PPV REVIEW: WWE Wrestlemania XIX

WWE Wrestlemania 19 Review - Event poster

March 30, 2003
Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington

Just recently, WWE fans saw Stone Cold Steve Austin return to action and open up a can of Whoop Ass on Kevin Owens in the main event of Wrestlemania 38's Saturday show. 

The match was significant for being the first time we'd seen The Texas Rattlesnake compete in an official match since Wrestlemania 19, where he capped off an impressive three-'Mania trilogy against long-time rival, The Rock. 

With that in mind, now seems like the most appropriate time to go back to that memorable night in 2003 to review the first Wrestlemania show promoted under the WWE name after the Panda People put paid to the WWF a year earlier. 

Join me, won't you, as we journey to Seattle, Washington for Austin's last match, Brock Lesnar's first Wrestlemania match, and a whole bunch of other entertainment. 

Welcome to Wrestlemania 

Tonight’s show began with a dramatic opening video in which various superstars reminded us what a truly monumental occasion Wrestlemania was, and talked about how they were going to shine on The Grandest Stage of Them All. 

An epic pyro routine followed as Limp Bizkit blasted through the PA system and Jim Ross welcomed us to the show.

WWE Wrestlemania 19 Review - Raw announcers Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler

Barely able to contain himself, Ross declared that he was just as excited tonight as he was back in 1993 when calling his first ‘Mania back at the oft-reviled Wrestlemania IX while his ever-present broadcaster colleague, Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler was likewise as giddy about tonight.

Passing over to Smackdown’s Michael Cole & Tazz, the blue brand announcers put over what a huge event we were about to witness before sending it to the ring for our opening contest.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Matt Hardy V1 (w/ Shannon Moore) vs. Rey Mysterio

WWE Wrestlemania 19 Review - Matt Hardy vs. Rey Mysterio

As opening matches go, this certainly wasn’t the longest one you’ll ever see, but it was still pretty entertaining for what it was.

Rey Mysterio was making his Wrestlemania debut here while Matt Hardy, according to his latest Matt Facts, was competing in his fourth.

Together, the two crammed a lot into a few minutes, giving us an explosive opener that got the crowd to come alive.

Harry’s excellent character work as V1 combined with Mysterio’s always dazzling offense and some well-placed interference from Shannon Moore all helped this one to deliver.

Towards the end, Mysterio looked to have Hardy’s number, only for the dastardly champion to sneak an advantage and score the pin with some heavy assistance from the ring ropes.
Your Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Matt Hardy V1

Out in the back, The Miller Light Girls arrived at the arena in a limo. Michael Cole was apparently excited to see them in a catfight, but first, he had more important matters to attend to.

Namely, he had to take us back to Sunday Night Heat where Nathan Jones had apparently been taken out in the back.

That meant that Jones could no longer team with The Undertaker tonight, leaving Big Evil to go it alone against Big Show and A-Train.

Keep On Rollin’, Baby

Up next, Tony Chimel introduced us to what he genuinely called “the WWE’s favourite band in the whole world,” Limp Bizkit.

I’m not saying Fred Durst’s nu-metal crew didn’t have some good tunes, but Chimel’s line sounded incredibly forced and, honestly, kind of immature and weird for a pro wrestling event.

Anyway, the band launched into a rendition of Rollin’.

It was pretty good, but all this long-time Korn fan could focus on was the fact that they had Brian ‘Head’ Welch jamming with them on guitar.

Anyway, towards the end of the performance, Undertaker appeared on his motorcycle and made it to the ring for our next bout of the evening.

Handicap Match
The Undertaker vs. The Big Show & Albert

I honestly don’t know why this match gets so much hate because it really wasn’t that bad.

WWE Wrestlemania 19 Review - The Undertaker ready for battle

To be fair, it wasn’t great either, but it certainly was nowhere near as dull or as boring as some people would have you believe.

Rather, it was a competently performed big man match that didn’t exactly set the place on fire but didn’t stink up the joint either.

After coming in strong in the early going, the numbers game eventually got the better of The Undertaker until Nathan Jones hit the ring to even the score.

The level playing field then gave ‘Taker an opportunity to drill A-Train with the tombstone piledriver and go 11-0 at Wrestlemania.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Backstage, The Miller Light girls found Stacy Kiebler and Torrie Wilson. The two sets of ladies fawned over each other in a cringe-inducing segment before the announcers showed us a clip from
Heat of Lance Storm and William Regal retaining the tag team titles thanks to an assist from The Dudleyz.

That clip had nothing to do with the segment before or after it, which made it seem a little out of place, but there you go.

WWE Women’s Championship
WWE Women’s Champion Victoria (w/ Steven Richards) vs. Trish Stratus vs. Jazz

Despite a few moments where things looked a little messy and haphazard, this was a good effort from start to finish.

All three women performed their roles well to give us a good match that had plenty to enjoy from start to finish.

Following a good battle in which the champion and her two challengers were all given a moment to shine, Trish Stratus delivered a Chick Kick to Victoria to take the title.
Your Winner and New WWE Women’s Champion: Trish Stratus

Out in the back, The Rock was in full-on heel mode as he admonished ‘the people’ for turning against him and promised to finally…FINALLY…beat Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania once and for all.

WWE Wrestlemania 19 Review - Jonathan Coachman interviews The Rock

WWE Tag Team Championship
WWE Tag Team Champions Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas vs. Los Guerreros (Eddie & Chavo Guerrero) vs. Chris Benoit & Rhyno

This is one match your writer could have watched all day long, or at least for a good few minutes longer than it actually lasted.

WWE Wrestlemania 19 Review - Eddie Guerrero & Chavo Guerrero Jr.

Fast, explosive, and full of just damn good wrestling, this was a very enjoyable match from beginning to end.

For me, the highlight was Chris Benoit pressing Eddie Guerrero into the air and catching him on the way down with the crippler crossface.

Of course, the really interesting thing here was that the champions, Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas, we’re pretty much classed as the underdogs here, their age and experience dwarfed by those of their opponents.

Despite that, Kurt Angle’s boys made their way to victory in an impressive win that brought to end a very good match indeed.
Your Winners and Still WWE Tag Team Champions: Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas

Returning to the back, Torrie and Stacy argued about who was responsible for Wrestlemania, Vince McMahon or Hulk Hogan.

WWE Wrestlemania 19 Review - Stacy, Torrie, and The Miller Light Girls

This led to the Miller Light girls arguing exactly the same thing before deciding to settle their argument in a catfight


Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels

I won’t lie to you, as a big fan of both these men, this was the one Wrestlemania 19 I’ve been looking forward to the most, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Before the combatants made their way to the ring, we got a video looking at their rivalry.

WWE Wrestlemania 19 Review - Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels

To sum up, Chris Jericho had grown up admiring Shawn Michaels, had strived to be like him, and had often been compared to him, but now the star’s ego had gotten the better of him and he believed he was far superior to his one-time idol, even going so far as claiming to be the one who would end HBK’s career.

Tonight, Jericho more than held his own with Michaels, proving that if he hadn’t yet surpassed his hero, he had certainly reached the same level as him.

Together, the two performed an absolutely enthralling match that was the best thing on the card up to that point by a solid mile.

And that’s saying something given that ‘Mania XIX has so far been a good show.

After an excellent match, Michaels picked up the win, though not before helping Y2J to look superb.
Your Winner: Shawn Michaels

In fact, Jericho’s efforts in this one had been so good that they’d endeared the evil heel to the live crowd and had them cheering along for him as much for HBK.

Fortunately, Jericho wasn’t about to embrace an accidental face turn. Sure, he did embrace Michaels after the match, but then kicked him right in the balls to ensure his heeling ways stayed intact.

Crack Addict

Backstage, evil referee Sylvain Grenier made his way into Mr. McMahon’s office, after which Tony Chimel told us that Wrestlemania 19 had set a new Safeco Field attendance record of 54,097.

Next, Chimel reintroduced us to WWE’s favorite band, Limp Bizkit.

This time, the band were here to perform the show’s theme song, Crack Addict.

I don’t know why, but I find it hilarious that a company that today is PG to the point of running a sterile product once had a song called Crack Addict as the official theme to their marquee event.

I’m not saying it wasn’t a monster jam or anything, just a funny choice for a theme song.

Catfight Time

After teasing it all night long, the two Miller Catfight Girls came out next to scrap, but couldn’t get started until Stacy and Torrie decided they both wanted a piece of the action.

Cue a minute or so of four attractive girls faffing around a giant bed and stripping each other to their bras.

WWE Wrestlemania 19 Review - The Catfight girls celebrate

I know there will be people out there who found this hugely entertaining, and I know that all four women were stunning in their own right, but if the intention was for this to be sexy then it failed miserably.

More embarrassing than erotic, the whole thing ended when two of the girls did the whole rolling-around-on-the-floor-and-accidentally-rolling-over-the-official-who-really-enjoys-it bit that happened in every match of this type the company ever did.

This time, they did it with the match’s MC, Jonathan Coachman, and when the announcer seemed to enjoy it a little too much, they pulled his pants down before one of the Miller girls covered him while Torrie counted the pin.

I’ve no idea what just happened, but I know it wasn’t good.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Booker T

Yes, this was the match that was roundly criticized, not only for Triple H going over but for his problematic comments that “someone like [Booker T] doesn’t get to be world champion.”

Whatever problems you might have with the whole HHH/Booker rivalry of 2003, there’s no denying that their match at Wrestlemania XIX was a pretty solid affair.

WWE Wrestlemania 19 Review - Nick Patrick has words with Booker T and HHH before their match

Not that it seemed to start that way.

The early moments of this bout seemed dull and almost entirely devoid of heat, but the longer it went on, the longer both combatants managed to find their grove and deliver a good match.

At one point, The Game busted out an Indian Deathlock which Jim Ross sold as though the champion had just utilized some ancient technique not seen since the dark ages.

True, it was a move we didn’t normally see Hunter use, but Ross’s description of it was, as with many of JR’s calls, a little over the top.

Fortunately, the challenger was able to break out of that hold and fight back, even breaking out a crowd-popping Harlem Hangover but, alas, it wasn’t enough.

After both men had absolutely destroyed each other, The Cerebral Assassin barely managed to land a Pedigree and scraped his way to victory.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H

Post-match, a visibly broken HHH was helped to the back by the Nature Boy.

A Match 20 Years in the Making

After a quick commercial for WWE Shop, we got a look back at the intense rivalry between Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan.

The two were at loggerheads over who was responsible for the runaway success of Wrestlemania and Hulkamania, with Vince McMahon claiming -fairly- that he hated Hogan for turning his back on him, joining WCW, and even testifying against him in federal court.

The two would meet tonight in a match that saw Hogan’s career on the line.

That was good stuff and as engaging a story as you could hope for to get us to what we were about to witness.

Street Fight
Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon

If Hogan loses, he must retire.

No word of a lie, this was a tremendous match.

WWE Wrestlemania 19 Review - Vince McMahon & Hulk Hogan

Ok, sure, it wasn’t the kind of technical classic you might have seen from two talented, full-time workers in their prime, but it was still damn good.

Not just “good for a Vince vs. Hogan match” either but edge-of-your-seat captivating kind of good.

The street fight stipulation gave both men an opportunity to play to their strengths, with Vince McMahon’s facial expressions telling the story better than any wrestling move ever could.

Seriously, only William Regal told stories with his face better than McMahon did here on this night.

Not that he simply spent the whole thing gurning and grunting. 

At one point, the Chairman of the Board set up a ladder on the outside and crashed down onto a battered and bloody Hogan with a flying leg drop.

Sending his nemesis back into the ring, Vince next retrieved a led pipe from
Under the ring and came peeking up over the ring apron with the most brilliant evil look.

Things then took a turn for the interesting when Rowdy Roddy Piper randomly showed up, teased hitting Vince with the pipe but battered Hogan instead in a move which, though it got a good pop, you could see coming a mile away.

Finally, after some inevitable shenanigans involving dodgy referee Sylvian Grenier, Hogan made his comeback and got the better of Vince after three Leg Drops of Doom.
Your Winner: Hulk Hogan

Post match, Shane McMahon made his way to the ring to check on his bloody and defeated father.

A class act, Hogan showed that he had no problem with Shane and even held the ropes for him, but while the Hulkster showed some respect, Vince had none.

His face drenched in blood, his body a wreck, McMahon sat up and gave Hogan the finger.

It made for a fantastic visual.

The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

By now there probably aren’t many people left who haven’t seen this match, but if you haven’t, let me assure you, it was an absolute banger. 

From their IC title match at In Your House: D-Generation-X, all the way through to their ‘Mania 17 main event, Rock and Austin always delivered the goods, but there was something extra special about this match.

That was partly the intensity of the match itself, but it was mostly the captivating character work of Hollywood Rock, who was extra entertaining now that he was on his way to movie stardom.

At one point, The Great One even put on Austin’s trademark vest as he continued his assault on his opponent, making for one of the most memorable moments of the whole contest.

Not that this was a one-sided affair.

Knowing it would be his last match, Stone Cold left it all in the ring, taking the fight to his opponent in one of the best matches on the card.

Given the quality of everything we’d seen so far, the fact that Austin and Rock still managed to deliver a stand out match speaks volumes to their talent and superstar status.

Unfortunately for Austin, leaving it all in the ring and being one of the biggest stars in history wasn’t enough.

After three brutal Rock Bottoms, the Texas Rattlesnake was covered and pinned by his greatest rival.
Your Winner: The Rock

After a fantastic match, The Rock leaned in and spoke to Austin. Years later, it would be revealed that he thanked Stone Cold and told him that he loved him.

The Brahma Bull then lept over the barricade to embrace his family before riding off into the sunset.

Finally, Austin’s music played and he was given a standing ovation as he walked to the back one last time.

It would be 19 years before we’d see him compete in a proper match again.

WWE Championship
WWE Champion Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar

This was one hell of a match that only got better as time went on.

WWE Wrestlemania 19 Review - Brock Lesnar looks battered after winning the Championship title belt

Given their backgrounds, it was no surprise that Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar started off with some solid mat wrestling, each man trying to get the better of one another but finding themselves fairly evenly matched.

When taking it to the mat didn’t work, champ and challenger upped the intensity factor and proceeded to give us a truly tremendous match which forced even the most jaded pro wrestling fans to sit up and take note.

What I loved about this one is that it was a straight-up pro wrestling match.

No wild, Attitude Era style brawls around the ring, no international objects or outside interference, just two of the best in the game plying their trade with gusto.

After an incredible effort, Brock laid out Ange and went for the shooting star press but landed on his head in a moment that fans still talk about to this day.

Looking to capitalise, Angle made the cover, but only got two and moments later ate the match-ending F5.
Your Winner and New WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar

Post-match, Lesnar looked more dazed and destroyed than we’ve probably ever seen him.

He was then embraced by Angle in a display of sportsmanship as one of the greatest Wrestlemanias of all time came to a close.

From start to finish, Wrestlemania 19 was an almost flawless show.

Only the Undertaker match was subpar, but even that was nowhere near as awful as some cynical fans would have you believe.

Meanwhile, the undercard entertained, Hogan/McMahon surpassed all expectations, and Rock/Austin and Angle/Lesnar gave us two all-time classics that are still revered to this day.

It’s hard to say exactly what the best Wrestlemania of all time is, but make no mistake about it, the 19th installment of WWE’s flagship event is surely a top contender.

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