Date: 17th March, 2002
City: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Commentators: Jim Ross & Jerry “The King” Lawler
Theme Songs: “Tear Away” by Drowning Pool and “Superstar” by Saliva
The main feud leading into WrestleMania X8 involved Triple H against the Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho and Stephanie McMahon. At the Royal Rumble, Chris Jericho defeated The Rock to retain the Undisputed Championship on the same event where Triple H earned his opportunity to compete for the Undisputed Championship at WrestleMania by winning the 2002 Royal Rumble match, last eliminating Kurt Angle. The following night onRaw, Triple H interrupted Jericho and warned to prove him that he’s worthy enough to be in the main event. Meanwhile, some hostility between Triple H and his wife Stephanie was starting to show, with the face Triple H tired of Stephanie’s heel characteristics. In order to recover their relationship, Stephanie suggested on Raw that the two should renew their wedding vows on the following week. At first Triple H refused, but Stephanie revealed that she was pregnant, making him change his mind. To further prove it, the two met a doctor on the next episode of SmackDown! with ultrasound images. On the February 11 episode of Raw just before the wedding, Triple H was met with a phone call by his mother-in-law Linda McMahon, who had sent him a video tape revealing that the doctor was in fact an actor and that Stephanie was not pregnant. At the wedding, Triple H turned on Stephanie and attacked her along with her father Vince McMahon, announcing that their marriage was now over. During these weeks, Kurt Angle was given a match with Triple H’s WrestleMania title shot on the line atNo Way Out. In revenge for the ruined wedding, Vince granted Stephanie the chance to be the special guest referee for the match. At No Way Out with clear bias from Stephanie, Kurt Angle defeated Triple H for the title shot. The following night on Raw, WWF co-owner Ric Flair granted Triple H a rematch with Stephanie barred from the ring, enabling him to regain his title shot at Chris Jericho. On the February 21 episode of SmackDown!, Jericho met with Stephanie and put their differences in the past, ending with Stephanie accepting Jericho’s proposal to be his new business partner. To further the feud, Jericho later speculated that he ended the marriage by causing Triple H’s quadriceps muscle to (legitimately) tear during their WWF Tag Team titles match on the May 21, 2001 edition of Raw Is War, thus diverting Triple H’s attention to his wife. In the divorce settlement for the two, it was announced that the assets would be split between them “fifty-fifty” to Stephanie’s disgust. Among the assets were Triple H’s first wrestling robe, Stephanie’s Corvette (which Triple H later gave to her with half of it cut off) and Triple H’s bulldog Lucy. Stephanie managed to win Lucy in the settlement and later on the March 11 episode of Raw sent Jericho to walk the dog. Displeased about this, Jericho tied Lucy to a limousine and ordered the unknowing driver to buy some air fresheners, running Lucy over into a critical condition by accident. Wanting retribution, Triple H stormed into the arena and tried to attack Stephanie but was met with two sledgehammer shots to his recovered leg by Jericho. On the following episode of SmackDown!, Stephanie noted that the sledgehammer shots had left Triple H’s quad in a condition that one false move in his WrestleMania match could reinjure his quadriceps once again. At the end of the show, Triple H and Jericho had a brawl in the ring that almost ended with a Pedigree on Stephanie. However, Jericho saved her and locked the Walls of Jericho on Triple H, leaving the show with the advantage.
The secondary feud built up in the lead to the event pitted The Rock and Steve Austin against the New World Order (Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall). The Rock’s involvement with the nWo started after his win over The Undertaker at No Way Out, when a photo request from Hogan for his son turned into a trade of insults. On the following episode of Raw, The Rock interrupted Hogan’s address to the crowd and challenged Hogan to a match at WrestleMania. When Hogan accepted and shook hands with his future opponent, The Rock kept the hold on and hit the Rock Bottom on Hogan. Before The Rock could leave the arena, Hall and Nash ambushed Rock and spray painted the nWo initials on The Rock’s back. With medics attending to The Rock and loading him into an ambulance van, the nWo furthered the attack by chaining up all possible exits and driving a truck through the van with The Rock trapped inside. Steve Austin’s involvement also commenced at No Way Out, when after having their gift of beer refused, the nWo interfered with Austin’s Undisputed Championship match against Chris Jericho, helping Jericho to retain the title before spray painting the nWo initials on Austin’s back. Austin finally got his revenge on the February 21 edition of SmackDown! when he chased the nWo out of the ring with a tire iron. Austin manages to catch Hall and attack him with the tire iron but Hogan and Nash saved Hall from being run over by Austin’s pickup truck. After the nWo found their limousine spray painted “What?” by Austin, Stone Cold kidnapped Hall and closed the show by embarrassing him in the middle of the ring with “3:16” spray painted on his back. On the following episode of Raw, Hall challenged Austin to a match at WrestleMania which Austin accepted afterwards. The feud between Austin and the nWo continued back and forth for the next couple of weeks with Austin attacked by Hall twice with a cinder block and a wrench, while Austin fired a netgun at Nash before beating down Hall. On the March 7 episode of SmackDown!, The Rock made his return and immediately challenged Hogan for a fight. Nash and Hall held Hogan back, leaving Hall to challenge for a match instead. Rock’s match with Hall ended in a three-on-one attack by the nWo. The nWo’s attack was stopped by Stone Cold, however, who saved The Rock with the aid of a steel chair. On the March 11 edition of Raw, Rock and Austin took on the nWo in a Handicap match, resulting in Hogan pinning The Rock after a leg drop.
Another major feud for WrestleMania X8 was the rivalry between The Undertaker and the WWF co-owner, Ric Flair. The feud started over The Undertaker’s ambush on The Rock during the build up to No Way Out, with Undertaker giving The Rock a Chokeslam and a Tombstone Piledriver onto a car. Shortly afterwards, Ric Flair openly detested The Undertaker’s actions. At the No Way Out event, Flair interfered with Undertaker’s match against The Rock, finally hitting Undertaker with a lead pipe to aid The Rock in victory. Far from pleased over this result, The Undertaker challenged Flair to a match at WrestleMania. Flair refused, stating that he is an owner and no longer a wrestler. However, Undertaker tried to convince Flair by attacking select members of Flair’s friends and family. Following a match on the February 25 edition of Raw, Flair’s friend Arn Anderson was ambushed by The Undertaker during his road agent duties. The Undertaker followed this the following week by attacking Flair’s son David, threatening that the rest of Flair’s children would follow. Upon this attack, Flair accepted the match on the March 7 edition of SmackDown!. Later that night, the two ended up brawling into the audience, resulting in Flair punching out a fan by accident. As a result, Flair was arrested to Undertaker’s delight. On the March 11 episode of Raw, Flair’s rival co-owner Vince McMahon asked for an emergency board meeting with the WWF board of directors citing that Flair’s attack of a fan was unacceptable and that either he or Flair should have absolute authority and power over the company. With Flair still keen on taking on Undertaker at WrestleMania, CEO Linda McMahon had no choice but to give Vince total control over the company. Despite this, Linda also stated that the ownership situation will also be reviewed after WrestleMania with a final decision. To add further insult, Vince McMahon booked David Flair in a match against The Undertaker on the March 14 episode of SmackDown!. The Undertaker almost gave David a Last Ride, but was stopped by Ric Flair who saved his son with some steel chair shots.
Rob Van Dam defeated William Regal (c) (06:19)
Diamond Dallas Page (c) defeated Christian (06:08)
Maven (c) fought Goldust to a no contest (03:15)
Kurt Angle defeated Kane (10:45)
No Holds Barred Match
The Undertaker defeated Ric Flair (18:47)
Edge defeated Booker T (06:32)
Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Scott Hall (with Kevin Nash) (09:51)
Tag Team Championship
Four Corners Elimination Match
Billy and Chuck (c) defeated The APA, The Dudley Boyz (with Stacy Keibler) and The Hardy Boyz (13:50)
The Rock defeated Hollywood Hulk Hogan (16:23)
Triple Threat Match
Jazz (c) defeated Trish Stratus and Lita (06:16)
Undisputed WWF Championship
Triple H defeated Chris Jericho (c) (with Stephanie McMahon) (18:41)
(c) – refers to the champion(s) heading into the match
After WrestleMania, the WWF board of directors made their final decision over the control of the company. Due to the conflicts between Vince McMahon and Ric Flair making bad business, Linda McMahon proposed a brand extension, essentially splitting the entire WWF roster into two separate entities. Vince took control of the SmackDown! brand while Flair controlled the Raw brand. A draft was held with each owner would get a total of thirty picks between the wrestlers. The draft was held on the March 25 edition of Raw, while the brand extension officially began on April 1.
Triple H’s feud with Stephanie would conclude on the March 25 episode of Raw when he defeated her and Jericho in a Triple Threat match for the Undisputed Championship. By pinning her, Stephanie was forced to leave the WWF by accordance to the match stipulations. Triple H’s feud with Jericho would continue with Jericho and The Undertaker interfering with Triple H’s championship match at Backlash against Hollywood Hulk Hogan and costing him the Undisputed Championship. Their feud would finish with a Hell in a Cell match at Judgment Day and at King of the Ring (2002).
Until the brand extension separated both parties, The Rock and Hulk Hogan feuded with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. On the finalSmackDown! before the brand extension, the team of Rock, Hogan and Kane defeated Nash, Hall and new nWo member X-Pac in a six-man tag match. The Rock left shortly after the WWF draft for three months to go on a media tour to promote his movie, The Scorpion King.
After being drafted to the Raw brand, Steve Austin would get himself involved in the feud between The Undertaker and Ric Flair, fighting Undertaker at Backlash for an Undisputed Championship shot. The storyline itself evolved into a feud between Austin and Flair, with the nWo’s involvement on Flair’s behalf.