven tried to escape by driving off in a golf cart, but Big Show stopped him and caused him to crash. Kane shortly followed with another golf cart, accompanied by the referee, and ran into Raven. The fight headed back into the stadium with Big Show attempting to press slam Raven off the entrance stage but both were kicked off it by Kane. Kane followed this with a diving leg drop off the stage onto Big Show, pinning him to become the new Hardcore Champion.
The fourth match was the European Championship match between Test and Eddie Guerrero. During the match, Test went over the top rope but got his foot caught between the top two ropes, forcing the referee and Guerrero to have to untangle him. With the help of his fellow Radicalz members Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn, Guerrero hit Test in the face with the European Championship while the referee was distracted and pinned him to become the new champion.
The fifth match pitted Kurt Angle against Chris Benoit. The match started with mat wrestling between the two but Angle soon punched Benoit out of frustration and threw him out of the ring, so he could throw him into the broadcast table and the steel steps. Back in the ring, both men tried to submit their opponent using the other's signature hold with Benoit using the ankle lock on Angle, and Angle using the Crippler Crossface on Benoit. Benoit eventually succeeded in forcing Angle to tap out to the Crippler Crossface but the referee was knocked down and didn't see it. Near the end of the match, Benoit tried to pin Angle after a diving headbutt but was met with a two-count. Angle then quickly rolled-up up Benoit, using the tights for leverage to win the match.
The following match saw Chyna challenge the Women's Champion Ivory. At Royal Rumble, Chyna (kayfabe) injured her neck during a match with Ivory, causing her to lose the match and fail to capture the Women's Championship. In order for Chyna to again challenge for the title, Ivory required the match contract to include a "hold harmless" clause, stating that if Ivory injures Chyna's neck again, there could be no legal recourse against Ivory. In doing so, the contract also included a provision to ban Ivory's Right To Censor stablemates from ringside. After an early bit of offense from Ivory, Chyna performed a Chynabomb and looked to have the pinfall, but picked Ivory up after the 2 count. Chyna then performed a gorilla press drop and nonchalantly pinned Ivory to win the Women's Championship.
The seventh match was the street fight between Shane McMahon and Vince McMahon with Mick Foley as the special guest referee. Shane dominated his father during the earlier part of the match by attacking him with various weapons such as a kendo stick and monitors from the Spanish broadcast table. Shane laid Vince on said table, and performed a diving elbow drop off the top rope but his sister, Stephanie, pulled Vince out of the way, causing Shane to crash through it. Trish Stratus came towards the ring, pushing Linda McMahon out in a wheelchair, and then slapped Vince, causing her and Stephanie to get into a fight that led them out of the stadium. As referee Foley tried to wheel Linda out to safety, Vince hit him with a steel chair, and then pulled Linda into the ring to make her watch as he beat down Shane with a garbage can. However, Linda stood up and low blowed Vince, allowing Foley to recover and attack him with the Mandible Claw. With Vince prone in the corner, Shane placed a garbage can in front of Vince's face and hit a Coast-to-Coast dropkick, pinning his father to win the match.
The eighth match, dubbed "TLC II", was the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match for the Tag Team Championship between the Dudley Boyz, the Hardy Boyz, and Edge and Christian. Respective associates of each tag team, Spike Dudley on for the Dudley Boyz, Rhyno for Edge and Christian, and Lita for the Hardy Boyz, interfered during the match. With Spike and Rhyno both laying on two tables outside the ring, Jeff Hardy set up a huge ladder beside them and performed a Swanton Bomb onto them through the tables. Jeff tried to unhook the belts but had the ladder beneath him pulled away by Bubba Ray Dudley, leaving him hanging in the air, and allowing Edge to jump off another ladder and spear Jeff to the ground. Bubba Ray and Matt Hardy climbed the same ladder but Rhyno tipped the ladder over, sending Bubba Ray and Matt through four stacked tables at ringside. With Edge holding onto D-Von's legs, Christian sat on Rhyno's shoulders and unhooked the belts, making him and Edge the new Tag Team Champions.
The ninth match was a gimmick battle royal, involving nineteen WWF alumni famous for their outlandish gimmicks. To further increase the nostalgia, former announcers "Mean Gene" Okerlund and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan handled commentary for the match. The Iron Sheik won the match by throwing Hillbilly Jim out of the ring. In revenge for being eliminated, Sgt. Slaughter reentered the ring and put him in the Cobra Clutch.
The penultimate match was between The Undertaker and Triple H. For his entrance, Triple H had British heavy metal band Motörhead perform his theme song, "The Game", live. The match started with the two fighting outside of the ring with Triple H quickly being put through the replacement Spanish announcers' table. Later on, referee Mike Chioda accidentally had Triple H catapulted into him and was then attacked by Undertaker due to his dissatisfaction over a two-count. With Chioda knocked out, the two brawled outside the ring, through the crowd, and into the technical area. On top of scaffolding, Triple H used a steel chair to attack Undertaker's legs, but Undertaker retaliated with a chokeslam off the scaffolding, followed by an diving elbow drop. Back in the ring as Chioda regained consciousness, Triple H tried to pin Undertaker after hitting him in the head with a sledgehammer while in the Last Ride position but only gained a two-count. Triple H sent Undertaker into the corner and stood on the second rope to hit him with more punches, but Undertaker countered with a Last Ride, allowing him to pin Triple H and increase his WrestleMania winning streak to 9–0.
The final contest of the night was the WWF Championship match between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, which had a surprise no disqualification stipulation added just before the superstars were introduced. During the match, the two brawled inside and outside of the ring, with both men bleeding after hitting each other with the ring bell. The Rock attempted to place Austin in a Sharpshooter hold, but Austin reversed it into Sharpshooter of his own. After Rock reached the ropes to force a break, Austin applied the Million Dollar Dream, a submission hold best known from his former gimmick, The Ringmaster. Shortly after, Rock used Austin's own finishing maneuver on Austin by executing a Stunner. Vince McMahon then came to ringside to observe the match. When Rock tried to pin Austin after the People's Elbow, McMahon seized Rock's leg and pulled him off Austin, breaking the pin attempt. After chasing McMahon around the ring, Austin responded by using Rock's signature move, the Rock Bottom. Later, after Rock kicked out of the Stunner after a two count, McMahon handed Austin a steel chair to hit Rock with at Austin's request, revealing that Austin had sided with McMahon, a man he once considered his nemesis. With this, Austin turned heel. Austin tried to end the match with a Stunner again, but after Rock kicked out, Austin attacked him with the steel chair, hitting him sixteen times, before pinning him and becoming the new WWF Champion. The show ended with the new champion and the chairman shaking hands and sharing beers.
The following night on Raw is War, Austin and The Rock faced each other in a rematch held in steel cage which Triple H entered the cage and teased a fight with Austin before turning on The Rock. For several minutes Austin, Triple H, and Vince McMahon triple teamed the outnumbered Rock forging an alliance with Triple H and Austin called The Two-Man Power Trip. The Rock was written out of the WWF's storylines with McMahon giving him a suspension. This allowed The Rock time off to begin filming The Scorpion King. The Rock returned on the edition of July 30 of Raw is War and chose to fight for Team WWF over Team WCW/ECW. Three weeks later at SummerSlam, Rock won his first WCW Championship by defeating Booker T. Rock and Austin would face each other again at WrestleMania XIX in a rematch that would also be known as Austin's last match to date, with Rock winning that match.
Following The Rock's suspension, Triple H's feud with the Brothers of Destruction continued with Austin now on his side. On the edition of April 5, 2001 of SmackDown!, Triple H challenged Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho for his title and after interference from Commissioner William Regal and his wife Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley defeated Jericho to win his third Intercontinental Championship. The feud with Undertaker and Kane was temporarily put on hold after Triple H and Austin entered a brief rivalry with the Hardy Boyz, which resulted in Jeff Hardy beating Triple H for the Intercontinental Championship the following week and Triple H promptly regaining the title the next Monday on Raw.
Meanwhile, the Brothers of Destruction defeated Edge and Christian to become the new WWF Tag Team Champions on the edition of April 19, 2001 of SmackDown in a no-disqualification match. Austin and Triple H decided to challenge Undertaker and Kane for their newly won titles, but due to some wrangling by Linda McMahon the match between the teams signed for Backlash forced the two to put up their singles titles against the tag team titles in a "winner-take-all" match. Triple H scored the pin after attacking Kane with his sledgehammer and the Power Trip became the second team in WWF history to hold both major singles titles and the tag team titles at the same time. The feud came to a climax at Judgment Day when Austin defeated Undertaker to retain the WWF Championship while Kane defeated Triple H for the Intercontinental Championship. The next night Austin and Triple H lost the tag team titles to Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit; during the course of the match Triple H tore his quadriceps tendon and would miss the remainder of the year, leaving Austin to feud with the tag team champions alone. The feud culminated in a Triple Threat Match at King of the Ring, where Austin pinned Benoit to retain the WWF Championship. Ten years later in 2011, Undertaker and Triple H would once again renew their rivalry, went on to face each other in a rematch at WrestleMania XXVII with The Undertaker defeating HHH via submission, to set his WrestleMania winning streak to 19–0. A year later, they faced each other a third time at WrestleMania XXVIII in a Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee. The Undertaker once again won the match to extend his WrestleMania winning streak to 20–0.
Due to the acquisition of WCW, Vince's feud with Shane would later spiral into The Invasion storyline that dominated the WWF in the latter half of the year. It consisted of WCW wrestlers "invading" the WWF's televised shows in an attempt to "take over" the WWF. The Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) promotion would also be involved with Stephanie as its new owner, merging WCW and ECW into The Alliance. Despite giving her own demands for a divorce shortly after WrestleMania, Linda would eventually reconcile with Vince in the wake of the Alliance's threat to the WWF.
The event was met with critical acclaim from fans and critics alike. John Powell of Canadian Online Explorer's professional wrestling section rated the event a perfect 10 out of 10 stars, with the main event between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in a No Disqualification match for the WWF Championship rated 9 out of 10 stars. The Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match for the WWF Tag Team Championship between The Hardy Boys, Edge and Christian and The Dudley Boyz also received a perfect 10 out of 10 stars, the Street Fight between Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon rated 5 out of 10 stars, the match between Triple H and The Undertaker rated 4 out of 10 stars and the match between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit rated 8 out of 10 stars. This pay-per-view was also awarded Best Major Show for 2001 by Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match for the WWF Tag Team Championship between The Hardy Boys, Edge and Christian and The Dudley Boyz was also place #5 on IGN's list of Top 20 Matches in Wrestlemania History and noted that the match included "some of the most memorable bumps wrestling fans have ever witnessed." In 2013, WWE released a list of their "15 best pay-per-views ever", with WrestleMania X-Seven ranked the best.