WrestleMania 15: Era of 3:16
Hello everyone, and welcome once again to yet another edition of WrestleMania Rewind. This is the part where I take three hours out of my life to go through the previous WrestleManias and give my opinions, reviews and analysis. The last WrestleMania was one of the most anticipated, and influential WrestleManias in the WWF history. Not only was it the start of Austin’s dominance in the company as the champion, but it also kick started the most loved era in the WWF, which was the Attitude Era. It also saw participation from the baddest man on the planet, who turned his back on HBK and DX by helping Austin win the WWF Championship, ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson. This culminated in Austin getting the final push to become the face of the WWF and carry the company on his shoulders.
A year later, things had drastically changed in the WWF. Not only was Austin the face of the company, but the previous year’s champ, Shawn Michaels, had retired because of his back injury. This was the period when WWF and the Attitude Era were in full swing. WWF had convincingly beaten WCW in the ratings war, and were far ahead of them at this point. But this WrestleMania put WWF farther from WCW’s reach. Also, sadly, this WrestleMania saw the last time Owen Hart had participated in a WrestleMania, as mere months later, he’d face a tragic death at Over The Edge in Kemper Arena in Kansas city. This WrestleMania also saw Monsoon in attendance, and was a judge to one of the matches, who also passed away soon after this event. Great intro with the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’ being done by Classie Freddie Blassie.
Going into this WrestleMania, the main feud was between Steve Austin and the Rock, who had aligned himself with McMahon and won the WWF title. Austin then set on a 6 month journey to reclaim the WWF title, and almost won the Rumble when McMahon eliminated him. Austin then faced McMahon in a Steel Cage match at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and won the match, thus keeping his right to go to WrestleMania. Shawn Michaels was the on-screen commissioner of the WWF at this point, and Big Show had made his debut during the main event of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, by nearly costing Austin the match with McMahon. That’s the background you need, and without further ado, let’s jump right in.
The show opened with Boyz II Men singing America The Beautiful.
Hardcore Holly defeated Billy Gunn and Al Snow in a triple threat match for the WWF Hardcore Title.
What does everybody want? What does everybody need? If you don’t know the answer, I won’t urge you to check. Anyway, the first match of the evening saw a triple threat match between Holly, Billy Gunn and Al Snow for the WWF Hardcore title. Billy went in as the Hardcore champion, and as per the Hardcore rules, it can be defended 24 x 7 (Your typical nonsense WWF booking). Anyway, the match went on for about 7 minutes. The end came when Gunn hit Snow with the Fameasser but Holly took advantage of it, and covered Al Snow for the win. A bad opening match, which saw all of them taking some serious blows, but no psychology whatsoever.
Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett (With Debra) defeated D’Lo Brown and Test (With Ivory) for the WWF Tag team championship.
It’s sad to go through this knowing this would be Owen Hart’s last WM match. He had one of the best WrestleMania matches of all time with his brother, and had participated in many tag team matches at WrestleMania. Anyway, both Owen and Jeff entered this WM as the tag team champions, and were up against D – Lo and Test, out of which Test was a heel. An unlikely partnership because the roster was lacking in the tag team division, and they made a make-shift team for WM. Anyway, Debra used to wear short skirts and showed more cleavage at this point of time (I had to pause a lot of times). It was a very rushed match which ended just before the 4 minute mark, when Owen gave a missile drop-kick to D – Lo and Jarrett pinned him for the win, to retain their tag titles.
Butterbean defeated Bart Gunn in a “Brawl for All” boxing match.
The first ever ‘shoot’ fight at WrestleMania. Don’t know what Vince was thinking about this one. Rumour has it that Vince wanted Dr. Death Steve Williams to win the ‘Shoot boxing’ tournament that Gunn won. Gunn would’ve been pushed had he won this match against a pro, Butterbean, who entered the match with a record of 43 – 1 – 1. Gunn lost in 34 seconds. That’s how much time it took for him to throw his WWF career away too.
Mankind defeated “The Big Show” Paul Wight by disqualification to become the special guest referee for the main event.
Mankind wanted to be Vince’s puppy, but he was replaced by the Rock as Vince’s right hand guy. This was the time when WWF was interesting, although the face and heel turns were sometimes downright stupid. Anyway, Rock was the leader of the Corporation against Steve Austin. Big Show debuted in the PPV before this, and he was Vince’s pick. Mankind wanted to be the ref in the main event, but Vince wanted Show there. This culminated in a match at WrestleMania. The match was very short, about 7 minutes. These two guys hit each other with chairs, and it took a while for the ref to DQ Show, who had used the chair multiple times. Way to throw off the logic guys. Post match, Show demolished Mankind until Vince came out. Vince was upset, since Show couldn’t be the ref in the main event. Vince slapped Show, who knocked him out in return to a big pop from the hot crowd. Mankind was stretchered off. We need to see if he can take part in the main event.
Road Dogg defeated Ken Shamrock, Goldust (With The Blue Meanie and Ryan Shamrock) and Val Venis in a Four corners elimination match for the WWF Intercontinental title.
New Age Outlaws had disbanded, and Road Dogg then became the IC champion. Going into the match, Dogg was the champion and was a good guy, while Venis was the former champion and was also a face. Goldust was the freak who was involved in mid card matches, and he was accompanied by on–screen sister of Ken Shamrock, Ryan Shamrock. The last member of the match was Ken himself, who was a heel and a part of the Corporation. Anyway, the match went on for 10 minutes, and the rules were two guys would wrestle and could tag in the others, and was elimination type. Ken and Venis fought out to get counted out, leaving Dogg and Goldust. Ken showed his frustration by coming in and belly to bellying the others. Ken was an awesome character who could wrestle anyone out of their boots. It’s not by chance that he was the world’s most dangerous man. Anyway, the end came when Ryan accidentally tripped Goldie and Road Dogg took advantage of it, rolling Goldust for the pin and the win. Average match that just wanted to put one story across.
Before the match, while Kane was making his way out, the San Diego Chicken attacked him. Kane ripped the mask off and it was Pete Rose, trying to get his revenge from last year’s attack. Kane delivered another Tombstone to Pete. Okay, now we can focus on things that matter. Kane and Chyna were the heels going into the match. Chyna had betrayed Hunter not so long ago, joining hands with Kane. The match was awfully long. They just wanted to get one point across. The end came when Kane choke-slammed Triple H, but Chyna gave him a chair shot to align herself with Triple H once again. Oh, and Theodore Long was the ref, and he sucked. He let some obvious DQs go. Why? Because he wasn’t supposed to see them. Anyway, Triple H delivered a stiff chair shot to Kane’s head and gave him a pedigree. Hunter and Chyna ended up posing together. How heart-warming. Maybe this was when Steph wanted to spoil their reunion. She gets what she wants.
Sable defeated Tori for the WWF Women’s championship.
Sable was supposed to be the heel coming into the match, but she always received big pops. Big pops, oh the irony. She had just graced the Playboy (which was also the highest selling Playboy till then). Congrats Brock Lesnar. Anyway, the storyline was kind of Trish – Mickie esque, where Sable was the arrogant heel and Tori was her big fan. The match received about 5 minutes and saw interference from Nicole Bass. Bass is better known for her later sexcapades with Val Venis. Anyway, Bass attacked Tori behind the ref’s back, and Sable hit the Sable bomb for the pin and to retain her title. Boring.
Shane McMahon (With Test) defeated X-Pac for the WWF European Championship.
I remember Shane for his death defying leaps. No son of a billionaire does that, which is why I’m a huge fan of the younger McMahon. Anyway, he went into the match as the European Champion, against a face Waltman. Let’s face it, the fans don’t care about Sean aka X-Pac. Anyway, the end came when Triple H and Chyna ran down. Triple H pulled Test out of the ring while Chyna distracted Chioda. X-Pac took advantage of it and hit his X-Factor on Shane. Triple H slid inside the ring and delivered a pedigree for a huge pop. No, Pac wasn’t the bad guy, and yes, Triple H turned heel. But the crowd didn’t care. They didn’t want to see X-Pac. Anyway, Shane covered X-Pac for the win and to retain his title. Average match which was built only for the swerve ending.
The Undertaker (With Paul Bearer) defeated The Big Boss Man in HIAC match.
I feel so bad while watching Taker’s WrestleMania matches. Not because I don’t like Taker, I’m his biggest fan. I feel sad because he used to get paired with bad to useless performers at WM. Bundy, Gonzales and now, Big Boss Man. An awful match that I had to fast forward. The match went on for nearly 10 minutes (Oh God!). The end came when Taker Tombstone piledrived BBM, which received a pop from the fans. Taker covered him for the pin and to go 8 – 0 at WrestleMania. After the match, Taker signalled, which led to the Brood coming down. They tied a noose around BBM’s neck and he was ‘executed’ in mid-air. Awful segment, it’d be interesting to see them do a similar thing now. Vince will be jailed and WWE would go out of business overnight.
Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Rock in a No DQ match for the WWF Championship.
Before the match, Vince came out as the special guest referee, but HBK made a special appearance, saying he was the Commissioner of the WWF and had more power than Vince. Okay, Commissioner > Owner, and logic goes out of window. Anyway, Shawn appointed Chioda as the ref. Way to go Shawn, a guy whom the crowd didn’t care about. Anyway, time for the match. Austin and Rock had memorable matches at Backlash and WrestleManias, and this wasn’t the best of the lot. Anyway, they got about 20 minutes for the entire match. Great near-falls. Since it was a no DQ match, they swung chairs wildly. Chioda was taken out, and Tim White, you know, the guy who later killed himself on live TV, replaced (he didn’t really kill himself – for those who don’t understand kayfabe). Even he was taken out and was replaced by the guy who screwed Bret, also known as Earl Hebner. Great near-fall sequences in the match, and when Earl was also down, Vince walked out as the ref. But Mankind came out and knocked Vince down. Austin delivered a stunner to Rock and Mankind counted to 3, giving the match to Austin to a huge pop! The story was that Austin defied the odds to win the title, and the crowd ate it up. Post match, Austin and Mankind had a beer bath celebration, and Austin brought Vince in and gave him a stunner to end the show. His beer baths would get better later on, just saying.
Analysis: *** (Out of 5 stars)
No memorable matches, and a lot of matches finishing with run–ins. The PPV would be remembered once again because of Austin’s win. Rock would turn face later in the year, as the Corporate would join hands with Ministry of Darkness to become the Corporate Ministry. Also, soon after this, Vince would reveal himself as ‘The Higher Power’ (I still remember the ‘It was me, Austin, it was me all along’ lines from Vince. Classic stuff). Anyway, that does it from me for this PPV. Join us again as we continue our journey towards this year’s mega event, and on our way, I continue to look back at the past WrestleManias.
Read the rest of the WrestleMania rewind series here