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WWE WrestleMania XIX
March 30, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Another WrestleMania is in the books... and it was one that will go down as having delivered the goods.  Just not necessarily where you would have expected.

The best sustained in-ring action did not come from amateur stand-outs Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle, nor did it come in the Chris Benoit flavored six-man tag match; rather Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho put on the match of the night.  And the most intense, dramatic, and entertaining moments didn't come from charismatic master the Rock and Steve Austin, but rather in the Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon brawl.

In those two memorable affairs, Michaels and Hogan were both victorious.  The other top matches saw Rock beat Austin, Lesnar take the WWE Title from Angle, and Triple H retain the World Title from Booker T.

Here are the full results from the just-completed WWE WrestleMania XIX pay-per-view event (with editorial thoughts added on in red italics):

  • On Sunday Night Heat, John Cena's "Rap Off" took place, and was essentially a monologue, as no one stepped up to challenge him...  Big Show and A-Train punked out Nathan Jones in the locker room, raising the question of whether or not Jones would compete as scheduled at WM... and World Tag Team Champions Chief Morley and Lance Storm retained those titles from Rob Van Dam and Kane, thanks to a grudging assist from the Dudley Boyz.  [Note: by wrestling on Heat, Kane saw his consecutive WM streak evaporate; it had stood at a third-best five WMs in a row among active streaks.]
  • "The Princess of Hip Hop" Ashanti kicked off WM19 with "America the Beautiful," which stirred up the patriotic emotions of the live crowd and Jim Ross.
  • In-ring competition got started with Cruiserweight Title action, which saw Matt Hardy manage to retain the title from Rey Mysterio in what has to go down as something of an upset.  Fast paced right out of the gate, and lots of fun... while it lasted.  Inexcusably, they only got 5 minutes before Hardy scored the pin, thanks to a distraction from Shannon Moore and a handful of the ropes for illegal leverage.  [That's right: on a four-hour PPV, the cruisers got less time than they would on an average edition of SmackDown!..  "Yay" to Hardy and Mysterio for their work, "boo" to the team who granted them only half the time they should have had to do said work.]
  • Limp Bizkit (complete with back-up dancers and cheeseball choreography that should once and for all eliminate any claim that Fred Durst has to a level of artistic, musical worth beyond that which is ascribed to Christina Aguilera or 'N' Snyc) played the Undertaker to the ring with a live edition of "Rollin'", as it was announced that Taker would have to face Big Show and A-Train in a handicap match as a result of the attack on Nathan Jones that took place on Heat.  Taker again looked sharp, but at over 10 minutes (which doesn't even consider the 5-plus minute live intro and which is all the more confounding after they short-changed the cruisers), this one still had its slow moments.  Taker looked beat after a chokeslam from the Big Show, but Jones finally ran out to join the fight.  He took out Show with a spin kick, and booted A-Train into an admittedly impressive-looking Tombstone Piledriver.  Taker scored the win to stay undefeated at WrestleMania. [An effective showcase for Taker, I think; writing an unready-for-prime-time Jones out was probably the right call, and made Taker's 11 WM win all the more impressive.  A minutes-long Abdominal Stretch spot mid-match would by my only non-time-management-related complaint.]
  • Trish Stratus emerged victorious over Jazz and Victoria to take the women's title.   Pretty tight for the most part, with some especially stiff kicks from Jazz and Trish along the way.  The finish had Jazz and Steven Richards powder out after failed interference, leaving Trish to pin Victoria following a rude kick to the gut.  [Entertaining stuff, but -- and I hate to keep harping on this -- how does this get more time than the cruiserweight match?]
  • Backstage stuff: Rock cut a promo where he promised to "finally" get his WM win over Steve Austin... and the Miller Lite Catfight Girls showed up and started bickering with each other (who cares what it was about?), which in turn rubbed off on Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson, and they all sort of decided to settle it in bed.
  • Team Angle came out on top in the three-way WWE Tag Title Match over Los Guerreros and Chris Benoit/Rhyno.  Lots of good stuff with the Guerreros during an early segment, and then this eventually settled into Team Angle controlling the match and keeping Benoit in the ring for a bit.    After a hot tag, chaos started breaking out, and in the mess, Rhyno (not legal) gored Eddie Guerrero.  The other guys were all brawling outside the ring, and as the ref tried to push Rhyno out of the ring, Shelton Benjamin snuck in and made the cover on Eddie to win the match for his team.  [Really good and tight, but it seemed sort of perfunctory; at maybe 8 minutes, this was about the same length as the women's match, and again, about half as long as what a similar type match would get if booked on an average Thursday night.  Who's in charge of time management tonight?]
  • Shawn Michaels beat Chris Jericho with a quick roll-up out of nowhere about 25 minutes into their grudge match.  Slower pace to start, but basically, but the 10 minute mark, we were moving along at full speed for the incredibly entertaining final two-thirds of the match.  No really shocking "Holy Shit" spots, but a general vibe of fast-paced stuff with a bit of high flying.  Mostly, it was just a solid psychological match, with Jericho's offense centered on Michaels' surgically repaired back and Michaels' comebacks perfectly timed for maximum impact.  The last 5 minutes or so had a few convincing near falls, but neither man would stay down.  Finally, Michaels countered his way into a roll-up to get the three count.  After the match, Jericho teased the Handshake of Mutual Respect, but instead (in a brilliant dick move) low-blowed Michaels and spat on him.  [To me, the match of the night; great action, good heat, and of all the post-match bits, this was the one that clicked best.  Absolutely zero complaints.]
  • They did a sort of a catfight on a giant mattress up on the entrance stage.  Torrie and Stacy wound up doing most of the "work" (including tearing off a goodly amount of each other's clothes) while the Miller Lite girls awkwardly swatted at each other with pillows.  In the end, all four girls decided to team up and depants Jonathan Coachman -- who was trying to channel Jerry Lawler and play the "leacherous host" card -- and "pin" him to bring merciful closure to the pointlessness.
  • Oh wait, I lied: more pointlessness followed, as Limp Bizkit played the exceptionally clever lyrical masterpiece "Crack Addict" (the WM19 theme song).
  • I'm not sure of the order, but at some point in the third hour, we got two vignettes of interest:  first, a commercial for Backlash aired, and it featured Bill Goldberg exclusively, saying he would be in action at the next WWE PPV.  There's your confirmation; Goldberg is actually expected at RAW tomorrow.  And also: there was a commercial for WrestleMania 20, which will, as widely expected, take place at Madison Square Garden.  And thirdly: there were film cameras all over the place, and it was announced that they were there getting footage for something called "WrestleMania: The Movie."  No other details were discussed.
  • Triple H retained the World Title by defeating Booker T.  Out of the gate, Booker was strong, but HHH made his comeback and was able to eventually sustain an advantage by taking out Booker's left knee.  This was a well-done and concerted attack, and by the half-way point in the match, Booker was selling it to the point that he could barely walk or run.  At about the 15 minute mark, Booker started his big comeback, and even (sort-of) hit the Harlem Hangover (actually, he sat on HHH's head in a wicked-looking foul up).  But it was not enough, as HHH kicked out and rallied with a Pedigree to win the match at about the 18 minute mark.  [I really liked the way they set up and the match and psychology; if this match lacked anything it was crowd heat, which could be because a lot of fans sort of felt it was a foregone conclusion that Booker could not break through and beat HHH... if so, they did themselves no favors by giving the crowd this finish.]
  • Hulk Hogan beat Vince McMahon in an improbably amusing 25 minute brawl.  In all honesty, there were some brutally sloppy looking spots, and a ton of transparent restholds designed to give the old men a few breathers in between the high spots.  But the highspots were well conceived and perfectly spaced, and by the end, the drama and surprises were more than enough to offset the "workrate" deficiencies here.  Shock #1 came as both Hogan and McMahon wore tremendous crimson masks after chair shots (Spanish broadcaster Hugo Savinovich wore one, too, for good measure!).  Shock #2 topped that, as Vince hit a sweet legdrop off a ladder through Hogan and an announce table.  And then, Shock #3 trumped them all:  Roddy Piper came out of the crowd and into the ring to a massive pop.  He teased attacking Vince, but instead, he throttled Hogan with a lead pipe.  From here, we entered the most steadily-action-packed portion of the match, as Vince took out referee Brian Hebner and called out his own crooked official, Sylvain Grenier.  But Hogan Hulked Up and took out Grenier, and then gained the advantage over Vince.  After some more typical Hogan action, ref Hebner came to just in time to see Hogan hit three consecutive Leg Drops o' Doom for the pinfall win.  After the match, Shane McMahon came to the ring with unclear motives, and wound up just checking on his father as Hogan left the ring without a huge celebration.  [Hey, workrate freaks will scoff, but this is how you lay out an ultra-booked sports entertainment schmozz.  Leg drop off the ladder?  Roddy fricking Piper?  Works for me...]
  • The Rock got the WM monkey off his back, scoring a pinfall win over Steve Austin following a series of three Rock Bottoms.  This was a trademark Austin Main Event Brawl: not a whole lot more than punching and kicking, but somehow still exceptionally entertaining.  They did a few spots outside the ring, but there were no tables, no chairs, no blood, just back and forth brawling.  Austin got a near fall with a Rock Bottom of his own to send the match into End Game, but Rock kicked out.  Rock countered with a Stone Cold Stunner that got a two-count.  Austin finally got a chance to use his own hold, but it was to no avail.  Finally, Rock hit a Rock Bottom, and got two.  So he tried again.  Two again.  The third time, Austin stayed down.  The crowd, which stayed pretty anti-Rock during the match, gave Rock a semi-ovation, and Rock seemed to be selling it as a farewell deal; then they did the exact same vibe as Austin left the ring, too.  [A simple 20 minute brawl: solid and I'm sure it gave everybody what they wanted out of the match.  I didn't think it was nearly as orgasmically good as Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler tried to sell it as afterwards, but I guess if they were trying to put over the possible swan song aspect of Rock and Austin's performances, then I guess that's why they felt that they had to oversell...  still, that's my only gripe, and it's actually got nothing to do with the match itself.]
  • In the main event, Brock Lesnar only narrowly avoided killing himself and then pinned Kurt Angle to win the WWE Title.  Chain wrestling and a few amateur things got us started off for the first 3-5 minutes, and the crowd was into it.  They moved into a more pro style at that point, and kept the pace going for a few minutes before Angle locked in a bow-and-arrow-type move for several minutes (guess Lesnar needed a rest?)... once we came out of that, it was all brawling and suplexes.  Angle hit both the "holy shit" suplexes (a German in which he tossed Lesnar into the top turnbuckle, and the overhead Super German), but Lesnar got a few licks in himself.  As we entered End Game, we again saw both guys trying to use each other's finishers to no avail.  When Lesnar finally hit an F-5, clean, Angle kicked out, leaving Lesnar to wonder what he'd have to do to keep Angle down.  The answer:  a Shooting Star Press.  After hitting another F-5 a minute or two later, Lesnar went up for the SSP.  But Angle was two-thirds of the way across the ring, and Lesnar shorted it badly, actually landing on his head (Tazz, echoing our crew's concern, wondered aloud how Lesnar was not dead after the sick looking bump).  Angle covered it by trying to make it look like he "rolled out of the way," and they quickly improv'ed a third F-5 and pinfall for Lesnar.  Lesnar and Angle shared a genuine Handshake of Mutual Respect as fireworks went off and the show closed.  [The match did bog down in the middle, but hey, it was probably a good idea to rest Lesnar so he could hit the big SSP... except that when the moment came, he tried to do too much: rather than just reposition Angle to a more realistic spot near the corner, Lesnar went for a riduculous home run shot.  They covered nicely, I admit, but (a) it would have been cooler if they'd hit the big finish cleanly... talk about highlight reel material!  And (b) I honestly have no idea how Lesnar walked away from the bump, and he only put himself in grave danger by trying the SSP at that distance.  Good match, but not the blow away affair that I let myself get worked up for.]

We'll have more fall-out and opinion from WM here tomorrow on OO, so check on back for my fresh Monday column, a Rant from Scott Keith, maybe some on-the-scene photos from Rob Stevens, and more....



Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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