Date: March 30, 2003
Location: Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Tazz
America The Beautiful: Ashanti
This show gets a lot of praise around here and I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve never been that enthralled by it, but maybe it needs another viewing. Your main event here is Kurt vs. Brock, which is simply due to Brock winning the Rumble and a solid build as you’re not really sure who the better man is. Brock is just past one year on television at this point and is going for his second world title.
To say he was dominant is an understatement. The real main event though is Hulk vs. Vince in a no holds barred match. It’s another instance of not putting the real main event on last, which is a shame as it got most of the buildup. Your midcard special is Jericho vs. Shawn in what was excellently built up as well.
We also get the third match in the Austin/Rock saga, which while still a big match, simply doesn’t have the big fire in it this time around. It turns out to be Austin’s last match as a regular. More or less that’s what holds this show back: the hype. The buildup was as good as any I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t a mind blowing show. Let’s get to it.
Well done “it’s our World Series” package that never gets old, following Ashanti singing America the Beautiful which has been missed by me. The first problem with this show is simple: the theme song. Crack Addict by Limp Biskit. I never could figure out why they wouldn’t say the name of the song on television, but then it made sense. Make your own PG jokes.
Cruiserweight Title: Matt Hardy vs. Rey Mysterio
Mysterio is dressed as Daredevil as he beging his tradition of being a superhero at Mania. Matt is in the middle of what was always one of my favorite stupid gimmicks: Mattitude V1.0. This involves him having fun facts pop up on screen during his entrance which is made to look like he’s on a website. Today’s Mattitude Facts: Matt is appearing in his 4th Wrestlemania and Matt often wonders how they did Wrestlemania without him.
He’s also desperately trying to stay at the Cruiserweight limit of 220lbs, often with comical results. Matt is accompanied by Mattitude Follower (MFer) Shannon Moore. Hardy used Disco Inferno method of Cruiserweight wrestling: Wrestle like a heavyweight and hope it works out for the best. Moore distracts Rey to start but Matt gets backdropped to the floor. Blast you little MFer.
Head scissors and a spinwheel kick put Matt down and set up an attempt at a sunset bomb to the floor. Shannon makes the save and allows Matt to take over. Shannon’s people are called Morons. Taz and Cole make bad jokes about how Matt got his weight down using terms like banana juice, teabag and BJ. You figure the rest out for yourself.
Matt locks in a bow and arrow to keep Rey on the mat for awhile. A corner charge misses though and Matt goes into the post. Seated Senton gets two for Rey and we speed things up a bit more. Shannon breaks up the 619 and there’s the Twist of Fate for two. The foul poles in the background take a bit of getting used to.
Matt tries Splash Mountain from the bottom rope but Rey reverses into a rana for two. 619 hits and it’s West Coast Pop time. Matt ducks so Rey settles for a victory roll. Hardy ducks into it ala Owen at Mania X and grabs the rope to get the win. That was abrupt to say the least.
Rating: C-. Not a fan of the ending at all. This was getting good and they cut the legs out from under it after less than six minutes. I get why they had to do that as a lot of the matches are long but the pacing of the match could have been a lot better to make that ending not seem so abrupt and not to make this seem like a TV match. Still decent though.
Time for our first bad celebrities as the Miller Light Cat Fight girls show up. They’re two hot chicks that fight over beer. Their limo couldn’t be tackier as it’s a long black limo with a sign on the door saying Catfight Girls. It just doesn’t look good at all. The dumb arguments start already.
We get a clip from earlier with Nathan Jones, Undertaker’s tag partner for later, being laid out by A-Train and Big Show. This would be due to the fact that the company thought he wasn’t capable of being on live PPV with his skills at the time. Shouldn’t they have noticed this before Wrestlemania Sunday?
Limp Bizkit performs Rollin live to play us to this.
Undertaker vs. Big Show/A-Train
This is Taker vs. Big Show for the 10th time or so. A-Train is there for no apparent reason other than to make us think Taker might have some issues here. Fred Durst does not belong in the ring at Wrestlemania with Undertaker, period. This is officially a handicap match now. A-Train spits on Taker’s bike to distract him so Show can jump him. This of course fails and A-Train takes a chokeslam for two as Show saves.
Taker hammers away at both guys and makes sure to stay out of the corner. This was part of the A-Train’s push which I never quite understood but they were trying at least. Taker busts out a leap frog of all things and there’s Old School to A-Train. Derailer (Chokebomb) hits Taker but of course he doesn’t cover. Instead he sends Taker to the floor so Show can ram him into the post.
There’s a flag on Undertaker’s bike which is due to his nephew serving in Iraq who the match has been dedicated to. Show comes in and they slug it out a bit. Taker really likes to punch doesn’t he? Show’s chokeslam is countered into a Fujiwara armbar and then into a cross armbreaker to A-Train. Show drops a leg to break that up and rams some headbutts in.
Abdominal stretch goes on after all the head and neck work. I guess Show is working on the ribs now. A-Train comes in now and stomps away before putting on an abdominal stretch of his own. Taker reverses into one of his own and that’s about the extent of his offensive run as it’s back to the beating again. Train slaps him in the face because he’s not that intelligent.
Naturally Taker makes the comeback and hits a running DDT for two as Show makes the save. Show is sent to the apron by the referee so Taker hits him anyway. Here’s the comeback and the monsters are in trouble. Big clothesline takes down Show. And never mind as a bicycle kick takes his head off. Chokeslam to Taker and here comes Nathan Jones. He kicks Show in the aisle to take him down (shouldn’t that be a DQ?) and hits the ring. Big boot to A-Train and the Tombstone ends this.
Rating: D. Can someone explain to me why this got ten minutes almost and the previous match couldn’t even get six? Not much of a match and far too long for its own good. Taker was never going to lose and everyone knew it, yet they let it go off even longer which didn’t help at all. Jones was gone soon after this I believe.
Catfight girls run into the much hotter Torrie and Stacy.
We get a recap of the pointless Raw tag title match from Heat that leads nowhere. That was on Heat and the Cat Fight girls were on here. That’s life I guess.
Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Jazz vs. Victoria
Jazz still isn’t cared for at all. As usual Trish looks great and gets the confetti for her entrance. Yeah, no guesses as to who is going over here. Victoria is champion coming into this and is in her total psycho phase here with the awesome T.A.T.U. theme music. I’ve always loved this character and throwing in that I always thought Victoria was mind blowingly hot isn’t hurting anything here.
Ross says that Jazz has a Mike Tyson like attitude. Lawler says it’s a Mike Tyson like look. Victoria has Steven Richards with her for no apparent reason. Jazz jumps both of them quickly and sends Victoria to the floor. She grabs a front facelock and flips forward to bend Trish in half with a facelock. Trish gets a Thesz Press and poses a lot. Victoria pulls her to the floor and we brawl out there for a bit.
Jazz vs. Trish in the ring at the moment with the less attractive one in control. Double shoulder breaker to Trish so it’s Victoria vs. Jazz now. Love that backless outfit on Victoria. Lawler says Trish is like a quarter among pennies. What the heck does that even mean? Match is kind of a mess so far but it’s not horrible. Powerslam by Jazz gets two on Trish.
The heels go at it again which Trish takes advantage of, ramming their heads together to take over. Big spin kick by Jazz misses and Trish gets a rollup for two. Chick Kick gets two. Trish kicks Victoria to the floor as Jazz shouts a lot. Half crab goes on and into an STF to Trish by Jazz. Stevie intercepts Trish’s tap out so Victoria isn’t out.
Trish gets a rollup of Victoria and we get a nice shot as Trish pulls the tights. Double chickenwing by Jazz to the blonde but Victoria takes Jazz down. Moonsault misses though, but Victoria still sends het to the floor. Stevie accidentally hits himself with a chair and takes a Stratusfaction for being an idiot. Chick Kick to Victoria gives Trish the title.
Rating: D+. This was just your standard Women’s Title match and nothing more. They’ve been the same for years and this was no different. Trish gets the title back for a token title change and would likely hold it for a very long time. Yeah that’s all I’ve got. Oh and Victoria has a nice figure.
Rock is bitter about being booed last year against Hogan and has turned his back on the people. He’s obsessed with beating Austin in a big match, which I don’t think he ever has. This takes way longer than it should have.
Smackdown Tag Titles: Los Guerreros vs. Team Angle vs. Rhyno/Chris Benoit
First fall wins it here as I continue to be amazed by how well Eddie suited his gimmick. While he’s not as great as he’s given credit for, he certainly was good. Team Angle is Charlie Hass and Shelton Benjamin by the way. Hass was supposed to be the breakout star at first but obviously after about two matches we knew that wasn’t going to happen. This is more of what we’ve seen all night long: a match that’s good enough to be a decent TV main event, but not WM worthy. No point here other than for the titles to be on the line.
Team Angle has the titles here. Benoit had a masterpiece with Angle at the Rumble but since a guy that was ridiculously popular and great in the ring clearly had no business feuding with HHH on Raw for the title (I mean we had SCOTT STEINER to do that) he was shoved into this pointless tag team and wasted most of 03 until he got so popular that he went to Raw the next year after winning the Rumble.
Big brawl to start as the referee tries to settle things down a bit. Chavo and Haas finally get us started. Haas tags out to Benoit and it’s Benoit vs. Eddie now. This works for me. To the shock of no one they hammer away on each other with neither guy being able to maintain an advantage. They ram heads which allows Rhyno to be brought in.
Powerslam to Eddie gets two. Benjamin comes in for the first time and works on the neck of Rhyno. Chavo breaks up a pin attempt as this is just ok. It’s like any match that could have been on Smackdown yet it’s here on Wrestlemania. Benoit suplexes Haas for two. We’re off to Rhyno vs. Benjamin now. They’re tagging in and out quickly but it’s kind of keeping anything from getting started. It’s been a random assortment of one on one matches so far. Nothing bad but nothing that interesting.
Eddie dropkicks Rhyno to take over and it’s off to Benoit vs. Guerrero again. Guerrero gets a belly to back and sets for the Frog Splash but gets caught in a superplex for two as Shelton saves. Benoit fires Eddie into the air for a flapjack and pulls him down into the Crossface in an awesome looking move. Haas breaks it up seconds later and then just leaves so the two masters can go at it some more.
Chavo comes in and cleans a lot of house. His name being Guerrero kind of hurts him as he’s always in Eddie’s shadow. Rolling Germans to Chavo but Chavo makes a blind tag to Shelton. Superkick to Benoit gets two. Eddie vs. Shelton at the moment so Shelton covers Benoit. Frog Splash breaks up the pin though so it’s off to Chavo vs. Haas. Haas suplexes him and gets Gored. Gore to Chavo and Benjamin steals the pin to retain the titles.
Rating: C+. It was getting a lot better at the end when they dropped the tagging stuff but this was a match that could have been on any Smackdown for the most part. It’s good and definitely the best match of the night so far. Still though, not much here but good stuff for what it was.
Torrie and Stacy argue with the Catfight girls over who made Mania, Hulk or Vince. This isn’t sexy or interesting, it’s just annoying at this point as the Catfight girls read from a script. Apparently this argument is going to be settled “in bed”. Lord help us all. One of them keeps saying Holgan instead of Hogan.
From this thing on, everything is nearly 18 minutes long.
We recap Jericho vs. Shawn. Shawn came back and won the world title. Jericho ran his mouth so Jericho got kicked in the face. He eliminated Shawn from the Rumble and vice versa. Shawn was his inspiration apparently and wanted a match at Mania. Jericho was walking through the curtain one night and something kicked him in the face. Shawn came out and posed over him, saying he’d see him at Wrestlemania. Jericho was evil here, putting Stacy in the Walls of Jericho and drilling Shawn with chairs.
Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels
Shawn brings a confetti gun with him. Oh ok he has them throughout the entrance to fire his own pyro. Cute kind of. Shawn gets pyro that goes around the back of the stadium when he does his in ring pose. That’s pretty cool. The fans are into Shawn of course as they have some mat stuff going on to start us off. Shawn lays on the top rope which is something I always found funny.
Headlock takes Jericho to the mat and out he goes to the floor. Shawn teases a plancha but Jericho sees it coming. Shawn stops and goes with a baseball slide instead. Back in a cross body gets two for Jericho as he rolls through Shawn’s move. Jericho hammers away but can’t get the bulldog. Shawn busts out a figure four and Jericho is in trouble.
After that doesn’t last long a headscissors puts Jericho on the floor, allowing Shawn to hit his plancha. Jericho counters and locks on the Walls on the floor. Shawn’s back goes into the post and HBK is in trouble. Jericho gets another dropkick to keep Shawn on the floor. Shawn’s back is the target now and it’s all Jericho. The cocky pin doesn’t work so we go to the chinlock.
Shawn reverses a suplex into a DDT but he can’t get up. Once he finally does, Jericho adds a forearm and the Nip Up. Shawn Nips Up also and then does it again. There’s the moonsault press for a long two. We get the always classic pinfall reversal sequence, resulting in a Walls attempt but Shawn kicks him off instead.
Northern Lights Suplex gets two for Jericho but Shawn bridges up for a backslide. Jericho reverses that and takes Shawn does to retain control. Lionsault gets two and Shawn starts his comeback. Rana misses though and it’s into the Walls for Shawn. Shawn makes the rope but his back is destroyed. Backbreaker sets up a top rope back elbow for no cover.
Instead Jericho Tunes up the Band. A fairly awesome Sweet Chin Music puts Shawn down for two and Jericho isn’t sure what to do next. Shawn gets a cross body out of the corner and some rights to buy himself some time. Shawn teases the Walls of Jericho but goes with a slingshot instead, sending Jericho into the post. Jericho tries a belly to back off the top but Shawn spins over into a cross body for a long two.
Shawn goes up and gets crotched via the referee being sent into the rope. Superplex is blocked though as Shawn shoves him off and there’s the elbow. Time to Tune up the Band again but the kick misses and it’s into the Walls again. A rope is grabbed and Jericho tries to beg to the referee. Chris walks into Sweet Chin Music though and down he goes but Shawn can’t cover. Both guys are back up and Jericho sends him into the corner. Shawn flips over and gets his feet under Jericho’s shoulders, rolling him backwards to end this finally.
Rating: A-. Definitely a great match, but not an all time classic. HBK shows he still can go at Mania and Jericho has one of the best matches of his life here as he’s totally into this. The only thing missing was the superkick to end it for Shawn, but this might have been better, not sure yet.
Jericho kicks Shawn in the balls post match, cranking his heel rating up by about 10.
Last month at no Way Out the show was in Montreal, there was a French ref that screwed Hogan out of the rematch with the Rock by helping Vince. He heads into Vince’s locker room.
Goldberg debuts at Backlash. That may have been the biggest flop in company history. It turns out he fought Rock in Rock’s last match before he left to make another movie, thereby more or less ending his time as an active wrestler.
New attendance record of over 54,000. Impressive again.
Limp Biskit performs AGAIN, and somehow the people couldn’t care less than they did the first time. This goes on 5 minutes.
Torrie’s Playboy came out two days later. We see clips of a news conference. We get the Catfight between the Catfight Girls and Torrie/Stacy. Coach gets stripped down to his underwear, as do the rest of the girls. Not a real match, not an interesting segment. The only thing good about this is Stacy’s Legs music which I always liked.
Time to talk about the Raw World title. This show has been on for nearly two hours and this literally hasn’t been mentioned until now. There hasn’t been a graphic, there hasn’t been hype, there hasn’t been an interview. If that’s not proof that the title matches aren’t the biggest on the card, I don’t know what is.
The idea here is that they’re playing up Booker’s hard life growing up vs. HHH’s privileged lifestyle. Booker pinned him on Raw in a tag match. Nothing about this match screams Mania at all. Unforgiven or Judgement Day maybe, but not Wrestlemania.
Raw World Title: Booker T vs. HHH
Oh and Booker pinned HHH on Raw this past week. I forgot about that but it’s not like it’s going to matter. HHH has the purple tights on here too. Poor Booker. He actually thinks he has a chance here. We hear about his hard life and how he worked his way up to become a 5 time WCW Champion. Jerry: HHH told us how much of a joke that place was. Ross: I worked in WCW. You didn’t. How would you know it was a joke? Jerry: Was it a joke? Ross: Darn right it was! Too funny.
They slug it out in the corner to start with Booker having a slight advantage. HHH actually goes up top and gets arm dragged down. Out to the floor now and the champion goes into the post. Back in and a clothesline gets two for Booker. Now we talk about the Fink for no apparent reason. HHH sends Booker to the apron and rams his head into the post to take over.
Jerry keeps making prison/court jokes about Booker. Neckbreaker by HHH gets two and he lays in the shots. The fans chant for Booker so HHH hits a spinebuster on him to quiet that down and get two in the process. Big clothesline in the corner gets the same. Suplex gets reversed and Booker hits a DDT and Lawler makes fun of Booker again. Ross has to stop himself from saying GD which gets Lawler laughing.
Side slam gets no cover for Booker but a spinning forearm gets two. Sleeper by HHH doesn’t work but a high knee does. It’s been mainly the champion in control here. Facebuster connects but HHH walks into a spinebuster for two. HHH tries to go up again and jumps into a jump kick by Booker for two. Axe kick and side kick misses, the latter of which sends Booker to the floor.
Flair drills Booker’s knee into the stairs to give HHH something to work on. HHH busts out an inverted Indian Death Lock which you won’t see for years. HHH, love him or hate him, is almost as old school as you get. Off to a regular one as Booker is in trouble. For those of you unfamiliar, the best way I can put it is a Sharpshooter with the legs instead of the arms and legs and less torque on the back. It doesn’t matter as a rope is grabbed.
HHH tries to send him into the corner and Booker collapses. Knee crusher is reversed into a sunset flip for two as the fans pop big for it. Pedigree is countered but Booker is launched into the referee who stays down for about a second. Must not have been planned. Booker gets a jumping back elbow and his leg is fine now. Scissors kick puts HHH down as now the leg hurts again. That gets two.
Booker goes up but Flair interferes to let HHH get to Mr. T. Superplex is blocked and Booker hits the Harlem (Houston here) Hangover for no count as Flair puts the foot on the ropes. Naturally, as after all HHH isn’t allowed to lose the title for a very long time right? Booker’s knee gives way and HHH hits the Pedigree. Twenty five seconds later HHH puts his hand on Booker and retains. Well of course he does.
Rating: C+. This was around the time that HHH was trying to expand his moveset to include things like the sleeper, Indian deathlock and DDT. They’re ok, but he wanted them as extra finishers and that just didn’t work. It was a very weird time in his career right now and this match it the crowning glory of that time. It’s clear here that Booker wasn’t going to win the title and was being fed to HHH. If you want to see the time where people say HHH was taking over the company, here is exhibit A.
WM 20 is going to be at Madison Square Garden. That is where it belongs.
We recap Hogan vs. Vince. If Hogan loses, he retires…again. This is billed as 20 years in the making, despite this being the 19th year of Mania. The fight is over who should get the credit for Mania, both the Hulka and Wrestle varities. That’s a thread that was great when it was done and I’d like to see a replay of it.
Anyway, this is a street fight for obvious purposes. It’s also the match that sold this show, but in WWE logic, that can’t go on last of course as they didn’t learn from last year. While obviously this isn’t the entire story, the more I see of this the more I think Hulk should get more credit. Based on the video alone, this should be the main event.
Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon
Hogan comes out to Voodoo Child. Are you serious? WWE owns the rights to the most legendary theme song in wrestling history and they use Voodoo Child? The pop is barely even there which surprises me. The fans are into it, but there’s not much special.
To top it all off, he comes out first. Seriously? I know Vince isn’t a fan of Hogan’s but this is absurd. Once they say his name he gets a pop, but I really think the fans didn’t know who he was at first. Hogan, nice guy that he is, rips up a Vince Still Sucks sign.To say McMahon is ripped is an understatement.
Hogan takes him down with a clothesline to start and we get some “ground and pound.” Vince fights back and hammers away, working on the arm. They’re moving incredibly slowly right now too. The arm goes around the post as we talk about the steroids trial in the early 90s, which according to Stephanie was like 9/11. Test of strength goes on and Hogan fights back up.
They ram chests like Warrior and Hogan but once again Vince kicks him in the gut to bring him back to his knees. Vince having a muscular man on his knees. Make your own jokes here. Hogan fights up for the third time and gets kicked in the ribs again and sent to the floor. Vince hammers away even more and has been in control the majority of the match here.
Chair shot to Hogan misses and Vince is rammed into the post instead. The chair drills Vince as Hulk takes over for a bit. Vince is busted open so Hogan hammers away. Crowd is into this too. Another chair to the back and down goes Vince. Hogan misses a chair shot and the Spanish Announcer takes it in the head. That’s what he gets for putting stuff on their table I guess.
Low blow by Vince shifts control again and he grabs the chair. And now Vince sets up a ladder. This cannot end well at all. He sets it between the tables and Hogan is laid out on the Spanish Announce Table with a monitor shot to the head. Vince climbs up, does the hand to the ear, and drops a leg onto Hogan, leaving both people laying.
After they lay around for about two minutes off of that, Vince rolls him back in and gets two for a big (although what should be an unsurprised) pop. Vince’s face is creepy from that. He goes under the ring and luckily finds a lead pipe. We get the famous shot of Vince’s crazy/evil eyes as he slowly rises up above the apron to get back in.
Hogan, ever the hero, gets a low blow to make Vince drop the pipe. A guy runs in through the crowd in a hood and pulls it off, revealing Rowdy Roddy Piper. Well he belongs in the discussion I guess. He picks up the pipe and drills Hogan with it, I guess being a heel. Piper is fathere too. Piper leaves and that gets two, putting us right back to where we were before Piper got here.
The referee steps on the pipe so Vince can’t use it. It’s a street fight so anything goes right? Vince drills him and waves down another referee. He gets two: an actual referee and the aforementioned French referee (future tag champion Sylvan Grenier). Another pipe shot and leg drop get two as Hulk Hulks Up. Down goes the French dude to the power of AMERICA. Hogan drops THREE leg drops and this is finally over.
Rating: B. While not the legendary classic it gets credit for, this was very fun indeed. Piper makes little to no sense to me at all here. Stupidly enough, it led to a feud between Hogan and Piper/Sean O’Haire. Really? Anyway, this was a very fun fight all day. I never really thought Vince would win, but it was fun to believe in him for awhile. Biggest flaw for me though: that freaking Voodoo Child song. HULK HOGAN’S MUSIC IS REAL AMERICAN. Anyone could tell you that. So freaking stupid.
Shane comes out to check on his dad. Yeah that’s all he’s here for. Seriously, he does nothing else.
We recap Rock vs. Austin. What recap do you need here? This match is the epitome of a grudge match. The idea here is simple: Rock has never beat Austin in a big match, namely at WM. He has done it all but defeat his arch rival and it’s killing him. This would have been so much more effective had it been 1-1 at Mania for them.
The problem for me was simple. So what if Rock wins? It’s still 2-1 Austin and Austin beat him twice for the title. That doesn’t exactly scream even to me. This is a weird thing to do here as Rock is finally (get it?) as big as Austin as far as star power despite Austin being so far past his prime he can’t even see it and Rock would be gone in a month, but he’s finally the true heel here and it’s one on one.
This whole match is built on Rock needing to win and getting more and more desperate to do it. They’re both nowhere near as good as they were 2-3 years ago, but they’re still very solid.
This gets the music video treatment but it doesn’t pack anywhere near the punch of My Way.
Steve Austin vs. The Rock
This is Austin’s last match as today. Austin comes off his fourth corner and turns around to see Rock waiting on him. This is the first time Austin came out second I think. There’s the bell and these two at Mania just feel right. They slug it out and Austin takes control, shocking no one. Stunner misses early and we hit the floor. We go to the Smackdown table with Austin beating Rock to death.
Rock goes into the steps and takes a belly to back suplex in the ring. We get into the wrestler vs. actor debate which is rather interesting indeed. This match has DQs mind you. Rock gets a shot to Austin’s knee which I think is his first offense of the match so far. Out to the floor again and Rock gets a second chop block to take Austin down.
After some more knee work on the floor Rock sends him into the ring again and stomps away. Austin fires off some punches but lowers his head and Rock takes the knee out again to stop Austin’s momentum. Sharpshooter goes on and Austin is in trouble. Hebner is the referee so I’d listen for a quick bell. Rock might take that….something or other to Hollywood and Vince might not get to make a bombing movie out of it.
Ross goes OFF on Jerry about talking about Hollywood so much. Rock wraps Austin’s leg around the post again and throws on Austin’s vest. Oh my stars and garter belts. Austin fights back and it’s a double clothesline to put both of them down. Back up and they slug it out with the knee seemingly fine again. I guess that’s a Texan thing. Thesz Press and Austin hammers away.
FU Elbow gets two, probably because it’s just an elbow drop. Austin stomps a mudhole but Rock hits a clothesline and nips up. Austin gets a Rock Bottom out of nowhere to the Rock as he’s still in the vest. That gets two. Stunner is blocked but Rock gets the Stunner for two of his own. That should be a scoring system in the event of a tie.
Rock hammers away but the final punch misses and it’s a Stunner by Austin for a long two. Austin tosses the referee away to get to Rock but Rock gets a low blow and it’s time for the People’s Elbow. Austin moves out of the way but can’t get another Stunner. The second People’s Elbow (minus the jacket) gets two, likely because it’s just an elbow drop.
Both guys are spent and Rock is getting up first. The fans are all over the Rock here. Rock Bottom hits but only gets two and a big pop. Rock is stunned. See what I did there? Another Rock Bottom somehow gets two and Rock doesn’t know what to do. A third Rock Bottom FINALLY ends Austin and the Rock has finally gotten the win at Wrestlemania over Austin.
Rating: B+. This is a tricky one. It’s a far cry from their epic wars before and is a joke compared to their match two years ago, but this was a different kind of match. I shortchanged this before but this is a good match. Rock was the star here, which granted has to do with him being 30 and Austin being 39 here. They beat the heck out of each other and while Austin was a shell of his former self he was still good here. Good match and a good way to close out Austin’s career.
Austin gets the big sendoff as I think it was kind of understood that he was done at this point.
We recap Angle vs. Lesnar. Lesnar won the Rumble to get here and Kurt is champion. Kurt had thrown Team Angle at Lesnar a bunch and kept ticking Lesnar off, including switching places with his brother to get a pin on Brock in a title match. This is more or less a dream match and if anyone interferes, if Kurt gets counted out or disqualified, he loses the title.
Smackdown World Title: Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar
And here we are. FINALLY it’s the last match of the show but the fans are so drained they don’t even know what’s going on anymore. Kurt had reinjured his neck but instead of being out for a year and you know, really getting it fixed, he got a quick fix, resulting in him likely being on the verge of death every time he gets in the ring. There was a real chance this was his last match. Cole’s voice is almost completely gone here. Lesnar of course has a rib injury. My goodness when did he not have a rib injury?
Brock debuted the night after Mania the year before (which was in mid March but we’ll call it a year still) so this is an incredible rookie year for him. We get both of their resumes and they’re incredibly impressive to say the least. Tito Ortiz is in the front row. All of a sudden a lot of the ground and pound and submission stuff just got a lot funnier.
Shocking no one they go to the mat and technical stuff early. It’s so weird to see guys that are awesome at what they do with that stuff and have it look this good. Angle tries the headlock but Lesnar easily overpowers him. Kurt is moving very gingerly here. Brock fires off those shoulders in the corner and gets a powerslam for two.
Angle snaps off a suplex but Brock is right back up almost immediately. Out to the floor with Kurt trying to run. By the power of Akbar though, IT’S A TRAP and Kurt drills Brock as he comes in to take over. Brock is like screw that and gets a gorilla press to take over again. Angle Germans Brock into the buckle in an awesome spot. Brock gets pounded down on the floor for a bit.
Belly to back gets two in the ring. A vertical version of it gets two as well. Kurt grabs a modified STF that has Brock in agony. It shifts off into a chinlock as Angle loses the leg hold. Modified camel clutch now which furthers the pain in the ribs. Can’t say Kurt doesn’t have psychology going for him. Brock stands up and rams Kurt’s back into the corner to break the hold.
Belly to belly by Kurt reinjures Lesnar’s ribs as does a knee to the back. A second sends Brock to the floor. Back in Angle runs into a spinebuster Brock comes back and hammers away with the power but runs into an elbow. BIG belly to belly sends Angle flying as does a second one. Those get two and probably another neck surgery for Kurt.
Angle grabs Rolling Germans out of nowhere, each time landing on the back of his head and neck. This time it’s 4 suplexes though and both guys are spent. Neither finisher can hit with the F5 being countered into the ankle lock. That gets shifted to the half crab which is probably a stupid move by Kurt given the position he had Brock in. Cole’s voice is gone. Get that man some tea.
Kurt charges but gets backdropped to the floor to give Brock a chance to breathe. Brock takes over but Angle gets one HECK of a German suplex, flipping Lesnar onto his stomach in the air for two. There go the straps and the Angle Slam hits, naturally, for two. Cole says that’s the first time anyone has kicked out of it. Something tells me that’s nonsense.
Brock counters another Slam attempt into a small package that Taz calls a Spladle or something like that. Yeah it was a small package. F5 out of nowhere gets two as the crowd is finally into this. Ankle Lock goes on and gets the grapevine. Wow so someone actually did escape this. Ankle lock is avoided, as is the Slam. HUGE F5 puts Angle down, but Brock goes up instead.
We now get the sickest looking spot in a good many years at any show as Lesnar, weighing nearly 300lbs and being dead tired goes to the top rope. Now when I originally watched this, I had seen Lesnar down in OVW use a shooting star press and it was the best thing I’d ever seen in a wrestling ring, but there was no way I could ever believe he would throw one out at Wrestle-freaking-mania.
Of course he did though, but he shows why he shouldn’t, as he under-rotates and lands on his head. I don’t care who you are, that is sick looking. Luckily Angle is smart enough to cover him here to keep the match going. Right there, if Lesnar had gotten pinned I don’t think anyone would have been able to say a word to him.
They show the replay from another camera angle and you can hear Taz absolutely freak over it. That was indeed one of the sickest looking things I’ve ever seen. Lesnar hits another F5 and gets the win. Post match, Lesnar’s eyes show that he is absolutely gone. He has no clue where he is and it looks bad. Angle shakes his hand and fireworks play us out. Clearly not the planned finish but they did what they could and it made sense given the circumstances.
Rating: A-. These guys nearly killed each other, literally. One of those suplexes goes bad and Angle dies, Lesnar nearly killed himself on the ending. This was a great match though, but the ending just stops it in its tracks and it really hurts things. Had that landed, this is a definite A. It’s certainly worth watching though.
Brock is handed the title and is absolutely gone. I doubt he knew his name at this point.
Overall Rating: B. This went back and forth for me. It’s definitely good, but it’s far from great. It ended well with the face taking the gold like he should have, but the booking for this show was absolutely terrible. What this show desperately needed was a first half main event. Look at your final five matches: HBK/Jericho (best wrestling on the card by far), HHH vs. Booker T (Raw Title), Street Fight (the real main event), Austin/Rock (no explanation needed) and Lesnar/Angle (SD Title).
You can clearly see the problem. There’s no chance at all to catch your breath here and it’s very draining. A filler, like say Taker’s match in between there somewhere and another like the triple threat tag match, or even the Raw Tag Titles from Heat would have nearly saved this show. Maybe a segment or something like that also. Either way, the second half of this show is WAY too packed and it hurts things badly. The show is good, but I’d watch it out of order. Recommended, but not as great as it’s made out to be.