WrestleMania 13

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Rocky Maivia (c) vs. The Sultan
The Honky Tonk Man joins us for commentary, which only serves to remind how far the IC title has fallen since the glory days. Lawler puts him over big, causing JR to chime in: “You would think you guys were cousins or something”. Har har. I love Sultan’s music, which is the same piece that his manager the Iron Sheik used. That is all I love about the character though, unfortunately. This is absolutely not a WrestleMania calibre match either, though in a few years it would have been more justified when Rocky simply became the Rock and the Sultan shed his pyjamas and became Rikishi. Sultan was actually never supposed to be in this at all, and after Mankind rejected the chance to work with Marc Mero, the ‘Wildman’ was set to be Rocky’s opponent, which actually at least made a bit of sense after he had previously held the title. An injury that ruined his career put paid to that. That is not the only match changed of course, and no I am not talking about the aforementioned Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart rematch that never was, but rather the potentially 5* Fake Diesel vs. Flash Funk match that was at one point scheduled. Pfft, demand a refund!  Sultan brings the excitement with a nerve hold. Rocky is just completely out of his depth and should never have been put in this spot so early in his career. The timing of everything is off and the action is drab. A chinlock from Sultan doesn’t help things, and Rocky’s lack of fire makes it even worse. Earl Hebner sits and watches the hold with his hands on his hips, as bored as everyone else. Come on guys, this is WrestleMania, not a house show! The crowd agree, chanting “boring” and booing Rocky’s comeback. A double clothesline takes both guys down, which makes no sense as Sultan has been on the offensive for an age. How big a threat is he if a clothesline can keep him down for an eight-count? Rocky channels Tatanka with a camp little war dance and hits a belly-to-belly for a near fall. Rocky hits a really nice float-over DDT, which is unusual because it often looks like shit, and then bizarrely mouths: “that’s for my fucking dad”. Sheik provides the distraction to prevent the win, and Sultan hits a superkick for a two count. Vince spends the whole match going on and on and on about Maivia’s family heritage, to the point that it makes you hate Rocky for it. Sultan hits a nice piledriver, but it doesn’t get the win, and Rocky rolls him up for the three. JR tries to get a word with Rocky afterwards, but Sultan jumps him and Sheik lays the boots in as well. Sultan squashes Rocky with a splash off the top and then Sheik humbles him to a slight pop from long-time fans, before Rocky Johnson comes out to save his son’s ass, unloading on Sultan, but then getting belted with a flag. The Rock recovers enough to make the save, sending Sultan out of the ring before father and son take turns slamming Sheik. This should really have led to a tag match at the next PPV, though once again WrestleMania should be the show where things climax, not set up other matches. Hell, if anything they should have just done Rocky & Rocky against the Sultan, Bob Backlund and the Iron Sheik in a handicap match at this show. At least that would have had an element of intrigue factor for long-time fans, whereas this bout was just a total dog. The post-match stuff was far better than the in-ring, which was laborious.
Final Rating: ½*

 

Ken Shamrock, guest referee for Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin later tonight, says he won’t be intimidated by either guy. No kidding! We go to Michael Hayes interviewing Triple H and the silent Chyna, and his voice is particularly unbearable tonight. He talks about nailing Goldust: “I can take Goldust any way I want, today I’m gonna take him straight up”. Well, if he will go with Chyna he will go with anything… The interlude continues with highlights of the 1997 Slammy Awards, as a mark plant pisses himself with excitement at being on stage with the Undertaker, who quotes Frank Sinatra. Swell.

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