WWE PPV Flashbacks: Wrestlemania XV – March 28, 1999

Wrestlemania XV
March 28, 1999
First Union Center, Philadelphia, PA

The fifteenth instalment of Wrestlemania took place in March of 1999 in the City of Brotherly Love. The event was billed as the Ragin Climax, which was somewhat fitting considering this night was all about the culmination of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s long quest to regain the WWF Championship that he had been screwed out of by Mr McMahon. After defeating McMahon last month on PPV, Austin finally earned the right to challenge new WWF Champion, the Rock in the main event of the biggest show of the year. That’s pretty much why everyone is here tonight. Lets get to it shall we? I welcome all feedback and thoughts on Twitter at @Mpmcc91.

We kick of the show with a rendition of America the Beautiful by Boys II Men before throwing it to a video package highlighting the pageantry of Wrestlemania and the stars of the day. We get what I believe is the debut of the Wrestlemania tagline ‘the Showcase of the Immortals’. We then head back into the arena to kick off the show with our commentary team of Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler.

WWF Hardcore Championship:
Billy Gunn (c) vs Al Snow vs Hardcore Holly
Hm okay what’s going on here? Well when we last left off, Hardcore Holly had won the Hardcore title at St Valentine’s Day Massacre, defeating Al Snow to win the vacant title, so their involvement here makes sense. However we have Billy Gunn in the match instead of the former Hardcore Champion in his partner Road Dogg. Remember that later. Anyway, Billy Gunn randomly challenged Holly for the title on an episode of Raw is War prior to this event, and won the Hardcore Championship in the process, so we have a triple threat here. Gunn gets a good pop as you would expect, as does Snow. The champion attempts to do his thing on the mic before the match, but Snow jumps him and we get under way with all three men brawling on the outside. What follows is really your typical Hardcore title match as weapons quickly get brought into play, and all three men whack each other with whatever they get a hold of. Snow actually gets a Philadelphia hockey stick out from under the ring at one point which draws a pop from the crowd, as does his use of Head as per usual. They stay around ringside for this one though unlike the previous month. Anyway, there’s nothing to really talk about here, as the three men beat on each other until Gunn puts Snow through a table in the ring and follows up with a Fameasser to a chair. Holly comes in looking to capitalise however, as he quickly gets into the ring and nails the Ass Man from behind. With Snow still feeling the effects of the Fameasser, Holly covers Snow to pick up the win at 7:07, and his second Hardcore Championship in the process. I suppose this was okay, but it was nowhere near as fun as the Holly/Snow match last month. Gunn’s involvement in this whole thing just seemed random, despite being the champion, and we’ll see that even more when we look at what Road Dogg was doing on this night. The crowd was hot at least, but what else do you expect from the Attitude era?
Grade: *1/2

Before our next match we get a quick look at the events of Sunday Night Heat earlier in the night. D’Lo Brown and Test were the last two men in a battle royal leading to them being named number one contenders for the tag titles tonight.

WWF Tag Team Championship:
Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart (c) w/Debra vs D’Lo Brown & Test w/Ivory
Talk about random matches. D’Lo obviously has unresolved issues with the reigning tag team champions after coming up short in his title match with Mark Henry last month against Jarrett & Owen. However I believe Mark Henry was taken out due to the guitar shot he received to his leg on that night, thus D’Lo was left without a partner to chase the gold with. Now as I mentioned earlier, D’Lo and Test were the last remaining men in a battle royal on Heat, thus being named number one contenders. They aren’t at all friends though, as Test is a heel and member of the Corporation, which makes this whole match have a weird dynamic. The challengers come out separately and pretty much start arguing from the very outset. Ivory is with D’Lo here once again, and she got into an altercation with P.M.S on Heat that saw Terri burn her with a cigar, so she’s got a bandage on her cheek. Debra is with the champions and draws a good reaction from the crowd despite being a heel valet. Meanwhile Cole mentions that this is Owen’s tenth Mania although its actually his eighth. They were saying it on Heat before the show as well so I’m not sure where they got that from. Anyway, Jarrett and D’Lo start this one out. Both men tag out soon enough and Owen gets the advantage for his team locking Test in the Sharpshooter. D’Lo breaks the hold up and comes back into the match to build some momentum for the challengers. He hits the Sky High on Owen, but Jarrett breaks the pin up. The referee then gets distracted by Debra on the apron, which leads to Ivory pulling her down and getting in her face. This draws out Jacqueline and Terri of P.M.S however, and they get into a scuffle with Ivory, whilst Test attempts to separate the women. Amongst the chaos, Owen missile dropkicks D’Lo and the now legal Jarrett rolls him up to score the pin as the referee turns back around at 3:57. Owen & Jarrett retain their titles although the match was far too short to be anything of note. Sadly this would be the last Wrestlemania in the life of Owen Hart. Not his greatest performance at the event, but they couldn’t help what they were given here. After the match, D’Lo and Test argue about their loss and fight to the back.
Grade: 1/2*

The Brawl for All challenge is up next, so we get a video package focused on the winner of the tournament last year, Bart Gunn. He’s facing Butterbean here to put the nail in the whole thing. Before the thing gets under way, we are introduced to our guest judges: Kevin Rooney, Chuck Wepner, and WWF Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon. Speaking of Gorilla, this would be his last appearance at a PPV and he does not look well at all. Sadly he would pass away later in the year due to failing health issues. Anyway, we also meet the special guest referee: Vinny Pazienza.

Brawl for All:
Butterbean vs Bart Gunn
Special Guest Referee: Vinny Pazienza
For those who don’t know, the Brawl for All was an infamous shoot fighting tournament held on WWF programming over the summer of 1998 and involved the likes of Bob Holly, Dr Death Steve Williams, Bradshaw and the aforementioned Bart Gunn, among others. The whole thing was seemingly devised as a means of pushing Dr Death, but that came to a screeching halt when Gunn knocked him out in a matter of seconds, pretty much ending William’s doing of anything of real consequence in his WWF run before even getting started. Anyway, Bart Gunn finally defeated Bob Holly in August to win the tournament, and the whole thing was pretty much dropped until this point, where Butterbean was brought back in to face Gunn as a special attraction match to get some media publicity. Butterbean challenged Gunn to this match on a recent episode of Raw is War following a match with Hardcore Holly, and that’s about all there is to it. As far as the match goes, its essentially a boxing match. Gunn blocks some punches from his opponent but gets knocked down early on. He gets to his feet but is met by a right hook from Butterbean, and the tough man fighter picks up the win via knock out at a mere 0:38. Yeah the whole Brawl for All concept was terrible. Thankfully it was never repeated.
Grade: N/A

After that mess, Vinny is left alone in the ring when the San Diego chicken mascot runs out and dances around him. Vinny goes to shake his hand, but the chicken snobs him, so Vinny delivers a knock out to the mascot. This won’t be the last we see of that chicken tonight though!

We now see footage of a brawl from Sunday Night Heat that took place between Mankind and Paul Wight as Austin arrived in the building.

Mankind vs Paul Wight
There’s a fair bit to talk about here. We saw Paul Wight make his debut at St Valentine’s Day Massacre attempting to assist McMahon in his cage match against Austin, but ultimately putting Austin through the cage and being declared the winner of that match. Nonetheless, Wight was introduced as a member of the Corporation the following night on Raw is War, and quickly given the nickname “Big Show” which would of course stick in the long run. On that same night, then WWF Champion Mankind would face the Rock one more time, this time in a ladder match. Wight interfered in that match, attacking Mankind and allowing Rock to retrieve the title to once again become the WWF Champion, crushing Mankind’s dreams of main eventing Wrestlemania in the process. Mr McMahon would then announce Wight as the special guest referee for the Mania title match between Rock and Austin, but Mankind came out and said he wanted to also referee the match. In the end it was decided that the two men would face off here with the winner earning the right to referee the Austin/Rock match later in the night. Earlier in the night, Wight was waiting for Austin to arrive at the building, furious after losing a match to Austin earlier that week on Raw is War, but as mentioned above, Mankind got into a fight with him instead as the Rattlesnake arrived. Anyway, Show comes out to Vince’s “No Chance” theme here, whilst Mankind gets a good pop, coming out in his self made referee shirt. Show immediately takes Mankind to the outside, but the former WWF Champion fights back on the floor, smashing the giant man’s head against the ring steps only to be sent flying into them himself. Show beats on Mankind as the action returns to the ring, but Mankind turns the tables again, locking in the Mandible Claw with Mr Socko a few times. Mankind gets on Show’s back to keep in the hold, but Show drops back crushing him to break it. Show recovers and eventually sets up two chairs in the ring facing each other. He chokeslams Mankind onto them which results in the referee calling for the DQ at 6:52. As a result, Mankind is the official for our main event, but he looks to be in no state to do so after being destroyed with a chair some more by the big guy after the match. Nothing special here. This was more set up than anything else. Big bump from Foley as usual but it didn’t really get the crowd’s attention.
Grade: *

That’s only half of it though, as with Show still in the ring, Mr McMahon makes his way to the ring, clearly upset that Show will now not be the referee in the main event. Vince calls Show a nobody and Show responds by lifting the boss up in the chokeslam position, only to put him back down. Vince then yells at Show some more, slapping him across the face. That’s all the big man is going to take though, and he knocks the boss out with his fist to a huge pop. We’re one month in and thats Big Show face turn #1. He walks out fuming whilst officials tend to Vince.

The stooges help Vince to the back. We follow them as Vince regains his composure. Livid he declares that he wants Big Show arrested for assault!

WWF Intercontinental Championship – Elimination Match:
Road Dogg (c) vs Val Venis vs Goldust w/Blue Meanie & Ryan Shamrock vs Ken Shamrock
Remember how Billy Gunn was involved in the I.C title picture and the whole Ken/Ryan storyline whilst Road Dogg was hanging around in the Hardcore division? Yep, its the other half of the senseless switcheroo. Anyway, Venis defeated Ken Shamrock last month to win the I.C title with Ryan by his side, however the porn star wasted no time in kicking her to the side after his victory. His reign would not last long though anyway as he would lose the belt to the Road Dogg shortly after on Raw is War, the man who enters this match as the champion. Meanwhile, Ryan Shamrock had turned to Goldust, who had now united with former foe Blue Meanie, thus bringing the bizarre one into this match that is really more about Ryan Shamrock than the actual title. Except for the fact that Road Dogg hasn’t had anything to do with Ryan whatsoever. Gotta love Russo. Anyway, this is an elimination match meaning three men have to be eliminated with the last man remaining winning the title. Road Dogg does his usual thing on the mic before the match of course. By the way, Ken Shamrock is the only heel here if you were wondering. The match gets under way and its two men in at a time, so Ken and Road Dogg kick us off. They go at it with Ken taking the early advantage until both Goldust and Val get tagged in. We get some back and forth and rotations of guys going at it until Shamrock tags himself back into the match and locks in the ankle lock on Venis, however he gets to the ropes breaking the hold. Ryan distracts her brother from the outside shortly after which leads to Val fighting with him up the aisle. Ken realises they are being counted out and attempts to run back to the ring, but both men get counted out and Shamrock snaps as usual, attacking the remaining men. We’re now left with Goldust and Road Dogg going at it for the gold. Goldust goes to Irish whip the champion, but Dogg reverses it and Ryan grabs Goldust’s leg tripping him up. The idea was she wasn’t looking and thought she was tripping Road Dogg. Goldust attempts to get back into it with a powerslam to the champion, but Dogg counters into a roll-up, which scores the pinfall at 9:46. Once again, I suppose this was okay for a throwaway ten minute match to get these guys on the card, although once again Road Dogg being involved was kind of illogical. He would lose the title the next night on Raw is War to someone in the match as well, making his going over not make a lot of sense either. Anyway, after the match Goldust and Meanie yell at Ryan for costing them the match as they leave ringside.
Grade: *1/2

We now cut to outside the arena where Paul Wight is being arrested. He gets in the cop car as the announcers ponder who will officiate the main event with both Mankind and Show now out of the building. We follow this up with a brief highlight of the events leading to our next match.

As Kane makes his way to the ring for our next match, he is attacked by the San Diego chicken! Kane gets the better of the mascot and takes off his costume head to reveal it to be none other than Pete Rose looking for revenge from the year prior! Great stuff as Rose eats a tombstone for the second year in a row at Wrestlemania.

Triple H vs Kane
This obviously stems back to Chyna’s defection from DX a few months ago and her subsequent partnership with Kane as we saw last month. Kane is still being blackmailed into doing the Corporation’s bidding but thats nearing an end here. Anyway, continuing the feud between these guys, Chyna challenged Triple H to a match on Raw is War earlier in the month, but before things got under way, Kane made his way out and attempted to shoot a fireball at the DX leader. Triple H ducked at the last second however, and the ball of fire hit Chyna instead, as she had been holding Triple H in position. As a result Chyna took some time off TV over the following weeks leading into Mania. Triple H however wanted to get some retribution on Kane’s attempted assault so a few weeks later he made his play as Kane was scheduled to face Goldust on Raw. The man believed to be Goldust took out a flamethrower from under his robes and blasted Kane, and then revealed himself to have been Triple H in costume instead. Good pop as expected for Triple H here as he makes his way out through the crowd following the Pete Rose fiasco and jumping Kane from behind to start the match out. The action spills to the outside with Triple H taking the fight to Kane, but the big red machine fights back sending him into the guard rail and the ring post. Kane brings Triple H back into the ring and continues to destroy him until his opponent comes back with some brief momentum. As he does so however, he gets distracted when the returning Chyna makes her way out to ringside. Turning his attention back to Kane, Triple H goes for a pedigree, but Kane counters whilst Chyna throws the ring steps into the ring. Kane goes to use them on Trips, but he kicks them into Kane’s face and sends the big red machine out of the ring. Trips tries to follow up with a pedigree onto the steps outside, but Kane reverses it into a backdrop before they get back in the ring, where Kane levels his opponent with a chokeslam. Chyna now gets in the ring as Kane grabs a chair. She tells Kane that she wants to hit Triple H with it instead, so he gives her the chair, but she double crosses her newfound companion, whacking Kane in the back with it. Triple H meanwhile recovers and hits Kane with a pedigree onto the chair, but Kane is declared the winner by DQ at 11:35. Nonetheless, DX has seemingly reunited, and Triple H embraces Chyna to a big pop from the crowd. Once again, this was okay for what it was in getting the reunion of Triple H and Chyna across, but as a match itself this was nothing special at all.
Grade: *1/2

Up next we cross to Kevin Kelly in the back for an update on the referee situation in the main event. He doesn’t know what is going on however Mr McMahon walks in. He says that with Show arrested and Mankind in the hospital – “I’M GONNA BE THE GUEST REFEREE!”

WWF Women’s Championship:
Sable (c) vs Tori
Sable is still the reigning Women’s Champion here, but she’s had an attitude change since we saw her last at the Rumble. At that event she retained her title with the assistance of her crazed fan Tori, but in the weeks that followed, Sable became more and more arrogant, especially after posing for Playboy. She took on a better than everyone else persona and as a result turned heel. She would show her true colours on an episode of Raw is War when she beat Tori down following a match against Luna. The next week, Tori interrupted Sable’s Playboy interview and challenged her to a match at Wrestlemania. That brings us to where we are today. Sable gets on the mic before the match, still looking gorgeous, and says her trademark “this is for all the women who want to be me and then men who want to see me” and doing the grind before being interrupted by Tori, who is wearing quite the strange outfit. Sable takes the early advantage as the match begins, tossing Tori out of the ring but Tori fights her on the outside sending her into the guard rail. We get some back and forth with Sable hitting a crossbody from the apron onto Tori and getting back in the ring to pose. Tori comes back in and builds some momentum against the champion. After several unsuccessful pin attempts by Tori, Sable goes for the Sable Bomb. Tori counters and attempts to hit a powerbomb when a tough looking female comes through the crowd and press slams Tori. Cole identifies the woman as the debuting Nicole Bass and Sable hits Tori with the Sable Bomb to win the match at 4:51 and retain her championship. Pretty terrible match here with lots of botched spots. Cole was talking Sable up on commentary, and whilst she was okay, she was nowhere near as great as she was being billed. This would end up being her last PPV for quite a while as she would quit shortly after this show.
Grade: 1/4*

After a video package highlighting the X-Pac/Shane issues we now go to all five members of the reunited DX including Chyna in the back. They talk about Chyna’s homecoming and then X-Pac promises Shane McMahon an ass kicking up next.

WWF European Championship:
Shane McMahon (c) w/Test vs X-Pac
After being inadvertently kicked in the head by X-Pac last month on PPV, Shane McMahon went on a crusade over the next few weeks to make life a misery for DX and in particular, the reigning European Champion X-Pac. The aforementioned incident led to Shane McMahon challenging X-Pac for the title the following night on Raw is War, however rather than being a regular match, Shane would team up with Kane to battle X-Pac & Triple H. Chyna would make her way out to ringside and distract Triple H in that match which led to Shane’s team winning the match, and Shane the European title in the process. Shane flaunted his newly won title over the next month and challenged X-Pac to a Greenwich Street Fight on the Raw is War prior to this event. During the match, X-Pac was assaulted by Shane’s friends the Mean Street Posse. That brings us to tonight with the Posse sitting at ringside for this one. Shane makes his way out to ‘No Chance’ with Test by his side, and X-Pac follows, only to be jumped by Patterson and Brisco in the aisle. X-Pac easily fights the stooges off however and sets his sights on the man who stole his title. The early part of the match consists of X-Pac chasing Shane around ringside with X-Pac finally getting his hands on the Boy Wonder. As he goes for the Bronco Buster however, Test pulls Shane out of the way giving Shane a chance to recover. X-Pac gives chase again, but Test interjects himself once more, sending the former champion into the ring post. Shane then goes on offence, even attempting his own Corporate Elbow on X-Pac. Shane uses every underhanded tactic in the book as he takes control such as whipping the DX member with his belt. The action goes to the outside eventually and the Posse attempt to grab X-Pac. He fights them off, but the distraction allows Test to nail him from behind. X-Pac gets back in the ring and recovers, hitting Shane with his own belt and following up with a Bronco Buster. His momentum is stopped dead however as Test comes in again, whacking X-Pac with the European title belt, but Pac manages to kick out. All the interference ends up bringing Triple H and Chyna out to ringside, but just after X-Pac hits Shane with the X-Factor and the official is busy keeping Chyna out of the ring we get another double cross as Triple H hits the Pedigree on X-Pac! Shane makes the cover and he shockingly retains the European Championship at 8:38. For another short match this was actually a lot of fun despite all the interference, with Shane showing he wasn’t out of his element in there. It also set up Triple H’s heel turn which would propel his career to the next level going forward. After the match, Triple H and Chyna cement their heel turn by joining in the DX beatdown, which draws the New Age Outlaws to come to Pac’s aid. They brawl with Test and Triple H as the crowd chants for Kane. And that’s exactly what they get as the Big Red Machine comes out to make the save, turning face and running the Corporation members off. Road Dogg vows revenge on Hunter as the Outlaws tend to X-Pac.
Grade: ***

We now get a video package highlighting the issues between Vince McMahon and the Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness. Yep the worst Hell in a Cell match of all time is up next.

Hell in a Cell Match:
Big Bossman vs Undertaker w/Paul Bearer
As I mentioned in the previous review, since returning in his Ministry persona, the Undertaker had begun making comments regarding his goal of taking over the WWF. Things really heated up (no pun intended) when he was set to face Kane in an inferno match on Raw is War in February by order of Mr McMahon. Undertaker won the match, but Vince had been given a gift whilst sitting in on commentary during the match by Paul Bearer. McMahon opened the gift and froze upon it being revealed as a teddy bear seemingly of some significance to Vince. After the match, Taker threw the bear into the fire around the ring, sending McMahon to his knees. It would be revealed later that the bear belonged to his daughter, thus Taker had made things personal. Over the weeks that followed, Taker continued to play mind games with Vince, including attempting to crucify the Bossman, which led to Vince having him arrested. The next week on Raw is War, the Ministry surrounded Mr McMahon’s mansion, with Taker’s voice declaring that they were waiting for his daughter to come home. Not knowing what to do, Vince came down to the ring and pleaded for Kane to help protect his daughter from the Undertaker, however “Kane” unmasked and it was revealed that the Undertaker was dressed up as the Big Red Machine and in the arena all along. He set McMahon up for a chokeslam before the lights went out and the owner of the company was left alone in the ring. Now as a result of all these mind games, McMahon as placed Bossman in a Hell in a Cell match with Taker. Now sure there’s a compelling storyline and all here, but Vince and Taker are pretty much supposed to be the two most hated guys in the company at this point, so there’s a bit of a strange heel vs heel dynamic for this one. Also this really did not warrant being a Cell match, but hey Russo loved his gimmick matches. Anyway, both men trade shots in the early exchange of this match, but the Bossman gets the better of the Phenom when he locks him up against the cell with his handcuffs. With Taker trapped, Bossman beats on him with his nightstick and busts the Dead Man open in the process. Meanwhile Taker drops to the floor, ripping the handcuffs as he does so. Once free however, Taker fights back and goes to town on Bossman until he falls off the ropes on an Old School attempt. We then get a little more trading blows between both guys. Bossman reverses a Tombstone attempt, but Taker follows it up by setting him for another, this one connecting to score the pinfall at 9:46. After the match, Taker signals to the rafters and we see the Brood descend via cables to the top of the Cell (they had joined up with the Ministry at this point). They lower a noose through the top of the cell to Taker, and he wraps it around Bossman’s neck as the cell raises, thus hanging the Corporate Enforcer. Yeah the Ministry was pretty dark. Anyway, as far as the match goes, this was awful. The crowd had no reason to care about the match without someone to cheer. Lets never speak of this match again. By the way, Taker is now 8-0.
Grade: DUD

Now then, with Bossman hanging above the ring, we cut to highlights from the Wrestlemania Rage Party the night before. It was basically the precursor to Axxess before it became a multiple day thing.

Back in the arena, Michael Cole is standing in the ring. He brings out Jim Ross to take his place on commentary for the main event. Ross had returned from his Bells Palsy as a heel in the weeks leading into Mania, but this pretty much ends that as he shakes Cole’s hand and he’s back to being the good old JR we know and love. A definite upgrade over a very green Cole!

Mr McMahon now makes his way out to the ring as the special guest referee for the main event. Before the participants head out however, Shawn Michaels’ music hits and the Commissioner makes his way to ringside. He says we can’t have Wrestlemania without HBK, but he’s got some business to deal with. He says that as the Commissioner, only he can appoint the guest referee for the Mania title match and Vince will not be officiating. Instead WWF referee Mike Chioda will do the honours. Michaels also bans the Corporation from ringside in the upcoming title match, but says he’ll let Vince come back out if he wants. But for now, its time for McMahon to start the stepping and hit the bricks. Fun segment and a good way to use HBK at Mania now that he’s not wrestling.

WWF Championship – No DQ Match:
The Rock (c) vs Steve Austin
Alright this is what its all come down to. After being screwed out of the title back in the Fall, Austin finally gets his chance at regaining the WWF Championship, having overcome every challenge McMahon has thrown in his way. The one man remaining in his path is the hand picked Corporate Champion himself, the Rock. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, Rock regained the WWF Championship for a third time after defeating Mankind in a ladder match on Raw is War the night after our last PPV. As far as the build goes, its really the culmination of everything we have seen since Austin lost the title as now the two top guys in the company are set to go at it. We did get the memorable beer truck incident on the Raw is War before Mania however, as Austin crashed the Rock’s trash talking by driving a beer truck into the arena and spraying Rock and the McMahon’s to a huge pop from the crowd. To this day its probably still the greatest moment in Raw history and thats saying a lot! Anyway, Rock is out first here despite being the champion since we all know that Austin is the guy everyone wants to see. Having said that, Rock is getting a decent amount of cheers here, although its obviously not on Austin’s level just yet. They take advantage of the No DQ stipulation from the get go as they brawl around ringside before Austin even has the chance to take his shirt off. They go over the guard rail and fight their way through the crowd a bit and the crowd is nuts throughout the whole thing. They eventually make their way back to ringside and Rock gets the better of Stone Cold, choking him with some cables before the fight moves up the aisle towards the entrance, with Austin eventually turning the tide and sending Rock into the entrance set. Crazy chaos to start this one out! The action now goes back into the crowd and to ringside again, where Rock takes control after spitting water into Austin’s face after elbow dropping him through the Spanish announce table. They finally get back into the ring after some more exchanging blows, and Rock hits Austin with the Rock Bottom for a two count. Rock goes for a chair, but Austin takes it and swings, aiming for Rock but taking out the ref in the process. Another ref comes out as Rock takes it to Austin with the chair, but its not enough to put the Rattlesnake away. Austin’s refusal to die ends up getting to the champion and he takes it out on referee Tim White, hitting him with the Rock Bottom. By taking his eyes off the Rattlesnake however, Rock walks right into a stunner from Austin, but by the time Earl Hebner runs out to the ring to count the fall, Rock kicks out at two. The close call draws out Mr McMahon, who gets Austin’s attention and allows Rock to hit a lowblow. Rock and McMahon team up on Austin until Mankind makes his way staggering back from the hospital to a big pop. He throws Vince out of the ring and takes over officiating duties. Rock meanwhile hits another Rock Bottom and sets up the Corporate Elbow, however Austin moves out of the way at the last moment. The Rattlesnake then recovers and reverses a Rock Bottom into another Stunner which is enough to pick up the victory at 16:55. Stone Cold Steve Austin is the new WWF Champion for the third time! Overall a fun and hot match to put an end to the night, giving everyone what they wanted in the belt back on Austin. Sure there were probably a few too many ref bumps but what do you expect from the Attitude era? It was a very solid main event, but having said that, its put to shame by the future showdowns these two men would have at Wrestlemanias over the next few years.
Grade: ***3/4

After the match, Austin celebrates with some beers after Mankind hands him the title belt. McMahon looks on dejected at ringside as Austin shares a beer with Hebner. As Austin goes to leave, McMahon yells at him, saying he doesn’t deserve the title. Austin throws him into the ring and hits a stunner on his longtime nemesis as the crowd goes nuts. Austin celebrates with a few more beers as we go off the air.

This shown is another example of WWF in the Vince Russo era. Most of the matches were kept short and the show was all about story progression rather than in ring quality. The whole show is carried by the Austin/Rock, and to a lesser extent Shane/X-Pac, matches. The main event was a fun brawl that gave us a Mania moment in Austin finally climbing to the top of the mountain once again, and as I already said, the European title match was pretty solid for what it was. That match was also instrumental in Triple H’s heel turn, which was a change that helped him reach the next rung on the ladder, but the whole Chyna rejoining DX and then both of them screwing X-Pac probably was a bit too overcomplicated (as evidenced by the pop Triple H pedigreeing X-Pac got). Outside of those two matches, the rest of the card was fairly forgettable, and Hell in a Cell match was simply awful. Still a fun show to throw in though as it goes by pretty quickly. Overall an average Mania in the grand scheme of things.

Three Stars of the Night:
1. Steve Austin – I think this goes without saying. This show was all about the most popular man in the company regaining the championship that was wrongly taken from him months prior. Austin is once again the man. Then again, was he ever not since winning the title a year ago?
2. The Rock – a very strong showing from the Corporate Champion in his first main event at the biggest show of the year. His heel run was drawing to a close at this point and it would lead to him becoming one of the most popular stars of all time.
3. X-Pac – I was tossing up between X-Pac and Shane. Shane certainly performed well in his role and didn’t look out of place in his match, but I think working with a guy like X-Pac certainly worked in that regard.

FINAL GRADE: 5 out of 10
What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1. The list is put together from all the shows I have reviewed thus far. Austin regains the WWF Championship and also takes the second place overall.

Bret Hart = 83
Steve Austin = 68
Shawn Michaels = 67
Mick Foley = 29
Randy Savage = 28
Undertaker = 25
The Rock = 24
Hulk Hogan = 18
Owen Hart = 18
Triple H = 16
Diesel = 15
X-Pac = 15
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 11
Ted DiBiase = 10
Razor Ramon = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
Vince McMahon = 7
Jerry Lawler = 6
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Bob Backlund = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
D’Lo Brown = 4
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
Tanaka = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Sato = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Hakushi = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Savio Vega = 3
Ken Shamrock = 3
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Billy Gunn = 1
Bart Gunn = 1
Marc Mero = 1
Flash Funk = 1
Animal = 1
Hawk = 1
Taka Michinoku = 1
Christian = 1

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