I don’t really understand Vince McMahon’s displeasure with pro wrestling. He is the owner of the largest wrestling organisation in the world, but refuses to use the word. Instead he owns a “sports entertainment” company, which, really… aren’t all sports entertainment? Except maybe Golf… but that’s neither here nor there.
What I’m trying to get at, is that, even though the event is called WrestleMania, it’s had it’s fair share of non-wrestling events. WrestleMania could be categorised as more of an “entertainment” spectacle in that sense. Part Pop-Culture, part music festival, part theatre.
We’ve had the likes of Kid Rock perform for 20 odd minutes for little reason. Mafia cars drive down the walk way, characters literally flying through the air to the ring. Kim Kardashian… for some odd reason. Whilst I, a fairly hardcore fan of the product, can allow these things (to a certain extent), what I’ve never understood is WrestleMania featuring a non-wrestling match.
It’s happened more often than you probably realise. WrestleMania 21 featured Big Show taking on Akebono in a Sumo match. WrestleMania 19 featured The Miller Cat Fight Girls against Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson in something that involved a bed by the entrance way, and is nowhere near as sexy as you’re probably imagining it is.
But the one thing McMahon has an obsession with, is boxing. Whilst Big Show took on Floyd Mayweather at WrestleMania 24, it wasn’t a boxing match… the same can not be said for WrestleMania 15, where Bart Gunn got legitimately KO’d by Butterbean, or WrestleMania 2’s boxing bout with Roddy Piper and Mr T.
Maybe Vince thinks it’s funny watching his stars, the people he relies on to sell shows and move merchandise, to be shown up and destroyed by an outsider, whom we won’t hear from again for another decade or so until they get inducted into the celebrity wing of the non-existent WWE Hall Of Fame.
So with that long winded introduction. This brings us to WrestleMania X-Seven, where Triple H was booked to go one-on-one with Mike Tyson in a boxing match.
Unlike most outside celebrities who dig their nose into the Granddaddy of them all, Tyson actually had a history with the company. He infamously enforced the WrestleMania 14 main event between then WWE Champion Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Tyson’s involvement with the WWE in 1998 is the point in time where the Monday Night Wars started to swing in favour of the WWE. The moment Tyson nailed Michaels with a right hand, and held up Austin’s arm as the winner, that can be considered the true start of the Attitude Era which blew up the popularity of the industry to levels it’s never seen before.
So WWE wanted to see if it could capture lighting twice. This time however, they wanted Tyson to be more involved with the card. They wanted him to participate in a match in some way. The person they wanted him to go up against? Triple H.
Triple H wasn’t doing that much in the lead up to Mania 17. He finished his rivalry with Stone Cole Steve Austin in the February, who was scheduled to face The Rock in his home state for the WWE Title.
Tyson himself had a history with DX. As mentioned above, he clobbered Michaels right in the face after the main event 3 years prior, but this was done after Tyson declared allegiance to DX, a team Triple H co-founded. There wasn’t much of a resolution concerning Tyson’s babyface turn, and with Triple H being a heel leading into the show. It seemed like booked the two against each other made perfect sense.
Triple H said, in an interview with WWE.com:
We were going to do six rounds. I don’t remember if it was going to be full boxing rules, or whether I was wearing gloves.
However, as we know, Triple H didn’t go one-on-one with Tyson in a boxing match. Instead he faced The American Badass in their often forgotten original Mania clash. The reason why Triple H faced Undertaker in the end? Money, why else? (again, as Triple H told WWE.com)
But it ended up being a deal where the whole thing just would have been a ludicrous amount of money, and it got pushed off.
Mike Tyson didn’t return to the WWE until 2010, 12 years after his initial appearance with the company, where he reunited with DX.
Out of the Mania Matches that never happened, this is probably the one I am most glad didn’t happen. Like I said at the start, it’s called WrestleMania. So let’s keep it to wrestling shall we?