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WWE WrestleMania XIX Review

WWE WrestleMania XIX

March 30th 2003

Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington

Attendance: 54,097

Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler (Raw) Michael Cole & Tazz (Smackdown)

Buyrate: 560,000

 

WrestleMania XIX was historic for two very big reasons. This was the first WrestleMania under the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) after they “got the F out” in 2002. It was also the first WrestleMania with the full brand extension in full effect with the roster being split between Raw and Smackdown.

The main event would pit the Royal Rumble winner Brock Lesnar against Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship. Although that was the main event, a lot of the promotion was based on the Hulk Hogan/ Vince McMahon street fight. I understand why that was done and thankfully they didn’t consider it to be the main event. Elsewhere, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock would battle it out for the 3rd time at WrestleMania. Austin returned to the company after walking out the previous year whiles Rocky was portraying a cocky “Hollywood heel” character after his success in the movie business.  Looking at the buyrate, I’m always surprised that it was so low. I guess this was down to that wrestling wasn’t as popular anymore. Looking at the card, it seemed decent but did the buyrate reflect the quality of the show?

 

They aired a video package of various WWE Superstars talking about how much WrestleMania means to them. A very well done video package as expected. We are welcomed to the show by our announce teams.

 

WWE Cruiserweight Championship

Rey Mysterio vs. Matt Hardy ©/w/ Shannon Moore

Rey Mysterio comes out in Daredevil themed attire. Matt Facts: This is his fourth WrestleMania and Matt often wonders how they did WrestleMania without him. Shannon Moore tries to distract Mysterio, but gets chased out and Hardy’s attempt to jump from behind is met with a backdrop sending him to the floor. Mysterio takes both men out with a corkscrew plancha and throws Hardy back inside for a two count. Hardy charges into the boot of Mysterio who hits a hurracanrana and a dropkick. Mysterio tries to sunset flip Hardy to the floor, but Moore breaks it up with a kick to the gut. Hardy drops Mysterio on the barricade, and throws him back inside for two. Pumphandle slam connects for Hardy getting another two count. Matt chokes out Mysterio on the second rope, and when the ref pulls him off Moore gets a few shots in. Hardy hits the ropes and tries to drop down on Mysterio, but comes up empty. Mysterio springboards off the second rope, but gets kicked. Hardy goes for a twist of fate, but Mysterio counters into a sunset flip for two. Hardy fires Mysterio into the buckle and hits a side effect getting another two count. Hardy connects with a snap mare, and then locks in a double wristlock. Mysterio tries to kick out, but Hardy fires back with a chop in the corner. Mysterio gets the boots up in the corner on a Hardy charge, and a second Hardy charge sees him run into the ringpost shoulder first. Rey springboards in with a seated senton, and then another springboard crossbody gets a two count. Mysterio hits a hurracanrana and a DDT for a two count. Rey sets up Hardy for the 619, but Moore trips him up for the floor. Hardy delivers the twist of fate, but Rey is out at two. Rey gets set up on the second rope, and Hardy goes for a splash mountain, but Rey counters with a hurracanrana. Rey covers but Moore puts Hardy’s leg on the bottom rope to break the count. Moore comes up to the apron, and Hardy tries to attack Rey from behind but Matt knocks down Shannon, and then eats a 619. West Coast pop is ducked. Rey does springboard roll through. Matt sits on top of Rey and puts his hand on the second rope to retain the title.

Winner and STILL WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Matt Hardy via pinfall

Rating: ** ½

A nice entertaining opener because the crowd were hot for Rey who was making his WrestleMania debut. The Version 1 gimmick was entertaining as hell. I miss the “Matt Facts. Great idea!

 

Backstage the Catfight girls turn up. They argue over what the main event is.

 

Time for Limp Bizkit. They sing “Rollin” which was Undertaker’s old theme, he makes his entrance during the song.

 

The Undertaker vs. Big Show & A-Train

This was initially scheduled as a tag team match featuring Taker and Nathan Jones against Show and Train, but Jones was so bad they didn’t even want to put him on the show so they took him out in the aforementioned pre show angle. Show tries to attack from behind, but Taker pulls down the top rope and sends him to the floor. Train tries to sneak in, but gets met with a chokeslam. Show pulls Taker off during the count and brings him to the floor. Taker delivers a right hand and heads back inside, but Train also bails. Show heads in to start the match. Show fires Taker into the corner, but Taker fires out with a big boot and gets a series of blows to both men. Train tags in and hits the ropes delivering a shoulderblock. Train hits the ropes again, and this time after a leapfrog gets an armdrag. Taker delivers old school to Train, and knocks Show off the apron. Taker turns around and hits the derailer, but instead of covering he throws him to the floor. Show rams Taker into the ringpost, and then press slams him into the barricade. Show sends Taker back inside, and Train slingshots him into the second rope getting a two count. Show tags in and stomps at the knee of Taker. Taker fires back with a back elbow, but runs into a chokeslam attempt. Taker reverses that into a Fujiwara armbar. Train tries to break it up, but Taker locks him in a cross armbreaker. Show breaks that up with a legdrop and the heels put the boots to Taker. Show delivers a trio of headbutts, and locks in an abdominal stretch. Tag to Train who comes in putting the boots to Taker, and then locks in an abdominal stretch of his own. Taker delivers a right hand, and then reverses the abdominal stretch. Train breaks that, but Taker delivers a back suplex. Train comes back with a clothesline after Show delivers a cheapshot from the apron. Taker comes hammering back with a series of fists, and delivers a DDT off the ropes. Show breaks up the count at two, and Taker delivers a series of blows to him. Taker delivers a series of splashes to both men, and goes for a chokeslam on Show. He lets go and delivers a big boot to Train, and follows up with flying clothesline to Show. Taker turns around into a big boot from Train, and Show connects with a chokeslam. Nathan Jones runs out, and meets Show in the aisle with a spin kick. Train goes for the cover and gets two. Jones runs into the ring and delivers a big boot to Train somehow not drawing the DQ. Taker finishes from there with a tombstone.

Winner: The Undertaker

Rating: *

Boring match. Undertaker had some poor WrestleMania matches but this may have been his most forgettable. This would turn out to be the final WrestleMania where Undertaker would compete under his American Bad Ass gimmick. By the way, Why Jones was allowed to run into the ring in full view of the referee and boot A-Train in the face is beyond me.

 

The Catfight Girls bump into Torrie Wilson & Stacy Keibler. Torrie is reading her own Playboy magazine. Stacy tells the girls that she has a marketing campaign which will blow them away. Poor acting shown in this segment.

 

A recap from Sunday Night Heat shows the Dudley Boys turning on Kane & Rob Van Dam.

 

WWE Women’s Championship

Trish Stratus vs. Jazz vs. Victoria © /w/ Stevie Richards

Jazz attacks Victoria before the bell, and delivers a dropkick to Trish for a two count. Trish delivers a Lou Thesz press to Jazz, and delivers a boot in the corner. Victoria pulls Trish to the floor, and then fires Jazz to the floor as well. Trish delivers a few blows to Jazz, but Victoria attacks her from behind and throws her inside. Victoria flips in with a legdrop, but Jazz pulls her to the floor and delivers a legdrop to Trish for a two count. Victoria and Jazz deliver a double shoulderbreaker to Trish, and then Victoria delivers a powerslam to Jazz for two. Victoria buries some shoulderblocks to Jazz in the corner, but Trish sneaks up with a rollup, which gets two. Victoria comes back with a clothesline, and goes for a backdrop. Trish blocks that with a kick, but Jazz attacks her from behind and delivers a powerslam for two. Trish fights back delivering a double noggin knocker to the heels, but Victoria grabs her from behind for Jazz. Jazz goes for a spin kick, but Trish ducks and she takes out Victoria. Trish goes for the victory roll on Jazz, which gets two, and Victoria then breaks up a pin attempt after a chick kick. Trish charges into a knee from Victoria, but comes back with a hurracanrana. Trish fires Victoria to the floor, but Jazz takes her down and locks in the half crab. Jazz turns it into a STF, but the ref gets tied up with Victoria so Stevie runs in and breaks that up. Victoria fires Jazz to the floor and gets rolled up by Trish. Victoria rolls through while Trish grabs the trunks flashing Victoria’s coin slot to the crowd for another two count. Jazz comes back in with a clothesline to Victoria, and then locks in a double chicken wing on Trish. Victoria delivers a kick to the face of Jazz, and goes for a moonsault but comes up empty. Victoria backdrops Jazz to the floor, and with the referee distracted Stevie tries to come in again with a chair. He misses Trish and hits the ropes taking himself, and then Trish delivers the Stratusfaction to him. Victoria comes in then and tries to set up for the widow’s peak, but Trish counters out. Victoria hits the ropes, but runs into a chick kick, which gives Trish the win and the title.

Winner and NEW WWE Women’s Champion: Trish Stratus via pinfall

Rating: ** ½

That was a really good Divas match. All three of them worked well together and gelled well. Trish had made massive strides in her career and was well on her way to becoming an elite worker. Victoria was only a couple of years in her career at this point and Jazz was the most experienced of the three. The finish was executed perfectly too.

 

Backstage, Coach is standing by with The Rock. Rock doesn’t care how many people there are because they boo him. The Rock could care less about the people. He was doing a great job as a “Hollywood heel”. The Rock is there for one reason, and that’s to beat Steve Austin at WrestleMania. He says that in Hollywood he learned that Act 1 and 2 don’t matter as much as Act 3. That’s why this is so important. He guarantees a win. He says then he’ll have done it all. Finally. I loved the serious tone of the promo.

 

WWE Tag Team Championship

Los Guerreros (Eddie Guerrero & Chavo Guerrero) vs. Chris Benoit & Rhyno vs. Team Angle © (Charlie Hass & Shelton Benjamin)

Two guys were in the ring at once. Others on the apron. First pinfall wins. Guerreros have green tights that match. Benoit & Eddy are chopping the shit out of eachother. Benoit tags in Rhyno. Powerslam by Rhyno for two. Eddy tags in Shelton and he gets an elbow that puts Rhyno down for two. Shelton brings in Charlie. Double dropkick by Team Angle. Chavo breaks up the pinfall. Rhyno brings in Benoit. Chops followed by a snap suplex for two. High angle back suplex for two and he tags in Rhyno. Haas works over Rhyno a bit, and then brings in Shelton. Rhyno gets a shoulderblock on him in the corner for two.  Snap mare gets a one count for Rhyno, and Eddie tags Shelton. Eddie comes in with a dropkick and stomps away at Rhyno. Eddie gets driven into the corner and Rhyno tags in Benoit. Eddie hits a back suplex, and heads to the top rope. Benoit comes up to meet him and delivers a superplex which gets two when Shelton makes the save. Eddie hits the ropes and Benoit flap jacks him into a crossface. Haas makes the save, and Eddie comes back with a brainbuster getting a two count when Haas again makes the save. Chavo tags in and delivers a clothesline to Haas and a hurracanrana to Shelton. Chavo turns around though and Benoit goes for the crossface. Chavo blocks that so Benoit delivers the rolling Germans instead. Chavo makes the tag to Shelton during the Germans and Shelton delivers a superkick. Eddie breaks up the count, and then he and Benoit collide head to head in the centre. Shelton comes back in as he is still legal and delivers a bodyslam to Benoit. Legdrop connects for Shelton but Eddie breaks up the pin with a frog splash. Chavo tags Benoit, but gets met with a belly-to-belly from Haas. Rhyno comes in and delivers a gore to Haas and a gore to Shelton. Eddie pulls Rhyno to the floor, but Shelton sneaks in and pins Chavo to retain the titles.

Winners and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: Team Angle via pinfall

Rating: ***

Enjoyable match which was packed with some impressive talented guys. The only negative thing I could say is that it was too short but other than that, it was a great match.

 

Backstage, Torrie & Stacy argue over who created WrestleMania whether it was Vince or Hulk because that was the big theme of this show. Then the Catfight girls argue. The blonde one wants to settle it in a bed, while the brunette wants to settle it in the ring. The acting was piss poor.

 

Up next is Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels. I was looking forward to this because I was a massive fan of both guys. The build-up told the story of how Chris Jericho grew up idolising Shawn Michaels and then he did everything he could to get under this skin. Shawn was making his WrestleMania return after being out for four years.

 

Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels

Jericho’s wearing baby blue tights with black tracing. On the way to the ring Shawn tries to shoot these hand held pyrotechnics, but most of them didn’t work. That was pretty funny. Shawn is wearing the red Heartbreak Kid tights of old. Shawn grabs a headlock takedown, and Jericho counters out with the headscissor. Jericho hits an armdrag, but Shawn counters out with a headscissor of his own. Shawn grabs a headlock and goes into a hammerlock. Jericho counters into a hammerlock of his own, but Shawn counters out and hits an armdrag. Shawn gets a headlock takeover again, and they trade near falls with Shawn holding the headlock. Jericho elbows off and delivers a shoulderblock. Jericho hits the ropes, and stops short of a leapfrog delivering a smack. Shawn answers with a right hand and fires Jericho to the floor. Shawn hits a baseball slide, and then fires Jericho back inside. Shawn goes to the top rope delivering a crossbody, but Jericho rolls through for two. Shawn hits the ropes and runs into a spinning heel kick from Jericho. Jericho rams Shawn into the buckle, and then after a pair of chops whips Shawn to the other side. Jericho goes for a bulldog, but Shawn throws him off and he lands crotch first into the second rope. Shawn locks in the figure four, but Jericho rolls it over and Shawn breaks the hold. Shawn goes back to work on the leg with a kneebreaker, and goes back to the figure four but gets kicked into the ringpost. Shawn hits the ropes and ducks a clothesline. Jericho fires Shawn over the top, but Shawn skins the cats and headscissors Jericho to the floor. Shawn delivers a plancha taking out Jericho on the floor. Shawn pounds him down the floor, but Jericho catches the legs and locks in the Walls of Jericho on the floor. Jericho runs to the ring to break the count, and heads back out for Shawn. Jericho rams Shawn’s back into the ringpost, and heads back inside. Shawn gets up to the apron, but Jericho springboards into a dropkick sending Shawn back to the floor. Jericho fires him back inside and delivers a back suplex. Jericho delivers a suplex, which picks up a two count. Jericho scores with the backbreaker, and attempts a pin with the boot in the chest getting a two count. Jericho grabs a chinlock, and Shawn punches out of it. Jericho regains control by going to the eyes and delivers a spinebuster. Shawn comes back up with a series of rights, but Jericho hits the ropes delivering a flying forearm. Jericho nips up ala Shawn and does Shawn’s pose, but Shawn nips up himself and delivers a flying forearm. Shawn nips up again and hits an inverted atomic drop. Clothesline connects for Shawn, and he follows that up with a backdrop. Shawn gets whipped into the corner, but delivers a boot to a charging Jericho. Moonsault connects for Shawn picking up a two count. Shawn hits the ropes and gets a sunset flip. They trade near falls, and Jericho goes for the walls. Shawn powers out, and they do a reversal sequence seeing Jericho hit a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Jericho scores with a clothesline, and delivers a bulldog. Lionsault connects for a two count, and Shawn comes back with a kick to the face on a backdrop attempt. Shawn goes for a hurracanrana, but Jericho counters into the Walls of Jericho. Shawn pulls himself to the ropes to break, and Jericho goes back to the Walls. Shawn stops it with a small package for a two count. Jericho hits a double underhook backbreaker and heads to the top rope delivering a reverse elbow. Jericho tunes up the band in the corner and scores with Sweet Chin Music getting a two count. Jericho delivers a shoulderblock in the corner, and whips Shawn to the other side. Shawn jumps to the second rope and delivers a crossbody. Shawn slingshots Jericho into the ringpost, and rolls him up for a two count. Jericho ducks a punch and delivers a shot to the lower back. Shawn gets set up on the second rope, and Jericho goes for back suplex off the top, but HBK counters it into a crossbody! I love this match! One, two, no. Shawn goes up top, Jericho kicks the ref into the ropes as Shawn gets crotched. Superplex reversed, Jericho lands face first. Top rope elbow! Crowd is going apeshit now. Warming up the band for the superkick. The kick misses, Jericho ducks and puts him in the Walls of Jericho! He’s in the move for thirty seconds or so, but HBK gets to the bottom rope. We’re twenty minutes into it now. Jericho yells at the ref, then runs back into HBK and eats a superkick. Shawn crawls over. One, two, NO! Wow. Everybody thought that was it including me. This match rules! Jericho whips HBK into the corner where he does an insane back bump. He bounces back, Jericho grabs him and HBK rolls him up in an awesome cradle for the one, two, and three! What a match! Post match, Shawn sticks out his hand for Jericho to shake it. Jericho hugs him to a huge pop. The crowd totally buys into it. Then Jericho then kicks him in the balls! Then he shoves him down. Huge heel heat! Awesome moment.

Winner: Shawn Michaels via pinfall

Rating: **** ½

Outstanding match. The post-match moment where Jericho kicked Shawn in the bollocks was funny. There was a lot of hype going into this match. Shawn was making his WrestleMania return whiles Jericho hadn’t had that classic WrestleMania match, so it was a big deal for both guys. They delivered the goods as far as I’m concerned.  Their best match was the No Mercy 2008 Ladder match but this was special too.

 

Sylvain Grenier, the ref from No Way Out, goes into Vince McMahon’s dressing room. He had screwed Hogan at that PPV. Obviously Sylvain would end up being a wrestler later in WWE too.

 

A promo aired announcing that Goldberg will be joining the WWE. A Goldberg chant breaks out.

 

Tonight’s attendance is 54,097. A record for this arena. Limp Bizkit play the official WrestleMania theme, “Crack Addict”.

 

Coach brings out Tanya Bollinger and Kitana Baker, better known as The Miller Lite Catfight Girls for a pillow fight. Stacy Kiebler and Torrie Wilson come out to jump into the action. Tops come off, asses are spanked, Millions of 12 year old boys all over the world’s voice deepen. Good times are had by all. Then Coach loses his pants answering the question no one wanted the answer to. Briefs.

 

A video package plays for the upcoming match between Triple H & Booker T for the World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H was off the heels from a terrible feud with Scott Steiner. The matches were very poor and pretty much ended Steiner’s main event run in the WWE. Booker won a battle royal to become the number one contender and even managed to get a clean victory over Triple H on RAW. To his credit, Hunter did a great job of making Booker look like a threat.

 

World Heavyweight Championship

Triple H © /w/ Ric Flair vs. Booker T

HHH wears the alternate lavender trunks, an unfortunate fashion choice that he made much of 2003. Booker blocks a right hand in the corner, and delivers a chop. They trade chops and HHH gets whipped into the buckle. Booker scores with a backdrop, but a second charge hits a reverse elbow. HHH goes to the top rope, but gets slammed off by Booker going to the floor. Booker goes out after him firing HHH into the ringpost and then back inside. HHH catches Booker with a boot on the way in, and delivers a shoulder block. Booker blocks an armdrag, and delivers a clothesline for two. Booker delivers a pair of kicks, but HHH ducks a spin kick and backdrops him to the apron. HHH rams Booker into the ringpost, which sends him to the floor. HHH goes outside and fires Booker into the ringsteps before heading back inside. Booker rolls inside and gets met with a series of stomps. HHH slides to the floor and delivers an elbow to the throat with Booker on the apron. Back inside HHH scores with a neckbreaker for a two count. Booker comes back firing HHH into the buckle, but runs into a spinebuster for two. Booker gets whipped to the corner, and HHH follows him in with a clothesline for two. HHH chokes out Booker, but Booker comes firing back with a series of chops. HHH comes right back with a knee to the gut, but Booker counters a suplex into a DDT. They trade blows in the center with Booker getting the better of it. HHH hits the ropes and gets a spinning heel kick. Booker delivers a sidewalk slam, and follows up with a forearm to HHH off the ropes for two. Booker delivers a knee to the gut, and goes for scissor kick. HHH counters into a sleeper, but Booker quickly counters sending HHH into the buckle. Booker hits the ropes but runs into the high knee, which gets two. HHH hits the ropes and hits a facebuster, but runs into a spinebuster from Booker for two. Booker charges into the corner, but runs into the boot of HHH. HHH comes off the second rope, but runs into a superkick from Booker, which picks up a two count. Kick to the gut sets up a scissor kick from Booker. HHH ducks that, and pulls the ropes down on a heel kick attempt sending Booker to the floor. HHH distracts the ref allowing Flair to drop the knee of Booker on the ringsteps. Booker rolls back inside, and HHH locks in an Indian Deathlock. Booker is able to pull himself to the ropes, but they sell the move as if its death and Booker now can’t walk. HHH drops his knee down onto the now injured knee of Booker. HHH tries to whip Booker to the corner, but Booker can’t even put weight on his knee and collapses in the middle. Booker counters a kneebreaker into a sunset flip to get two. HHH goes right to the pedigree, but Booker counters and gets shoved into the ref. The ref doesn’t get knocked out and HHH stops short of delivering a clothesline to the official allowing Booker to roll him up for two. HHH comes off the ropes and runs into a back elbow from Booker. Booker hits the ropes and delivers a scissor kick, but still can’t put weight on the leg and is slow to cover and HHH kicks out at two. Booker heads to the top rope, and Flair provides a quick distraction, which allows HHH to meet him at the top. HHH goes for the superplex, but Booker fights him off. Flair tries to stop Booker, but gets shoved off by Booker. Booker then goes old school and busts out the Harlem Hangover, and that should be the finish, but Booker is slow to cover and Flair puts HHH’s foot on the rope to break the count. Booker tries to hit the ropes for the scissor kick, but he can’t put weight on the leg and collapses. HHH hits the pedigree, and both men are down. HHH lays there for seems like an eternity. Finally HHH crawls over and pins Booker for the successful title defence.

Winner and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H via pinfall

Rating: ***

To this day, I’m still surprised Booker didn’t win this one. I thought for sure that he was going over. I enjoyed this match. Booker did a great job of selling the knee injury. Just imagine if Booker won after connecting with the Harlem Hangover. That would have been an insane pop. I remember the IWC hating Hunter after this one; it would have meant a lot having Booker get the win here. Hunter dominated the main event scene throughout 2003 whiles Booker formed an unlikely partnership with Goldust.

 

They show a video saying that WrestleMania XX will take place in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

 

Video package for the Vince McMahon/Hulk Hogan match. Most of the advertising was based around this match. Even though it didn’t go on last, it many ways it was considered the “main event” of the show. The feud was mostly about who created WrestleMania with people arguing either for Vince because he was the owner of the company or for Hogan who was the star of the show for the first 9 WrestleManias. There was a Gene Okerlund quote that summed it up: “If it weren’t for these two men there wouldn’t be a WrestleMania.” Vince wanted to kill Hulkamania. Hogan wanted to keep it going. That led to this street fight.

 

Street Fight

Hulk Hogan vs. Mr McMahon

This is the match that was essentially promoted as the main event of this card. Hogan’s career was on the line in this one. Essentially the question was setting the score of who created WrestleMania. Vince slaps Hogan during a staredown, and Hulk answers with a spear. Vince hits the ropes and gets met with a clothesline. Hogan mounts and pounds away at Vince, and then goes to the blatant choke. Hogan stomps Vince down in the corner, and continues with a choke. Vince blocks an attempt to ram him into the top turnbuckle and delivers a back elbow. Clothesline connects for Vince, who follows up with a series of shoulderblocks in the corner. Vince fires away with knees and elbows in the corner. Vince drops his knee into Hogan’s shoulder, and then grabs a hammerlock. Vince takes Hulk to the floor wrapping his shoulder around the ringpost. Back inside Vince grabs a knucklelock, and then takes the control position in a test of strength. Hogan fights to his feet, but Vince fires away with a kick to regain the control. Vince finally fires Hogan to the floor, and follows him outside. Vince rams Hogan into the barricade, and then fires him shoulder first into the ringpost. Vince grabs a steel chair from ringside, and takes a swing at Hogan but misses. Hogan fires back sending Vince into the ringpost, and then bashes him in the head with the chair. Vince gets busted open on that, and Hogan hammers away at the wound. Back inside they go, and Hulk pounds Vince sending him again to the floor. Hogan grabs another chair and slams it across the back of McMahon. Hulk takes another swing at Vince, but he ducks and Hogan connects with Spanish announcer Hugo Savinovich. Vince fires back with a blow, and then slams Hogan in the face with the chair. Vince grabs a ladder from underneath the ring and sets it up at ringside. Vince slams Hogan into the Smackdown announce table, and then into the barricade. Vince positions the ladder in between the two announce tables and then clears off the Spanish table while bashing Hulk in the face with a monitor. Hogan is laid out on the Spanish table, and Vince climbs to the top of the ladder. Vince drops a leg off the ladder through the table, as Hulk has now been busted open. Vince throws Hogan inside the ring, and covers for a two count. Vince goes outside, and finds a lead pipe under the ring. In one of the all time great visuals a bloody Vince peers over apron at Hogan with a psychotic look before heading inside. Vince goes for a shot with the pipe, but Hogan fires back with a low blow. Suddenly Roddy Piper appears out of nowhere, and spits on both guys while they are down. I was legit stunned for that. Honestly didn’t see that one coming! Roddy, who is supporting a massive gut, picks up the pipe. He teases a shot to Vince, but instead bashes Hogan. Piper blows his nose on Hulk and leaves. Vince crawls to Hogan, and covers for a two count. Vince goes for the pipe, Hebner steps on it so Vince throws him out. But wait, Hebner didn’t go through the ropes, he got stuck! Haha! That was great. Then he throws him out again to make sure. Vince gets him with a pipe shot. Sylvain Grenier, the ref from No Way Out, comes out. Smackdown ref Mike Sparks argues with him. Vince hits a legdrop for two. Hogan hulks up. Crowd is eating it up. You’d think Vince, of all people, would know not to punch when he’s hulking up. I thought he was a genius? Hogan pounds on Grenier and tosses him out over the top. Back to Vince, he gets the punches, the big boot and calls for the legdrop. He hits three legdrops. Brian Hebner slides back in to count the pinfall. Post-match, Hogan is posing for the fans. Shane McMahon walks out wearing a suit and tie. Hogan invites him into the ring. Shane tends to his father as Hogan smiles at ringside.

Winner: Hulk Hogan via pinfall

Rating: ***

They worked really hard considering they were well in their 50’s at the time. The match was a lot better than expected. Vince’s facial expression as he peered up from apron was one of the funniest evil faces I’ve ever seen. Good job by the director of getting that visual on the show.

 

Up next, Rock vs. Austin part 3. Austin returned in February after walking out the previous year.  Rock confronted him. He said he’s done it all in the business and was even a leading man in Hollywood, but he had never beat Austin at WrestleMania before. He lost to Austin at WrestleMania 15 and 17 as I’m sure most would recall. Rock was a heel. Austin was still very popular as a face. They used the Limp Bizkit song “Crack Addict” for this feud. Every time I hear “heeeeeeeeeere we go again” and they start trading blows I get goosebumps. Just perfect lyrics for this feud.

 

The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

Here it is. The final chapter in the greatest rivalry ever. Austin suffered a severe health scare the night before and spent the previous night in the hospital, but knowing this was his final match was able to gut this one out. Rock is out first. Austin comes out next. They both got really big pops that you’d expect. Long staredown to start. Austin opens up with punches, goes for a Stunner. Rock gets out of the ring to the floor, but Austin runs him down with a stiff clothesline. Rock face first into the steps, then clotheslined onto the Smackdown announce table. More brawling on the floor with Rock taking a pounding. Austin rolls him back in where he kicks him, chokes him and hits a back suplex for two. Whip into the corner, Rock reverses it once and Austin bounces back out with a clothesline. Earl Hebner admonishes Austin for choking Rock over the middle rope, so Rock clips his left knee out from behind. Outside the ring, Rock does it again. Rock slams the front of the left knee on the Smackdown announce table.. Back inside they go, and Rock puts the boots to Austin’s knee. Rock slides to the floor again and bashes the knee into the ring apron, and then wraps the knee around the ring post. Rock goes back inside, and Austin fights back with right hands. Rock hits the ropes, but stops a backdrop attempt with a kick to the face. Rock locks in a sharpshooter, but Austin reaches the ropes to break the hold. Rock slides to the floor again, and wraps Austin’s knee around the post again. Rock finds Austin’s vest and puts it on before heading back inside. Austin ducks a clothesline off the ropes, and then both men score with clothesline putting them both out. Both guys get to their feet, and Austin scores with a Lou Thesz press. FU elbow connects for Austin and gets a two count. Austin stomps a mudhole in Rock in the corner, and sends Rock into the ropes. Rock ducks a back elbow and a clothesline before scoring with a flying clothesline of his own. Rock nips up and poses to the crowd a bit. That delay allows Austin to score with a Rock Bottom, which picks up a two count. Rock gets to his feet, and Austin goes for a stunner. Rock blocks it, and delivers a stunner of his own. Austin kicks out at two, and Rock connects with a series of rights. Austin ducks a shot from Rock and scores with the stunner but Rock kicks out at two. Austin throws the referee out of the way, and Rock delivers a low blow to regain control. Rock goes for the peoples elbow, but that misses. Austin goes for the stunner, but Rock blocks it and delivers a spinebuster. Rock finally takes off Austin’s vest, and delivers the peoples elbow, which gets a two count. Rock delivers a Rock Bottom, but Austin again kicks out at two. Rock gets in position, and goes for another Rock Bottom. Austin initially elbows out of it, but Rock is able to deliver it. Again Austin is out at two, so Rock gets in position to deliver the move again. Rock delivers a third Rock Bottom, and that finishes it off and Rocky finally gets a WrestleMania victory over Stone Cold. Post-match, Rock sat over top of Austin and they exchanged some words. It was a mutual respect. They were very good. Rock knew it was Austin’s last match, so I’m glad they got to share that moment. Rock hugged his family at ringside. He left. Austin limped away to a huge reaction.

Winner: The Rock via pinfall

Rating: **** ½

This match was effectively the end of both men’s careers as active competitors. Rock would go on to wrestle Goldberg at Backlash, and came back for one more match the following year. Austin has yet to wrestle, and it’s looking likely that he’ll never will. I remember when Rocky and Austin were exchanging words at the end; I just knew this was Austin’s final match. You could just sense it. A hell of a way to go out. Such a touching moment.

 

The main event was Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title on the Smackdown brand. They did a great job of keeping them apart for many months. Lesnar won the Royal Rumble and Angle was the champion, so the match was inevitable.

 

WWE Championship

Kurt Angle © vs. Brock Lesnar

This match is rather famous for a number of reasons. First of all, no one knew what quite to expect. Angle found that he needed neck fusion with about 3 weeks to go until WrestleMania, and was expected to miss the show. They even announced an Angle-Lesnar title match on Smackdown with most expecting Angle to go ahead and drop the title in a joke match and then defend against someone else. They swerved us though with the Eric Angle storyline, and Angle got the go ahead to work the match. Still heading into this one people worried that this might be a short match, as it was feared Angle couldn’t take bumps. The match was highly anticipated due to both men’s amateur careers though, so we hoped we’d get a classic. Lesnar has injured ribs that are taped up going in. Angle grabs a hammerlock, and switches to a frontface lock. Lesnar firemans carries out, and grabs an armbar. Angle reverses with a firemans carry of his own into an armbar. Lesnar hits a headlock takeover, and Angle counters with a headscissor. They trade go behinds, and Angle grabs a headlock takeover. Angle hits the ropes and runs into a shoulderblock. Angle takes him down with a single leg, and Lesnar hits a quick reversal. Angle elbows out, but gets hit with an armdrag into an armbar. Angle gets to the corner to break, and delivers a knee to the ribs. Angle hits the ropes, and runs into a back elbow. Lesnar follows up with a series of shoulderblocks in the corner. Lesnar hits a powerslam and gets a two count. Angle ducks a clothesline and delivers a German suplex. Lesnar pops right up and delivers a clothesline. Angle hits the ropes and bails to the floor. Lesnar chases Angle back to the ring, and gets met with a boot on the way in. Brock stops an Irish whip and delivers a press slam to Angle. Irish whip sends Angle to the corner, but Lesnar charges into a boot. Angle delivers a sick German suplex into the top turnbuckle, and Lesnar rolls to the floor. Angle goes outside after him and drives Lesnar into the barricade before firing him back inside. Angle connects with a back suplex for a two count. Angle fires away in the corner with a series of boots and a suplex gets two. Kurt grabs a bow and arrow submission, and Lesnar stands up with it driving Angle back first into the turnbuckle. Brock stomps Angle down in the corner, but Angle reverses an Irish whip sending him into the corner. Angle hits a belly-to-belly suplex, and delivers a pair of knees to the ribs sending Lesnar to the floor. Angle fires him back inside, but runs into a spinebuster. Both men struggle to their feet, and Lesnar this a forearm off the ropes. Brock delivers a clothesline, and then several shoulder blocks in the corner. Brock connects with a pair of belly-to-belly suplexes picking up a two count. Angle reverses a go behind from Brock and delivers four rolling Germans. Angle goes for the Angle slam, but Brock counters into an F5 attempt. Angle counters with an inside trip and locks in the ankle lock. Lesnar rolls through so Angle switches to a half crab. Lesnar reaches the ropes to break the hold, and Angle delivers another running knee to the ribs. Kurt charges again, but Lesnar delivers a backdrop sending Angle over the top to the floor. Angle rolls back in charging at Lesnar in the corner, but comes up empty and gets hit with a series of shoulderblocks. Angle comes back with a phenomenal release German suplex that picks up a two count. Angle slam connects for another two count. Kurt sets up for another Angle slam, but Lesnar counters into a spladle for a two count. Lesnar connects with the F5, but is slow to cover and Angle gets out at two. Lesnar picks up Angle, but Angle grabs the leg and locks in the ankle lock. Kurt grapevines the legs, but Lesnar is still able to drag him to the ropes. Angle tries to go back to the ankle lock, but gets kicked off. Lesnar goes for another F5, but Kurt counters into a small package for two. Angle Slam reversed into another F5 for Lesnar. He doesn’t cover right away. Here it comes. Shooting Star Press halfway across the ring, but Brock comes up short! He landed right on his head. My God! That had to hurt like a bitch. I think that was the finish. Angle covers for two. Brock fights back into an F5 for the third time. I wonder how groggy he was at that moment. It must have been adrenaline kicking in. One, two, three.

Winner and NEW WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar via pinfall

Rating: **** ½

Lesnar remembers none of this, and to Angle’s credit he walked him through the finish while he was totally loopy. Given Kurt’s condition, and how badly things could have been after the SSP botch, this match was tremendous. It stops short of being an all-time classic due to the famous botch, and a little bit of a slow start. Once they got going through this was tremendous stuff. I really came away impressed by Lesnar. When Angle gave him a German Suplex and Lesnar sold it by landing on his stomach I was shaking my head in amazement at how good of an athlete Lesnar was. The last seven minutes of the match were when they really cranked it up into another gear. I thought they got the perfect amount of time too. I love this match. If you’re a huge Angle/Lesnar mark like me, also seek out their triple threat with Big Show at Vengeance 2003, the Summerslam 2003 match and the 60 Minute Ironman on Smackdown that I believe was their best match together. I’d rate that Ironman match five stars.

 

Post match, they shook hands and hugged. Awesome moment. The look in Lesnar’s eyes after the match tells the whole story as it’s just an empty blank stare. Angle was gone for a few months after a minor neck surgery. He returned as a babyface, so that’s why ending it with a respectful hug here was the right move.

 

The show ended with the video package highlighting the key moments as usual.

 

*Random Thoughts*

 

  • I’m always surprised at just how low the buy rate is for this show. Just imagine how high it would have been had they advertised it as Austin’s final match. It would have been through the roof! He didn’t want the attention. He kept it to himself. It was his personal decision. He’s earned that right.
  • I was impressed by Hogan v McMahon. Hogan was never a great wrestler but he always got the job done in the big match situations. Vince was good at it too. His facial expression when he grabbed the pipe was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen too. Not many people can top Vinny Mac in the facial expressions department.
  • The roster was very deep at the time. You could argue that the line-up was on par with WM 17 or stronger even.  They couldn’t even fit guys like RVD and Kane when they were nearly main event players. The Miller Lite girls getting all that screen time pissed a lot of people off, but we know Vince loves getting his T&A on the show somehow.
  • I still can’t get over Booker not winning. The build-up suggested that it was almost certain he’d be walking away with the World Heavyweight title.  Was he even considered to become Champion at this time? I don’t know but he would eventually win it three years later. As for Hunter, his next feuds were with Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash. The Clique lives on.

 

Best match: Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar- Outstanding contest.

Worst match: Undertaker vs. Big Show & A-Train – Boring match. How many worst WM matches has Undertaker been involved so far? Not his fault thought.

WrestleMania Moment: Brock missing the Shooting Star Press – I was legit scared for him. Whenever I think of WM 19, I always think of the botched SSP.

 

Top 5 Superstars

1. Kurt Angle: Amazing heart shown by working hurt.

2. Stone Cold: Great way to go out in his final match.

3. Shawn Michaels: Welcome back, Mr WrestleMania.

4. Brock Lesnar: Match of the night in his WrestleMania debut. Now that’s amazing.

5. Chris Jericho: Finally got that classic WrestleMania match. Awesome performance.

 

Updated rankings chart:

Hulk Hogan – 30pts

Macho Man Randy Savage – 29pts

Shawn Michaels – 27pts

Bret Hart – 25pts

Stone Cold – 24pts

The Rock – 17pts

Ricky Steamboat– 10pts

Owen Hart – 8pts

Ultimate Warrior/ Roddy Piper/ Kurt Angle– 7pts

Mick Foley/ Jeff Hardy/ Undertaker/ Triple H– 6pts

Dynamite Kid/Rick Rude/ Ted Dibiase – 5pts

Terry Funk/ Bam Bam Bigelow/ Diesel- 4pts

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

Greg Valentine/ Scott Steiner/ Razor Ramon/ Shane McMahon/ Christian/Edge/ Brock Lesnar-2pts

Sgt Slaughter/ Gorilla Monsoon/ Bobby Heenan/ Jim Ross/ Bubba Ray Dudley/ Chris Jericho– 1pt

 

Overall Show Rating (Out of 10): 9.5

Not the 10 WM17 was but it was pretty damn close. It just lack that little something extra to surpass WM17. So far, it’s the 2nd best WrestleMania of all time. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you give it a viewing. If you have, do what I did and revisit it. Great show.

 

WrestleMania Rankings so far:

WrestleMania 17 – 10

WrestleMania 19 – 9.5

WrestleMania 14 – 8.5

WrestleMania 10 – 8

WrestleMania 8 – 7

WrestleMania 3 – 7

WrestleMania 18 – 6.5

WrestleMania 7 – 6.5

WrestleMania 6 – 6

WrestleMania16 – 5.5

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: The forgotten WrestleMania, WrestleMania XX

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