What the World Was Watching: WrestleMania XV

Boyz 2 Men sing “America the Beautiful” to kick off the show.  They receive a Cena-like mixed reaction.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Opening Triple Threat Contest for the Hardcore Championship:  Hardcore Holly defeats “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn (Champion) and Al Snow (w/Head) after pinning Snow following a Gunn Fameasser to win the title at 7:10:

Cole makes sure we know that this is the first time that a Hardcore title match is at WrestleMania, a fact that really does not need to be said because the Hardcore title has only existed for about six months to this point.  The crowd is the real MVP of this one, chanting “Let’s go Flyers!” when Snow attacks his opponents with a hockey stick that is conveniently placed underneath the ring.  This is an average garbage brawl with the usual spots and Gunn loses the title after two weeks when Holly smacks him in the back with a chair and steals his pin on Snow.  If Gunn was going to drop the title so soon, why give him the belt in the first place?  Rating:  **

Footage from Sunday Night Heat when D-Lo Brown and Test were the last two men in a battle royal and earned a tag team title shot.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart (Champions w/Debra) beat D-Lo Brown & Test (w/Ivory) when Jarrett pins Brown after an Owen missile dropkick at 4:01:

As noted above, D-Lo and Test earned this title shot on Sunday Night Heat and this match is the culmination of D-Lo feuding with Jarrett and Owen ever since his usual partner, Mark Henry, went down with an injury.  The match is nothing, as everyone does a few basic spots until Debra and Ivory start brawling on the arena floor and the champions take advantage of the distraction to secure the victory.  This was Owen’s last WrestleMania match and his career ended with a 5-2-1 record at the event.  Rating:  *½

A video package for the Bart Gunn-Butterbean Brawl for All match is shown while the ring is prepared for the bout.

Brawl for All Match:  Butterbean defeats Bart Gunn via knockout at 36 seconds of the first round:

Vinny Pazienza is the guest referee for this bout and Kevin Rooney, Chuck Wepner, and Gorilla Monsoon are the guest judges.  Monsoon does not look good, showing significant weight loss, and he would pass away by the end of the year.  Bart had a really stupid strategy in this bout as he should have had Steve Blackman teach him takedowns in the weeks leading up to this match.  Instead, he decided to go toe-to-toe with a trained boxer and was knocked out in quick fashion, thereby ending whatever WWF career he could have hoped to gain from this event.  Butterbean hoped that he would get a WWF contract out of this, but that did not happen either.

After the bout, the Famous Chicken hits the ring and riles Pazienza into hitting him.

Footage of the Big Show attacking Mankind on Sunday Night Heat is shown as we try to fill time due to how quick the Brawl for All ended.

Kevin Kelly interviews Mankind.  Mankind says that he is an angry man and things will not turn out well for the Big Show.

Winner Referees the Main Event:  Mankind beats The Big Show via disqualification when the Big Show chokeslams him through two chairs at 6:52:

Our string of average bouts continues here as Mankind’s attempt to use Socko on the Big Show fails and then the Big Show acts like an idiot by dragging two chairs into the ring and chokeslams Mankind through them to lose.  So the Big Show, who was billed as an unstoppable monster a month ago, has lost his last two matches.  Mankind is stretchered to the back after the match, with Cole saying that he has never seen Mankind on a stretcher before, thereby ignoring the dumpster incident from 1998 and elements of the 1998 King of the Ring.  Rating:  *½

Vince McMahon walks to the ring after the match and criticizes the Big Show for losing the match and not being the referee for the main event.  They run the Andre-Heenan spot from WrestleMania VI, with Vince slapping the Big Show and Show decking him in response.  This is turn number one in the Big Show’s career and he would have several more before the year was out.  The stooges carry McMahon backstage where he says he wants a cell phone so that he can have the police arrest the Big Show for assault.

Four Corner Elimination Match for the Intercontinental Championship:  The Road Dogg (Champion) defeats Goldust (w/The Blue Meanie & Ryan Shamrock), Ken Shamrock, and Val Venis at 9:54:

Order of Elimination:  Venis and Shamrock are counted out at 8:26; Goldust is pinned with a small package at 9:54

Having multi-man matches for all of these titles just strikes me as wrong on a stage like WrestleMania, but at least the Intercontinental title was being defended at the big event during this era.  Nearly all of these guys get heat for their entrance so when that ends the crowd loses a lot of interest in the match.  The match comes across as a combination of RAW midcard matches and when Shamrock and Venis get counted out that delivers a major cop out for the fans.  Ryan Shamrock accidentally trips Goldust when he runs the ropes and the Road Dogg takes advantage of this heel miscommunication to win.  After the match, Goldust dumps Ryan and the Blue Meanie is happy that Ryan has been evicted from “the family.”  Is this WrestleMania or an episode of Sunday Night Raw?  Rating:  *½

Police arrest the Big Show and cart him off to jail.

Cole recaps the Triple H-Kane feud.

Before the next match, the Famous Chicken ambushes Kane, but Kane rips off the Chicken’s mask to reveal Pete Rose and gives him a Tombstone.  The Kane-Rose mini-feud at WrestleMania was one of Kane’s best programs.

Kane beats Triple H via disqualification when Chyna interferes at 11:33:

So the basis of this feud is that Triple H is mad with at Kane because Kane shot a fireball into Chyna’s face, despite the fact that Triple H ducked that fireball and partially caused the incident in the first place.  Perfectly logical, right?  And Kane’s affiliation with the Corporation has largely been forgotten about for the last several weeks as well.  Kane methodically wears down Triple H until the power of the knee sparks the comeback after what feels like an eternity.  Chyna makes a return appearance near the end of the match, showing no eye damage despite discussions of a retina injury on the last few RAWs, and turns on Kane by hitting him with a chair.  After the bell, Triple H uses the chair to wear out Kane and Pedigrees him on it, reuniting with Chyna in an apparent face turn for her.  Who decided to give this match nearly twelve minutes?  Rating:  *

Kelly interviews Vince McMahon, who says he is going to be the guest referee for the main event now that the Big Show has been arrested and Mankind is in a local hospital.

WWF Women’s Championship Match:  Sable (Champion) pins Tori after a Sable Bomb at 5:05:

Sable has to be the ring general here since she is the heel and that is not a good idea since her offense does not look crisp.  One of the highlights of the match is a horrid bridge-backslide sequence that would make Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat roll over in their graves if they were dead.  We get a ref bump as if the match could not go off the rails enough and this allows Nicole Bass of the Howard Stern Show to interfere and help Sable win.  So that makes four matches decided via interference tonight.  Rating:  DUD

Kelly interviews D-Generation X, who says that since Chyna has come home that Shane McMahon stands no chance in the next match.

European Championship Match:  Shane McMahon (Champion w/Test) defeats X-Pac after Triple H Pedigrees X-Pac at 8:40:

The Mean Street Posse are sitting at ringside and their purpose becomes known very early on when they try to interject themselves when X-Pac is brawling with Shane on the arena floor.  A conventional theory at the time was that X-Pac would regain the title here and move onto greener pastures, but we get another twist in the booking as Triple H and Chyna turn on X-Pac, thereby killing D-Generation X by joining the Corporation, and Shane retains the title (which would soon be retired for a while).  All of that said, this is the first entertaining bout of the evening as the overbooking and interference made sense and X-Pac does an ample job of carrying Shane in the ring.  Rating:  ***

After the match, Test and Triple H lay out X-Pac and then beat up the New Age Outlaws when they run out to assist.  The crowd loudly chants for Shawn Michaels, but his assistance is not forthcoming.  However, Kane does make the save and he “chases” the heels to the locker room.

A video package recaps the Undertaker-Big Bossman feud.

Hell in a Cell:  The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) pins The Big Bossman after a Tombstone at 9:49:

The Undertaker is rocking a vampire-like attire for his entrance, an entrance that is very low key by Undertaker standards.  As is the case with this Ministry-Corporation feud the crowd does not want to cheer for either guy so you can hear a pin drop for much of the match or at least that is what you can hear until the crowd loses patience and boos it out of the building.  The only notable part of the match is Cole’s stupid remark about the danger of getting your fingers getting caught in the cell.  Since Lawler still cared about his job at this point he rightly points out how stupid that remark is when Mankind got tossed off of it at the King of the Ring.  I wish 1980s Jesse Ventura could have been doing color to tear into Cole, though.  Anyway, this is a punch-kick-punch-kick affair that has no flow and just ends out of nowhere as if the Undertaker built up a special through the Bossman’s boring strikes and used it.  Easily the worst Hell in a Cell match up to this point and the Undertaker was rewarded for this debacle with a WWF title feud.  Rating:  DUD

Then, to insult our intelligence even further, the Brood are lowered on top of the cell, break into it, and lower a noose where the Bossman is hanged.  Now that would kill a normal person, but you see the Bossman made a completely normal recovery.  And where is the Corporation to save the Bossman?  Such a stupid and tasteless incident and it is maybe the worst “WrestleMania Moment” of all time.

And from live death we go to highlights from the WrestleMania Rage Party!

Michael Cole announces the return of Jim Ross to call the main event.  And just like that the whole “JR is RAW” angle is dead.

Vince McMahon walks out to referee the main event, but is interrupted by Commissioner Shawn Michaels, who has referee Mike Chioda with him.  Michaels says that the WWF rulebook only empowers him to name a referee at WrestleMania.  He also bars the Corporation from ringside under threat of beating up McMahon backstage.

No Disqualification Match for the WWF Championship:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats The Rock (Champion) with the Stone Cold Stunner to win the title at 16:53:

Steve Austin’s six month quest to regain the WWF title culminates here in our first Austin-Rock encounter at WrestleMania.  The no disqualification stipulation hurts some of the match as we get a really, really long brawl on the outside to start and then three referees are taken out by the participants and McMahon, who wanders out to interfere.  Eventually Mankind returns from the hospital to take out McMahon and from there Austin avoids a People’s Elbow and Stunners his way to a second WWF title.  The crowd was happy with the outcome, but the match did not come off as an epic struggle between the company’s biggest stars and was just sort of there.  Rating:  **½

After the bell, Austin celebrates with Earl Hebner, who appears to have the time of his life jumping on turnbuckles and drinking beer.  He was probably thinking of how many Austin t-shirts he was going to sell over the next month.  McMahon makes the mistake of getting in Austin’s face, eats a Stunner, and is doused in beer.

The Final Report:  1999’s string of bad pay-per-views continued with this show that was hardly fitting of the WrestleMania name.  The constant interference finishes, the turns of major competitors (and a double turn in the case of Triple H and Chyna over two matches), and the angle over the referee throughout the show made this feel like an episode of Monday Night Raw more than what was supposed to be the biggest show of the year.  It feels right to have Austin win the title again, but this is already the fourth WWF title change of the year and that lessens some of the effect.

Attendance:  20,276

Buyrate:  2.32 (+.02 over previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down