Posts tagged Trish Stratus
From bra and panties matches to the main event: how Chyna's impact will be felt this all throughout WrestleMania weekend

My what a difference six years makes.

The last time WWE posted up at Metlife Stadium for WrestleMania 29, women’s wrestling was so insignificant in the company, the only match scheduled on the card involving women - an eight-person intergender tag team match featuring The Funkadactyls, Naomi and Cameron, and the Bella Twins - was scrapped at the last minute due to time constraints. When they return on Sunday for the 35th installment, the ladies will take center stage for the first time in WrestleMania history.

It’s kind of appropriate that on the same weekend Chyna takes her long overdue place in the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of D-Generation X, three of the five most popular superstars of this generation - Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey - will main event the show for both the RAW and Smackdown Women’s Championships, while the other two - Bayley and Sasha Banks - will defend the new Women’s Tag Team Championships in a Fatal Four Way. It’s appropriate because Joanie “Chyna” Laurer was the linchpin of women’s wrestling at a time when when it was basically an afterthought in mainstream wrestling.

WWE

WWE

Until Chyna burst onto the scene, the WWF (at the time) Women’s Championship was suspended and re-introduced to the company a number of times, and when it was featured, the matches were rarely long and not well promoted. Even during her time with the company, the women were mostly relegated to sexual fodder for its target male demographic, competing in anything from Bra & Panties matches to Evening Gown matches to Paddle on a Pole and Bikini Mud bouts.

However, Chyna was a rare breed - a five-foot-ten powerhouse unlike anything the world of wrestling had seen before. From the second she stepped on the scene in February 1997 and rag-dolled Marlena on Monday Night RAW, she gave women the colossal shot of adrenaline it needed to make a revival in the all-important Attitude Era. It was Chyna’s gigantic presence that gave supporters of women’s wrestling hope that not only could they deliver on a stage usually reserved for men, they could compete with them on that same level.

And compete she did. She was the first woman to compete in the Royal Rumble in 1999, paving the way for the women to get their own Rumble match 19 years later. She became the first woman to qualify for the King of the Ring tournament later that year, and in October she won the Intercontinental Championship from Jeff Jarrett, becoming the only woman in WWE history to hold a major title belt, a feat she accomplished twice.

Chyna quickly became one of the most popular superstars of the Attitude Era, but despite her popularity, women’s wrestling didn’t change much after her departure. Women were given a bigger platform, which isn’t saying much considering how little they were valued previously, but there was no one that rivaled Chyna's star power and ability in the ring. The WWE focused more on fitness models new to the business, and while some of them blossomed into good performers - like Trish Stratus and Torrie Wilson - others found it difficult to survive in the ever-evolving world of wrestling, and suddenly women’s wrestling fell out of favor again.

WWE’s relationship with Playboy led to annual spreads that tied into WrestleMania storylines. At the time, Chyna, herself a former Playboy cover girl, had long been gone from the company. From 2003 to 2008, a Divas match or program was highlighted by a Playboy cover girl, usually a newer, greener diva looking for exposure, leading to some poor, forgettable moments on the Grandest Stage. There was the Playboy pillow fight between Torrie and Candice Michelle at WrestleMania 22, and the BunnyMania lumberjill match hosted by Snoop Dogg.

Once their relationship with Playboy ended, the poor string of WrestleMania matches for the women’s division didn’t stop there. In 2009, a battle royal that started with a Kid Rock performance in place of superstar intros ended with “Santina” - Santino Marella in drag - winning the crown of Miss WrestleMania. In 2010, a 10-diva tag team match finished with a “Hog Splash”, as Michael Cole put it, from Vickie Guerrero (a non-wrestler) onto Kelly Kelly (a fitness model-turned-wrestler) and a painful botch of a pinfall. The following years were centered on celebrity involvement; in 2011, Snooki from Jersey Shore scored a win in a six-person tag, and in 2012, entertainment reporter (and huge wrestling fan) Maria Menounos was victorious in another tag match.

Then comes 2013, and the now-infamous scratch at Metlife. Women’s wrestling had fallen so deep into obscurity in WWE that they couldn’t even get five minutes on the biggest show of the year. The fans had had enough. Hell, some of the wrestlers had enough too, like Gail Kim, who eliminated herself from a battle royal once just to see if anyone noticed.

But what we didn’t know at the time was down in Florida, a revolution was burgeoning.

NXT grew from the ashes of WWE’s failed ECW revival, becoming what amounted to a game show before overtaking Florida Championship Wrestling, WWE’s developmental promotion for new superstars. The first woman to come out of NXT and make a difference on the main roster was Paige, who debuted on RAW the night after WrestleMania XXX in 2014 - another show with a multi-women clusterfuck of a match - and pinned Divas Champion AJ Lee to win the title on her first night on RAW. Paige would go onto tag with AJ against the Bellas the next year at WrestleMania. While Paige was growing the brand on the main roster, the seeds that were planted back in NXT were starting to blossom courtesy of the Four Horsewomen.

Charlotte Flair. Sasha Banks. Bayley. Becky Lynch. Four women who changed the face of women’s wrestling for eternity. Each one unique in their own right. Charlotte, the daughter of wrestling legend Ric Flair, was physically gifted and a natural at the business. Sasha Banks, a charismatic black woman from Boston, found her voice down in NXT. Bayley became one of the biggest fan favorites in the company, moving merch like no woman in WWE or NXT at the time. Becky Lynch, the wild-card of the group, had retired and moved on from wrestling before being pulled back into the mix and signed by WWE. She carried a chip on her shoulder from day one, but when she got in the ring with her three sisters, she created magic.

WWE

WWE

These four women were the heart of the women’s revolution in wrestling, with all three being featured prominently at WrestleMania 32 in 2016. Bayley defended her NXT Women’s Championship at the biggest NXT show to date, while Becky, Charlotte and Sasha stole the show in a triple threat match for the new Women’s Championship. Women were no longer the bathroom break on the card; they were must-see.

Fast-forward to 2019, when the four of them will compete for gold on the Grandest Stage. Aided by UFC Hall of Famer Ronda Rousey, WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix, the incomparable Asuka, and another powerhouse in Nia Jax, the three - count em, THREE - women’s matches at this year’s WrestleMania, including the second women’s battle royal and the main event - are the most anticipated matches on the card.

And on the night before, the legend who led the way 20 years ago will finally be called a Hall of Famer. It’s bittersweet that Chyna won’t be here to see the culmination of what she started, but the ladies participating in Sunday’s show will no doubt do her memory justice.

WWE Evolution 2018: Recap, results, analysis
evolution.png

Rob and Chris recap the first-ever all-women’s PPV, which provided plenty of action from start to finish and all of the goods on what was an incredible night on Long Island.

TRISH STRATUS & LITA vs. ALICIA FOX & MICKIE JAMES

Chris Novak: Okay, this match was a super fun opener. This crowd is going to be n absolute hoot all night long. Trish and Lita both had some great spots and it feels like each could definitely have a couple of matches down the line. They set this match up for a hot tag with both Mickie AND Trish. Team Bestie won after Lita hit a Litasault on both Alicia and Mickie, which was then turned into a Chick Kick on Mickie. I have to give this ***1/4. Super-duper fun opener and a great way to get this event started.

Robert O’Neill: Wow. After Alexa Bliss got taken out of this match, my interest cratered a bit, but they certainly proved me wrong. It was really good! Trish and Lita can both still go (Trish in particular), and it was a wildly entertaining tag match to open the show. That’s been a WWE formula as long as I can remember, and it rarely disappoints. ***1/2

Chris Novak: Wow, I thought I was going to be the high man on this match! Rob usurped me by a 0.5 star.

20-WOMAN BATTLE ROYAL

Chris Novak: I clowned this beforehand. I said it was a silly idea even if it was expected. AND YET IT WAS SO FUN! They had plenty of little wrinkles in there that made it really fun. Nia Jax wound up winning, which was a little bit of a shock, as it came down between her and Ember. It’s possible that they could flip her to SDL, but regardless of decision, that was extremely fun. I’ll give it ***.

Robert O’Neill: Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows how little I was looking forward to this match. Holy crap, was I wrong. That was absolutely outstanding. It wasn’t as good as the Women’s Royal Rumble, but it was right up there to me. Nia Jax winning is perfectly fine, too. I think Nia and Ember Moon both looked great as the final two, the legends were fine, and everyone else got the job done. ***

MAE YOUNG CLASSIC FINAL: TONI STORM vs. IO SHIRAI

Chris Novak: Toni Storm gets the win! Storm and Shirai had a full-fledged sprint and it was extremely good. Lot of crazy spots busted out, including a smooth-as-hell moonsault by Shirai, a German Suplex on the apron, and a whole lot more. I am unsurprised by the result as there’s obviously a lot of hype around Storm. Really good stuff here. I’ll give it ***1/2 and go from there.

Robert O’Neill: This felt a little short, but it was still good. Really pumped to watch both of these two in NXT over the next few months. They’re both so different than anyone else on the NXT or WWE rosters, it could really be special. ***1/2

THE RIOTT SQUAD vs. SASHA BANKS, BAYLEY & NATALYA

Chris Novak: This was a rather crazy six-woman tag team match. A lot of wild stuff went down in this one, especially, as per the usual: Sasha going for broke. She took a wicked bump against the barricade in the latter stages of the match. Some tremendous theater late with Bayley protecting Sasha from a top rope senton splash by Ruby. The end sequence was pretty awesome. Nattie hit a powerbomb, Sasha hit an elbow drop and THREW HERSELF OUT OF THE RING TO TAKE OUT RUBY AND SARAH! And then Sasha hit a Frog Splash for the 1-2-3. ***3/4 for me. Just a whole lot of fun.

KAIRI SANE vs. SHAYNA BASZLER - NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

Chris Novak: WOW… okay. So the match itself was really good. That’s no surprise considering who was involved. But… wow, they utilized Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, two of the other Four Horsewomen, to help Shayna become the first-ever TWO-TIME NXT Women’s Champion! Shayna forced Sane into submission with her finisher and picked up the duke. Best match of the night so far if you ask me. ***3/4

Robert O’Neill: Wow. This was a surprising result. I think I liked it more than their match in Brooklyn, and I liked getting the other two Horsewomen involved, but I can’t help but to think it might have been a bad decision to take the belt off of Sane that quickly. Regardless, it was a fantastic match. ****

BECKY LYNCH vs. CHARLOTTE - LAST WOMAN STANDING MATCH FOR THE SDLIVE WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

Chris Novak: Holy shit. The greatest Last (Wo)man Standing Match in the company’s history. I’m not afraid to say it. *****

Robert O’Neill: Not only was this the best last (wo)man standing match of all time, it was the best womens match in WWE history. Charlotte deserves credit for improving after a rough start to the year, but Becky Lynch absolutely stole the show again. WWE finally realizes what they have in her and they’re not screwing it up It’s amazing. *****

RONDA ROUSEY vs. NIKKI BELLA - RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

Chris Novak: A fantastic match to end the show. Ronda and Nikki both put in some serious work here and both took some really big bumps. Match was set up very well and Ronda defended herself well against the 2-on-1 disadvantage she faced. She eventually won via the armbar of course. Very good stuff. ***1/2 for me.

Robert O’Neill: This match was as good as everyone expected. Every match Ronda has wrestled in her short career has been good, and heel Nikki is so good. I liked the storytelling and getting Brie involved, and while it wasn’t quite as good as Becky/Charlotte, it was still an excellent main event. ***1/2

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: Not one single match missed. There were good matches, very good matches, great matches and all-timers. Everyone stepped up to the plate and everyone hit it out of the park. The performers deserve to have their praises sung until the cows come home. This was the show of the year for WWE. It only solidifies, for me, the fact that the women are the straws that stir the drink in the company right now. A++++++++ for me.

Robert O’Neill: If you didn’t like this show, it’s because you formed that opinion long before tonight. This had something for everybody and was one of the best WWE PPVs of the year. The last three matches were absolutely excellent, the legends were used perfectly in the first two, and everything else was solid. A+

Five dream matches we want to see at WWE Evolution
Courtesy: WWE

Courtesy: WWE

Throughout the last week, speculation ran rampant as to what Stephanie McMahon's "historic" announcement would be to kick off Monday Night Raw. Stephanie, Vince and Triple H opened the show to confirm that the first-ever all women's PPV titled Evolution would be taking place on October 28th on Long Island. 

In addition to the finals of the 2nd annual Mae Young Classic, all women's championships from Raw, Smackdown, NXT and NXT UK will be on the line. Also announced were WWE Hall of Fame superstars Trish Stratus and Lita, which could give us a few clashes between past and present that we may not get a chance to see again. Here are five matches that I'd personally like to see on the big show.

 

Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte

Courtesy: WWE

Courtesy: WWE

While it would make sense to have the most high profile name in your company win her first WWE championship on this show, I'll go another route here. This match is rumored to be on the book for WrestleMania 35, but with Stephanie McMahon wanting to build up the Evolution event as the annual WrestleMania for women, a showdown between the two biggest superstars in the division is the perfect match to headline the show.

The IIconics vs. LayCool

I'm not the biggest fan of The IIconics, as they come off as a (not as good) 2018 version of LayCool to me. Because of that, the build to this one would be fairly easy to pull off, with Billie Kay and Peyton Royce playing up the ages of their adversaries. And of course, who wouldn't love to see Layla El back for one night? 😍

Nia Jax vs. Kharma

Having torn up the women's scene in Japan and TNA during the 2000s, Amazing Kong made her WWE debut as Kharma in 2011, although her run would be short-lived following a pregnancy and unfortunate miscarriage. The 2012 Royal Rumble notwithstanding, Kharma never competed in a WWE ring.

Nia Jax's run thus far has been what Kharma's should have been. This probably wouldn't be a good match, but two of the most powerful women in WWE history could be fun if kept short. There's also another opportunity for WWE/GLOW cross-promotion, which WWE hasn't been shy to take advantage of.

Beth Phoenix vs. Asuka vs. Jazz

While the previous match *probably* wouldn't be good to watch, a triple-threat between arguably the three most dominant women ever could steal the show. These superstars all are bruisers inside of the squared circle, and assuming that Beth Phoenix and Jazz can still go full throttle, this could be a show-stealer.

Sasha Banks vs. Bayley

Courtesy: WWE

Courtesy: WWE

We've seen this one before several times in NXT, but both Sasha and Bayley's time on the main roster has been kind of lackluster. With their feud starting to heat back up on the road to Summerslam, the ultimate finale in their series should take place at Evolution.

From the first-ever Women's Hell in a Cell match to the first-ever Women's Elimination Chamber, WWE's eye is always on making history during this Revolution period. The first-ever Last Woman Standing match on the main roster should be reserved for these two.

Honorable Mentions

Trish Stratus vs. Sasha Banks
Becky Lynch vs. Lita
Asuka vs. Ronda Rousey
Charlotte Flair vs. Beth Phoenix
Ronda Rousey vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Sonya Deville
Trish Stratus/Lita vs. Alexa Bliss/Mickie James
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks

My Favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania X8
WWE

WWE

While WrestleMania X8 had the difficult task of following up what is widely regarded as the greatest ‘Mania event in history, in many ways the 18th installment doesn’t fall too short. The big storyline heading into this event was Hollywood Hulk Hogan - in his first WrestleMania match in nine years - facing The Rock in a bout dubbed ‘Icon vs. Icon’.

I don’t necessarily think that the 2002 edition of the Showcase of the Immortals is the greatest, but it is definitely my favorite. 9-year old me had just become a full time viewer of the product at the end of the Invasion angle (specifically the episode of Smackdown where Booker T got his ass kicked inside of a supermarket), and I was as hyped up for the Road to WrestleMania as anyone could get. So you can imagine the first WrestleMania I ever watched having a close spot in my heart.

Even with every championship on the line aside from the Cruiserweight title, the event was somewhat of a dud. However, there were some fun moments throughout.

The first three matches were kind of filler, with the opener seeing Rob Van Dam make his WrestleMania debut against William Regal in a match for Regal’s Intercontinental Championship. Although short, the match was good for what it was. RVD won the title following a Five-Star Frog Splash in what could’ve been a really great match if given a few more minutes.

Next up, Diamond Dallas Page successfully defended his European Championship against Christian in another short bout that could’ve possibly been done on Sunday Night Heat prior to the PPV going live.

Following this up was another title defense, this time the Hardcore Championship. This championship was what it was at the time (a joke), but it had some fun moments on this show. In what was the first of five different title changes, champion Maven faced off against Goldust in a short match, that ended with Spike Dudley bringing in a personal referee to defeat the champion. The title would bounce from Dudley to The Hurricane, Mighty Molly, Christian and back to Maven before the night ends.

About an hour into the event, we finally get a match that lasted for over ten minutes (10:45 to be exact). At the time, Kurt Angle was arguably the best in the world but was in a lost spot following his feud with Royal Rumble winner Triple H. In addition, Kane has been a loyal company man for the entirety of his career. These two things considered, it made sense to partner them up here at WrestleMania, as there clearly wasn’t anything else for them to do. The match itself was decent, with a lot of back and forth action. Angle gets the win at the end after pinning Kane, using the ring ropes as leverage.

Ric Flair vs. Undertaker in a No DQ match was up next. Undertaker challenged Flair to a match at WrestleMania after he cost him his match against The Rock at No Way Out. Using his position as WWF co-owner, Flair repeatedly turned down the challenge week after week. Following bloody beatings of Flair’s best friend Arn Anderson and his oldest son David, Flair finally accepted Undertaker’s challenge, with his position as co-owner being temporarily removed by the board of directors. This was a fun brawl, one that was made personal over the last several weeks. A lot of offense from Taker early on, with Flair getting busted open after only about 3 minutes. Flair was able to turn some defense into offense later on, even bloodying Taker in the process. Undertaker eventually hits Flair with a Tombstone to move his WrestleMania record to 10-0.

In what was yet another filler match, Booker T made his WrestleMania debut against Edge. The story leading up to this match was Booker T being jealous over Edge getting a spot in a Japanese shampoo commercial over him. Not much going on here in this match which only lasted about 6 minutes. Edge comes away victorious here with an Edgecution, and a nice WrestleMania moment in his hometown.

For the first of the “triple main event”, we get Stone Cold vs. Scott Hall. The nWo ended up costing Austin his shot at the Undisputed Championship a month earlier, and as you could understand, Austin wasn’t a happy camper about it. The match itself was decent, and got a lot better towards the end as Kevin Nash got involved and the crowd gets into the match. Austin gets the final WrestleMania victory of his career here.

WWE

WWE

Next up, Billy and Chuck successfully defended the Tag Team titles in a four corners elimination match that also included the APA, Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz. Although not terrible, this match was way too long, and was obviously placed as filler to give the crowd a rest before the match everyone wanted to see.

In what was thought to be a once in a lifetime matchup (they would meet again in 11 months at No Way Out), The Rock went one on one with Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Prior to the match, Hogan advises his fellow nWo members that he’s good on his own. Spoiler alert...they don’t listen. Hogan comes out to the loudest ovation of the night, while the crowd booed and showered Dwayne with “Rocky Sucks!” chants throughout the match. Although not the most technically sound match, the energy these two brought more than made up for it as Rocky comes away with the W. The crowd was effective in forcing Hogan to turn face, and to this day I wonder if they called an audible with Nash and Hall turning on Hogan post-match rather than the next night.

The women’s division in 2002 was definitely not comparable to how it is currently, but the three best women in the Fed at this time were given the task to follow up Rock vs. Hogan. Women’s champion Jazz put her title on the line in a triple threat against Lita and Trish Stratus. A common theme with this PPV, what we get here is another subpar filler match. Kudos to the three ladies for making the most of it. Would have loved for Trish get her WrestleMania moment in Toronto, but Jazz retaining wasn’t a bad decision.

WWE

WWE

Realistically the show kinda falls off after Rock/Hogan, and I’m sure they regretted not placing that match last. The finale saw Royal Rumble winner Triple H cashing in on his guaranteed Undisputed title shot against Chris Jericho (who was accompanied by H’s ex-wife Stephanie McMahon). Jericho works on Hunter’s surgically repaired quad early on, but the crowd doesn’t seem to come alive until Trips finally gets his revenge and hits Stephanie with a Pedigree, something that was teased several times leading up to the match.

While not the worst WrestleMania event ever, it’s nowhere close to being the best. However, the childhood nostalgia it provides me gives it the unique distinction of being my favorite ever.

My Favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania XIX
WWE

WWE

If you’re posed with answering the question, “What is the greatest WrestleMania of all time?” chances are you have an instant reflex. The choice that many people pick is WrestleMania X-Seven. For good reason, too. X-Seven was the culmination of the greatest boom period that the wrestling business ever saw. While watching the event, whether it was live or even now, you get the sense that you are legitimately watching the end of an era. It was a special night in Houston, to say the very least.

WrestleMania X-8 had the unenviable task of following up this incredible show. Apart from one match (Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock) the consensus thought is that it was a whiff. The same, however, cannot be said about the one that followed X-8.

In my opinion, WrestleMania XIX is every bit as good as WrestleMania X-Seven. I can take a step further and say that it’s a better show from top-to-bottom, too (with one very large exception, of course).

The show starts off with the WrestleMania debut of Rey Mysterio. Mysterio, a staple of the Cruiserweight division in WCW and the previously ECW, too, made his first arrival in WWE in the summer of 2002. He quickly ascended up the ranks and proved why he was so regarded as one of the best high-flyers in the game. He faced Matt Hardy, the Cruiserweight Champion (you read that right, if you’re unfamiliar) in a pretty scintillating opener. Hardy won dirty, and while they could’ve given Mysterio his due here to start the show, he would eventually go on to win the Cruiserweight Championship in Anaheim later that year from Hardy to culminate this feud.

Next was a match that, well… okay, this was probably the worst Undertaker match in a few years. He faced The Big Show and A-Train in a handicap match, partly because they’d taken out his partner, Nathan Jones. Yes, you may remember Nathan Jones, “The Colossus of Boggo Road,” who was too green to be in this match that they had him taken out. To be fair to him though, they booked this well, had him show up and land a few kicks in before Taker hit A-Train with a Tombstone.

Third up was a Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match. Trish Stratus became the Women’s Champion after defeating Jazz and Victoria, the reigning champion going into the event. For the time they were given (7:17) the three women made the best of it. Trish got her WrestleMania moment (A YEAR AFTER SHE SHOULD HAVE IN TORONTO) and would set the tone for the remainder of the year (Writer’s Note: You should check out the No DQ Match that Trish had with Victoria back at Survivor Series. This whole feud was actually pretty good for this era).

After setting the world on fire in the fall of 2002, the SmackDown! Tag Team Division got the spotlight on the main card. Team Angle (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) faced Los Guerreros and the ragtag team of Chris Benoit and Rhyno. Benoit and Rhyno came together shortly after Edge suffered a debilitating neck injury the month before, and quickly were able to make an impact. It would, however, be the new kids on the block who got the victory, as Benjamin and Haas walked in and walked out as WWE Tag Team Champions.

WWE

WWE

Things really kicked up a notch next. Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho fought in one of the best WrestleMania matches of all time. It was arguably the match of the night on this evening in Seattle, Washington. A year after being on the losing side of the Undisputed Championship Match, and a year after being a complete afterthought in his feud with Triple H, Jericho brought his A+ game and delivered in the biggest spot yet in his career. Michaels won via a rollup, and Jericho delivered a kick below the belt to leave Michaels laying. It’s classic Y2J and classic HBK. This is one of my favorite Mania matches ever, and part of what spurred this event to be an all-timer.

Now… the next match was tough to swallow. Triple H and Booker T fought over the World Heavyweight Championship. Going into the night, Hunter berated Booker, telling him that “People like him don’t get to be World Champion.” There’s a lot of code and racial undertones here, and it makes the decision to have Hunter go over Booker even worse. Even WORSE was the fact that it took one Pedigree to do it, AND the fact that it took Triple H nearly 20 seconds to finally get a pin on Booker. And there wasn’t even any other near fall. It’s the worst part of this match and the worst booking decision in WrestleMania history. Luckily, the rest of this show helps ascend it up high.

WWE

WWE

Mr. McMahon and Hulk Hogan fought in a Street Fight that was “20 Years in the Making” next. This was a beautiful disaster, and booked exactly how it should go. You got blood, you got weapons, and you even got “ROWDY” RODDY FREAKIN’ PIPER showing up for the first time in a WWE ring in nearly TEN years! Hogan got the better of Vince in a very memorable Street Fight that got this event’s momentum back.

Then came Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock for the third time in Mania history. The match’s video package is extremely memorable, spliced with the theme song for Mania -- Crack Addict by Limp Bizkit -- and the story was simple. Rock had felt he’d done it all… except beat Stone Cold at WrestleMania. And so, in his third try, after three Rock Bottoms, Rock got the three count on his contemporary and biggest rival to leave XIX as a winner. This would prove to be Stone Cold’s final match of his career, and he went out as best he could.

WWE

WWE

The finale of this event pit two of the best to ever do it against each other. Brock Lesnar, the 2003 Royal Rumble winner, capped off an incredible first year in WWE against another man known for his impeccable rookie year: Kurt Angle. The reigning WWE Champion squared off with “The Next Big Thing” in a match that had two of the best amateur wrestlers the company had against one another. The match is a thrilling watch, even now. Lesnar’s failed Shooting Star Press is one of the more unfortunate moments in WrestleMania history that luckily didn’t turn into a total disaster for him. He was still able to finish the match, and it took three F5’s to finally put Kurt down for the count.

WrestleMania XIX is in a 1a/1b situation with X-Seven for me. These are the two greatest Manias ever in my book. The card has a big blemish on it from Booker/HHH, but the rest of it more than makes up for it. Austin-Rock III and HBK-Y2J are two all-time great matches, and Lesnar-Angle is a great main event that crowns what is, at worst, the second-best rookie year in the company’s history. WrestleMania XIX is, without a doubt, my favorite WrestleMania ever.

My Favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania XX
WWE

WWE

To me the best Wrestlemania I've ever seen and was mostheavily invested in was 31, but my favorite Wrestlemania is XX. Wrestlemania XX is where it all began again; returning to Madison Square Garden and creating major excitement within the city of New York. It was the first PPV that I saved my allowance from my parents to help order. It featured my favorite stars such as John Cena, Eddie Guerrero & Chris Benoit. I was more of a fan of Smackdown than Raw, mainly because I didn’t have cable in my room so I watched Smackdown on UPN 9 (NYC). So as I was heavily invested in the Smackdown angles, I kept in touch with RAW from time to time. Once the card started, I didn’t leave my spot watching every match like it was the best thing ever.

WWE

WWE

Leading up to the event, WM storylines were flourishing. Benoit won the Royal Rumble that year and decided to switch to RAW to wrestle for the World Heavyweight Championship, entering the feud between Triple H & Shawn Michaels to make it a Triple Threat match for the title. John Cena was feuding with the U.S. Champion Big Show to capture his first title on WWE. Eddie Guerrero won the WWE championship from Brock Lesnar (With help from Goldberg). Angle challenged Guerrero, complaining that Eddie was a black spot in the WWE for holding that championship. Kane seemingly killed Undertaker’s “American Bad Ass” gimmick at the 2003 Survivor Series, but the Deadman sent an eerie challenge for a match at Wrestlemania. Let’s not forget the matchup between Goldberg & Brock Lesnar (We’ll get to that shortly). Even the Rock n Sock Connection vs. Evolution was a fun match because of the rivalry between Mick Foley & Randy Orton

An underrated factor about this card was that the right person won each match. Christian and Chris Jericho battled each other with Trish Stratus watching ringside. As a teenager, I was so shocked that Trish betrayed Jericho and helped Christian win. Evolution snuck a win from the Rock n Sock Connection.

WWE

WWE

My favorite match of the night at the time was John Cena vs. Big Show. I was such a huge fan of Cena and his gimmick at the time. I even downloaded his theme song and listened to it on the way school every morning. I always marveled at the fact that he could lift Big Show for the F-U, and once he pinned Show in the middle of the ring, I was the happiest person in the world.

Stone Cold Steve Austin refereed one of the most hated matches of Wrestlemania, Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar. At the time I did not know the circumstances between both wrestlers as they were leaving the company. I was wondering why the crowd was booing two of the most memorable wrestlers of that era. I didn’t care as I popped when Austin performed the Stone Cold Stunner on both wrestlers.

WWE

WWE

This Wrestlemania will always be remembered for its main event; the triple threat between Chris Benoit, Triple H & Shawn Michaels for the World Title. Once Benoit made Triple H tap in the middle of the ring, the world rejoiced. I remember watching and thinking that it was so cool to have Eddie Guerrero AND Chris Benoit as champions in the WWE. Just as I thought that, Eddie came down to the ring and hugged Chris as confetti streams down and I almost had a tear in my eye.

This was so cool to see; my favorite wrestlers won the strap in my city. I ran to school the next day talking about how Cena won the U.S. title and how Eddie & Chris was the champions of the WWE. I love Wrestlemania SZN!