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:
Date: March 28, 1999
Venue: First Union Center (Wells Fargo Center), Philadelphia, Pa.
Triple Threat Hardcore Championship Match – Hardcore Holly def. Billy Gunn & Al Snow
World Tag Team Championship – Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett w/Debra def. Test & D-Lo Brown w/Ivory
Brawl 4 All – Butterbean def. Bart Gunn by knockout
Referee Match – Mankind def. Big Show by disqualification
Fatal Four-Way Intercontinental Championship Match – Road Dogg def. Ken Shamrock, Val Venis & Goldust w/Blue Meanie & Ryan Shamrock
Kane def. Triple H by disqualification
Women’s Championship – Sable def. Tori
European Championship – Shane McMahon w/Test def. X-Pac
Hell in a Cell Match – The Undertaker def. Big Boss Man (Undertaker: 8-0)
WWE Championship – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin def. The Rock
- There was a lot of good happening during the “Attitude Era” for WWE, but there was also some bad as well. While this was one of the more profitable times in the history of the wrestling industry to this point, this WrestleMania card lacked the feel of a WrestleMania. Outside of the main event between Steve Austin and The Rock, there weren’t many fond memories of this show other than the fact that it took place in Philadelphia.
- Since this event did take place in Philadelphia, and we here at Philly.com love the city so much that we decided to name our site after it, we must pay special attention to the city for this event. This was the first and only WrestleMania to take place in Philadelphia to date. However, Philadelphia was close to landing WrestleMania XXXI next year, but that did not come to fruition. The 19,514 people that watched the event live in the First Union Center were the most since WrestleMania VIII when more than 60,000 packed the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Ind. Before the days of Axxess, WWE held what it called a “WrestleMania Rage Party” at the Pennsylvania Convention Center the night before the show. The party included superstar appearances and live musical acts included rapper Big Pun and the legendary Isaac Hayes. There was a Philadelphia flavor to WrestleMania as well as Boys II Men opened the show with a great rendition of “America the Beautiful” and the Blue Meanie made his WrestleMania debut in his hometown of Philadelphia. Meanie (real name Brian Heffron) accompanied Goldust to the ring during the Intercontinental Championship match.
- One of the seasons why this show was seen as kind of lackluster was because of the over-booked matches that took place. The show opened with a triple threat match for the Hardcore title, there was a fatal four-way elimination match for the Intercontinental title and even the main event — as good as it was — had four referees. Not to mention the perplexing amount of turns for Triple H and Chyna. Heading into the event, Chyna turned on Triple H, joined The Corporation and sided with Kane. During the show she turned against Kane and reunited with Triple H. Then, she was by the side of Triple H when he turned on Degeneration-X. Did you follow all of that? It was a lot to digest.
- As far as the firsts that took place on this show. Among them were, Big Show making his WrestleMania debut after jumping from World Championship Wrestling about a month prior, the Hardcore Championship being defended at a WrestleMania and Michael Cole announcing his first-ever WrestleMania. Cole did not call the main event, however. That distinction went to Jim Ross. By the way, Big Show looked kind of funny wearing trunks as oppose to a singlet. The Brood (Gangrel, Edge and Christian) also made its WrestleMania debut, but only to help The Undertaker after his Hell in a Cell match. I’ll have more on that later.
- Unfortunately, there were some finalities as well. This marked the final WrestleMania appearance of Owen Hart. This was Hart’s 10th WrestleMania appearance and it was a successful one, as he and Jeff Jarrett defending their tag team titles. Hart tragically died in May of 1999. This was also the final WrestleMania appearance of Gorilla Monsoon, who served as judge for the very brief Brawl 4 All fight. Monsoon died in October of 1999.
- Speaking of Brawl 4 All, it culminated at WrestleMania XV. WWE set up a 16-man tournament where wrestlers would really fight each other. The tournament was essentially a tough man competition where the competitors wore gloves and threw real punches. There was nothing choreographed or scripted about this. It was as they say in the wrestling business, a “shoot”. Bart Gunn mowed through the tournament by knocking out three of his four opponents to win it. His reward: a one-on-one fight against Eric “Butterbean” Esch at WrestleMania. That wasn’t much of a reward at all. It turned to look more like a punishment as Butterbean knocked Gunn out with a vicious right hand in just 35 seconds. It was brutal to watch Gunn almost get his head knocked clean off his shoulders. Not only did it hurt him, but it kind of hurt the wrestling business as well. Not only did Butterbean knock one of the wrestlers out cold in front the biggest audience all year but he knocked out a guy that had knocked out three other wrestlers before then.
- The Big Boss Man made his return to WrestleMania after spending some time with WCW. It was seven years between his WrestleMania appearances.
- Butterbean wasn’t the only person outside of the wrestling business to take part in WrestleMania, as Pete Rose appeared once again, this time dressed as the San Diego Chicken. For whatever reason, Rose tried to gain revenge on Kane for putting him in the tombstone piledriver the year before, but unfortunately for Charlie Hustle, he received a tombstone for the second year in a row.
- As mentioned earlier, Triple H turned his back on D-X and joined The Corporation. Triple H had yearned for a real run as a singles competitor and WrestleMania XV was the start of it. Triple H wasted little time making an impact, as he won his first WWE Championship in August of 1999.
- The Undertaker moved to 8-0 at WrestleMania on this night, but it happened in probably the most lackluster Hell in a Cell match ever. The match was very short and lacked anything really memorable. However, the icing on the cake was The Undertaker having a noose lowered to him by The Brood. He then wrapped it around the Big Boss Man’s neck and hung him from the cell. This was unbelievable, unrealistic and even a little uncomfortable. It was unbelievable from a story and visual standpoint. Nothing like this had been done on this big of a stage. It was unrealistic because who would really believe The Undertaker would commit murder in front of almost 20,000 people. It became even more unrealistic when, you know, Big Boss Man began wrestling again. It was kind of uncomfortable because a man hanging from noose is crossing a lot of lines, especially with African Americans. But it was 1999 and it was on pay-per-view, so I guess people didn’t seem to mind. Today, it would be a huge firestorm. Daniel Bryan got fired a couple of years ago for choking a guy with his tie.
- An even worse match was the Women’s Championship match, which probably set women’s wrestling back a couple of years. It was botched move after botched move and not much else quite frankly. It was a god-awful display.
- I spotted a couple of notable people in the stands during the show, including The Rock’s mother, Ata Johnson, who was seated in the front row behind the announce table. I also spotted Extreme Championship Wrestling super fan John Bailey, better known as “Straw Hat Guy”.