I can start this off by stating that this is the single greatest WWE card from top to bottom that I have ever witnessed. Although there were a few rocky match-ups and it took a while for the Houston crowd to get into, this is the greatest of all the Wrestlemanias.
One thing that helps this show standout that might get overlooked is the announcing. Paul Heyman took Jerry Lawler’s place as Lawler had quit the company when his wife, Stacy Carter (The Kat) was fired. Carter soon left Lawler. Talk about being ungrateful. Anyway, Heyman is outstanding in building up feuds and making matches seem important, and not yelling “puppies” every 5 minutes. And Jim Ross is at his usual high standard.
The marquee match-up pitted the People’s Champ, The Rock against Stone Cold Steve Austin. It was a babyface vs. babyface match-up, however in Austin’s home state, Rock was going to be turned heel by the crowd. The show was held at the old Astrodome in Houston and Austin was over like nobody’s business.
It was a good time for WWE. They were winning the Monday Night Wars. The product was in the midst of its largest pop culture influence since the mid 80s. Wrestlemania 2000 was supposed to be huge. It was going to be an event of epic propotions. They scheduled “Wrestlemania All Day Long” on PPV which was a look back at the first 15 Wrestlemanias. And then someone made a left turn at Albuquerque.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was out with a neck injury. It was only a year before when Austin and the Rock looked like the future of the company. It was only two years before when Austin took the torch from Shawn Michaels and looked destined to become the biggest star of all time. And now, he was hurt, missing the biggest show of the year.
Early in 2000, Mankind and Triple H were tearing up arenas and making for some intriguing TV. Late in 1999, Triple H beat the Big Show for the championship and was without a contender. Mick Foley, fresh off his success of putting out the most successful wrestling autobiography in history, decided that he had one last run in him. Triple H started making fun of Foley’s success as an author, and played your basic a-hole heel perfectly. When Foley, as Mankind, decided that he’d had enough, he simply changed t-shirts and transformed into Cactus Jack. Triple H sold it as if he’d seen a ghost. Cactus Jack was back. He had two great matches with Triple H and at No Way Out, retired after losing a Hell In A Cell match.
In the early 1990’s when Ric Flair came to the WWF after a long career wrestling for the NWA, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was his financial adviser at the time. However, Heenan was also the color commentator alongside Gorilla Monsoon. Heenan had a great way in getting Flair over. He would say that since Flair was an outsider to WWF, people were trying to hold him down. Hence the phrase, “Be fair to Flair”. What does Ric Flair and Bobby Heenan circa 1992 have to do with Wrestlemania XV? Well, there’s a man named Mick Foley who had a dream of main eventing Wrestlemania and that man named Mick had a great 4 months in late 1998 and early 1999. He helped The Rock get over big time as a heel and also won the WWF Championship belt for the first time. He and the Rock had some very good matches, but for some reason (probably because they saw Rock vs. Austin as a better money making match), Mick Foley was left out in the cold come Wrestlemania time. Soon before Mania, Foley dropped the belt back to The Rock and was then put in a feud with the Big Show. At the time, the Big Show was actually looked upon as a main eventer, so it wasn’t that large of a step down. However, after working with the Rock and Austin for much of 1998, match-wise it was a major step down. Their Wrestlemania match was awful, (maybe one of the worst matches of Foley’s career) and the feud didn’t really do anything for either guy. Why the long segue from Ric Flair to Mick Foley? Because at the time, I was reminded of Heenan’s phrase while Foley was getting passed over. So I simply added Foley’s name and created my own. Be Fair to Foley. For some reason, the WWF didn’t listen to me.
Wrestlemania was a large disappointment in my eyes mostly because of the short term booking. The top guys were stretched way too thin and the matches seemed to be put together at the last minute. (Hey, sounds familiar to this year’s booking.) The two saving graces were the match pitting Shane McMahon and X-Pac, and the main event between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin.