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WrestleMania 19: End of Austin 3:16

Hello everyone, and welcome to yet another edition of WrestleMania Rewind. We have gone down a long and tedious journey (I took the pain of watching and reviewing, while you took the pain of reading my reviews). Anyway, we have covered more than 60% of it. The last WrestleMania I reviewed had seen the passing of the torch from Hulk Hogan to the Rock, and Austin wasn’t in the main event scene anymore. Austin walked away from the WWF after a few months due to misunderstandings between him and the company officials. He’d return later, but was never given the baton again, as Austin at this point was beaten up, and everyone knew his time with the organization was nearing its end. Also, at WM18, Triple H defeated Chris Jericho to win the WWF Undisputed title.

The next WrestleMania saw a lot of changes from the previous editions. This was the first WrestleMania under the WWE banner. WWE had done the ‘Get the F out’ campaign in 2002, and had changed its name to WWE. Also, this was the first WrestleMania after the brand extension. RAW saw its exclusive performers and so did SmackDown!, and both brands had their own titles, with Triple H being the World Heavyweight champion on RAW and Kurt Angle being the WWE Champion on Smackdown!. This WrestleMania also saw the debut of Brock Lesnar.

WrestleMania 19 came to us from Sefaco Field in Seattle, Washington. This was the first WrestleMania from the nation’s capital, and saw a record attendance of over 54,000 people, doing gate sales of nearly 3 million dollars. The main feud going into the event was for the WWE title between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar. As the WWE title was exclusive to SmackDown!, the main event from RAW was between Triple H and Booker T for the World Heavyweight title. This was the period commonly referred to as “The Triple H promos of doom”, because, well the name says it all. Every episode of RAW was about Triple H and his never ending, boring promos. Anyway, without further ado, let us jump right into the action.

Ashanti opens the show by singing ‘God Bless America’. Great as ever.

Under card:

Matt Hardy (With Shannon Moore) defeated Rey Mysterio for the WWE Cruiserweight title

This was the period when Matt was receiving his ‘push’ as the Cruiserweight champion. I loved the ‘V1’ gimmick of Matt. He was the arrogant cocky heel, and he was facing the face of Cruiserweight division in WCW, Rey Mysterio, who was also making his WrestleMania debut. The crowd was hot for Rey. How small was he back then?! Guess he was also following the Triple H diet after this. The match received about 6 minutes, and ended when Matt sat on top of Rey with his hands on the rope, thus cheating his way to victory and retaining his title in the process. A solid opener which got the crowd going.

The Undertaker defeated A-Train and Big Show in a Handicap match

It was supposed to be Undertaker and Nathan Jones against A-Train and Big Show, but WWE pulled the idea at the very end, because they didn’t have faith in Jones, and they did an angle where Jones was attacked and was left incapacitated just before the event. Then why put him on the card in the first place? Normal WWE tendency to do idiotic things? Anyway, Undertaker came out to Limp Bizkit singing ‘Rollin’’. The match went for about 10 minutes, and I feel sad for the Undertaker who was still booked with the big guys who couldn’t work to save their lives. The match ended when Jones came out to help Undertaker against the 2 on 1 assault, and Taker hits a Tombstone piledriver on Train for the pin and the win. Taker went 11-0 at WrestleMania with this win.

Trish Stratus defeated Victoria (With Steven Richards) and Jazz in a triple threat match for the WWE Women’s championship

I absolutely loved Victoria as a heel here. She is an amazing performer who was grossly misused by the WWE, along with others like Gail Kim and Natalya. The match was given about 8 minutes, and the three showed what they can do at WrestleMania. Jazz was a true wrestler, and so she impressed me with her matches. Who remembers Teddy Long managing her and Rodney Mack? No one? Okay. The end came when Trish delivered the Chick Kick to Victoria for the pin and to win the WWE Women’s title. Trish got so much better in the ring at this point, and she looked great in that dress. Did I not mention that? Solid divas match.

Team Angle (Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas) defeated Los Guerreros (Eddie and Chavo Guerrero) and Chris Benoit and Rhyno in a triple threat tag team match for the WWE Tag team championship

A year later, two people from this match would main event both the world title matches at WrestleMania, and win it. Spoiler alert? Nah! Anyway, Los Guerreros were entertaining at this point, with their vignettes and ‘Lie, Cheat and Steal’ motto. Team Angle consisted of two pure athletes in Benjamin and Haas, and the last team consisted of the guy who can’t be named and Rhyno. The match received about 9 minutes which was very short for a triple threat match. The end saw Benjamin taking advantage of Rhyno’s gore on Chavo, to cover him and retain the tag team titles. Benoit had a match with Angle two months prior at Royal Rumble for the WWE title, which was one of the best matches in professional wrestling history. I’d urge you to check that out.

Mid card:

Shawn Michaels defeated Chris Jericho

In what was billed as a ‘Mentor vs Student’ match, Michaels took on Chris Jericho. In the weeks leading up to the match, Jericho told Shawn how he emulated Michaels, but then realized he was better than Shawn ever was. I won’t argue about that personally. This was Shawn’s WrestleMania return in over 5 years as a performer. The match received about 25 minutes, and both the guys pulled out all the stops. Jericho worked on Shawn’s injured back, and both these guys put on one hell of a performance. Close calls, great reversals and amazing story telling. You can see the crowd absolutely loving it, although there were a couple of times when the pace fell through. Jericho kicked out of the SCM, which received great reaction from the crowd. The match ended when Shawn pinned Jericho with an inside cradle for the win! After the match, Shawn extended his hand and Jericho shook it, and both embraced in the middle of the ring. Crowd applauded, but Jericho kicked Shawn in the groin. Great heel heat! Absolutely amazing match.

Triple H (With Ric Flair) defeated Booker T for the World Heavyweight title

Triple H was winning a lot of matches at this point, and RAW became his show. Perks of dating/marrying the boss’s daughter. Anyway, Booker was the babyface going into the match, and had good momentum behind him. The match received about 20 minutes, and both the men put on solid performances. The crowd was dead for some parts of the match, which doesn’t speak well. Book was selling a knee injury, and the end came when he fell down because of the injured leg, and HHH hit the pedigree for the pin and to retain the World Title. An average match which could have delivered more.

Hulk Hogan defeated Vince McMahon in a street fight

The match which received the most hype going into WrestleMania. It was billed as a match which took 2 decades in the making, and was about who created WrestleMania. The match got about 22 minutes, and it was hard seeing two old guys trying to give their everything. At one point, everyone was busted open, with even the Spanish announcer bleeding. That was funny. Vince with a huge leg drop on Hogan through the announcer’s table. I take the ‘old’ comment back for Vince. Piper showed up out of nowhere and hit Hogan in the head with a pipe. Vince covered, but that wasn’t enough. The end came when Hogan hulked up and hit his leg drop for the pin and to win the match. Average match, but considering that the combined age in the ring was over 100 years, I give props to both the guys.

The Rock defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin

Rumours were floating around that this would be Austin’s final match as he was retiring. Rock said he had achieved everything in Hollywood (Rock was in heel mode), and he had nothing to prove in the WWE, but he hadn’t beaten Austin at WrestleMania. Austin wanted his final match against his arch nemesis, and wanted to put Rock over before he retired. An amazing match which got nearly 20 minutes, but wasn’t a five star classic like their 2001 encounter. The end came when Rock delivered three Rock bottoms to cover Austin for the pin and the win. Post match, both men exchanged words. Rock, later in an interview, said that he told Austin that he loves him. Great show of respect between two tremendous performers, and two of the greatest in the business. Crowd popped big for both men, and Austin limped his way back.

Main event:

Brock Lesnar defeated Kurt Angle for the WWE Undisputed championship

The stipulation was that Kurt would lose the title if he were counted out or disqualified intentionally. Kurt was suffering from his neck injuries and had to take time off, and so he entered into the match hurt. Brock was becoming the face of the organization at this point, and the crowd loved him. Both were great amateur wrestlers, so this match had to be good. The match received about 22 minutes, and the two guys went all out. Great mat wrestling followed by reversals. The big spot in the match came when Brock tried to hit the Shooting Star Press on Angle, who was far away from the end Brock was at. Brock missed Angle by a small margin and fell on his neck. Legit scary moment when everyone thought Lesnar would have a broken neck. Brock got up and gave Kurt an F – 5. This man is a monster, although he received a concussion because of that. Brock looked very groggy there. He pinned Kurt to finally win the match and the WWE championship. A great main event, and a fantastic way to end the PPV. Post match, they shook hands and hugged. Crowd popped big for that.

Analysis: **** ¾ (Out of 5 stars)

Very close to WM 17 as one of the best WMs, but just missed it by an inch. Three near 5 star matches on the card, and great storytelling with the Vince – Hogan match. It was also the end of Austin 3:16 as Austin retired from in-ring competition after this. That does it from me for this edition of WrestleMania Rewind. Join us again as we continue looking back at previous WrestleManias on our way to this year’s mega event.

Read the rest of the WrestleMania rewind series here

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