wrestling / Video Reviews

Kevin’s RetrospectiveMania Series: WrestleMania XIX

October 23, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Brock Lesnar Kurt Angle WrestleMania 19
WWE WrestleMania XIX 
March 30th, 2003 | Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington | Attendance: 54,097 

I’ll preface this by pointing out that this has long been my favorite WrestleMania. When everyone was talking about X-Seven, I always praised this one. The “Next Big Thing” had arrived, Shawn Michaels was back, new wrestlers were getting shots at being top guys, and we were about to witness the end of the career of one of the greatest to ever compete. Some Manias have surprised me in both positive and negative ways, so I’m interested in how this one will hold up.

• Match quality – Self-explanatory. Will always be the longest section.
• Memorability – How memorable is the show?
• Historical significance – The impact the show had on wrestling
• Booking decisions – Did the event have logical booking decisions for the stories they told
• Presentation – Things like stage setup, video packages, commentary, etc.
• Pacing/Flow – How well is the show laid out? Does it drag or move along smoothly?
• Entertainment – The non-wrestling elements like promos, celebrity interaction, concerts, etc.

 


 

Match Quality

 


WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Matt Hardy [c] vs. Rey Mysterio ~ How about the Cruiserweight Title getting on the Mania card? Rey Mysterio’s first WrestleMania and he’s dressed as Daredevil. Matt Facts: Matt is appearing in his 4th Mania and he often wonders how they did this show without him in the past. Classic. It was as if these guys were out to cram as much as they could into the short time they got. It mostly worked because this had a lot of action, moved at a great pace, and kept the crowd invested. I didn’t like Mysterio kicking out of the Twist of Fate. No need to do finisher kick outs in your opener. Rey’s super rana was dope. He hit 619, missed the West Coast Pop, and Matt countered a victory roll to retain in 5:37, using the ropes for leverage. [***]

A-Train and Big Show vs. The Undertaker ~ Nathan Jones was scheduled to be Undertaker’s partner but WWE had no confidence in him so they ran an injury angle on Heat. Limp Bizkit played Undertaker to the ring. There’s a lot of BEEF in this match. Taker nearly won instantly and that would’ve been cool. The highlight here was Undertaker busting out a leap frog like he was a cruiserweight. This being a handicap match, Undertaker got in trouble due to the numbers game. Him selling for A-Train and Big Show was pretty boring. Nathan Jones eventually ran down like Charles Robinson and hit a spin kick on Show. Another kick to A-Train and a Tombstone later moved Undertaker to 11-0 at WrestleMania after 9:42. Small points for the start and Taker’s leapfrog. The rest was dull. [*]


WWE Women’s Championship: Victoria [c] vs. Jazz vs. Trish Stratus ~ I feel like we haven’t seen the women on this early in Mania in a while. Trish is quite outmatched in terms of power. They went right into the action. Jazz controlled a lot of this and I dug it. I feel like she is pretty underappreciated. I liked Trish getting beaten up by both women as it really made her a great face in peril. She was really coming into her own and showed off some sweet offense. Steven Richards, Victoria’s second, tried to run in with a chair and hit the ropes, bouncing it back into his face. That spot will always make me chuckle. It came down to Trish and Victoria, with a new champion being crowned after the Chick Kick in 7:17. An improvement on last year’s match. This had an awkward moment or two but plenty of good action and a story that made sense. [***]

WWE Tag Team Championship: Team Angle [c] vs. Chris Benoit and Rhyno vs. Los Guerreros ~ As a huge Team Angle fan, I remember being pumped for this. I do feel like this got hurt a bit by going on right after another triple threat match. Some of the tactics and tropes got repeated in this. However, it was still great to see a lot of these guys getting the chance to shine on the big stage. The pace quickened for the final few minutes, with guys coming in and out of the action. Chris Benoit went off with his German suplex combo on Chavo Guerrero. I think everyone was used to their strengths, even if they didn’t get a ton of time to showcase their skills. Chavo got hit with the Gore and Shelton Benjamin stole the pin so Team Angle could retain in 8:48. It felt rushed at times but I liked it. Maybe it’s just because I’m such a huge Team Angle mark. [***¼]


Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels ~ Our first look at Shawn Michaels since 1998. I loved the story behind this match. The idea was that Jericho idolized Michaels but now feels he has surpassed him. Their early exchanges ended in a stalemate that showed how evenly matched these two were. When Jericho took control, he shouted things like “I’M BETTER THAN YOU.” I loved Jericho doing a nip up after a flying forearm and stealing Shawn’s signature pose, only for Shawn to nip up behind him. Great stuff. The same goes for Jericho hitting Sweet Chin Music. Shawn survived it and hit the elbow before tuning up the band. You thought would be it but Jericho was prepared and countered into the Walls. Fantastic. When that failed, Jericho grew frustrated. That was all Shawn needed. Jericho went for a back suplex and had it countered into a rollup that ended things in 22:34. Incredible storytelling. They gave us exactly the match we needed. Both guys were on their A game and it remains one of the best matches either man has ever put on. It’s a personal favorite of mine. Shawn’s first truly great Mania match. [****½]

World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H [c] vs. Booker T ~ Oh. It’s this match. Triple H famously said that “people like Booker” don’t win World Titles. Hard yikes. As a match, there wasn’t much that was wrong here. It told a simple story and followed an expected formula. Triple H took control and worked his ode to Ric Flair stuff. That included targeting the leg. It did give us an Indian Death Lock spot and I love that move, so I appreciated it. Booker did a good job selling the damage, though some of his screams were awkward. As Booker rallied, he had to deal with Ric Flair at ringside. His comeback got cut short by a Pedigree from out of nowhere. Triple H took a long ass time to cover and then got the three after 18:45. An anti-climactic finish to what was a good match. People remember it negatively because of the result (more on that later) but the contest itself is quite good. [***¼]


Street Fight: Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon ~ When Vince McMahon competes at WrestleMania, you can expect a spectacle. That’s what his war with Shane was and the stipulation here points in that direction. A lot of this was slow moving because that’s just who these two were. They were old men and that’s what you come in expecting. Vince opted for arm work in the early stages and most of it looked pitiful. Both men got busted open badly after chair shots. If it wasn’t going to be good technically, it could at least be bloody. We got the awesome image of a sadistic and bloody Vince rising up as he went after a steel pipe. It has been played in video packages since then. Roddy Piper made a surprise run-in where he kicked Vince and clocked Hogan with the pipe. Hogan survived that and a Leg Drop before winning with one of his own in 20:47. A bloody sports entertainment brawl. I think Shane/Vince is better but this was a fun spectacle. [***]

The Rock vs. Steve Austin ~ Their two prior WrestleMania matches were both highly entertaining. This match had one glowing aspect that the others didn’t. Hollywood Rock. His character work in this was tremendous. It added a lot to what they did. Most of the early stages was a brawl and Rock put the focus on Austin’s legs. It wasn’t anything special in terms of leg work but it was effective. Austin had his bionic knees so it made sense. When Rock put on Austin’s vest, it added another level of fun to this and the match kicked into high gear. That was when it became a finisher barrage. Sometimes I don’t like that concept but it worked here. This was two guys who knew each other well and had to empty the tank on one another, especially with hitting the moves of their opponent. Austin kept kicking out of Rock Bottoms but after three in a row, Austin stayed down. Rock got the win in 17:55. A great way to cap an outstanding WrestleMania trilogy. Austin put Rock over on the way out. The character work and way they played off of their history made this special. [****¼]


WWE Championship: Kurt Angle [c] vs. Brock Lesnar ~ Crazy that this is Brock Lesnar’s Mania debut. Lots of magnificent mat wrestling to start. I love it because it is exactly what I want from these two. Brock started using his power for momentum but Angle attacked his injured ribs to stop him. The German suplex into the turnbuckle was sick. Kurt was a mad genius in this. At one point, he countered the F5 into the Ankle Lock. That shouldn’t even be possible. He was scary good in his prime. Brock rallied to successfully hit the F5 but he was too beaten to cover instantly so it wasn’t enough. Brock added a second F5 and went for his insane Shooting Star Press. Unfortunately, Angle was too far away and Brock landed badly on his head. He was out of it. However, he managed to compose himself enough to nail a third F5 and drape the arm over to win the title in 21:07. Fantastic pro wrestling. They just let two great wrestlers go out and do their thing to close out the show. No nonsense. A logical match with great moments and some incredibly skilled technical stuff. I loved it. [****¼]

An all-time great card here. Take a look at that consistency. Outside of the Undertaker match being dull, everything else clocked in with at least ***. That’s unheard of for a WrestleMania. That means everything else ranged from good to outstanding. It is a consistent show with three stellar matches that will always be remembered. A new number one in this category.

SCORE: 9.5

 


 

Memorability

 


While not every match on the show is memorable, there are a bunch of moments that stand out. Brock Lesnar’s ridiculous Shooting Star Press attempt. The Rock and Stone Cold stealing each other’s finishers. The visual of Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Vince McMahon sharing a ring. Chris Jericho delivering a low blow to Shawn Michaels after their incredible match. Even Booker T vs. Triple H is remembered by a lot of people, though not for the best reasons.

SCORE: 9.0

 


 

Historical Significance

 


I didn’t think about it all that much before but there are way more historic bits on this show than I remembered. For starters, this was the final match in the storied career of Steve Austin. That’s a huge deal and enough to give this a high score but it keeps going. This also marked the last WrestleMania match for Hulk Hogan. On the flip side, it marked the return to the big stage for Shawn Michaels after missing four years with a back injury. On top of that, this was the WrestleMania debut for two future Hall of Famers in Rey Mysterio and Brock Lesnar. Throw in the first Cruiserweight Title match on a Mania and some other debuts and you’ve got something truly special. Huge score here.

SCORE: 9.5

 


 

Booking Decisions

 


The one glaring problem with this show is what everyone still talks about to this day. Triple H beat Booker T. And he did so by making Booker like a chump with the finish. After saying that people like Booker didn’t win the big one. Hard yikes. Other than that, I believe this WrestleMania got it right at every turn. There weren’t really any BS finishes and nobody other than Triple H was a bad choice for a winner.

SCORE: 8.0

 


 

Presentation

 


I love the way this show looks. It is one of my favorite WrestleMania setups of all time. The stage looks cool and the aisle turning as you get close to the ring is something I’ve always liked. The show also benefitted from some great video packages. They were well done and helped tell some of the stories in a great way. I appreciated the commentary here. Not having to sit through Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler non-stop made them more tolerable, while Michael Cole and Tazz did well together.

SCORE: 9.5

 


 

Pacing/Flow

 


As noted, this show is filled to the brim with enjoyable matches. That makes it hard to poorly pace out because something good is always happening. That being said, there were two weird things. One was putting on back to back triple threat matches. It didn’t hurt the show but was odd. The other was a bigger issue. They opted to do the Miller Lite catfight segment and a concert back to back. It would’ve made more sense to break those up instead of having them come together in between matches.

SCORE: 8.5

 


 

Entertainment

 

Believe it or not, I quite liked this section of the show. The catfight stuff wasn’t what I’d call high quality television but it didn’t take up too much time and at least got Torrie and Stacy on the show. The fans also ate it up because, boobs. I dug some of the little touches throughout the show as well. Limp Bizkit performing Undertaker’s entrance was cool. The Rock saying thank you to Austin after their match was another fine moment.

SCORE: 8.0

 


 

Overall

 


Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new number one. I totaled the score and this just surpasses WrestleMania X-Seven for the top spot. It racked up the points in every category. A great card, stellar presentation, fun segments, good boking, this had it all. It is going to be way tough to beat this one.

TOTAL: 62/70

 

WrestleMania Rankings
1. WrestleMania XIX – 62/70
2. WrestleMania X-Seven – 61/70
3. WrestleMania III – 55/70
4. WrestleMania X – 52/70
5. WrestleMania VIII – 50.5/70
6. WrestleMania I – 50/70
7. WrestleMania XII – 48.5/70
8. WrestleMania VII – 46/70
9. WrestleMania XIV – 46/70
10. WrestleMania VI – 44/70
11. WrestleMania X8 – 43.5/70
12. WrestleMania 2000 – 39.5/70
13. WrestleMania V – 39/70
14. WrestleMania 13 – 37/70
15. WrestleMania XV – 35/70
16. WrestleMania IV – 32/70
17. WrestleMania XI – 31.5/70
18. WrestleMania IX – 31.5/70
19. WrestleMania II – 29/70

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WrestleMania XIX, Kevin Pantoja