30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania XIX

032714_brock-lesnar_600
Brock Lesnar. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Because of the WWE Network, fans can now watch every single WrestleMania from start to finish.

So, for 30 days leading up to WrestleMania XXX, we will take an extensive look back at each event from the very first, to the most recent.

Here's the WrestleManias we've covered so far:

WM I | WM II | WM III | WM IV | WM V | WM VI | WM VII | WM VIII | WM IX | WM X | WM XI | WM XII | WM 13 | WM XIV | WM XV | WM 2000 | WM X-Seven | WM X-8

WrestleMania XIX

Date: March 30, 2003

Venue: Safeco Field, Seattle, Wash.

Attendance: 54,097

Match Results:

Cruiserweight Championship – Matt Hardy def. Rey Mysterio

Handicap Match – The Undertaker def. Big & A-Train (Undertaker: 11-0)

Triple Threat for Women’s Championship – Trish Stratus def. Jazz & Victoria

Triple Threat for WWE Tag Team Championship – Team Angle (Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas) def. Los Guerreros, Chris Benoit & Rhyno

Shawn Michaels def. Chris Jericho

Cat Fight – Stacy Keibler, Torrie Wilson & Miller Light Cat Fight girls went to no contest

World Heavyweight Championship – Triple H w/Ric Flair def. Booker T

Street Fight – Hulk Hogan def. Vince McMahon

The Rock def. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

WWE Championship – Brock Lesnar def. Kurt Angle

Observations:

- In my opinion, WrestleMania X-Seven is the greatest WrestleMania to date. If there’s a debate somewhere for the second-best, WrestleMania XIX has to be in it. The main event matches more than delivered and the only undercard match that was below the level of good was the so-called catfight. In fairness, no one could have expected too much out of that match, as there weren’t a bunch of experienced in-ring technicians in the match. As a matter of fact, the match didn’t take place in the ring at all, but I digress. The match quality on this card was very good and stories that went along with them were even better. WWE showcased a lot of depth on its roster with this show and the result was a very memorable WrestleMania.

- The match that closed the show was a contest between two of the most decorated athletes not only in the history of WWE, but also in the history of the United States. Both Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle were accomplished amateur wrestlers and Angle won a gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics. Their accomplishments outside of the ring gave the feel of a real fight. Their prowess inside the business of professional wrestling made it the biggest match on the card. As most expected, Lesnar and Angle delivered. Besides the greatness of the match, there were a couple of other things to take away from this encounter. Firstly, Lesnar was in the main event of his very first WrestleMania. Lesnar debuted on WWE television right after WrestleMania X-8 and a year later he was closing the very next one. I don’t have any official confirmation on this, but that has to be one of the shortest time frames in WWE history between debut and WrestleMania main event. Lesnar’s rise in 2002 and 2003 was unheard of then and it still is now. However, Lesnar rose so far that he thought he could fly at the end of the match when he inexplicably attempted a shooting star press. A shooting star press is very difficult for a wrestler of any size, let alone a man that is well over six-feet tall and weighed close to 300 pounds. Even worse was that he tried it when Angle was too far away from him. He never really had a chance of landing that move. Predictably, Lesnar fell on his and knocked himself silly before winning the title.

- That main event was the dawning of a new face of the WWE, the main event that went on before it was the sunset of another. Unbeknownst to anyone outside of WWE, Austin had decided that his match against The Rock at WrestleMania XIX would be his last. Austin was the face of the WWE when it soared to new heights during the “Attitude Era” and decided to have fitting end to his career against his chief rival, The Rock. This was the third time Austin and The Rock went one-on-one at WrestleMania. No other two men have that honor and distinction. The beauty of this rivalry was that there weren’t any added stipulations to none of the matches. It was simply Austin versus The Rock and that was all WWE needed to get people to buy in. When people bought in, they got three distinct matches from the two of them. Sure, Austin and The Rock flip flopped the role of good guy and bad guy in each match, but each match would have stood on their own without that. This particular match was built around the fact The Rock had done everything there was to do in wrestling besides defeat Austin at WrestleMania, and made it his life’s goal to finally do so. The match itself was great, which was not a surprise. One funny thing I noticed during the match was when The Rock had put on Austin’s vest. While wearing the vest, The Rock had been knocked around a little and attempted to get up on wobbly legs. Even on wobbly legs, The Rock attempted to straighten out the vest make himself look good in it. A testament to how funny The Rock was as that heel character in 2003.

- Like Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage did more than a decade earlier, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho stole the show at WrestleMania XIX. The story that was told leading up to the match was great, as Jericho was going up against a man who he once idolized, but now despised. Michaels was having his first WrestleMania match in five years on this night and didn’t show any signs of stage fright after not being on the biggest of stages for such a long time. The storytelling during the match was top-notch as well with Jericho imitating Michaels’ mannerisms and him even stealing sweet chin music on one occasion. Again, WWE had a ton of depth on its roster at this point as this match was in the middle of the show, but it wound up being one of the most memorable matches not only of this particular night but in WrestleMania history.

- The main event that vastly exceeded expectations was Vince McMahon versus Hulk Hogan. Both men were well past their physical primes even at this point, but still managed to deliver a memorable match. This was not meant to be a technical masterpiece. After all, it was a street fight, but it did have everything else people would like to see. It had a good back-story, it had good hardcore action, it had blood and it even had Roddy Piper come from out of nowhere and hit Hogan with lead pipe. In my opinion, McMahon was never better in a match than he was during this one. He was bleeding all over the place and even gave Hogan a leg drop from the top of the ladder through the announce table. The best moment had to have been when McMahon was outside of the ring and he found the lead pipe. He then rose slowly from under the ring with his face covered in blood and with a very sinister look. He literally looked like the devil. Michael Cole even said it on commentary. A side note to this match was that this Hogan’s final WrestleMania match.

- The main event match that underwhelmed the most was the World Heavyweight Championship match between Triple H and Booker T. It wasn’t that the match itself was bad. It was actually quite good, but I will never get over the decision to let Triple H beat Booker T. I just won’t. It did not make any sense then and it still doesn’t now. Booker T had the great story of redemption where he overcame a troubled past to make it to the top of the WWE. (You can read more about that past here.) Triple H, being a heel, sort of teetered the lines of racism when he would cut promos on Booker T, which I didn’t have a problem with as long as Booker T came out on top in the end to complete the redemption story. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Not only did it not happen that night, I’m not even sure if that program continued past WrestleMania. It was a true missed opportunity for WWE. Booker T didn’t have to hold the belt forever. He could have held it for a month or two, but he deserved that moment in the spotlight. The story dictated that he should, but for whatever reason, WWE decided that it wasn’t going to take that route. Fortunately, Booker T bounced back nicely and continued building his Hall of Fame resume.

- The Undertaker routinely has great matches at WrestleMania nowadays. Back in 2003, it was still sort of hit or miss. After knocking it out of the park two years in a row, there was a miss at WrestleMania XIX when he faced Big Show and A-Train in a handicap match. The Undertaker was supposed to take on the two giants alongside Nathan Jones, but Jones was pulled from the match not long before the show. Jones did show up during the match and delivered a wicked spin kick to Big Show. The most notable thing about this match was Limp Bizkit playing The Undertaking down to the ring. If you’re into Fred Durst, I guess you like that.

- A lot of wrestlers made their debut at the Showcase of the Immortals on this night, including Lesnar, Rey Mysterio, Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin, Chavo Guerrero, Victoria, Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson. Rhyno had his first WrestleMania match on this night, but this wasn’t his first WrestleMania appearance, as he appeared during the Tables, Ladders and Chairs match at WrestleMania X-Seven. This was Matt Hardy’s fourth WrestleMania, but his first in a singles capacity. John Cena also made his first WrestleMania appearance, but only in a segment where he rapped.

- Speaking of Rhyno, he missed a significant amount of time due to a neck injury, as did his tag team partner on this night Chris Benoit. Sitting out this particular night with a serious neck injury of his own was Edge, who was forced to take time off only weeks earlier. Edge didn’t return to action until after WrestleMania XX.

- The Miller Light Catfight girls were very pleasing to look at, but were just awful actors. I mean they were downright bad. They also had an average-at-best catfight with Keibler and Wilson. I understand why, but this got way more attention than the triple threat match for the Women’s title, which featured some beautiful and athletic women. By the way, Philadelphia native Stevie Richards was at ringside for the Women’s title match.

- This was the first WrestleMania since WWE split up its brands, which explains the amount of depth it possessed on its roster at the time. Because of the brand split, the Cruiserweight title was defended at a WrestleMania for the first time. This was also the first WrestleMania when the promotion was known as World Wrestling Entertainment.

Continue Reading