Well after doing reviews on the biggest WWF/E shows of the year for 2001 & 2002, it only makes sense to now do the same for the year 2003, so let’s talk about WrestleMania 19. And if you thought the previous two Mania shows were eventful, wait until you try this one on for size: A main event featuring a man who hadn’t even been on WWE TV until the day AFTER WrestleMania the previous year, the final match in the career of the greatest WWE superstar of all time (not that those outside of a select few knew it), a match “20 years in the making” and an entire card stacked with now current or likely future Hall of Famers. This really was a heck of a show, but I rarely find it one people immediately talk about when they speak of the best WrestleMania shows there has ever been. And maybe I’m pre-empting this a little bit, but I have watched this show many times before (although never taken an in-depth look as I will do with this blog) and I remember it always being a good show, with 3/4 matches I would go out of my way to watch again. So without further or do, join me now as I look back at another WrestleMania show from yesteryear, the final one of my trilogy of reviews in preview of this year’s show of shows. Here is my review of WrestleMania 19 from the year 2003. Enjoy, I know I will.
This year’s WrestleMania opening video emphasized the importance and significance of WrestleMania. These are always good aren’t they? The show originally opened with Ashanti performing ‘America The Beautiful’, accompanied by images of the US Armed Forces and commentary putting over the US’s victory in ‘liberating Iraq’, but that’s not on the WWE network version of the show. Make of that what you will… Anyway this year Mania was held at the Safeco Field Baseball Stadium in Seattle. Your commentators and ring announcers are split between Raw and SmackDown, as this was the first WrestleMania since the WWE Draft split the two brands; Raw’s matches had JR and The King on commentary with Howard Finkel ring announcing, as SmackDown had Michael Cole and Tazz on the call with Tony Chimel ring announcing.
Matt Hardy (C) with Shannon Moore defeated Rey Mysterio to retain the Cruiserweight Championship
Really solid match to kick off the show, two solid workers and the only shame was they got just over 5 and a half minutes. Rey flew about all over the place and really got the crowd excited, and Matt was a great foil to the beloved high flyer. This Mattitude version of Matt Hardy with his ‘Matt Facts’ was so awesome. A corkscrew Plancha by Rey to the outside set the tone early, but Shannon Moore helped Hardy regain control after. Matt got the heat on Rey for some time after, with Moore getting his shots and moves in on Mysterio whenever the back of the ref was turned. Rey got a nearfall after reversing a Twist of Fate into a pin attempt, Hardy got a nearfall after with a Side Effect, the crowd tried to will Rey back into things and after a great springboard off the ropes Mysterio followed with a crossbody for another nearfall. Mysertio got another nearfall from a tornado ddt, and soon after set up for the 619 but Shannon Moore grabbed Rey’s leg to pull him down. Matt then hit the Twist of Fate… but Rey kicked out to the shock of Matt and Moore! Mysterio got a great Hurricanrana off the second rope for a nearfall, but again Moore stopped the three by pulling Hardy’s leg to the bottom rope. After Hardy accidentally took down Moore, Rey then did hit the 619, and with the crowd going wild he missed the West Coast Pop after Hardy ducked, then after Rey looked to counter into a Victory Roll pin Hardy held Rey down and held onto the bottom rope for extra leverage, and Hardy got the win to retain.
The Miller Lite Girls arrived at WrestleMania… oh boy…I’ll let you all find out who they are in your own time… just make sure you delete your internet search history after… The crowd sounded VERY happy to see them. They argued over what was the bigger match over Hogan/McMahon and Stone Cold/The Rock.
So… They showed us a clip next from Sunday night Heat of Nathan Jones being jumped backstage. Now Jones was a brute of a man with one heck of a life story, and he was new to WWE at this time and looked set to be a big star… problem was… he SUCKED in the ring. And so they had scheduled a tag team match with him teaming with The Undertaker looking to get some of that star power magic dust, and then the two would eventually feud. But they realised before this that Jones could stink the joint out, and so did an angle to explain how they could keep Jones out the match.
The Undertaker defeated Big Show & A-Train in a Handicap Match
Limp Bizkit performed ‘Rollin’ live which was pretty cool. Big pop of course for Taker when he rode out. Taker got a Chokeslam on A-Train right away but Big Show stopped the pin. Taker looked jacked here and was cheered whenever he was on offence. Old School on A-Train got a big reaction, but A-Train and Big Show beat up Taker all over the place after. Train’s offence looked good to be fair, I’m not too sure what went wrong wit him cause he looked like a monster here. Big Show tried for a Chokeslam but Undertaker countered it into an armbar, only for A-Train to come in and Taker got a cross-armbreaker on him, until Big Show got a big leg drop and the heels took back control. Taker back into it after reversing an abdominal stretch on A-Train and a gutwrench suplex, until A-Train hit a big clothesline and got a nearfall. Taker hit more strikes then a big ddt, but Big Show stopped the 3 count. Taker hit shots on Show and A-Train, and he did take Show down but got smashed by a Bicycle Kick by A-Train. Show hit a Chokeslam on Taker… and then NATHAN JONES came running down the aisle, Show went after him but got hit with a big spin kick by Jones (how this wasn’t a DQ when the match was announced before it began as now being a handicap match I don’t know)… anyway this left A-Train in the ring with Taker, and eventually he threw A-Train into Jones who gave him a kick. Taker then hit the Tombstone for the win. So… it was supposed to be a tag match, then it was a handicap match, but when the tag partner came out they let him do whatever as if it was a tag match? Ok then…
The Miller Lite Girls were back… this time they ran into WWE Divas Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson backstage.
They showed footage from Heat where Chief Morley and Lance Storm retained the world tag titles against Kane and RVD after help from The Dudleys. Bare in mind that was on the pre show and the miller lite girls are on the main show…
Trish Stratus defeated Jazz and Victoria (C) (with Steven Richards) in a triple threat match to win the WWE Women’s Championship
They dubbed over Victoria’s music on the network (she was coming out to ‘All The Things She Said’ by Tatu at this time), this made me sad. Jazz dominated early with her power, Trish showed great babyface fight though, and Victoria showed her vengeful streak at times. So the dynamic between the three was really good and worked well. Victoria got a nearfall on Trish but Jazz pulled her out the ring, then Jazz hit a great leg drop on Trish but Victoria then broke up the pin. The two heels seemed to double team Trish and hit a double shoulderbreaker, then they went at one another. After Victoria put Jazz in the corner, Trish then popped back up with a backstabber on Victoria, which Stratus then rolled through into a tremendous pin attempt for a nearfall. Trish then turned it round and went at Victoria, Jazz then hit a pig powerbomb to Trish and got a 2 count, Victoria went at it again with Jazz with Jazz slapping her in the corner… Trish later got involved and as Jazz and Victoria again tried for the double team, Trish ducked so that Jazz kicked Victoria instead. Trish got a nearfall on Jazz with a roll up, and just after scaled Jazz’s shoulders and then turned from there into a victory roll attempt which was rather impressive. Trish followed up with the Chick Kick to Jazz, but Victoria broke the pin. Victoria went to the second rope as Richards at ringside cheered her on, but Trish did a handstand into the corner and got her down with her legs, Trish hit chops to Victoria and kicked her to the outside, Jazz then went at Trish catching her leg and getting her in a half boston crab… she transitioned into an STF, then Victoria got onto the apron to distract the ref so that Richards could come into the ring and throw Jazz to the outside, Trish used Victoria to push Jazz off the apron and got a nearfall on Victoria in the process, Victoria got a nearfall also after they rolled through, Jazz came back in and had dropped Trish down but got hit with a hard kick from Victoria. Jazz moved out the way of an attempt at the moonsault by Victoria, but Vcotria lifted Jazz to the outside over the ropes as he ran at her… with the ref looking out at Jazz Richards ran in with a chair but missed Trish and the chair came off the ropes and he hit himself in the head with it… Trish then hit him with the Stratusfaction, and then after getting out of an attempt at a Widow’s Peak by Victoria, Trish then caught Victoria with a hard kick after she came off the ropes. And that got her the 1,2,3. Trish your new Women’s Champion. Now I said in my mania 18 review I felt Trish should’ve won the title that night in her hometown, but my goodness the difference between her in-ring skills in that match compared to this one is remarkable. She was brilliant in this match. I enjoyed this match way more than I thought I would going into it.
The Rock was interviewed by Johnathan Coachman backstage about his match against Stone Cold Steve Austin later… This was heel Hollywood Rock so he was booed when he appeared on screen. He cut a promo on ‘the people’ that booed him last year, the people that booed him when he gave ‘the concert of a lifetime’, the same people who call him a ‘sellout’. Rock pointed out he had sold out ‘this and every WrestleMania he has ever been in’ and said he couldn’t care less about the people. He said he was here to fulfil his destiny to beat Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania, as it was the one thing he had never done and it eats him alive. He said if there was one thing hollywood had taught him it was that act 1 and 2 don’t matter, it was act 3 that was important. He said he wasn’t afraid to sweat, not afraid to bleed ‘gonna beat that bald headed bastard guaran-damn-teed’. This got some cheers it was such a good line. Rock said he then would’ve done it all. Which leads in nicely to his promo the next night on Raw. I… LOVED heel Hollywood Rock from 2003. He was so fucking good.
(Next was a multi team tag match for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Given one of the participants I wont be reviewing the match. For the record Team Angle (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) retained their titles in a match that also featured Eddie and Chavo Guerrero and Rhyno that I’d give ***).
Stacy and Torrie were backstage again… they got into a bit of a debate about WrestleMania… Torrie argued that Hogan created Mania and made it was today, Keibler said that was down to Mr McMahon. The two other girls had the same argument when Stacy and Torrie left, they said they should settle it in the ring, the other argued they should settle it in bed, which the other said fine. Urgh, you’d think as a young male Id like this stuff, but I don’t need to see it on a wrestling show I really don’t.
Next… well this was more like what I want to see…
Shawn Michaels defeated Chris Jericho
Oh man this was so great. I strongly advise you use the link above to watch it. Amazing chemistry between these two (as a great pre match video showed), and that added to the high level of in-ring ability both poses meant they put on a real classic. Michaels really was the showstopper in every sense in this one, and Jericho was his usual asshole self. Plenty of highlights here; Jericho applying the Walls of Jericho on the outside and then running in the ring demanding the ref stops the count, Michaels again showing how he has THE absolute best babyface in peril selling ability in the history of the business, Jericho just beat HBK’s ass and the crowd went wild whenever Michaels got a comeback or even a shot at one, Jericho doing Michaels’ pose and then HBK kipping up and laying in punches as the crowd went wild, a series of nearfalls for each man when they kept rolling over which ended when Jericho tried the Walls but HBK used his leg strength to flip Jericho away, Jericho later countering an attempted Michaels move into the Walls of Jericho, Jericho hitting a tremendous backbreaker followed by a flying forearm off the top… and then JERICHO set up for Sweet Chin Music and he got it… but Michaels kicking out to a big pop. Later on in the match Michaels countered a superplex in mid-air into a crossbody but Jericho kicked out, HBK went up for the elbow but Jericho kicked the ref into the ropes which caused Michaels to fall down onto the turnbuckle. Michaels did soon after throw Jericho off the top and got the elbow after, and with the crowd going crazy he kipped up and set for the superkick, but Jericho dodged it and got the Walls of Jericho in again… eventually after Jericho pulled Michaels away from the ropes Michaels got them at last with Jericho absolutely inconsolable. And as Jericho turned he was met with a superkick, and Michaels crawled to the cover but Jericho just got up at 2. After both men staggered to their feet, Jericho eventually sent Michaels flying into the corner Michaels somehow flipped over Jericho and got a roll up with his legs… and did enough for the 1,2,3. The finish almost came as a surprise but this match was tremendous. After the match HBK and Jericho seemed to share a moment of mutual respect… then of course Jericho turned it around to leave with the heat. But this was really GOOD SHIT.
We saw Mr McMahon’s personal referee knock on his dressing room door and go in…
They announced the attendance as 54,097.
Limp Bizkit performed the WrestleMania theme song… entitled with a family friendly name “CRACK ADDICT”…
The Miller Lite Girls, Stacy and Torrie had a PILLOW FIGHT, where they basically frolicked around and took the majority of their clothes off. I can’t really talk about shite like this in 2021 for a whole load of reasons… very much of a different time shall we say...
Right… I’m gonna find it REALLY hard to speak neutrally on this next match, so let me fill you in…
So Triple H is at this time in the midst of the infamous ‘reign of terror’. He’s the heel, asshole, world champion who just beat (buries) everyone… And going in to WrestleMania there was no obvious challenger for him as everyone else was really tied up with other storylines… so they hold a battle royal on Raw and it is won by Booker T. And so we have Booker T vs Triple H… and what route do they choose to go down to build this match up? Well… I can some it up with one line from a Triple H promo where he said “people like you don’t get to be World Champion”… PEOPLE LIKE YOU? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??? You make your own conclusions what was meant by that… Triple H even doubled down in one promo where talked about Booker’s “nappy hair”, he even threw money at him and told him to get his bags, and told him to dance for him… ARE YOU SERIOUS??? So you got that from the Triple H side, and Booker T is cutting great promos about how he was once in prison and has turned his life around and now he’s going to WrestleMania and challenging for the world title, so a classic redemption storyline right? In 2019 they had Vince McMahon give off the same sort of vibes to Kofi Kingston with Vince eluding to people like Kofi not being WWE Champion, but they didn’t say anything as blatant as his NAPPY FUCKING HAIR!? Oh and on that with Kofi when the whole build was that ‘people like him’ didn’t get to be WWE Champion… GUESS WHAT… KOFI KINGSTON WON THE FUCKING MATCH… But here in 2003, did Booker T overcome the racist undertones of his opponents promos and conduct leading to the match? Did he complete the ultimate underdog story of going from time in prison, reforming himself and winning the big belt from the nasty bad guy at the biggest show… NOOOOOOOOOO… OF COURSE FUCKING NOT! Give me a break WWE. This was one of the most deplorable bookings I’ve seen. And I’m a Triple H fan, I am in no way calling Triple H a racist… but you just don’t do a story where there’s such obvious racist undertones… and then the babyface loses… that’s horseshit… when Alexa Bliss basically spent the build to Mania 34 calling Nia Jax fat and ugly… guess what… Nia beat her ass and won the title. If you wanted Triple H to win for whatever reason then fine no problem, but did you really need to say “PEOPLE LIKE YOU DON’T GET TO BE WORLD CHAMPION”. They included much of this in the pre match hype video too, even having the Triple H line “I laugh my ass off” when HHH gave his thoughts on Booker challenging him for the world title. And regardless of if it was meant to be a straight racist thing or not, you had to know it would come off like that… so TELL A DIFFERENT STORY… This match often comes top when any discussion is brought up about results we wish were different… and yes as I’ve said I really find it hard to watch and comment on this match honestly….
Triple H (C) with Ric Flair defeated Booker T to retain the World Heavyweight Championship
To make matters worse after what was a decent match in fairness… Triple H hits the Pedigree… and then takes (and I counted them) another TWENTY TWO SECONDS to make the pin after. FUCK OFF. Booker T, about as solid a talent as you will get, absolutely buried by all of this. Fuck you.
Next up… strap yourselves in folks…
Hulk Hogan defeated Vince McMahon in a Street Fight (if Hogan lost he’d of had to retire)
The most FANTASTIC video package before this match. Telling the story of how Hogan was Vince’s top guy, but turned against him in a professional and personal way. Now just as Hogan wants to bring Hulkamania back, Vince wants to KILL IT! to start the match Vince slapped Hogan before Hulk takes him down. Hogan strikes away at Vince and takes him down with a clothesline. Hogan rains down more strikes in the corner, before Vince hits and elbow then takes Hogan down and kicks him in the stomach. McMahon then drives Hogan into the corner and goes to work on him, eventually taking him down with a big blow to the back. Vince might well be the in the best shape out of these two, he looks JACKED! Vince targets Hogan’s arm after with knees, then pulling away at it, but as much as Hogan fought Vince used the ringpost to drive Hogan’s arm into it. Both men engage in hand locks, before Hogan ‘hulks up’ off the crowd and powers up before Vince kicks him back down. Hogan tries to power up again, and takes control going chest to chest until Vince again kicks Hogan down. They do the same spot AGAIN this time with Hogan again taking a kick to the gut before Vince throws him to the outside. Vince throws Hogan’s head into the barricade and then sends Hulk shoulder first into the ringpost. Vince then flexes at a downed Hogan and looks in amazing shape. McMahon gets a steel chair and goes to hit Hogan but Hulk moves out the way before he strikes Vince down and then launches him into the post. And then Hogan takes the chair and smashes Vince in the head with it. Vince is busted open now as Hogan strikes away. Back in the ring now Hogan hits big punches, and Vince falls to the outside. Hogan gets another chair and smashes Vince across the back with it. And again. And he tried again but Vince ducked and Hogan hit one of the poor Spanish announcers (those poor guys never have any luck do they)… Hogan drags Vince away but McMahon hits him back with a low blow. Vince takes the chair and smashes Hogan in the head. Vince then gets a LADDER from under the ring… he sets it up ringside, and then places Hogan on an announce table after beating him around the ringside area. Vince moves the ladder closer to the spanish table before clearing that, then hits Hogan with a monitor, and with Hogan across the table Vince climbs the nearby ladder and delivers some form of leg drop off the top of the ladder!
Quite the unreal spot to see VINCE MCMAHON do!!! Hogan is busted open at this point as well. Vince looks down at Hogan after and drags him back into the ring, before finally getting the first pin attempt of the match… but Hogan kicks out at two! Vince tries again but a kick out again! A bloodied Vince looks furious and he goes under the ring to retrieve something… as he moves his head back up with his weapon to look back at Hogan we get one of the most iconic camera shots in WWE history…
Vince brings a steel pipe into the ring… but Hogan this time hits the low blow before Vince could hit him with the pipe. With both men down and bloodied suddenly in an unbelievable surprise moment, the legendary long term rival of Hogan, Rowdy RODDY PIPER is suddenly in the ring!!! To a huge pop Piper reveals his signature shirt and kilt, he screams away with the crowd going mad, he spits at Hogan but then kicks Vince… he picks up the steel pipe and looks unsure who to hit, he gestures to Vince to get up, spits at him… but then turns and hits Hogan in the head and gestures for him to kiss his ass before exiting the ring… what a moment!!! Vince crawls over towards Hogan and eventually gets a cover… but Hulk kicks out! Vince crawls to pick the pipe up again, and as the ref begs Vince not to use it, Vince looks up furious and throws him out of the ring. He then gestures and out comes his own personal referee (the same that had been used at the previous months PPV where Vince fucked Hogan over once more, in his match against The Rock). But at the same time a normal referee comes out and the two ‘refs’ argue on the outside as Vince goes to hit Hogan with the pipe in the ring, and he hits him right in the head. Vince’s ref gets in the ring and Vince uses Hogan’s own leg drop, but Hulk kicks out at two! Then Hulk does his signature Hulk Up spot and the crowd loses their mind; nothing Vince does has any effect, Hulk does the big YOU point, before he hits him with a big strike and then takes out Vince’s ref, before Vince attacks Hogan from behind but it has no effect, Hogan hits loads of punches then hits the big boot… then does the gesture to the crowd were he cups his ear and they just lap it up… then he comes off the ropes and hits the big Leg Drop and then another and then another. The regular ref then comes back and crawls into the ring, and Hogan gets the win. Hogan poses for the crowd, and Shane McMahon comes out to tend to his fallen father. This was such fun to watch, a proper brawl and although not technically amazing, I enjoyed it a lot. Once again Vince somehow pulls out a decent match at WrestleMania!
The Rock defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin
I’ve always been of the mindset that if you have a chance to go out on top, you should. Stone Cold Steve Austin may well be the greatest WWE superstar of all time. At WrestleMania 19, with very very few people knowing it at the time, his match against his biggest rival The Rock on the grandest stage of WrestleMania, would end up being his last. Knowing in hindsight this was his last dance, watching Austin’s entrance and exit here is quite emotional. The match itself was decent I thought, not for the title and not THE main event like their two previous Mania matches, but I was entertained by it for sure. The Rock was sticking around, for now, so it was his time to get the W, and the afters of the match says it all about the class of both men. With the ref having counted the pin, Rock pushes the ref away so he can say a few private words to Austin, it has since come out that Rock said to Austin the following “I just wanna thank you, you have no idea what this means to me, I appreciate you and I love you”. Austin said he loved The Rock too, and then The Rock leaves the ring and gives it to Austin. We didn’t know it of course at the time, but he did, and this would be Austin’s final curtain call as an in-ring competitor. Should it of gone on last? Maybe, maybe not. But regardless this was a good match between the two biggest stars from the peak era of the business. It completes a trio of very good Mania matches in a row for the Rock, and a fitting end to the career of the best to ever do it in the WWE. Rock got the win with his third Rock bottom of the match. Hard to critically analyse this one knowing this is the end for Steve, but a match I’d recommend if you have the time to go and watch it.
Brock Lesnar defeated Kurt Angle (C) to win the WWE Championship (if Kurt Angle was counted out or DQ’d he would lose the title)
The crowning moment of the most amazing push we’ve seen any new superstar get in… maybe company history. A year after his main roster debut, here was Brock Lesnar (having beaten the likes of The Rock, The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan and won the royal rumble match) challenging Kurt Angle for the WWE title. Ironically it was Angle who came into it with serious health issues, his neck in seriously bad shape yet somehow he was able to do this match. And it was a heck of a match between two great in-ring competitors at the top of their game. But of course everybody remembers it for the end… and had that end be different I’m almost certain this match would’ve been 5 stars all round and talked about as maybe the greatest WrestleMania main event of all time. Did he NEED to try it? No of course not. Would it of been an all time great Mania moment IF he hit it? Yes. But the fact that Brock Lesnar nearly broke his neck, ended his career and maybe his life in the process… you have to ask if it really was worth it? If he picks Kurt up, gives him the F5 and gets the pin instead of climbing to that top rope then we end a very very good match with Lesnar still well aware of what was happening around him. The fact he got a concussion and that was him being LUCKY after the bump tells you everything. A VERY good match, severely hampered in how it is remembered and rated by that ending.
A highlights package closed the show. And what a show it was!!!
Having watched 17,18 and now 19 in the past few days. I think this is one of the best Mania shows I’ve seen. Start to finish I had so much fun watching, and sure there was some stuff I really didn’t like, but middle of the road matches were better than I expected, and the top matches were either eventful and fun, great wrestling matches or both. I would very much recommend you watch this show from start to finish. This was one of the best WrestleMania shows there’s ever been.