October 26, 2008
Wrestlemania XIX, March 30, 2003, Safeco Field, Seattle, WA
Announcers: The teams of: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler, and Michael Cole & Tazz
With Steve Austin coming back (not to wrestle I guess, but coming back none the less) at Cyber Sunday, here’s a look back at the show that featured what has been, up to this point, his retirement match. The show is also notable for three other things: Being the first WWE Wrestlemania, being the first post brand split Mania, and barring a complete meltdown by the company in time for Mania XXV, it will finish up as the least successful Mania of the entire decade.
Opening Match, Cruiserweight Championship Match: Matt Hardy Version 1 (w/Shannon Moore) vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr.
I loved those Matt Facts they used to do for his entrance during the “Mattitude” period. In this case they are: “Matt is appearing in his 4th Wrestlemania”, and “Matt often wonders how they did Wrestlemania without him”. Moore provides the distraction to start, but Rey still manages to backdrop Matt out when he charges. Rey then hits a corkscrew plancha on both of them. He gets Matt back in for a 2 count. Corner whip is reversed, but Matt hits boot on the charge. Rey gets a flying headscissors and a spin kick to send Matt to the apron. He flips over Matt and tries to powerbomb him to the floor, but Moore is there to put a stop to that. Matt drops him on the barrier and gets him back in the ring for a 2 count. Inverted side slam also gets 2, and then he chokes Rey on the ropes. Moore gives another shot as well, but Matt misses a rope straddle. Rey comes off the ropes with a springboard, but gets kicked, and Matt tries the Twist of Fate, but Rey reverses to a rollup for 2. Corner whip is reversed, with Rey coming back over the top, but Matt catches him with the Side Effect for 2. He takes Rey down with a snapmare and stretches him, buy Rey is soon to his feet to power out. Matt still controls though and sends Rey to the corner, but runs into a boot on the charge. Second attempt at a charge sees Matt hit the post and allows Rey to get a springboard Thesz press as well as a springboard crossbody for 2. Back off the ropes again, Rey connects with a spinning headscissors, and then a tornado DDT for 2. Drop toehold sets Matt up for the 619, but Moore trips Rey up and allows Matt to come back with the Twist of Fate. That only gets a 2 count, so Matt tries Splash Mountain, but Rey counters to a rana for 2 as Moore gets Matt’s foot on the ropes. Miscommunication between Matt and Moore puts Matt on the ropes again, and this time the 619 hits, but the West Coast Pop misses. Rey tries to get him with a victory roll, but Matt hooks him, and grabs the ropes to get the 3 count to retain at 5:39. They swiped the finish straight from the best Mania opener ever, Bret vs. Owen at Mania X, so what’s not to love about this one. It was short, but they sure packed a lot of action in there. ***1/4
The Undertaker vs. The Big Show & A-Train
Nathan Jones was originally to be Undertaker’s partner, but he was removed from the match because he sucked so badly that they didn’t want to put him out there on the biggest show of the year. An injury angle was shot on Heat to explain why we now have a handicap match, but really Jones could have just disappeared with no explanation and no one would have cared. Limp Bizkit is here to play a live version of Undertaker’s entrance theme, which I think is always great for the atmosphere and gives the whole thing a real big event feel, as though the giant stadium didn’t already do that. A-Train spits on the bike, which allows Show to come from behind, but Taker sees him coming and backdrops him out. Train comes in right into a chokeslam for 2 as Show is back to save. Taker and Show start the match out for real now as tag team rules will apply to the heel team here. Taker ends up caught in the corner, but nails both guys to escape the situation. Tag to Train who comes off the ropes with a shoulderblock, but when he comes off again, he gets hiptossed. Old School rope walk hits, and Taker follows that with a shot on Show, but that allows Train to get the Derailer. No cover however as he sends Taker to the floor where Show runs him to the post and drops him on the barrier. Slingshot decapitation on the ropes by Train gets 2 back in the ring. Tag to Show who comes in and stomps the leg, but Taker fights back and nails an elbow. He stops to nail Train though and again ends up being taken advantage of as Show sets him up for the Chokeslam, but Taker reverses and hooks a fujiwara armbar. Train makes the save, so Taker just goes and puts an armbar on him as well. Show drops a big leg to break that up, nails a couple of headbutts, and goes to an abdominal stretch. He grabs Train for extra leverage, but eventually just lets it go and makes the tag. Train goes to his own abdominal stretch, which is soon reversed. Train gets out, but ends up taking a back suplex. Taker comes off the ropes, but is nailed by Show from the apron, and then nailed with a clothesline by Train for 2. Train trash talks and nails some punches, but Taker comes back with some of his own and a DDT for 2 with Show saving. Taker then takes on both guys, nailing clotheslines in the corner on both until the heels finally regroup and nail him. Taker gets sent off, but comes back with a flying clothesline on Show. Train gets him with a bicycle kick however, and that sets up the Chokeslam by Show, which hits this time. Nathan Jones, looking no worse for wear runs in now, so Show chases him, but falls victim to a spin kick. By this point, Train only gets 2 off that Chokeslam, and now Jones comes in and nails a big boot. Taker gets up and nails the Tombstone on Train, which gets 3 at 9:45. It must have been a rib on Jones to claim that he’s too injured to wrestle, but then have him run out there looking perfectly healthy. Are we supposed to believe that just ten minutes ago, this guy who ran in and dominated Show and Train wasn’t physically able to wrestle? Either that or Hogan taught him how to no sell. In any case, I’m certain that this would have been worse with him involved any more than he was. He was sent back to developmental soon after this, and ended up quitting later on in the year after a brief comeback to the main roster. ½*
Women’s Championship Match: Victoria (w/Stevie Richards) vs. Trish Stratus vs. Jazz
Can’t really recall any storyline reason for the Triple Threat, and even if there was one, the announcers don’t bother making anything clear. Jazz attacks both of them, knocking Victoria out of the ring and getting a quick 2 count on Trish. She gets some forearms on Trish and stops to give Victoria a shot, but that allows Trish to come back. Corner whip is reversed, but Trish gets the boot up on the charge. Victoria gets both of them to the floor and they brawl out there for a bit. She gets Trish in and comes in herself with a flipping legdrop for 2 as Jazz saves. Jazz then nails a legdrop of her own on Trish for 2. They get a double team shoulderbreaker on Trish to take her out, and then Victoria gets a powerslam on Jazz for 2. She nails some shoulderblock in the corner, but Trish comes from behind and gets a backcracker for 2 with a cool looking bridge. Victoria gets up and nails a clothesline on Trish, and then sends her off the ropes and nails a boot and another clothesline. Jazz comes from behind and steals a powerslam on Trish for 2. Victoria and Jazz go at it now, but Trish comes back and gets them with a double noggin knocker. She then beats up both women by herself. They regroup and try a double team, but it backfires and Trish gets a rollup on Jazz for 2, followed by a second one also for 2, and the nails a Chick Kick for a third 2 count. Corner whip on Victoria, but she gets the knee up when Trish charges. She goes up, but Trish comes back with the headscissors takedown from there. She boots Victoria to the floor, but that allows Jazz to come from behind and hook a single leg crab, then switch to an STF. Victoria distracts the ref though, and that allows Richards to run in and break the hold, sending Jazz to the floor. Trish recovers to get a rollup on Victoria for 2, which is then reversed to give Victoria a 2 of her own. Jazz is back with a clothesline on Victoria and then she hooks a chickenwing on Trish. She drops her as Victoria comes back with a crescent kick. Victoria is up top, but misses a moonsault. She still manages to backdrop Jazz to the floor as Richards runs in again and tries to nail Trish with a chair, but misses and gets himself on the rebound. Trish then gets him with Stratusfaction to take him out for good. Victoria gets her and tries the Widow’s Peak, but Trish slips out, sends her off the ropes, and nails a high kick which gets the pin at 7:17 to regain the title. Good match by women’s standards, and the women’s division was actually worth something when having women who could wrestle was the rule instead of the exception. **
WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas vs. Eddie Guerrero & Chavo Guerrero, Jr. vs. Chris Benoit & Rhyno
So it’s yet another Triple Threat Match, but at least I remember the Smackdown Tag Titles being one of the highlights of this time period, with many great and memorable matches, so hopefully we’ll get something good here. Everyone brawls to kick things off, until we get going for real with Haas (doing a parody of Kurt Angle tonight) and Chavo. Chavo nails a backdrop and back suplex. His Irish whip is reversed, but he still comes back off with a dropkick. Haas tags Benoit, who comes in and gets armdragged, leading to Chavo tagging Eddie. They get a back suplex/senton combo, and Eddie rams Benoit to the buckle. At this point you could have bet me any amount of money that one year later, these guys would hold the two World Titles and I would have accepted. Who’d have ever guessed? Benoit reverses and nails a chop, but when he gets fired off the ropes they end up hitting head to head. Benoit makes the tag to Rhyno, who gets a powerslam for 2. Eddie makes the tag to Shelton, who works Rhyno over and follows up with an Irish whip and elbow for 2. Tag to Haas allows Team Angle to get a double dropkick for 2 with Chavo saving. Rhyno comes back with chops and tags Benoit. They double team Haas in their corner, followed by Benoit getting a snap suplex for 2, as well as a back suplex for another 2. Tag back to Rhyno, who gets caught with a knee allowing Haas to tag Shelton. Rhyno takes back control and sends Shelton to the buckle, then nails a shoulderblock and snapmare for 2. Eddie steals the tag from Shelton and comes in with a dropkick on Rhyno. Rhyno gets up and backs Eddie to the corner tagging Benoit who comes in with a chop. Eddie recovers and nails a back suplex. He goes up, but Benoit quickly gets up there and hits a superplex for 2 with Shelton making the save. Irish whip by Benoit leads to a flapjack and he follows right in with the Crippler Crossface. Haas breaks that up quickly. Benoit sends Eddie off and tries a tilt-a-whirl, but Eddie slips out and nails a suplex for 2. He tags Chavo, who beats up everybody as they all come in illegally, but Benoit hooks him and nails three German suplexes. He goes for a fourth, but as he does it Chavo makes the tag to Shelton, who comes in with a crescent kick for 2 with Eddie saving. Eddie stays in and sends Benoit off the ropes, but they have another head to head collision. Shelton is back and he gets a slam and legdrop on Beniot for 2, but Eddie comes off the top with the Frog Splash to break up the cover. Chavo steals the tag from Benoit as Haas comes in illegally, catching him with a belly to belly suplex. Rhyno is in now, and he delivers Gores to both Haas and Chavo. Shelton, who is still the legal man, sneaks over and pins Chavo, and he gets the 3 count at 8:47. Team Angle retains the belts. Match was good, but not spectacular or anything. **1/2
Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels
This was their first blood feud, and as good as their 2008 feud was, the pre-match video package reminds me that this one was right up there with it. In this case it was based around the idea that Shawn had been Jericho’s idol while growing up and breaking into wrestling, but now Jericho wants to prove his superiority and step out of the shadows. It’s also Shawn’s return to Wrestlemania following his title loss to Steve Austin in 1998, so he’s probably ready to turn it on big time. Lockup leads to a break, and then a second one sees Shawn get a side headlock takedown, with Jericho escaping. Armdrag by Jericho, but Shawn reverses to a headscissors and they break again. Back to the side headlock goes Shawn, but Jericho reverses to a hammerlock. They trade reversals before Shawn elbows out and gets a hiptoss. Jericho gets a single leg takedown, but Shawn kicks him off. Lockup again, and Shawn gets a side headlock takedown to a pin for 2. Jericho then rolls him up for 2 as well. Jericho elbows out and they go into a sequence of ducks and reversals that ends when Jericho simply slaps him. That fires Shawn up, so he nails Jericho and tosses him to the floor. He sees the dive coming and ducks, but Shawn stops short and lands on the apron. He then comes back and nails a baseball slide. Back in the ring, Shawn goes up and gets a crossbody, but Jericho rolls through and gets 2. Jericho gets and Irish whip and a spin kick, and then rams Shawn to the buckle. He tries the bulldog off a corner whip, but Shawn uses his momentum to send him crotch first to the corner. Now Shawn gets a figure four, so he was using it prior to retiring Ric Flair, but Jericho reverses and the hold gets broken. Shawn drops him on the leg and tries the move again, but Jericho kicks him off. He tosses Shawn, who skins the cat, and catches Jericho with a headscissors to take him to the floor. Crossbody dive hits and they start fighting in the aisle. Shawn tries a dropkick, but Jericho catches him and hooks the Walls on the floor. The count is going on, so Jericho lets go and runs in to break it. He then goes back out and runs Shawn’s back to the post a couple of times. Shawn makes it to the apron, but gets met with the springboard dropkick to hit the floor again. Finally back in, he takes a back suplex and a vertical suplex for 2. Next, Jericho gets a backbreaker, and uses the arrogant cover to get another 2. He hooks a rear chinlock, and when Shawn fights out he rakes the eyes to keep control. He tries a backdrop, but Shawn reverses to a DDT putting both guys out. Slugfest breaks out, won by Shawn and he sends him off the ropes, but Jericho comes back using Shawn’s flying forearm, and even kips up to drive the point home. As he mocks Shawn’s posing routine, Shawn himself kips up and nails him. Now Shawn gets his own flying forearm, and even kips up again, just for the hell of it. Inverted atomic drop leads to a clothesline and is followed by a backdrop. Corner whip is reversed, but Shawn gets the boot up. He goes up, and comes off with a moonsault for 2. Irish whip is reversed, but Shawn comes over top and gets a rollup for 2, reversed by Jericho for 2, reversed back for another 2, and reversed one more time for a fourth 2 count. Jericho tries the Walls again, but can’t get it. He does get a Northern Lights suplex for a couple of 2 counts. Shawn bridges out of the second try and they fight over a backslide, but no one is able to get it. Jericho nails a clothesline, and now hits the bulldog. Lionsault also hits, but Shawn kicks out at 2.5. Jericho covers again, but Shawn still kicks out and Jericho is getting frustrated. He puts the head down on an Irish whip and gets kicked. Shawn tries a rana off of that, but Jericho catches him and hooks him in the Walls. Shawn fights to the ropes, and finally makes it. Jericho tries to reapply, but Shawn gets him with a small package for 2. Jericho is up first and gets a double underhook backbreaker. He then goes up and comes off with a back elbow. Jericho cues up the band and hits his version of Sweet Chin Music, but Shawn kicks out at 2.5. Corner whip, but Shawn jumps up and comes off with some punches. He then takes Jericho down and sends him to the post with a slingshot, and then gets a rollup for 2. Jericho comes back with some shots to the back and puts Shawn on the top rope. He tries a back suplex from there, but Shawn reverses and lands on top. Both guys are out, but Shawn finally gets 1 off of a delayed cover. Shawn goes up now, but Jericho shoves the ref to the ropes and Shawn gets crotched. Jericho can’t get a superplex and ends up getting dropped face first to the mat. Shawn drops the elbow and cues the band, but Jericho ducks SCM and hooks the Walls yet again. Shawn fights it, with Jericho dragging him back to the middle, but he’s still able to eventually make the ropes. Jericho is really annoyed now, having thrown everything he can at Shawn, but still not being able to beat him, so he argues the point with the ref. This allows Shawn to hit SCM when Jericho turns around, but he delays on the cover and Jericho kicks out at 2.5. Corner whip is reversed, and Shawn flips in there. Jericho tries an atomic drop, but Shawn slips out, rolls him up, and gets the 3 count at 22:31. Great match, no doubt about it. ****1/2 Shawn extends his hand afterwards and they hug, but then Jericho just kicks him low and walks out.
Piss break time as Limp Bizkit is back to play again, followed by the Torrie/Stacy/Miller Lite Catfight Girls nonsense. I won’t review it, but in the event that you’re the kind of person who gets your fix of this kind of stuff from wrestling, I’ll at least point out that it’s here.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Triple H (w/Ric Flair) vs. Booker T
First Mania appearance for the World Heavyweight Championship as it was only six months old at this point. Within a year it would actually become the more prestigious Title in the company thanks mostly to our friend HHH holding it and making sure that it generally got promoted above the WWE Title. Today, they’re about even I’d say, but still having two World Titles means that neither one can be as valuable as a single one would be on its own. To the match now, which had a bit of controversy around it as it was partially built up using race, and Booker’s criminal record as factors. HHH had told Booker that “people like you” don’t become World Champion, with that leading most of us to believe that the only way they could justify it would be to have Booker win in the end. He did beat HHH in a tag match last week on Raw, but as strange as it sounds, that actually made it less likely he would win here tonight. The moral of the story: Never underestimate the power of HHH. On with the match. Lockup leads to a break, as does a second on, but when HHH tries a cheap shot, Booker block and nails him. They trade chops until Booker sends him to the corner and hits a backdrop. Another corner whip sees HHH get the elbow up. He goes up top, but Booker armdrags him off. HHH bails, so Booker chases and ends up sending him to the post. They get back in, but Flair provides a distraction long enough for HHH to regroup and catch Booker with a boot. HHH gets fired off, but gets a shoulderblock. Off again, but this time Booker gets a clothesline for 2. He hits a couple of high kicks, but a third one misses and HHH backdrops him to the apron. He then rams Booker to the post which lands him on the floor. He follows Booker out and sends him to the stairs. Back in, HHH works him over and gets a neckbreaker for 2. Spinebuster also gets 2, as does a corner clothesline. Booker comes back with chops, but HHH stops that with a kick. He tries a suplex, but Booker slips out and nails a DDT. They both recover slowly and break into a slugfest, which Booker wins. He hits a spin kick and sidewalk slam, followed by a forearm off the ropes for 2. He comes off the ropes, but HHH catches him in a sleeper. Booker quickly gets out of that though by running HHH to the buckle. He comes off the ropes, but HHH connects with a high knee for 2. Irish whip is reversed, but Booker puts the head down and takes a facebuster. HHH charges at him, but Booker catches HHH in a spinebuster for 2. Corner whip, but HHH gets the boot up. He comes off the 2nd rope, but Booker nails him with a dropkick for 2. Scissors kick misses and Booker ends up going to the floor. HHH ties up the ref, and that allows Flair to drop Booker knee first on the stairs. Back in, HHH hooks an Indian deathlock. Booker tries to punch out, but HHH holds it. Booker finally struggles to the ropes for the break, but HHH keeps on him. Corner whip sees Booker collapse before he can hit. HHH tries to drop him on the leg, but Booker is able to flip over and get a rollup for 2. Pedigree is blocked, but Booker gets shoved back to the corner. HHH misses a charge and gets rolled up for 2. HHH comes off the ropes, but Booker gets him with a back elbow. Scissors kick hits this time, but he can’t get the cover right away, and ends up only getting 2.5. Booker goes up, but has to knock Flair down first. This lets HHH crotch him and try a superplex, but Booker knocks him down. Flair is on the apron again, and Booker knocks him back down again. Harlem Hangover hits, but he can’t get the cover right away doe to the leg, and the result is only a 2 count. He tries to run the ropes, but just collapses again, and that allows HHH to hit the Pedigree for the win to retain the title at 18:47. Match really didn’t have any heat, which I thought was a bit strange, but it was still pretty good. Definitely a disappointing finish, but they’re already doing an epic babyface title win later on, so it is understandable that they would have the heel retain here, even if it does go against the buildup. **3/4
Street Fight: Hulk Hogan vs. Mr. McMahon
This was the real main event of the show as they gave more publicity to this match than any other one. Remember what I said about this being the least successful Mania of the decade? Just pointing out the facts, that’s all. They’re hyping it as “20 Years In The Making” with the premise being that they’ve actually hated each other all along. Things like Hogan testifying against Vince in the steroid trail, and jumping to WCW were brought up as they tried to convince us of that. From there it was nothing more than a standard pro wrestling angle as Vince, along with crooked referee Sylvain Grenier, who was seen entering Vince’s dressing room earlier tonight, cost Hogan a match against The Rock at No Way Out. They even did a contract signing where Vince bloodied Hogan, and signed the contract on his behalf with said blood. And, as if that’s not enough, Hogan’s career is on the line as he will be forced to retire if he loses. Here we go. The crowd is back in to it after being pretty silent in the last match, that’s for sure. Vince slaps him during a staredown, so Hogan explodes with punches and works him over in the corner. Vince finally gets an elbow to stop the onslaught and nails a clothesline. Now Vince works him over, focusing on the arm. He wraps the arm around the post a couple of times. We now go to a test of strength, which Vince controls. This goes on for a while as Hogan sells, fights up, and Vince kicks him down. They do that sequence three times before Vince just tosses him to the floor. He rams Hogan to the barrier, and then to the post. Hogan avoids a chairshot and fires back, nailing Vince with the chair. Vince is now busted open as Hogan goes to work on the cut. Hogan gets another couple of chairshot to the back, but Vince ducks a third and Hugo Savinovich gets nailed. The guy even blades to sell the effect of it. Vince uses a low blow to control and then nails Hogan with a chair. Hogan is busted open now as well as Vince sets up a ladder and preps the Spanish table for use, nailing Hogan with a monitor in the process. He gets Hogan on the table, and drops a leg off the ladder. Back in the ring, that only gets 2. Vince tries again, but still only 2. Vince goes under the ring and comes out with a pipe, but Hogan avoids a shot with that by using a low blow. Out of nowhere comes Roddy Piper to a pretty big reaction and with both guys down, he grabs the pipe. He teases going after Vince, but nails Hogan instead and walks out. Vince crawls for the cover and gets a close 2 count rendering the run in completely useless. Vince wants to use the pipe again, but the ref stops him from doing so. Vince tosses him out and calls for Sylvain Grenier to take over as he nails Hogan with the pipe. Next, Vince drops a leg, but that only gets 2. Hogan Hulks Up, with Vince’s punches having no effect. He beats up Grenier as well, which allows Vince to come from behind, but the Hulk Up is still in effect. 3 punches, Irish whip, big boot, and not one, not two, but three legdrops hit as the original ref recovers to make the 3 count at 20:48. It started out really slow, with that test of strength spot being especially annoying, but once they got going, it turned into something pretty good. Of course I would expect nothing less than pretty good from a match that was given nearly every shortcut in the book, so really all I can say is that they at least met the expectations that I had. ***
The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
This is the third time they’ve met at a Wrestlemania, which makes it, as of 2008, the only threepeated match in the history of the show. Most of the buildup was based around the idea of Austin having won the two previous matches, and Rock feeling that beating Austin at Mania is the only thing he has left to accomplish in wrestling. I miss the Rock. While it’s nice to see he’s found success in Hollywood, there is just so much greatness we’ve missed out on due to his wrestling career being cut short in the middle of his prime. That success actually plays a part in the match here as Rock has turned heel based on the fans resentment of him, and seeing his work as a heel here just makes me miss him even more. The guy could do it all. Kinda sad to see Austin go as well, but really his act was so much more one dimensional and was starting to get a bit old by this point. Staredown starts us off, followed by Austin winning a slugfest. Stunner is tried immediately, but Rock avoids it and bails. Austin chases and clotheslines him on the floor, rams him to the barrier, to the stairs, and sends him to the barrier again. Rock tries to get in, but Austin is not done yet. Austin drops him on the barrier and whips him to the stairs before finally taking it back in the ring. Back suplex gets 2 for Austin. He whips Rock to the corner a couple of times, with the third try getting reversed, although Austin comes out with a clothesline. The ref gets in Austin’s face about some choking, and that allows Rock to clip Austin from behind to take over. Austin goes to the floor, but Rock clips him again out there. He keeps working on the knee, including posting it a couple of times and even pulls out the Sharpshooter. I’m happy to hear JR putting over Bret Hart during the move as he recalls Wrestlemania 13. Austin struggles and makes the ropes, but Rock stays on him, posting the leg again. Now, to add insult to injury, he puts on Austin’s vest. Back in the ring, Austin fights back and they end up clotheslining each other. They get to their feet where Austin wins a slugfest, comes off the ropes and gets the Thesz press, then drops an elbow for 2. He then stomps the mudhole in the corner and walks it dry. Irish whip, but Rock ducks and comes back off with a flying clothesline. He kips up and celebrates, but that just allows Austin to get up and nail a Rock Bottom. That gets 2.5 so he tries a Stunner, which is blocked by Rock who gets his own version on Austin also for 2.5. Now Rock tries some punches, but Austin is able to duck and connect with his own Stunner, but Rock is able to kick out. Rock gets a low blow to takeover, and tries the People’s Elbow, but Austin moves. Another Stunner is avoided and Rock gets a spinebuster, followed by another try at the People’s Elbow (taking off the other elbow pad this time) which hits, but Austin kicks out. Rock Bottom hits, but only gets 2.5. Another one also hits, but Austin still survives. He sets Austin up again, hits it one more time and finally that finishes Austin off at 17:54. With all the finishers and kickouts at the end, they were trying to make it as epic as they could, but it ended up feeling a bit flat and anti-climactic. It doesn’t quite live up to their previous Mania matches, but still, a real good effort by two guys who knew that it was their last match together, and likely the last really big match for either of them. ***1/2
Main Event, WWE Championship Match: Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar
Lesnar won the Royal Rumble to earn his shot here, and the setup since then has been a pretty standard “stacking the odds against him” deal. Lesnar also has some taped up ribs from injuries suffered in the buildup. Based on previous tactics used by Angle the rules are that Team Angle is banned from ringside, and that he can lose the Title on a DQ or countout. Angle was also expected to miss several months, if not a year, of action following this show due to a neck injury, so he was expected to put on a real show here. They start out with several chain wrestling sequences that establish both their mat ability and their equality. Definitely something we don’t see too much of in this day in age. Everyone thinks they only need to focus on doing things that are flashy and high impact, but if you don’t have the basics, you just won’t go that far. As I was saying, no one really controls for any great length of time as they keep trading hold and counters. First bigger move sees Angle charge and get powerslammed for 2. Angle ducks a clothesline and hits a German suplex, but Lesnar no sells it and gets that clothesline after all. Irish whip, but Angle hold on and bails. Lesnar chases, so Angle lures him back in and kicks him. Corner whip is blocked and leads to Lesnar getting a press slam. Corner whip, but Angle kicks the ribs on the charge. In a really cool, yet pretty dangerous looking move, he German suplexes Lesnar so that he lands on the turnbuckle. To the floor, where he runs Lesnar to the barrier, and back in where he gets a back suplex for 2, followed by another suplex also for 2. Angel hooks a bow and arrow submission to keep working on those ribs. Lesnar fights out gradually, and eventually it just becomes a plain old rear chinlock. Lesnar gets to his feet and backs Angle to the corner to break it. Angle gets a belly to belly suplex, and then knees Lesnar out to the floor. Back in, Angle charges, but runs into a spinebuster. Both guys are out and when they come to Lesnar comes off with a couple of clotheslines. He hits some shoulderblocks in the corner, but on a corner whip, Angle gets the elbow up and Lesnar hits it. Lesnar still manages to get a couple of belly to belly suplexes for 2. Third one is blocked and lead to Angle hitting four German suplexes in succession. They trade finisher attempts before Angle hooks the ankle lock. Lesnar makes the ropes, but gets dragged back, until he makes them again for the break. Angle charges, but gets backdropped out. Back in, Angle ducks a clothesline and hits a release German suplex for 2. He gets the Angle Slam, but that only gets 2. While I don’t think that finishers should be unkickoutable, I really think that they’re overdoing it just a bit on this show. Angle tries a second one, but Lesnar counters to a rollup for 2. Now he gets the F5, but Angle kicks out at 2. Lesnar seems lost on where to go from here, so Angle takes advantage and hooks the ankle lock again. Lesnar fights to the ropes for the break, and kicks him off on a second attempt. Angle gets a small package for 2. Angle Slam is attempted, but avoided, and Lesnar gets another F5. No cover though as he heads up top. My first thought is that Angle is way too far away to begin with, but I guess he knows what setup he needs better than I do. He goes for the shooting star press, and doesn’t quite get the rotation necessary landing on his head. Most likely that was supposed to be the finish, but when it misses Angle improvises and goes for his own cover and gets 2. They get up, and Lesnar then hits another F5 for the pin and the WWE Title at 21:08. Lesnar would turn out to be ok, but it looked pretty bad as he seemed to be totally out of it following the match and could barely make it to his feet. Match was really good, just falling behind Michaels/Jericho for match of the night, mainly because the screwed up finish does have to be held against it. ****
Perhaps it was the least successful of the decade, but it turns out to be a real good show. The Undertaker match is the only low point for the in ring as everything else hits at least **, with two matches going **** or higher. The biggest issue here would be a lack of historical value. Lesnar’s departure within a year kind of erases his big win from the books, Rock/Austin is overshadowed by better matches that they had previously, and nothing huge really came out of the aftermath either. Based on that it’s harder to call it a great Wrestlemania, but it’s still very, very good. Thumbs Up for Wrestlemania XIX and recommended as a show that’s definitely worth a rewatch if you’ve got some time to kill.