December 8, 2008
Wrestlemania XV, March 28, 1999, First Union Center, Philadelphia, PA
Announcers: Michael Cole & Jerry ďThe KingĒ Lawler
Weíre right into the Attitude Era, as well as the Russo era here with Wrestlemania XV: The Raginí Climax. The show did a crazy amount of business based mainly on the buildup to Austin getting the Title back (whoops, I pulled a Michael Cole there and gave it away) and not much else. This is the first chapter in the Austin/Rock Wrestlemania Trilogy, and although it was not quite the dream match it would become a couple years later, it was still the best thing they had at the time. Especially considering that throughout most of 1998 it was rumoured that they would build to Austin/McMahon for this show. Thankfully they did that at the previous PPV though, allowing us to have a real wrestling main event here as it should be.
Opening Match, Hardcore Championship Match: Badd Ass Billy Gunn vs. Al Snow vs. Hardcore Holly
After they felt that the New Age Outlaws has run their course, Gunn and Road Dogg were branched off into singles careers. Dogg was making a name for himself in the Hardcore division, while Gunn, who they had earmarked for singles stardom, was sent after the Intercontinental Title. Then, out of nowhere, probably because Russo felt what they were doing was too predictable, they simply switched off and each won the Title that the other had been competing for which is how we now have Billy Gunn here defending the Hardcore belt tonight. He had won it a few weeks back from Holly, who had previously won it by defeating Snow in a match for the vacant title after champ Road Dogg went out briefly with an injury. Snow attacks Gunn, but is in turn attacked by Holly. Gunn and Holy get a double whip and elbow on Snow, but then turn on each other. Snow takes Holly to the floor and rams him to the table, but Gunn jumps him. His attempt to whip Snow to the stairs is reversed and he takes it himself. Holly rams Snow to the barrier and hits a suplex on the floor and then Gunn sends Snow to the stairs. Weapons are pulled out now with Snow getting a hockey stick and nailing both guys, but he then gets nailed with a drink bin. Gunn breaks the stick over Holly, but Snow attacks with a broom and breaks it on Gunn. He keeps working both guys over with the broken handle until Gunn gets a chair. Snow blocks it though and uses it on both guys. He sets the chair up and leaps off it with a leg lariat on Gunn in the corner. He tries that on Holly, but misses. Gunn takes Holly to the floor and drops him on the barrier, but when they get back in, Snow nails both guys with Head. He then sets a table in the corner and tries to whip Holly into it, but itís reversed with no one hitting and Snow taking a clothesline. Gunn then nails Snow with a chair and tosses him through the table. He hits the Fameasser on the chair, but Holly saves with a chairshot at 2 and steals the pin on Snow to win the Title at 7:07. Nothing special or innovative, and a weak finish to boot makes this a less than stellar way to kick off the show. Ĺ*
WWF Tag Team Championship Match: Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra) vs. D-Lo Brown & Test (w/Ivory)
With no real teams in the hunt to challenge for the belts, they decided to have a battle royal on Heat, with the last two guys in becoming the challengers. Not a tag team battle royal, but a regular one just to ensure that the match becomes as random as possible. One of the staples of Vince Russo booking is the ďTag Partners Who Hate Each OtherĒ deal so itís not surprising, but still, they really couldnít come up with anything better for the biggest show of the year? Test was a Corporation member at the time, while D-Lo was a babyface who was actually feuding with Owen and Jeff, but his regular partner Mark Henry had been sidelined with an injury, just in case anyone has trouble remembering what was going on during this period. The challengers are shown arguing, but get it together and attack. Owen takes a big boot and a clothesline to the floor from Test while Jarrett takes D-Lo down with a shoulderblock. He comes off the ropes, but D-Lo gets him with a hiptoss, followed by a clothesline. After a forearm, his corner whip is reversed, but D-Lo gets the elbow up. Both guys tag with Owen getting some chops, but Test pulls out a powerbomb for 2. He tries a pumphandle, but Owen slips out and hits the ensiguiri. He hooks the Sharpshooter, but D-Lo breaks it up. D-Lo gets the tag now and comes in with a slam and a leg drop. He hooks a side headlock but gets fired off and Jarrett knees him from the apron. D-Lo goes for him, but that lets Owen hit a spinning heel kick. Next is a gutwrench suplex and a tag to Jarrett so they can hit a double clothesline. Jarrett chokes him on the ropes and makes the tag again. They go for a second double clothesline, but D-Lo ducks, comes back off, and gets them both with his own clotheslines. He then bodyslams both guys, and hits a leg lariat on Owen. Jarrett tries a dropkick, but D-Lo catches him and hits the Sky-Hi for 2 with Owen saving. Test jumps Owen, but then gets distracted by a confrontation between Debra and Ivory on the floor. Owen hits a top rope dropkick into a rollup by Jarrett for 3 at 3:59 so the champs retain. Test and D-Lo argue afterwards and, of course end up going at it, but I donít believe that ever led anywhere. Good pace as they did pack a good deal of action into the four minutes they were given, but nothing special. *1/2
Brawl For All Match: Butterbean vs. Bart Gunn
Ah yes, the Brawl For All. What great memories, huh? Basically the idea was that the lower level guys would take part in a shoot tournament under a unique set of rules that could be described as a pretty scaled down form of MMA. Matches were three rounds and could be won by knockout or on points. Points were awarded for knockdowns, takedowns and for landing the most punches in a round. The tournament was an interesting idea, although it was not very well received by fans. The intention was to use this as a star making vehicle for Dr. Death Steve Williams, who had never appeared in the WWF before but was pretty well known on a worldwide basis and had a reputation as being one of the legitimately toughest guys in the business. Itís rumoured that had he won, he would have been pushed to main event status for a feud with Steve Austin. Gunn, who at the time was half of the New Midnight Express, not really getting a push, and not a noted legit tough guy of any kind was basically there to fill out the field. He scored an unremarkable win over his tag team partner Bob Holly in the first round to set up an on paper mismatch with Williams in the second round. Williams was injured during the match, and some have pointed to that as an excuse for what happened, but I donít believe that he himself ever has, and Gunn was able to take advantage and score a shocking third round knockout to advance. With a newfound confidence stemming from that win, Gunn was able to go on and knockout two more noted tough guys in Kama Mustafa and Bradshaw to win the tournament. With no idea how to handle a career midcarder winning their shoot tournament, the WWF pulled Gunn off TV while they figured out what to do. Obviously their plans for Williams went out the window as he only made a handful of appearances from there, including an attempted angle with Gunn, before being let go. They didnít even try and use Gunn as a wrestler anymore. A match with Austin may have generated some interest at this point, but for whatever reason they chose not to go there. Gunn all but disappeared for most of the next few months, his only real appearance being that aborted worked feud with Williams. They couldnít just get rid of him, but they wouldnít use his newfound reputation to help his wrestling career either. But they did have an ace up their sleeve in the form of freak show toughman fighter and super heavyweight boxing champion Butterbean. In 1997, they signed Butterbean to a contract that called for him to work two matches. At the D-Generation X PPV that December he beat Marc Mero in a worked boxing match, but they never followed up with anything else so he remained under contract for one more appearance all this time. It was decided to use that appearance to bring him in and face their shoot champion Gunn in a Brawl For All match here at Wrestlemania figuring that Gunn would most likely lose and they could use that as the necessary excuse to rid themselves of the whole mess.
To the match now as we have boxer Vinny Pazienza as the special referee, and for judges we have noted boxing trainer Kevin Rooney, the man the character of Rocky was based on, Chuck Wepner, and Gorilla Monsoon who gets a great reaction from the crowd. They trade a few punches with Butterbean clearly having the advantage. He knocks Gunn down with a big shot, but Gunn makes it back up. He should have stayed down though because he immediately takes a brutal shot that puts him down for good at 0:36 of round 1. No rating for this one because itís obviously not a wrestling match. Anyone who gave Gunn a chance was just fooling themselves considering itís a guy with a few months of training against a guy with nearly fifty pro fights. Although Gunnís US career was over at this point, his knockout of Steve Williams, who had attained legendary status in Japan, gave him an in there that he otherwise never would have gotten and he was able to turn that into a successful stint as an upper midcarder for All Japan Pro Wrestling. More recently he has gotten into MMA going 1-1, but not fighting since 2006. He has made only one more WWE appearance, and that was in the battle royal on the Raw 15th Anniversary show where he used his old cowboy gimmick and I donít believe the Brawl For All was even acknowledged.
ďBig ShowĒ Paul Wight vs. Mankind
After Mankind had his dream of being in the Wrestlemania main event dashed by losing the WWF Title to The Rock, he then petitioned to become guest referee. He successfully made it through all the hoops that McMahon put in front of him, but then McMahon ordered one more in the form of this match against his newest Corporate acquisition, The Big Show, Paul Wight. The winner here will now be guest referee for the main event. They go at it right off the bat, with Mankind punching away, but he canít take him down. Show then gets a big boot and headbutts him to the floor. They brawl out there with Mankind getting sent to the stairs. Back in, Show keeps working him over and gets a Russian legsweep. Clothesline misses and Show goes tumbling to the floor. Back in, Mankind has pulled out Socko and hooks the Mandible Claw, but Show headbutts out of it. He reapplies it, but Show escapes once more. He hooks it a third time, and this time boots Show low to prevent the escape. The arm drops once, but Show is still in it and he maneuvers Mankind behind him, and then picks him up and drops him to break the hold. He then grabs a chair and nails Mankind a couple of times on the floor. Two chairs are brought in the ring and set up, but when he chokeslams Mankind on them, the DQ is called at 6:50. Mankind wins, and is appointed referee for the main event, but he ends up getting stretchered out, so he may not make it after all. DUD Vince comes out now and berates Show for screwing up. Show goes to chokeslam him, but thinks better of it. Vince then gets on his case again, and this time slaps him, so now Show KOís him. Heís been in the company just over a month and already thereís his first face turn. I have no numbers to back this up, but if I were forced to guess who holds the record for most turns in a career, I would go with this guy. Vince gets helped out by Patterson and Brisco, who he then orders to call the police so Show can be arrested for assault.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Road Dogg Jesse James vs. Val Venis vs. Goldust (w/The Blue Meanie & Ryan Shamrock) vs. Ken Shamrock
Iím not even going to try and pretend that I remember all the storylines and angles that connected to set this one up, but suffice to say it was a lot of mostly non-sensical stuff and weíre better off just getting on with the match, which is elimination rules, with two guys in at once and the others available for tags. Four way brawl starts us off with Shamrock hitting a rana on Goldust. Shamrock and Dogg then get a double elbow on Venis and send him out to become the two starters. Shamrock works him over with a couple of corner whips, but puts his head down and ends up getting dropkicked. Dogg tags Goldust, who hits a spinebuster on Shamrock, followed by a clothesline. Shamrock tags Venis, and Venis attacks him, but that lets Goldust hit an atomic drop for 2. He sets up the Curtain Call, but Venis slips out and hits a spinebuster for 2. Irish whip, but he puts the head down, gets nailed and hit with a clothesline for 2. Goldust puts him on the top rope, but the superplex is blocked and Venis counters it to a bulldog for 2. He then gets a Seamanís Suplex for 2. Corner whip is reversed and they end up hitting head to head with Val then doing the inadvertent headbutt to the groin spot on Goldust off of it. Shamrock and Dogg both come in and hit DDTís on Goldust and Venis respectively. Goldust recovers first and covers for 2. Dogg attacks Goldust and switches off with him. His corner whip is reversed and Venis nails a clothesline, followed by a second one. Dogg fires back and hits his funky punches, and when Goldust and Shamrock come in, he cleans house on them too. He drops a knee on Shamrock and celebrates, but that lets Venis hit a back suplex for 2. Dogg comes back with a pump slam, but Shamrock steals the tag from him. He hooks the ankle lock on Venis, but Venis gets to the ropes. Shamrock gets backdropped to the floor and Venis follows up with a baseball slide. They brawl in the aisle, but canít beat the count back in and are both eliminated at 8:25. Wouldnít want to have any sort of decisive finish on the biggest show of the year now, would we? Shamrock snaps on both remaining guys and takes them out. Goldust recovers first and covers for 2. His Irish whip is reversed, with Ryan trying to trip him instead of Dogg. Goldust yells at her for that mistake for a bit, and then moments later, Dogg charges into a powerslam, which he then rolls through and gets the pin to retain at 9:47. Match was never slow, but was kinda all over the place with no one having any idea how to tie everything together and put on something good. * Goldust dumps Ryan after the match, but hangs on to the Meanie.
Kane vs. Triple H
Ok, Iíll try and explain this one. Kane had been forced into joining the Corporation when Vince threatened to have him committed because he needed Kane as an ally against Undertaker who, although they were both heels, was developing a feud with Vince (more on that later). Chyna turned on DX and joined the Corporation, costing HHH the WWF Title in a match with The Rock, for reasons I cannot exactly recall, but in any case she quickly formed a new alliance with Kane and thatís what set this feud in motion in as few words as possible. Chynaís not here though because they did an angle where Kane tried to throw a fireball at HHH, but he ducked and she got hit instead. And before we even get started, the San Diego Chicken, who has been seen in the arena a couple of times so far, attacks Kane during his introduction. Kane pulls off the head, and it turns out that itís Pete Rose, trying to get revenge for last year, but failing miserably. He takes a Tombstone for his troubles and gets carried out. Now HHH gets introduced, but he runs out of the crowd and immediately hits a low blow. Given their respective positions today, and indeed even a year later, it seems kind of funny that theyíre building up this match like HHH isnít in Kaneís league. HHH tries some punches in the corner, but Kane just shoves him off and hits a big boot. Kane charges, and gets backdropped out, but lands on his feet and pulls HHH to the floor. HHH ducks a clothesline and Kane hits the post and HHH then whips him to the stairs. Kane gets back to the apron, but HHH knees him off and into the barrier. Back in, an Irish whip is reversed and Kane hits a big boot, and then tosses HHH out. He drops HHH groin first on the barrier and then runs his back to the post three times. Back in, he works him over with some choking and drops a leg for 2. He puts his head down on an Irish whip and gets kicked, but still comes back with a clothesline. HHH gets the boot up on a corner whip, but his comeback is cut off and he gets tossed. Kane then nails a dive over the top to the floor. Back in the ring, Kane goes up, but HHH slams him off. HHH hits a facebuster and high knee as Chyna makes her way to ringside and distracts HHH. Kane tries the Tombstone, but HHH slips out. Pedigree is attempted, but countered and Kane drops an elbow. Chyna gets the stairs in the ring, which Kane grabs, but HHH kicks them back in his face. He drop toeholds Kane onto the stairs and clotheslines him out. He tries a Pedigree out there on the bottom part of the stairs, but Kane backdrops out of it. Back in, Kane gets a chokeslam as Chyna comes in the ring with a chair, but she turns on Kane, nailing him with it and the DQ is called at 11:34. HHH nails him with the chair and hits the Pedigree postmatch, before he and Chyna reunite after those two long months they spent apart. Not a very good match and Iíll say that HHH must have been one of the most improved wrestlers of 1999. The difference between this guy and the HHH of one year later is like night and day. Once they got behind him and gave him the chance to work as a main eventer, he really responded and quickly developed his ring generalship. Probably a combination of actually getting to work longer main event matches on a regular basis, being a heel and therefore getting to control most of the match, and the confidence he gains from knowing that the company is behind him. Here today though, this match only gets *.
Mr. McMahon declares that with Big Show in jail and Mankind in the hospital, heís going to have to referee the main event himself.
WWF Womenís Championship Match: Sable vs. Tori
By this point Sableís ego had really gotten out of control with all the stardom going to her head. They kind of played off that by going for a heel turn, but the primarily male audience wasnít going to turn on her so the result was that she came off like a totally obnoxious diva, and everyone still loved it. Poor Tori was then stuck trying to play the babyface against her as they did a ďsnubbed fan becomes challenger to the TitleĒ angle to set this one up and it just came off terribly, especially considering that Sable had no interest is helping to make her look good. Sable starts out by putting the boots to her and tossing her to the floor. Tori pulls her out and runs her to the barrier. Whip to the barrier is reversed with Tori hitting. Sable hits a bodypress from the apron and gets her back in where she puts the boots to her again. Tori comes back with a couple of clotheslines and gets a rollup for 2. Sable then rolls Tori up for 1, but she bridges out into a backslide for 2. Bodypress by Tori misses and bumps the ref as though this match wasnít pathetic enough as it was. Sable tries the Sablebomb, but when Tori slips out and tries her own, Nicole Bass runs in and drops her with a press slam. Now Sable hits the Sablebomb for 3 to retain at 5:07. The idea with Bass was to give Sable some hired muscle to cement her heel turn, but really the whole thing was just stupid. This match was terrible too on pretty much every level there is. -**
European Championship Match: Shane McMahon (w/Test) vs. X-Pac
Shane won the belt from X-Pac back in February via a big screwjob in a tag match (it is Russo after all) and since then weíve had to hear Shane brag about how heís the toughest guy from the Mean Streets of Greenwich. His buddies, known as the Mean Street Posse, with a couple of extra members who didnít last very long, were brought in as backup and to vouch for his toughness, and they all have ringside seats for the match. As X-Pac makes his entrance, Patterson and Brisco attack, but he fights them off and charges in. Shane runs away for a bit until X-Pac finally catches him with a spin kick in the corner. He tries the Bronco Buster, but Test pulls Shane to safety. Shane tries to walk away, but X-Pac is right after him. Test gets involved again and launches X-Pac crotch first to the post. In the ring, Shane controls with a slam and goes to drop a Corporate Elbow, but it misses. He low blows X-Pac to keep control and gets a belt from Test which he uses to whip him. Finally X-Pac ducks a shot and backdrops Shane to the floor. X-Pac hits a dive right in front of the Posse and when they try and get involved, he nails them all. Test then comes in and nails X-Pac with a clothesline. Back in, Shane drops a forearm from the 2nd rope, and then goes all the way up, but X-Pac crotches him and hits a superplex for 2 as Test pulls him off. X-Pac avoids a charge from Test and he hits the stairs to take him out of it for a bit. Now X-Pac has the belt and whips Shane with it, but the effect is lessened by the fact that Shane has a shirt on. Spin kick sets up the Bronco Buster, which hits, but Test comes back now and nails him with the European belt for 2. Shane tries his own Bronco Buster, which misses. Test is in again, but this time X-Pac takes him out and gets him with a Bronco Buster. HHH and Chyna come out now to even the odds as X-Pac hits the X-Factor on Shane. But HHH then turns on him, nailing a Pedigree which lets Shane get the 3 count to retain at 8:43. This kicks off HHHís heel turn and rise to main event status that I spoke of earlier as he joins the Corporation. The Outlaws try to make the save, but HHH, Chyna and Test beat them up too. Kane comes out and chases them off which led to the Kane/X-Pac alliance. Itís good to be the bossís son, because his match got to use a lot of shortcuts to hide the fact that heís not a real wrestler and help to make it a decent one at the same time. **
Hell In A Cell Match: Big Boss Man vs. The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer)
This would be the forgotten HIAC match, and itís questionable why they would have it here in the first place. At least by now theyíve pretty much learned not to waste the big gimmicks on shows that donít need them. Russoís big idea for Taker was that instead of toning down the gimmick and making it more realistic, they would go the other direction and make it more surreal. Because you see, Mark Callaway was no longer just playing the Undertaker character; he now believed that he really was the Undertaker if you can buy that. To that end, Taker formed his Ministry of Darkness stable, and although they were all heels, they began a feud with Mr. McMahonís Corporation stable. Taker began threatening McMahonís family, which is the angle that led to the introduction of Stephanie and Linda as television characters, but in the end it would be revealed that the Higher Power that the Ministry answered to was in fact McMahon himself making the whole thing a waste of time. The moral of that story: Be glad that Russo took off when he did. Anyway, for now we have McMahon sending his head of security, the Big Boss Man after Taker and you know thatís not gonna end well for him, so letís get on with the match, shall we? This is heel vs. heel, which never works, and the result is a crowd that couldnít care less about a match that would have struggled to be good under any circumstances. Boss Man gets a few shots in and gets his elbow up on a corner whip, but ends up running into a clothesline for 2. Taker puts the head down on an Irish whip and Boss Man gets a neckbreaker for 2. Taker sits up and drags Boss Man to the floor. He runs Boss Man to the cage a few times, but finally Boss Man is able to reverse a whip and sends Taker into it. He pulls out some handcuff and chains Taker to the cage, then grabs the nightstick and works him over a bit. The cuffs break, so Taker is free, but Boss Man keeps working him over. Taker is even busted open. Taker comes back and sends him to the cage a few more times until Boss Man is busted open as well. Back in the ring, Taker gets the flying clothesline for 2 and tries the rope walk, but Boss Man crotches him. He then shoves Taker off the apron and into the cage. Slugfest is won by Boss Man, but Taker comes back with a low blow. Boss Man avoids the Tombstone once, but canít take advantage and gets caught with it on the second try to finish this thing at 9:48. But the fun has just begun as Gangrel, Edge and Christian come down from the rafters and drop a noose through the cage. Taker hooks it around Boss Manís neck and has the cage raised so that Boss Man is hung. To make this dumb idea even better, Boss Man would simply return on TV as though nothing happened and it was never really acknowledged, because how can you explain him surviving something that surely would have killed him. Match was worth maybe Ĺ* on its own on my most generous day, but the post match nonsense drops it well into negative territory. Letís say -****.
Jim Ross, who had been removed from his play by play duties due to his Bellís Palsy taking a turn for the worse returns now to take over from Cole for the main event. Steve Austin reportedly demanded (in real life, not storyline) that Ross be allowed to announce his match here. Mr. McMahon comes out to assume his position as special referee, but after all this buildup, hereís Commissioner Shawn Michaels to put a stop to it. Apparently heís the only one in the company with the authority to name a referee for Wrestlemania, so Mr. McMahon is out and Mike Chioda will ref the match instead. Also, the Corporation is also banned from ringside, but Shawn notes that heíll make an exception for McMahon himself, because, well, someoneís gotta interfere, right?. With all that crap out of the way, we can finally get to the main event.
Main Event, No Disqualification WWF Championship Match: The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Rock was McMahonís chosen Corporate Champion, while Austin was McMahonís most hated enemy. After finally getting the belt off of Austin last September at Breakdown, Vince was doing all he could to prevent Austin from getting it back. Every obstacle imaginable was thrown in his way, but he still managed to get through them all and make here for his shot at the belt. Rock was clearly a star on the rise here. His popularity had quickly developed late last year, to the point where he just kinda became a babyface, only to turn right back heel and take the Corporate Champ role at Survivor Series, but even that did little to turn the fans against him. A feud over the Title with Mankind where they swapped it back and forth in several memorable matches cemented his main event status, and although heís not quite as big as Austin at this time, itís undeniable that heíll be there soon. Slugfest starts the match off with Austin getting dumped out and rammed to the table. Rock chokes him out with his shirt, but charges at him and gets tossed to the floor. They brawl into the crowd and we canít really see whatís going on very well. Back over the barrier, only to have Austin dump him into the crowd again on the other side. They get back over quickly, but now the fight up the aisle. Rock gets sent to the boards and nailed with a clothesline. Austin sets up a piledriver, but Rock backdrops out, with Austin appearing to land awkwardly on the lighting equipment. Austin is ok though and fights back with a clothesline and a stomp to the balls. He chokes Rock with a cable, and then whips him into the Wrestlemania sign at the entrance. Their sets have really come a long way, havenít they? Back up the aisle where Rock blocks a suplex attempt and gets one of his own and then rams Austin to the stairs. After Rock stops to spit some water in his face, Austin comes back and drops Rock on the barrier. He sets Rock on the announce table and drops an elbow, but it wonít break, so he does it again and that gets it to go. To add insult to injury and repay him for earlier, Austin now spits water in Rockís face. Rock wraps Austinís knee around the post, but then gets kicked over the barrier once more. He gets back over, only to be sent into the stairs. Back in the ring finally, Rock hits the Rock Bottom out of nowhere, but it only gets 2. He grabs a chair, but Austin kicks him to avoid the shot and goes to use it himself, but Rock pulls the ref in the way and he gets KOíd. Rock uses a neckbreaker and now tries to use the chair, but Austin kicks him and tries the Stunner, which is also blocked with Rock hitting an elbow. Now he gets Austin with a couple of chairshots, but only gets 2 from a new referee. Clothesline also gets 2 and he goes to a rear chinlock. Austin elbows out, but gets clotheslined and Rock goes right back to that rear chinlock. Austin fights out again and gets sent off the ropes. He ducks, but Rock gets him on the rebound with the Samoan drop for 2.5. He blames the ref for that and takes him out with a Rock Bottom. Now Austin hits the Stunner, but thereís no one to count. After a delay, finally another one makes it in, but Rock kicks out at 2.5. Vince makes his way back out now and provides enough distraction for Rock to hit a low blow. Vince just comes right in the ring and the double team is on until Mankind, the guy who actually earned the right to ref the match, comes in takes out Vince and takes over as ref. Austin rolls up Rock for 2. Rock ducks off an Irish whip, but Austin gets him with the Thesz Press and the punches, followed by dropping the elbow. He sends Rock off, but puts his head down and gets hit with a kick and a clothesline. Rock Bottom sets up the Corporate Elbow, but it misses. Stunner is blocked, another Rock Bottom is also blocked and now Austin hits the Stunner which gets the 3 count and gives him the WWF Championship at 16:53. Itís a great moment to finally pay off six months worth of buildup, and they went all out to make it as epic as possible. It works for what they intended it to be, but really itís not to the level of their future matches. Thatís more of an endorsement though of how much better they would become than a knock on this match, which is still pretty good on its own. Remember what I was saying earlier about my amazement at the improvement of HHH in the year following this show? Everything there applies to The Rock as well, except he already had his experience as a main event heel so he was ready to light the world on fire as a babyface. The shortcuts are definitely here in full force, like they were in pretty much every main event match of this era, but you canít really argue with how successful the formula was. Iím gonna give it ***, which is lower than the other two parts of the Trilogy that I previously reviewed, but it was more the inexperience at this level, and moreso on Rockís part, that was holding them back.
Back in 1999, Austin was the man and the only thing that mattered was that he got the belt back. The rest of the show was irrelevant because the main event alone made it all worthwhile at the time. Today though, this show does not hold up well at all. As I already mentioned, Rock and Austin would go on to do much better things together, thereby lowering the importance of their match here, and the rest of the card is just a whole lotta nothing. Two matches manage to hit negative stars, while nothing else even gets higher than **. There are no hidden gems here or anything at all that makes me glad I picked this one out. Thumbs down for Wrestlemania XV, and the recommendation is to count your blessings that we only had to live through one Wrestlemania where Vince Russo was in control of the booking.