Memorable WrestleMania Moments XIX - 29
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
The years between WrestleMania XIX and WrestleMania 29 were a very profitable time for the WWE; they became a publicly traded company and went in a new creative direction with the Ruthless Aggression era, where they introduced the superstars for the company’s next generation including: Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton, and Batista. Both Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock would be phased out of WWE programming following WrestleMania 20, as they pursued Hollywood roles, which allowed for a new crop of superstars to ascend into the main event scene.
Here are some memorable matches and highlights from WrestleMania XIX to WrestleMania 29:
WrestleMania XIX: Austin’s Final Match, Lesnar Becomes Champion, HBK vs Y2J
Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington was the sight of one of the most memorable WrestleMania events of all-time featuring a who’s-who of superstars like Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, who’ve contributed to WWE being the entertainment powerhouse it is today and stars who would eventually become the company’s top stars like Rey Mysterio and Brock Lesnar.
Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock concluded their WrestleMania trilogy after main eventing WrestleMania XV and WrestleMania X-Seven. The main storyline heading into this match was that The Rock had accomplished everything in WWE except defeating Stone Cold at WrestleMania. The match was great and The Rock was finally able to defeat Austin on the biggest show of the year to end their legendary rivalry. This match is significant because it was the last match of Austin's Hall of Fame career.
Chris Jericho, who main evented WrestleMania the previous year, took on Shawn Michaels, who was competing in his first WrestleMania match in five years. These two had great chemistry during the buildup and the match proved that even though Michaels had been wrestling again for a short period of time, he was more than capable of stealing the show and putting on a classic match that measured up to his high standards.
WrestleMania XIX was main evented by the WWE Championship match between champion Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar, who had won the 2003 Royal Rumble match and was wrestling in his first WrestleMania. This match was great considering Angle was dealing with neck issues at the time and Lesnar almost ended his own career when he attempted the shooting-star press and missed, which had been a move he frequently performed in OVW. Lesnar ended up recovering and ended the match by hitting Angle with an F-5 to become the new champion and both closed the show by shaking hands as a sign of mutual respect.
WrestleMania XX: “Where It All Begins Again”
WWE brought WrestleMania back to Madison Square Garden for their milestone twentieth event, the same venue as WrestleMania I and WrestleMania X. WrestleMania XX had a few great storylines heading into the event such as: The Undertaker returning with his deadman persona to take on Kane, The Rock and Mick Foley reuniting to take on Evolution members Batista, Ric Flair, and Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton, and the WWE Championship match between champion Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle.
Although WrestleMania XX had plenty of highlights and moments, WWE saved the best moment for last when they closed the event with WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero celebrating with longtime friend Chris Benoit after he had defeated Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a Triple Threat match to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This was a memorable moment because both men had travelled all over the world and wrestled in every promotion before they finally got their big break with WWE and a chance to become main event talents and world champions. Eddie Guerrero had gotten his moment when he defeated Brock Lesnar at that year’s No Way Out and it was only fitting that the next pay-per-view event would see 2004 Royal Rumble winner Chris Benoit get his big world championship moment.
WrestleMania 21: WrestleMania Goes Hollywood
WrestleMania 21 took place from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California and marked the start of John Cena and Batista’s world championship reigns in WWE. John Cena captured the WWE Championship by defeating John Bradshaw Layfield and Batista, who had won the 2005 Royal Rumble, defeated Triple H to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The main events were significant because both Cena and Batista would become mainstays in WWE’s main event scene.
The event also featured many notable matches including inaugural Money in the Bank Ladder match, The Undertaker vs Randy Orton, and Shawn Michaels vs Kurt Angle in a classic matchup. In addition, there was also a special “Piper’s Pit” segment with Roddy Piper and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
WrestleMania 22: Big Time
WWE brought WrestleMania back to the Chicago area for the third time with a very entertaining event that lived up to the status of being the biggest show of the year. John Cena main evented his first WrestleMania when he defeated Triple H by submission to retain his WWE Championship, Shawn Michaels defeated Vince McMahon in a No Holds Barred match, Edge showed why he was the Rated-R superstar when he defeated Mick Foley in a grueling hardcore match that ended with Edge spearing the hardcore legend through a flaming table, and 2006 Royal Rumble winner Rey Mysterio defeated Randy Orton and Kurt Angle to become the new WWE World Championship, after dedicating the match to his longtime friend Eddie Guerrero, who had passed away in November.
WrestleMania 23: Battle of the Billionaires
WrestleMania 23 took place from Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan and was headlined by one of the most unique buildups to any WrestleMania match. The match referred to by WWE as “The Battle of the Billionaires” featuring Umaga with Vince McMahon in his corner, Bobby Lashley with future United States President Donald Trump in his corner, and Stone Cold Steve Austin serving as the special guest referee. Both Vince McMahon and Donald Trump got involved during the match and Lashley was able to defeat Umaga with the spear. As a result of Lashley defeating Umaga, he along with Trump and Austin shaved McMahon’s head bald.
WrestleMania XXIV: Ric Flair Retires, Mayweather vs Big Show
WrestleMania XXIV was another well booked event that provided many memorable moments and matches that are still being talked about. Undefeated pro boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather took on Big Show in a No Disqualification match that exceeded expectations considering Mayweather was much smaller and hadn’t wrestled a match before.
This event is also remembered for being Ric Flair’s final match in WWE when he wrestled Shawn Michaels in a Career Threatening match. The match ended with Michaels saying “I’m sorry, I love you” before hitting Flair with the Sweet Chin Music to defeat the Hall of Famer and end his WWE career.
WrestleMania XXV and WrestleMania XXVI: Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels
Although both WrestleMania XXV and WrestleMania XXVI had their fair share of matches and moments, no match outperformed The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels’ legendary matches at these events. At WrestleMania XXV, Undertaker and Michaels wrestled for over thirty minutes in what many consider the greatest WrestleMania match of all-time, which ended with Undertaker catching Michaels off a moonsault attempt and hit his signature Tombstone Piledriver, to improve his undefeated streak to 17-0.
During the 2009 Slammy Awards later that year, Shawn Michaels accepted the Slammy Award for match of the year and used his acceptance as an opportunity to challenge The Undertaker to a rematch at WrestleMania XXVI. Undertaker initially declined until finally agreeing to face Michaels again under the condition that should he defeat him again, Michaels would have to retire from WWE. Rightfully so, the Streak vs Career match main evented WrestleMania XXVI and was just as good as the match they had the previous year. Undertaker was victorious for the second-straight year to improve to 18-0 at WrestleMania and officially retired Michaels.
There were also plenty of legends that returned at both WrestleMania events; Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat returned to take on Chris Jericho in a handicap match at WrestleMania XXV and Bret “Hitman” Hart returned after thirteen years to take on Vince McMahon in a No Holds Barred match at WrestleMania XXVI.
WrestleMania XXVII: The Rock Returns to WrestleMania
WrestleMania XXVII took place at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia and was billed as “The Biggest WrestleMania Ever” by WWE with legends taking returning including: Stone Cold Steve Austin, Trish Stratus, Triple H, Undertaker, and The Rock, who was hosting and taking part in his first WrestleMania since WrestleMania XX. During The Rock’s return that February, he immediately became involved in the buildup to the main event between WWE Champion The Miz and John Cena, where he’d cut promos each week on both men before returning his attention to Cena.
Even though Miz was the WWE Champion, he was viewed as being the afterthought of this whole buildup at first however when he was given the opportunity to cut a promo, he showed that he could hold his own with both stars. During the match, Cena and Miz would be counted out but The Rock came out to announce that there must be a winner and restarted the match under no disqualification rules. The match continued and just when it looked like Cena had the upper-hand, The Rock came into the ring and hit Cena with a Rock Bottom, which allowed The Miz to pin Cena and successfully retain his WWE Championship in the main event of WrestleMania.
This WrestleMania also marked Edge’s final match as he would announce his retirement the following week on Raw.
WrestleMania XXVIII: Once in a Lifetime
Following the events that took place at WrestleMania XXVII, WWE did something they hadn’t done in the past and make the main event of WrestleMania official a year in advance, when The Rock accepted John Cena’s challenge on the Raw after WrestleMania XXVII in what the company would later promote as “Once in a Lifetime.”
Throughout the year, The Rock and John Cena would be involved in numerous promo segments, even going back to past personas like Doctor of Thuganomics Cena and Hollywood Rock. In front of his hometown crowd at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida, The Rock defeated Cena. After The Rock kicked out of an Attitude Adjustment, Cena attempted the People’s Elbow but before he could hit the move, The Rock popped back up to his feet and hit Cena with a Rock Bottom for the win.
The End of an Era match between Triple H and The Undertaker also took place at this event. Undertaker had defeated Triple H the previous year however, this time the match would be contested inside Hell in a Cell with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee. The match was arguably the best on the card and provided fans with another WrestleMania moment featuring these three legends. With the win, Undertaker improved to 20-0 at WrestleMania.
WrestleMania XXIX: Rock vs Cena II
Even though the main event of WrestleMania XXVIII was billed “Once in a Lifetime”, The Rock and John Cena would face off in the main event of WrestleMania once again, but this time under different circumstances; The Rock defeated CM Punk to become the WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble and John Cena won the Royal Rumble match later on that night and then used that opportunity to challenge The Rock for the title at WrestleMania. Cena got his revenge from the previous year by defeating The Rock with an Attitude Adjustment, to capture the WWE Championship and closed the show by celebrating on the stage with The Rock.
The Undertaker also improved his WrestleMania record to 21-0 by defeating CM Punk in a great match that easily stole the show.
Photo and Video Credit: WWE