As we continue down the road to the biggest show of the year, I’ve been going through each event to prepare for the big day.
Instead of doing recaps for every WrestleMania (other people here do that much better), I’ve been putting together a Top Ten list of WrestleMania matches and have been updating it after each show.
WrestleMania XV – March 28, 1999
While I wouldn’t call this the worst WrestleMania of all time, it certainly does not hold up as well, to me, as some of the older events. A lot of that has to do with the Russo “Crash TV” aspects of the heart of the Attitude Era.
This is another transition WrestleMania, as new stars are beginning to shine through to help take the company into the next millennium, but the WWF was still waiting on the pieces that would gel everything together in the next year or so.
On a personal note, this was the first show I remember being offered to stream online, and I watched WrestleMania for the first time on my laptop with a T1 ethernet connection in my dorm room. Up until watching it again for this column, that may have been the last time I watched this whole show.
Best Match: The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – WWF Title Match. For the third year in a row, Austin has the best match at WrestleMania. The main event may not be the best Austin-Rock match ever, but even a mediocre Austin-Rock match is better than the rest of the card presented here. These two guys just have amazing chemistry together and the crazy brawl they had here – which saw four different referees trying to officiate the match – was a guidepost for the next few years. A hidden highlight of this match is the post-victory celebration as Austin shares a beer with referee Earl Hebner, with Hebner going from turnbuckle to turnbuckle chugging some Steve-weisers. Completely random, but still pretty funny.
Worst Match: Sable vs. Tori – WWF Women’s Title Match. Maybe I’m being too harsh here, but good grief this match was just plain awful. I’ve already gone on record about how I just never understood the appeal of Sable, but Tori is even worse. I mostly remember Tori as a manager for Kane and X-Pac, and this match is a good indication of why she shouldn’t have been in the ring. The two women didn’t seem to know how to do anything together, with a number of botches in a relatively short period of time. And just think, this match got more time (thankfully not by much) than the tag team title match featuring people who could actually go in the ring! And then you throw in Nicole Bass at the end to have this whole thing be a complete mess and a waste of five minutes of the show.
Missed Opportunity: The WWF was still a year away from having a multi-man match for the WWF Title main event a WrestleMania, but I still say they should have pulled the trigger on that this year. Mick Foley helped carry the WWF and The Rock through the winter months as the two traded the title back and forth. Foley’s book indicates that there was some discussion about including him but he got politicked down to a special referee spot, and that was probably a mistake. I think he earned a WrestleMania main event spot over the last few months, and can only imagine that a Mankind-Rock-Austin triple threat main event would have blown away even the energy that Austin-Rock had, especially since Foley has always been popular in Philadelphia.
The Dark Ages: While I’ve already ripped the women’s title match to shreds, the tag team scene at this point also seemed to be at a low point. After two straight years of having a Tag Title Match and a Number One Contenders match, this year the preshow featured a battle royal to create a brand new tag team to challenge for the belts later that night! Test and D-Lo Brown were the final two men standing in the battle royal shown on Heat, and were given the opportunity to face Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart (in Owen’s final WrestleMania appearance, too. Rest in peace, King of Harts) later in the show. A turnaround for the division was on the horizon, but this was a sad state of affairs for WWF tag team wrestling.
Hell To Sit Through: The first WrestleMania Hell in a Cell match isn’t notable because of the in-ring action, like the Undertaker-Shawn Michaels Hell in a Cell. It isn’t notable because of the crazy antics during the match, like the Undertaker-Mankind match. No, this match is notable because someone thought it was a good idea to tie a noose around the Big Bossman’s neck after the match (as Undertaker had help from Gangrel, Edge and Christian, repelling from the rafters) and hang him from a Cell being lifted off the ground. Undertaker is now 8-0 at WrestleMania.
The Top Ten
The Top Ten stays static this time around, once again.
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Submission Match (WrestleMania 13)
2 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
3 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
4 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
5 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
6 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
7 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
8 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
9 – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania VIII)
10 – Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake vs. The British Bulldogs – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania 2)
I enjoyed Pete Rose dressing up as the San Diego Chicken to attack Kane, but it’s still not enough to over take Bob Uecker as number 2 on the Celebrity List. “Mr. Baseball” is helped by not only guest ring announcing, but doing backstage interviews AND calling matches over two WrestleManias. Maybe next year, Pete.
Top Ten Celebrity Appearances
Mike Tyson – WrestleMania XIV
Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III/WrestleMania IV
Pete Rose – WrestleMania XIV/WrestleMania XV
Mary Hart – WrestleMania III
Cyndi Lauper – WrestleMania I
Alex Trebek – WrestleMania VII
Vanna White – WrestleMania IV
Burt Reynolds – WrestleMania X
Regis Philbin – WrestleMania VII
Gennifer Flowers – WrestleMania XIV
Top Five Musical Acts
Ray Charles, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 2
Little Richard, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania X
Fife and Drum Corp performing Piper’s entrance – WrestleMania I
Steve Allen rehearses in bathroom with the Bolsheviks – WrestleMania VI
Boyz II Men, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania XV