WrestleMania XV always seems like a strange WrestleMania. Even though this is the first WWF Championship Match at WrestleMania between Austin and the Rock, it was the middle of the McMahon/Austin feud, the whole Ministry of Darkness storyline was going on, this isn’t a WrestleMania that is very well remembered. Even looking at the Wikipedia page for this event didn’t really ring any bells, except for the title match and the Hell in a Cell because I’ve seen them on other programs or previous rewatches.
Why is that? With so many great, or at least interesting, storylines going on, why is this WrestleMania not well remembered? Let’s find out!
We start with Boys II Men singing ‘America, The Beautiful’ as ONLY Boys II Men can, AND they’re doing it acapella (no musical accompaniment). Being from Philadelphia, where this WrestleMania is coming from, they get an amazing pop.
We get another great old-timers promo for WrestleMania, narrated by Classie Freddie Blassie.
This this first time Michael Cole calls a WrestleMania, due to JR being out because of an attack of Bell’s Palsey.
Triple Threat Match For the WWF Hardcore Championship: Hardcore Holly vs Al Snow (with Head) vs Bad Ass Billy Gunn
Al Snow and Head are out to a really great pop. Al bangs Head (stop laughing, I couldn’t think of a better way to put it) for the crowd. Hardcore Holly is next to loud boos. Hardcore doesn’t seem too fond of the crowd. Billy Gunn is out last, but even without Road Dogg to lead them, the crowd does the New Age Outlaws entrance for him. Mr. Ass starts a promo, but Snow gets the jump on him.
Since this is a Hardcore match and Hardcore rules, I’m not going to try and keep up. It was chaotic, and fun and a good opener for WrestleMania because it got the crowd going.
Winner: Hardcore Holly by pinfall. The crowd isn’t happy and neither is Billy Gunn.
Highlights: The fans chanting for the Flyers after Snow uses a hockey stick on Hardcore Holly. Al Snow being Al Snow.
Comments: I love Hardcore matches, so this is a thumbs up for me.
WWF Tag Team Championship: Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart (with Debra) vs D’Lo Brown and Test (with Ivory)
D’Lo is out first with Ivory, and her lovely purple scarf, to a nice pop. Test is out next to boos, the only reason these two are partners is because they were the last two left after a Battle Royal on Sunday Night Heat. Before the champs even get out to the ring, the challengers are already arguing. Jarrett, Owen, and Debra are out next, to an okay pop, which might be more for Debra, who is wearing a bikini with a riding coat, much to the shock and dismay, of Ivory, than for the guys with the championship belts on.
D’Lo and Test get the jump on the champions and we’re off! This match was actually really good. Test/D’Lo worked really well together, despite the arguing, and worked really well with Owen/Jarrett.
Winner: Jarrett gets the pin after the ref and Test were distracted by a disagreement between Ivory and Debra that brought Terri Runnels and Jacqueline out. Test and Ivory yell at each other, Ivory rightly pointing out that Test should’ve kept his nose out of her business and stayed in his corner to help D’Lo. D’Lo is NOT happy and confronts Test, blows are exchanged.
Comments: This was the final WrestleMania appearance for Owen Hart. He would be tragically killed in an accidental fall at the ‘Over the Edge’ PPV in May. RIP, Owen.
We get a recap of the Brawl for All Tournament that lead to Bart Gunn vs Butterbean. As I listen to Bart Gunn try to act like he really knows what he’s in for going up against Butterbean, whose record is extremely impressive to me, and I know next to nothing about Tough Man competitions or boxing, I get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Brawl For All Match: Bart Gunn vs Butterbean
Our Special Officials: Vinny Pazienza – Special Guest Ref. Judges: Kevin Rooney, Chuck Wepner, and Gorilla Monsoon, who is almost unrecognizable due to losing a shocking amount of weight. Monsoon gets a great pop. Butterbean is out first to loud boos. Bart is out next to a nice pop. Oh, that bad feeling gets worse as I hear the rules for this thing and look at Bart and Butterbean.
Since my understanding of this stuff is limited at best, I’m not going to try and recap it.
Winner: Butterbean by TKO in the first round. Bart is on dream street and might want to stay there.
Comments: What the heck was that?! Who okayed this and why was Bart Gunn, who had no experience in Tough Man competitions, outside of working with other wrestlers, put up against a PROFESSIONAL BOXER AND FIGHTER?! People talk about burials, Bart Gunn’s career just got buried in concrete.
For some reason, the San Diego Chicken runs to the ring and acts like he wants to box Vinny Pazienza and gets KO’d with one shot.
We get a recap of Big Show and Mankind’s altercation on Sunday Night Heat, that Big Show got the worst of, I think.
Kevin Kelly is with Mankind and recaps all Mankind’s done to get into the Main Event at WrestleMania, and now has to go through Big Show Mankind says he’s done everything asked of him and that he’s done playing nice and Big Show better be aware of that.
Mankind vs Big Show – Winner will be special referee in main event
Big Show is out first to loud boos. Show looks huge, even on TV. Mankind is out next to a huge pop. This is just a few months after he shocked the world by beating the Rock on RAW for the title.
This was a pretty good match. Show and Mankind really meshed well and the match was more back and forth than you’d expect.
Winner: Mankind by disqualification after Big Show chokeslams Mankind onto two steel chairs. Show is confused and Earl Hebner bails out. Show’s so mad, he throws a chair at Hebner. Vince comes out to see what’s going on, Hebner stands on his decision. Vince admonishes Big Show for what he did, not because of Mankind getting hurt, but because that means Rock won’t have an advantage in the Title Match. Big Show turns to leave, but Vince grabs him (bad move). Show starts to chokeslam Vince and thinks better of it. Vince doesn’t seem to fully comprehend how lucky he is, but Show’s getting pissed. When Vince slaps him, Show’s had enough and levels Vince with one punch, to the joy of the crowd.
Highlights: Big Show getting a mouthful of Mr. Socko. Mankind hitting a giant sized lowblow to keep Big Show from getting away from Socko. Big Show knocking out Vince.
Comments: I like this match. Watching Show finally getting sick of Vince was fun to watch.
We follow Vince and the stooges into the back, Pat Patterson points out that Mankind is being stretchered out and wonders what they’re going to do. Vince isn’t sure but wants them to call the cops and arrest Big Show for assault (good luck with that).
Four Corners Elimination Match For the WWF Intercontinental Championship: Road Dogg vs Goldust (with Blue Meanie and Ryan Shamrock) vs Ken Shamrock vs Val Venis
Road Dogg is out first to a huge pop. He does his usual entrance, with audience participation. Val Venis is next to a pretty good pop. Val seems to be happy to be there and the ladies seem happy to see Val. Goldust is out next with Ryan Shamrock and the Blue Meanie, not sure what’s going on there, but at least Goldust looks like himself again. Ken Shamrock is the last man out to an okay pop. All four men in the ring are former or current Intercontinental Champions.
Rules: Two men start in the ring, anyone can tag anyone in. Elimination is by pinfall, submission, disqualification, or countout. Last man standing wins.
Apparently, Shamrock and Road Dogg start us out, eventually. This is one of those matches that’s hard to follow and type. I have to say, all four guys worked well together, though there were a few ‘Really?’ spots, such as Venis hitting Goldust below the belt…face first.
Winner: Road Dogg by pinfall after Goldust is distracted by Ryan ‘accidentally’ grabbing his leg and Road Dogg counters Goldust’s powerslam. Blue Meanie and Goldust are livid with Ryan, who swears she was aiming for Road Dogg.
Comments: Aside from the odd finish, this was a good match.
We find Big Show being very nice to the mob of policemen trying to arrest him. He’s not cuffed since standard issue cuffs wouldn’t fit him. Somehow, they get him into a car, and it doesn’t look comfortable.
We get a recap of Kane/Triple H, including Chyna turning on Triple H.
Kane (with Chyna) vs Triple H
Kane is out first to a quiet pop. As he approaches the ring, the San Diego Chicken jumps him from behind. Everyone assumes it’s Triple H again, but it is revealed to be Pete Rose, wanting to get back at Kane for tombstoning him last year. Charley Hustle’s hustle backfires and he eats another tombstone. Oddly, the crowd isn’t mad at Kane for this, even though Pete Rose used to play for the Phillies.
Triple H is out next to a better, but still quiet pop. Triple H sneaks up behind Kane and lowblows him before the bell rings and we are off!
Not surprisingly, this is really great match. Trips and Kane worked really well together and told a great story. That said, there were a few rough spots.
Winner: Kane by disqualification after Chyna hits Kane with a steel chair instead of Triple H. Kane is shocked goes after Chyna and Triple H hits him with the chair, before hitting the Pedigree on the chair. The crowd is shocked, which turns to joy when Chyna jumps into Triple H’s arms.
Highlights: Mean Street Posse ‘helping’ Triple H over the barricade when he seems stuck but doing it in a way that keeps them looking like heels. Triple H and Chyna’s reunion.
Comments: I liked this match. The reunion between Trips and Chyna was nice, but I keep think there’s something I’ve forgotten about this reunion.
Kevin Kelly is backstage and repeats that they have no ref for the WWF match. Vince just HAPPENS to wander into shot and says that he has a ref shirt in his gym bag and that HE’S going to be the special guest ref, which puts Austin’s chances of winning the title at about 0%.
WWF Women’s Championship Match: Sable vs Tori
Sable is out first to a nice pop and seems to have changed quite a bit from last year, according to Cole, new attitude, new demeanor. She gets on the mic and cuts a promo on ‘all the women who want to be me and all the men who want to have me’ and does a…dance, I guess. Tori is out next, in what looks like a weird catsuit, to a minimal pop.
This match was so bad, that after about a minute, I skipped it.
Winner: Sable wins by pinfall after Nicole Bass attacks Tori while the ref is out of commission.
Comments: This match was so bad, I had to skip it, and I’ve sat through three or four godawful Mixed Tag Matches, what does that tell you?
We go to X-Pac with DX and Chyna, Triple H says that with Chyna back, DX is stronger than it’s ever been, and Shane better bring his A game, because X-Pac is going to hand him his ass, but something feels off about this whole thing.
WWF European Championship: Shane McMahon (with Test) vs X-Pac
Shane and Test are out first to no reaction. X-Pac comes out to an okay pop, and alone before being jumped by the stooges. That’s quickly taken care of, and now Shane has to fight him.
This was a reasonably okay match, considering Shane’s limited ring experience at the time, but Pac took care of him and it wasn’t an utter trainwreck.
Winner: Shane McMahon by pinfall, after Chyna distracted the ref and Triple H pedigreed X-Pac when X-Pac had the match won. (Commenter: Oh, THAT’S what I forgot about this show!). Triple H continues to punish X-Pac until the Outlaws come out. Billy Gunn shooting in so fast, he almost went out the other side of the ring.
The brawl continues until the lights go out and Kane’s music plays. The jilted Big Red Romeo comes out to get him some of his two-faced Juliet and company, and chases the Corporation out of the area while the Outlaws tend to X-Pac.
Road Dogg hears King say that DX is finished and corrects him stating that that ‘jackoff’ (Triple H) is the one that’s finished.
Highlights: Shane missing the Bronco Buster. Trips and Chyna’s turn.
Comments: I like Shane McMahon matches, even if they aren’t the best technically. The turn of Chyna and Triple H was a surprise to me, given DX’s rebellious nature.
We get a recap of why of Undertaker and Boss Man are facing off and the whole war between the Corporation and the Ministry of Darkness, which is one of the most disturbing storylines in WWF/E history.
The Streak: Undertaker vs Big Boss Man – Hell in a Cell
Boss Man comes out first to a decent pop, but there’s still plenty of people booing when the lights go out. Taker and Bearer come out to a really good pop, despite Taker being a heel and his persona bordering on Satanic.
Given the two participants and the environment, this isn’t a pretty match, but it was very good until the end.
Winner: Undertaker by pinfall. The Streak is 8-0. Afterwards, in a truly horrifying move and some help from the Brood, he hangs Boss Man by a noose from the rafters.
Comments: This is the one match of Taker’s Streak that I truly HATE. Even knowing and seeing that Boss Man had a harness on and that he really WASN’T in danger, the sight of him hanging by that noose made me sick. If there was ever a time that I wasn’t a fan of Undertaker’s, his Lord of Darkness/Satan phase was it.
We get a highlight reel of the WWF WrestleMania Rage Party, which looks like a LOT of fun. It was a concert and a party, with WWF people coming in and out, cutting promos, and generally hyping WrestleMania.
Michael Cole is in the ring and we’re told that JR will be calling the main event tonight. Lawler seems happy to see him and JR seems happy to be there.
No Disqualification WWF Championship Match: The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin – Special Guest Referee: Mankind
Vince comes out first, clad in his ref shirt, to LOUD booing. Suddenly, HBK’s music hits and the Commissioner of WWF comes out to a LOUD pop. (Commenter: It’s weird to see HBK as an authority figure). HBK chides Vince for not reading his own rulebook and tells him that if he’d read the rulebook, he’d have known that there’s only one man who can appoint an official for a match and that one person is NOT Vince McMahon, it is the Commissioner of WWF, who just HAPPENS to be Shawn Michaels. HBK then tells Vince to get lost and bans Vince and the Corporation from ringside. Then promises that if any member of the Corporation shows up during the match, he and Vince will be having a fight out in the parking lot.
After all that, the Rock comes out to a pretty good pop, but not the thunderous ones he would get in a year or so. Rock doesn’t seem bothered that he’s got no backup from the Corporation. Austin comes out to his thunderous pop.
There’s a lot of trashtalk and the fists start flying before Austin takes his t-shirt off. This match was a precursor to the other two WrestleMania matches these two would have, it was a really great match.
Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin by pinfall. Mankind returns from the hospital to count the pin after several refs are taken out. Austin celebrates with the fans while Vince loses his mind outside.
Highlights: Earl Hebner swearing and visibly frustrated when Rock kicked out. HBK barring Vince from the match. Mankind taking out Vince.
Comments: While I enjoyed this match, I’m a little miffed that the drama over the referee took up so much time, at least from what I can see on the Network.
So, why is it that WrestleMania XV isn’t better remembered? I have to say, most of this card is forgettable. We got some interesting swerves, and the matches were okay or good, but nothing about this card really stands out except for Hell in a Cells, for horrible reasons, and the Main Event.
Stinkers: This is a three-way tie.
- In Terms of Overall Quality: Sable vs Tori. I’ve never skipped a match during this rewatch and I had to skip that one.
- In Terms of How I Felt When the Match Was Over: Undertaker vs Boss Man. I never want to feel that sickened and horrified ever again over a wrestling match.
- In Terms of Sheer Stupidity: Bart Gunn vs Butterbean. That was the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.
Match of the Night: Rock vs Austin.
Final Thoughts: This was an okay show. Other than Hell in a Cell, Brawl for All, and the Women’s Championship, I like most of the matches on the card, but I wouldn’t pull this one out to watch just because I wanted to watch it.