Wrestlemania I-XXX Series. (15/30)

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**Article Edited As Of July 2018. Taken out broken media and cleaned it up**

Wrestlemania XV (tagline: The Ragin’ Climax) drew 20,276 fans to the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 28th 1999. The card featured all seven championships being defended, and the commentators were Michael Cole (calling his first Wrestlemania) and Jerry Lawler. After a failed heel run, Jim Ross was reinstated at the commentary table as the replacement for Michael Cole before the main event. (JR had suffered with Bells Palsy and did not appear well.) A boxing match between Butterbean and Bart Gunn also took place.

Wrestlers making their Wrestlemania debut: The Public Enemy (Rock & Grunge), Gillberg, The Hardy Boyz, Test, Jacqueline, Ivory, Tori, Debra, Nicole Bass, Al Snow, Big Show, The Blue Meanie, Val Venis, Shane McMahon, Gangrel, Edge & Christian.

Wrestlers making their final Wrestlemania appearance: Owen Hart, Jeff Jarrett, Bart Gunn, Hawk.


I sat and watched a WWF version of Wrestlemania XV, which included the battle royal from Heat, but not the women’s singles match. Twelve matches took place overall (eleven in the article), with Vince Russo contributing to the booking of his last Wrestlemania event before signing with WCW.


Boys II Men sang a rendition of the national anthem to start the show. From my perspective, it sounded out-of-place, but the fans gave them a decent ovation. It was bizarre hearing Cole & Lawler on commentary, it was almost like listening to the current commentary team call an Attitude Era PPV; they haven’t changed much.

Before I begin with the matches, the PPV was a polar opposite to the previous Wrestlemania as it did very little to explain the current storylines and feuds. Also, with Cole and Lawler on commentary, you didn’t get much help from them either. If you have never seen this PPV, you may wonder who the good guys and bad guys are, the line between the two are blurred considerably.


Match #1 – 21-man battle royal to determine the #1 contenders to the WWF Tag Team Championship

Didn’t notice half of these names were in the battle royal, probably a mix of not paying attention and the amazing commentary team not letting us know: Rocco Rock, Johnny Grunge, Viscera, Gillberg, Animal, 8-Ball, Skull, Hawk, Scott Taylor, Faarooq, Tiger Ali Singh, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Mideon, Brian Christopher, Steve Blackman, Bradshaw, The Godfather, Droz, D’Lo Brown and Test.


No idea why it included 21 wrestlers. Also it was confusing as I’m sure commentary told us it was a tag team battle royal .. but actually, the final two wrestlers in the match would form a tag team later. I really can’t say much about this battle royal, I didn’t notice Gillberg, LOD, The Hardys or anyone like that. It was a grand waste of time, and the match was poorly worked. D’Lo Brown and Test carried on fighting each other without realizing they were victorious and would team together.



Match #2 – Billy Gunn (c) vs Hardcore Holly vs Al Snow – WWF Hardcore Championship

D-Generation X consisted of Triple H, Billy Gunn, Road Dogg and X-Pac, so my immediate thoughts were, “why is no one escorting Gunn?” It was clear the title would change hands, and sadly, this “hardcore” match was nothing but a cheap imitation. The fans caught on and chanted “ECW!”, good for them!

Al Snow was easily the most over guy in the match (because everyone wanted Head), and stayed true to the hardcore style more than “Hardcore” Holly and “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn. And yeah, Hardcore Holly won, which I’m sure nobody in the world wanted. Yawn.


Match #3 – Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett (c) (with Debra) vs D’Lo Brown and Test (with Ivory) – WWF Tag Team Championship

So you have Owen Hart in his last Wrestlemania appearance before his tragic incident later that year, and Jarrett’s last appearance before jumping back to WCW. It was obvious D’Lo and Test were not going to get along, and Jarrett/Hart would have an easy night.

I was right in my prediction, Test and D’Lo could not get along (making the battle royal even more meaningless), as Owen dropkicked D’Lo into a pin by Jarrett. D’Lo and Test started fighting afterwards, and that’s about it. Yawn.


Match #4 – Butterbean vs Bart Gunn – Brawl For All Boxing Match

I already knew the outcome, but I was interested to see the hype. Bart Gunn had a million nicknames at this point, and Butterbean was clearly the favourite, no matter how much they hyped Bart Gunn’s boxing ability. They had predictions for Bart Gunn to win, and only one guy saying Butterbean would knock him out in the first round.


And then the match began, and just .. wow. Butterbean absolutely destroyed Bart Gunn like he’d slept with his girlfriend. There was no mercy from Butterbean whatsoever, and after his initial flurry of offense, Butterbean landed the meanest punch you will ever see in a wrestling ring (Big Show only wishes). Despite the 30 second match length, it was more exciting than the previous three matches combined! No idea if I can say this but … Gunn got knocked the fuck out!


Match #5 – Mankind vs “Big Show” Paul Wight – Winner to be the special referee of the main event

“Paul White” as the commentators wanted to call him, had a monster physique. Sadly, his large frame meant he was slow and easily tired out, even by someone like Mick Foley. Even more sadly, if you’ve seen one Big Show match, you’ve seen them all. Mankind repeatedly locked in the mandible claw on Show, until he managed to climb on his back and lock it in once more. Big Show did the Vader spot where you fall backwards .. and as that happened, I cringed like when I saw Bart Gunn hit the mat at 200mph. How Foley was not injured (or killed) from Big Show falling hard on him like that, I simply do not know.

Also the large physique of Show was effecting his brain as well. He had one job, to win the match and become the referee for the main event. Instead of beating Foley, he decided to get a chair and smack him with it. Somehow he was not disqualified immediately, he was only disqualified by Hebner after he chokeslammed Foley through two chairs. Vince McMahon entered with a confused look at Show, asking why he couldn’t follow a simple instruction. With Show refusing to answer, McMahon got in his face, which angered Show to the point he picked Vince up for the chokeslam.


After some thought, Show put Vince down. Vince wasn’t sure what to do at first, but soon reverted back to calling Show useless. Vince lost his marbles, as he decided to slap an upset Big Show. Paul White retaliated with his “big punch” and knocked Vince out. This marked the beginnings of the new stable The Union which formed a couple of months later.

An average match, with the fallout showing us one of the 28 million times Big Show has turned face/heel in his career, and doing so by knocking someone out with a punch … the same punch he forgets to use during matches. And before I forget, Mankind was injured and had to be taken to the hospital, meaning the main event had no referee. Vince decided to appoint himself the special referee for the match.


Match #6 – Road Dogg (c) vs Ken Shamrock vs Goldust (with The Blue Meanie and Ryan Shamrock) vs Val Venis – Four corners elimination match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship

Once again, Road Dogg made his entrance with no backup from his D-X brothers. I had no idea about the allegiance between Goldust, Blue Meanie and Ryan Shamrock (Ken’s little sister), and no back story was provided. Val Venis was serious eye candy for the ladies; if I was a woman, I probably would have been aroused.


With no idea who was the good guy or bad guy here, I assumed the worst. And I was right, considering the talent in the ring, it did not translate to a good match. I didn’t know what to make of Shamrock and Venis getting counted out together. Road Dogg retained against Goldust (who has still not won at Wrestlemania), showing he didn’t need D-X to fight his battles.


Match #7 – Kane vs Triple H

I’ve seen some exceptionally bad matches and feuds between these two. Before the match started, a guy in a chicken mascot costume ambushed Kane and tried to take him out. Kane punched him and the chicken was soon revealed to be Pete Rose, so for a second Wrestlemania in a row, he eat a tombstone piledriver.

Dull, boring, uninspired, just a few words to describe the action. The First Union Center blew up when Chyna made her way to the ring, with the commentary team asking “who is she with?” After some messing around, Chyna hit Kane with a chair to show her allegiance to Triple H and D-X. Chyna ran up to Triple H and literally jumped into his arms, which received a massive cheer from the crowd. It was reminiscent of Miss Elizabeth reuniting with Randy Savage all those Wrestlemanias ago.

Noticing the trend so far? The matches suck, and what happens after is where the real entertainment is found. I should quote Sheamus and say … “Are you not entertained!?”


 Match #8 – Sable (c) vs Tori – WWF Women’s Championship

With the trend thus far, I got bored and decided to go make myself a sandwich. It’s rare you get a Women’s Championship match at Wrestlemania, but I knew how this was going to go. After four minutes of poor quality wrestling, Nicole Bass interfered on behalf of Sable and helped her retain the championship. That’s all folks!


 Match #9 – Shane McMahon (c) (with Test) vs X-Pac – WWF European Championship

D-X hyped the title match by showing their support for X-Pac in a backstage interview. Oh Shane, how we miss you. You wouldn’t believe that thie match is probably the second best on the card. X-Pac was ambushed by the Stooges to begin with, but he managed to fight them off. He made haste after Shane, who ran away as quick as Austin drinks beer.

I don’t want to spoil the match too much, as it’s one of the matches worth seeing. I simply have to tell you about the swerve at the end though. As X-Pac fought by himself against Shane, Test, and others, Triple H and Chyna came out to even the odds.

So instead of helping X-Pac, Triple H entered the ring and delivered a pedigree on him. SWERVE! Triple H had joined the Corporation with Chyna, not the other way round. Billy Gunn and Road Dogg came out to save X-Pac from their former leader, but were also taken out. The Corporation stood tall, as the remnants of D-X picked whatever was left of themselves from the ring.


 Match #10 – The Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) vs Big Boss Man – Hell in a Cell

Proof that The Undertaker + Hell in a Cell does not equal “Great match”. Wow, I mean, I was sat there watching, and I knew why this match was famous, but I didn’t realize just how bad it was. X-Pac vs Shane was more exciting than this. It was a meaningless brawl, and the crowd chanted “boring”. The most entertaining part for me was The Undertaker’s entrance, as I’ve always preferred the Ministry of Darkness theme. No idea why they decided Big Boss Man was the right man for the job, I guess he was the only guy who agreed to the post-match ceremony.

So after Undertaker tombstoned Bossman, and pinned him, the real entertainment began. The Brood (Gangrel, Edge & Christian) were lowered down from the ceiling area by harness, on to the top of the cell (hella cool way to enter, but it’s always going to make you think of Owen), and set the cell up for an execution. They prised the top of the cell open and threw a noose down for The Undertaker. The crowd were immediately interested, evidenced by the reaction.

The Undertaker wrapped the noose around Boss Mans neck, as The Brood exited the same way they entered. As the Cell rose from the floor, the crowd were getting anxious with anticipation. Boss Man noticed what was happening and tried to struggle out of it. Boss Man kicked and struggled for his life as his body was literally hung above the ring. Cameras were flashing like crazy as he did. Boss Man eventually stopped struggling, closed his eyes, and became motionless. The Undertaker posed in the ring, as the arena went black.

So it was The Attitude Era. Political correctness was not rampaging around the world like a virus. Somehow, the WWF got away with hanging one of their wrestlers above the ring. No chance in hell (pun intended) would that be acceptable today. There would be outrage, it would trend, it would become the most annoying news piece in the world for a few days. No one seemed to care back then.


 Match #11 – The Rock (c) vs Stone Cold Steve Austin – No DQ match for the WWF Championship

Before the match, Vince McMahon came down to referee. Shawn Michaels entered to the loudest pop of the night. Michaels informed Vince he did not have the power to name referees, and after much “guess who does have power?” hyping, Shawn eventually told Vince only HBK had the power to name referees, as he was WWF Commissioner. Vince gulped and tried to persuade HBK, but he was having none of it. McMahon and Michaels walked to the back together, as Mike Chioda stood in as the official referee. HBK also stated nobody was allowed to interfere in the match, except Vince if he wanted to.

Finally! The match everyone wants to see. The two perfect opponents in a perfect feud which essentially saved the WWF and maintained its dominance over WCW. As always, the intensity level was off the charts, as both men immediately fought threw the crowd. It was never going to be a wrestling match, just an old school fight. The Rock looked amazing as champ, and even though he was playing the heel, he had fan support.

The referees kept getting in the way, and after three referees were knocked out, Vince made his presence known once more. Mankind rushed down to the ring as quick as his injuries would allow to take over as referee. Stone Cold Stunner ended the match, and crowned a new WWF Champion. Vince McMahon was brought in to the ring afterwards, and Austin held him on the mat with his boot as he celebrated with the WWF Championship. McMahon got a Stone Cold Stunner for his troubles.

Austin continued his celebrations with Earl Hebner. He gave Earl some beers, who was jumping up on the turnbuckles and clearly happy doing so. Austin was the champion Vince didn’t want again, and there was nothing he could do to stop the mighty rattlesnake.


Conclusion

I was expecting a lot more from the “Attitude Era” WWF. There was far too much overbooking, gimmicks, face/heel turns, and the show was pretty confusing, especially to those who didn’t know the storylines. The entertainment value was decent, there were some good moments, but the match quality killed the PPV for me. You can tell the WWF was desperate to keep their status by producing a Wrestlemania which matched the “crash TV” of Monday Night Raw.

There were only two decent matches, and they can’t be called masterpieces; Rock/Austin and X-Pac/Shane. The biggest letdown was the Hell in a Cell … it’s probably the worst Hell in a Cell ever. The tag title match had little meaning, the Women’s title match could have been scrapped, and the IC title match did little for me. The biggest pops of the night went to Shawn Michaels, and Chyna reuniting with Triple H. The most photogenic moments were Butterbean’s knockout punch, and the hanging of Bossman.

So the PPV didn’t stink entirely. I can only warn you not to expect any “great” wrestling matches, as the Attitude Era didn’t like professional wrestling. Sadly, you still hear those who say “BRING THE ATTITUDE ERA BACK!”, and those fans only remember the good stuff. The Attitude Era had a lot of bad too, and Wrestlemania XV is clear evidence of that. You might want to drink some beers before watching, it will make the show much more bearable.

I hope you enjoyed my experience of Wrestlemania XV more than I did. Thanks for reading, and I shall see you soon with my experiences of Wrestlemania 2000.

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