Reliving Wrestlemania: Wrestlemania XV

WrestleMania XV

Fifteen years later…Wrestlemania XV…this one was, perhaps, one of the greatest of all-time.

Wrestlemania XV would come to you from the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Following the spectacular Wrestlemania XIV, RAW would feature a match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon so that the two men could settle their differences. For the first time in nearly two years, the WWF FINALLY beat WCW in the ratings. The nWo allure was dimming, mainly because of poorly-booked events and Eric Bischoff’s horrible idea to leave creative booking decisions to egotistical main event stars who would hog the spotlight and not help lower talent develop. Gee…no idea who THAT could be…

Eric Bischoff began to counter this by trying to split the nWo into two factions: Hollywood Hogan’s evil black-and-white faction and Kevin Nash’s red face-faction. Nitro expanded to three hours and Ted Turner put up another show to compete with WWF Smackdown called “WCW Thunder”, a b-level talent show. Bischoff was not happy with this and told Turner that a second show would leave to viewer fatigue and burn-out since Nitro was already three hours and Thunder was another two. The next step was to start pushing Bill Goldberg into a major title. He would eventually beat (and cleanly) pin Hulk Hogan to win the WCW Championship…but viewers were tiring of Goldberg quickly, mainly because he was a monster face like Hogan, only tougher and more modern. Still, the WCW would beat RAW in the ratings for another six weeks as this and the return of the Ultimate Warrior to WCW pushed them into the stratosphere. In another shot by WCW, The Four Horsemen, who had been dismantled by the nWo, were reformed when Ric Flair would return.

Things were looking up…but, Halloween Havoc was a dud as The Warrior’s angle was fucking terrible and fizzled out in one of the worst PPV matches of all-time. Also, Goldberg LOST the WCW Championship to Kevin Nash, who began to book matches to make himself look great. Lower talent was buried and things got even worse.

Nitro’s last ratings victory was in October of 1998.

When 1999 began, the WWF was in great shape. They had a HELL of an angle with Austin and McMahon at each other’s throats. The story was always evolving and exciting and was also back-and-forth with both opponents getting the best of one another.

It was a different story for WCW.

If they weren’t on their way to dying already, they pretty much sealed it in January of 1999.

Wrestling had become great again and witnessed a sort of renaissance. Wrestlers, from both organizations, were appearing on talk shows and magazine covers. Ten million people, each week, were tuning in to watch both Nitro and RAW.

On January 4th, 1999, as Nitro was still LIVE on the air, Eric Bischoff had learned of the taped results of Monday Night RAW. Mick Foley was going to win the World Title in the WWF. Upon learning this, he ordered his commentator, Tony Schiavone, to make the following remark:

“Fans, if you’re even THINKING about changing the channel to our competition, DO NOT. We understand that Mick Foley, who wrestled here at one time as ‘Cactus Jack’, is gonna win their World Title! Ha! That’s gonna put some butts in the seats!”


Ratings indicators showed that, at that moment, 600,000 viewers switched to RAW to watch Mankind win the WWF Championship. Had WCW NOT announced this, they would have won the ratings war that night.

But that wasn’t all.

WCW’s main event, that night, was to be Kevin Nash defending the WCW World Championship against Goldberg. Instead, Goldberg was (kayfabe) arrested for “stalking” Miss Elizabeth which turned out to be a giant ploy to put future events in motion…Hollywood Hogan was coming back to WCW from an injury and challenged Nash for the title. Nash accepted. The main event was on…the two were about to lock up…then froze. Hogan reached out and poked Nash with his finger. Nash fell to the mat and Hogan pinned him to win the title and the nWo Wolfpac and Hollywood factions were rejoined. The crowd was disgusted for being scammed and lead into a bait-and-switch. The company’s credibility which was ALREADY not good, took a HUGE hit.

And, what’s more…Kevin Nash and Hogan now had complete booking power. WCW only beat RAW in the ratings ONCE since that moment and ONLY because RAW was preempted do to the Westminster Dog Show. It would only see 5’s in the ratings department twice after that…and, slowly, WCW began to slide downhill.

The WWF had weathered the worst of the storm.

Between Wrestlemania 14 and 15, we had this:

  • Austin was, now, in full-blown competition with “Mr. McMahon”. McMahon couldn’t stand that Austin was this beer-swilling arrogant ass and that he was representing the WWF. So…he set out to destroy Austin. For six straight months, McMahon would try to strip Austin of the title which he finally did at an In Your House PPV event. Vince set up a match where Austin wrestled, in a Triple Threat match, against Kane and the Undertaker. Not only could Austin lose the title in this match, the Undertaker and Kane were NOT allowed to pin each other and could only pin Austin which, in effect, would make it Handicap Match of sorts. Austin WAS pinned…but by both men. At the end of the match, McMahon hit the ring, grabbed Austin’s belt, said he was no longer champ, and left. The next night, on RAW, McMahon was about to present the title to one of the men, saying they BOTH deserved the title. It was at that point that Austin showed up on a zamboni to attack McMahon. Austin would be arrested (kayfabe) and McMahon would make a match for the next PPV event, “Judgement Day”, where Kane would face off for the title against The Undertaker…with Austin as the referee. If Austin shirked his duties, McMahon would fire him. Austin, however, had other plans. At the PPV, Austin knocked out the Undertaker, counted his own pin, and declared himself the new champion. McMahon did what he said he would do and fired Austin. Despite the firing, Austin showed up on RAW the next night and, after holding McMahon at gunpoint with a joke gun (that had a “bang” flag) in it, Austin went to the ring with a green piece of paper that was a brand-new five-year contract that guaranteed Austin a championship match and was signed for by Shane McMahon, Vince’s son, who had been demoted to a referee. Vince would set up a tournament for the WWF Championship called “The Deadly Game”, wherein 16 wrestlers would face off in a tree tournament at Survivor Series in 1998. Austin entered and made it all the way to the semi-finals against Mankind in one of the wildest matches ever wrestled in the WWF. During the match, however, Austin was screwed over by several of McMahon’s people, including McMahon, himself. McMahon, who was bound in a wheelchair from a previous attack, had vowed that Austin would NEVER win the title again, least of all, at this event. Austin would surprise McMahon and hit the Stunner. The ref would go for an easy three-count but McMahon would leap from his wheelchair, exposing his injury as a fraid and interfered and decked the ref, knocking him out. Austin would hit another Stunner on Mankind and go for the pin. From the back, came Shane McMahon to count…but Shane stopped the count after two and gave Austin two middle fingers, showing that he was in league with his father. Mankind managed to knock Austin down. With that, Slaughter and Brisco ran into the ring and clubbed Austin with a chair. Mankind hit a cover thanks to Shane and that was that. At the end of the night, Mankind and The Rock would face off in the finals. The Rock would put Mankind in the Sharpshooter and McMahon, at ringside, called for the bell. The Rock would win the belt, much to the audience’s confusion. Mankind, who thought that Vince was on his side, was attacked by The Rock. The Rock was turned into a heel and McMahon made him in “The Corporate Champion”. The Corporation was officially formed for the first time. Mankind and The Rock would feud as well because of this and the belt would go back and forth. But on Raw in February, The Rock would get it back for good. Austin wouldn’t even get near the WWF Championship storyline and would wrestle against the likes of Mankind and The Undertaker…until 1999 at the Royal Rumble when a Austin would participate in order to get his title shot. Having won his spot in the RR with The Undertaker, Vince McMahon, himself, entered the Royal Rumble as well to keep Austin from winning it. McMahon also would pay $100,000 dollars to the wrestler who eliminated Austin. Austin and McMahon were entered as numbers one and two…and would end up being the last two wrestlers. At the end of the match, The Rock interfered, allowing McMahon to toss Austin over the top rope and win the Royal Rumble. The very next night on RAW, Vince McMahon said that he had accomplished his mission of taking Austin out of Wrestlemania and was bowing out of the Championship Match. Shawn Michaels (commissioner at the time) informed Vince that, since he did that, the Championship spot would go to the next person in line…and that was Stone Cold Steve Austin. McMahon was furious and Austin used that to goad McMahon into fighting. He told McMahon that, more than the belt, he wanted ANOTHER shot at McMahon who agreed to it. A rule was put in place, however – Austin couldn’t touch McMahon or the match was off and Austin was out of the Championship match. Austin agreed and added a stipulation: no Corporate interference was allowed and to make sure of that, the match was a steel cage match. Austin would fight him at In Your House once again. When Austin had the match won, the Big Show, Paul Wight made his WWF debut and went to save McMahon. He entered the cage, kicked Austin around and then through him into the side of the cage. McMahon ordered Show to do it again and he obliged…but ended up throwing Austin THROUGH the cage and to the floor. Austin would win the match by accident. The Rock, who was Champion at the time, would FINALLY defend the WWF Championship against Stone Cold Steve Austin. Some other stipulations were made: the match was no disqualification.
  • The WWF also invented a Hardcore Championship at this point. The first winner was Mankind but the belt would eventually go to Mr. Ass Billy Gunn. He would defend it here against Al Snow and Hardcore Holly.
  • The Women’s Championship would be defended by Sable against Tori.
  • After Triple H lost the WWF European Championship to D’lo Brown, the belt would trade hands a few times between him and X-Pac before Shane McMahon won it. Shane would defend the title against X-Pac.
  • Owen Hart would be in storyline hell and, eventually, team up with Jeff Jarrett. The team managed to win the WWF Tag Titles from the Corporation and would defend them here against D’Lo Brown and Test.
  • After dropping the Euro Title, Triple H beat The Rock for the WWF Intercontinental Championship but had to vacate it due to injury. The belt was put into a tournament which was won by Ken Shamrock. However, in the new year, Val Venis would win it with the help of Special Guest Referee, Mr. Ass. A month later, Road Dogg would beat Venis and would defend the title here against Venis, Shamrock, and Goldust.

Meanwhile…

  • The Undertaker would take on The Big Boss Man in Hell in a Cell. This after the Undertaker’s Ministry would butt heads with McMahon’s “Corporation”.
  • Boxer Butterbean would take on Bart Gunn in a boxing match which would see the final hurrah of Gorilla Monsoon.
  • Finally, Mankind and Big Show would fight to determine who would be the Special Guest Referee for the WWF Championship.

Are you ready?

Let’s do this thing…

Wow, we’re leading off with “America, the Beautiful” for the first time in years. It’s sung, beautifully, by Boyz II Men.

Another promo is run where Classy Freddie Blassie tries to portray the new guys as traditional and just as great as the older generation.

Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler are your announcers. Either I’m in an alternate universe or Cole and Lawler switched their face/heel personalities.

MATCH #1: Hardcore Holly (challenger) vs. Mr. Ass Billy Gunn (Champion) & Al Snow (challenger) in a Triple Threat Hardcore Match for the WWF Hardcore Championship
Al Snow used to carry a mannequin’s head with him to the ring. He simply called it “Head”. His theme song asked “WHAT DOES EVERYBODY WANT? WHAT DOES EVERYBODY NEED?” The answer was either a) “head” or b) “bacon” and I don’t think it was “bacon”. (Though it’s a close fucking second.) “Hardcore” Holly used to be Bob Holly. But, because he has to have “attitude” like “The Rock” who was formerly Rocky Maivia and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, formerly “The Ringmaster” and “Mr. Ass” Billy Gunn who used to be Billy Gunn, he was just called “Hardcore Holly” all of the sudden. I applaud McMahon for finding the formula that would make the WWF successful again but a lot of these guys started trying way too fucking hard. The match is your typical hardcore match to warm up the crowd a bit. I hate these matches. The Hardcore Title was fucking pointless. There was little to no talent involved here. It was comprised, mainly, of a bunch of idiot wrestlers who beat each other with whatever they could find until the other guy would fall down. The wilder the competitor, the better. Mick Foley should have had this title the entire career but they actually had to GIVE him the shot at the WWF Championship so he wouldn’t hog the spotlight. This says something. The match ends when Mr. Ass, following tossing one of the guys into the table, hits the Fame-Asser on Al Snow. Immediately, Holly hits Gunn with the chair and pins Snow himself. New Hardcore Champion.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: Hardcore Holly via Fame-Asser
GRADE: C-. Meh. I’m not a hardcore fan. Bacon. I need bacon.

Post-match – Gunn argues with the ref. Dude…you’re arguing over a pile of shit. Boy, this match sucked.

  • Gunn would reunite with his old tag partner, Road Dogg, and become part of the Outlaws again. However, after suffering a torn rotator cuff in January of 2000, he would be kicked out of DX. Later that year, Gunn would return to the WWF as “The One”. He would team with Chyna, Road Dogg and Big Show, one right after the other. When he was with Show, the two would call the team, “Showgunns”. They would disband in 2001. As the WCW merger was complete and Chuck Palumbo would join the WWF ranks, Billy Gunn would team up with him and the team would join together as “Billy and Chuck”…and they would act like homosexuals. You can bet this sat well with the majority of the WWF audience who, in my experience and for the most part, were always meatheaded, unintelligent, and highly ignorant.

Next match…

MATCH #2: Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett (champions) (w/ Debra) vs. D’Lo Brown & Test (challengers) (w/ Ivory) for the WWF Tag Team Championship
More march of mediocrity. D’Lo and Test argue outside the ring. You know things are fucked up when a fight happens before the actual fight. The match is way too quick and people seem to be more caught up in Debra and Ivory trying to scratch their eyes out. D-Lo and Test have some decent talent but you can’t really tell here. The match ends when D-Lo has Jarrett set up for a piledriver or something. Owen hits a drop kick and Jarrett rolls Brown into a pin. The ref counts three. Yawn.
WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: Hart & Jarrett via roll pin
GRADE: D-. Ugh. Not a good start.

Post-match, D-Lo and Test fight some more! Yaaaay.

Maybe I’m less than enthused because I’m no long six years old watching this crap.

  • Owen Hart…I’ll just state the facts: two months later, Owen was competing at “Over the Edge”, a PPV event in Kansas City. As he was being lowered to the ring on a harness and wire, the quick release mechanism was activated and Owen fell nearly 80 feet into the ring. He was quickly rushed to Truman Medical Center in Kansas City where many attempts were made to revive him. Ultimately, Hart would succumb to his injuries from the fall…Hart was only 34 years old. I hadn’t realized he was that young.

A promo for the next match: Butterbean and Bart Gunn.

Isaac Hayes is at ringside.

MATCH #3: Butterbean vs. Bart Gunn in a Brawl for All Boxing Match
Vinny Pazienza is the referee. Kevin Rooney is a judge. Chuck Wepner is a judge…and, then…there was Gorilla Monsoon. He’s a judge as well. He gets a HUGE round of applause. Butterbean is out first. Then Bart Gunn. This will be the first boxing match in Wrestlemania since Wrestlemania 2. Butterbean knocks down Bart a few seconds in, then freakin’ KO’s him on the next punch. Still, it was nice to see Gorilla Monsoon.
WINNER: Butterbean
GRADE: F. This makes Wrestlemania 2 look like Ali vs. Foreman

    • In October of 1999, Gorilla Monsoon would pass away of heart failure brought on by complications from Diabetes. He was 62 years old.

 

  • Gunn would leave the WWF after this. For the next six years, until 2004, he would wrestle in Japan until 2006, when he would make a legitimate fighting debut as an MMA fighter in the PRIDE Fighting Championships. He would make a one-night return in 2007 for the 15-year RAW Anniversary. Gunn is now a master electrician in Florida.

Post-match, the San Diego Chicken comes out to entertain the crowd. He goes to shake Vinny’s hand and doesn’t do it. Then he farts in his direction and spanks his ass. Vinny hits a right hand and the Chicken goes down. This goes on longer than Butterbean vs. Gunn.

Earlier tonight, Show and Mankind were shown fighting backstage.

Mankind is being interviewed. Mankind is pissed at Big Show for fighting with him.

MATCH #4: Mankind vs. Big Show for the right to be the Special Guest Referee of the Main Event
Show is huge here, with long hair and doesn’t have the Andre trunks just yet. Mankind has a button-up white shirt with painted-on black stripes. The two face off for a bit until Foley gets Mr. Socko and hits the Mandible Claw. Then Show knocks him the fuck down. Then another Mandible Claw. Show knocks him down again…and another Mandible Claw. Sheesh, what variety. Show drops to one knee and continues to fade. Ref counts one hand…but Show is awake and gets to his feet and gets out of it. The match goes back outside where Wight just continues to beat on Mankind with chairs. The ref warns him, repeatedly, to cut out beating him. Show sets two chairs up in the ring, facing one another. The ref warns him not to do it. Show ignores him chokeslams Mankind into them. Bell rings. Show is DQ’ed. Mankind wins. Whatever moves the story along, I guess.
WINNER: Mankind via DQ
GRADE: D+. Storyline purposes. Man, this wasn’t as good as I remember.

Post-match, Hebner leaves the ring and McMahon comes to the ring, pissed off. McMahon yells at Hebner for not controlling Wight but Hebner gives it right back, saying that he warned Wight repeatedly and Wight didn’t listen. Hebner leaves and McMahon gets in the ring with Wight. McMahon asks Show what he’s just done. Then he pushes on Wight and Wight lifts him up for a Chokeslam…but then lets him go and puts him back on his feet. McMahon continues to yell at Wight and slaps Wight and Wight just knocks out McMahon, leaving him out in the ring. McMahon’s men come down to help and stare at Wight who glares right back. Backstage, Brisco and Patterson ask McMahon what to do now. Mankind is out due to injury and there is no referee for the Austin and Rock match. McMahon says to get on the phone right now. He wants Big Show arrested.

Boy, we’re not wasting time here…

MATCH #5: “Road Dogg” Jesse James (champion) vs. Val Venis (challenger) vs. Ken Shamrock (challenger) vs. Goldust (challenger) (w/ Ryan Shamrock & The Blue Meanie) in a Four Corners Elimination Match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship
Dogg does his usual spiel. Venis does his usual schtick. Goldust arrives with The Blue Meanie and Ryan Shamrock. Luckily, no mic time is needed. Ken Shamrock in next. This already feels overbooked. The opening salvo between Dust and Venis is pretty damn good. At one point, the ref becomes distracted and Shamrock takes care of Dust, knocking him out. Dogg comes in and DDT’s Venis but Dust only gets a two-count. Dogg goes nuts and clears the ring after knocking Dust out of the ring. Then he celebrates. Methinks DX still booked as they wished. Shamrock in with Venis. He trips him up and then applies The Ankle Lock. Venis gets to the ropes and barely breaks the hold. Venis tosses Shamrock out and Ryan comes over to argue with him. Venis baseball slides into him and looks like the two are gonna be victim of a double countout. Dust and Road Dogg are all that’s left. Shamrock hits a belly-to-belly on both men and goes Wookie Rage on the ref before leaving. Dust goes for a cover on Dogg but Dogg kicks out at two. Ryan Shamrock tries to distract Goldust for some reason and Dogg rolls him up for the three-count. Decent four corners match but nothing special.
WINNER: Road Dogg via roll pin
GRADE: C+.

Post-match, Blue Meanie rips into Ryan, as does Goldust.

    • Ken Shamrock would leave in late 1999 to go back to MMA. He would do this until 2002 when he signed a one-year deal with TNA. He’d leave in August of 2003 and return in 2004 before leaving again. He would wrestle, independently, in 2009.

 

    • Alicia Webb played Ken Shamrock’s kayfabe sister, “Ryan”. She had her own gimmick for the next few months but left in the summer of 1999. She would go to WCW next as a manager for The Maestro before leaving in August 2000. She has been wrestling independently for the last eleven years.

 

    • The Blue Meanie was played by Brian Heffron and would leave the WWF in early 2000. Since then, he has had small appearances in ECW, a one-time appearance in the WWF and wrestles independently.

 

  • Venis had some success going into 2000 when he would change his gimmick and join Right to Censor.

Big Show, meanwhile is being “arrested” by “police officers” (They’re always waiting around to arrest wrestlers who don’t do their jobs.) who drive a piece of shit, early-90’s, unmarked Nissan.

We see a promo for the Kane/Triple H match where Chyna got burned by a fireball.

MATCH #6: Kane (w/ Chyna) vs. Triple H
Kane comes out and stands there when, out of fucking nowhere, The San Diego Chicken comes running down the aisle and jumps on Kane’s back. Kane whips him into the ring and then unmasks him to reveal Pete Rose. No, really, I’m sober. He brings Rose into the ring where he Tombstones him. Really? Officials bring Rose to the back. Kane stands there, looking badass, happy with the fact that he just beat up a guy in a chicken suit. Triple H’s music hits and Kane waits…but Triple H comes out of the crowd behind Kane and hits a low-blow. Triple H rules the first half of this match, just rocking Kane from pillar to post. This is the first time I’ve seen Kane look somewhat human. The last Wrestlemania, he was practically unkillable. Here, he actually falls and lands on his sides, lays there like he’s in pain, and so on. After this, Kane takes over and pounds Triple H into submission. It’s worth noting, I guess, that the referee is none other than Teddy Long, Smackdown’s current GM. 🙂 Triple H starts to finally get an upper hand. Out walks Chyna and Kane tries for a Tombstone but Triple H counters with the Pedigree…but Kane gets out of it. Chyna shoves the ring steps into the ring as both men are down. Kane picks the stairs up and goes running toward Triple H but H kicks them away and Kane looks groggy. Kane runs at Triple H but Triple H trips Kane who falls, face-first, into the stairs. Kane is clotheslined outside and Triple H follows up bu following him and trying for another Pedigree but Triple H flips him over on his back. Chyna just stands there, watching. Kane gets back into the ring and goes for a chokeslam and hits it, big time. Chyna gets on the mat with a chair and says she wants to hit Triple H with a chair but Chyna belts Kane instead. Kane roars up and looks at her. Triple H is awake and hits Kane with the chair from behind plus one in the head. Kane still up but Triple H puts the chair down and hits the Pedigree right on the chair. Then he lifts Chyna up and celebrates. Triple H is DQ’ed but he could care less. Interesting at the end but the whole “large wrestler” thing kinda weighs down the pace.
WINNER: Kane via DQ
GRADE: C-. Maybe I’m in a bad mood but these matches just aren’t very good.

Post-match, the two continue to celebrate and we see replays.

Backstage, Kevin Kelly wonders who the referee is going to be. Then he bumps into Mr. McMahon. McMahon says that he has a referee shirt and that HE will be the guest referee. Then he says he’s gonna go get ready.

There’s a celeb named “Big Punisher” in the crowd.

Yeah…

MATCH #7: Sable (champion) vs. Tori (challenger) for the WWF Women’s Championship
Sable’s music hits and the crowd pops big-time. Why? Because Sable may show some tit. That’s why. (I stand by this. It’s true.) It’s not like she’s got a ton of skill. She gets in the ring and does her usual spiel. Then swivels her hips. The idiot fans eat it up and cheer like dumb seals being fed sardines. Tori out next and gets a mild pop. The Diva matches are nothing like this now are downright fucking retarded. Tori is wearing an outfit reminiscent of Giant Gonzales at Wrestlemania IX, only without the body hair. The match is your typical women’s match. The Women’s Championship is ironic – it’s supposed to be about independent, fighting women who are proud of their skill when, REALLY, it’s an excuse to show tits and ass and drive up the ratings. (And it doesn’t.) Tori tries to prove me wrong by hitting a “clothesline” which is more like a combo of a clothesline, forearm, shoulderblock and running the person over, all in one. Tori does hit a nice sunset flip reversal which is where the match FINALLY takes off. A series of two counts are traded here. Sable tries two roundhouse kicks and misses and Tori, accidentally, takes out the ref. Sable tries for a powerbomb but Tori counters. Tori sets up for her own…and Howard Stern’s Nicole Bass interferes outta fucking nowhere, Gorilla Press slamming Tori. Sable looks irritated but thanks Bass and she leaves. Sable hits the Sable Bomb and gets the pin to retain her title. Good filler but nothing special.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Sable via interference
GRADE: D-. And the crap march continues on.

Post-match, Sable does her swivel-hip grind over Tori’s face. Lawler licks his lips and stares at her like a fucking sexual predator. Yuck.

Backstage, X-Pac is ready for his match. Triple H says that DX is ready tonight.

Breaking news: The Mean Street Posse is at ringside, too.

Uh-huh…

MATCH #8: Shane McMahon (champion) (w/ Test) vs. X-Pac for the WWF European Championship
(And on to title defense #73 for the night.) So, Sean Waltman would come back to the WWF after spending time as nWo’s “Syxx” in WCW. I liked the guy’s talent, I don’t like his attitude. McMahon out first, looking cocky. X-Pac out next. Brisco and Patterson attack him but X-Pac kicks both their asses and runs to the ring. King: “Sure, Greenwich is an exclusive town. Their fire department doesn’t even make housecalls!” Heh. This is the first good match of the event, which is really too bad since it’s the third-to-last match of the night. Test helps out some from time to time. He pulls McMahon out of the ring at one point before X-Pac can hit the Bronco Buster and throws X-Pac, nuts-first, into the ring post. McMahon can wrestle. He tries to hit “The Corporate Elbow” which is exactly like The Rock’s but fails. He beats X-Pac with a leather strap over and over, then lunges at Pac, who tosses him over the ropes, outside. This era of WWF was so much different. Whereas a DQ would have been had in two seconds back in the day, DQ’s are almost never called. People can attack you outside, they can use weapons out there and nothing will be called. McMahon tries a top-rope move but X-Pac drop kicks him and then hits a second rope Superplex. He only gets two when Test pulls Pac from the ring. He tries to lunge at Pac but Pac moves. So…why hasn’t the ref told Test to leave? Then Pac beats Shane with the strap. He spin kicks Shane, then goes to the other corner and hits a Bronco Buster. The ref pulls him off and Test hits Pac with the belt. Ref didn’t see it. Shane goes to Pac and tries to cover…and gets two. So, Test continues to get away with murder and there’s nobody from DX coming to help Pac? Shane chokes Pac with his boot. Cole actually says, “Whoa! This is illegal!” for the first time. Test tries to interfere and Pac spin kicks him. Ref lets it go and Pac hits the Bronco Buster. Triple H and Chyna, Monday Morning QB’s that they are, FINALLY show up. Chyna distracts the ref as Pac hits the X-Factor. He covers but Triple H HITS THE PEDIGREE ON X-PAC!!! He puts Shane on top of Pac and gets the win.Wow!
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Shane McMahon via cheat
GRADE: B+. Finally! The first great match of the night!

Post-match, Chyna helps Shane up and Triple H beats the shit out of Pac, telling Test to lift him up. Triple H kicks him around until the New Age Outlaws show up and it’s a free for all. Overbooking city. Triple H takes out the two…then the lights go out…AND KANE’S MUSIC PLAYS! Here comes Kane! He clears the ring of everyone and the Corporation and DX scram. After this, the Outlaws help up X-Pac. Road Dogg says that Hunter is finished for doing what he did.

We get a tease for Hell in a Cell with Boss Man and Undertaker.

MATCH #9: The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) defeated Big Boss Man in Hell in a Cell
Boss Man is out first. Undertaker out next. You know, I DID love his “Attitude” theme…but you can’t mess with the classic. This one is all guitar-riffed out and has weird Undertaker chanting or something. Still a badass, though. Paul Bearer is not allowed inside the cell. It’s just Undertaker and Boss Man. Paul Bearer had really changed as a character. His new “Attitude” personality was to have his natural brown hair and to remove his make-up. He wore earth tone colors, too. Plus he sounded less creepy and more Southern. It cracks me up when The Undertaker throws Boss Man into the Cell mesh. Boss Man screams like his back is out. Mesh has give, if I remember correctly. I’m so not buying the pain. Boss man grabs cuffs after some back-and-forth and cuffs the Undertaker to the cell. Then he grabs his nightstick…ruh roh. Undertaker kicks at him but misses. Boss Man uses the stick to kick that Undertaker’s ass. The problem with this is that the handcuffs break, so now the Undertaker is loose. Undertaker is busted open now and the match slows down. Undertaker tosses Boss Man into the mesh, then goes under the ring and grabs a steel chair…ruh roh. He belts the Boss Man, then fucking whacks him in the back. Undertaker looks mighty pleased with himself. Undertaker throws Boss Man, head-first, into the cell. Then he hits him and throws him back into the ring. Boss Man battles back but Undertaker hits a flying clothesline and only gets two. Undertaker twists Boss Man’s arm and does Old School but Boss Man trips him and knocks him off the ropes and into the cell. Nice reversal. The two engage in some back and forth but Undertaker FINALLY hits the Tombstone and wins the match.
WINNER: The Undertaker via Tombstone
GRADE: C-. This match was needlessly long. I really thought we were done with the cartoony shit but I was wrong. Undertaker, at this point, went 7-0 at Wrestlemania.

Post-match, Undertaker calls to the heavens…Gangrel, Edge, and Christian fly down like Angels of Death. The three men rip the top off the cell. The Boss Man continues to lay in the middle of the cell as the Undertaker waits. The three men drop a noose into the ring. The Undertaker holds it and looks around. Edge, Christian, and Gangrel put their fists to the sky and they fly back off up into the air. Undertaker puts the noose around Boss Man’s neck. It’s attached to the top of the cage. Bearer raises it up and Boss Man is hung from the top of the cell. Boss Man struggles and goes limp…wow.

Nicely worked. Decent storytelling makes up for a so-so HIAC match.

We get an ad for “WWF Rage Party” which was a concert party before Wrestlemania.

Michael Cole says that Jim Ross will announce the main event in his stead. Lawler is all smiles and happy to see him and says that you can’t have a Wreslemania without J.R….

MATCH #10: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (challenger) vs. The Rock (champion) in a No Disqualification Match for the WWF Championship with Vince McMahon as the special guest referee
McMahon makes his way out, looking cocky, and gets in the ring…when, suddenly, Shawn Michaels’ music hits. The crowd pops. Out comes Michaels, wearing a white suit, a’la Don Johnson. He gets in the ring and poses. He has a mic. He puts his hand on McMahon’s shoulder. The crowd is chanting, “HBK” and Michaels is smiling. Michaels says we can’t have a Wrestlemania without The Heartbreak Kid. He says that he’s a bit disappointed that he had to buy a ticket to get in but he won’t hold it against McMahon. He says that McMahon should have read the rulebook. He says he knows Vince is a busy man but he should have some priorities. Had he taken the time to read it, it states that there is only one man who can appoint an official at Wrestlemania. That one man is NOT Vince. He says that he is gonna give Vince ONE GUESS on who can make that decision. He says that Michaels is the only one who can do it. He says that Vince needs to take his ass out of the ring. Michaels says that if the Corporation thinks that they’re gonna have a place in this match, they won’t. They’re BARRED from ringside. He says that if ANY of them break his rules, Michaels is gonna take Vince out back and it’ll be on. He tells Vince to hit the bricks.

Finally, we get the match.

The Rock is out first. He does his patented head snap and has the belt over his shoulder. The belt, btw, has been remade. It’s bigger and better. Shattered glass…and here comes the Rattlesnake. This is, perhaps, one of my favorite Wrestlemania matches of all-time. The Rock and Austin had two different styles but were two of the same people as far as guts, intensity and trash-talking went. The Rock and Austin traded punches and Rock tosses Austin. Austin gets right back in and the two duke it out again. This time, Austin tosses Rock outside and into the crowd. The two fight amongst the crowd and it’s become a helluva fight already. They make their way back to the ring and Austin tosses The Rock into the crowd on the other side. They fight there and make their way back to the ring again. Then Rock drags Austin all the way back to the entrance ramp. Austin with a Clothesline from fucking HELL on the Rock. He and Rock just get into a hatefuckfight until Rock body drops Austin onto the steel light support. Austin grabs his injured knee in pain. He landed right on it. Austin grabs some electrical cable and uses it to choke Rock. Then he tosses Rock into the Wrestlemania logo. The logo sways from the impact. They battle their way back to the ring and to the announcer’s booth. Rock gets a bottle of water, drinks from it and spits it at Austin. They go to the Spanish Announce Table (AKA Target Practice) and Austin elbows Rock, collapsing it. King says, “It’s a Slobberknocker, J.R.! Go ahead and say it!” JR agrees. Suddenly, Rock hits a Rock Bottom…and NEARLY gets a fall. Wow! Rock gets a chair but Austin kicks him. Austin gets the chair and swings it at Rock…but hits the ref instead. Rock uses the chair on his busted knee, over and over. He continues to beat Austin with the chair and then FINALLY goes for a cover…but Austin kicks out! The ref is back in it. Rock hits a Sleeper on Austin but Austin gets free only to get clotheslined. Rock puts Austin back into the Sleeper again. Austin breaks free and continues to punch Rock before Rock hits the Samoan Drop for a 2 1/2 count. The Rock is upset and hits the Rock Bottom on the ref! Austin comes up…AND HITS A STUNNER!!! He covers! No ref! Earl Hebner comes in! He counts but The Rock BARELY kicks out. Wow. Vince comes out to the ring but Austin flips him off. Austin gets the chair and goes to attack Rock but Rock gives Austin a low blow. Vince gets into the ring. He decks Earl Hebner and Rock and Vince kick Austin in the corner. As they do, Mankind makes his way to the ring!!! WTF?! Mankind grabs Vince and hits him! The Rock questions him but Austin hits a roll-up and NEARLY gets another pin. Whew. Austin hits the Middle Finger Elbow Drop but Rock kicks him. Mankind is the new ref. Rock goes for a Rock Bottom but Rock doesn’t go for a pin. Rock, instead, calls for the Corporate Elbow. He goes to one set of ropes…the other set, he flips off Austin! MISSES THE ELBOW! Austin gets up, tries to kick Rock but Rock catches his foot. He flips Austin off and Austin gets out AND HITS THE STUNNER!!! Austin is the new champ!!!
WINNER: Austin via Stunner
GRADE: A-. Great match and saves an otherwise terrible event.

You can call this overbooked if you want but it’s SATISFYING and this is a clinic on how you run a year-long grudge, keep it interesting, and come up with a great climax.

Post-match, Austin celebrates the title win. Mankind helps him. Austin calls for some beer which he cracks open. He drinks his beers and goes from turnbuckle to turnbuckle. Outside, Vince is practically losing his lunch. He gets up as Austin is leaving the ring. Austin stops. He tosses the belt back inside and runs back into the ring to celebrate some more. He blows kisses and middle fingers to the audience. Austin calls Earl Hebner into the ring, shares a beer with him and Earl Hebner climbs the turnbuckles like Austin and pours beer into his mouth. Austin swills beer and celebrates. Vince starts walking back down the aisle. He stops short and looks back at Austin as he celebrates his title. Austin leaves the ring and bumps into Vince. Vince says that the belt is his. Austin goes to hand Vince the belt…then DECKS HIM. Then he tosses Vince into the ring…AND STUNS HIM.

Remember when I said, “satisfying”? Look it up in the dictionary. It will direct you to a YouTube link of this.

Austin pours beer on Vince and then yells in his face like Vince used to do to taunt Austin.

That’s all she wrote.

Two good matches. It was a LONG wait to get to the end but the end was worth it.

I’m torn on this WM. I liked it but ONLY because of the work and storyline.
(Yep. This was a C+, even with the two good ones.)

— Matt

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