Joel: This WrestleMania had several firsts for the show. This was the first WrestleMania after the company switched from WWF to WWE. (If you watch the show on the WWE Network, even though the WWF scratch logos have been unblurred, there are a few cases here where they remain blurred in footage of past WrestleManias.) But it’s also the first WrestleMania after the Brand Extension, which means that the show was presented as two separate rosters coming putting on one giant show. This leads to a somewhat clunky feeling as we bounce between the two rosters, but it’s not a huge issue. I think this may have also been the first time that Undertaker’s streak was mentioned by the show. It was little more than a throwaway line by the commentary saying that Undertaker was 10-0 but still, it’s going to be shaping up to be its own thing in the next couple of years. The match quality is impressive for the show as well. Chris Jericho has is best WrestleMania appearance to date and the same might be said of Shawn Michaels though I haven’t quite decided how this match ranks compared to the hour long Iron Man match. Rock and Stone Cold complete their trilogy of matches in a fantastic send off for Stone Cold. It’s not quite on par with their match at X7 but it’s nothing to be ashamed off and it’s a fantastic final match for Steve Austin. The main event between Brock Lesnar and Kurt is strong as well, but when you read about Kurt Angle’s injuries at the time, it’s flat out amazing that the two of them were able to pull off such a match without forcing Angle into injured retirement.
The downsides of this WrestleMania were mostly the backstage segments (the catfight girls seem especially dated now. It took me forever to figure out where that was from.) and from the show grinding to a halt for Limp Bizkit, but if you focus on matches alone, you’ve got one of your better WrestleManias.
Best WrestleMania so far: I’m sticking with X7 but not by much. XIX comes surprisingly close.
Kue: Transitional periods in WWE can be excitingly unpredictable. And through that unpredictability can come out some pretty quality products. Mania 19 is an example of this.
The card had some misses (Morley and Storm/Kane and RVD, Taker/Big Show and A Train), but the rest of the card more than made up for it. Trips/Booker was a decent match, inappropriate racial undertones aside. Team Angle/Los Guerreros was a great deal of fun. Hogan/McMahon was a satisfactory bloody brawl. And Angle/Lesner had all the technical expertise and frighteningly real risks that makes a fantastic show closer.
My two standout matches from this event, however, are Austin/Rock III and Jericho/Michaels. Regarding the former, there was a unique drama that set it apart from their previous two Mania encounters. The dichotomy of a perfect heel Hollywood Rock (my favorite heel in wrestling) and a returning avenging kick ass Austin made this epic my favorite Mania match between these two. And arguably the match of the night, Jericho and Michaels proved, through pure psychology and athleticism, that no matter who was booked in the main events, these two were the best performers of the time.
Easily in my top three Manias of all time.
Sanders: There’s a lot of reasons why this Wrestlemania is significant. It’s the first to feature a split brand since more and more of WCW’s talent are added to the roster, it’s the first Wrestlemania with the WWE name change, the first Wrestlemania to feature Shawn Michael’s since 1998 and it’s the final match of Stone Cold’s career.
It’s easy to point at the HBK/Jericho match as the one that stole the show but Rock/Austin III wasn’t that far behind and, perhaps it’s simply the nostalgia of it all but it’s my favorite of the trilogy of matches they had. Just like I discussed in the previous review, there’s a bit of an awkward “the wrong match went on last” situation because Rock/Austin III should’ve gone on last but, once again, the championship goes on last. Not to diminish anything Lesnar and Angle did because it’s a great main event for most Wrestlemanias, even if it tends to only be remembered for the failed Lesnar shooting star press. In the end, it was a monumental show and it should be towards the top of most Wrestlemania rankings.I think my top 3 at the moment is 17, 8 and 19.
BD: WrestleMania 19 is another in the line of “a few really good ‘Manias” with another really strong (probably stronger than 18, not as strong as 17) in terms of how many matches delivered. There was some definite filler as well (Undertaker’s handicap match, Matt Hardy as a singles wrestler, Hogan / Vince, HHH Booker… still amazes me that they didn’t go with Booker at this point. Booker and RVD were the two MAJOR dropped balls of this Era – both guys were very over.
… but it also had Team Angle vs. Team Guererro, and semi-main events HBK vs. Jericho and Rock vs. Austin both blew it out of the water. The main event, Brock and Angle, was an amazing match, and not just because it perfectly illustrated 2 things about Brock Lesnar:
1) Brock can actually pull off a shooting star press
2) Brock probably shouldn’t be trying to pull off any more shooting star presses – and he never did again. (For the record, Brock actually did pull off the move – it was just the distance he couldn’t cover.)
The match also was marked by a notable apparent neck injury that Kurt had at the time, which doctors apparently refused to clear him to wrestle on. Kurt said he was “risking paralysis, and even death” wrestling at WrestleMania with the injury, and that the injury would likely end his career. So naturally, he wrestled with the bad neck, returned within several months, and has continued to wrestle for the last decade and a half.
Tags: Booker T, Brock Lesnar, clashy ring attire, HHH, Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, VInce McMahon