It’s WrestleMania season!! That magical time of year where everyone tries to forget how awful the current WWE product is and spends thousands of dollars to attend the show or devotes 7 plus hours on what is usually one of the first nice Sundays of the year to watch a show that will either remind you why you love wrestling or, in more recent years, remind you why you are starting to hate it! Everyone likes to bust out the “it’sWrestleMania, it’s always good!” arguments this time of year, so it’s time to bust that myth with the worst WrestleMania of all time!! And you know who booked it, BRO!
1999 was a pretty good year for me. Graduated high school, moved out on my own, met my wife. I have a lot of fond memories of 1999. Watching WrestleMania 15 is not one of those. I watched this show alone in my basement in Minnesota and as soon as it was over regretted many, many choices I had made in my life. An 18 year old with instant regret. Let’s see how this makes me feel as a 36 year old… oh man, typing that was the first time I realized that this show took place exactly half a lifetime ago for me. Damn, already off to an awful start.
Boyz II Men did an amazing job singing America the Beautiful. Big fan of Boyz II Men. Super talented, seem like nice guys. Good for them.
After that, there’s a really great video package, narrated by Freddie Blassie, about time and heroes and featuring a ton of highlights from (selected) WWE history. Obviously nothing too old because the was back before Vince saw value in history, but it was a nice piece none the less.
It’s all downhill from here.
Al Snow is the first wrestler through the curtain here, and since this show took place in Philadelphia, he actually gets a pretty nice reaction. This is a triple threat match for the Hardcore title. Originally, it was meant to be Road Dogg vs. Snow vs. Hardcore Holly, but two weeks before the show Billy Gunn won the Hardcore title to put him in this match. The reason? SWERVE! There wasn’t a reason. Bob Holly is out and jacked as shit. Cool moment when Billy Gunn comes out to the Outlaws music without Road Dogg so the entire crowd does the “Oh You Didn’t Know” bit.
Billy Gunn is lean as shit. This is your typical late 90’s hardcore match. Billy Gunn takes a great bump off a clothesline from Holly. This is everything I hated about the 90’s. Triple threat match, hardcore, guys who aren’t really great but would all be better in one on one matches. Just a waste of everything these guys could do. You could take any combination of these three guys and have a better one on one match here. This is the first WrestleMania that felt like “we need to get everyone on the card” was more important than “we have to put on a good show.” A hockey stick is introduced and gets a bigger pop than anything these guys have done. They take turns hitting each other with sticks. Gunn tries to introduce a chair but gets cut off. Snow using the stick is embarrassing at times. At least try to make it look like you hit someone. Al Snow gives everyone head but, because he’s an idiot, he goes for a table instead of trying to pin someone. GOTTA GET MY SHIT IN, BROTHER. They tease going into the table, but Billy Gunn DESTROYS Holly with a chair shot to the head. He puts Snow through the table and gives him a Fameasser onto a chair. Holly steals the pinfall, yes less than a minute after getting hit square in the head with a chair, to win the title. Awful. Who could possibly care about anything else on this show when we just saw guys get hit in the head with chairs, sticks, head, and another guy getting put through a table.
Earlier in the night, there was a battle royal where the last two guys would get a tag title shot. Because who doesn’t love tag team partners who don’t get along? D’Lo Brown and Test won, so Brown is out first with Ivory. I guess earlier on Sunday Night Heat Ivory suffered a burn from Terri Runnels cigar, so she is out with a band aid. Good first aid. Test is out next, and he’s already yelling at D’Lo. The champs are Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart, so the crowd goes silent when they come out. They do pop for Debra. Debra has quite the outfit on. She looks like the sluttiest magician’s assistant you have ever seen. Of course, this just about gives Jerry Lawler a heart attack. The match starts and you have to see Owen Hart and Test wrestle. They aren’t just on different pages, they are reading books written in completely different languages at the beginning. Pretty average tag team match with the added fun of one of the teams not really getting along. Aside from the Bret match at WM 10, Owen Hart never really had a good WM match. D’Lo gets a nearfall off of one of the many moves he used during this time frame. Ivory and Debra start fighting, Test goes out to break it up, PMS runs out, something happens, and Jarrett pins D’Lo. So D’Lo and Test fight each other. Fucking awful. The actual wrestling was fine, but holy shit did they just start doing 1,435,567 things at the end.
A video package hyping up Bart Gunn’s upcoming public execution against Butterbean. Imagine thinking that knocking out guys like The Godfather and Steve Williams meant you could knock out a professional boxer. The ref is Vinny Pazienza. He’s actually from my neck of the woods. The judges are Kevin Rooney, who has worse hair than Wayne, Chuck Wepner, and Gorilla Monsoon, who gets a gigantic pop. Standing ovation that lasts a good 15 seconds. They start, and it’s clear from the get go that Gunn is out classed. Gunn gets knocked down once, gets up, and immediately gets his dick put in the dirt. His head hits the ropes and he is fucking down. Hilarious. This is one of my favorite WrestleMania moments of all time. Typical stupid WWE stuff where they thought their big jacked up guy would beat up the fat guy with no problem. I could watch Bart Gunn get knocked out all day. Which is good because they replayed it about 124 times. This hyped me up so much I went down to my basement and punched my wife’s punching bag for 15 minutes.
The San Diego chicken comes out and taunts Vinny Paz, so the Pazmanian Devil knocks him out with an uppercut to the beak.
Recap of earlier tonight when The Big Show, who they alternate between calling the Big Show and Paul Wight, was brawling with Mankind. Now an interview with Mankind about his match against the Big Show. The winner is the referee of the main event.
No Chance in Hell plays, which at this point in time is the corporation’s theme. The “Big Show” Paul Wight is out first, and they obviously dubbed over the original audio here. I wonder if that was where Michael Cole gave away the result of the main event? Mankind is out second to a nice reaction from the crowd. They start off fast and Foley looks like he is going to take Show down, but he is cut off. They brawl around the ringside area, and it’s pretty awful. Show wasn’t good at this point, and Foley was broken down here, so it’s really a lumbering, slow paced match. This is “wrestling” Big Show so you see things like leg sweeps. They botch a spot where Foley is supposed to duck a punch, but Show goes over the ropes anyways. Mankind gets Socko and the claw, but Show keeps fighting him off. Foley kicks Show in the balls and finally gets control with the claw. Somehow, Foley ends up putting the claw on from behind, which allows Show to stand up with Foley on his back and he just falls back and squishes him. That looked awful. No care was given to how Foley landed, and Show just leapt up and landed right on him. Big Show gets a chair and hits Foley with it repeatedly. Earl Hebner yells at him, but does not DQ him. Show throws two chairs into the ring and sets them up. Show chokeslams Mankind through the chairs, and that’s enough for the DQ. So you can hit someone with chairs outside, but when you bring them inside you can’t? What the hell? Mankind is the referee of the main event. This brings out Vince McMahon, who is pissed because Show was supposed to be the ref and screw Austin. Vince berates Show, like Steph, but unlike Steph he actually gets beat up at the end. Show picks him up for the chokeslam, but puts him down. Vince decides to keep yelling and slaps Show, but Show hits the KO punch (before it was the KO punch) and knocks Vince out. The match was awful, but the angle afterwards was fun. But just a horrible, boring plodding match with a finish that made no sense. The punch to Vince got a huge pop.
Vince is back with the stooges and he says he is going to have “that big son of a bitch arrested for assault” and I laughed and laughed.
Road Dogg is out for his four way IC title match. He is the new champ, having won the title two weeks ago like Billy Gunn and that’s how he ended up in this match instead of Billy. It’s Road Dogg, Goldust, Ken Shamrock, and Val Venis. It’s like a big old attitude era shit sandwich. Dogg is out to do his shtick, Venis is out to do his, Goldust comes out with the Blue Meanie and Ryan Shamrock, and Ken Shamrock just comes out as a dude. Shamrock is juiced to the gills here. This is a mess. Cole says this is a traditional rules 4 way elimination. Like those great four ways that Lou Thesz took part in. I’m watching this match and trying to come up with something to say about it, but it’s really just nondescript and a match. Lawler calls Blue Meanie a big fat cheerleader. That has been the highlight thus far. The crowd is not reacting to anything at all until Goldust gets hit in the balls. They go quiet right after that. Venis is working his ass off in there while everyone else goes through the motions. The crowd reacts to Dogg’s punch and dance spot and his shaky leg knee drop, so I guess the joke is on Val because he can’t elicit a reaction no matter how hard he works. Christ, I’m only an hour into this show. Lord help me. Val and Ken brawl to the back, and are counted out. This was after Show and Mankind brawled outside FOREVER and there wasn’t even an attempt at a count. Shamrock comes back in and snaps, laying out both Goldust and Road Dogg. The crowd is apathetic at best. Meanie does the thing where he hits the mat rhythmically to try and get the crowd to clap, and they don’t. Ryan Shamrock accidentally hooks Goldust’s leg, but Goldust tries a powerslam and, I guess, Road Dogg cradles him for the pin. Sloppy as shit. This gives Goldust and Meanie a chance to yell at Ryan because she is a woman and is therefore subject to mockery. Everyone not name Val Venis in this match was completely worthless.
To the back now where Big Show gets put into the back of a cop car in the most relaxed manner possible. No cuffs, no scuffle, he just climbs into the back of the car.
A recap video of the feud between Kane and Triple H. This involved fireballs and flame throwers. Thankfully, at this point in time, it did not involve necrophilia. This ought to be an awful match. The chicken from earlier runs out to try and attack Kane, and as we all know it was Pete Rose. Rose eats a tombstone. Two straight shows I’ve watched with guys in chicken suits involved. I might need serious help. Hunter’s music plays, but he sneaks in from the crowd and delivers a low blow to Kane. This is an odd period for Triple H. He’s big, but not cut like he would be later, and he’s nowhere near as good in the ring as he would be in late 2000 early 2001. Basically, if someone told you that this guy was going to be one of the most important names in wrestling in 2017 back in 1999, you would have probably laughed in their face. They brawl outside for a minute and Hunter ends up tossed into the Mean Street Posse. They have been brawling outside for at least a 40 count, but no count out here. Unlike the last match. The rules being enforced differently from match to match is one thing I hated about the Attitude era. One of about one million. It would be easier to list the things I liked.
The tag stuff with the Dudleys, Hardys and EandC.
That’s it. Everything else, especially on rewatch with modern eyes, is really shitty. Complaints about the rules aside, this is actually a decent match. Easily the best match on the show thus far. Triple H is bumping his ass off for Kane and Kane even does a plancha over the top rope onto Hunter. They wrestle, Hunter comes back, it’s all really good, until Chyna saunters on down to the ring. Chyna gets to ringside and tosses the steps into the ring. Not a chair, or a stick, the fucking stairs. Maybe they are building to a stairs match? Kane picks up the stairs and charges at Hunter. Hunter kicks the stairs into Kane’s face. He follows that up with a drop toe hold onto the stairs. Ok, that was actually a good use of the stairs. They brawl back outside and Hunter attempts a Pedigree on the steps but Kane backdrops out of it. Back in the ring, Kane chokeslams Hunter and now Chyna is on the apron with a chair. She convinces Kane to let her hit Hunter, but of course she hits Kane, who no sells it and threatens Chyna. Hunter gets the chair and fucking waffles Kane in the back and then right in the head with an unprotected chair shot. Damn. Pedigree on the chair, and referee Teddy Long throws this out. Hunter and Chyna reunite (I guess they had broken up? Who knows!!) and celebrate. Savage and Liz this was not. I really enjoyed this match until the end. It wasn’t great, but on a show like this, compared to everything else, it was Okada vs. Omega.The chair shot at the end is absolutely disgusting, so of course they replay it about 10 times.
Kevin Kelly is in the back stuttering about who should be the ref in the main event. Vince interrupts and says he is going to be the guest ref in a way that only he can.
Big Pun is in the crowd.
Sable is out to defend her women’s championship against Torri. It’s always funny to watch shows like this and see what people thought was hot back in the day. Sable looks like she has had entirely too much work done and is just kind of terrifying to look at. Torri is dressed like a female Giant Gonzalez. Sable does some awful dancing in the ring. It is still better than the awful wrestling she does in the ring. Torri gets in the ring, gets tossed out, more dancing. They “brawl” outside for bit, do some awful wrestling in the ring for a bit, and this is worst match in Mania history bad. They do one of the slowest cradle spots of all time. There is a ref bump, because of course there is, and Nicole Bass comes out. Well, she comes out about a minute too early and has to try and hide at ringside until she runs in. Imagine Nicole Bass trying to hide. God rest her soul. Bass attacks Torri and Sable finally wins to end this match. Fucking awful. Minus all the stars in the galaxy.
Interview with DX now that Chyna is back and they are reunited. DX is whole and nothing is stronger. Well, tough to argue with that I’m sure.
The defending European Champion Shane McMahon is out, along with Test. The Mean Street Posse is out there. Rodney and Pete Gas are the only two that would end up sticking around. X-Pac is second. The Stooges try to jump him, but he beats them up pretty handily. This allows Pac to get in the ring and send Shane and Test packing. Shane does a leap frog and celebrates, which allows Pac to go to work on him. Shane tries to take a powder but Pac throws him back in the ring. While the ref checks on Shane, Test crotches Pac on the ring post. That looked awful. Shane takes over with some awful offense but misses a people’s elbow. Shane whips Pac with a weight belt he got from Test. The ref seems to be cool with this? God, even the stuff that people liked from this show is so bad. The Posse tries to grab Pac, but Pac lays them all out. Rodney is HILARIOUS selling this stuff. Test lays Pac out. Every time Pac gets some offense, Test hits him. Shane does some fun stuff, but you can tell it’s a guy playing wrestler. I feel awful for AJ Styles. Pac keeps coming back, but Test interferes, and it’s all terribly boring. The match gets kind of fun when he gets the belt and starts whipping Shane. After a bronco buster, Test nails Pac with the title belt. Shane tries a bronco buster of his own but Pac moves. Test tries to interfere but Pac finally lays him out. Triple H is out and he turns on X-Pac. SWERVE!!!! One pedigree later, because of course, and Shane is still European Champ. The Outlaws run in to try and save X-Pac and Gunn slides almost all the way across and out of the ring. Test and HHH destroy them too while the crowd chants HBK. The lights go out and Kane’s music hits. Kane saves the Outlaws and Pac. Another bad match. Wonderful. I don’t know why people are so enamored with Shane McMahon. He almost died against Kurt Angle. So cool! He is awful. His punches are awful, his selling is awful. He is just awful. Fuck him.
A video package replaying the awful feud between the Corporation and the Ministry. Including a burning teddy bear. Burning teddy bears, crucifixions, burning symbols that look suspiciously like crosses, the Undertaker getting arrested. Just all kinds of 1999 WWF bullshit. “THE UNDERTAKER’S GOT MY FAMILY, DAMN IT, I NEED HELP!!”
Boring ass corporate Big Boss Man is out first. The next good Boss Man match he has wearing this swat costume will be the first. Undertaker is next and his music has some kind of speech before it. He keeps talking through the whole song. Taker’s hair and facial hair combination here makes him look like a more physically impressive Viktor. They have a 1999 Big Boss Man vs. Undertaker match. That is not a compliment. It’s very slow and plodding in the ring, and then it’s slow and plodding outside the ring. Boss Man cuffs Taker to the cell, and of course the cuffs are gimmicked. Unfortunately, they break early. LOL. Taker actually gigs here. They just brawl and brawl and brawl outside the ring FOREVER. Taker gets a chair and whacks Boss Man in the back with it. And he throws him into the cell. And this is going on and on and on. I’ve been in weekly upgrade meetings more exciting than this. Honestly, I would rather go to work and sit in a 2 hour meeting than watch another minute of this match. At least I am drinking a Boom Sauce while watching this. Can’t do that while at the meeting. Taker finally tombstones Boss Man so that is it.
OR SO YOU THINK!! Time for a hanging! The Brood makes their WrestleMania debut by dropping from the rafters to the top of the cell. With a noose. Being from Georgia, I’m sure Boss Man knows how a hanging works. This is awful. Why the fuck did anyone think this was a good idea? Oh, that’s right, this is Russo’s only Mania as the main writer. The Brood hook themselves back up and start moving back up, except Edge who gets stuck. Taker hooks Boss Man up by the back of his vest and Bearer raises the cage up. As Boss Man spins, you see that he is clearly hooked into the vest and not hanging by his neck. So they did this whole stupid stunt for nothing. NOTHING. And the next night, Boss Man is just on Raw! If you are going to hang a mother fucker at least leave him off the next show! Fuck. So Boss Man hangs and they just cut away and they never make mention of it again. And Cole says “maybe this is symbolic.” No, moron, Taker hung a dude. He hung him. With a noose. From the cage. It was symbolic of him hanging a mother fucker. I hate this fucking show. This is the least fun I have had watching one of these shows in a long time. Honestly, they hung a guy. It doesn’t get any less fun than that. There is literally nothing less fun than death.
And now here’s clips of a party!! A guy died, so it’s time to show all the wrasslers having fun with musicians like Big Pun and the Cherry Popping Daddies.
Michael Cole is into the ring to introduce Jim Ross to announce the main event.
Of course, we can’t just get right to the main event, we need some more bullshit first. Vince McMahon is out as the special ref. Not so fast! Commissioner Shawn Michaels is out and he gets a really nice pop. Michaels says that Vince isn’t the ref. The ref is the guy that is standing in the ring. Mike Chioda? Whatever the fuck his name is. This takes longer for them to get to than it took me to write about it. The crowd enjoys it. Shawn also bars the Corporation from ringside. Again it takes him minutes to do it. Then he walks Vince all the way up the ramp.
Eventually the Rock makes his way down. I always hate when the defending champ comes to the ring first. Austin is out second in a t-shirt instead of a vest. Apparently he forgot the vest due to some issues at home. The shirt he is wearing is heinous. It’s Austin but he has snake heads for arms. Like that He-Man villain King Hisssssss. I added some extra s there. Match starts off hot and they end up outside about 10 seconds in. They go in the ring, back out of the ring, in the ring, out of the ring. Now they are in the crowd. This was before everything in WWE was super organized and cookie cutter, so they have a hell of a hard time with controlling the people and filming all this. This is just a wild ass brawl. It’s all just a lot of back and forth with no one really in control until Rock dumps Austin on a light rig. This last all of a minute before Austin takes back over. Austin stomps right on Rock’s balls in a hilarious spot. They continue to brawl and somehow the Rock is back in control. I really hate this. I mean, the action is fine, but no one is selling shit, they are just going back and forth with no real rhyme or reason. Rock suplexes Austin on the floor, two minutes later Austin puts Rock through a table. It’s like playing a match in WWE 2k. A guy does a move, the other guy does a move, some counters, and eventually one of them will build up a finisher.
Eventually, Rock hits a Rock Bottom for a two count. He goes to get a chair, but Austin takes it and BRAINS the ref. I mean, just a scary ass chair shot. Rock actually takes over with the chair for a bit and hits Austin’s knee with the chair repeatedly. He hits Austin with a chair shot to the head (a little more protected) and back up ref Tim White counts 2. Rock lays in a Randy Orton special chin lock for a minute or so. Rock gets a series of two counts and gets pissed so he Rock Bottoms Tim White. Austin hits the Stunner, but there is no ref. Hebner runs down and there is a 2 count. No Vince comes down. Damn it, this is just like a fucking WCW or TNA main event. A ton of brawling, 232,543 ref bumps, and everything the guys are doing being overshadowed by the booking. McMahon lays Hebner out. Rock and Vince double team Austin until Mankind makes his way down. He lays out McMahon. Rock threatens Mankind and Austin gets a 2 on a school boy. Rock delivers another Rock Bottom, but instead of going for the cover Rock goes for the People’s Elbow. He misses, Austin tries a stunner but is blocked, Rock tries another Rock Bottom, Austin blocks and delivers a stunner for three. What a freaking mess. A bunch of ref bumps, wacky brawling, no selling, the guys in the ring being overshadowed by the guys not involved in the match and just all around bullshit. The crowd loved it, though, which is the damnedest thing of all.
A guy was hung, a guy was knocked out, tag teams didn’t get along, and there wasn’t a single good match on this show. This has to be the single worst WrestleMania of all time. There isn’t a single redeeming moment on this show. WrestleMania is about the moments is what people say, but the moments here were all awful and there wasn’t any kind of classic match to fall back on. Avoid this if at all possible. A straight fucking dumpster fire.
This week, I am going to watch a lot of wrestling that hopefully won’t be dumpster fires! I am going to drink and watch Evolve 80 and 81, Progress, the WWN Supershow, NXT, Beyond Wrestling, Mania, the Hall of Fame and most importantly the Joey Janela Spring Break show. And maybe Kaiju Big Battel.And probably FIP. I’m reasonably sure I forgot one or two more as well. I will be writing thoughts for all of the shows, some long reviews and some probably drunken ramblings, so be on the lookout for those. For live reviews and drunken ramblings, follow me on Twitter at @OMGlancy.