Monday, November 3, 2014

Through the Years Reviews: WrestleMania XIX

WrestleMania XIX
March 30th, 2003 – Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington – Attendance: 54,097

Going off of memory, WrestleMania XIX is my favorite WrestleMania of all time. There are some other greats, including everyone's favorite, X-Seven, but this one is the one I consider the best. Now, I haven't seen it in a long time so I'm interested in how it holds up over time. We all know the story. Brock/Angle, HBK/Jericho, Austin/Rock, McMahon/Hogan and more. I am so pumped to finally get this going.

The opening video package is the usual fluff as it discusses how important WrestleMania is and what it means to all of these superstars. We get some Limp Bizkit playing as they have the official theme song of WrestleMania. Safeco Field looks gorgeous for this. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcome us to the show before throwing it to Smackdown commentary team Michael Cole and Tazz.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Matt Hardy (c) w/ Shannon Moore vs. Rey Mysterio

Look at the Cruiserweight Title being defended at WrestleMania. Nowadays, you'll be lucky to get any mid-card title on the show. Matt Hardy is appearing in his fourth WrestleMania, and he often wonders how they did WrestleMania without him. Shannon Moore distracts Rey Mysterio at the bell, but Rey dodges Matt's attack and sends him outside before hitting a corkscrew press onto him. A reverse hurricanrana gets two and he tries a sunset flip to the outside but Moore levels him. Cole attempted to call the sunset flip a spinebuster. Moore continues to get in cheap shots behind the referee's back. Because he is V1, Matt calls for the 61V9, but Rey dodges. He counters the Twist of Fate into a rollup for two. Matt catches Rey with the Side Effect in an innovative way in the corner for two before going to a rest hold. Cole and Tazz as discussing latex and tea bagging as Rey hits a springboard cross body for a near fall. A flying head scissors and DDT get another near fall. 619 time but Moore trips up Rey again, allowing Matt to hit the Twist of Fate. Rey kicks out to my surprise and Matt is livid. V1 sets up Rey on the top and goes for a huge Razor's Edge but Rey counters into a big hurricanrana! He covers but Moore puts Matt's foot on the bottom rope. Rey hits the 619 but misses the West Coast Pop. He tries a victory roll but Matt counters and grabs the ropes for leverage to retain.

Winner and Still WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Matt Hardy in 5:37
Too short but man, this was tremendous while it was going. Fast paced and high octane, with a bunch of shenanigans in a good way. ***1/4

A limo pulls up and it's the Miller Lite Catfight Girls! I forgot about this awfulness. They argue about the bigger match, Hogan/Vince or Austin/Rock. Yea, let's not count the WWE or World Title matches. 

We are taken to a video from Sunday Night Heat where Nathan Jones was taken out by Big Show and A-Train. He was supposed to be The Undertaker's partner in the upcoming match. The Fink introduces WWE's “favorite band in the whole world” as Limp Bizkit. That's a sad statement even though I have my fair share of Limp Bizkit on my iPod. He plays out The Undertaker.

A-Train and The Big Show vs. The Undertaker
Before the bell, A-Train spits on The Undertaker's motorcycle because he's an idiot. Big Show tries a sneak attack and it fails because he's too big to sneak up on anyone. A-Train runs in right into a Chokeslam but Show makes the save. I would've been perfectly okay with Undertaker winning that fast. Things calm down to a tagging format for the team with the advantage. For those who don't remember, Nathan Jones was so bad that the WWE didn't want him in the ring so they went with this handicap match idea. A-Train hits the Baldo Bomb and Show drives Undertaker into the ring post outside. ShowTrain starts to tag in and out and work over the Undertaker for a while. Undertaker counters the Chokeslam into a Fujiwara armbar, which was badass. A-Train breaks it but ends up in an armbar too. Show breaks the short lived rally by the Deadman and applies an abdominal stretch. A-Train comes in and takes over the abdominal stretch so Undertaker, wanting in on the fun, counters into his own abdominal stretch. It must hurt these guys as not one of them has abs. Undertaker rallies with about fifteen clotheslines in the corner before hitting his big running clothesline on Show. A-Train hits the BROGUE KICK, I mean bicycle kick to stop him. Show hits the Chokeslam but Nathan Jones has to make a Charles Robinson like run in, from deep and spin kicks Show. A-Train covers Undertaker, who kicks out on his own, without Jones' help. He enters, hits a big boot on A-Train and Undertaker hits the Tombstone as the Streak reaches 11.

Winner: The Undertaker in 9:42
I wish this got less time. It was boring and shouldn't have come close to ten minutes. It was slow and I didn't care much for it. *

More from the stupid Miller Lite Catfight girls as they run into Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson. They discuss Torrie's Playboy and Test's “testicles”. They then show a recap of Heat, where Lance Storm and William Regal retained their World Tag Team Titles against the Dudley Boyz.

WWE Women's Championship
Victoria (c) w/ Steven Richards vs. Jazz vs. Trish Stratus

As this starts, my girlfriend asks who came out and I just say “the greatest diva of all time”. Just from that, she knew it was Trish Stratus. The dubbed over “All the Things She Says” still depresses me. They knock Victoria out of the ring and Jazz pounds away on Trish, using an interesting looking submission. Trish hits a Lou Thez Press, RIGHT HANDS RIGHT HANDS, THE RATTLESNAKE STRIKES, before Victoria pulls her outside. She goes in just to go outside as all three girls are brawling there. Back inside, Victoria hits a front flip leg drop but Jazz cuts off the pin and hits a leg drop of her own. Victoria stops that pin and they decide to double team Trish. They do a strange double back breaker before fighting each other. Victoria hits a powerslam but Trish does a nice bridging pin for two. Lawler calls Trish a “quarter among pennies” in the ring, which is mean. Victoria is at least a nickel. Powerslam type move from Jazz gets two because Victoria breaks things up. DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER as Trish bashes the heels into each other. A spin kick from Jazz takes out Victoria by mistake and Trish rolls up Jazz for two. Chick Kick connects only for the Champion to break it up. Handstand hurricanrana from Trish now as she is making the face run. She kicks Victoria outside and Jazz puts her in the half Boston crab which she turns into an STF that is still a thousand times better than Cena's. Steven Richards tosses Jazz and breaks the hold behind the official's back. Trish rolls up Victoria, exposing her butt for two. Glam Slam of sorts by Jazz, which leads to Victoria kicking her. The Champ misses a moonsault but knocks Jazz outside. Richards tries to interfere with a chair but misses and hits the ropes, rebounding into his face. Trish hits him with Stratusfaction and Victoria goes for the Widow's Peak but Trish counters and hits the Chick Kick to win.

Winner and New WWE Women's Champion: Trish Stratus in 7:17
Personally, I would've swapped this with the Cruiserweight Title length wise. However, we were treated to a solid Divas match with the right outcome. **1/4

Jonathan Coachman interviews The Rock, who is in full dick heel mode. God I loved this Rock. He promotes the match, hypes the rivalry and is overall, just great. 

WWE Tag Team Championship
Team Angle (c) vs. Chris Benoit and Rhyno vs. Los Guerreros

I will forever love Team Angle and would've given anything to see Angle & Benoit against them. Chavo works over Charlie Haas early and the tags are coming quickly. Chavo hits a back suplex and Eddie front flips in onto Chris Benoit. Benoit fires back with stiff chops and Rhyno gets the tag. Shelton Benjamin tags in and goes toe to toe with Rhyno, even taking him down with a back elbow. Team Angle hit a double dropkick and man, they are crisp in the ring. They surprisingly decide to focus on Rhyno, who will play face in peril I guess. Or he's not, as Eddie and Benoit quickly end up as the legal men. Tazz states that VIVA LA RAZA means Frog Splash, which is obviously incorrect. Benoit hits a big suplex from the top but Benjamin breaks the count. Benoit pops up Eddie and catches him in the Cripple Crossface, which is so badass it's not even funny. Chavo comes in and eats rolling German suplexes, though Chavo tags in Shelton midway through. Benoit signals for the end but gets kicked in the chest by Shelton. Shelton goes for a cover but Eddie breaks it with Frog Splash, which was sweet. Chavo tags himself in and is tossed by a Haas belly to belly. He doesn't get time to celebrate as he is hit with a GORE! Chavo eats one too but Eddie pulls him out. Shelton covers Chavo and steals it.

Winners and Still WWE Tag Team Champions: Team Angle in 8:48
Really good triple threat tag team match. I wish Team Angle didn't have to steal the win, but it made sense. All guys worked hard and got the crowd more into it than I expected. ***

Backstage, Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson get into a small argument, as do the Miller Lite Catfight girls. This is quickly getting awful.

Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels
The storyline and build up to this match is great and re-told in a fantastic video package. Heading into this match, it was always a dream match of mine. If you haven't been following my reviews, this is Shawn Michaels' first WrestleMania since his return. After a short sequence at the start, Shawn relaxes in the corner to a big pop. What follows is another sequence that ends in a stand off and Jericho is getting frustrated. Shawn tries a leap frog but Jericho doesn't go under and instead slaps Shawn. OH NO HE DIDN'T! Shawn knocks him outside and hits a baseball slide. Shawn does a cross body off the top but Jericho rolls through for a near fall and hits a spinning heel kick. Time to work the leg as Shawn comes back with the figure four and a knee breaker. He tries the Figure Four again but Jericho throws him into the post. He goes to send Shawn out, but he goes all 1995 and skins the cat, bringing Jericho outside. They fight in the aisle and Jericho puts on the Walls outside, getting back in at the count of eight. Jericho wisely targets the back, driving it into the ring post. As Shawn tries to get back in, Jericho hits the springboard dropkick. Back suplex from Jericho who shouts “IM BETTER THAN YOU!”Vertical suplex follows for two. COME ON BABAY pin obviously gets two. Shawn counters a back body drop with a big DDT and commentary is doing a great job of building the story of Chris trying to prove he's better than his idol. To continue the STORYTELLING, Jericho hits a flying forearm and nips up just like Shawn. He steals Shawn's taunt as HBK nips up and hits a flying forearm of his own. Shawn hits a moonsault onto a standing Jericho for a long two. We get a series of pin attempts until Jericho tries the Walls but it's blocked. He does manage to nail the Lionsault but can't pin quickly so only gets a two. Shawn is back up and tries a hurricanrana but Jericho reverses into the Walls! Shawn reaches the ropes but eats a backbreaker for his troubles. Jericho goes up top with a flying back elbow and starts to tune up the band. STORYTELLING! He actually hits it and covers for two and the crowd is shocked. Shawn rallies with a cross body and right hands. He hits a slingshot for two and Jericho goes back to the lower back. He attempts a top rope back suplex but Michaels counters with his third cross body and both men are down. Shawn wants to do the elbow but Jericho bumps the referee into the ropes to crotch HBK. Superplex is also countered into a front suplex and the elbow connects! Shawn tunes up the band now but Jericho ducks and locks in the Walls! The crowd is going berserk! Michaels reaches the ropes and Jericho is livid. He charges at Shawn right into the Superkick! They get up together and we get the Shawn corner bump. Shawn reverses a back suplex into a rollup and gets the three!

Winner: Shawn Michaels in 22:34
Tremendous match. Both guys looked great and I remember people freaking out because Chris Jericho lost, myself included, but this was fine. Jericho made a mistake and Shawn Michaels capitalized. Fine storytelling and great action. ****1/2

Shawn Michaels offers a handshake after the match and, a crying Chris Jericho hugs him instead. He then kicks Shawn in the nuts! HEEL TACTICS!

Sylvan, in his referee's outfit enters Mr. McMahon's office. CONTROVERSEY! Tony Chimel announces a new Safeco Field record attendance of 54,097. Limp Bizkit now performs “Crack Addict”.

Jonathan Coachman brings out the Miller Lite Catfight Girls onto the stage. There is a bed for them to fight out, but Stacy Keibler interrupts. Side note, Coach looks like a doofus in his Mariner's jersey. Stacy wants to join, but before she can, Torrie Wilson enters. Torrie joins in and removes her and Stacy's top before spanking her. You know what, I'm not even gonna do play by play. There are tits and ass everywhere. It doesn't belong on WrestleMania but no guys complained.

World Heavyweight Championship
Triple H (c) w/ Ric Flair vs. Booker T

For those who don't know the story, Triple H constantly put down Booker T on the Road to WrestleMania for his past, which involved him going to jail. Booker tells Hunter that his “punk ass is in trouble” before the bell. HHH pulls a Flair and climbs up top when he should know that he won't hit a move from there, so Booker brings him down hard. Booker stays in control after that, which is surprising as I figured Triple H would be the one in control. HHH knocks Booker outside because he must know that I expected more from him. He hits a neckbreaker in the ring and begins to work as his cerebral assassin pace. I always liked how Triple H picks apart someone. He hits an impactful clothesline in the corner for two. The two men trade shots in the middle of the ring and Booker breaks out of a suplex before hitting a big DDT. He nails a heel kick and sidewalk slam for two. As he goes for the Scissors Kick, HHH catches him in a sleeper hold and after Booker breaks it, he eats the high knee. Booker manages to connect with a big kick but only earns two. A second Scissors Kick attempt also fails as Booker gets caught on the top rope. This allows Ric Flair to hit a knee drop onto the steel steps. This would make more sense if HHH had worked Booker's leg throughout the match. Now, Triple H chooses to apply a modified Indian deathlock and Booker eventually reaches the ropes. HHH goes for the Pedigree but it's blocked and a rollup gets Booker two. Third time is the charm as Booker strikes with the Scissors Kick but is too hurt to cover. HHH kicks out and Flair tries to interfere but eats a right hand. Booker knocks HHH off the top and Flair takes another right hand. Harlem Hangover is hit and the crowd pops hard! He covers but Flair places HHH's foot on the ropes. Booker tries another Scissors Kick but his leg gives out, allowing Trips to plant him with the Pedigree. He takes forever to cover, yet still wins.

Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H in 18:45
Really solid bout but the outcome was dumb. Booker T should have won and maybe Triple H wins it back like months later. Anyway, the actual work was good but the ending was super anti-climatic. ***

Street Fight
Hulk Hogan vs. Mr. McMahon

Vince McMahon slaps Hulk Hogan right at the start, causing Hogan to charge him and pound away. Mr. McMahon is in better shape than Hogan and clotheslines him down. He blatantly chokes Hogan before delivering jabs to the ribs and face, knocking Hogan down. He then decides to drive his knees into Hogan's arm on the mat, but it looks pitiful. The arm work continues as he drives it into the corner a few times. Vince uses a test of strength with Hogan and Hogan rallies behind all of the HULKAMANIACS but Vince kicks him low and tosses him outside. Vince flexes and grabs a chair but misses, allowing Hogan to level him with it. He is bleeding like a stuffed pig as Hogan fires away on him. Hogan tries another chair shot but hits Hugo, the Spanish commentator! This allows Vince to strike a chair and Hogan is busted open now. Mr. McMahon has the balls to bring out a ladder as he places Hogan on the announce table. He mocks Hogan before leaping off with a leg drop. I'll give Vince this, the man has guts. He brings Hogan in and covers for two. Vince goes under the ring to get a steel pipe and delivers an awesome image of his bloody face with a sadistic look. Hogan retaliates with a desperation low blow. Suddenly, someone in a hood gets in the ring and it's Roddy Piper. WRESTLEMANIA 1 LIVES ON! He spits on Hogan, kicks Vince and then lays out Hogan with a pipe. He leaves, Vince covers and Hogan kicks out! Vince tries the pipe again but Brian Hebner stops him, so he gets thrown by Vince. It's a Street Fight you idiot. Things brings out crooked reg, Sylvan. Vince hits the Leg Drop and it's HULK UP time! Hogan does his usual thing, kicking out Sylvan in the process before hitting the big boot and the Leg Drop. 1-2-3 and it's over.

Winner: Hulk Hogan in 20:47
This was better than it had any right to be. Both guys bled crazy and told a good story which is all you could ask of them. ***1/4

Shane McMahon surprisingly walks out to the ring and Hulk Hogan takes off his belt like he's gonna take Shane to the woodshed. He just stares at Hogan and gets in the ring as Hogan leaves. He checks on his dad, who flips the bird at Hogan because Vince McMahon is a tremendous heel.

The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
The idea that the Rock has done everything except beat Stone Cold at WrestleMania should make for great storytelling. After a fist fight, Austin tries a Stunner but Rock blocks and takes a breather. Austin catches him and pounds away outside. Back inside, Austin hits a back suplex and seems to be working Rock's back. Rock wisely takes out the leg and now takes control. He continues to work the leg and applies the Sharpshooter. Man, Rock always had an odd looking Sharpshooter. Rock breaks it and goes outside to put on Austin's best. Austin nails him once he gets inside and we get the classic double clothesline spot. Austin gets hot and drops the elbow on Rock for two. It's fantastic that Rock is still wearing the vest. Austin stomps a mudhole in him as the crowd chants “WHAT” with each stomp. Rock hits a clothesline and nips up, but taunts right into a Rock Bottom from Austin! That only gets a two so Austin tries the Stunner but Rock blocks and hits one of his own! This is great considering how well they know each other. It only gets a near fall and leads to Austin hitting the Stunner that Rock oversells as always but he kicks out too! Behind the referee's back, Rock hits a low blow and claps for himself before pointing to his head because he's so smart. God, I love Hollywood Rock. He misses the People's Elbow, blocks a Stunner and hits a Spinebuster. He tries again and nails the People's Elbow this time but Austin gets his shoulder up. Rock connects with the Rock Bottom and Austin somehow kicks out again! He signals for the Rock Bottom but Austin elbows out, only to get hit with it anyway, but he kicks out! The crowd is stunned. Rock holds Austin and hits a third Rock Bottom to finally wrap this one up.

Winner: The Rock in 17:55
The only WrestleMania trilogy ends in another classic. This would turn out to be the last match of Austin's career and he went out with a bang. I loved this. ****1/2

The Rock sits by Steve Austin after the match and tells him something. We would learn on Rock's DVD that he thanked him for everything. Nice moment. Austin gets his time to walk to the back and celebrate his career with the unknowing fans.

WWE Championship
Kurt Angle (c) vs. Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar has the honor of main eventing his first ever WrestleMania, just less than a year after his debut. I expect mat wrestling and they deliver, trying to one up each other in the early stages. Our first near fall comes a few minutes in after a Brock powerslam. Angle ducks a clothesline and hits a massive German suplex but Brock pops up and takes him down. Tazz calls Brock the “Vanilla Gorilla” as he press slams Angle. I hope it's because Brock is white and not vanilla in wrestling lingo. Angle hits a sick German into the turnbuckle. Seriously, it was badass. Angle's like a shark smelling blood as he targets to target Brock's back. Angle goes to a rear naked choke to wear down the challenger. Brock is turning purple like he does two minutes into all matches in 2014. After a long time, Brock breaks the hold but Angle doesn't let up, hitting a belly to belly suplex. Angle charges at Brock but gets caught in a spinebuster that would make Double A proud. He hits the first flying forearm that I've ever seen him hit before driving his shoulder into Kurt in the corner. Brock hits two belly to belly suplexes in a row but his third is reversed into rolling German suplexes from Kurt. Four of those earn a hand from the crowd who is appreciating this show of work. Angle Slam is blocked and Kurt counters the F5 into the Ankle Lock! How you ask? BECAUSE HE'S KURT FREAKING ANGLE! He turns it into a half crab but Brock makes it to the ropes. Brock sends Kurt over and out hard, buying himself some time. It doesn't matter because when Angle gets in he hits a release German suplex! He just tossed a man of Brock's size. Angle Slam is hit but Brock kicks out. Brock hits the F5 but Kurt becomes the first man to kick out of it. Ankle Lock gets applied and Kurt locks it in, but Brock drags him and gets to the ropes. I've never seen anyone do that. Angle does a small package for two and Brock retaliates with a second F5! Instead of pinning, Brock climbs to the top even though Kurt is far away. He goes for a damn Shooting Star Press but misses and lands terribly on his face. His SSP is one of the most impressive looking ones ever. Angle covers for two and he picks Brock up, only to be hit with a third F5! Brock drapes an arm over and gets the three.

Winner and New WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar in 21:07
My goodness, these two went at it. No nonsense, just let the two best wrestlers go in the ring and wrestle. They did that and put on a great show. ****1/4

Brock Lesnar looks absolutely dazed after the Shooting Star Press. Kurt Angle raises his arm in a show of respect.

Overall: 10/10. Perfect. I've only give out two perfect 10s before this and those were for WrestleMania X-Seven and SummerSlam 2002. This was just as good. The only match that you can skip is the Undertaker handicap match. Everything else is good to great. Shawn/Jericho, Angle/Brock and Austin/Rock were all phenomenal. The Cruiserweight Title match was great but short, the Women's Title was good, Tag Titles were good, the World Title was really good and Vince/Hogan was better than I expected. Four hours of fun and you should go out of your way to see this show. Tremendous.