wrestling / Video Reviews

Kevin’s RetrospectiveMania Series: WrestleMania XV

August 23, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Steve Austin Rock WrestleMania XV
WWF WrestleMania XV
March 28th, 1999 | First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Attendance: 20,276

Things were looking way up for the WWF in 1999. They were riding high in a wave of profits and WCW was falling further and further behind them. They had a handful of top stars and more were coming in soon. The main storytelling was still focused on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, but The Rock had risen to the top of the company alongside him. However, WWF was all the way into the world of “crash” TV, where stuff was constantly happening. Some of it was great and a lot of it made no sense. Would Vince Russo get in his own way? Let’s see how this show goes.

• 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

 


WWF Hardcore Championship: Billy Gunn [c] vs. Al Snow vs. Hardcore Holly ~ Classic Vince Russo. All logical signs pointed to Billy Gunn in the IC Title picture and Road Dogg here. So Russo flipped that for no reason and now a match like this is less interesting because Gunn wasn’t involved in the build. You kind of know what you’re getting here. The hardcore division was often just guys wailing on each other with no real story. Add in Gunn’s late entry into the feud and there’s even less of a story to tell. The crowd started a “Let’s Go Flyers” chant when a hockey stick was used as a weapon. A few random weapons like that were used, but they threw in some more traditional stuff like a table. Billy hit the Fameasser on Snow on a chair but Hardcore Holly clocked him with a chair and stole the pin in 7:06. It was mindless action but I had some fun. The fans ate it up too. Plus, this was a precursor to the now overdone trope of stealing the pin in a Triple Threat match. [**½]

WWF Tag Team Championship: Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart [c] vs. D-Lo Brown and Test ~ When people complain about WWE’s tag team division now, look back at the precious Attitude Era. They had nothing for the Tag Team Champions, so they had a battle royal on Heat where the last two remaining competitors would team up and get a title shot on the main show. Woof. D-Lo Brown and Test had zero interaction or reaction to form a team so it didn’t even give us a story. Debra probably looked better than ever here. I’m a sucker for the Owen/Jarrett team. All four guys, and even Ivory and Debra at ringside, tried hard. This was a filler match, yet they did their best to make it work. The ladies of PMS came out and caused a distraction for Test and Ivory. That allowed Owen to hit D-Lo with a missile dropkick, sending Jarrett on top for a pin in 3:58. A decent amount of action here. Too short and overbooked though. [*½]


Brawl for All: Bart Gunn vs. Butterbean ~ Bart Gunn’s punishment for knocking out Steve Williams in the Brawl for All? Box against a legitimate fighter in Butterbean. This made Bart look terrible as Butterbean knocked him out in 0:36. [NR]

Big Show vs. Mankind ~ Here we had the strange stipulation of two big stars competing for a chance to be a special referee in the main event. Big Show didn’t have his own music yet. Luckily, Mankind is still hot off of being WWF Champion so recently so the crowd was into this. They also wanted nothing to get in the way of Stone Cold as WWF Champion. The idea for this match was for Show to dominate. He tossed Mankind around with ease. Mankind was always willing to bump like a madman, so even in something as short and relatively meaningless as this, he threw in some impressive stunts. Dumbass Big Show decided to Chokeslam Mankind onto two chairs and get disqualified in 6:50. Not a good match at all, but I give it some credit for Mankind’s willingness to take bumps. [½*]


WWF Intercontinental Championship: Road Dogg [c] vs. Goldust vs. Ken Shamrock vs. Val Venis ~ There was so much going on here. Ken Shamrock was mad that his sister Ryan was hanging out with Goldust. Val banged Ryan at some point. Road Dogg was shoehorned in after winning the title because, Russo. Blue Meanie was also at ringside. After a brawl started this, it calmed down into something where only two men were legal at once. Yes, they worked this traditional tag rules for some reason. The actual action in the match was pretty solid. Each guy got a moment or two to do their thing. It was a bit of a mess but I expected that. After Val survived the Ankle Lock, he and Ken Shamrock brawled outside. I guess this was elimination because it led to both men getting counted out. When Ken found out, he hilariously threw his arms up in a weird kind of celebration. Ryan accidentally tripped Goldust and Road Dogg beat him with a rollup in 9:47. Like I said, the action wasn’t half bad. It just felt cluttered even with the tag stuff. [**]

Kane vs. Triple H ~ This whole storyline was kind of a mess. Babyface Triple H snuck in to attack sympathetic heel Kane who was way over after beating up Pete Rose for the second straight year. We got some brawling around the ring. In an effort to show that he could do more than just punch and kick, Kane busted out a hideous plancha. Like, it was one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Shortly after, Chyna strolled down to the ring. She joined the Corporation a while back and had become the only one able to partially control Kane. She sent steel steps into the ring and Kane tried to use them, only to get them dropkicked into his face. He also took a drop toe hold onto them, all RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE REFEREE. Where’s the DQ? Eventually, Chyna hit Kane with the chair to finally get a DQ called at 11:33. What a chore to get through. This felt way longer than it was and made no sense given the way the referee handled things. A slog of a match. [*¼]


WWF Women’s Championship: Sable [c] vs. Tori ~ Sable was champion purely because of popularity, though the rest of the talent in the division wasn’t exactly great. She had also recently turned heel, which made sense given her personality, but also didn’t because fans still wanted to cheer for her. Tori rivals Giant Gonzalez for worst Mania gear. Everything these women did either got botched or looked awkward. It’s hard to even find one move that looked like it was being done by competent wrestlers. The crossbody and sunset flip spots were the especially bad ones. This got a ref bump, even though that’s something that would’ve made sense in the previous match. Tori horribly flubbed a Sable Bomb counter. That led to Nicole Bass showing up to attack her with a press slam. Sable Bomb hits and it actually didn’t look awful, giving Sable the win in 5:09. That was one of the worst matches in WrestleMania history. It was horrible and looked like two people who had no clue what they were doing.[-****]

WWF European Championship: Shane McMahon [c] vs. X-Pac ~ Before the match, DX cut a promo about being back together. We’ll see how long that lasts. It’s a lot like 2019 because Shane McMahon’s whole thing here was that he was winning with the help of others, yet completely outmatched against wrestlers. X-Pac had the upper hand at every turn, but Test and other Corporation members would mess things up. X-Pac finally gave him a Bronco Buster as Triple H and Chyna came out. X-Factor on Shane but Triple H entered to Pedigree X-Pac. You see, Vince Russo put a SWERVE INSIDE OF YOUR SWERVE. SWERVECEPTION. Shane covered to retain in 8:41. They used plenty of smoke and mirrors to make this work about as well as it could have. [**¾]


Hell in a Cell: Big Bossman vs. The Undertaker ~ This match. It’s about as bad as the storyline. Both guys were heels, so the crowd doesn’t have anyone to root for. At this point, the Hell in a Cell was a rarity and had only been used for some memorable stuff. This had a lot to live up to and didn’t even come close. Bossman and Taker traded weak ass offense until Bossman handcuffed him to the cage. Then, the cuffs hilariously broke when Taker fell. What kind of weak ass handcuffs are those? The crowd chanted “boring” a few times and that’s being generous. Undertaker bled but nobody cared. We even got a wide shot that clearly showed the fans looking bored. Undertaker won with a Tombstone in a bad 9:48. Undertaker now has two of the worst matches in WrestleMania history. This was about as bad as the Gonzalez match. They had the worst Hell in a Cell ever. [-****½]

WWF Championship No Disqualifications Match: The Rock [c] vs. Steve Austin ~ Lots of pre-match shenanigans in this that ultimately led to making the Mankind/Big Show match earlier irrelevant. Rock prevented Austin from doing his entrance taunt on all four corners so Austin started a brawl that set the tone for the match. They spent the vast majority of the first half fighting through the crowd and aisle. Austin took a particularly painful looking bump where his leg landed across a steel light structure. The action finally moved to the ring after Austin elbowed Rock through the announce table and he was immediately greeted with a Rock Bottom for a near fall. Mike Chioda, Commissioner Shawn Michaels’ handpicked referee, took an unprotected chair shot for our first ref bump. Tim White was ref #2 and he ate a Rock Bottom. A third ref was taken out by an interfering Mr. McMahon, because Russo loved him an overbooked main event. Finally that brought out Mankind in his ref shirt and he took out Vince. Austin and Rock had an exchange that ended with the Stunner and Austin was champion again in 16:52. Easily the best thing on the show. However, it wasn’t a patch on their best work. It was an overbooked mess at points, but the action was solid and the crowd way into it. [***½]

This card is a mess. To get the good out of the way, I liked the main event and I found the Hardcore and European Title matches to be decent. The Intercontinental Title match was a disappointment and the rest of the card is pretty dire. You have a thrown together Tag Title contest, a boring HHH/Kane match, and Big Show/Mankind sucked. But things really get dragged down by how bad the Hell in a Cell and Women’s Title matches, which both received negative star ratings.

SCORE: 2.5

 


 

Memorability

 


There wasn’t a lot about this WrestleMania that I would consider overly memorable. Obviously, any “Stone Cold” WWF Title win is notable, especially in the WrestleMania main event. Though I would say this was his least memorable major win at this event. As dumb as it was, it is kind of impossible to forget the Big Bossman hanging from the Hell in a Cell. For me, I also always remembered Pete Rose attacking Kane while in the chicken suit. Most of the rest of this card is easily forgettable and I’d rank it at the bottom in this category among Attitude Era Manias.

SCORE: 4.0

 


 

Historical Significance

 


While the main event lacked the significance that last year’s had of being Austin’s first WWF Title win and Shawn Michaels’ last for a few years, this one is still notable. It happened to be the first of three Austin/Rock matches at WrestleMania. You also get the novelty of this being the first WrestleMania to feature the Hell in a Cell, it marked the return of the Women’s Title after several years, an we got the first defense of the Hardcore Title. This was also the debut for Big Show and Shane McMahon at the “Showcase of the Immortals.” Sadly, this turned out to be the final WrestleMania for Owen Hart before his untimely death. A bit more in this category than I expected.

SCORE: 6.0

 


 

Booking Decisions

 


Most of the matches ended with the right person going over. That being said, there were a handful of issues. The Tag Team Title match was proof that the division was in shambles in this era. Having interference in so many matches was also problematic. It gets way too redundant. There was also the Triple H/Kane match, which made no sense. They did illegal things in front of the official and didn’t get DQed until it was time for the finish. Lame. The overbooked main event and fact that Mankind/Show was mostly irrelevant didn’t help.

SCORE: 4.0

 


 

Presentation

 


Holding the show in the First Union Center continued the trend of less than impressive locations. That being said, I do appreciate the efforts to bump up the look. Instead of the horrible setup from XI-13 or the generic one last year, the entrance was constructed with a giant logo for the show. It looked just different enough to feel somewhat special. I also thought the opening video package was pretty good but a bit cheesy. The video packages throughout were solid. The biggest problem this show suffered from in terms of presentation were on commentary. Michael Cole was nowhere near ready to call a major show at this stage in his career. He sounded awful all night long and it brought down a lot of what he was part of.

SCORE: 6.0

 


 

Pacing/Flow

 


It was another WrestleMania that ran at a reasonable length. It’s hard to give these shows a bad score when they aren’t overly long. Only two matches surpassed 10 minutes, which was pretty much exactly the way Vince Russo liked his wrestling. Other than HHH/Kane and the Hell in a Cell, nothing feels like it overstays its welcome. That makes for a pretty quick watch. I would’ve moved a few things around to keep terrible things from following each other, but this was mostly a place where the show succeeded.

SCORE: 6.5

 


 

Entertainment

 


Starting with Boyz II Men is always a good move. That’s especially true when you consider that the show was in Philadelphia. Perfect choice. They were kind of it for celebrities, so the show lacked there. It made for it a bit with the Pete Rose appearance. I loved it. He’ll always go down as a favorite celeb at WrestleMania. In terms of non-wrestling angles and moments, there were a few. Big Show’s face turn came off well since it came before we knew how often these would happen. Triple H’s heel turn was needed but felt kind of stupid. And who doesn’t love Austin beating up Vince to close the show? Solid stuff here.

SCORE: 6.0

 


 

Overall

 


A really rough WrestleMania. 15 shows in and this ranks in the bottom five. It picked up some average scores in a few categories, but really struggled in terms of the in-ring action. The matches on this show just weren’t very good and two of them were absolutely dire. I’m actually surprised that it made it to 35 and expected it to score worse.

TOTAL: 35/70

 

WrestleMania Rankings
1. WrestleMania III – 55/70
2. WrestleMania X – 52/70
3. WrestleMania VIII – 50.5/70
4. WrestleMania I – 50/70
5. WrestleMania XII – 48.5/70
6. WrestleMania VII – 46/70
7. WrestleMania XIV – 46/70
8. WrestleMania VI – 44/70
9. WrestleMania V – 39/70
10. WrestleMania 13 – 37/70
11. WrestleMania XV – 35/70
12. WrestleMania IV – 32/70
13. WrestleMania XI – 31.5/70
14. WrestleMania IX – 31.5/70
15. WrestleMania II – 29/70

article topics :

Wrestlemania XV, Kevin Pantoja