This is actually the first Wrestlemania in the Brand Extension Era and also the first Wrestlemania where the whole company changed their name from WWF to WWE because of the lawsuit dispute from the World Wild Federation. What’s done is done, and now this is the World Wrestling Entertainment that’s headed to a whole new direction of dividing the product into Smackdown and Monday Night Raw. This is great because there’s enough room for a bigger roster on two separate organizations, more opportunities for rising stars, and more screen time for a bigger roster instead of cramming everything in. Since the era has begun, each of the Brands had their own Pay-per-view every two months and when it comes to the big four (Summerslam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, and Wrestlemania) both brands collide. Personally, Smackdown was the best show in 2002-2003 because it was a new direction of pure wrestling and story lines were more well written than anything Raw was offering. Despite my feelings towards Smackdown and Raw, I can easily say that both brands put in one hell of a show called Wrestlemania 19. This was one of the most ambitious Wrestlemanias since Wrestlemania 14 because of the hype surrounding it and the success that WWE was getting. At the same time, there was a lot of problems happening in many of the wrestler’s personal lives. Kurt Angle is having serious neck problems that has been there since his Olympic Gold Medal victory, Brock Lesnar, a rookie, is coming in as a main event, Hulk Hogan is having serous back problems, and Stone Cold Steve Austin had faced a divorce, had a dangerous amount of caffeine & stress, and he was in the hospital the night before the show begun. This show could have been disastrous, but somehow, the magic within the audience, the wrestlers, and everyone watching remained strong and they pulled it together to make a hell of a Wrestlemania. This is a Wrestlemania where new stars rises and old ones comes to an end. Dare to dream?
Matt Hardy (c) (with Shannon Moore) vs. Rey Mysterio – Cruiserweight Championship – One reason why Smackdown was so much better is the fact that they had a great focus on wrestling weight divisions like the Cruiserweights. Suddenly all of those high fliers and smaller wrestlers seen in WCW are very often see in Smackdown. To be honest, we haven’t had a match like this in a Wrestlemania since Wrestlemania 14 with Taka Michinoku vs. Aguila. Now I have to admit that Matt Hardy’s new gimmick with “Matt Hardy Version 2.0/Mattitude” was incredibly weak where he’s teamed up with Shannon Moore as a small faction. The gimmick for Matt Hardy’s solo career was not a very good one and it’s a downgrade from what he’s known for before he broke up with Lita and Jeff with Team Xtreame. However, his greatest opponent at this point of his career was Rey Mysterio and we’ve got a chance to see it all in this opening match for the show. This opening show was fast paced and explosive where we were seeing Mysterio doing his flying moves that we all love. I really miss old-school Rey where he was incredibly fast and had the stamina like no other wrestler in the WWF at the time. I really don’t think we had much of lucha libre in Wrestlemania and thanks to Mysterio for really made some of the sickest moves in this whole show. He was able to do those amazing reversals and tricks that really amazed the whole audience. I remember he reversed that top rope Razor’s Edge to a hurricanrana. He would have won with a 619, but Matt reversed it with a cheap roll up to retain his Cruiserweight Championship. It was in deed a fun match, but still Bret vs. Owen still holds the rank for the best opening match ever in a Wrestlemania.
Match Score: 4/5
The Undertaker vs. The Big Show and A-Train – Before anyone calls this pointless, just remember that this match could have been much much worse if it were a tag team with Nathan Jones as ‘Taker’s partner. Thank goodness that Nathan Jones fool got cut out of this match before this would have been hailed as Undertaker’s most miss-booked match, if not his worse. At this point in time, everyone was not into the biker-American-badass Undertaker because there was no personality or charm. The opening band Limp Biscuit really threw in the cheese all over Taker’s credibility coming in this wrestlemania. As for the match… it was bad. Big Show and A-Train were too big of slobs to make this match anywhere exciting. Instead, we just see Taker getting ganged up by the two and we just had to see him strike out his opponents in slow fashion. The match was getting more and more dull into bullshit where Nathan Jones came into the Undertaker’s rescue. Jones had no business being in anywhere in Taker’s spotlight and still to this day the WWE tries their best to make us forget about that ex-prisoner. Sure, Undertaker won this match (deservedly) but having the inclusion of Nathan Jones in this match and have little to no story for this match, this is without a doubt the worst match on the card.
Match Score: 1/5
Trish Stratus vs. Victoria (c) (with Steven Richards) vs. Jazz – Women’s Championship – It has been a year too late fore Trish to win in Wrestlemania (especially in her home country), but after that awful women’s match last year, all three of these women justified it all in this match. Wrestlemania has had a bad history with women’s matches and after 19 years, they finally delivered a really great woman’s match! This actually the first time that I wasn’t in the need for a bathroom break, but instead was engaged with all the action going on. Trish had to prove herself as not just a pretty face by trying to go toe-to-toe with some of the strongest women in the WWE at the time. Sure, this is some of the material that we can see in a normal Divas match in Raw/Smackdown but all three of these women display great athleticism, even despite the fact that the match was all Trish. By making it fair and square, Trish gave Victoria a chick kick for the victory and declared herself the new Women’s Champion. This is the time where WWE fans recognize Trish more of a competitor and years after this Wrestlemania she delivered great matches onward. For once we had a great women’s match in a Wrestlemania event and it was a step for the female wrestlers in the WWE.
Match Score: 4/5
Team Angle (c) vs. Los Guerreros vs. Chris Benoit and Rhyno – WWE Tag Team Championships – The problem with many of the Tag Team Wrestlemania matches is that they all feel the middle of the road and it’s incredibly slow-paced. THis one however is not at all boring, instead it was pure technical wrestling from all three of these teams. I really don’t think that there were any heels in this match, if there was then it’s a miracle that not one team have to keep other from tagging. This was a non-stop tag team match where each wrestler in the match displayed a great performance. It was so much better than the dark match tag team match before Wrestlemania 19. I think the best part of this match was when Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero was wrestling together because they knew each other very well; performing much better than all the other guys in this match. In a matter of fact, they probably had more screen time together in this match than all the rest. Of course, like other Tag matches, there has to be a point where there’s no point of focusing on the legal man and just let all the teams go on out. Rhyno gave the Gore to Charlie Hass and Chavo, but Eddie had to pull Rhyno out, but Chano who was still down got pinned by Shelton Benjamin to retain the Tag Team championships. I’m still a little bitter about the results of the match, but this mid-card suited very well to this Wrestlemania and it even riches the quality of this show
Match Score: 4/5
Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho – Wow! HBK finally made a Wrestlemania appliance since Wrestlemania 14. I may have been harsh on Shawn’s involvement on the Montreal Screwjob, but after his five year retirement, Shawn got his life straight and became a born-again Chirstian. Since Michaels returned, he actually wrestled better than he did in the 90’s when he was the WWF’s top star! This mach really showed here where Shawn has an opponent who’s his equal. This is a match that feels like a two guys in a similar size and skills, but at the same time it felt like a fight between teacher and student. This is the type of match that every great Wrestlemania show needs to have where it’s not about anything but to sow who’s really the better man in the mid-card. Though the build-up for this match was a little over dramatic, however the storytelling in this match was very well executed. These two patterns each other in a lot of ways where Shawn does what he does best and Chris Jericho tries to out perform Shawn using his tactics and style. This match is technical showmanship at its finest. I was impressed to see how well done the grappling holds, flying moves, and using various signature moves were used throughout the match and you can see the frustration Jericho was having as the matchup continued. I this in-ring psychology of a jealous opponent against a egotistical showman. It was such an electrifying match and it ended perfectly with a roll up for the victory. Towards the aftermath, both of these men hugged each other then Jericho gave HBK a low blow, marking his “Wrestlemania moment.” Though it told a great story and had all of us hate Jericho even more, it was fantastic from beginning to end and arguably the best match of the night.
Match Score: 5/5
Triple H (c) (with Ric Flair) vs. Booker T – World Heavyweight Championship – dNow this is the reason why I wasn’t a fan of Raw at the time. Basically, on Raw, Triple H has been burying all of his opponents making it look like he’s God of the wrestling world. The WWE tried to pound Triple H down our throats and I just didn’t like the choice of having Booker T being the number 1 contender because he won a battle royal on Raw instead of winning it in an actual match. This match is a missed opportunity were they should have had the first black wrestler (a 5 time WCW champion) that deserved this victory for the World Heavyweight Championship. The two had really great chemistry were Booker took Triple H to the limit by striking back at his ruse and tactics in the beginning of the match, but when Hunter takes control of the match it’s all burying from here on out. Most of Triple H’s matches were a bit slow, but with Booker as his dance partner, he was able to deliver a more fast-paced match up. I’ll give Triple H credit, he made Booker T look very good in this match… till Triple H worked on Booker’s legs that started to drag. This was some of the best matches I’ve seen from Booker and I wished that he would kept on with this pace throughout his career after this match, but unfortunately, Triple H just had to beat Brooker with a Pedigree and nothing significant has happened in this match. This is Triple H’s burying at its finest and it’s no wonder why people forgot that this match was even in the card. The one thing I can say is that thank God that this is not another Triple H main event or this would have been a disastrous Wrestlemania finish like last year.
Match Score: 3/5
Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon – Street Fight – You know, Stone Cold ruined his chances to recover his career if only he didn’t leave the WWE in short notice. Because he left the company for that long period in time, it’s his own fault that we’re never going to have a Hogan vs. Austin match. I still say that Hogan vs. McMahon should have been set in Wrestlemania 20 but this was a decade in the making. The story here was personal where McMahon is pissed off that Hogan testified him on court when the company was in serious shit with usage of steroids. Since then, Hogan and McMahon never see eye to eye. Now here we are many years later to settle the score. McMahon argues that he created Hulkamania and wanted to destroy it, but Hogan denied it all and said that he made it possible so because of the heat with each other, they wanted to make a hell of a fight. And what a hell of a fight it was. Sure it was just two old men duking it all out because they despised each other, but it had phenomenal storytelling in it. Pretty much, this match told the best story in the whole card. It was a battle of egos where they just used any weapon they can find and beat each other to a bloody pulp. I’m just relieved that nobody got seriously hurt in this match where even Vince jumped off the ladder and leg dropped Hogan through the announcer’s table. I couldn’t imagine this match being at all good without the Street Fight stipulation otherwise it would have been far less dramatic that what we got in this very match. This was a very believable fight all thanks to Vince’s evil facial expressions that told all of it. You can just feel the animosity by the way he looks at the cameras and at Hogan. This match felt very real, until you threw in Rowdy Roddy Piper interfering this match to attack Hogan. That was a big time surprise that wet all of our nostalgic beaks in a swoop! Shocking that this match ended up being so awesome, and credit belongs to McMahon just as much as Hogan, but I really enjoyed this. It told a great story, and both men really gave it all they had, and Hogan went outside of his normal routine to show that this match “meant something more.” This is a match that almost stole the show and because of it’s nostalgia power and amazing story going on it made it a really wonderful match to watch. After Hogan gave Vince multiple Leg Drops and won the match, it’s easy to say that it’s one of the biggest surprises of the whole show.
Match Score: 5/5
The Rock vs. Steve Austin – Thank goodness Stone Cold Steve Austin fully recovered from what had happened to him on the night before. Rumors had it that they pushed this show before the main event because they weren’t too sure if Austin was able to wrestle, but load and behold, here he is coming down to the ring wrestling like no one’s business. The rivalry between Rock and Stone Cold have always been some of the most iconic and legendary that it had three rematches at Wrestlemania. Though I still say that their first match at Wrestlemania 15 was their best, this one here was so much better than their last encounter at Wrestlemania 17. There were no interferences, no weapons involved, and no ridiculous stipulation; it was all fair game to see who really is the best wrestler because Rock never heated Austin at ‘Mania and it has been his goal to accomplish that victory before he officially leaves to Hollywood. It is so sad to see that this is Austin’s last wrestling match (the one against Eric Bishof doesn’t count) because he has had serious health problems, gone through a divorce, and the stress he’s been getting was hurting him personally. I can’t blame him for making this match his last, but there’s so much more he could have done to improve his career like have Austin vs. Hogan that we all still craved for. With that being said, how was the match? Well, it had pure nostalgia power where they were able to use all of their iconic moves and delivered their finishing maneuvers back and forth on each other and stole their opponents moves as well. I’m not too fond for matches like this where it’s all finishers and kicking out of the pitfalls, but I can make this one an accept ion because it really is part of their character and they are almost invincible when they brawl each other. But as you heard about the story of Austin’s trip to the hospital before this show, you just can’t help but to see The Texas Rattlesnake suffering in this match leaving only the Rock to carry this match and sometimes over sold the moves. His taunts, gestures, and cockiness kept all of us from noticing and thankfully he kept all of us from feeling too sorry for Austin. At the same time, Austin tried his damnedest to deliver the goods and give The Rock one hell of a fight. It was purely magical to see the third chapter of these two in Wrestlemania because they deserved those three rematches unlike any other feud in wrestling. But the one thing that I will always remember about this match was when Rock gave those final three Rock Bottoms. Each one he made brought in so much emotion out of the whole audience and when Rock made that third Rock Bottom for the win, just took our breath away. Finally, the Rock beaten Stone Cold at Wrestlemania at the last time they ever faced each other, but it was really an end of an era. All those moments that felt like Attitude Era within the WWE is forever gone because it ended in this match. It hit us with that feeling that we’re never going to have that feeling anymore because the times has changed. Because there was so much heart and passion going throughout this match, it left me in full appreciation for what they both had done for us wrestling fans. I have to face the fact the the times has moved on but we’re never ever again going to have moments like this one.
Match Score: 5/5
Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle (c) – WWE Championship – And here we come to our most unique Wrestlemania main events of all time. We have the every so credible Olympic Gold Medalist going toe-to-toe with a rookie with the highest potential. It’s not Brock’s first WWE Championship match, but it’s sure one hell of a Wrestlemania debut to start at the main event that no one has ever had. Sure they were shoving Brock Lesnar down our throats, but be honest here, he had the “it” factor. The physique, the move set, the talent; he had everything to be main event material. Angle risked a lot in this match, competing despite the fact he was in need of neck surgery. He was facing a rookie who didn’t know his own strength. However, he couldn’t pass up getting his chance to star in the main event at WrestleMania. Unlike any ‘Mania main event, this very match was all about the purity of Wrestling. If you thought that his match with Chris Benoit was art in terms of athleticism, this one here is gold. It was pure wrestling; there’s no heel or babyface, no dirty wrestling involved, and no “formulaic” iconic moves that are taken place to entertain the fans. As I was watching this match, I just can’t help but get that special feeling of what Smackdown used to be; the magic of technical wrestling. The crowd got hotter and hotter as the match went on. Lesnar displayed tremendous athleticism to go with his brute strength and Angle showed how much he had truly mastered professional wrestling. It was a very competitive match that worked tremendously well! I was about to consider this the best match of the night until the botched finish that could have ended either one of their careers. After a couple of F-5 that Angle kicked out, Lesnar decided to go up top and apply the shooting star press. It was a nasty fall as he landed on his neck and bumped on Kurt Angle. Immediately, this match needed to end after that because both men were really hurt after that stunt, so after a final F-5, you can see Brock was out of his senses and didn’t know where he was at. Despite that botch, Brock deserved to become the new WWE Champion because he was the key to a new era for the Brand Extension. I remember how it just ended perfectly when Kurt and Brock shook hands and raise hands for ending a really fantastic show. Both men made full recoveries in what proved to be a physically grueling match. Later in 2003, their rivalry continued; providing better matches than this one. Despite all the risk involved, they both made it out alive from a career ending situation. I really don’t think we’re ever going to have a main event to be similar to this one when it comes to stipulation and in-ring ability. Honestly, this match is the most unique main event above all!
Match Score: 5/5
With all the things that was about to make this show a disaster (Stone Cold’s hospital situation, Angle’s neck problems, Hogan’s back problems, the botch that Lesnar made) but with the heart and passion put into this very show, it pulled off into making a wonderful show. It’s no wonder why so many people considers this the best Wrestlemania of all time. This was where dreams began and ended here in this show. As for me, there are a couple of negatives that puts from calling it the “best Wrestlemania of all time” and that’s because it had one of Undertaker’s worst matches, John Cena’s technical microphone difficulties during his segment, and Limp Biscuit’s obnoxious performance. Limp Biscuit’s involvement in the show was really the worst Wrestlemania band performances of all time (worse than Chris Warren and Saliva) and the whole crowd booed the band off of stage. Other than that, this show was incredible. I really don’t think that there was ever a Wrestlemania where it really felt so much bigger than life itself. This card had some of the most qualitative wrestling that anyone could ever asked for. This new focus on Technical and showmanship within these matches and less “hardcore” appeal represents what the Brand Extension once was. There was nothing wrong with the hardcore wrestling appeal that has gone throughout the Attitude Era (I miss it as much as the next guy), but it’s time to learn that wrestling had to mature once again because it was really loosing its appeal. This is were in-ring work started to matter once again and this show represents the essence of that style of wrestling. The main reason it was I because a lot of the matches had that big, special WrestleMania feel to them. And that’s what really matters. The roster delivered one of the best in-ring WrestleManias ever. Angle-Lesnar, Jericho-Michaels, and Austin-Rock (in Austin’s curtain call) put up match-of-the-year level performances. Vince-Hogan, HHH-Booker (outside of the booking), Hardy-Rey, and the Tag 3 Way were all just as magical. I’m just as happy to see that this show was so damn epic that I can’t think of a Wrestlemania that was bigger than life itself than this one! It’s interesting that Wrestlemania 9 is still considered the worst Wrestlemania of all time, then ten years later Wrestlemania 19 turned out to be one of the best.