WM Top 25: #21 – WrestleMania XIX

Thanks for reading everyone. Please check out the full article on Examiner.com, featuring an embedded clip of Brock Lesnar missing the Shooting Star Press.

WrestleMania XIX was an interesting time for World Wrestling Entertainment.

During the year 2002 many big things happened in the company, for the better and for the worst. In 2001, the World Wrestling Federation bought its major competition in World Championship Wrestling and scooped up the remains of the dying Extreme Championship Wrestling. Immediately after WrestleMania X8, WWF decided to expand their touring schedule into separate “brands,” where wrestlers would be “drafted” to either the RAW show or the SmackDown show and would wrestle primarily for that brand. Then about a month later, the World Wrestling Federation (which it was called at the time) went under a name change to World Wrestling Entertainment, thanks to losing a legal battle to the World Wildlife Fund for the initials “WWF.”

By early 2003 the company started to find its groove and established the two brands into clearly distinguished shows with different talent, styles and booking philosophies.

So by the time that WrestleMania XIX came around in late March 2003 there was a lot more main event available for top spots as both brands had their own separate World Championship that could deserve the final match of the night. Plus other major matches were scheduled for the show, including WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon battling his own creation Hulk Hogan, Chris Jericho challenging Shawn Michaels and The Rock battling Stone Cold Steve Austin in what ultimately ended up being Austin’s final match and one of Rock’s last matches as well.

But ultimately the final spot of the evening ended up going to former NCAA wrestling powerhouse Brock Lesnar against Olypmic gold medalist Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship, the company’s biggest prize. Lesnar had only been in WWE for a little under a year at this point and won his second WWE Championship in the match, while Angle had only been with the company for little over three years at that point was already a three-time World Champion.

With so many viable main events to choose from to ultimately close the show, it was a testament to WWE’s thinking at the time when they let their two most legitimate athletes on the roster at the time, both who were essentially rookies in the business by most people’s standards, close the biggest show of the year. Despite so many big time name athletes like Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Undertaker, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and even Vince McMahon himself on the card, it was refreshing to let some young blood carry the show.

At the time it felt like WWE was really going through a new phase in their history, what with their new name, their initial “brand expansion” and new main event stars on top of the card it was an interesting time to be a WWE fan. Since then the roster expansion has continually been tweaked, Lesnar is out of the industry and Angle is working for TNA Wrestling, WWE’s main competition, but it was a sign that WWE was willing to try something new. The company put a lot of faith in Lesnar and Angle to close out their biggest event and frankly they didn’t disappoint. It’s always been said that Vince McMahon works his best when his back is against the wall, and with him still trying to “get over” his the company’s new name, new touring concept and new talent he didn’t disappoint with this event.

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