Torch Flashbacks WWE WRESTLEMANIA 15 FLASHBACK - 12 yrs. ago today (03-28-99): Austin vs. Rock, Taker Streak, McMahon vs. X-Pac, Torch Cover Story
Mar 28, 2011 - 2:30:53 PM
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOOKMARK US & VISIT US DAILY
WrestleMania PPV Flashback Report - WM15
March 28, 1999
Philadelphia, Pa. at the First Union Center
Report by Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
-- Find out how to sign up for a Torch VIP membership to access the Torch Staff Audio Roundtable Review of WrestleManias 1-12 right now!
TORCH NEWSLETER COVER STORY
HEADLINE: Austin beats Rock for title at WM15
Steve Austin regained the WWF Title from The Rock in the main event of what will likely be shown to be the most watched wrestling PPV main event ever. The undercard for WrestleMania saw several twists in the storyline of who would be the special referee. When Mankind was too injured to referee, Vince McMahon appointed himself special ref. Commissioner Shawn Michaels came out to a huge ovation before the match and instructed Vince to return to the back. Michaels said the authority to appoint a referee lied with him. He appointed a regular WWF ref. He also changed the match to no-DQ stipulations.
There was no "slow build" in the early minutes of the match. They got in each other's face before the bell and brawled to ringside within five seconds of the start of the match. They brawled in the crowd for a minute, then down the aisle to the entry area and threw each other onto various contraptions (a lighting grip, a crane). Seven minutes into the match Austin drove Rock through an announcing table with an elbowdrop. They returned to the ring for the first time at the 8:45 mark at which point Rock surprised Austin with a Rock Bottom for the first nearfall of the match.
At 9:30 Austin inadvertently KO'd the ref with a chair. Rock bashed Austin with a chair several times, then went into a chinlock at 11:10. Austin escaped, but Rock went back into another chinlock at 11:45. A full minute later Austin made a comeback, but Rock cut him off with a Samoan drop. When the ref got in Rock's face, Rock gave him a Rock Bottom. Austin got up and surprised Rock with a Stunner. Rock kicked out and Austin looked shocked.
McMahon came back to ringside. He distracted Austin, which gave Rock a chance to low-blow Austin. McMahon hit the ref and then joined Rock in stomping away on Austin. Mankind made his way to the ring and kicked McMahon out of the ring. Austin cradled the Rock. Mankind counted a near fall. At 16:00 Rock came back with another Rock Bottom. He made a big production out of his Corporate Elbow, but took so much time Austin moved out of his path. Austin then blocked a third Rock Bottom and hit the Stunner for the three count. The camera immediately showed McMahon's horrified reaction. Austin celebrated for several minutes, drinking beers and saluting the fans.
WM15 success to be judged two ways
WrestleMania XV is a virtual lock to be the most successful and profitable PPV of all-time for the WWF. That was known going in. Very early estimates already indicate the number of buys to be at least between 800,000 and 1 million. The more solid figures that justify the WWF's confidence are the recent TV ratings.
The Mar. 29 Raw the day after WrestleMania set an all-time record for Raw, drawing a 6.5 rating and 4.9 million households. The record was set despite going head-to-head against Nitro and the NCAA basketball finals. The Heat pregame show right before WM drew a strong 4.7 rating equalling 3.5 million households. For WM to achieve one million buys, it would mean nearly 3 out of 10 households watching Heat actually ordered the PPV.
Last year, the Raw that aired six days before WrestleMania drew a 3.6 rating (versus Nitro's 4.5). This year's Raw rating six days before WrestleMania was 6.4. WrestleMania approached 700,000 buys last year for the Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels headlined event. This year, if you base buyrate expectations strictly on the ratings increase, WrestleMania XV should do in excess of 1.2 million buys. Not even the most optimistic predictions go that high.
Just as important to the WWF as the number of customers WM drew is whether the WWF can keep its momentum going. There were several key turns at WM that set up fresh matches and feuds. The WWF needs new feuds to keep their momentum going. The babyface turns of Paul Wight and Kane and the heel turn of Hunter Hearst Helmsley are the keys to the WWF having fresh match-ups in coming months, especially because Undertaker appears to be stale.
Having Hunter join the Corporation by turning on X-Pac sets up several potential feuds. The obvious feud is X-Pac vs. Hunter. Their first match on Raw the day after the PPV annihilated the Hulk Hogan vs. Dallas Page match in the ratings with a 6.5 to 2.8 head-to-head win. Hunter's other logical feud, now that he is aligned with Vince McMahon, would be to go after Austin's WWF Title. In the long-run, there will be tension between Hunter and Rock. If Hunter gets over as a heel, it could afford the WWF to turn Rock babyface, a move which could lead to a boost in Rock merchandise sales. Wight's turn sets up potential feuds with Rock and Hunter.
KELLER'S MATCH ANALYSIS
Howard Finkle opened the show by introducing Boys to Men who sang the National Anthem. A feature aired, narrated by Freddie Blassie, previewing the event in a low-key, classy fashion. Fireworks then shot off near the big WrestleMania logo in the entryway. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler introduced the program as the camera panned the sellout crowd.
(1) Bob Holly pinned Al Snow (w/Head) at 7:10 to capture the WWF Hardcore Title in a three-way match with "Bad Ass" Billy Gunn. As Gunn began his mic work, Snow attacked him from behind. Holly helped Gunn take Snow down, but then Holly attacked Gunn. Gunn took a Michaels/Hennig '80s style exaggerated flip bump off of a Holly clothesline. At ringside Snow rammed Holly head-first into the ringside table. Snow reverse-whipped Gunn at ringside and Gunn took a flip bump over the stairs. Holly threw Snow into the railing at ringside, then suplexed him on the mat at ringside at 1:50. The body of the match saw Snow use broom sticks and hockey sticks as weapons against Holly and Gunn. At 5:30 Snow KO'd Holly and Gunn with Head. Gunn KO'd Holy with a stiff chairshot at 6:30. Gunn then threw Snow into a table propped in the corner. The table broke in half. Gunn played to the crowd. Gunn then gave Snow the Famouser (RockerDropper) on a chair. When Gunn covered Snow, Holly nailed Gunn with a chair to the back. Holly then covered Snow and got the three count. There was nothing wrong with the match, but also nothing special given how commonplace "hardcore" style brawls have become. (*3/4)
(2) Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra) beat Test & D-Lo Brown (w/Ivory) when Jarrett pinned D-Lo at 3:57 to retain the WWF Tag Team Titles. Cole pointed out this was Owen's tenth Wrestlemania appearance. He said that Owen considers Jarrett the best tag partner he's ever had (i.e. better than Bret Hart and British Bulldog). D-Lo appears to have gained some weight which may be why he looked a step slower than just a few months ago. D-Lo hit the Lo-Down on Jarrett at 3:30. Owen stopped the pin attempt. Debra then got on the ring apron to distract D-Lo. Ivory yanked Debra to the floor. PMS then came to ringside. D-Lo set Jarrett up for a piledriver, but Owen surprised D-Lo with a dropkick off the top rope. Jarrett flipped over D-Lo and scored the pin. Nice finish. D-Lo yelled at Test after the match for being distracted by the women and not being there to save him. Okay match, but not long enough to develop into anything substantial. (*1/2)
They showed Isaac Hayes at ringside. The Greenwich Posse were then shown sitting in front of him wearing their pastel sweater vests.
A feature aired before the Brawl for All match including predictions by some boxing names. Former boxer Rocky Fratto predicted Bart in two rounds. Larry Scott, Bart's training partner, predicted a second round stoppage in favor of Bart. Ray Rinaldi, Gunn's trainer, said Bart would catch Butterbean in the first or second round. They replayed Bart's "Brawl for All" wins. Vinny Pazienza was introduced as special referee. Kevin Rooney, Chuck Wepner, and Gorilla Monsoon were introduced as judges. It was Monsoon's first TV appearance since losing a lot of weight during his health problems. He got a nice ovation from the crowd.
(3) Butterbean knocked out Bart Gunn at 0:35 of the first round in a "Brawl for All" match. As Bart came to the ring, Cole reminded viewers he knocked out Bradshaw, Godfather, and Steve Williams. Cole talked up Bart's "deadly left hand." The match rules would have allowed Bart to try to take Butterbean down, but instead Bart chose to begin by exchanging punches. Butterbean missed with a big right roundhouse punch in the first second of the match, but popped Bart in the chin with a left. Bart spun around, more surprised than hurt. Bart went for a left, but Butterbean easily ducked it and punched Bart in the stomach, then missed with a left. Bart missed with a left, but Butterbean hit him with two punches to the stomach. Butterbean nailed Bart with another right to the ribs, sending Bart backward a couple of feet. Bart dropped his left hand to protect his body, then threw a left jab. Butterbean threw a right roundhouse that knocked Bart backward into the ropes. He then nailed Bart with a hard roundhouse to the chin that sent Bart to the ground. Bart immediately sat up, but didn't stand until a few seconds later. Bart told the ref he could still fight. Bart didn't look confident. He stepped toward Butterbean, threw a left jab without much authority. Butterbean stepped away from it and threw a devastating right punch that knocked Bart completely out and prompted a gasp from the crowd. He fell to the mat on his back as Butterbean celebrated. Within 20 seconds Bart was conscious, sitting up in his corner. Monsoon joined the trainers in checking on his condition. A minute later Bart was on his feet, but he didn't seem to be aware of where he was or what happened given his facial expression. Then again, he might have just been disappointed in his showing or shocked at how easily he lost.
The "World Famous Chicken" (former San Diego Chicken) came to the ring and mocked ref Vinny Pazienza. Pazienza punched out the Chicken.
(4) Mankind beat Paul Wight via DQ at 6:50. Fans chanted "Foley, Foley" as he threw an early barrage of punches at Wight. They fought at ringside where Wight threw Mankind into the stairs. Mankind bumped backward and landed awkwardly on the back of his neck. Wight continued on offense until he missed a punch and his momentum flipped him over the top rope. Mankind pulled Socko out of the front of his sweat pants (sweat being the key word). As Wight returned to the ring, Mankind went for the Mandible Claw. Wight escaped the first two attempts, but Mankind got it locked on the third time thanks in part to a low kick at 3:30. At 4:25 Wight escaped the claw by rising to his feet and then leaping backward, crushing Mankind between him and the mat. It actually rivaled the bumps off the top of the cage in terms of how painful it looked. There was no way to break the fall and you don't know until you try it if it will break ribs. The gasp from the crowd was on the same level as the Butterbean KO. The camera got close to Mankind who sounded like he was choking or coughing up a lung. Wight kicked Mankind to the floor and nailed him with a stiff chairshot to the back. He threw Wight back into the ring, then set up two chairs. He chokeslammed Mankind onto the chairs (actually, Mankind barely grazed them because they were set too far apart). The ref called for the bell. It didn't make sense that the ref didn't allow that, but did allow the ringside chairshot. Wight hit Mankind with a few more chairshots. The match was structured well given Wight's limitations. (**)
Vince McMahon walked to the ring. He told Wight to stay in the ring because he had something to say to him. Cole said the master plan had just fallen apart. After brow-beating Wight, Vince said, "I'm Vince McMahon and you're a nobody." Wight picked up Vince for a chokeslam, but thought better of it and set him down. Vince looked scared and relieved. Vince told him not to be so hot-tempered and told him again he is a nobody. He slapped him. Wight quickly punched Vince who fell to the mat like Bart Gunn. Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco quickly checked on McMahon, who wasn't moving. A minute later they helped McMahon walk to the back. McMahon was humiliated he was "just knocked on his ass" at Wrestlemania. Mankind, meanwhile, was stretchered to the back. Backstage, Vince told the Stooges to get him a cell phone so he could call the police and have Wight arrested for assault.
(5) Road Dogg pinned Val Venis at 9:47 in a four-way match with Goldust (w/Blue Meanie, Ryan Shamrock) and Ken Shamrock to capture the Intercontinental Title. The elimination match rules allowed only two men in the ring at a time, but anyone could tag anyone at any time. Ryan yapped at brother Ken at ringside. Val slidekicked Ken and brawled to the back for a double countout at 8:25. That left Goldust and Road Dogg to fight. Shamrock, though, didn't like the call and gave them two suplexes before leaving the ring. Ryan accidentally tripped Goldust after Road Dogg reversed a Goldust whip into the ropes. Road Dogg turned a powerslam attempt by Goldust into a DDT-type move and pinned Goldust. Nice finishing move. There was non-stop action and a number of crowd pleasing spots, but not much of a storyline developed because of the frequent tags. (**)
They showed Wight being arrested and taken away by police. There were about a dozen officers, an apparent spoof of the number of officers who were called to the hotel when Wight was accused of harassing a woman last year.
Before the match, as Kane made his way to the ring, the Famous Chicken attacked Kane. Kane took off the mascot's head and revealed Pete Rose underneath. Kane tombstoned him in the ring, the second year in a row Rose took that bump. Funny cameo.
(6) Hunter Hearst Helmsley pinned Kane at 11:30. Hunter entered the ring from the opposite side of the entryway, attacking Kane from behind. They brawled at ringside and both took some good bumps. Better action than you'd expect, but expectations were low. Kane hit a chokeslam. Chyna entered the ring and hit Kane with a chair. Hunter then gave a staggering and stunned Kane a Pedigree on a chair and scored the pin. Chyna jumped into Hunter's arms. (**)
Kevin Kelly interviewed Vince regarding who would replace the hospitalized Mankind as special guest ref. Vince said he would. His delivery was way over the top.
(7) Sable pinned Tori at 5:05 to retain the WWF Women's Title. Before the match Sable did her hip gyration routine just like Rick Rude. Tori wore an airbrushed bodysuit just like Rick Rude. At 3:40 Tori bodyblocked the ref when Sable moved out of the way. Tori set up a piledriver at which point Nicole Bass entered the ring. She press-dropped Tori. Sable thanked Nicole for her help, swivelled her hips again, then hit the Sablebomb and scored the pin. Ter-ri-ble. Sable's heel persona is as annoying as Sunny's. (neg. **)
(8) Shane McMahon pinned X-Pac at 8:39 to retain the European Title when Hunter turned on X-Pac. Before the match Kelly interviewed DX. Hunter said Chyna has come home and DX is together again. The Stooges attacked X-Pac before the match, but he easily fended them off. Shane taunted X-Pac from ringside. When he finally entered the ring, he mockingly did the crane kick from the Karate Kid movie. When X-Pac moved toward him, he bailed out of the ring. In the first exchange, Shane did a leapfrog, but as he gloated, X-Pac hit him with a wheelkick. He chased Shane down the aisle and dragged him back to the ring. Test attacked X-Pac and rammed him crotch-first into the post. At 2:10 X-Pac returned to the ring. Shane threw some knees and then whipped him with a belt. X-Pac backdropped Shane over the top rope and Shane took a nice bump to the floor. X-Pac hit a plancha on Shane at ringside and sent him into the Greenwich Posse in the front row. Test then hit X-Pac from behind. When Shane climbed to the top rope, X-Pac dropkicked him so Shane straddled the top turnbuckle. X-Pac hit a superplex, fended off Test again, then hit a series of kicks in the corner followed by the Bronco Buster for a huge pop. Test KO'd X-Pac with the title belt while the ref was tending to Shane. A groggy Shane draped his arm over X-Pac for a two count. X-Pac made a comeback, but Test interfered again. That brought Hunter to the ring. X-Pac hit the X-Factor and was ready to score the pin, but Hunter entered the ring and gave X-Pac the Pedigree, turning heel. Bad Ass and Road Dog made the save, but not before Shane covered X-Pac for the win. The lights went out and Kane came to the ring. Hunter, Test, Chyna, and Shane fled. Good match. Shane held up his end well and everything X-Pac did had credibility despite his green opponent. (**3/4)
(9) Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) pinned Big Bossman at 9:45 in a Hell in a Cell. They exchanged punches and powermoves in the ring for two minutes, then whipped each other into the cage at ringside. Bossman handcuffed Undertaker to the cage. He then nailed Undertaker with his night stick. When Undertaker fell to the ground, the handcuffs broke. He also visually bladed. He made a comeback and rammed Bossman into the cage. Bossman bladed. Undertaker walked the top rope, but Bossman yanked him off. A minute later Bossman escaped one tombstone, but not a second attempt. Clean pin, but ordinary match. After the match, The Brood came down from the ceiling on ropes and landed on top of the cage. They dropped a noose into the cage. Undertaker then hung Bossman from the roof of the cage. Intense imagery, but too far-fetched even for a wrestling angle. (*1/2)
(10) Steve Austin pinned The Rock at 16:51 to capture the WWF Title after a Stone Cold Stunner. (See cover for match details.) Before the match Michael Cole introduced Jim Ross as the announcer for the main event. He tipped his hat to Cole as he walked to ringside. The match was not a "match of the year candidate," but it had great energy, the timing and chemistry was solid, the storyline surrounding the match played out effectively, and the crowd was into everything. (****)
THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
REACHING 1 MILLION+ UNIQUE USERS PER MONTH
500 MILLION CLICKS & LISTENS PER YEAR
MILLIONS OF PWTORCH NEWSLETTERS SOLD
PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.
Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.
The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...
-New Digital PWTorch Newsletter every week
-3 New Digital PDF Back Issues from 5, 10, 20 years ago
-Over 60 new VIP Audio Shows each week
-Ad-free access to all PWTorch.com free articles
-VIP Forum access with daily interaction with PWTorch staff and well-informed fellow wrestling fans
-Tons of archived audio and text articles
-Decades of Torch Talk insider interviews in transcript and audio formats with big name stars. **SIGN UP FOR VIP ACCESS HERE**