Torch Flashbacks KELLER'S WWE WRESTLEMANIA 19 REPORT (3/30/03): Lesnar vs. Angle classic, Rock vs. Austin, Hogan vs. McMahon, Michaels vs. Jericho
Mar 22, 2008 - 11:02:58 AM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
KELLER'S WWE WRESTLEMANIA XIX
MARCH 30, 2003
LIVE FROM SEATTLE, WASH.
HEAT: WRESTLEMANIA PREGAME
On Heat, which was hosted by Johnathan Coachman and Lita live from Seattle, they had the usual array of pretaped hype, but also a live rap from John Cena, and angle with Nathan Jones, and the Raw tag team title match.
-Cena cut a rap promo on cardboard cutouts of Jay Z and Fabolous. He concluded regarding Fabolous that he is "a bad idea just like the XFL."
-As Tommy Dreamer was giving Nathan Jones a pep talk backstage, Nunzio bumped into him. Then he showed Jones that he stole his wallet. Nunzio ran away, luring Jones into a back room where Big Show and A-Train attacked him.
-Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler took over as announcers for the tag title match.
A -- BUBBA RAY & D-VON DUDLEY vs. ROB VAN DAM & KANE
They broke to a commercial break one minute into the match. Considering all of the commercials during the first 45 minutes of the show, it seemed ill-timed and excessive. Kane chokeslammed Storm at 9:00. RVD followed up by climbing to the top rope, but Morley shoved him to the floor. The Dudleys then came out. Bubba Ray interfered to cost RVD the match. D-Von was upset with Bubba. They cut away immediately before the situation could play itself out since they were running out of time on the first hour.
Ashanti sang America the Beautiful.
Jim Ross opened the show with thanks for the troops overseas.
A WrestleMania video feature aired.
1 -- MATT HARDY vs. REY MYSTERIO JR. - Cruiserweight Title match.
Matt Facts: "This is Matt's Fourth WrestleMania" and "Matt Often wonders how they ever did WrestleMania without him." Okay, but a special event like WrestleMania calls for a bonus Matt Fact. They opened with non-stop highspots including Shannon Moore interfering on Matt's behalf. At 3:00 Matt dropped Rey with a Twist of Fate for a near fall. Rey nailed Matt with the 619 at 4:00, but Matt ducked the West Coast Pop attempt. Matt pinned Rey to retain the title with a grip on the ropes for leverage at 4:30.
STAR RATING: **1/4 -- Very good for a five minute match, but extremely disappointing that on a four hour show they couldn't give the cruiserweight title match at least 15 minutes. If another promotion were to ever put Vince McMahon out of business, I'd hope they did it using cruiserweights because that's the only way McMahon would ever understand what he's missing out on by downplaying that division as he has for decades now.
-Limp Bizkit performed Undertaker's theme song. Taker rode out on his motorcycle and entered the ring with the lead singer.
2 -- UNDERTAKER & NATHAN JONES vs. BIG SHOW & A-TRAIN
Taker chokeslammed A-Train in the opening seconds and scored a near fall. Big Show yanked Taker off of A-Train. No sign of Jones at the start of the match. Apparently a little eight second beatdown in the locker room is enough to keep him away from the ring for the biggest match of his career. Taker walked the top rope and came down onto Train's arm. Show interfered, giving Train a chance to give a Tigerbomb to Taker. Show rammed Taker into the ringpost at ringside. At 3:00 Show tagged in. Show went for a chokeslam, but Taker reversed it into an armbar. When Train interfered, Taker locked him in an armbar. Show then legdropped Taker across the face. The two heels stomped away at him. At 4:31, this match reached the distinguished point of being given more time at WM than the Cruiserweight Title match. Train locked Taker in an abdominal stretch at 5:15. At 7:45 Taker began his comeback beating up both Show and Train at the same time. He gave Train a Big boot, then ducked a Show clothesline and nailed Show with a flying clothesline. Train then blindsided Taker with a big boot to the face. Show got up and chokeslammed Taker. Jones ran down to the ring. Show attempted to cut him off, but Jones kicked Show. Jones hen entered the ring and gave Train a big boot from a stationary position. Taker then picked up Train (barely) and gave him the Tombstone for the win.
WINNER: Undertaker & Jones at 9:44.
STAR RATING: *1/2 -- Average action at best. The finish was predictable. Taker got to keep his WrestleMania undefeated streak alive, although it's a bit tainted needing Jones's help to win. After all, Taker managed to fend off both opponents for nearly 10 minutes without him.
-Jim Ross told the troops they are doing the right thing and to "kick ass" and get home as soon as possible.
3 -- VICTORIA (w/Steven Richards) vs. JAZZ vs. TRISH STRATUS - WWE Women's Title
Someone must've sent Jim Ross a letter about commenting on Richards and Victoria "needing psychiatric care" because after noting that this time, he added, "Not that there's anything wrong with that." As Victoria and Richards posed in the ring before the bell, Jazz attacked them from behind. Jazz was her usual aggressive self. Victoria powerslammed Jazz at 2:10 for a near fall. Jazz went for a reverse sidekick on Trish, but Trish ducked so the kick dropped Victoria instead. When Jazz put Trish in the STF at 5:30, Richards intervened. Jazz tossed Trish around the ring, but then Victoria nailed Jazz with a kick. However, when she followed up with a moonsault, Jazz moved out the way. Victoria backdropped Jazz over the top rope. Richards went to swing a chair at Jazz, but the chair hit the top rope and bounced into his own face. Victoria then put Trish in an inverted bodyvice. Trish came back quickly and scored the pin on Victoria.
WINNER: Trish Stratus at 7:20 to capture the Women's Title.
STAR RATING: ** -- Strong seven minute women's match. Jazz showed up everyone else with her intensity and relentlessness.
-They cut backstage to Johnathan Coachman interviewing Rock backstage. Instead of a pop, Rock was met by silence and eventually some boos. Rock said Austin may have beat him the last two times they met at WrestleMania, but he said he learned in Hollywood that nobody remembers acts one and two. He said tonight is act three, and that's all people will remember. He said this is the final chapter of the greatest feud in history. When he was about to say his "Finally, the Rock..." routine, he took off his sunglasses and welled up a few tears. He put his sunglasses back on and walked off before finishing. My guess is he was establishing that he was getting emotional because that was his final WrestleMania promo, but that's just a guess. Maybe it was the start of his attempt to get cheered over Austin later, showing he learned from what Hulk Hogan did to him last year.
4 -- TEAM ANGLE vs. RHYNO & CHRIS BENOIT vs. EDDIE & CHAVO GUERRERO - WWE Smackdown Tag Team Title Match.
The match opened with a six-way brawl. Benoit suplexed Guerrero off the top rope. He then hit three consecutive German suplexes on Chavo, but Benjamin quickly nailed Benoit to stop his momentum. Benoit, in other words, has learned nothing from the Edge, Austin, and Angle situations. Rhyno tagged in at 8:00 and gave the Gore to Chavo, leading to Benjamin scoring the opportunistic pin.
WINNER: Team Angle at 8:35.
STAR RATING: *** -- What you'd expect from these six in an eight minute match, although it seemed to be just getting going when they went to the finish.
-Torrie Wilson and Stacy, and the Miller Lite Girls - who oogled over each other earlier in the night - argued about who they thought would win between Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan.
5 -- SHAWN MICHAELS vs. CHRIS JERICHO
Ross talked about Michaels's WWE history, including the back surgery that temporarily ended his career. They opened match with five minutes paced well, but in a way that suggested the match would go long. At 6:45 Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho at ringside as the ref counted toward ten. Jericho then rammed Michaels's back into the ringpost. As Michaels attempted to reenter the ring, Jericho gave him a springboard dropkick. Jericho slapped Michaels and yelled, "I'm better than you! I'm better than you!" At 10:00 Jericho settled into a chinlock. Michaels signalled the crowd for support as he rose to his feet. Michaels DDT'd Jericho to escape at 10:45. At 11:30 Jericho knocked Michaels down, nipped up, and then struck an HBK-like post. Michaels then nipped up and took control with a backdrop. Jericho charged into Michaels who lifted his boot. Michaels then hit Jericho with a moonsault for a two count. They hit a series of four near falls - two each - on reversals on the mat. Michaels went for a back suplex, but Jericho escaped. Michaels elbowed out, but Jericho gave him an overhead suplex for a near fall. Michaels bridged out Flair-Steamboat style at 13:30. At 14:00 Jericho hit his Lionsault for a two count. Jericho reversed out of a Michaels huracanrana attempt and applied the Walls of Jericho in center ring. "HBK" chants broke out. Michaels reached the ropes. Jericho flew off the top rope with a standing elbow to Michaels's chest. At 16:40 Jericho nailed Michaels with a Superkick, prompting Ross to say, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." A minute later Michaels went for the Walls of Jericho, but he catapulted Jericho into the ringpost and scored a two count. Michaels and Jericho came off the top rope at the same time, with Michaels landing on top of Jericho and scoring a two count. Jericho went for a superplex at 19:30, but Michaels shoved him off. Michaels then mounted the top rope and hit his top rope elbow. He then pounded the mat with his right foot and went for Sweet Chin Music, but Jericho ducked. Jericho then put Michaels in the Walls of Jericho. Michaels almost reached the bottom rope, but Jericho dragged him back to the middle. Michaels again reached for the bottom rope and grabbed it successfully at 21:00. An exhausted Michaels flipped out of a Jericho suplex attempt and rolled up Jericho for a three count. Jericho rose and began crying. Michaels offered a handshape. Instead, Jericho opted for a hug. Ross declared it great sportsmanship which assured that Jericho would turn on Michaels. Sure enough, he low-blowed Michaels, which prompted Ross to call him a "sick, pathetic loser."
WINNER: Michaels at 22:34.
STAR RATING: ****1/4 -- Excellent match. Surprising finish in the sense that now is the time to elevate stars who can draw at house shows every weekend, but the match was good enough that not much damage was likely done. For not wrestling often over the past several months, Michaels delivered a nearly prime-of-his-career-level performance. The match lived up to expectations.
-Backstage the French-Canadian referee entered Vince McMahon's office with a big smile on his face.
-A Goldberg promo aired with highlights of his Nitro days with a plug that he will be wrestling on Backlash in April. They played the same music he always used. The footage brought on a "Goldberg" chant.
-The ring announcer said WrestleMania set a new SafeCo Fieldhouse attendance record of 54,097.
-Limp Bizkit performed the WrestleMania theme song.
-The Miller Lite Girls were placed on an oversized bed on the entrance stage, but before they could have a pillow fight, Stacy walked out and interrupted. "The only thing I can think of that is better than two girls in bed is three," she said. Torrie then walked out and said the only thing missing is a Playboy cover girl. Torrie ripped off Stacy's top revealing her bra. Torrie spanked Stacy as the Miller Lite Girls ripped off each other's shirts and hit each other with pillows. Coachman did play-by-play. At one point they rolled on top of Coachman, then ripped off his pants, revealing his white briefs. The women teamed up to pin him for a three count, then hit him with pillows. The women then raised each other's arms in victory as Coachman pulled his pants up.
6 -- TRIPLE H (w/Ric Flair) vs. BOOKER T
Before the match, Ross and Lawler talked about what a big joke WCW was, which did a lot to build up Booker T's rep, huh? Booker T armdragged Hunter off the ropes at 1:45. They went to ringside briefly. Back in the ring Booker hit a couple roundhouse kicks to Hunter's head, but the kicks didn't look particularly good. He followed with a spin wheel kick, which Hunter ducked. Hunter then knocked Booker to ringside at 3:15. Hunter rammed Booker into the ringside stairs. Hunter began methodically punching and stomping Booker. Booker fought back at 6:30 with some punches and a DDT. Booker nailed Hunter with a jump spin wheel kick followed by a sidewalk slam and a flying forearm for a two count. At 9:15 Booker caught Hunter with a boot as he was coming off the top rope. Flair rammed Booker's knee into the ringside stairs. Flair then spazzed out at ringside. Hunter applied an Indian Death Lock at 11:20, a move he hasn't used before on any big shows. Ross pointed out that he hasn't seen the hold in years. Booker punched out of it pretty quickly. Hunter then applied an inverted version of the leglock. Booker attempted to crawl to the ropes, but Hunter held his ground. After about 30 seconds, Booker made it to the bottom rope, forcing a break. Hunter continued to methodically work over Booker's leg. By 14:00 Booker couldn't even put weight on his leg. When Hunter went for a Pedigree, Booker kicked out of it. Booker then came back with his scissors kick. He slowly rolled onto Hunter and scored a two count at 15:36. When Booker began to climb to the top rope, Flair intervened, but Booker punched him away. Hunter, though, recovered and knocked Booker off balance, then went for a superplex. Booker punched out of it, fended off Flair once more, and then hit his Harlem Hangover legdrop flip onto Hunter. Rather than go for a pin, Booker grasped at his knee. Hunter was the first to his feet, and he gave Booker a Pedigree at 18:30. He was too spent to make a pin attempt at first, though. Flair yelled encouragement to Hunter. Hunter draped his hand over Booker's chest and scored the three count. Booker kept selling his knee.
WINNER: Hunter at 18:50 to retain the WWE Title.
STAR RATING: ***1/4 -- Good match. After 10 minutes of back and forth action in "act one" of the match, Hunter dominated "act two" by working over his leg for five minutes, setting up "act three" which saw Booker's spirited comeback fall just short due to his knee being too weak to support him. Since they're likely going to set up Goldberg as the babyface chasing Raw champ Hunter, it makes sense not to go to Booker with the title. If they aren't going to give Booker a full-fledged six month-plus commitment as the top babyface, no sense giving him the title only to take it away a few weeks or a month later.
7 -- VINCE MCMAHON vs. HULK HOGAN
Give credit to Vince McMahon. Even though he hyped his own match as the main event, at least he had the self-awareness to not put his match on last (after some cajoling I assume, since at one point last week this was scheduled to go on last). Vince entered the ring second and had a staredown with Hogan, who seemed to be getting welled up with emotion. Vince slapped Hogan. Hogan tackled Vince. Hogan choked Vince. Vince came back with a bad looking clothesline (both of their faults) and then a horrible looking tackle in the corner on Hogan. Vince began some boxing-style punches and jabs at Hogan. Hogan went to the mat, where Vince kneed his arm from behind a few times. Cole and Tazz marvelled at McMahon's conditioning and physique. At 4:00 McMahon beat Hogan in a test of strength, and when Hogan began to fight back, McMahon kicked him in the gut. Hogan began another comeback and Vince began panicking, but again kicked Hogan in the gut. Vince must not take much pride in his legs because he wore black jeans, which didn't help his mobility (and were probably quite hot to wrestle in). They went to ringside where Hogan continued to pound away at Hogan, including ramming him into the ringpost. The crowd was booing McMahon at times, but for the most part didn't seem to know what to make of this 58 year old non-wrestler beating up in a fair fight the multi-time, multi-federation world champion nearly ten years his junior. Hogan fought back at 7:00 and grabbed a chair and bashed McMahon across the forehead. McMahon, of course, came up bleeding. Hogan continued to bash Vince with the chair, but eventually McMahon ducked and the chair hit Hugo Savinovich. McMahon then came back with a low blow. He then pulled out a ladder and set it up at ringside. McMahon bashed Hogan in the forehead with a ringside monitor. McMahon climbed the ladder and sat on the top. He then cupped his ear sarcastically and the crowd responded with a cascade of booing. McMahon then leaped onto Hogan on the table with a legdrop. The table broke and a "Holy Sh--" chant broke out among some ringsiders. No one can accuse Vince of not protecting Hogan because his impact leg was bent so much it showed a ton of light (just as all of Hogan's legdrops did over the years). They showed a bloody Hugo being helped from ringside. In the ring Vince covered a bloodied Hogan for a two count at 13:40. He tried another cover, but Hogan kicked out again. Tazz said if you can't beat a man by hitting a legdrop off a ladder through a table, how could you possibly win? Vince then got out a lead pipe. The camera zoomed in on Vince's bloodied scheming face. He entered the ring and wound up, but Hogan hit Vince with a low-blow. With both Hogan and Vince down, a man in a trench coat entered the ring. He disrobed and the crowd popped as they realized it was Roddy Piper. He nailed Hogan with the lead pipe, turning heel and prompting cat calls from the crowd. Vince crawled to the writhing Hogan and draped his arm over Hogan. Unlike Booker T, Hogan was man enough to lift his shoulder before the third count. McMahon reached for the pipe again, but ref Brian Hebner stepped on it. Because it was a street fight, it was actually legal. McMahon attempted to throw Hebner through the ropes to ringside, but he got caught up in the ropes. McMahon stomped away at him and then tried again, this time successfully throwing him through the ropes. McMahon hit Hogan with the pipe as the French-Canadian ref replaced the original. McMahon hit a legdrop and scored a two count. The crowd popped for Hogan's kick out. Hogan began his superman comeback, which popped the crowd. He waved his finger at McMahon, punched Vince, then punched away at the evil ref and threw him over the top rope. McMahon bashed Hogan from behind with a double-axe handle, but Hogan no-sold it. Hogan hit the Big Boot, then the legdrop, then two more legdrops, and scored the pin.
WINNER: Hulk Hogan at 20:53.
STAR RATING: **3/4 -- I don't think there was even one traditional bump in the match and they wrestled like 49 and 58 year olds, but the blood and storytelling abilities of Hogan and Vince carried the match, not to mention sheer inspired effort. The Piper twist was a good touch considering his history dating back 18 years to the original.
-Shane McMahon walked to the ring in a suit and tie. Hogan held the ropes open for Shane, then left the ring. Shane bent over and checked on his bloodied father. Vince raised his head and gave Hogan the finger. Shane glared at Hogan. Hogan smiled.
8 -- THE ROCK vs. STEVE AUSTIN
After a staredown, the bell rang and Austin punched away at Rock. They fought at ringside where Austin whipped Rock into the ringpost. At 2:00 they returned to the ring where Austin continued to work over Rock, including choking him over the middle rope. Ross talked about the history of the rivalry. Rock clipped Austin from behind as the ref scolded Austin for not breaking his choke soon enough. Austin bailed to ringside to rest his knee. Rock chop-blocked Austin from behind once again. At 6:45 Rock applied the Sharpshooter. Austin reached the bottom rope. Rock put on Austin's ring jacket and drank some beer. Back in the ring Austin ducked a Rock clothesline and then fired back with one of his own. Austin nailed Rock with a Thesz Press at 9:30. He then hit Rock with a flurry of punches. He gave the ref the double middle fingers when he admonished him. After a kneedrop, Rock kicked out of Austin's pin attempt. Rock made a comeback, which drew boos. Austin surprised Rock with a chokeslam. When Rock got to his feet, Austin went for a gut kick to set up the Stunner, but Rock caught his leg, spun him around, and gave him a Stunner. Rock hooked Austin's leg, but Austin kicked out at two. Rock began punching away at Austin, but Austin surprised Rock with a Stunner at 13:00 leading to a near fall. Austin shoved the ref out of his way, but was met with a Rock low-blow. Rock began bragging about how smart he was to think of the low blow. Rock milked the moment, took off his left elbow pad and threw it to the crowd, and went for the People's Elbow. Austin moved. Rock, though, put Austin down again, took off his other elbow pad, and hit the People's Elbow successfully. He scored a two count. Rock followed up with a Rock Bottom for another near fall. Austin clutched the back of his head and neck. Rock got serious and waited for Austin to rise. He went for another Rock Bottom, but Austin escaped. Rock, though, gave Austin a second Rock Bottom and scored a very near fall. Ross screamed, "I don't believe it! How did Austin kick out!" Austin was slow to get up. Rock waited patiently, yet intensely. Austin rose at 17:30. Rock set up a third Rock Bottom and delivered. Austin laid flat for the three count. "It took three Rock Bottoms, but Rock has finally broken the jinx and defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania." Rock celebrated, then bent over Austin and patted him on the chest in a subtle shoot salute to his top rival. Austin was slow to exit the ring, but when he did, they played his music as he walked to the back. He turned to look the crowd for a second, then kept walking. When he got to the stage, he did give them the double middle finger salute.
WINNER: Rock at 17:52.
STAR RATING: **** -- Very good match from two pros. The finish surprised and deflated the crowd. They logically had Rock win clean since Rock has to go into the April PPV strong against Goldberg.
9 -- KURT ANGLE vs. BROCK LESNAR - WWE (Smackdown) World Hvt. Title match.
They had a brief staredown before the bell. They did amateur style wrestling for the opening few minutes. Angle had the first impact on the back of his neck when he back suplexed Lesnar at 4:20. He let out a "whoo!" afterward. The crowd understandably was a bit drained at this point, so the pacing of building this match slowly worked well given all circumstances. Brock pressed and slammed Angle at 5:15. Angle caught a charging Lesnar with a boot. He then back suplexed Angle into the turnbuckles and seemed to land hard himself. Brock bailed to ringside. Angle followed and rammed him back-first into the ringside barrier. Angle gave Brock a vertical suplex for a two count at 7:00. Angle then applied a bow and arrow. Angle shifted into a chinlock. Brock rose up and backed Angle into the corner to break it. Angle came back with an overhead released suplex. Angle then hit Brock with a flying knee, sending Brock to the floor. When Brock returned to the ring, he surprised Angle with a spinebuster. Brock, though, was slow to get up. Both Angle and Brock lay on the mat as the ref began to count toward ten. Brock gave Angle a released overhead suplex and then scored a two count. Angle came back with three unreleased German suplexes, clearly landing to the side on his shoulder instead of the back of his neck as much as possible. At 13:40 Brock went for a surprise F5, but Angle escaped and twisted Brock into an Anklelock. He yanked Brock away from the bottom rope. He turned it into a half Boston crab. Brock reached the ropes. Angle charged toward Brock, but Brock backdropped him over the top rope. Angle landed on his feet and then tumbled to the ringside bat. Back in the ring Brock attacked Angle with shoulders in the corner. Angle reversed Lesnar with an overhead released German suplex that got "oohs" and "ahhs" from the crowd. Angle scored a near fall. Angle followed with an Angleslam for a near fall at 16:25. Cole said he thinks that is the first time anyone has ever kicked out of the Angle slam. The crowd didn't know that since they didn't pop as you'd think they would for such a historic moment. Brock rolled up Angle for a surprise two count out of nowhere. He followed up quickly with his F5 for a very near and convincing near fall. Cole pointed out that that had never been done before. Angle went right into an Anklelock. Brock crawled toward the bottom rope, but Angle dragged him back toward the middle. Lesnar, though, forced his way to the bottom rope. Lesnar then kicked Angle off of him. Lesnar kicked Angle in the gut and went for an F5, but Angle escaped and turned it into a small package. Angle went for the Angleslam, but Brock escaped and set up the F5. Rather than go for the cover, he rolled to the bottom rope. The announcers wondered what he was doing. He left the ring, climbed to the rope rope, and went for a shooting star press. He couldn't pull it off and landed on the side of his head in a scary moment. Angle covered him for a very near fall. Lesnar, still hurting, pulled off a rushed F5 and scored the pin. Lesnar looked extremely groggy, almost as if he weren't aware of his surroundings, as he grasped at his title belt. Angle approached him and they shook hands and hugged after the match. Fireworks went off to end the show.
WINNER: Lesnar at 21:07.
STAR RATING: ****1/2 -- Excellent match. It was paced perfectly for its place on the show. The fans were so burned out early in the match from the Austin-Rock and McMahon-Hogan drama, that their mat wrestling in the opening minutes worked perfectly in giving the fans a chance to take a breather and slowly get into the match. There weren't huge pops for Brock kicking out of Angle's pin attempts even at the most dramatic moments, which is a sign that Brock hasn't won over the hearts of the fans as a babyface quite yet and also a sign that fans respect Angle so much. But, the fans were unmistakably into the match, on the edges of their seats. Brock seemed to think long and hard about whether he had the energy to pull off the shooting star press. It was clear that was supposed to be the finish, but in rewatching it in slo-mo, Angle saw that Lesnar was coming up short and moved out of his way so that he could have an unobstructed clear landing on the mat. They F5 was an ad lib. The look on Lesnar's face after the match was of someone who didn't know where he was.
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