March 26, 2011
Steve Riddle

Wrestlemania XV
March 28th, 1999
First Union Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Celebrities in order of appearance: Boyz II Men, Vinny Pazienza, Chuck Wepner, Kevin Rooney, Pete Rose

Sunday Night Heat:
1. Jacqueline (w/ Terri Runnels) defeats Ivory (w/ D’Lo Brown) at 1:24.
2. D’Lo Brown and Test win a battle royal at 4:16.

Stipulation: The winners will receive a Tag Team Championship match during the PPV.

Actual Show:

Boyz II Men perform America The Beautiful.

We see the opening video for Wrestlemania XV.

Your hosts are Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler.

1. Hardcore Holly defeats “Badd Ass” Billy Gunn and Al Snow in a Hardcore Triple Threat Match at 7:06 to win the WWF Hardcore Championship.

WM Debut: Al Snow

Title Change: Billy Gunn defeated Hardcore Holly on the 3/15 RAW prior to WM to win the Hardcore Title.

Analysis: The opener for this WM is a decent brawl for the Hardcore Title. Snow and Holly have really taken the ball with this division and run with it, but swapping Gunn for Road Dogg didn’t make much sense. I gues you could say they were just seeing if they could succeed in the other’s environment, but you could tell Gunn wasn’t suited for the Hardcore division. The match is ok, as these men don’t take it any further than ringside. Snow does most of the work, and gets a nice reaction in the home of ECW where he made his mark. Gunn puts Snow through a table, then drops him with the Fame-Asser on the chair. Holly, who picks his spots throughout the match, takes advantage and wins the match to regain the Hardcore strap. He and Snow continue their rivalry, while Gunn focuses back on DX. An OK match to get things going. Grade: 2

We see highlights from Heat earlier tonight.

2. Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra) defeat D’Lo Brown and Test (w/ Ivory) when Jarrett pins Brown at 3:58 to retain the WWF Tag Team Championships.

WM Debuts: Test, Debra, and Ivory

Analysis: Our second title math is a pretty bad affair. D’Lo and Test were mismatched partners made earlier on Heat winning the battle royal, and now team together to face the champs. Jarrett and Hart had gelled very nicely into a team and were looking very solid. Not to mention Debra was looking very hot as well, and Ivory was hot as well. D’Lo works most of the match, as he still has issues with the champs dating back a month ago. Debra and Ivory get in a confrontation, which draws Test over to them. The champs take advantage and retain the straps. After the match, D’Lo and Test go at each other, though nothing would come of it in the coming weeks. The champs retain, but would be near the end of their run soon. Grade: 1.5

We see videos hyping the next match.

3. Butterbean defeats Bart Gunn in a Brawl for All match by KO at :36 in the first round.

Special Referee: Vinny Pazienza

Judges: Kevin Rooney, Chuck Wepner, and Gorilla Monsoon

WM Debut: Butterbean

History: In the summer of 1998, the WWF created the Brawl for All, a toughman tournament that was mainly shootfighting. The tournament lasted from June to August. It was said to help introduce “Dr. Death” Steve Williams to WWF audiences, but the idea as a whole was considered a flop.

Tournament results: First Round: Steve Blackman def. Marc Mero (Mero would be put back in after Blackman couldn’t compete due to injury), Bradshaw def. Mark Canterbury, Savio Vega def. Brakkus, Droz def. Hawk, Bart Gunn def. Bob Holly, Steve Williams def. Pierre, Godfather def. Dan Severn, Scorpio def. 8-Ball. Quarterfinals: Bradshaw def. Mero, Droz def. Vega, Gunn def. Williams, Godfather def. Scorpio. Semifinals: Bradshaw def. Droz and Gunn def. Godfather. Finals: Gunn def. Bradshaw.

Farewell #1: This is Bart Gunn’s last PPV. After winning the Brawl for All, he disappeared off TV and went to Japan. He was seen by the Japanese people as a legit badass for knocking out Steve Williams, who was a mega star in Japan. The fans viewed Gunn as the more tougher of the two and Gunn gained great success. He would feud with Williams and Holly briefly before leaving after this event. After a brief stint in TNA, he would turn to MMA. Gunn made an appearance at RAW’s 15th Anniversary, competing in the battle royal.

Farewell #2: This also marks the last PPV and TV appearance of the great Gorilla Monsoon. He would sadly pass away on October 6th, 1999 from heart failure at the age of 62. His legacy is still remembered to this day, as the wrestler’s entrance to the arena is forever known as “the gorilla position”. Gorilla Monsoon was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1994 by Jim Ross.

Anlaysis: This was a quickie match to end the Brawl for All and for Butterbean to fulfill his 2-match contract. Bart Gunn was the surprise winner of the Brawl for All, but the WWF didn’t know what to do with him, so he disappears after this show. The match is very sudden as Butterbean lands two vicious rights on Gunn, the second knocking him out. The only entertaining part of this mess was afterwards when the San Diego Chicken comes out and has fun with Vinny. That actually would set up a subplot later in the show. For now, Gunn is off to Japan, trying to recover from having his brains knocked out. Grade: N/A

We see highlights from Heat earlier tonight of Big Show and Mankind going at it.

Kevin Kelly interviews Mankind, who says he’s overcome every obstacle and will defeat Big Show.

4. Mankind defeats The Big Show by disqualification at 6:50.

Stipulation: The winner would be the special referee for the WWF Championship match.

Debut: Paul Wight first got into wrestling after he was introduced to Hulk Hogan at a basketball game. Hogan recommended him to Eric Bischoff, who signed him to a contract. Wight debuted in the summer of 1995 as the Giant, claiming to be the son of Andre. He was quickly pushed and won the WCW Title in October of 1995. He would hold that title twice and was the youngest to win it at 23 years old. He would also hold the WCW Tag Team Titles 3 times and was a prominent figure in the nWo in its early days. By 1998, he was tired of being used by WCW and he let his contract expire on February 8th, 1999. The next day, he signed with the WWF and made a surprise appearance at the previous PPV during the cage match. This is his in-ring PPV debut.

WM Debut: Big Show

The Buildup: After the main event was declared official, Mr. McMahon announced Wight as the guest ref, to give Rock an edge. Mankind came out and petitioned to be the ref, but was refused. McMahon then put Mankind in several matches, which Mankind won, which at one point led to both men being the guest refs. It was then announced Mankind and Wight, now known as Big Show, would wrestle at WM with the winner becoming the ref for the main event.

Analysis: The next match would determine the guest ref for Austin/Rock. Show came in was at his slimmest, at least until his return in 2008. He saw WCW falling apart, and made a smart move jumping ship, as he was quickly placed in a high-profile feud. Mankind wants to be the ref so he can be in the main event of WM, but his knee is not in good shape. Show dominates most of the match, with Mankind’s only real offense was the Mandible Claw. Show has Mankind on his back, and just flies back squashing Mankind and really hurting his ribs. Show then snaps, nails Mick with a few chair shots, then delivers a vicious Chokeslam through two chairs. This gets him DQ’ed, and Mankind will be the ref. Vince comes out and slaps Show, who retaliates with a punch to the head. Show is out of the Corporation, while Mick has to be taken out on a stretcher. The question now is, will Mankind be able to come back, or will there be a new ref? The match itself is OK, but could’ve been better if Mick was 100%. Grade: 2

Vince is brought backstage and he says he wants Big Show arrested.

5. Road Dogg defeats Ken Shamrock, Val Venis, and Goldust (w/ the Blue Meanie and Ryan Shamrock) in a elimination match to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

Eliminations:
Shamrock and Venis counted out at 8:24.
Goldust pinned by Dogg at 9:47.

Title Change: Road Dogg defeated Val Venis on the 3/15 RAW to win the IC title.

Other Feud: The Ryan Shamrock story continued after St. Valentine’s Day Massacre when Venis dumped Ryan. After her brother wouldn’t help her. Ryan turned to Goldust for comfort, who took her in. This didn’t set well with the Blue Meanie, who had also become part of Goldust’s “family”.

Farewell: This is Ryan Shamrock’s last PPV. She would stick around until July as part of PMS before being released. She would appear in WCW briefly as Symphony, the valet of the Maestro. After being released in 2000, she currently competes on the independent circuit, including a brief stint in TNA and also works in AAA.

WM Debuts: Val Venis, Blue Meanie, and Ryan Shamrock

Analysis: Our third title match is another mess. The Ryan Shamrock storyline that involved Ken and Val now had Goldust in it, and also Blue Meanie who was seconding Goldust now. Road Dogg has no involvment at all except he’s the champ. Much like Gunn, Road Dogg was out of his element holding the IC title, as he was rocking in the Hardcore division. Even though he didn’t deserve the IC title, Dogg was emmensely over with the crowd. This match is a CF from the word go, especially with the rules that only two men could start in the ring. Val is in for most of the match, and Ken surprisingly has the least amount of time. Val and Ken get counted out, which was a lame ending for both those two. Ken comes back and suplexs Goldust and Dogg out of rage. A short minute later, Goldust is tripped up accidentally by Ryan, which leads to Road Dogg getting the win. These two would continue the feud the next night, but as for this match, it is an average affair at best. Grade: 2

We see the Big Show get arrested by Philadelphia’s finest.

As Kane comes out for his match, the San Diego Chicken comes out to attack Kane. Kane takes the head off the Chicken revealing him to be Pete Rose, who was looking for revenge for what happened last year. Kane then Tombstones Rose for the second straight year.

6. Kane defeats Triple H by disqualification at 11:33.

The Buildup: On Raw 3 weeks before the show, Kane and HHH had an altercation which led to Chyna being burned accidentally by Kane. She would be out of action until this show. This was to show a side of Kane that hasn’t been seen, as he began to have feelings for Chyna. A week before the show, Kane was preparing for a match with Goldust, who came out with a flamethrower and burned Kane. It was revealed that “Goldust” was actually HHH in disguise.

Analysis: Our next match was red hot in the storyline department. HHH and Kane have been going at it since Chyna joined the Corporation and Kane specifically, now they duke it out here in Philly. Kane was starting to show more emotion than usual, as he showed he cared about Chyna, and blamed HHH for her getting burned. HHH attacks Kane from behind at the start, but Kan shakes it off. Kane then dominates most of the match, using his power offense. Chyna makes a surprise appearance and appears to help Kane, only to bash him with a chair. HHH is DQ’ed for this, but he gets the last word on Kane with a Pedigree on the chair. HHH and Chyna embrace and it seems like DX is back as it should be. Kane is left betrayed and looks for revenge. For some reason, this match is also just average even though the build was great, and nothing really clicked. Oh well, you can’t win them all. Grade: 1.5

Kevin Kelly interviews Mr. McMahon, who says he has resolved the referee issue. He says that he will be the guest referee for the main event.

7. Sable pins Tori with the Sable Bomb at 5:09 to retain the WWF Women’s Championship.

Debut #1: Terri Poch began her career in the Pacific Northwest, wrestling as Taylor Made. She would join the LPWA in 1990 as Terri Power, winning the LPWA Title. She was the last champion when the company closed in 1992, and she was never defeated for the title. She would compete in Japan during 1993 before taking a hiatus. She would debut for the WWF in 1998 as a fan of Sable’s, eventually being named Tori. She makes her PPV debut here.

Debut #2: During the match, a large woman comes out and assists Sable. She was revealed as Nicole Bass. She is best known for being on the Howard Stern Show and competing as a bodybuilder. She did appear briefly in ECW during 1998, and makes her PPV debut here, becoming Sable’s bodyguard.

WM Debuts: Tori and Nicole Bass

Temp. Farewell: This is Sable’s last PPV until 2003.

The Buildup/Heel Turn: This all began back in 1998 when Tori appeared in the audience as a fan of Sable’s, handing her a yellow rose. She continued to appear during Sable’s matches, appearing as an obsessed stalker. Eventually, she introduced herself to Sabel and tried to be friends, but Sable just constantly humiliated her, turning heel in the process. Tori challenged Sable to a title match, which was made for the show.

Analysis: Our fourth title match is yet another mess. Since appearing in Playboy, Sable has gotten a huge ego and was causing trouble backstage. I quite don’t know if Sable was a face or heel at this point, but it wouldn’t matter in a few months anyway. Tori was a fresh face on the scene, but was clearly out of her element being on a big show like this. Sable and Tori trade momentum back and forth, as Sable was still learning the ropes, which didn’t help as she had to carry most of the match. The ref takes a bump, and Tori looks to finish Sable off. Then Nicole Bass, a very large woman, presses Tori over her head with ease. Sable hits her Sable Bomb, and retains the strap. She and Bass would form a partnership, but that wouldn’t last long. Tori would also stay involved in the title hunt. For now, the match tanks and we just move on to the next match. Grade: 1

Kevin Kelly interviews DX, who says Chyna has come home and Shane McMahon will get his ass handed to him.

8. Shane McMahon (w/ Test) pins X-Pac after a Pedigree at 8:41 to retain the WWF European Championship.

Title Change: Shane McMahon and Kane defeated HHH and X-Pac in a tag match on the 2/15 RAW with the stip that if Pac was pinned, the winner would be European Champ. Shane pinned Pac and became the champ.

Debuts: During the event, we see shots of a group of men at ringside. They are the Mean Street Posse, which consisted of Pete Gas, Rodney, and a few others who only appeared here. Gas and Rodney were longtime friends of Shane and came here to assist him in this match.

WM Debut: Shane McMahon

Analysis: The fifth title match of the night is finally one that’s a solid affair. X-Pac was robbed of the European title by Shane McMahon, who was now the champ and Pac comes to WM to take it back. Right off the bat, the stooges Patterson and Brisco try to attack Pac in the aisle, but he fights them off. Shane controls most of the match, thanks to Test and the Posse at ringside. Shane actually looks good here as he works a solid game against the veteran Pac. Pac takes control and overcomes all the odds, but the wild card happens. HHH and Chyna come out seemingly to help their partner, only for HHH to Pedigree Pac, leading to Shane retaining the title. All the pieces come together as it is revealed that Chyna wasn’t coming back to DX, it was HHH turning heel and joining the McMahons. It was a big and important move for HHH, and Pac comes out as a bigger face than he was. The Corporate team then beat down DX until Kane runs them off, quietly turning him face as well in the process. Overall, this was a really good match with great storytelling and solid action. X-Pac looks to get revenge on HHH and Chyna, as does Kane, while Shane would retire as champion and the European title would be inactive for a while. Grade: 3

We see the buildup to the next match.

9. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) pins the Big Bossman with the Tombstone in a Hell in the Cell match at 9:48.

The Buildup: Over the last few weeks, Undertaker began making overtures that he wanted control of the WWF. Well, Vince was ever defiant, until Taker began playing with Vince’s head. On the 2/22 RAW, Taker defeated Kane in an Inferno match, then he took a teddy bear, which he had given Vince before the match, and lit it on fire. It was revealed the bear belonged to Vince’s daughter, who Taker then began to bring into the siuation. After Taker was arrested for assulting several police officers on the 3/8 RAW, this match between Taker and the Bossman was made. On the 3/15 RAW, Taker appeared to be outside the McMahon home, saying he was waiting for her to come home. The last shot was of Taker’s symbol burning on the front lawn. The match was made a Hell in the Cell, as Vince trusted Bossman to take care of Taker and for Taker to stop stalking his family.

Fun Fact: To date, this is the only Hell in the Cell match in WM history.

Undertaker’s WM Streak: 8-0

Analysis: Like many of the other matches, the build for this was off the charts. Taker wants control of the company, and threatens Vince’s family. So Vince sends his head of security to take Taker out. Sadly, like many of the other matches tonight as well, the action is pretty poor. Bossman is a decent worker, but not the best to have to carry a match. Taker, while his character was still red-hot after this transformation, is hurt pretty bad and can barely move without feeling pain. This is probably the worst HIAC match in history, and I’m surprised this match didn’t almost kill the gimmick. Thankfully, the next few Cell matches after this would bring it back to prominence. Both men basically throw punches and kicks, and the Cell is rarely used. It’s main use is the beginning when Bossman handcuffs Taker to it and bashes him with the nightstick. They throw some more punches until Taker hits the Tombstone, ending this sad affair. The crowd was so dead, it wasn’t funny. The end is the most memorable as the Brood come down and “hang” Bossman, as the Ministry/Corporation feud would continue. It’s kind of funny that for all the flak the WWF was getting for Taker’s symbol and them lighting the symbol on fire, there wasn’t much negative reaction from the hanging, but maybe it was just the sheer lunacy of it that people didn’t care. Taker reaches 8-0, but the next decade would really define the streak. Grade: 1.5

We see highlights from the Wrestlemania Rage Party.

Michael Cole introduces Jim Ross, who comes out for commentary for the main event.

Return: JR makes his return to PPV since Survivor Series. During the last overseas tour, he received news of his mother passing away, and in his grief was stricken by a second bout of Bell’s Palsy. He was taken off TV to recoup, but it was decided that he would turn heel to help get Steve Williams back in the fold. A memorable moment was JR having his own commentary table on RAW, as he was mad at Michael Cole for, as he thought “stealing his job”. The angle was quickly dropped and JR returns here with no mentions of the feud with Cole.

Vince McMahon comes out to be the referee for the main event, but Commissioner Shawn Michaels comes out and says McMahon must go to the back, and standard ref Mike Chioda will be the referee. He also declares that the Corporation is barred from ringside.

10. Stone Cold Steve Austin pins the Rock with the Stunner at 16:52 to win the WWF Championship.

The Buildup/Title Change: On RAW after Massacre, HBK was to announce the main event for WM as Austin vs. Mankind, but Vince and Rock came out and Rock demanded one more shot at Mankind for the strap. The match was made and it becme a ladder match. The Rock would win the match thanks to an assist from Paul Wight, and became a 3-Time WWF Champ. Austin and Rock would trade jabs for the next weeks, with Austin throwing the last shot on RAW before WM, when he drenched Rock, Vince, and Shane with beer from a beer truck. The shot of Vince doing the doggy paddle in the ring while be hosed will forever be a classic RAW moment. It was announced on Heat prior to WM that the match would be a no-disqualification match.

Analysis: We come to our main event, and this story that has been brewing since last September is off the charts. Austin has been chasing the title with McMahon constantly throwing hurdles his way, and Rock was rolling having just regained the title. With Mankind seemingly gone, McMahon tries to make himself the ref, but HBK says no way. This match is just pure brutality, and is what I call a typical “Attitude Era Main Event”. That means the first 5-10 minutes is the combatants fighting in the crowd and/or the entranceway and the match is almost always no-DQ. Austin and Rock beat each other senseless around ringside, before Rock tries to work on Ausitn’s knee. A chair comes in play and Austin tries to use it, but accidentally hits Mike Chioda and Rock takes over. Rock wears down Austin, but can’t put him away. Out of frustration, he Rock Bottoms the second ref Tim White, and the distraction leads to a Stunner, but the third ref Earl Hebner takes a fraction too long and Rock kicks out, making him one of the first to kick out of the Stunner. Vince comes back out and assults Hebner, then he and Rock proceed to bea down Austin. Then, Mankind comes out to a big pop and becomes the official ref as he was supposed too, clearing Vince out of the ring. Rock tries another Rock Bottom, but Austin counters with the Stunner and a 3-count later, and Austin is once again champ. Some may say the end was too predictable, but as I’ve said in a previous review, people will still want to see it and will enjoy seeing it anyway. Austin gets a major pop for his win, and Rock has now solidified himself as a main eventer. The end is classic as Austin drops Vince with a Stunner, and stands triumphantly over the boss at WM. This was the first in what would be a WM trifecta with Austin/Rock, and even though many rank it last among the three, it is still very enjoyable to watch. Grade: 3.5

We see highlights from Wrestlemania XV as we go off the air.

Final Analysis: Overall, take away the main event, the European title match, and the Triple H turn, this was a pretty below average WM. The builds for the matches were very solid and were red hot, but the in-ring action sadly failed to deliver. Stone Cold is back on top, which got the crowd excited, even though it was fairly predictable. HHH was now on the verge of a major push on the heel side, and DX looked to be in shambles. The Corporation and Ministry would face off, but the allegiances of several stars would flip flop back and forth over the next few months, and would make things very confusing for the fans. The characters were very strong, but the quality in the ring was lacking. Despite this, the buy rate was strong as the WWF was roaring past WCW, and many WCW stars saw Paul Wight at this big show and were also ready to jump ship. The rest of the year would be fairly good, but this show is ranked low on the WM totem pole. Final Grade: C-

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