This nineteenth WrestleMania was historic for two very big reasons. It was the first WrestleMania under the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) name. They “got the F out” in 2002.
It was also the first WrestleMania with the brand extension in full effect, which meant the roster was divided into the Raw brand and the Smackdown brand.
The majority of the advertising was based on the Hulk Hogan/Vince McMahon match. It wasn’t the main event, but it got the most hype. I could understand why. At least they didn’t book it to go on last.
Even though WrestleMania 19 is considered by many to be one of the best WrestleManias ever, it did a disappointing number in terms of PPV buyrates with 560,000 buys. It was by far the lowest buyrate for a WrestleMania in the 20000s and nearly 300k thousand less than the next lowest. A lot of the blame went towards the Vince-Hogan feud that was pushed so much. It was even worse than the 2003 Royal Rumble PPV, which did 585,000 buys. I’m sure if WWE advertised that Steve Austin was wrestling his last match at this show then the buyrate would have been much bigger, but Austin wanted to keep it quiet.
The write-up you’ll see below is what I wrote live when I watched the event in 2003. Yes, I was writing about wrestling way back then. I remember ordering it on WWE.com and paying $19.95 for it. The quality of the video was pretty good although it wasn’t in HD yet. It was better than $40 on PPV, I figured. I’ve edited some parts and of course added plenty of analysis as well. If the writing style is different at times that’s why. I’ve changed the style a bit over the years. I didn’t feel the need to write out thousands of words when I’ve already done it. I have added some 2022 thoughts in blue font as well.
WWE WrestleMania XIX
March 30, 2003
From Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington
The stadium looks amazing because the glass windows illuminate the entire building. The building is totally full, looking absolutely awesome – the way WrestleMania is supposed to be. No pyro to start. They start out with Ashanti singing “God Bless America.” She did a great job. During the song they showed pictures of some soldiers in Iraq, which drew some good pops. Good idea on WWE’s part.
They air a video with several superstars talking about what WrestleMania means to them. Among them are Triple H, Kurt Angle, Undertaker, Booker T., Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar, The Rock, Hulk Hogan, and Chris Jericho. Really good video, as expected.
Pyro starts, crowd goes nuts. Awesome visual. Just saw a “Hogan Sucks” sign on screen. Well played. The commentating team was Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler for the Raw matches while Michael Cole & Tazz called the Smackdown matches.
Cruiserweight Title: Matt Hardy vs. Rey Mysterio
Matt Facts: This is his fourth WrestleMania and Matt often wonders how they did WrestleMania without him. Rey hits a corkscrew plancha on Matt & Shannon on the outside. Leg scissors by Rey, spinning heel kick. Moore interferes on Matt’s behalf to give Matt advantage. Drops his head on the barrier outside the ring for two. Matt gets two with a side slam, then gets two. Shannon chokes Rey. Matt misses a spot, Rey counters. Twist of Fate reversed into a rollup for Rey. Rey in the air, Matt catches him for the side effect that gets two. Matt holds Rey’s arms back in a rest spot. It should be worth nothing Rey is wearing a purple body suit to go along with a mask that has horns on it. Chops by Hardy, he eats boot. Charge into the corner, shoulder hits post. Cross body for Rey gets two. Tornado DDT for two. Rey sets up Hardy for the 619, but Shannon trips him up. Twist of Fate, hits it, for two. Matt sets up Rey on the top rope for the splash mountain (Razor’s Edge), but Rey reverses with a hurricanrana. Shannon puts Matt’s foot on the ropes at two. 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 at 5:37.
Winner by pinfall: Matt Hardy
Analysis: **1/2 A nice opener because the crowd was very hot for Rey, who was making his WrestleMania debut. Hardy was very enjoyable in his heel act during this time period. I would have liked to see it given more time. By the way, how cool were the Matt Facts? I loved them. Great idea.
(This was Rey’s first WrestleMania match. The match was on the short side, but a solid effort between two talented wrestlers. Matt was probably over the actual weight of a cruiserweight, but that was part of the gimmick for his heel character at the time.)
The Miller Lite catfight girls are here. They do a bit where they argue. They are very hot. Good for them.
Time for a Limp Bizkit song. They are introduced as “The WWE’s favorite band in the world.” More people boo than cheer. They are playing Taker’s old theme song: “Rollin'” I guess that means Undertaker’s match is up next.
The Undertaker vs. Big Show & A-Train
The Undertaker came out during the Limp Bizkit performance. WWE showed their lack of confidence in Jones by shooting an injury angle on Heat. Show & A-Train come out together. It is now a handicap match.
Taker gets a fast chokeslam on A-Train. Show saves at two. Taker with punches on Show. More double teaming, more punching from Taker. Old school clothesline from Taker. Show distracts Taker, A-Train gets the Derailer. Show throws him into the post. Ref sees nothing. I wish I were seeing nothing. Show drops him face first onto the ring barrier. Decapitator by A-Train for two. Decapitator is a slingshot into the bottom rope neck first. In comes Show. Taker fights him off. Show goes for a chokeslam, but that young buck Taker turns it into a Fujiwara Armbar. A-Train comes in, Taker turns that into a cross armbreaker. Show drops a leg on his head. Show just stands there sucking wind, then hits a headbutt. Abdominal stretch. A-Train in with an abdominal stretch of his own. Tazz says “great psychology” by Show & Train. I call it nauseating. Taker reverses it into a stretch of his own. Back suplex by Taker. Like an idiot, Taker runs into the ropes where Big Show sticks his knee into him. Clothesline by Train for two. Punching, punching, punching, more punching, here comes Taker. Awesome leaping DDT by Taker gets two as Show breaks it up. Taker clotheslines both of them three times each. Choke on Show, bicycle kick by Train. Chokeslam by Big Show. Crowd gets up, here comes Nathan Jones. Kick to the head of the Big Show in the aisle. Taker throws Train into Jones, Jones kicks him down. Taker hits a Tombstone to remain undefeated at WrestleMania. Match went 9:42. Undertaker is 11-0 at WrestleMania.
Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker
Analysis: * Boring match. Vince sure loves his big guys huh? My question to WWE is if you knew Jones sucked so much why was he in a match at WrestleMania while other talented individuals are off the show? Weak! Undertaker had some worse WrestleMania matches, but this may have been the most forgettable one. He deserved a bigger role at this show. It was the last time he would be at a WrestleMania without a “Dead Man” gimmick too.
(Bad match. It is not The Undertaker’s worst WrestleMania match, but it was certainly one of the bad ones. Nathan Jones was going to be Taker’s tag team partner in the match, but he was so bad while training for the match that they just made it a handicap match instead.)
Miller Light Catfight girls run into Torrie and Stacy. They’re all so hot. Torrie is reading her own Playboy. The writing team must really think that all she would ever read was her own Playboy. So smart. Stacy tells the girls she has a marketing campaign that will blow them away.
They show highlights from Heat from the tag title match. Poor RVD & Kane were relegated to being a tag team on Heat. They both deserved better.
Women’s Title: Victoria vs. Jazz vs. Trish Stratus
Trish comes out first, then Jazz, then Victoria, with Steven Richards and his pink tights. I love Trish’s cleavage showing outfit. God bless her for knowing what pays the bills. Looks awesome. Jazz with a bridging camel clutch on Trish. Trish gets a Thesz press. Jazz whips her in, eats boot. Victoria pulls Trish out and then throws Jazz out. Brawling on the outside leads to Vic getting a somersault legdrop over the top on Trish. Jazz with a legdrop on Trish for two, pulled out by Victoria. Two heels pick Trish up and do a double shoulderbreaker. Cool spot. Victoria hits a spinning powerslam on Jazz. Shoulders in the corner. Trish up, rollup into a bridge for two. Victoria picks Trish up, yells “I hate you” and knocks her down. That cracked me up. Trish gets a clothesline, but Jazz hits her in the back. Jazz hits a gorgeous powerslam on Trish. Trish gives them a DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER~! See, I didn’t write that originally. Had to edit that in. Victoria holds Trish for Jazz, Trish ducks and Jazz gets a spinkick on Victoria. Victory roll by Trish on Jazz. Headscissors takedown by Trish on Victoria followed by chops. Victoria on the outside, Jazz puts her in a single leg Boston crab and then into an STF. Richards into the ring, throws Jazz out behind the ref’s back. Victoria in, Trish rolls her up with tights for two, Victoria reverses that for two. Chicken wing by Jazz on Trish, but when she turns around she takes a superkick from Victoria. Moonsault by Victoria misses. It was better than any Lita moonsault, that’s for sure. Great height and form. Richards in. He tries to chair Trish but it bounces back into his own face after hitting the ropes. Victoria for the Widow’s Peak, Trish hits the Chick Kick and gets the 1, 2, 3 to become the new Women’s champion at 7:17.
Winner by pinfall and New Women’s Champion: Trish Status
Analysis: **3/4 That was a really good divas match. They worked well together. A lot of nice nearfalls that were believable as finishes too. The finish was executed perfectly. Trish made big strides in her in-ring career between WM18 and WM19. Victoria was only a couple of years into her career too. She always had a good lack. Jazz was the most experienced of the three. Whereas the other two got in the business through fitness modeling, Jazz was a true wrestler in a lot of ways. Did I mention how much I loved that outfit on Trish? Yummy.
(More time would have been nice, but going seven or eight minutes on PPV was about as much as the women’s wrestler could get in this era. All three women are very talented and there really was no bad choice here in terms of a winner. I was happy Trish won because she was my favorite.)
Backstage, The Rock is interviewed by The Coach. Rock doesn’t care how many people there are because they boo him. The Rock could care less about the people. In case you couldn’t tell Rock was in heel mode. 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 (Smackdown) Tag Team Titles: Team Angle (Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas) vs. Los Guerreros (Eddie & Chavo) vs. Chris Benoit & Rhyno
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. Eddy tags Shelton in the back, then fakes Rhyno with a test of strength, but changes his mind to hit a dropkick. That was sweet. Benoit in, chop on Eddy, but Eddy hits a back suplex on Benoit. Eddy goes up top, Benoit catches him and hits a beautiful superplex for two. He throws Eddy into the ropes, throws him up high like a flapjack and gets a crossface, but Haas breaks it up. Eddy reverses, hits a brainbuster and tags in Chavo. Chavo takes out everybody with awesome moves. Benoit catches him and hits German suplexes. Crowd chants for all four of them. Chavo tagged in Shelton, Benoit doesn’t see it and Shelton gets a superkick. Eddy comes in to break it up. Double knockdown, Shelton works on Benoit with a legdrop for one, two…Frog Splash out of nowhere! Chavo tags Benoit to bring himself in. Rhyno gores Haas. Rhyno gores Chavo, and the crowd loves it. The legal man, Shelton Benjamin, rolls in and makes the cover on Chavo for the victory at 8:48.
Winners by pinfall: Team Angle
Analysis: *** A good match between talented teams. It was too short for my liking. I think it was hurt by the match before it also being a triple threat match because there were a lot of the same concepts in this. A clever finish made up for some weak spots.
(The reason why it felt too short was because oftentimes on Smackdown in those days they got time to do 15-minute tag team matches regularly and we were spoiled by so many good matches. Anyway, Team Angle was getting a push as the champions so it made sense for them to win their first WrestleMania match together.)
Backstage, Torrie Wilson & Stacy Keibler 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 on the same level as a bad porn, but they’re hotter than most girls in porn. Not that a sophisticated gentleman like myself would really know. Let’s move on.
Next up was Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho. I loved the build to this match with Jericho talking about how he grew up idolizing Michaels and then he did everything he could to get under his skin in order to have this match. It was also the WrestleMania in-ring return of my favorite wrestlers Shawn Michaels after being out of action for over four years. They aired a video package detailing the feud, which was better than I remembered it. I love these two guys and you can probably tell how much as you get into reading about the match.
Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho
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. Takedown into a headscissors and then both guys up. Armdrag by Jericho, Shawn gets out. Shawn taunts him by posing on the top ropes. Jericho with a wrist lock, HBK gets a hip toss, takedown by Jericho, HBK pushes him off. Side headlock by HBK, Y2J rolls it into two. (I wouldn’t write the sequences out like that today, but want to leave it in to let you know how my style has changed over the years.) Jericho breaks out with elbows, criss-cross, Jericho slaps him and Shawn punches him in the face then tosses him out. HBK goes for a plancha, Jericho ducks so Shawn goes back in the ring and nails him with a baseball slide on the floor. Cross body by HBK, Jericho rolls through for two. Into the ropes, Jericho gets a spinning heel kick followed by some punching. Chop, chop, hard whip into the turnbuckle. Jericho goes for a running bulldog, but Shawn reverses it so that Jericho goes groin first into the middle turnbuckle. HBK gets a figure four leglock, Jericho reverses it. Crowd isn’t into it as much as you’d think. Kneebreaker, figure four again, but Chris sends him shoulder first into the ring post. Jericho tries to throw him out, but HBK skins the cat and takes Jericho out with a headscissors. HBK nails a plancha onto Jericho on the outside. Outside the ring, HBK goes for a dropkick that Jericho reverses into the Walls. He sits in it until the eight count, then breaks up the count. HBK goes back first into the ring post. Big heat for Jericho. I like it a lot. Jericho’s working on the back to set up for the Walls of Jericho.
Jericho hits the springboard dropkick from inside the ring onto Shawn on the apron and throws him back in the ring. Back suplex for Y2J. Standing vertical suplex for two. More people are chanting “TWO” now. Good job by both guys of getting the crowd involved. Hard backbreaker by Jericho. Cocky heel flex pose pin for two. Jericho goes for a back body drop, which is reversed into a DDT as both guys are out on the mat for an eight count. Jericho gets a flying forearm and the nip up followed by an HBK flex pose. Then HBK nips up! Sweet! What an awesome moment. HBK forearm, nip up, atomic drop, clothesline, back body drop. Into the buckle, Jericho eats boot and then the standing moonsault for the long two for Michaels. Good nearfall. Rollup by HBK for two, Jericho for 2, HBK for 2, Jericho for 2, Walls are reversed by HBK. Northern Lights suplex by Jericho for two! Back slide, HBK bridges up, and clothesline. HBK chant starts up. Facecrusher by Jericho. Lionsault. One, two, no. Again for two. Into the ropes, HBK goes for a hurricanrana. Walls of Jericho in the center of the ring! Crowd is going ballistic with HBK chants as Shawn gets the ropes. Jericho goes for the Walls again, HBK reverses into an inside cradle for two! Double underhook into a backbreaker by Jericho. Off the top, Jericho hits a reverse elbow and starts warming up the band! He hits the superkick! 1…2…no! Wow, that was awesome. HBK fights him off to nail a crossbody and then they trade punches. HBK going for the Walls, but changes his mind into a slingshot on the turnbuckle for two. Punch by HBK misses, Jericho goes to the back. Jericho sets him up on the top rope. Back suplex coming up, 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! The crowd is going apeshit now and so am I. 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! Rules, I say! 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! It went 22:34.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
Analysis: ****1/2 Outstanding match. There was a lot of hype going into this because it was Michaels’ WrestleMania return and to this point, Jericho hadn’t had a classic match at WrestleMania, so it was big for both guys. They delivered the goods as far as I’m concerned. They did an amazing job of making believable nearfalls, timing everything perfectly well and putting on a great display of counter wrestling. My one main gripe is that Jericho worked over Michaels’ back quite a bit early, then it kind of stopped and he didn’t sell it as much as he probably should have. The back injury was the key story going in and it was the big reason why Michaels got so much sympathy babyface heat. I would have liked an even longer Walls of Jericho sequence at the end. The finish with Michaels beating him with a cradle instead of the superkick was cool because it let us know that a big match like this could end at any time. Their best match ever was the No Mercy 2008 ladder match, which was a five star match that was my match of the year too. This one is special too, though.
(It’s an awesome match. One of many outstanding WrestleMania matches for Michaels while Shawn was also Jericho’s best opponent in Jericho’s career. The chemistry was there between these guys. I looked at my play-by-play write-up with all the exclamation points reminding me of how excited I was when the match took place. The finish of the match was well done. I’m glad that they didn’t have Michaels win with a Superkick because the rollup using the legs was a finish that showed how evenly matched they were. It’s okay to use a creative finish like that once in a while.)
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.
(I loved the kick in the balls! Great heel heat for that.)
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.
Goldberg video promo. It says he’s coming to Backlash. The crowd starts chanting “Goldberg.” Best thing about Goldberg’s WWE run was that I’m glad they only signed him to a one year deal. I was never much of a Goldberg fan.
Attendance: 54,097 people. A big crowd, but most dome shows got over 60,000 people. Here’s Limp Bizkit singing “Crack Addict.” At least I could fast forward it this time unlike during the live broadcast.
They show the video of Torrie Wilson’s news conference that we saw on Smackdown with regards to the news that she’d be in Playboy. Stephanie was there too. I always love when women say posing in Playboy is classy. Do you think the guys they are related to think it’s classy?
Coach is out near the entrance to announce a “WrestleMania Catfight” between Tonya Ballinger (blond) and Kitana Baker (brunette). I like Kitana better. I’m a brunette guy. They are fighting on a bed located near the big screen. They crawl on the bed, but here comes Stacy Keibler. George Clooney is marking out, bro! Yes I used that joke in WM18 too. Deal with it. She comes out to say that three girls in bed are better than two. Triple Threat Catfight. Here comes Torrie Wilson. I’d make an Alex Rodriguez comment, but that guy is just a douchebag. Fatal Four Way Catfight. Torrie spanks Stacy a bit, everybody is in their bras and panties and this is your WrestleMania softcore porn moment. They were rolling around on the floor over Coach. Hate that guy. The Miller Lite girls pants Coach and all four of them beat him up. The four girls pose together for a nice visual. It’s a showcase of the immortals, really. There’s your waste of five minutes.
Next up was the World Title match. It was heel Triple H as the Raw World Champ coming off two months of awful matches against Scott Steiner going up against Booker T. If I ever review bad matches just for the hell of it, one of the first I’ll review is Triple H vs. Steiner at the Royal Rumble because it was awful. Anyway, Booker ended up becoming the babyface number one contender to Triple H, who was winning a lot of matches as the guy that was given the World Title by Raw GM Eric Bischoff in September 2002. Hey Katie Vick, how you doing? I’m an evil person for bringing that up.
World Heavyweight Title (Raw): Triple H vs. Booker T.
Triple H, wearing purple trunks, comes out first being accompanied by Ric Flair. I thought the champion was supposed to be introduced last? Booker comes out next in white trunks. Good reactions for both guys, but not great. They exchange chops early. Into the turnbuckle, back body drop by Booker. He runs into an elbow. Triple H to the top (why?), Booker gets an armdrag off the top. Into the ropes, shoulderblock by HHH, leapfrog by Booker, hiptoss reversed into a hard clothesline. Sidekick misses, back body drop by HHH leaves Booker hanging onto the top, but then he gets whipped into the ring post and collapses on the floor. Outside the ring, Booker eats steps, HHH gets a hard elbow and some kicks. Neckbreaker for two. After some brawling, HHH gets the spinebuster for two again. Very slow pace thus far, crowd isn’t into it. Whip in to the corner, and then a hard clothesline gets two for HHH. Choking, punching, chops are exchanged, suplex reversed into a DDT by Booker. Slugfest won by Booker, jumping sidekick and a sidewalk slam. Flying forearm gets two. Crowd seems too quiet to me. Sleeper by HHH is reversed by Booker. Off the ropes, high knee by Hunter. Face to the knee by HHH. Booker gets control again with a hard spinebuster for two. Into the ropes, HHH goes off the second turnbuckle where he eats a sidekick for two. Axe kick misses, jumping sidekick misses and sends Booker over the top rope where he ends up out on the floor. Flair drops Booker’s knee onto the top of the ring steps. In the ring, HHH gets a version of the Indian Deathlock to put strain on the knee. Good move to use, but crowd wasn’t familiar with it to react to it. He should have used it in matches before this to build it up. After about two minutes Booker makes the ropes. HHH drapes Booker’s leg on the second rope and drops his own knee on the back of it. HHH throws him in the ropes, but Booker collapses. Kneebreaker reversed by Booker into two. There’s the crowd getting excited. Booker goes for a slingshot, but HHH pushes him back into the ref. Booker gets a back elbow. Scissors kick, but he’s selling the knee so he crawls over with one arm for two. These pinfalls are not as dramatic after following that awesome HBK/Jericho match. Booker climbs up, Flair gets hit in the face, HHH loses a fight on the top. Booker nails Flair down again. Harlem Hangover by Booker! That’s a flipping legdrop off the top rope. Man, that drilled HHH hard in the head. It did not land very well because he hit him with his upper leg instead of the lower part of his leg. It was cool to see Booker do that because he rarely did it in WWE although he did it in WCW a fair bit. Flair puts HHH’s leg on the bottom rope at two. Booker into the ropes, but he collapses. Pedigree by HHH. Hunter crawls over to Booker, drapes his hand across his chest and gets the win at 18:45.
Winner by pinfall: Triple H
Analysis: ***1/4 I remember thinking Booker would win. He did not. It was a good match that JR & Lawler were calling a “classic, epic battle” even though it wasn’t. It was bad or anything like that, but the crowd wasn’t into it as much as you’d think until the finishing sequence. Booker did an awesome job selling the knee injury the whole match, leaving it all in the ring and coming off looking like a tough bastard. Hunter did okay, but he was in a bit of a dry spot in his career as far as having good matches went. Feuds with Kane and Scott Steiner didn’t help, but the ones with Michaels were great of course.
(There was a lot of internet hate on Hunter after this one because it would have been a big deal for Booker to go over him. It didn’t happen because they wanted Triple H to be a dominant World Champion. He would end up feuding with Goldberg later in the year, which was very underwhelming, to say the least. Then he got the title back before WM20, of course. If it was up to me, Booker would have won here. I understand wanting to make Triple H a strong champion for the summer feud with Goldberg, but the timing was right for Booker to win this match. A lot of the promos leading up to the match pissed people off because of what Hunter was saying, so when Hunter got the win, it was like, where’s the payoff? There was none. Booker should have won the World Title in this match.)
They show a video saying that WrestleMania XX will take place in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. That didn’t surprise anybody.
The video package for the Vince McMahon/Hulk Hogan match aired. 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.
Hogan comes out first to a huge pop. I think he’s getting tired just walking to the ring. It would have been nice to see him come out to Real American, but it’s still Voodoo Child. (On the DVD it’s Real American.) Here comes Vince in his usual black muscle shirt.
Street Fight: Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon
Slap by Vince. Hogan takes him down. Clothesline by Hulk followed by some punches. Note that the ref is regular Smackdown ref is Brian Hebner. More punching and kicks by Hogan. Vince gets an elbow and a hard clothesline. Kick to the ribs, charge in the corner. More elbows, punching and choking from Vince. Weak armbar by Vince, knee to the elbow. Vince wraps the left arm around the ring post twice. Test of strength starts with Hogan on his knees, but the power of Hulkamania brings him up until Vince kicks him back down. We are six minutes in, yet it’s felt like twenty to me. Still in the test of strength. After about three minutes in that hold, Vince tosses him to the outside. Face first into the barricade. Hammerlock sees Hogan go left arm first into the ring post as Vince grabs a chair. Swing and a miss into the ring post. Vince eats post, Hogan has the chair. Hogan gets a chair shot to the head. Of course, Vince is bleeding from the forehead now. Back in the ring, Hogan punches him three times and Vince rolls out again. Chair to the back by Hogan twice followed by an attempted shot to the head that hits the Spanish announcer, Hugo Savinovich, who is bleeding too. That was almost comical to see an announcer bleeding. Hey look, Vince just chaired Hogan in the head with a good shot. Now Hogan is busted open. Everybody is busted open.
Vince pulls out a ladder for some reason. After stomping on Hogan, he places the ladder in between the two announce tables. Vince with another chair shot. Hogan’s upper body is draped on top of the Spanish announce table. Vince climbs the ladder, does the Hogan ear pose and hits a leg drop on Hogan through the table. Damn, man, I wasn’t expecting that. I expected Vince to take a big bump, though. Crazy old guys. In the ring, Vince gets a long two count. Another try gets two. Vince’s blade job is awesome because his face is full of blood. Vince grabs a steel pipe from under the ring as the camera closes in on his psychotic face. That was a great shot! Low blow from Hogan. Out of nowhere a guy in a black outfit comes out, and it’s Roddy Piper sporting a very big gut. After teasing to hit Vince he drills Hogan in the head with the steel pipe. Vince crawls over to Hogan all the way across the ring, drapes the arm across for two. 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 leg drop for two. Hogan hulks up. The 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 leg drop. He hits three leg drops. Brian Hebner slides back in to count the pinfall at 20:47.
Winner by pinfall: Hulk Hogan
Analysis: **1/2 They worked hard for two guys in their 50s (Hogan turned 50 later in the year while Vince was 58 in 2003). The match was better than it had any right to be. There weren’t many good bumps, but as you might expect it was well booked. The lack of transition moves between them was really obvious. The spot on the announce table was definitely the highlight. Tazz & Cole were selling it like it was the best street fight ever, but I would not go that far. 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. They probably should have had a 15-minute match instead of 21 minutes because it dragged at various points.
(Long match. I thought it was too long. The cameo from Roddy Piper was unexpected, but a welcome surprise and then he would stick around after that to have a bad feud with Hogan. They tried a lot of tricks with big spots, breaking tables, blood and all that stuff. However, I don’t think it was a memorable match. I think Vince-Shane from WM17 two years later was a lot more fun in terms of a Vince match. Hogan winning was obvious here.)
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.
They aired a video package highlighting the Rock/Austin feud. After a dispute with Vinny Mac, Austin returned to the company. 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. Not as good as the “My Way” video package from two years earlier, but still very good.
(If I knew this would be Steve Austin’s last match I would have been very emotional writing about it. We didn’t know until it was over.)
The Rock vs. Steve Austin
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 in the ring, Rock stomps on the left knee. He drags him around the post where he wraps it around. In the middle of the ring, Austin comes back with a flurry of punches, but Rock gets control again thanks to a hard kick to the left knee again. Sharpshooter by The Rock near the ropes. JR mentions favorite match ever at WrestleMania 13, Austin vs. Hart. Nice job JR. Austin gets to the ropes after about a minute. Rock wraps Austin’s leg around the ring post again. He puts on Austin’s vest, grabs a bottle of water and takes a sip. When he comes back in the ring Austin meets him with punches, they criss cross and do a great double clothesline for the KO spot.
Austin hits the Lou Thesz Press and a big FU elbow for two. Stomping a mudhole in the corner leads to plenty of “WHAT” chants. Rock ducks a clothesline, and hits a beautiful leaping clothesline of his own. Rock taunts the crowd, turns around and walks into a Rock Bottom from Austin for two. Rock still has the vest on. Austin goes for a Stunner, Rock blocks the kick and hits his own Stunner leading to an arrogant cover for two. They are busting out the spots from the X7 match all over again. Rock goes for the spit punch, Austin moves out of the way and hits a Stunner that Rock sells beautifully! One, two, no. I thought that was it. Austin shoves the ref away, Rock low blows him and claps for himself! Sweet! People’s Elbow in Austin’s vest misses. Stunner reversed into a spinebuster. Jacket gone, People’s Elbow hits for one, two, no. Now the crowd is really going nuts. Austin up, Rock Bottom. One two, no. I thought that was it. Rock Bottom blocked, Austin spins out. Another Rock Bottom for Rocky. One, two, no again! Holy shit! Austin’s up again. Third Rock Bottom. One, two, three! Rock finally beats Austin at WrestleMania at 17:55.
Winner by pinfall: The Rock
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.
(Years later, Rock revealed that he thanked Austin for everything he did for him and that he loved him. Austin said he loved him too.)
Analysis: ****1/4 A great match as usual between two guys with incredible chemistry that know how to work the crowd so well. Not as good as WM17, but better than WM15 and on par with Backlash 1999 if you’ve seen that one too. The clean finish was very nice to see. This was what I wrote in 2003: “A lot of people questioned whether Austin was in good physical shape, but I think he proved tonight that he was fine.” See that? I had no idea that Austin was done here. Aside from Austin, Ross, Rock, Vince and a few people not a lot of us knew. They almost went twenty minutes, back and forth the whole way without resorting to a lot of brawling. Most of it was done in the ring. I think they proved once again why they can always have good matches together. I will never get tired of Austin/Rock for as long as I live. You could argue that they had the best rivalry in the history of wrestling. I’d put it at the very top. The matches they had backed it up too.
(After re-watching it for the sake of this review, my respect for Austin as a performer went way up knowing what we know now about all of his injuries. That was his last match and he looked great. This match was a lot of fun, especially in the last few minutes. The crowd was very entertained by them from the start to the finish. All of the finishing moves, counters, and nearfalls were brilliant because they played off their history so well. All WWE fans knew their history and they were so smart to play off that. It was great to hear the crowd’s reactions when they stole the finishing moves of the other guy. Austin hit a Rock Bottom first and the fans loved it. Rock came back with a Stunner leading to an even bigger reaction from the crowd. When Austin hit his first Stunner, the crowd went wild for that and it picked up from there. The fact that it took three Rock Bottoms from Rock to put Austin away was fitting as well. Austin was his biggest rival that Rock had trouble beating, so it made sense that it took more moves than normal for Rock to win that match.)
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. The problem was that Angle’s legit neck injury had gotten so bad that there were rumors that he wouldn’t be able to wrestle here. I was so nervous for Kurt as I watched this match. We really didn’t know what his condition was going into it. The build was pretty good as they used Kurt’s brother to pretend to be him and Kurt ended up beating Brock in a match in a fluke manner. It wasn’t a real match, though. This was the real thing. It was a dream match for a lot of us because Angle was an Olympic gold medallist at the amateur level while Lesnar was a very accomplished amateur wrestler too. I was very excited for this and happy that they got to go on last.
WWE Title (Smackdown): Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar
Angle was the heel. Lesnar was the face. Good reactions for both. Michael Cole was losing his voice. They should have shoved him aside and had Ross call the match.
Face to face stare. Very stiff front facelock to start. It will be interesting to see how they work around Angle’s neck injury. Angle gets a headlock, Brock fireman carry gets boos. Angle fireman carry. Mat wrestling is what this is about. Arm wringer into a headscissors followed by an armbar. They step back, crowd claps. Lots of mat based moves that I can’t even keep track of, but Angle gets advantage with a side headlock. Into the ropes, Lesnar shoulderblocks him down. Lesnar has taped ribs based on what happened on Smackdown a few weeks before. Waist lock takedown by Brock, Kurt up, armdrag by Brock. Kurt puts Brock in the corner, knee to the ribs. Into the ropes, Brock gets an elbow to the head followed by shoulderblocks. Lesnar runs into an elbow, Angle charges into a powerslam. Very big German suplex by Angle, but not as he usually does it. There was separation between his head and the mat. It was a safer version. Angle bails, then rolls in and works on the ribs some more. Overhead press slam by Lesnar puts Kurt on his back. In the corner, Lesnar eats boot. Kurt just suplexed Lesnar German style back first into the top turnbuckle. What an awesome spot. Lesnar sold it by going over the top to the floor. That was beautiful. On the floor, Kurt works over the ribs some more. Very careful back suplex on Lesnar for two. The crowd is not overly crazy about this although it would get better. Vertical suplex gets two. Angle gets a bow & arrow submission move where he is putting pressure on Brock’s ribs. Angle applies the move he did on Smackdown a few weeks earlier with his knee planted in Brock’s ribs and his hands locked around the throat. Brock gets up, Kurt is on his back in a piggy back. Brock runs him to the turnbuckle and puts him back first into the turnbuckle twice. Angle fights back, hitting an overhead belly to belly again very carefully. Two running knees to the back send Lesnar on the outside.
Back in the ring, Kurt charges at him and Brock hits him with a hard spinebuster as they take a long eight count. They trade blows, Brock gets control with a forearm, clothesline and shoulder thrusts in the corner. Back elbow by Angle. Brock hits Angle with two overhead belly-to-belly suplexes. Kurt is nuts for taking those. Angle with four rolling German suplexes. What a freak. Angle goes for Angle Slam, reversed to F5, reversed to takedown into an ankle lock! Sweet! Angle switches over after about thirty seconds in to single leg Boston Crab. Brock makes the ropes. Knee to the back. Kurt charges again and Brock gives him a backdrop over the top to the floor where Angle lands feet first. Angle charges in, shoulder blocks to the back of Angle by Brock. Angle with a release German suplex that sends Brock onto his stomach! Holy shit! These guys really are the best athletes. You know how hard that is for a guy of Angle’s size to do a move like that? Amazing. Angle Slam gets two only. Cole said that nobody had kicked out of the Angle Slam before. I’m pretty sure that’s a lie. Angle goes for another Angle Slam, Brock reverses it into a cradle for two. F5 by Lesnar, delayed cover, 1…2…NO! Nobody has kicked out of the F5 before. I think that was true. Crowd reacted huge to that. The crowd was quiet early, but they certainly won them over. Brock crowds over Angle, Kurt grabs his leg into an Ankle Lock. He wraps the leg around Brock’s legs the way he did to Benoit at Royal Rumble by doing the heel hook on the mat. Lesnar drags him over to the ropes, as some in the crowd boo again. Kurt gets a rollup 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. (That was my live reaction. Unedited. Legit scared for the guy.) 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. Lesnar wins it after 22 minutes.
Winner and New WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar
Analysis: ****1/2 Outstanding wrestling match. Lesnar hit the Shooting Star Press before, but when he did it here Kurt was too far away. He wasn’t even in the middle of the ring. He was towards the other side. Lesnar should have moved him over or gone up to the other turnbuckle to do it. He should have thought about it before he went up there. It was off by about four inches or so. If Lesnar hit that SSP perfectly for the finish then I’d have given it five stars. I’m just glad he was okay after it. The crowd wasn’t into it at the very beginning because it was the last match in a four hour show, but the last ten minutes were fantastic. Not many guys can do the moves these two did. As much as I love Angle, which is well documented, 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. The Shooting Star Press spot was unfortunate, but like Angle said the fans still remember it. If Lesnar hit it would it be remembered as well? Possible. We don’t know that for sure. I don’t blame Lesnar for trying the move since he hit it in OVW with regularity. I can remember watching clips of it for years while people online wondered Lesnar might do the SSP on television. It was smart to save it for WrestleMania. I wish they could do it again because it would have been a spectacular way to end the match. Kudos to them for finishing it in a big way with a third F5 from Lesnar.)
Post match, they shook hands and hugged. What an awesome moment. 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.
This event had a runtime of 3:46:32 on WWE Network.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– There were three matches that I gave over four stars to and several others that were good as well. I’m sure that if you averaged out the star ratings, this one likely tops all the others. WM17 was better because two of the matches were among the best ever and it just had a better feel to it. That’s just nitpicking, though. I love this event. So many great moments happened here. I’ll never understand why the buyrate of this event did so poorly. Yes, they promoted Hogan-Vince a lot, but they had a lot of good stuff on this card. I was excited about the show in 2003. Imagine if they advertised it as Austin’s last match? It would have done huge numbers. He didn’t want the attention, though. He kept it quiet. I’m not sure if that’s a mistake or not. It was his personal decision. He earned that right.
– The roster was really deep. You could argue that the lineup was even stronger than WM17 or at least on par with that as the best roster they ever had wrestling at a WrestleMania. 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. Lots of star power at this WrestleMania.
– After the show, Angle had to be checked out by doctors. Austin was in a lot of pain. It was all documented on the “The Mania of WrestleMania” documentary that was very well done. Seek it out if you’ve never seen it. We didn’t know if Angle would ever wrestle again after this. I’m glad he did. The toughness that both guys showed here was incredible. The fact that Angle’s still wrestling nine years later is also impressive. There were numerous times in his career when most of us thought he was done. The guy is a machine.
– I was impressed by Hogan and McMahon. I’ve never been shy about sharing my feelings on Hogan, who I feel brought a lot to the table early on and then morphed into one of the biggest egomaniacs ever that lies more than he tells the truth these days. However, as a performer in a big match situation he could get the job done. 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. Now somebody is going to email me asking for a list of the top ten facial expressions. Haha. Don’t hold your breath waiting on that one.
– Brock Lesnar was very impressive in his first WrestleMania even with missing the Shooting Star Press. He was able to keep up with Kurt Angle, who was the best in the business.
Best Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle – It got the highest rating of the three that got over four stars. I wouldn’t argue with anybody that picked Michaels/Jericho or Rock/Austin, though.
Worst Match: Undertaker & Nathan Jones vs. Big Show & A-Train – How many worst matches for Undertaker at WM so far? Not his fault. Blame the booking. And the opponents.
Most Memorable Moment: Brock Lesnar’s missed Shooting Star Press – Huge fan of his. Was very worried for him. There were so many other moments that I will remember, but whenever I think of WM19 I always think about him missing that SSP.
1. Kurt Angle – Amazing heart shown by working hurt.
2. Steve Austin – Great way to go out in your last match.
3. Shawn Michaels – Welcome back, Mr. WrestleMania. He’d really earn that name in the WrestleManias that followed.
4. Brock Lesnar – Match of the night in your WrestleMania debut? Damn good.
5. (tie) The Rock – I loved heel Rock. You could tell how much he loved working with Austin too.
5. (tie) Chris Jericho – Had his breakthrough WrestleMania match on his fourth try. Awesome performance.
My three favorite wrestlers in the top three stops although my personal favorite rankings would be Michaels, Austin & Angle. I cheated by listing six. Those three matches all deserve a lot of praise. I can’t leave anybody out.
Show rating (out of 10): 9.25
It was not the 10 that WM17 was, but it’s damn close. WrestleMania 19 is a fantastic show. For now, it’s the second-best WrestleMania ever. I’m not sure if another will pass it.
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.