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WWF WrestleMania XV Review

WWF WrestleMania XV

March 28th 1999

First Union Centre, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Attendance: 20,276

Announcers: Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler

Buyrate: 800,000

 

The 15th edition of WrestleMania came around at a time where the company was red hot. It was a time where Raw (and later in the year, Smackdown) was must see TV and the pay per views were a big deal too. Stone Cold was firmly placed as the top guy who was drawing a lot of money and the roster was full of young talent such as The Rock and Triple H. The Undertaker was still around and was still a consistent main-eventer even after 9 years in the company.  The days of being defeated in the ratings by WCW were long gone, they weren’t out of it yet but the cracks were starting to appear.

Looking back at 1999, it was an interesting year for the WWF. They were doing great in terms of TV ratings, house show attendance and pay per view buyrates but the match quality was pretty rough. It was a year where it lacked elite matches although the No Mercy Ladder match was a highlight. It was a year where you remember the promos or segments and you sometimes look back on matches for the wrong reasons. That’s just how it was at the time, the phrase “Crash TV” springs to mind. Don’t get me wrong, I loved this year but the lack of strong elite matches hurt it. It wasn’t all negative though, the mid card was packed and everyone had a gimmick to play. No two wrestlers were alike (aside from most tag team members) and that’s something I yearn for. As you can see, this is a 3 hour show with 10 match crammed into it. Is that a bad thing? Did it work out? Let’s all find out.

 

The show opened with Boyz 2 Men singing “America The Beautiful”.

 

They aired a video package of Freddie Blassie talking over historical WrestleMania clips. They showed clips of the current WWF guys, telling us that this was their night to shine. “Welcome to the showcase of the immortals”. I loved that line.

 

In the Arena, we are treated to a pyro display and a shot of the crowd. The announcers were Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler. Jim Ross was out of action for a few months due to his Bell’s Pallsy illness. He would return later tonight to provide commentary for the main event.

 

WWF Hardcore Championship

Al Snow vs. Hardcore Holly vs. Billy Gunn ©

Hardcore rules means that anything goes and falls count anywhere. Typical triple threat stuff to start. Two guys team up and then turn on each other. Once they take it to the outside, though, it picks up. Holly suplexes Snow on the outside mats. Snow beats on the other two with a hockey stick which leads to chants of “let’s go flyers” from the rowdy philly crowd. Gunn hits him with a food tray and then breaks the stick over Holly’s back. Snow lowblows him with a broomstick and gets all Jet-Li. A throwback to his “Avatar” days. Snow clotheslines Holly with the broomstick and beats Gunn down with it. Snow does Poetry in Motion off a chair into Gunn, prompting an ECW chant. He tries again, but Holly gets out of the way. Al grabs Head and levels both guys. What does everybody want? Such a genius gimmick, really. He sets up a table in the corner. He and Holly tease a corner whip to the table, but Billy Gunn WHACKS Holly over the head and sends Snow through the table. Gunn gets the Fameasser on Snow to a chair. Holly hits him with a chair and covers Snow for the win and the hardcore title.

Winner and NEW WWF Hardcore Champion: Hardcore Holly via pinfall

Rating: * ½

All three guys took some punishment throughout the match but it lacked any sort of psychology. The “steal the pin” finish was pretty new in the WWF at this point in its history. Decent opener to get the crowd going.

 

Highlights from the Tag Team Battle Royal on Sunday Night Heat to determine the #1 contenders for the WWF Tag Titles. D’Lo and Test wind up as the last two men in the ring, meaning they will take on Owen and Jarrett. It was interesting because they weren’t allies. The Tag Team division at the time was still developing so they didn’t have a strong babyface team to face the champs. (It the Outlaws weren’t involved in title matches then they would have gotten a shot at the titles.)

 

WWF Tag Team Championship

D’Lo Brown & Test /w/ Ivory vs. Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett /w/ Debra ©

Huge cheers for Debra who was wearing very little upon arrival. All the women were known for wearing skimpy costumes during this era. Ivory is sporting a bandage from her cigar burn by Terri Runnels. Test was wearing an interesting shirt that reads, “Guns don’t kill people. I kill people.” Of course, Columbine was a few weeks away so you wouldn’t see that again! Test clotheslines Owen out of the ring, setting up D’Lo and Jarrett. D’Lo hits him with a flying forearm as the crowd chants “Nugget” at Owen. Test comes in and gets a gutwrench powerbomb for two. Owen locks in the Sharpshooter, but D’Lo makes the save. D’Lo with the legdrop on Owen. D’Lo no-sells a knee from Jarrett, but Owen hits him with a spinning wheel kick. D’Lo comes back with a clothesline on both men. Jarrett gets caught with the Rydien Bomb, but Owen makes the save. Test knocked him out of the ring. Debra jumped on the apron, which was what she always did. Not that I was complaining, I was 12 at the time and was also “at that stage” if you know what I mean. Before she could distract the guys, Ivory knocked her off the apron. The women argued on the floor while Jacqueline & Terri also showed up because this match needed more distractions apparently. The ref turned his attention to them. D-Lo went for a powerbomb, but Owen hit him with a missile dropkick, Jarrett covered and the champs retained their titles

Winners and STILL WWF Tag Team Champions: Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett via pinfall

Rating: *

It was too rushed at times. The interference of Terri & Jacqueline was not needed. The fans weren’t really into it as there was only one face (D’Lo) involved in the match. The missile dropkick by Owen was impressive though I must admit. Sadly, this turned out to be Owen’s final WrestleMania appearance; he would pass away in two months’ time.

 

The Brawl for All contest between Bart Gunn and Butterbean is up next. They aired a video package of Bart Gunn training for the contest whiles his trainers confidently predict that he’s going to win. Issac “Chef” Hayes and the Mean Street Posse are in the crowd. The ring is being set up so it was boxing style. The judges are introduced to the crowd with Gorilla Monsoon getting a huge, respectful reaction from the crowd. He would pass away in October of that year. Butterbean made his entrance first followed up by Bart Gunn. Vinny Pazienza was the guest referee in this one.

 

Brawl for All Match

Butterbean vs. Bart Gunn

This was a shoot meaning that it was a legit fight. Butterbean was a pro. Gunn was not. Needless to say, Butterbean destroyed him right off the bat and knocked him down early. Gunn got back up after 30 seconds and then Butterbean knocked him out as soon as he got up. Huge punch to the face. Ouch! If you thought the beating Johnny Knoxville took in Jackass the movie was bad then get a lot of this! Fight went 35 seconds.

Winner: Butterbean by KO

Rating: Dud

Horrible! Just Horrible! Bart Gunn never stood a chance with a pro like Butterbean. In simple terms, he got KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT~! I remember reading that Dr Death was originally going to win the Brawl for All tournament and build him up as an opponent for Stone Cold. That never happened though due to Bart getting the victory. Bart lost and was quickly an afterthought.

 

As the boxers left the ring, the San Diego Chicken ran to the ring. Vinny wanted to shake his hand. The chicken didn’t want it, so Vinny decked him with a punch. Oh how comical!

 

Backstage, Kevin Kelly is interviewing Mankind. He was facing Big Show next in a match where the winner becomes the guest referee for the Rock/Austin match later tonight. Mankind, who was wearing his custom ref shirt (just a regular dressed shirt with black stripes scribbled on it), warned the Big Show that he was dealing with a “very angry young man”. That was a funny line.

 

“Big Show” Paul Wright vs. Mankind

They were still looking for a name for Wight here, finally settling on “The Big Show” Paul Wight here after they tried several copyrighted names that couldn’t be used. I guess it worked. He was a heel as part of the Corporation that entered with Vince McMahon’s music while Mankind was a face of course.  Mankind tries to stick and move, but Show knocks him to the outside. Mankind goes for the Kobashi Driver on the outside, but Show pushes him into the ringsteps. To the inside, Show chops him and delivers a Russian Leg Sweep. Show misses a swing. Mankind slaps on the Socko-assisted Mandible Claw. Show keeps fighting out of it, but Mankind keeps reapplying the hold. Show finally picks him up on his back and SPLATS him down to the canvas. Ouch!  Show knocked him out to the floor by the announce table. Show grabbed a steel chair. He jabbed him in the ribs with a chair followed by a chair to the back. Cole said if he wasn’t careful he’d be disqualified. He just hit him twice with chairs. That’s not enough for a DQ? Odd “logic” in this match. A chair shot outside the ring never resulted in a disqualification back in them days which I always thought was silly as it still considered cheating. In the ring, Show folded open the chairs and then he gave Mankind a chokeslam on the chairs. That’s a lot of pain on the ribs!

Winner: Mankind via DQ

Rating: *

It was amazing to see just how much punishment Foley was willing to take in such a short space of time. That would end up being one of his trademarks. It wasn’t a good match it must be said but it set up more interest for the main event.

 

After the match, Vince McMahon walked out. He was angry at Show for being disqualified. Vince was mad because he could have cost him the World Title. He called him a nobody. Big Show almost gave Vince a chokeslam. “I’m Vince McMahon dammit!” Then he slapped him. Big Show decked him with a punch. He really protected Vince because he put his left hand on Vince’s head before he threw the punch. That’s called being careful. Meanwhile, Mankind was being stretchered out of the arena so we didn’t know if he’d be able to referee the main event.

 

After a few replays of Big Show knocking out Vince, we return to the backstage area where Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco are checking up on Vince. Vince demanded that he wanted “that big son of a bitch arrested!”

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship

Road Dogg © vs. Val Venis vs. Goldust /w/ Ryan Shamrock & Blue Meanie vs. Ken Shamrock

The rules for the match were that two guys started and you could tag out. If you lost you had to go to the back. Ryan is Alicia Webb, playing Ken Shamrock’s sister (and doing him behind the scenes). She wound up screwing Val, Billy Gunn, and Goldust, pissing off Shamrock. Shamrock and Dogg start out. Quick question, if Ryan had a relationship with Billy Gunn, then why was he taken out of this match in favour of the Road Dogg? Blame Russo! Roadie catches him with a dropkick and tags Goldust. Goldust pounds away and sends Shamrock to Val’s corner. Val tags in but attacks Shamrock for poops and giggles. Lawler gets in a Pat Patterson inside joke about the night he won the Intercontinental Title. Goldust and Val botch a superplex, but Val covers with a bulldog off the top for two. Val and Goldie collide, and they do the thing where Val falls and headbutts his crotch. Road Dogg sneaks in and DDTs Val behind the ref’s back. Goldust rolls into a cover for two. Shamrock distracts the referee, allowing Roadie to come in and jump Val. Road Dog blocks a Northern Lights and gets the Shake, Rattle & Roll. The director gets distracted by the love/hate antics of the Meanie and Ryan. The Meanie was jealous of Ryan. Shamrock locks the anklelock on Val, but he makes the ropes. They take it to the outside and fight up the aisle where they both get counted out. LAME! That leaves Roadie and Goldie. Shamrock destroys them and screams a lot. Ryan accidentally grabs Goldust’s ankle, distracting him. He gets a powerslam, but Roadie rolls through for the win. Post-match, Goldust is clearly unhappy with Ryan for costing him the match.

Winner and STILL WWF Intercontinental Champion: Road Dogg via pinfall

Rating: *

There was some pretty decent ring work on display but the booking could have been better thought. Road Dogg’s victory didn’t really mean a thing because he lost the title to Goldust the following night on Raw.

 

The cameras caught Big Show getting arrested.

 

Triple H vs. Kane is up next. They showed clips of the feud so far. The San Diego Chicken comes out and attacks Kane during his entrance. It turns out its Pete Rose, trying to get revenge from last year. He doesn’t have much luck here either, getting Tombstoned once more. Triple H appeared through the crowd, attacking Kane from behind.

 

Kane vs. Triple H

Kane shoves him away after some mounted punches. Triple H backdrops him to the floor, but Kane lands on his feet and pulls him out. Triple H whips him into the ring steps. Triple H takes him over and slams his face against the announce table. Kane catches him on the ringsteps and crotches him with a chokeslam on the barrier. Kane rams Hunter’s ribs into the ringpost. Back in, Kane whips Hunter to the turnbuckle. Then he tossed Hunter to the floor again. Lots of throwing out to the floor in this match. Kane ran the ropes and jumped over the top to knock Hunter down with a crossbody. You’d think a 330 pounder going over the top would generate a reaction, but the crowd didn’t care too much. Maybe that’s because the execution was sloppy. Kane goes up, but Triple H desperately grabs him and tosses him to the center of the ring. A facebuster staggers the big guy, and a high knee puts him down. Chyna makes her way down to ringside. She looked much different here than she did a year earlier thanks to an operation on her face.  Hunter slips out of a Tombstone. Kane charges with the steel steps, but Hunter kicks them back in his face. Hunter trips him up, and Kane goes facefirst to the steps. Triple H clotheslines him over the top. He goes for the Pedigree on the ringsteps, but Kane backdrops him to the floor. Kane gets the chokeslam, so Chyna gets up on the apron with a chair, asking to finish Hunter off. If you don’t know what happens next, you haven’t watched a Russo-booked show. Yes, Chyna waits for him to turn his back and then SMACKS him with a chairshot for the DQ. Post-match, Kane was all sad so Hunter hit him in the back with the chair followed by a stiff chair shot to the head. Hunter followed it up with a Pedigree on the chair. Chyna jumped into Hunter’s arms as Cole was selling the idea that she was back in DX. Sure, it wasn’t exactly on the same scale as Macho Man & Elizabeth from WrestleMania 7 but the fans popped huge for that one. Kane left alone, broken hearted. Poor Kane.

Winner: Kane via DQ

Rating: ½ *

It was slow and a complete mess. Thankfully, Kane and Triple H would have better matches later on down the line but they did have some shit storylines together (hey Katie Vick). More of an angle then a match.

 

Kevin Kelly interviews Vince McMahon, who declares himself the special guest ref for the main event since Mankind is physically unable.

 

The women’s title match is up next. The current Champion, Sable, is showing signs of a heel turn by portraying an arrogant diva type gimmick. She was on the cover of Playboy, which was said to be the hottest selling issue in history. She did her little routine on the mic (she’s terrible on the mic but that didn’t matter because she was hot!) and her grind dance which was popular with the fans. Tori is wearing a Giant Gonzales style leotard. She was an accomplished wrestler but was lacking personality.

 

WWF Women’s Championship

Sable © vs. Tori

Sable was getting pops although like I said she turned heel. Tori was a Sable fan who Sable didn’t accept, so that led to this match. I guess the idea was to make Tori a face although Sable was so over that the fans didn’t want to boo Sable. Sable tosses her to the outside and poses. She jumps onto her off the apron as Cole notes what a great wrestler Sable is. Tori takes her down and punches her in the face. A pair of corner clotheslines send Sable down. Tori catches her with a sunset flip. They get all Flair-Steamboat on us, and Tori accidentally takes out the referee. Tori flips out of the Sablebomb and goes for her own, but Nicole Bass jumps in the ring and press slams her. Sable grinds a little and finishes Tori with the Sablebomb for the victory.

Winner and STILL WWF Women’s Champion: Sable via pinfall

Rating: -**
Awful match.  They had no chemistry together and they botched simple moves too. It should have gone 3 minutes long not 5! Sable had improved in the ring but she wasn’t tremendous as Michael Cole suggested. I guess that was down to Sable’s reluctance to do bumps. She would leave the WWF not long after WrestleMania but would return in 2003.

 

Backstage, Kevin Kelly talked to X-Pack along with HHH, Gunn, Road Dogg and Chyna, who was back. Hunter talked for most of it. X-Pac just told Kane to get ready for some pain.

 

The European Championship is on the line next as X-Pac takes on Shane McMahon for the title.  Shane made his way to the ring with Test. He was 29 years old at the time and had little experience as a performer, we would find out that he’s actually a pretty good athlete. X-Pac made his appearance to a good pop from the crowd; he was mega popular during this period. Patterson & Brisco attacked X-Pac from behind but he managed to fight back.

 

WWF European Championship

Shane McMahon © /w/ Test vs. X-Pac

The story goes that X-Pac was a product of the streets whiles Shane grew up with the silver spoon in his mouth making him more superior in his mind.  Shane celebrates after getting a leapfrog, but X-Pac spinkicks him. Shane avoids the Broncobuster and runs. Test attacks X-Pac from behind and crotches him on the ringpost. X-Pac just makes it in. Shane gets cocky and slaps X-Pac around. He misses the Corporate Elbow, though. Test distracts the ref while Shane gives X-Pac a lowblow. Shane takes Test’s belt and whips X-Pac with it. Shane charged in, so X-Pac gave him a back body drop over the top and then a cross body over the top. X-Pac decked the Mean Street Posse guys because they attacked him. When he rolled Shane back in, the ref tended to Shane and then Test attacked X-Pac again. Mike Chioda is great being distracted. Back in the ring, Shane hit an elbow off the middle rope that was Steve Austin style. Shane to the top, X-Pack dropkicked him off and then hit a superplex to a nice pop. X-Pac covered for two because Test pulled him out. Test charged in, but X-Pac moved out of the way. Now X-Pac beat on Shane with the leather belt. Back kick to the head led to the Bronco Buster in the corner, much to the delight of the crowd. With the ref checking on Shane, Test sneaks in and levels him with the Euro belt. Shane chokes him down with a boot but misses the Broncobuster. X-Pac with the spinning wheel kick on Test. He gets the Broncobuster on Test. Triple H runs down and pulls Test out. Chyna distracts the ref long enough for Hunter to sneak in and turn on X-Pac with the Pedigree. Shane covers and gets the win at 8:41. The Corporation beats down X-Pac, until Kane makes the save. This, of course, would lead to X-Pac and Kane forming a successful team for the rest of the year.

Winner and STILL WWF European Champion: Shane McMahon via pinfall

Rating: ***

X-Pac busted his ass to make Shane look like his equal and he did. I didn’t mind the interference from Test as it fitted in with the story they were trying to tell. I loved the Triple H swerve. It was pulled off really well and it would lead to his main event run later in the year.

 

Recap of Undertaker stalking Vince McMahon’s family. Undertaker was a face for the majority of the 90’s but he turned heel in late ’98 and his gimmick was changed to a more gothic character. He would be facing the Big Boss Man in a Hell in a Cell match. Even back in the day I had my doubts about this since both guys were heels, turns out that I was right to be doubtful about this match.

 

Hell in a Cell

Big Boss Man vs. The Undertaker /w/ Paul Bearer

Boss Man was Vince’s enforcer in the Corporation, but a Hell in a Cell without a proper story was not going to elicit the kind of crowd reaction you’d like to see. Undertaker started with control early, but BBM got a swinging neckbreaker. Undertaker overpowered him, throwing him into the cage outside the ring and then Boss Man tossed Undertaker face first into the cell. No reaction from the crowd. Boss Man had handcuffs and he cuffed Undertaker to the cell. Then he got his nightstick. He hit Undertaker in the head with it. Undertaker fell down so he was uncuffed. I guess they were really cheap handcuffs, something you’d get out of a pound shop. Undertaker bladed after the nightstick shot. Undertaker came back with a choke and then he whipped Boss Man into the steel cage. The crowd was so dead that all we could hear was Bearer talking trash to Boss Man. Paul Bearer’s weight was getting out of control at this point. Undertaker hit Boss Man with a chair to the back. Undertaker rammed Boss Man face first into the cage. Crowd continued to not care. I didn’t care either. In the ring, Undertaker hit a leaping clothesline for two. Boss Man countered the Old School clothesline with a kick to the ropes, which crotched Undertaker on the top rope. Back in the ring, they had a slugfest and Undertaker won it by punching him in the balls because there was no DQ in this match of course. Boss Man reversed a Tombstone, nobody cared and then Undertaker hit a Tombstone. First pop of the match. Undertaker covered for the win. After the match, The Brood appear from the ceiling. They passed Undertaker a noose and then they raised up to the top of the building again. Undertaker put the noose on Boss Man’s neck. Bearer pushed the button so the cell would rise up. As the cell went up, Boss Man tried to fight it and he ended up being hung from the cell. What a stupid thing to do! A stupid pointless stunt.

Winner: The Undertaker via pinfall

Rating: -*

Yet another terrible match! It had zero psychology and the fans had little interest in it. Heel vs. Heel never works….ever!  I’ve heard this called the worst match in Mania history, and while it’s certainly awful, I don’t know if I’d go that far. It’s not even the Undertaker’s worst Mania match. Thankfully, he would go on to better quality matches at ‘Mania.

 

Then, as a man was still HANGING in the ring they cut to a video package showcasing the WrestleMania Rage Party. Because the best thing to do after cutting away from a man hanging by a noose is to show people having fun at a party!

 

After the video package, Michael Cole introduces Jim Ross who is calling the main event.

 

Vince McMahon makes his way to the ring wearing a child size ref shirt. Man, look at the guns on him! Suddenly, HBK’s music plays and out comes the Commissioner, Shawn Michaels. Loud “HBK” chants. At least the crowd woke up! Shawn reminds Vince that he needs to read the rule book. Shawn reminds Vince that there’s only one person who can assign a referee and that man was himself. Huh? Since when did the commissioner have more power than the owner? Blame Russo! Might make a hashtag on Twitter #BlameRusso. Shawn tells Vince to take his “Jack LaLanne physic” out of the ring and don’t let the door hit him on the ass on the way out. Shawn barred the Corporation from ringside although he said Vince could come out. I guess that’s a spoiler. The crowd enjoyed that surprise. The ref of the main event ended up being Mike Chioda, who was appointed by Shawn Michaels.

 

WWF Championship

The Rock © vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

They threw punches early, which led to Rock giving Austin a back drop over the top. That sent Austin into the announce table. Rock choked Austin with his own shirt. Since it was no DQ they could fight out on the floor all they wanted. JR was feeling the energy after being out of action for three months. In the ring, Rock charged, Austin avoided it and tossed Rock over the top to the floor. They went brawling into the crowd. Austin won the fight in the crowd and they brawled around ringside. Then Austin threw Rock into another area of the crowd. Rock gave him a clothesline, sending Austin back to the ringside area. Rock choked him with a cable and then they brawled up the aisle. Austin rammed him into the hockey boards as well as a steel railing. JR was really yelling loud, you’ve got to love his passion. Rock gave Austin a back body drop with Austin’s left leg hitting a spotlight/steel area. Dangerous bump, but Austin was okay. The brawl continued. Austin whipped Rock back first into the steel part of the WrestleMania XV logo. Austin dragged Rock towards the ring and Rock gave him a suplex on the floor.  Around the ringside area, Rock rammed Austin into the steps, took a sip of water and then spit it in Austin’s face. Austin came back by dropping Rock throat first onto the barrier around the ring and then an elbow on the Spanish table. The table didn’t break. Austin did it again. The table broke. Eventually.

Austin rolled Rock back into the ring, but Rock tripped him up and wrapped Austin’s left knee around the post. Austin came back by whipping Rock into the steel steps. The first ten minutes were incredibly fast with all of the brawling outside the ring. Back in the centre, Rock hit a Rock Bottom of nowhere for two. Good nearfall. Crowd thought that was it. Rock got a chair, Austin stole it and Rock threw the ref in front of him so Austin’s chair shot hit Mike Chioda right in the head. Ouch. Rock was wild with those chair shots over the years. Rock hit a neckbreaker followed by a back elbow. Rock used the chair to attack Austin’s left knee three times followed by a shot to the stomach. Rock hit Austin in the head with the chair although Austin did use his hands to block it, which was a good thing. Ref Tim White went into the ring to count the pinfall. It was a two count. Chinlock by Rock that only lasted about twenty seconds as the crowd chanted for Austin. Rock hit a clothesline. Rock gave him another chinlock. It would have been nice if Rock was working on the left knee with a submission since that’s what he targeted early. Austin fought back with punches only for Austin to hit a Samoan Drop for two. Rock was frustrated so he gave Tim White a Rock Bottom. Austin came back with a Stone Cold Stunner, which Rock sold by bouncing upside down. Huge pop with Austin covering and ref Earl Hebner ran out for a count of two. It was a delayed pin so it was okay for Rock to kick out. Vince McMahon came out as Austin got a steel chair. Rock hit a low blow. Vince went in the ring. He decked Hebner with a punch to the head. It was not a good punch. They stomped on Austin in the corner as the crowd came alive at the sight of Mankind in his referee shirt. He decked Vince with a punch. Austin rolled up Rock for two. Great nearfall. JR was losing his voice. Austin with the Thesz Press followed by the elbow drop, but Rock came back with a clothesline. Rock Bottom. No cover. People’s Elbow. It didn’t connect because Austin moved out of the way. Rock blocked the kick, went for the Rock Bottom and Austin countered that for another Stone Cold Stunner for the win. Post-match, Foley handed Austin the title while McMahon hung his head in shame out on the floor. Austin celebrated with a couple of beers.

Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin via pinfall

Rating: ****

This was a good match. Austin was pretty banged up though and has admitted in many interviews that he didn’t enjoy this match. Sometimes, Austin can be too hard on himself but you’ve got to admire his honesty. I loved the pace of the match. A lot of standup action and little rest holds. Four refs were a bit much but fans didn’t seem to mind. It was a good showing for Rock in his first WrestleMania main event.  Austin was terrific as always. He had an amazing amount of energy. The story behind the match was that Austin had to overcome the odds to win. The end result satisfied the fans.

 

The celebration continued much to the delight of the fans, who had no problem cheering loudly for the new champion. Austin toasted referee Earl Hebner, who celebrated with a beer on the turnbuckle. JR did an amazing job of putting over the win. Out on the floor, Vince berated Austin, telling him it was his belt and Steve didn’t deserve it. Steve threw Vince into the ring and gave him a Stone Cold Stunner that Vince sold pretty well. The video package highlighting the key moments ended the show.

Random thoughts

 

  • There were a ton of run-ins at this WrestleMania. Perhaps, the most in ‘Mania history. I don’t mind outside interference but it loses its appeal if done too often. In this case, almost every match had a run-in or managers getting involved. You could tell Vince Russo had a lot of influence in the booking. He would leave later in the year to join WCW where he royally screwed them up! #BlameRusso
  • The Rock turned face not long after this. His heel run just wasn’t working because he was very popular with the fans and they were dying to cheer for him. It proved that being a face was the best role for him in the long run. His chemistry with Austin was first class. I look forward to watching their two remaining WrestleMania matches.
  • The difference between Michael Cole and Jim Ross was obvious during this show. JR showed a lot of passion and heart in the main event. Cole’s effort was okay. He was improved a lot over the years but he doesn’t show the same emotion as what JR shows.
  • Triple H’s heel turn obviously worked out in the long run. There was only so far he could go as the crotch chopping suck it DX leader. It was the right time to make the turn. He would end up as the WWF Champion come the summer time.
  •  Undertaker’s first decade was the 1990’s. From his first 8 WrestleMania matches, his match against Diesel was above average. Everything else was terrible such as this match and that mess against Giant Gonzalez. As we’ll see over the years, he had some amazing matches and the best is yet to come!
  • Anyone else see “straw hat guy” in the crowd? He was an ECW fan who had a cult following. Philly is home to some awesome fans!

 

Best Match: The Rock vs. Stone Cold – It was a great attitude era style match which really got the crowd going. They would have even better matches down the line.

Worst Match: Undertaker vs. Big Boss Man – Complete stinker of a match. I hate that I had to re-watch it for the purpose of the review.

WrestleMania Moment: Austin’s title win – nothing else comes close.

 

Top 5 Superstars:

1. Stone Cold – For the second straight year, he’d have a great main event match at WrestleMania.

2. The Rock – If someone said to you in 1997 that Rocky Maivia would end up main-eventing WrestleMania, you would laugh in their face, right? You’ve got to give Vince McMahon credit for believing in him so much.

3. X-Pac – Carried an inexperienced opponent like Shane McMahon to a watchable match.

4. Shane McMahon – Surprised a lot of people by showing what an amazing athlete he was.

5. Mick Foley (Mankind) – You have to admire just how much punishment he was willing to take in such a short match. He took some sick bumps.

 

Updated rankings chart:

Macho Man Randy Savage – 29pts

Hulk Hogan/ Bret Hart – 25pts

Shawn Michaels – 24pts

Stone Cold – 15pts

Ricky Steamboat– 10pts

Owen Hart – 8pts

Ultimate Warrior/ Roddy Piper– 7pts

Mick Foley – 6pts

Dynamite Kid/Rick Rude/ Ted Dibiase – 5pts

Terry Funk/ Bam Bam Bigelow/ Diesel/ The Rock- 4pts

Tito Santana/Andre the Giant/ Ric Flair/ Mr Perfect/ Lawrence Taylor/ Undertaker/ X-Pac- 3pts

Greg Valentine/ Scott Steiner/ Razor Ramon/ Triple H/ Shane McMahon-2pts

Sgt Slaughter/ Gorilla Monsoon/ Bobby Heenan/ Jim Ross – 1pt

 

Overall Show Rating (Out of 10): 5

When I look back at WrestleMania 15, I think of this as a WrestleMania I enjoyed at the time but now, it wasn’t that great. It had some entertaining angles but the matches were lacking. I highly recommend watching the Austin/Rock match as well as the European Championship match. Everything else failed to meet expectation.

 

WrestleMania Rankings so far:

WrestleMania 14 – 8.5

WrestleMania 10 – 8

WrestleMania 8 – 7

WrestleMania 3 – 7

WrestleMania 7 – 6.5

WrestleMania 6 – 6

WrestleMania 12 – 5.5

WrestleMania 15 – 5

WrestleMania 1 – 4.5

WrestleMania 13 – 4

WrestleMania 5 – 4

WrestleMania 11 – 4

WrestleMania 4 – 3.5

WrestleMania 2 – 3

WrestleMania 9 – 0.5

 

Up Next: WrestleMania enters the new millennium with WrestleMania 2000

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