WrestleMania XV from March 28, 1999 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly with 20,276 there
Welcome to 1999, AKA a period of time and wrestling that I personally, and vividly, remember from the moment it actually occurred. I was 11 years old, with no hair on my testicles yet but a mind starting to teeter into the curious world of puberty. WrestleMania 15 took place on March 28 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in front of a crowd of an announced 20,276 and about 20,000 signs. The show's slogan was "the ragin' climax," so on that note.
The show is memorable for being the first show post-Shawn Michaels and the first of three WrestleMania main events between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. Don't even try and fight me on the three WrestleMania main events because of WrestleMania 19, I'm one of those idiots that believes "when Stone Cold fights The Rock, it's the main event." We're full-fledged into the Attitude Era at this point, and full-on 90s as the decade nears its end and weirdness and T&A are on full display.
It's another show more remembered for its zaniness than its in-ring action, but that's OK because that's what this era was. Crazy stories, yes stories, that were told with a touch of soap opera and a touch of M. Night Shyamalan and a touch of late-night Cinemax.
Other matches included HHH vs. Kane, Mankind and the freshly-signed Big Show faced off to determine the main event's special referee, Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett defended the Tag Team Championship against Test and D'Lo Brown (yes, really), Butterbean punched Bart Gunn, Undertaker tied a noose around Big Boss Man's neck in the worst Hell in a Cell match and murdered him, Shane McMahon and X-Pac fought for Europe, Sable and Tori breathed, Road Dogg, Goldust, Ken Shamrock and Val Venis did a confusing Four corners elimination kind of tag match, and Hardcore Holly faced Al Snow and Billy Gunn. Whew.
Favorite moments and matches
I absolutely loved the WrestleMania opening montage video with Freddie Blassie, the company had always billed it as the biggest show of the year but this is just when you can really start to feel the history and nostalgia-induced feelings that WrestleMania produces.
This show feels like a jump into the future as The Rock and HHH feel like established blue chippers on the verge of breaking out, and Stone Cold Steve Austin has got to be at his peak here. Damn, it's crazy for me to jump from WrestleMania 13 to 15 because I'm going from the beginning to the peak of his massive run. It's a blast, because my god, The Rock is so young but so damn good at this point. What an absolute blast and full-on Attitude Era championship match this was. From all over the arena to interference, pre-match ref changes, mid-match ref changes, The Rock selling stunners like a madman bouncing off the ropes and spitting water into Stone Cold's face and even a low-impact announce table spot.
Stone Cold gets the win, sets up one of the best rivalries of all-time and establishes both guys as the cream of the crop. Austin would miss WrestleMania 16 due to injury, but would be back in the main event with The Rock two years later at WrestleMania 17. That's going to be a blast to see the differences and how far these two went. I seriously just realized for the first time that I'm going to cover all three WrestleMania Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock matches in a row. THIS IS AWESOME.
Shane McMahon seriously impressed me in his match defending the European Championship against X-Pac. I see why I was drawn to him as a younger fan. He deserves a lot of credit for working that hard to put on a solid little match like he did. With that said, people need to remember and realize how good X-Pac was. This is a level of trust that gets overlooked, and he worked one heck of a match with the boss' kid.
Kane and HHH worked their asses off, and Chyna reuniting with HHH with the brief full DX reunion was a cool moment. It was like Attitude Macho Man and Elizabeth reuniting at Mania. OK, maybe not, but a cheaper version.
One more positive element for the main event was that Jim Ross, Good Ol' J.R. came out and replaced Michael Cole on commentary for the main event. Ross had been out of action due to a bad bell's palsy attack and then they brought him back in strange heel version. At WM15, he was Jim Ross, and all was right in the world.
Least favorite moments and matches
Just the reminder of how inconsistent and flip-floppy this era was. Yes, it was a blast but there was so much title flipping and swerves and nonsensical crap that it confused me as an 11 just as it does a *redacted* year old.
Road Dogg is the Intercontinental Champion and Billy Gunn is the Hardcore Champion. Road Dogg had just recently been the Hardcore Champion and Billy Gunn was feuding with the Intercontinental Champion Val Venis. Test and D'Lo Brown challenged WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett after being the last two men standing in a Sunday Night Heat battle royal. They weren't a team, they lost and then they fought immediately afterward. Why. HHH and Chyna reunited after his match with Kane after she turned on Kane, then the two of them reunited with Road Dogg, Billy Gunn and X-Pac and then turned on them at the end of X-Pac's match with Shane in the span of an hour.
The Big Show-Mankind match as tough to watch as Mick as clearly injured and Show was a sloppy newcomer to the company. It was neither's best showing. Between needlessly dangerous spots that doesn't look good enough for the crowd to care about to missing your big go-home spot on those pesky chairs. Mankind had recently been world champion and Big Show had just debuted at the previous PPV St. Valentine's Day Massacre in the Vince-SCSA cage match, and there had to be better options for at least Show.
I almost just ended this section without mentioning Undertaker vs. Big Boss Man in the Hell in a Cell match. What a turd of a match, and then they f****** hung Boss Man by a noose, tied him to the cell and raised the thing as poor Edge floated in the air like an idiot. What a shit show. What a shit show that was also in disgustingly, stupid poor taste. They were seriously obsessed with nooses in 1997 and 1997, what the hell?
Also, Kane tombstoned Pete Rose in a chicken suit and the four-way match had a confusing tag + elimination concept albeit for great action with the grossly underrated Val Venis.
Does it hold up?
The main event between Rock and Austin, HHH and Kane and the confusing fatal four-way elimination kind of tag match with Val Venis-Road Dogg-Ken Shamrock-Goldust does wonders for this show. Outside of that, it's a sloppy, spot hungry, confusing and horny show. But, it's fun!