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Random Network Reviews: WrestleMania XV

June 18, 2015 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Random Network Reviews: WrestleMania XV  

WrestleMania XV
March 28th, 1999 | First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Attendance: 20,276

Despite the WWF being in the midst of an extremely profitable run, they chose to host their WrestleManias in normal sized venues. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time, but with WrestleMania currently on a string of being in massive stadiums all of the time, it kind of makes these feel a bit small time. I reviewed Backlash 1999 a while back and noted that it is considered to be a better show than the Mania preceding it, and it’s time to see if that is indeed true.

We cut straight to the ring so Boys II Men can sing America the Beautiful. Then comes the intro video, which has the usual big feeling that WrestleMania intros tend to have. Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are on commentary tonight.

WWF Hardcore Championship
Billy Gunn (c) vs. Al Snow vs. Hardcore Holly

Road Dogg had been going after the Hardcore Title for months, while Billy Gunn chased the Intercontinental Title. In a classic Vince Russo swerve, they would each win the opposite title. Al Snow and Hardcore Holly get pops, just showing how over even the mid-carders were during this era. Thankfully, they cut off Billy before he cuts a promo. All three guys just brawl at the start of the first Hardcore Title match in WrestleMania history. Things go outside where Holly suplexes Snow. Snow is still first to get a weapon as he takes out both men with a hockey stick, bringing a “Let’s Go Flyers” chant. Billy takes it and breaks it on Holly. A broomstick is broken, leading Snow to use them like nun chucks. Billy tries to keep it casual with a steel chair but Snow just wails on him with the broomstick. Snow nails Poetry in Motion with the help of the chair, but misses his second attempt. A table comes into play and is set up in the corner. Bill whacks Holly with the chair and hip tosses Snow through the table. The crowd is red hot for this in a way that is rarely seen nowadays. Fameasser on the chair connects but Holly breaks the pin with a chair, and steals the pin.

Winner and New WWF Hardcore Champion: Hardcore Holly in 7:06
Fun little opener. No real story here but that is expected. It was three guys wailing on each other and while I’ve seen way better hardcore matches, this was fine. It was also an early incarnation of the stolen pin finish from Triple Threat matches. **½

We see a clip from Sunday Night Heat, which featured a battle royal. The final two guys left in the battle royal would get a Tag Team Title shot. How stupid was this? How bad was the tag team division hat a real team couldn’t get a shot at WrestleMania?

WWF Tag Team Championship
Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart (c) w/ Debra vs. D-Lo Brown and Test w/ Ivory

Obviously, D-Lo Brown and Test have some words before the bell. I’m a sucker for the Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart team. Brown and Test attack from behind, which is odd from your faces. Things calm down as Brown and Jarrett have an exchange before he Canadians go at it. Test hits a nice powerbomb for two. Debra is barely wearing anything at ringside. Owen counters a pump handle slam and nails the enziguri. He tries the Sharpshooter and Brown levels him, which Owen just stood there for. He comes back with a gutwrench suplex and they hit a double team clothesline. D-Lo slams both guys while Test is outside. Debra gets involved, so Ivory gets in her face. PMS shows up to argue too. This causes Test and the referee to get distracted. D-Lo sets for his powerbomb, but Own nails him with a missile dropkick that allows Jarrett to flip over and get the win.

Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart in 3:58
Even though this was filler and short, they tried pretty hard. They crammed a decent amount of action into the timeframe which I appreciated. The finish came off awkwardly though.

Brawl for All
Bart Gunn vs. Butterbean

For those who don’t remember, the WWF hosted the Brawl for All in 1998. The idea was for Dr. Death Steve Williams to win and begin his push. Bart Gunn and his left hand had different plans as he knocked out everyone and won. However, being completely devoid of a personality, they didn’t’ push Bart and instead gave us this. Poor Gorilla Monsoon looks rough, as this would be his last WrestleMania. He is a judge and gets a huge ovation. This starts and Butterbean knocks him down quick. Bart looks out of it, but goes for more. He is knocked completely out instantly.

Winner: Butterbean in 0:36
There was nothing redeeming about this. The introductions and rules took much longer than the match. They killed any hope that Bart Gunn had. DUD

After the match, the San Diego Chicken comes out. I think it’s the San Diego Chicken. Whatever. He gets knocked out by the referee of the Brawl for All stuff. We see clips from earlier tonight where Big Show and Mankind brawled during Heat.

Big Show vs. Mankind
The winner of this becomes the referee for the main event tonight. Big Show had just made his WWF debut at the previous month’s Pay-Per-View. It’s as if they had no clue what do with him on short notice heading to WrestleMania. Mick Foley is hugely over after winning the WWF Title recently, so the crowd is into this. Show dominates early, even hitting a Russian leg sweep. Mankind pulls out Mr. Socko but Show stops it with a headbutt. He is relentless though and applies it two more times after it’s broken. He gets Show down to one knee but he Mick onto his back and slams down on top of him. Show brings chairs into the ring and I saw Foley use a low blow earlier. How is either of these guys supposed to be a referee later when they don’t know the rules? Show Chokeslams Mankind onto both chairs and is disqualified.

Winner via disqualification: Mankind in 6:50
Everything about his angle was strange. A match to be referee is weird enough but hen to just have Big Show get himself disqualified like a buffoon made him look stupid. ½*

Vince McMahon walks out to complain to Big Show. It’s strange how clear we can hear him. Vince has every right to be pissed because Big Show is a moron. Show goes to Chokeslam him but decides against it. Vince continues to berate him and slaps him, leading to Show knocking out Vince. It’s the first of about a trillion heel/face turns for him. Mankind does the stretcher job.

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Road Dogg (c) vs. Goldust w/ The Blue Meanie and Ryan Shamrock vs. Ken Shamrock vs. Val Venis

It’s mentioned that Road Dogg is the only guy in this match that had no relation to Ryan Shamrock, again pointing out how out of place he was. We start with a pier six brawl in which Shamrock takes down Goldust with a hurricanrana. It calms down to a four corners match, with two men on the apron and two legal men. Goldust gets some near falls as he hits Venis with his trademark stuff. His Curtain Call is countered and he takes a spinebuster for two. Val nails a nice top rope bulldog for two. Dogg and Shamrock take both guys down and tease the double countout but it doesn’t happen. Dogg illegally enters. Jerry Lawler mentions Ron Jeremy, which is so strange to hear. Dogg is juking and jiving on Val and Goldust before dropping the shaky legs knee on Shamrock. Shortly after, Venis survives the Ankle Lock and sends Ken outside. Ryan shouts at her brother but it goes nowhere. Val and Ken brawl outside, getting counted out like dummies. As Goldust and Road Dogg compete, Ryan Shamrock accidentally trips up Goldust, allowing Dogg to roll him up and retain.

Winner and Still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Road Dogg in 9:47
An interesting match as I don’t recall the WWF doing Fatal Four Ways with tags very often. That being said, it wasn’t as excited as it could have been. **

Ryan Shamrock is dumped by Goldust after the match. She has the worst luck with boyfriends. Outside, Big Show is arrested for assaulting Mr. McMahon. He is forced into the smallest of cars.

Kane vs. Triple H
As Kane comes out, the Chicken from earlier tonight attacks him. It’s revealed to be Pete Rose! Kane hit a Tombstone on Pete last year at WrestleMania and does so again here. Triple H comes in through the crowd with a low blow on Kane. A month prior, these two had a pretty good cage match on Raw. Kane nails a big boot before tossing Triple H out like it’s the Royal Rumble. He crotches the Game on the guardrail and knocks him into the Mean Street Posse who have front row seats. Kane continues to pound away for a bit. He surprises a lot of people with an ugly dive to the outside. It has nowhere near the grace that Undertaker’s does. He misses a shot in the corner, which allows Triple H to start a rally. Chyna appears, just a few weeks after having a fireball shot at her. Her face is not scarred at all. She puts steel steps into the ring while both guys are down. HHH kicks the stairs into Kane’s face, but no DQ is called. Ditto for a drop toe hold into them. He tries a Pedigree on the steps outside, but Kane counters. Inside, Kane hits the Chokeslam and allows Chyna to come in with a chair. Instead of hitting Triple H, she nails Kane as the big Corporate Monster gets his heart broken.

Winner via disqualification: Kane in 11:33
Could have been better if it didn’t drag. It was slow and plodding, but it was the last Triple H WrestleMania match that I can remember not liking.

Triple H and Chyna celebrate to the DX theme song. If only the fans knew what was coming later.

WWF Women’s Championship
Sable (c) vs. Tori

Recently, Sable had turned heel, which I think was a mistake. In 1998 she was insanely over as a face. I never got the appeal with Sable but she was indeed over. Tori has on absurdly stupid ring attire. Sable kicks at Tori to keep her at bay. Things go outside where Sable sends Tori into the rail and knees her. She follows with an ugly cross body from the apron. Tori gets in some corner clotheslines before an ugly sunset flip. Sable sets up another ugly sunset flip before they both the bridge out. The referee is wiped out and if I was him, I’d stay down as long as possible to avoid watching this. Sable tries the Sable Bomb but it is hideously botched. Tori tries one of her own when Nicole Bass appears to gorilla press Tori. Sable grinds, pins and wins.

Winner and Still WWF Women’s Champion: Sable in 5:09
Hideously awful. One of the worst women’s title matches in history, and probably the worst in WrestleMania history. Both girls were not good workers and they somehow got five awful minutes.DUD

DX cuts a promo backstage, excited because of the return to the group of Chyna.

WWF European Championship
Shane McMahon (c) w/ Test vs. X-Pac

As X-Pac makes his entrance, the Stooges comes out to jump him but fail because they’re old as dirt. Shane McMahon does his kung-fu pose before running away. When he’s caught, X-Pac lays into him. Test gets involved and sends X-Pac into the post, crotch first. Yikes. We get the countout loss tease, which we don’t get enough of anymore. Shane tries the Corporate Elbow but misses. He uses a low blow to stay in control though and then whips Pac with a belt. The crowd is hot for this as Shane was a great heel and X-Pac was wildly popular here. After a plancha, the Posse grab him at ringside so he beats them up. Test gets in a cheap shot that he doesn’t fight off though. Inside, he nails a superplex, but every time he seems to have an opening, Test kills him. Some wise booking. Pac whips Shane with the belt before hitting the Bronco Buster. Test nails him with the European Title behind the referee’s back but Shane doesn’t cover in time. Where is DX to even the odds? They were literally just discussing comradery. Shane misses his Bronco Buster before X-Pac takes down Test. Now that the match is in hand, here comes Triple H and Chyna. X-Factor connects but Chyna is distracting the referee. Triple H enters and plants X-Pac with the Pedigree. SWERVE! Shane covers and retains.

Winner and Still WWF European Champion: Shane McMahon 8:41
Match of the night so far. This was fun and featured some classic Attitude Era booking. X-Pac and Shane were both a joy to watch and the swerve added to things in this case. ***

DX arrives on the scene to stop the assault on X-Pac. They fall victim to the Corporation until Kane shows up to make them flee. So Triple H turns heel and Kane turns face. This leads to HHH becoming the top heel by the following WrestleMania, while Kane and X-Pac formed an extremely popular team.

Hell in a Cell
Big Bossman vs. The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer

This was during the strange Vince McMahon/Undertaker angle. It being heel vs. heel made it hard to find sympathy for Vince and the end result that Vince was behind all of it is just so dumb and confusing. The only prior Hell in a Cell matches were HBK/Taker and Mankind/Undertaker, so this has a LOT to live up to. Undertaker had his odd theme with the talking in it, but he looks awesome during his entrance. They get into a fist fight, where nothing of note happens until Bossman handcuffs Taker to the cell. However, as he hits him with the nightstick, Taker falls and the handcuffs break. Just what kind of a law enforcement officer has cuffs that weak? Taker strikes him with a chair but the crowd could not care less. They move inside, where Taker starts to get in his usual stuff. As they get into a slugfest, we see a wide shot of the crowd sitting on their hands. Undertaker nails the Tombstone and ends this snooze fest.

Winner: The Undertaker in 9:48
Easily the worst Hell in a Cell match in history, as well as one of the worst matches in WrestleMania history period. I think the only Undertaker match I liked less from the Streak was the one against Giant Gonzalez. Awful. DUD

The Brood rappel down to the top of the cell and set stuff up so that they can hang the Big Bossman. I’m still not sure how they pulled this off without killing Bossman. It is an uncomfortable sight for sure.

Jim Ross is brought out to commentate for the main event. He was returning after some time away from the company. Michael Cole is out and JR and Jerry Lawler are back together. Vince McMahon comes out to take Mankind’s place as the referee since Mankind had to go to the hospital. Commissioner Shawn Michaels appears and pulls out a rule from that imaginary rulebook. It says that he is the one man that can appoint a referee for WrestleMania, and he chooses Mike Chioda.

WWF Championship No Disqualification Match
The Rock (c) vs. Steve Austin

In the midst of some personal problems, Steve Austin forgot his vest and wears a shirt to the ring. Rock gets in the way of Austin’s four corner salute, so they just get it on. They fight through the crowd and just pound away on each other. Rock uses an Attitude Era special by choking Austin with cables before they go up to the entrance. Austin takes a backdrop and his leg lands right across the steel light structure. It looks extra bad due to his knee brace. As they move back towards the ring, Austin gets suplexed onto the concrete. They go by the announce table and Rock stops to take a drink of water, in classic Corporate Rock fashion. Austin tries an elbow through the Spanish table but it doesn’t break, so he does it again to make sure it breaks. He spits water in Rock’s face in a cool moment. This has been anything but a wrestling match, but the no DQ stipulation fits. In the ring, Rock hits with a Rock Bottom from out of nowhere for two. The referee is taken out by an Austin chair shot. Tim White is our second official and he counts two after a Rock chair shot. Rock moves to chin locks to slow the pace and I’m so glad we saw none of these in their future WrestleMania meetings. Rock Bottom on the Tim White comes right before a Stunner. Earl Hebner, our third ref, appears and counts two. Vince, the only Corporation member allowed at ringside distracts Austin, leading to Rock nailing a low blow. Vince takes out the referee, so referee number four, Mankind is back from the hospital and he takes out Vince. Rock Bottom hits again, and Rock calls for the Corporate Elbow. He misses and tries for another Rock Bottom. Austin elbows out and hits the Stunner. Rock oversells like only he can and Austin wins. Vince’s reaction is one of the best things in history.

Winner and New WWF Champion: Steve Austin in 16:52
The shining moment of the show. This was the first of the classic Austin/Rock WrestleMania trilogy and while it was the worst, it was still a fantastic brawl. The overbooking was done just right here, the crowd was red hot and the top guy is back where he belongs. ***¾

The final score: review Bad
The 411
 I’d say this has to be in the bottom five of WrestleManias. At least that I can think of. The only thing really worth watching is part one of the Austin/Rock trilogy and even that is the worst of the three. X-Pac and Shane McMahon have a fun bout, but everything else is passable or straight up horrid. Undertaker/Bossman, the Women’s Tile and Brawl for All are among the worst WrestleMania matches in history.