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 XIX – March 30,2003
After a relatively mediocre WrestleMania the year before the newly-christened WWE came back with a vengeance in 2003, with a series of matches people wanted to see in a great venue.
The final five matches on this card could all legitimately be considered main events, and they were all given time to properly develop. Despite the four hour run time, the whole card flows with the best of them.
In addition to having a new company name, this was the first WrestleMania to feature two main level championships – the WWE Title and the World Heavyweight Championship – as the WWE was developing its brand split.
Best Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho. The legend of Mr. WrestleMania truly begins with this match. Less than a year after his return at SummerSlam 2002, Michaels already had a World Heavyweight Title win under his belt. But this match wasn’t about a title. It was about two of the best athletes in WWE going out and stealing the show. Michaels proves that he still has a lot left in the tank and Jericho proves that he is one of the elite workers in the company.
Worst Match: Undertaker vs. Big Show and A-Train. After two years of redeeming WrestleMania matches, “Big Evil” Undertaker backslides here in quality. It was supposed to be a tag team match with Nathan Jones, and I’m not sure his inclusion would have made the match better or worse. Of course, when this is the worst match on the card, you’re in for a pretty good time.
Digital Screwjob: While this is generally considered to be one of the best WrestleManias ever, the buyrate for the show does not reflect its popularity, coming in at under 575,000 buys. Reportedly, the WWE also switched to a fully digital for WrestleMania, which greatly affected the amount of people who were able to order the show. Considering that the shows in 2002 and 2004 both had more than 800,000 buys, I would imagine the buyrate this year is not an accurate assessment of the level of excitement people had for the show.
Personally, I ordered the show via the WWE website and watched the show on my computer, something that would become much more common for me as the years went on.
Race Relations, WWE Style: Man, if Triple H ever moves to actually take over the WWE when Vince steps down, I would hope he scrubs the world of the build to his match with Booker T at WrestleMania XIX. Maybe they thought the racist overtones in the match were thinly-veiled and subtle, but they were pretty overt and to make it worse, the racist World Heavyweight Champion pretty well buried the challenger. Not sure how anyone thought that was a good idea.
Legacy: Speaking of guys with reportedly racist tendencies, WrestleMania XIX featured a battle over who was more important to the creation of the event: Vince McMahon or Hulk Hogan. It was such an all-encompassing concept that celebrity guests, The Miller Catfight Girls, argued about it and caused Divas Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler to also fight over the answer. The very bloody garbage brawl was better than it had any right to be considering the ages and reative abilities of the people involved, but no one was expecting it to be a catch-as-catch-can classic. The match also featured a run-in by overweight “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (who was wearing a shirt that said “FRATS!” for reasons that pass my understanding) and the blood from both Hogan and McMahon could be seen on the mat for the rest of the night.
That Could Have Been Bad: Brock Lesnar’s shooting star press in his WWE Title Match against Kurt Angle. That botch probably would have killed someone who didn’t have the neck and shoulder muscles that Brock does.
Costume Contest: Rey Mysterio makes his WrestleMania debut, and with him we also get his pop culture references in his WrestleMania costumes. This year: a purple Daredevil-inspired gear, just in time for Season 2 to hit Netflix.
That’s All Folks: In seven WrestleMania appearances, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin won three WWF Titles, gained what is right now the top match in the WrestleMania Top Ten and main evented three times. Two of those matches were wins against The Rock and WrestleMania XIX made it a trilogy in Austin’s last WrestleMania match. The loss was only the second time someone beat Austin at WrestleMania and it gave both Austin and Rock another great WrestleMania moment. I wish Austin was able to wrestle again after this, but it was a hell of a way to go out.
The Top Ten
*DISCLAIMER* Th Top Ten is (obviously) my opinion and meant only to spur on discussion. Leave any and all comments down below (Match winners are in italics).
There’s a small change to the list this time around.
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 – The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – No DQ WWF Title Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
4 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
5 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
6 – Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Title TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
7 – Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
8 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
9 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
10 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
Top Ten WrestleMania Celebrity Appearances
Mike Tyson – WrestleMania XIV
Pete Rose – WrestleMania XIV/WrestleMania XV/WrestleMania 2000
Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III/WrestleMania IV
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 Ten WrestleMania Musical Performances
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
Drowning Pool, Tear Away – WrestleMania X8
Boyz II Men, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania XV
Aretha Franklin, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania III
Motorhead, The Game – WrestleMania X-Seven
Limp Bizkit, Crack Addict – WrestleMania XIX
DX Band, DeGeneration X theme – WrestleMania XIV