March 28, 1999

Bart Gunn . . . proves that the idea of wrestlers having no business in legit fights are exclusive to Japan.

Shane McMahon . . . outworks most of the full-time wrestlers with some good old-fashioned storytelling.

The Rock . . . tries to make the main event worthy of being a WrestleMania main event, but ultimately fails.


Take the mindless mentality of hardcore matches, with the match mostly based around weapon shots, and combine it with the usual structure of three-way matches, and this is what you get. Billy tries to make it salvageable by showing off his athleticism, namely with the spot involving the stairs, but, there wasn’t anything that could save this. I suppose that one could argue that the finish protects Billy’s finisher, with Billy hitting the move on Snow, only for Holly to steal the pin. But, it’s such an overplayed finish in three-way matches that it’s expected, and everyone was too busy being disappointed that Holly won, to even give it a thought.


If you think that the tag team scene in current WWE is bad, then take a gander at this. The tag titles match on the biggest show of the year featured the champions defending against two singles wrestlers, who’d never teamed up before or after. They were only brought together by co-winning a battle royal, which featured seven actual tag teams. If they were just throwing together two random workers, at least make it Gillberg and Godfather so that it’s amusing in a car crash sort of way. It’d have been a riot to watch Owen bump for Gillberg.

This is OK for what it is, but four minutes just isn’t long enough for them to do their thing. Owen does the heavy lifting, but the only one who really doesn’t have anything to add is Jarrett. Owen takes some decent bumps, and also works in some nice spots, while Jarrett does the strut. The story is that Test and Brown can’t work together, or even get along, which is fine, but rather than having any real success and looking like they might pull off the win, only for some miscue to cost them the titles, they just spend the whole match bickering. Brown gets pinned while Test is on the floor with the valets for no reason. The match ends, but their bickering continues.


Apparently nobody paid attention when Gracie messed up Anjo in California. Then again, it’s obvious that nobody paid attention to this either. If they had, we could have been spared having to witness Cro Cop/Nagata, as well as Fujita, Yasuda, and Bob Sapp as IWGP Champion. ‘Bean KO’s Gunn in under a minute, Tamura/Muhammed from UWFI, this is not.


There’s nothing to expect from Show, but they have a few smart touches to keep this from being a complete waste. The match it mostly made up of brawling, since there isn’t much that Mick can believably do to Show. Mick waits for the right moment to do the Mandible Claw, when Show is in a position where he can’t stop Mick, and Show actually does a decent job of showing how the hold is wearing him down. Big Show’s escape is reminiscent of Mick’s match with Vader from Halloween Havoc ‘93, and the bump on the ramp, and Mick makes it matter by putting over the midsection for the rest of the match. The disqualification finish is lame, but there really wasn’t any other way for Mick to go over, and the chokeslam on the chairs that leads to Hebner calling it also works in the vein of Mick’s midsection already being hurt. It’s too short to accomplish much, but it’s nice to see that they had a few good ideas to work with.

ROAD DOGG © vs. KEN SHAMROCK vs. GOLDUST vs. VAL VENIS (WWF Intercontinental Title)

Being elimination-style, as opposed to one-fall, makes this a bit more tolerable, but it’s still far from interesting. There are some OK moments, like Shamrock and Dogg taking turns sneaking in behind the ref’s back to lay out Venis and Goldust (the two legal men) in hopes that they don’t answer the ref’s count, and get eliminated. There’s also none of the stupid moments where someone will break up a pin or submission, which they never should in this sort of match, but happens all the time. The match itself isn’t interesting in the least, they don’t tell any real story, or have any kind of weak link. So they just plod along until the time comes to work in the eliminations. The crowd doesn’t even bother waking up until Dogg (who was arguably at the height of his popularity) starts doing his familiar spots. Shamrock and Venis wind up both getting counted out to continue their feud (which never really got settled), leaving it to Dogg and Goldust. Ryan Shamrock’s interference backfires, and Dogg retains the title to a massive pop. The crowd response alone justifies the result but it’d have been nice to see that one of the longer matches on the show actually made use of its time.


The only reason this winds up being the least bit watchable is because of Kane, and that’s a scary thought considering who’s working with. Kane takes a couple of nice bumps, especially from the flying knee that knocks him off the apron. He adds a nice Pedigree counter, and even busts out a dive to the floor. When Kane is in control, he tries to be as brutal and menacing as possible to get over the blood feud aspect of the match. While he’s not bad, Kane definitely isn’t perfect. As nice as the first counter to the Pedigree was, he winds up doing the same, silly, one as everyone else so that HHH can take the back drop off the stairs. The bump he takes when HHH finally connects with the move is mediocre as well. But, Kane looks like Hashimoto compared to HHH, who only bothers to bring his usual knee spots, and a barrage of lousy punches, and this is from someone who would claim to be “The Game” shortly after this. Chyna shows up, and turns on Kane to reunite HHH and Chyna and make the crowd happy. But, when it comes down to brass tacks, this isn’t all that much different from the four-way match, although it at least manages to be interesting now and then, but, as a whole, they don’t take advantage of the time they’re given to work with.

SABLE © vs. TORI (WWF Women’s Title)

This just might be the worst women’s match I’ve ever seen. I think I’d rather see Sirelda vs. Ann Brookstone in a best-of-three-falls, than ever see this pairing again. They manage to screw up almost every single spot or sequence, and their strikes look pitiful. The only thing that puts it above Goldust vs. Ultimate Warrior from the April ‘96 In Your House is that the women at least tried to actually have a match. The less said about this, the better.

SHANE McMAHON © vs. X-PAC (WWF European Title)

To say that something ‘isn’t bad for what it is’ usually doesn’t really say anything. It sounds like an attempt to excuse mediocrity. But, that’s pretty much how to sum this up. The work itself is nothing special. It’s nice to see that Shane can bump, and is willing to take the beating that everyone wants to see him get, and, it’s not like anyone expects Shane to know how to do anything. Shane knows he’s got no chance of actually winning, so he tries to stack the deck in his favor with interference, but X-Pac keeps sucking it up and moving ahead. Eventually, Shane is out of stall tactics and X-Pac proceeds to give him his comeuppance. X-Pac has the title won, until HHH and Chyna show up, and the end the happy DX reunion. It’s not a good match in the least, but it’s an entertaining one. Shane’s lack of experience could have easily made this into a stinker, but, instead, they incorporated it into the match.


Hogan/Boss Man from April of ‘89, this is not. There’s nothing all that special about this, it doesn’t have that sense of hatred that even a regular cage match should have, let alone the mother of all cage matches. Even the blood doesn’t add anything. Boss Man does his stuff, which just means he punches and uses the nightstick. UT does his usual spots, and caps things off with the Tombstone after far too long. The only thing to take away from this is that UT continued his undefeated streak at ‘Mania, and this was long before the streak was even really acknowledged, let alone become an attraction itself.

THE ROCK © vs. STEVE AUSTIN (WWF World Heavyweight Title)

This is easily the most intense match of the night. It’s even more hate-filled than the European Title match. But, it’s still just the typical Steve Austin main event match, meaning that it’s mostly punching, stomping, brawling on the floor, ref bumps, and chair shots. Rock tries to take the match somewhere a couple of times, but isn’t successful. The first is after his vertical suplex on the floor which causes Austin’s braced knee to his the lighting rig, but, before he can fully take advantage, Austin gets up and takes over with more punches. The second is quite a bit later, when Rock hits a swinging neckbreaker and starts working a chinlock to keep on Austin’s neck, but, again, Austin makes the comeback before he can fully get things going.

The match has its strong points as well, both Austin and Rock are ready, willing, and able to take huge bumps at a moment’s notice, especially Austin’s lariat on the floor, and the bumps Austin takes into the steel WrestleMania logo. Rock also brings a few amusing moments, like giving the ref the Rock Bottom after Austin kicks out, and his mocking of Austin while doing the People’s Elbow. And, of course, nobody has ever taken the Stunner like the Rock. It’s sad, in a way, that this is probably the best match of the night, and it’s pitifully short on actual wrestling. But, then again, with the exceptions of Flair, Hart, and occasionaly Shawn Michaels, no WWF Champion, since Bob Backlund, was best known for his actual wrestling.

Conclusion: If you want to see wrestling, the WWF during this time period wasn’t the place to look, and this is as good an example as any of that. This was also during the peak of the WWF’s popularity, which shows exactly how much that actual wrestling really means in the long run.