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The Dames' Diatribe on WWE Wrestlemania 19

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<center><b><u>The Dames’ Diatribe on WWE Wrestlemania 19</center></u></b>


Please forgive the fact that this is a few days late but there was just no way that I’d be able to review a 4 hour show and still make it to work in the morning. EWR 3.0 (Extreme Warfare Revenge, wrestling simulator) was just released on Wrestlemania Sunday and I just had to test it out a bit as well. For those of you who were big fans of the earlier versions, this one is even better and you can download it straight from, Adam Ryland’s site (the creator of EWR) at <a href="http://www.adamryland.co.uk">www.adamryland.co.uk.</a>It’s updated with all of the latest wrestlers and stats and hell, TheSmartMarks.com is even in the game as a sponsor! It’s so updated that Perry Saturn and Viscera are in NWA:TNA and they just debuted <a href="http://thesmartmarks.com/artman/publish/article_795.shtml">last Wednesday! </a>


Well, tonight is the night that wrestling fans look forward to the most. The big matches and big moments that take place at Wrestlemania have trained us to anticipate this day unlike any other as wrestling fans. However, in the past few years, Wrestlemania just hasn’t felt the same as it used to, at least to me. What WM is missing is, in my opinion, is the big year long (or 6 month) build up to the big matches. It seems like most matches these days for WM are made up after No Way Out without much build up to it. Last year’s most memorable Wrestlemania match featured Rock/Hogan whose hype didn’t begin until the night after No Way Out. Triple H vs. Chris Jericho could have had a great build up as Jericho was in the ring when HHH hurt his quad in 2001, but everyone knows what happened after that. Wrestlemania 17 had two matches that were built up well (Rock/Austin and TLC 2) but everything else seemed to be slapped together at the last minute like Angle/Benoit. The same thing has happened this year as most of the matches were put together after No Way Out except for Angle/Lesnar and Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho. Do you think there’s a coincidence that those are two of the most anticipated matches on tonight’s card? Usually for my PPV reports, my Match Backgrounds are fairly extensive and play up the history between the two competitors, even if the promotion refuses to acknowledge some of it. For my own personal satisfaction, the Match Backgrounds will be slightly more extensive to show exactly what the backstory is going into the Granddaddy of Them All.


Before we get to Wrestlemania though, a few things happened on Sunday Night Heat. John Cena’s “rap off” was subjugated to Heat duty as WWE couldn’t get any real rappers to battle him on the PPV. Cena walked out onto the stage in between two Austin Powers cut outs with Jay-Z’s head interposed onto Austin and Fabolous's on Mini Me. Usually I transcribe all of Cena's raps because I mark for them, but keep in mind this is a 4 hour show PLUS Heat and this thing is already going to be long. He trashed talked them for ducking his challenge, but he had some technical difficulties at first because his mic didn't work. Eventually it came on and he got some good ones off like “if you lived at a sperm bank, you still couldn’t get your comeback” and even took a shot at the XFL which got “ooohs” from the crowd. No mention of Brock Lesnar in his raps though.


Another vignette that aired on Heat was Nunzio stealing Nathan Jones’ wallet and luring him to the bathroom where he was beaten up by The Big Show and A-Train. This was probably in retaliation to Jones taking out FBI member Chuck Palumbo on Smackdown. It now looks as if The Undertaker will be taking on A-Train and the Big Show in a Handicap Match tonight.


Sadly, also relegated to Heat was the Raw Tag Title match.


<b>Bonus Heat Match:

RVD & Kane vs. Lance Storm & Chief Morley for the World Tag Team Titles


Match Background:</b> For the past three months or so, Kane and Rob Van Dam have been teaming up together and have gone up the tag team ranks on Raw. At No Way Out, Kane and RVD squared off against tag team champs William Regal and Lance Storm and lost when Kane chokeslammed his partner accidentally. It seemed as if they were having problems, but worked them out eventually. In the meantime, Chief Morely, assistant to Eric Bischoff, had been feuding with the Dudley Boys for about two months or so costing them the tag titles the night after The Royal Rumble and practically giving the victory to Storm and Regal. The Dudleys were then suspended for trying to beat up Bischoff and Morely. The Dudleys kept interfering in Morely’s matches and stayed on suspension as a result of it. Morely gave the Dudleys several opportunities to come off of suspensions, having to win Handicap matches and such, but Morely always insured that they didn’t succeed. William Regal then fell ill and hadn’t wrestled since No Way Out and so Chief Morley stood in his place against RVD & Kane on Raw a couple of weeks ago. Kane and RVD beat the team of Storm and Morely but get jumped from behind by the Dudley Boys! It was revealed later on that Morely told them to join him and the Bischoff administration or stay on suspension and the Dudley’s needed the money, hence the turn. The following week on Raw, Chief Morley stripped William Regal of his half of the World Tag Team Title since he hadn’t competed in 30 days…and awarded the title to himself, making he and Storm the tag champions. The Dudleys took on RVD & Kane in a number one contenders match for the tag titles and RVD & Kane were victorious despite Morley and Storm's interference, setting up tonight’s match up.


<b>The Match:</b> Storm and Morley come to the ring with the Dudleys behind them as their enforcers, so to speak. The arena with the dome up still has a lot of light shining through and has an outdoor feel to it, making for a very cool visual. That is a LONG ramp, by the way. RVD got the "opening babyface pop" on his way out although the cheers are somewhat lost by the acoustics of the arena. Storm and Morely attack the faces at the start of the match but end up going to the outside to regroup. RVD comes over the top with a somersault plancha followed by a plancha by KANE(!) onto the tag champs. At this point...they go to commercial. So much for this match meaning ANYTHING. We come back with 7 minutes til the start of Wrestlemania and RVD is already the face in peril taking chops from Morely left and right. This clock counting down to Wrestlemania gives this match an Ironman match feel to me for some reason. Morely puts on a chinlock and a sleeper to waste some more time, just like an Ironman match, but RVD counters with one of his own only to end up at the wrong end of a Blue Thunder Bomb. Morely goes to the 2nd rope and attempts an elbow drop but RVD moves and makes a tag to Kane who becomes a HOSS...EN...FUEGO~! That's appropriate when it comes to Kane. He goes for the chokeslam on Storm but Storm elbows out only to fall into a tilt a whirl slam. Kane comes off the top with his top rope clothesline and that gets a broken up two. RVD comes into the ring and helps take care of the tag champs allowing Storm to get the chokeslam on Storm! RVD gets the tag and heads up to the top for the Five Star Frog Splash, but gets pushed off the top by Morely. Kane heads to the outside to take out Morely...but the Dudley's go into the ring and hit 3D on Lance Storm to a pop! D'Von goes to the outside and throws RVD in, but Bubba stays in the ring and thinks about his actions....and elbow drops RVD while he tries to make the cover! The ref finally comes back in from trying to separate Kane and Morely and makes the count to give the win to Storm and Morely.


<b>Winners: Lance Storm & Chief Morley</b>


D'Von runs to confront Bubba Ray Dudley on his actions...but we go to a video package hyping up Mania before we see what happens.


<b>My Opinion:</b> I think the storyline here is that while the Dudley's hate Chief Morley, Bubba needs the money, while D'Von doesn't care. It might lead to a second separation of the Dudleys with Bubba as the heel this time. The match was fine but very rushed and a commercial break at the start cut off any momentum it had before they had to go all near fall crazy at the end. *1/4.


As the PPV starts, R&B superstar Ashanti belts out America The Beautiful in the ring, prompting a USA chant. I'm surprised Ja Rule didn't try to come in and bust out the remix. "America....Murda Inc...Baby Gurrrrrrl....uh!"


Wrestlemania finally starts with an awesome video package on what Wrestlemania means to them. I'm such a mark for these things. Clips of previous 'Mania's are shown. For those of you who care, Bret Hart is only shown once (WM 9). BIG fireworks to kick off the event before our first match...


<b>Matt Hardy vs. Rey Mysterio for the WWE Cruiserweight Title


Match Background:</b> In 1996, Rey Mysterio arrived in WCW and took their newly created Cruiserweight Division by storm. In an industry where big men always prospered, it was around this time that the smaller wrestlers were allowed to shine. We had Shawn Michaels as the World Champion, defeating larger opponents such as Vader and Sid and men like Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bret Hart were becoming headliners on a regular basis. Rey was not only smaller than these men, but also had the stigma of being a masked Mexican luchador, employing a style that never caught on in the US. At the Great American Bash in 1996, Rey Mysterio made his debut taking on Dean Malenko for the Cruiserweight Title and got over with the fans with his lightning quick maneuvers, unique style and charisma. He eventually won the title and opened the door for more luchadors to come into WCW and truly establish the first successful light heavyweight division in the US. Fast forward years later and WCW is now gone and along with it, the essence of the Cruiserweight Division, the one thing that truly separated WCW from WWE. WWE kept the WCW Cruiserweight Title belt trying to make a light heavyweight division work, but tampered with the style of most of the wrestlers and gave them very little tv time, burying the division before it could truly get off the ground.


In the summer of 2002, WWE signed Rey Mysterio. Instead of going right after the Cruiserweight Title as many had predicted, he was immediately put into the mix with many of the top names on Smackdown, such as Kurt Angle, Edge and Chris Benoit. Having defeated larger wrestlers in WCW, Mysterio was seen a legitimate contender to all of these men and prospered in the beginning of the new Smackdown Tag Title Division. Once again, fast forward to a few more months and Billy Kidman in the Cruiserweight Champion. Without a real midcard title for the Smackdown brand to go after, Matt Hardy (whose gimmick was getting over enough to justify a midcard title if they had one) went after the Cruiserweight Title, losing a few pounds in the process to qualify. He defeated Billy Kidman at last month's No Way Out PPV with the help of his sidekick, Shannon Moore. A couple of weeks later on Smackdown, Rey Mysterio defeated former Cruiserweight Champion Jamie Knoble and Tajiri in a Triple Threat Match to become the #1 contender for the title at Wrestlemania. The following week, Matt Hardy, in preparation for his upcoming match with Rey, made an open challenge to any Cruiserweight except for Rey Mysterio. Brian Kendrick (formerly Spanky of Ring of Honor) accepted and almost defeated Mattitude until he intentionally got himself counted out. This earned Kendrick some respect on the part of Rey Mysterio. Kendrick then faced Shannon Moore on Smackdown the following week and defeated him after Rey came down to ringside to prevent Matt Hardy from interfering in the match. This past week on Smackdown, Rey and Kendrick teamed up to take on Matt Hardy and Shannon Moore with Mattitude getting the pin on Kendrick. Rey got a piece of revenge on Shannon Moore after the match, but ended up the recipient of Matt Hardy's Twist of Fate.


So now, the match is set for tonight. Matt Hardy vs. Rey Mysterio for the WWE Cruiserweight Title. Can Rey Mysterio take the title and get the fans interested in the CW Division again?


<b>The Match:</b> Rey Mysterio is wearing a maroon colored DareDevil-esque full body suit, complete with a horned mask covering the top half of his head. Matt Facts for tonight: "Matt is Appearing at his 4th Wrestlemania" and "Matt often wonders how they did Wrestlemania without him". Moore comes into the ring to distract Mysterio, but Rey chases him to the outside. Matt charges Rey from behind but gets elevated up and over the top rope onto Shannon and Rey leaps over the top onto them with a corkscrew plancha for two. Hardy ends up eating a rana out of the corner and a spinning wheel kick and goes to the apron where Rey tries to powerbomb him to the floor but Shannon Moore kicks him in the midsection. Hardy takes over again by tossing him onto the safety rail and gets a two count out of it. The Ricochet gets a two count as well. A heel chokehold on the ropes allows Moore to choke Rey too as the ref admonishes Mattitude, but Rey is able to fight back. Matt gets a kick to the midsection and goes for the Twist of Fate, but Rey counters it with a roll up for two. Rey runs to the other corner and tries to float over Matt, but gets caught in the Side Effect for two. Matt puts on a surfboard stretch for a few seconds and hits Rey with a few chops in the corner before eating boot. Rey takes the opportunity to nail a springboard Thesz press and cross body, followed up by a flying head scissors and swinging DDT for two. Rey sets Matt Hardy on the ropes for the 619, but Moore trips Rey and Matt Hardy nails the Twist of Fate! ONE...TWO...NO! Matt Hardy goes for the Black Tiger Bomb in the corner, but Rey ranas out of it on the way down! Rey makes the cover....ONE...TWO...NO! Shannon Moore put Matt's foot on the bottom rope at the very last second! Rey picks up Shannon onto the apron as Matt charges, so Rey ducks and Matt runs into Shannon! Rey dropkicks Matt and nails the 619! Rey goes for the West Coast Pop, but Matt sees it coming and ducks! Rey springboards onto Matt's shoulders and goes for a victory roll but Matt drops down and holds onto the ropes for the pinfall!


<b>Winner: Matt Hardy


My Opinion:</b> Just like I had stated on the forums, I thought Matt Hardy retaining was a good idea. Mania is a 4 hour show and a title change at the beginning of the telecast would be forgotten in the minds of the fans so its best to extend the feud and have Rey win it at Backlash. Part of me is a bit surprised at the loss by Rey because of the positioning on the card. Usually, WWE likes to have the faces win the first match on the PPV to rile up the crowd and with RVD & Kane losing the match on Heat, normally this match would be a lock for the babyface to win. Rey didn't lose much from this match and this gives Matt Hardy a longer reign so I'm happy with it. I wish it could have gotten more time though...this IS a 4 hour show. **


In the back, the Miller Lite Catfight girls arrive in a limo. I love Kitana Baker....I could care less about the other one. They tease fighting upon leaving the limo...


Tazz and Michael Cole introduce footage of Nathan Jones getting jumped on Heat before the following match...


<b>The Undertaker & Nathan Jones vs. A-Train and The Big Show:


Match Background:</b> The Undertaker and The Big Show had been feuding since October when Show through 'Taker off of the Smackdown stage and injured him for a few months. When Taker came back at the Royal Rumble, he was looking for revenge. The Big Show and his manager Paul Heyman, tried to get out of the upcoming match, but was unable to as UT defeated The Big Show at No Way Out. After the match, A-Train came in and delivered the Train Wreck to the Undertaker. A-Train, it turns out, was also being managed by Paul Heyman. Heyman was taken out of action by Brock Lesnar a few weeks ago, but that didn't stop Train and Show from trying to take out the Undertaker. However, WWE newcomer Nathan Jones came running down the ramp and chased them off. Nathan Jones has apparently been in prison for the past 10 years, but was promised by the Undertaker that he would be trained by him and brought to the WWE. The truth is that Nathan Jones can’t wrestle very well and this is their way of covering that up. This is a major plot hole in the Undertaker's story as 10 years ago, he barely spoke, played dead on a regular basis and looked like a zombie...but whatever. Some vignettes were shown of Taker training Jones in the back and he was scheduled to have his "debut" match on Smackdown against Chuck Palumbo, but Jones beat him up before the match took place. It had been rumored that this match was originally supposed to be Taker vs. Jones one on one, but Taker wasn't willing to put Nathan Jones over (and with his lack of skills, I don't blame him) and ruin his Wrestlemania Winning Streak. The Undertaker is 10-0 at WM and this is the first time he's been in a tag match at WM.


<b>The Match:</b> Tony Chimel introduces Limp Bizkit as "The WWE's favorite band in the World". Limp Bizkit plays all of “Rollin’” for the Undertaker's entrance, with Durst eventually ending up in the ring with dancers as they recreate the video. I know they weren't very popular but I really liked Drowning Pool. It's a shame lead singer Dave Williams died...at least I got to see them live at last year's Mania. 'Taker rides his bike to the ring, bearing the American flag with him. Big Show and A-Train come next with no Nathan Jones in sight. You just KNOW he'll be involved in the finish though. A-Train spits on 'Taker's bike before entering the ring to piss him off, but 'Taker realizes the ruse and ducks as Show charges from behind. Train runs into the ring and misses the bicycle kick and 'Taker hits the chokeslam 5 seconds into the match! It only gets a broken up two count as Show comes back in on time. Show and Train regroup at ringside and get 'Taker into the corner when they get into the ring, but he fights out of it. Train now comes in and the pace actually quickens with 'Taker leapfrogging over A-Train! 'Taker goes Old School and goes after Show giving A-Train the opening he needs to hit the Derailer. He doesn't bother to go for the cover as he tosses him to the outside for the Big Show. Show rams him into the ring post and drops him over the safety rail as the fans chant "Shave Your Back" at A-Train. Now with the heels working over on 'Taker, the match slows down a lot more and I'm just going to enjoy my deep dish pepperoni pizza for a second if you don't mind. Show goes for a chokeslam but 'Taker gets a Fujiwara armbar on him and a cross armbreaker on A-Train as he tries to come in as well. Show hits a BIG legdrop on Taker at this point though and the heels are back in control. Ab stretch by the Big Show and damn, this pizza is good. Yes, this match is going at a snail's pace at this point. 'Taker finally fights back by hitting a back suplex on A-Train but once again, the heels take control relatively quickly. A-Train verbally taunts 'Taker while he's down but 'Taker finally makes his comeback and nails a few punches to the hairy abdomen of the A-Train before getting a DDT for two. 'Taker takes over on both men with clotheslines in the corner and then goes for a chokeslam on Show, but is interrupted by A-Train. 'Taker sells a phantom blow to the back by Show but comes back with his flying clothesline. Bicycle kick by A-Train puts 'Taker down and Show follows it up with the chokeslam. Nathan Jones starts running down the aisle and Show goes to intercept him, but Jones ducks a clothesline and actually HITS with a spinning roundhouse which puts Show down and out on the aisle! Jones then runs into the ring as Taker kicks out and nails A-Train in the face with a big boot. 'Taker then picks Train up for the Tombstone and almost drops him, but manages to get it for the three count!


<b>Winner: The Undertaker & Nathan Jones


My Opinion:</b> At least they got the crap out of the way early...well, besides Hogan/Vince. Still afraid to pull the trigger on Jones in the ring, but that's ok with me. His role tonight was limited but effective. Amazingly enough, the match probably would have been better as a handicap match anyway. 3/4*


In the back, Kitana Baker and the other girl...(I don't care, really) are walking when they run into Torrie and Stacy who are both looking at Torrie's Playboy spread. Make your own jokes, please. The acting gets worse than porno levels as they kiss each others ass in conversation. Wow, this was completely pointless. WCW-like production errors continue to plague WWE as you can audibly hear "that was great...lets move on" by the men behind the camera as we fade away.


JR sends his well wishes to the troops in Iraq telling them to "kick their ass" and do it quickly. Amen.


We then show footage of the Raw Tag Title match that aired on Heat (I reviewed it at the top, remember) for those who forgot to watch it, which is probably most of you.


<b>Victoria (w/Steven Richards) vs. Jazz vs. Trish Stratus for the WWE Woman’s Championship


Match Background:</b> Most of last year, the Women’s title was in the middle of a feud between Jazz and Trish Stratus. At last year’s Wrestlemania, Trish Stratus tried to wrestle the Women’s title away from her in a triple threat match along with Lita, but was unsuccessful. Eventually, Trish was able to defeat Jazz for the Women’s Title and Jazz was put on the shelf with an injury. Victoria then debuted sometime last fall and immediately went after Trish, claiming that she slept her way to the top. Victoria faced Trish at No Mercy and was defeated the first time but defeated her at Survivor Series in a Hardcore Match for the title. With Steven Richards in her corner (last seen seconding Jazz), Victoria began to pile up victories as Women’s Champion and faced Trish Stratus again on the January 27th edition of Raw. After Victoria once again defeated Trish…Jazz made her return and blew right past Victoria in order to beat up on Trish. Jazz made it very clear from the get go that she wanted revenge on Trish for putting her on the shelf as well as regaining the Women’s Title, which Victoria didn’t take too kindly. Jazz and Victoria tagged to take on Jacqueline and Molly Holly and after defeating them, Victoria slapped Jazz in the face…but it doesn’t phase Jazz at all. The following week, Trish made her return going after Jazz and also takes out Victoria when she comes down to the ring as well! Jazz and Victoria teamed up a few times to take on Trish and Jacqueline but ended up on the losing end due to Jazz and Steven Richards getting into a confrontation. Later on that night, Trish faced Jazz to find out who the number one contender was, but were both nailed by Victoria with the title belt right after the match started. Jazz & Trish then teamed up the following week to take on Victoria and Steven Richards. Victoria made sure to ask Richards if he was still associated with Jazz, to which he denied. Victoria and Richards were then victorious as Jazz left Trish alone and walked to the back in the middle of the match. Trying to take out Trish, Victoria and Richards went to inflict more punishment, but Trish was saved by Jeff Hardy of all people. Trish and Jeff Hardy then took on Richards and Victoria and won…and were going to share a kiss before Jazz interrupted with a beat down on Trish. Victoria came down to do the same, but Jazz took her out as well and so the triple-threat match was signed for tonight.


<b>The Match:</b> Trish heads to one of the ends of the stage where she gets the confetti pyro treatment before making her way to the ring. Victoria's Titantron and entrance rules all. As she poses with Richards, Jazz attacks from behind and goes for the pinfall on Trish. This is not an elimination match by the way. Trish gets a Lou Thesz press on Jazz while Victoria is on the outside recovering. Trish goes after Jazz in the corner, but gets pulled down to the floor by Victoria, allowing her to come in and get her first taste of Jazz for the night. Ew, wrong wording, sorry. Victoria tosses Jazz to the outside and all three women brawl for a bit before Victoria hits his slingshot legdrop on Trish in the ring for two. Jazz tosses her out and hits a legdrop of her own on Trish for two. Victoria comes back in and helps Jazz double team Ms. Stratus with an ugly looking double shoulder breaker. Jazz then attacks Victoria, but the Women's champ gets a bodyslam out of it for two. Trish rolls Victoria up from behind, along with a NICE bridge, but it only gets a two count before Victoria clotheslines her as she gets up. Trish goes on an offensive flurry for a sec, but Jazz comes from behind and gives Trish a Michinoku Driver for a broken up two. Jazz argues with Victoria about breaking up the three and goes to KILL her, but Trish gets up and knocks their heads together. Trish beats up on both girls with forearm shots, but Victoria holds her from behind for a Jazz kick. She goes for it, but Trish ducks and Jazz nails Victoria! Trish gets a roll up for two, followed by the "Chick Kick" for a second two count, which is broken up. Victoria heads to the top, but Trish gets her handstand head scissors take down and goes on the offensive again. With Victoria on the outside now, Trish goes for a kick on Jazz but ends up in a DEEP single leg crab, transitioned into the STF. With Victoria distracting the ref, Richards jumps into the ring to get Jazz off of Trish, sensing a Trish tap out coming. Trish and Victoria roll each other up (with Victoria's crack showing for a sec) but it only gets two counts as Jazz comes back in and hooks her double chickenwing on Trish. Victoria NAILS a superkick on Jazz and then goes for a moonsault, but misses! Jazz charges at Victoria but gets tossed over the top and slips off of the apron in a spot that looked blown. Trish is up and ready for Victoria to turn around, but Steven Richards comes in with a chair! Trish sees him and ducks, causing Richards to hit the ropes and have the chair bounce back into his face, allowing her to his the Stratusfaction bulldog on him and he rolls to the outside! He sold it beautifully by the way, almost stretching half way across the ring before the impact. Trish turns around and eats a boot to the midsection by Victoria who goes for the Widow's Peak and the sure victory, but Trish manages to escape. Victoria comes off the ropes to charge at Trish, but she gets off a desperation "Chick Kick" on her for the victory and the pop!


<b>Winner and NEW WWE Women's Champion: Trish Stratus


My Opinion:</b> The result of this match really surprised me as it seemed to be building towards a Jazz title victory. While some of the moves were sloppy and/or blown a bit, the ladies worked hard tonight. It looks like we'll be seeing Trish vs. Jazz for the next couple of PPV's with a Victoria/Jazz #1 contenders match up thrown in somewhere. *1/2.


In the back, The Coach is with The Rock, who gets a mixed reaction from the crowd. He insults those who boo him and call him a "sell out" and he agrees....he's sold out every 'Mania he's ever been on. I don't think he had much to do with WM 13's ticket sales though. He says that the "people" hurt him, so he's only doing this for himself. His destiny is to defeat Austin at 'Mania. He starts talking in the first person to show how much this match means to him. He says that Hollywood taught him something....the only Act that matters is Act Three....the end. Rock ends it with "Finally..." and walks out. VERY nice way to end the interview. He really put this over as something he NEEDED to do for himself because it's a personal issue for him.


<b>Team Angle vs. Los Guerreros vs. Chris Benoit & Rhyno for the WWE Tag Team Titles


Match Background:</b> Upon the formation of Team Angle in January, their first target was Chris Benoit as he was the first challenger to Kurt Angle’s WWE Title. After Angle defeated Benoit at the Royal Rumble, Benoit recruited Edge (who also had problems with Kurt Angle in the past) to take on Team Angle in a series of tag team matches. They traded wins back and forth and Team Angle went on to defeat Benoit and Edge at the end of January (with Kurt Angle’s interference) to become the # 1 Contenders to the tag titles, held at the time by Los Guerreros. The following week on Smackdown, Team Angle got their shot and all of Team Angle ended up with gold as they defeated Los Guerrero’s for the tag straps. As Team Angle captain Kurt Angle was in the middle of his feud with Brock Lesnar, Smackdown GM Stephanie McMahon made a 6 man tag team match for No Way Out pitting all of Team Angle against Benoit, Lesnar and Edge. At the show, however, Edge was taken out of commission, presumably by Team Angle. The next week on Smackdown, Benoit debuted a new tag team partner in Rhyno who was making his return after a 16 month absence due to neck surgery. They faced Team Angle the following week on Smackdown in a non title match and got the victory, which would have made them the #1 contenders, but Los Guerrero’s had yet to receive their title shot rematch. Eddie and Chavo took on Rhyno and Benoit the next week to figure out who would get the shot at Team Angle, but they interrupted the match and nailed them both with the tag straps. Stephanie McMahon then made the match at Wrestlemania a 3 way dance, leading to tonight’s match up.


<b>The Match:</b> The crowd comes alive for Chris Benoit as he comes to the ring, but he comes out before Rhyno. Cole and Tazz put over the fact that Benoit and Rhyno wanted to be at 'Mania last year, but were injured. They didn't bother to mention that none of these men competed at 'Mania last year though. As the match starts, The Guerrero's take Haas while Benoit & Rhyno take on Shelton in their corner. Haas is able to takeover on Chavo while the ref admonishes Eddie but gets back body dropped and back suplexed. Chavo nails an elevated dropkick on Haas before one half of the tag team champions tags out to Benoit. Chavo and Eddie doubleteam Benoit with a back suplex/slingshot senton combo. Eddie and Benoit decide to chop the hell out of each other in the corner for run before both men knock each other down at the same time with shoulder blocks. Rhyno comes into the match up against Eddie now, but Eddie is able to regroup before locking up. Rhyno gets a hard powerslam for two, but Benjamin tags himself in and takes over on Rhyno. A HARD back elbow off the ropes on Rhyno gets a two count for Benjamin before tagging out to Haas. Old school double dropkick by Team Angle get a two count before Rhyno pulls Haas to the corner and double team him with Benoit. Benoit comes in and hits a snap suplex and a textbook back suplex before tagging out to Rhyno again. Benjamin comes back in, but Rhyno is able to take control again before Shelton tags out to Eddie. Guerrero CHEATS~! by faking a test of strength and nailing Rhyno in the face with a dropkick to take over. Benoit comes in as Rhyno sends Eddie to the corner, but Eddie hits a back suplex on Benoit and goes to the top. Benoit with a TOP ROPE SUPERPLEX and he gives me chills just thinking about the punishment his surgically repaired neck must be taking! Benoit goes for the pin, but it's broken up by Benjamin. Benoit elevates Eddie up and locks in the CROSSFACE~! on the way down! Haas comes in to break it up immediately though. Benoit goes for a tilt a whirl backbreaker on Eddie, but Eddie flips through it and hits a brainbuster for a broken up two! Chavo hits a spinning head scissors on Benjamin, but falls victim to the ROLLING GERMANS~! by Chris Benoit! The crowd is counting suplexes for the loudest reaction of the night as Benoit hits a fourth suplex. Benoit signals for the diving headbutt, but turns around to EAT A SUPERKICK by Shelton. Eddie Guerrero comes in and collides head first with Benoit and both men are down. Shelton nails a legdrop for two, but Eddie breaks up the cover with a FROGSPLASH~! Chavo tags himself in only to get belly to belly suplexed by Haas! Haas turns around and gets GORED by Rhyno! He GORES Chavo as well, but gets pulled out of the ring by Eddie. Shelton Benjamin, the legal man, climbs into the ring and covers Chavo for the pinfall!


<b>Winners: Team Angle


My Opinion:</b> For the talent involved, this deserved a hell of a lot more time. These guys get about 20 minutes every Thursday, yet get almost less than 10 at the biggest show of them all? I'm not exactly sure why Team Angle retained, seeing as how all of the signs pointed to Los Guerrero's winning it back. My guess is that they wanted to keep the titles on Team Angle in order to do something with Kurt Angle on SD before he disappears completely. This could have been a lot higher if they had given them an extra 10 minutes. **3/4.


In the back, Torrie and Stacy take pictures with the Miller Lite Catfight Girls. Torrie and Stacy start arguing like the MLC girls about who created Wrestlemania, Hogan or McMahon. They leave the room, leaving the MLC girls to argue about it as well. The Other MLC girl (the blonde) kept saying Hulk Holgan for some reason. They come to the agreement that they'll duke it out...in bed? Once again, this was a pitiful waste of time. If I had it on mute, I probably would have enjoyed it a hell of a lot more.


We go to a video package hyping up the next match...


<b>Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho


Match Background:</b> In 1996, a young, blond haired competitor was causing quite a buzz. Chris Jericho quickly made a name for himself in ECW after some time in Japan with his in ring work, good looks and untapped potential before ending up in WCW by the end of the year. Once there, he stopped shying away from the microphone and became one of the best mic workers that company had ever seen…all while hearing that he was the next HBK. Shawn Michaels was on top of the wrestling world around this time, but soon crashed after his infamous back injury and wrestled what was to be his last match at Wrestlemania 14. All the while, Chris Jericho became a star in the WCW Cruiserweight Division yet was capable of so much more. Jumping to the WWF in 1999, they quickly put him with the heavyweights to remove the “cruiserweight” stigma, although he was relegated back to the midcard shortly after as is the case with most of his WWF career. All the while people clamored for his push as they called him the next Shawn Michaels – a small, blond haired wrestler with great in ring ability and charisma on the microphone. Fast forward to years later and Chris Jericho received the push…only to be sent down to the midcard again. Shawn Michaels, after a 4 year absence, returned to the wrestling world as a wrestler again. In November, Chris Jericho was one half of the World Tag Team Champions along with Christian and was entered as 1/6th of the Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship. Jericho was one of the last men in the ring before he was eliminated with the help of a Shawn Michaels superkick. Shawn went on the win the World Title that night, but dropped it at Armageddon back to the current champion, Triple H. The night after on Raw, when HBK called out Triple H for a rematch, Chris Jericho came out and lambasted Michaels for being a shell of his former self. Jericho told him that HBK now stood for “Has Been Kid” and got Superkicked for it, kicking this feud into gear. To start of 2002, Chris Jericho threw his name in the hat to compete in the 2003 Royal Rumble to try and get the opportunity to win the World Heavyweight Title…and Shawn Michaels came out to confront him. Shawn told him that while Jericho may say he’s the best, he’d have to prove it in order to gain the respect of everyone and he would have to do it like HBK did…winning the Royal Rumble after being the first participant in the match. Jericho was eventually goaded into asking for the #1 slot, but Michaels had already taken it to show Y2J up. Jericho then won a 4 man over the top rope challenge where the winner would choose the number he’d enter into the Rumble and chose number 2 so he could be alone with Michaels. At the Rumble itself, HBK was indeed number 1 and with the help of his buddy Christian, Jericho tricked Michaels and attacked him from behind as the 2nd participant. Jericho actually dumped HBK over the top rope 100% clean and went on to stay in for the majority of the Rumble before Michaels came back and helped Jericho get eliminated by Test. Upset about losing his opportunity, Jericho caused some problems with Test and his valet, Stacy, to which HBK tried to make the save. Instead, he got a chair to the head and a challenge for WrestleMania. Michaels answered the following week with a Superkick to Jericho’s chin. Jericho this past Monday cut a great promo with Michaels telling him his motivation for this match. He emulated Michaels towards the beginning of his career and showed footage of the similarity between the two. Jericho then told him that all his life, he was called the Next HBK…but he concentrated on being the first Chris Jericho and now, he wants to end HBK’s career at WM to prove that he’s better than HBK.


<b>The Match:</b> HBK comes to the ring using confetti blasters (Badd Blasters for you old school WCW fans) at various points on the ramp, but only a few of them work. HBK plays it off pretty well though. The blasters were weak as it only covered the first few rows and I'm sure the fans were looking for something more like Chyna's rocket. The pyro for HBK's entrance was off the page, exploding in the ring and also at the back of Safeco Field for a VERY impressive visual.


The fans chant "HBK" as the match starts with the two men locking up and countering each other a few times WITHOUT going into the Indy Applause Stance, thank goodness. After a round of irish whips and leapfrogs, Jericho stops in front of HBK and slaps him, which Michaels sells with full spit take. Michaels throws him to ringside and fakes a plancha, ducking under the ring and catching Jericho with a baseball slide. Back in the ring now, HBK comes off the top with a cross body, but Jericho rolls through, just like in the promo that Jericho described on Monday and gets a two count. Jericho gets a spinning wheel kick and a few HARD chops in the corner before irish whipping HBK into the corner hard, impacting his back. Jericho does it again and attempts a running face plant, but Michaels throws him into the turnbuckle. HBK puts on the Figure Four, but Y2J is able to turn it over. Michaels goes back to the leg and uses a shin breaker before attempting a second Figure Four, but Y2J uses his free leg to shove him into the ring post , shoulder first. Y2J throws him over the top, but Michaels skins the cat and head scissors Jericho down to the outside. Michaels skins the cat to come back into the ring and hits a plancha onto Jericho in one fluid motion! With both men on the outside, HBK goes for a dropkick, but Jericho catches him and puts him in the Walls of Jericho for a few seconds! Jericho runs back into the ring to break the count and then rams Michaels back first into the post. Jericho comes back into the ring and taunts the crowd and they LET HIM HAVE IT! Jericho hits his springboard dropkick to the apron on Michaels and HBK EATS IT! I haven't seen Jericho EVER hit that move that flush before! Jericho with a back suplex on Michaels, working on the back as the announcers play up Michaels back injury. Jericho follows it up with a vertical suplex for two. Jericho then hits a backbreaker on HBK and then uses the COCKY PIN~! for a two count! Y2J puts HBK in a chinlock, but the crowd comes alive for Michaels and he gets up with a few elbows to the midsection and gets a DDT out of a Jericho back body drop attempt! With both men down, the crowd chants along with ref's 10 count but Jericho gets up at 7 and goes back on the attack. HBK and Y2J begin exchanging punches in the ring, but Jericho comes off the ropes with a flying forearm and then nips up to mock Michaels! He then poses like Michaels to the crowd and he hams it up as HBK nips up behind him and unloads a few punches of his own! He nips up after a flying forearm and gives Y2J a back body drop too. Y2J charges at Michaels in the corner, but eats boot and HBK comes off the top with a moonsault press...once again utilizing the video package shown on Raw to build onto this match. A crucifix into a sunset flip gives HBK a two count, but Jericho and HBK reverse each other into numerous two counts until Y2J tries to hook on the Walls of Jericho, but is countered. Jericho is able to turn a waistlock into a Northern Lights Suplex for two, but HBK BRIDGES OUT and gets a backslide! Some bad back huh. Jericho pops back up and clotheslines HBK before nailing the face plant and the Lionsault for two! Jericho goes for the cover again, but once again gets two. Damn, I love that spot. HBK gets up and goes for a rana, but Jericho puts on the Walls in mid move! The fans come alive as HBK inches his way to the ropes and makes it! Jericho tries to put it back on, but HBK rolls him for ONE...TWO...NO! Jericho gets his double underhook backbreaker! He hasn't done that in a LONG time! Jericho comes off the top with a reverse elbow and then starts "warming up the band" in the corner, like HBK! HBK gets up...and Jericho nails Sweet Chin Music! ONE...TWO...NO! HBK gets up and comes off the corner with a cross body, but doesn't go for the pin. HBK catapults Jericho into the corner and rolls him for a CLOSE two count! HBK misses a punch and Jericho forearms him in the kidneys to take over! Jericho sets HBK up in the corner and goes for a Super back suplex, but Michaels shifts in mid air and lands on top of Jericho for two! HBK tries to come off the top with his top rope elbow, but Jericho shoves the ref into the ropes and Michaels is crotched. Jericho goes to the top to superplex Michaels (and effectively end the match) but Michaels counters him and tosses him down! Michaels comes off the top with his top rope elbow and springs up to the top! HBK starts warming up the band, but Jericho ducks the Superkick and puts on the Wall of Jericho! The fans are going crazy as Michaels inches his way to the ropes....but Jericho pulls him to the middle of the ring! It looks like he's going to tap out! Michaels finally gets to the ropes though and Jericho definitely has some frustration on his face. Jericho charges at HBK but Michaels gets a desperation Sweet Chin Music! Michaels crawls over....ONE...TWO...NO! The fans completely bought that as the finish! Both men are fatigued....and Jericho tosses Michaels into the corner and he does his old school flip on the turnbuckles! Jericho nails him with a forearm shot to the kidneys again and goes for a back suplex, but Michaels flips over and rolls him up for a ONE...TWO...THREE!


<b>Winner: Shawn Michaels</b>


After the match, Shawn Michaels gets up and offers his hand to Jericho. Jericho, looking at his former idol, hugs him...and then kicks him in the crotch! HBK lands on Jericho's chest, almost hugging him again, but Jericho just throws him down onto the canvas and walks out of the ring....


<b>My Opinion:</b> This was a great old school match, but the wrong man definitely went over. Jericho needed this win and the fans were ready to accept it. Some of the fans were even cheering for Jericho and wanted HBK to tap out and he wouldn't have lost anything. The fans know he has a bad back and the Walls is a perfect submission hold to put pressure on it. Even if Jericho goes over HBK 6 straight times clean on PPV, this is the match that most fans will remember. Either way, I loved this match. The psychology was great as Y2J was trying to constantly "out Shawn Michaels" HBK and work on the back at the same time, but I had to take some points off the HBK’s nip up. He’s always negates all the work done to the back that way. They played up all of the moves that Jericho showed Michaels on Raw that he tried to emulate when he was starting out his wrestling career. HBK showed signs of the old Shawn Michaels with his performance, moving a hell of a lot faster than he has in months. This is a perfect example of working smarter, without killing yourself. I would definitely love to see a rematch between these two, but like I said before, it wouldn't be to Jericho's benefit either way. ****1/4.


In the back, Evil Canadian Ref Sylvian Grenier (the ref from Hogan/Rock II at No Way Out) is seen going into Vince McMahon's locker room.


All of a sudden, a Goldberg promo airs stating that he'll be at Backlash! Pardon me while I hold in my excitement. I HATE Goldberg. The crowd seems to dig him though chanting "Goldberg" as we come back from the video. JR & King confirm Goldberg's signing...*sigh *.


Tony Chimel announces a new Safeco Field attendance record around 54K, but I was part of the 69,000 in Toronto last year, so screw them.


Then Limp Bizkit performs the WM theme. See, I like segments I really don't have to review like this one...it lets me rest.


The same promo that played the last week on both Raw & Smackdown about Torrie's Playboy airs...that really wasn't necessary.


The Miller Lite Catfight girls come out and prepare to have a pillow fight on a large bed, but Stacy and Torrie want to make it a Fatal Four Way Pillow Elimination Cage Death Match. Shou Khan says that Kitana wins. The Coach gets pansed and beaten by the four girls. The past 10 minutes could have been given to the Raw Tag Title Match and put RVD on Mania....but Vince has his priorities.


A video package airs for Booker vs. Triple H, including Booker's hilarious mug shot.


<b>Booker T vs. Triple H (w/Ric Flair) for the World Heavyweight Championship


Match Background:</b> Prior to No Way Out, Triple H and Ric Flair associated themselves with Randy Orton and Batista and created a stable named Evolution. While he was feuding with Scott Steiner, his stablemates Orton and Batista ran into a dejected Goldust backstage, who had just broken up a partnership between himself and Booker T because he felt that Booker T could do more on his own. Orton and Batista attacked him and Goldust ended up touching an open fuse box and being electrocuted. Booker T obviously wanted revenge and faced members of Evolution in various tag matches with Scott Steiner. Orton and Batista were both injured at house shows some time after No Way Out. About a month ago on Raw, there was a battle royal to determine the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship and the last two men in the ring were The Rock and Booker T. Being overly cocky, The Rock underestimated Booker T and was promptly eliminated, leaving The Book as the number 1 contender for HHH's title. Triple H the next week made some veiled racist comments towards Booker T to hype the upcoming World Title match at Mania which offended many people. The following week, Booker T attacked both Ric Flair and Triple H in the back. Booker T's partner and friend, Goldust (now with Tourette's Syndrome) got in Triple H and Flair's faces two weeks ago and ended up getting beaten by Triple H in a match later that night. Last week, Flair and HHH teamed up to take on Booker T and Goldust, with Booker T getting the clean pin on HHH leading to the match tonight. Is that a bad omen?


<b>The Match:</b> Jim Ross & The King insult WCW and its title history by proxy, making Booker T's 5 World Titles seem like nothing compared to the Triple H Commemorative Title. After a few collar and elbow lock ups, Booker goes on the offensive with hard chops in the corner. Triple H goes to the top after a back elbow and gets armdragged down by Booker. Booker blocks a HHH hiptoss and clotheslines him down for two. A few kicks by Booker stagger the champ, but Booker ends up on the apron and gets knocked down. HHH goes on offense for a while but Booker tries to comeback and gets a HHH spinebuster for it. HARD clothesline in the corner to Booker T gets a two count as this match is going at HHH's "methodical" pace...or slow. Booker gets a DDT and finally gets some separation before he's able to come back with right hands on The Game. A Harlem Sidekick, a sideslam and a flying forearm get two for the challenger. Booker signals for the scissors kick, but HHH's sees it coming and puts on a sleeper. Booker gets out of it but eats a Triple H high knee. Trips gets a face buster and goes to follow up on it, but Booker hits a spinebuster on him. Trips tries to come off the top (double axehandle of DOOM) but Booker hits a Harlem Sidekick on the way down and gets two. Booker then misses the scissors kick and goes over the top rope where Flair works on the leg, dropping it knee first onto the steel steps. Back in the ring, HHH puts on Owen Lock '94 before turning it into the reverse Indian Deathlock we've come to know and love. HHH used to use this move in WCW as his finisher when he was Terra Ryzing. Booker gets to ropes after about a minute and starts to sell the leg after HHH drops all of his weight on it a few times. Booker gets a roll up out of a shin breaker attempt for two. Trips goes for the Pedigree, but Booker reverses it and rolls HHH up for two. Booker is able to get a HIGH scissors kick but can't cover HHH on time for the pin. Booker heads to the top, but Flair tries to interfere. Booker knocks the Nature Boy down but HHH is up now as well. Booker lays him out and hits the Houston Hangover! ONE...TWO...NO! Flair put HHH's foot on the ropes and with that....there goes Booker's chances. Booker struggles to get up, still selling the bad leg and tries to come off the ropes and stumbles due to the bad wheel. Triple H gets up and hits the Pedigree and after a few seconds before the cover....gets the win.


<b>Winner: Triple H


My Opinion:</b> No surprise here. The match was booked badly as it made Booker T look weak. Who does HHH face now anyway? No Mania Spinaroonie for the Seattle crowd. HHH's best match this year, but that's not saying much. **1/4


Another promo airs for Wrestlemania 20 at MADISON SQUARE GARDEN! YES! It is my DESTINY to be there! I was supposed to be there for WM 10 but didn't get to go...


A video package for the Hogan/Vince match airs...


<b>Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon in a Street Fight


Match Background:</b> To book this match as "20 Years in the Making" is a total farce and practically insults wrestling fans who have been watching for the past 20 years...but I'll keep my opinions to myself for the most part.


When Hulk Hogan became the World Champion in the early 80's, the WWF soured to new heights and both he and promoter Vince McMahon made a lot of money. In 1993, Hulk Hogan's politics and refusal to put over new talent (Bret Hart) had angered Vince enough that he let him go after his title match against Yokozuna (King of the Ring '93), in which Hogan lost the title to him. Hogan ended up in WCW, McMahon's number 1 competitor, the following year and jump started the promotion, helping to take over the WWF in the ratings. Eventually, the WWF won the ratings battle and WCW went out of business. On a side note, Vince McMahon was put on trial for steroid distribution in the early 90's by the federal government and his former number 1 star, Hulk Hogan, testified on behalf of the prosecution. However, his testimony backfired and was one of the main reasons that Vince was acquitted of all counts.


Upon Hogan's latest return to the now named WWE, Vince McMahon wasn't pleased. Hogan said that he wanted to end his career in the WWE, but wanted to face Vince McMahon first. Vince dodged Hogan's challenge, having The Rock face him instead at No Way Out. Vince screwed Hogan at the show and attacked him after the match and decided that he would challenge Hogan at Wrestlemania after all, in a street fight. Two weeks ago on Smackdown, Vince attacked Hogan from behind before the contract signing and forced Hogan to sign the contract in his own blood, which states that Hogan must retire should he lose this match. Since then, the hype machine has been on ridiculous levels, claiming that this match has been building for 20 years. However, for about 15 of those 20 years, most fans of the product only knew Vince McMahon as the announcer of most WWF programming. To claim that this is a dream match is just silly. Either way, the match is tonight.


<b>The Match:</b> I honestly can't believe this match is happening now. I figured Vince would sadly make this the main event. Hulk is a complete moron as he takes a fans sign that says "Vince Still Sucks", shows it to the crowd...and then rips it up. If I were the guy that made that sign, I'd be pissed. Vince and Hogan go face to face in the ring and McMahon slaps Hogan, to which Hogan retaliates with a tackle. A clothesline from Hogan starts a few minutes of punching before Vince takes over on the former 6 time champ. Vince puts on a Greco-Roman knuckle lock and Hogan powers back up after about three minutes in the hold only to get thrown to the outside by Vince. This match is putting me to sleep...On the outside now, Vince gets a chair and swings it at Hogan, but misses. Hogan nails Vince with the chair and he juices big time off of it. Hogan beats on Vince with a steel chair some more and ends up hitting Spanish announcer Hugo Savinovich accidentally on the last attempt. Even Hugo blades as Vince takes over with a low blow and uses the chair on Hogan once again. Vince goes under the ring and pulls out a LADDER and puts Hogan on the Spanish Announce Table. Vince comes off the ladder with a legdrop through the table in the "Holy Shit" portion of the match. Eventually, Vince gets up and throws Hogan into the ring for two. There's no way the finish of this match is going to take place without Sylvian Grenier getting involved somehow, so I'm not buying any of these false finishes. Vince goes under the ring and pulls out a lead pipe with a devilish look on his face but Hogan nails HIM with a low blow! At this point, with both men down, a man comes into the ring wearing a black trenchcoat. It's ROWDY RODDY PIPER! He grabs the pipe and appears to go and hit Vince, but obviously is going to nail Hogan and does. Piper walks down the aisle to mega boos as Vince crawls over to make the pin. ONE...TWO...nope. You know we're gonna see the Hulk up, its just a matter of time. Vince takes Brian Hebner and tries to toss him out of the ring, but gets caught up in the ropes so Vince does it again. Here comes Grenier, who nails ref Mike Sparks when he tries to stop him from getting into the match and Vince nails Hogan with the pipe and then the legdrop. ONE...TWO...There it is...the Hulk up. Hogan does his usual thing, taking care of Grenier first and then nailing the Big boot and THREE Legdrops on Vince for the win with Brian Hebner counting the pin.


<b>Winner: Hulk Hogan</b>


After the match, Shane McMahon walks to the ring in a nice suit and makes eye contact with Hogan before checking on his father.


<b>My Opinion:</b> Just as overbooked as expected. What the hell was the point of Piper being out there anyway? 3/4* and that's much more than I expected. I hope I don't see this match for another 20 years.


A nice Rock/Austin hype video airs to the new Limp Bizkit song. Not nearly as good as My Way though.


<b>The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin


Match Background:</b> Arguably the two most popular superstars in WWE today, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin have a lengthy past that always seems to intertwine with each other. In 1997, both men were rising up the ranks at approximately the same time and The Rock was the first real challenger to Stone Cold Steve Austin after he won the Intercontinental Title at Survivor Series '97. After defeating The Rock at the D-Generation X PPV, Austin was then forced to defend the title against The Rock the following night on Raw by his new adversary, Vince McMahon. Austin refused and was stripped of the title, which was then awarded to The Rock by McMahon. Austin ended up taking the title with him and the following week on Raw, he threw the IC title into the Detroit river, infuriating The Rock. Stone Cold Steve Austin eventually went on to win the World Title at Wrestlemania that year, feuding with Vince McMahon and all of his cronies. Eventually, the star member of Vince's "Corporation" ended up being The Rock. The Rock won the WWF Title in a single elimination tournament at Survivor Series '98 after Austin was pinned by both Kane and Undertaker, resulting in the title being vacated. Trying to win a title shot at Wrestlemania, Austin went into the Royal Rumble but eventually lost in the end to Vince McMahon with the help of The Rock. Vince McMahon then forfeited his title shot, allowing it to go to the runner up in a rule that he was unaware of and The Rock met Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 15 for the WWF Title. Austin won the belt that night, but didn't want that version of the WWF Title. He wanted his Smoking Skull belt that he paraded around during his first two reigns as champion. Unfortunately, The Rock ended up with the Title and faced him again at Backlash '99 where once again, The Rock ended up losing to Austin. Fast forward two years and Austin wins the 2001 Royal Rumble after a year long absence. The Rock, now a mega-popular babyface, went on the following month at No Way Out 2001 to win the WWF Title from Kurt Angle. This set the stage for Wrestlemania 17, with both men coming in as babyfaces, wrestling for the World Title. They antagonized each other for a month, with Austin always reiterating that he NEEDED the WWF Title. At Wrestlemania 17, The Rock once again lost to Stone Cold Steve Austin, but this time, it was due to heel tactics as Stone Cold Steve Austin aligned himself with Vince McMahon. The following night on Raw, Rock took on Austin in a steel cage, but was unsuccessful as The Two Man Power Trip of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H was formed and a beaten, bloodied Rock was then suspended from the WWF by Vince McMahon indefinitely. This was all done just to cover up the fact that he was going off to do the Scorpion King film, which becomes important later on. That summer, Stone Cold Steve Austin joined The Alliance of WCW and ECW to try and put the WWF out of business and Vince McMahon brought The Rock back to combat him and lead the WWF to victory. At Survivor Series 2001, The Rock finally pinned Stone Cold Steve Austin in the Winner Takes All elimination match at the end to kill the Alliance. The Rock was the WCW Champion at the time and Stone Cold was the WWF Champion at the time and when new WWF co-owner Ric Flair came to the picture, he wanted to unify the titles. This meant another Rock vs. Austin match with both titles on the line, but Vince McMahon made it a 4 man tournament to one up Flair. The Rock/Austin match that everyone was looking forward to never took place as Chris Jericho defeated him in the first round and went onto defeat Austin in the finals for the title. The Rock eventually left again to do another film, (Helldorado, which is now named "Welcome to the Jungle") after the box office success of the Scorpion King. The fans were now agitated at the fact that their hero, The Rock, kept leaving the promotion for long stretches of time and was seemingly becoming a sell out. The Rock returned at last month's No Way Out, as did Austin, who had left the promotion for about 8 months after a dispute with the creative team. The Rock came back with a new "holier than thou" attitude and expected to be treated like a Hollywood Superstar, so after he defeated Hulk Hogan last month for Vince McMahon, The Rock was given the choice of which show to go to, Raw or Smackdown. He chose Raw for one reason...Stone Cold Steve Austin. Its been eating The Rock up inside for years that he was defeated at both Wrestlemania 15 & 17 and now once again, with Wrestlemania approaching, he wants to do the one thing he has yet to do in the business....defeat Stone Cold Steve Austin at a Wrestlemania.


<b>The Match:</b> Rock gets the extended entrance like he did at No Way Out. Austin and Rock have a staredown in the middle of the ring for a second before Rock goes for a right which is blocked by Austin. Austin delivers a ton of punches and goes for the Stunner early but Rock leaves the ring and walks up the ramp. Austin goes after him and brings him back, brawling towards ringside. Michael Cole jumps into the crowd like a woman as they brawl on the announce table with Austin having the clear advantage this whole time. Back in the ring, Austin gets a back suplex for two and follows it up with two hard irish whips and a clothesline. JR takes a shot at the fans not liking Rock now that he's successful as Rock gets up and clips Austin from behind. Austin bails but Rocky follows and brawl around the announce table again, sending Cole scurrying into the crowd for a second time. Rock works on the leg back in the ring with stomps in the corner and wrapping his leg around the ring post. Austin tries to come back with right hands but knocks Austin down with a stomp to the knee. Rock puts on the Scorpion King Deathlock as JR talks about Austin's first time in the Sharpshooter at Mania 13. Austin gets to the ropes again so Rock goes back to work on the legs of SCSA. Rock puts on Stone Cold's vest to mock him and end up double clotheslining each other when they get back in the ring. Austin gets up and hits the Lou Thesz press (and JR FINALLY acknowledges Thesz' death) and Austin follows it up with the FU elbow for two. Austin gets a few stomps in the corner, but Rock gets up and hits a flying clothesline, nipping up and mocking Austin. Stone Cold gets up though and drills Rocky down with a Rock Bottom for two! Austin gets poised to go for the Stunner but Rocky blocks the kick, turns Austin around and hits the Stunner on HIM! Rock gets up and just wails on Austin with right hands but Austin gets the Stunner and the fans go CRAZY! Both men are down....Austin makes the cover...ONE...TWO...NO! Austin gets up to do more damage, shoving the ref away but Rock gives him a low blow and taunts the crowd. Rocky goes for the People's Elbow and MISSES but gets a spinebuster on Austin and nails it on the second attempt! ONE...TWO...NO! Rock gets up behind Austin...Rock Bottom! Austin's holding his head! ONE...TWO...NO! Rock gets up again...a SECOND Rock Bottom! Austin is VISIBLY grimacing in pain, big time! ONE...TWO...NO! A THIRD HARD Rock Bottom and I

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