WM PPV Countdown: #16 – WrestleMania XV

Smack dab in the middle of the “Attitude” era and at the heights of creative writer Vince Russo’s “Crash TV” style of booking comes WrestleMania XV. With ten matches on the WrestleMania card proper and about a dozen rivalries intertwined throughout the card, the show just felt like a supercard from top to bottom.

On Sunday Night Heat, live before WrestleMania went live on pay per view, a 21-man battle royal was held to create the opponents for Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart’s WWF Tag Team Championships. While there were six full time tag teams included in the battle royal the winners ending up being D-Lo Brown and Test, two men who had no relation or issue with each other or Jarrett and Hart. Leading up to WrestleMania Brown was teaming with Mark Henry and were feuding with Jarrett and Hart, but Henry went out with an injury so I guess they felt this was the best way rectify the situation and continue the standing practice of getting as many of the “boys” a WrestleMania payday as they can.

Also in typical Vince Russo booking practices, just days before the event he switched up two of the mid-card Title matches. Leading up to the event Billy Gunn, Val Venis, Ken Shamrock and Goldust had all intertwined into a rivalry involving the Intercontinental Championship and Ken Shamrock’s “sister” Ryan that was all set to culminate at WrestleMania. Meanwhile Gunn’s DeGeneration X tag team partner The Road Dogg had been in a small core group of wrestlers establishing the new Hardcore Championship as a viable prize in the company. Road Dogg was forced to vacate the Hardcore Championship in February due to an injury and Bob Holly and Al Snow battled to crown a new Champion. WrestleMania XV was to be the night that Road Dogg would challenge Holly and Snow to reclaim his Title. But days before the show, after Dogg and Gunn wrestled Holly and Val Venis on an episode of Sunday Night Heat, a challenge was made for RAW the next night where Gunn would challenge Holly for the Hardcore Title and Road Dogg would challenge Venis for the Intercontinental Title. Naturally that next night on RAW, Gunn and The Dogg both won their respective matches and the Titles their tag partner had been challenging for. So Gunn was inserted into the Hardcore Title triple threat match and Dogg was put in the Intercontinental Title fatal four-way match, taking the heat out of both matches before the big show.

Keeping with the WrestleMania tradition of celebrity involvement, legitimate tough man fighter Butterbean was brought in to battle WWF’s Brawl For All legit tough man competition winner Bart Gunn in a tough man boxing match. While it made for great promotion on paper, once the match started Butterbean knocked Gunn cold in mere seconds, successfully killing of the aura of Brawl For All tournament and any chance of success Bart Gunn was enjoying.

But the over-arching story of the whole night was the domination of Mr. McMahon’s Corporation and their battle against the company’s top heroes and fellow stable of villains The Ministry of Darkness. Ministry leader The Undertaker took on Corporation enforcer Big Boss Man in a Hell in a Cell. Triple H, leader of DeGeneration X, battled Kane, The Corporation’s hired monster while Shane McMahon, playing the spoiled rich brat, had taken the European Championship as his own and took on DX’s lieutenant X-Pac. Of course this ended with Triple H turning on DX and joining The Corporation, and turning Kane into a hero and a new ally of X-Pac and the fractured D-X.

In addition Mankind battled The Corporation’s giant Paul “Big Show” Wight for the rights to referee the main event WWF Championship match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Corporate Champion The Rock. Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock ruled the WWF in the ‘90s. They were the leaders of the “Attitude” era that played against each other even better than they played with each other. It is a rivalry that lasted the span of five and a half years, right up until Austin’s very last match in the business. They are the only two men to have three separate singles matches against each other at different WrestleManias. Their first meeting on the “grandest stage of them all” was at WrestleMania XV, live from the historic wrestling town of Philadelphia, PA. The Rock entered the match as WWF Champion, the handpicked corporate champion of Vince McMahon. Austin came in as the people’s hero; the man who defied authority and did what he wanted, when he wanted. And like a good story, should this chapter ended with the hero coming out victorious as Austin came out of this first meeting as the new WWF Champion.

Match Results:
– Jacqueline beat Ivory live on Sunday Night Heat before the pay per view went on the air.
– D-Lo Brown and Test co-won a battle royal live on Sunday Night Heat before the pay per view went on the air to earn a WWF Tag Title shot later on in the night. Other participants included Gillberg, Droz, The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal), Public Enemy (Flyboy & Johnny Grunge), The Godfather, Mideon, Viscera, The Acolytes (Faarooq & Bradshaw), Too Much (Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor), Steve Blackman, DOA (Skull & 8-Ball), Matt & Jeff Hardy and Tiger Ali Singh.
– Hardcore beat Billy Gunn (c) and Al Snow in a triple threat match to win the WWF Hardcore Championship.
– Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett (c) beat D-Lo Brown & Test to retain the WWF World Tag Team Championships.
– Butterbean knocked out Bart Gunn in a Brawl For All match.
– Mankind beat The Big Show by disqualification to earn the right to referee the main event.
– The Road Dogg (c) beat Ken Shamrock, Val Venis & Goldust in a four-way elimination match to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
– Kane beat Triple H by disqualification.
– Sable (c) beat Tori to retain the WWF Women’s Championship.
– Shane McMahon (c) beat X-Pac to retain the WWF European Championship.
– The Undertaker beat The Big Boss Man in a Hell in a Cell match.
– Stone Cold Steve Austin beat The Rock (c) in a no disqualifications match to win the WWF World Championship.

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