Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

WWE WrestleMania XV: 25 Years Later

A photo from WWE WrestleMania XV.

With WWE WrestleMania XL being less than two weeks away, it seemed pertinent to take a look back at the previous iterations of “The Show of Shows.” Since 1985, WWE fans have been treated to some of the biggest moments in wrestling history, as well as some hilariously bad ones.

For the 2024 edition of WrestleMania, WWE is bringing the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’ to Philadelphia, for the first time in 25 years. I’ve decided to revisit the last ‘Mania to take place in the ‘City of Brotherly Love’: WWE WrestleMania XV

Bizarrely, there are still six of the 25 competitors from the main card that are still considered to be active wrestlers today, but more on them later.

Billy Gunn (c) vs. Al Snow vs. Bob Holly – WWF Hardcore Championship

Kicking things off was the Hardcore Championship Triple Threat match, between Billy GunnBob Holly, and Al Snow. This match took place during a bizarre storyline, wherein Gunn and his tag partner Road Dogg decided to essentially swap their respective divisions. (Thanks, Vince Russo.)

In the late 90s, triple-threat matches were not something that WWF had perfected, so this match can feel quite clunky looking back. However, a fairly inoffensive opening match saw Bob Holly reclaim the Hardcore Championship after stealing the pin from Gunn.

Two of our first tenured performers appeared in this match, with both Gunn and Al Snow having performed in matches in 2024. The irony here, perhaps, is that the winner of this match is the only man to not still be competing.

Test & D’Lo Brown vs. Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett (c) – WWF Tag Team Championships

The next match on the card was set up less than an hour before the show, as D’Lo Brown and Test earned their right to challenge for the WWF Tag Team Championships in a battle royal on WWF Sunday Night Heat that same night.

This match was slightly disjointed, with the Philly crowd not overly interested in it. It remains one of the strangest decisions in WrestleMania history, as the bout would likely have been better placed on an episode of WWF Monday Night Raw

Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart retained their tag belts in a match that lasted less than four minutes.

The segment was mostly dominated by the dissension between the challengers, but the lack of fan interest made for an underwhelming moment. 

One-half of the champs continue to perform today, as Double J has found success alongside his “Total Nonstop Arseholes” in AEW

Compared to the current standing of the Tag Team Championships, where the titleholders are gearing up for a six-team ladder match, surrounded by compelling stories, this match pales in comparison and serves as a historic reminder of darker days for the booking of the tag straps.

Bart Gunn vs. Butterbean

It might take you longer to read this entry than it would to re-watch the match. 

After winning the shoot competition Brawl For All, Bart Gunn went on to be booked against Butterbean at WrestleMania XV in one of the most infamous instances of punishment on live television.

Butterbean has since gone on record explaining that the higher-ups within the company set this match up to teach Bart Gunn a lesson, as he won the tournament over their favorite, Steve Williams.

This example of the WWF’s bitterness saw Gunn get knocked out – unceremoniously – in thirty seconds. It was dangerous, irresponsible, and a case of toxic masculinity running rampant in the boardroom of WWF at the time.

The only positive from this match was the featuring of Gorilla Monsoon as a judge. Sadly, this appearance was his final one before his passing, but seeing the legend appear on WWF programming was a much-needed positive for this terrible segment.

Big Show vs. Mankind

A match to decide the special guest referee for the night’s main event was up next, as Big Show took on Mankind.

‘Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy’ tried to take the upper hand on multiple occasions, but was thwarted at every turn by the power of Big Show. It was by no means an instant classic, as the match was essentially designed for Mankind to bump like crazy for Show’s monstrous spots.

This was a pretty basic encounter, with the ending ultimately making Big Show look incredibly stupid. He decided to Chokeslam Mankind onto a couple of chairs and get himself disqualified, leading to Mankind taking the referee position in the main event.

In one eye-wateringly painful spot, Big Show flattened Mankind with a backdrop and landed his gigantic frame directly on top of him. 

Arguably, the highlight of this match came after the final bell had rung. Vince McMahon came to the ring and debased Big Show, tearing him apart for losing. Show decided that he wouldn’t take the abuse and – much to the enjoyment of the crowd – laid McMahon out with a right hand.

Paul Wight is another of those still performing today, with his most recent match taking place on the Jericho Cruise in January 2024, as he teamed with “Speedball” Mike Bailey and Chris Jericho. Maybe the secret to a long career is attacking your boss..?

Road Dogg (c) vs. Val Venis vs. Ken Shamrock vs. Goldust – WWF Intercontinental Championship

Remember what I said about Road Dogg and Billy Gunn’s bizarre division-swapping story? Well, here we are again.

For some reason, Vince Russo decided that it would be a great idea to take both men out of their respective title divisions and move them to the other, without any real justification. That resulted in some of the most uninspiring matches imaginable.

On this occasion, the defending champion was taking on three other men in a four-corner elimination match… under tag rules. Essentially, only two men were legal at the same time, á la Tag Team wrestling, but it was a Fatal Four-Way. Work that one out.

If you’re still confused, you’re not alone. The four men on the night had a tough time too. Dogg, VenisShamrock, and Goldust all put on some respectable action, as each man was given time to shine and do their thing.

The match came to an end as Venis and Shamrock brawled to the outside, where both men got counted out and left Dogg & Goldust as the remaining legal competitors. A simple win followed for Road Dogg, as he retained his Intercontinental Championship following a pin on the ‘Bizarre One’. 

There might be something to be said for losing at WrestleMania XV, as yet another unsuccessful competitor from this show is active today. Dustin Rhodes has been a member of the AEW roster for the past few years and has been cutting it up with the likes of Christian Cage and Adam Copeland on weekly television.

Kane vs. Triple H

Before this match began, Kane was attacked by the San Diego Chicken.

This was the second in a trilogy of confrontations between Pete Rose and Kane, which was a fun moment and not really much more.

The match kicked off with Triple H nowhere to be found as his music hit, before hitting ‘The Big Red Machine’ with a huge low blow.

Both men put one another through the ringer here, as this feud was being built as highly personal and the inclusion of Chyna only made it more intense.

She had previously been working alongside Kane and helping him to decimate Triple H for weeks, but her arrival here signified an imminent change of allegiance.

Just as Kane seemed set to put ‘The Game’ away, Chyna swung a steel chair into the back of the ‘Devil’s Favourite Demon’, giving him the victory by DQ. 

This was all designed to build sympathy for Kane and have the crowd turn on DX, although the huge pop as Chyna and Triple H reunited seemed to suggest otherwise. This match was relatively inoffensive and served its purpose well.

Sable (c) vs. Tori – WWF Women’s Championship

In 1999, women’s wrestlers were not treated with the same level of respect that they are in 2024. A general unwillingness to present female performers as genuinely talented sportspeople led to a lack of crowd interest in the late 90s, which was evident here.

Tori was a relative newcomer to the WWF, while Sable wasn’t the most technically gifted wrestler either. The reigning Women’s Champion pulled Tori apart, beating her with unexpected malice throughout.

Mistakes ran rampant through this match, as the WWF Women’s Champion eventually picked up the victory over her challenger. There’s not a lot to write home about here, so I won’t.

Instead, I’ll compare the position of the SOLE Women’s match at WrestleMania to the current standing. There are two incredible, captivating stories being told for both Women’s World Championships within WWE and many more matches being set up for the ‘Mania card.

25 years on from this shambles of a contest, it’s brilliant to have such a variety of exceptional women’s wrestling on weekly television and a testament to the huge strides that have been made within the division. 

Shane McMahon (c) vs. X-Pac – WWF European Championship

The rivalry between DX and The Corporation continued in this match, as X-Pac took on Shane McMahon for the European Championship.

Before X-Pac could make it to the ring, he was attacked by Jerry Briscoe and Pat Patterson, although he managed to overcome them and made a beeline for McMahon.

Shane-O was still a relative novice in the WWF, but his confidence outweighed his lack of experience here. This no-DQ encounter served its purpose well, allowing both men to take some nasty bumps before the final bell rang.

Between them, the two competitors put on a decent showing and made the most of their time in the spotlight. However, X-Pac’s night was about to get worse.

His assumed allies, Test and Triple H turned on him and laid him out with a beating. The unthinkable happened here, as Hunter (along with Chyna) left D-Generation X in favor of The Corporation.

This twist allowed McMahon to drape his arm over X-Pac and secure the win, retaining his European Championship in the process. The match itself was enjoyable, as the in-ring action and storyline both kept the crowd invested for the entire segment.

The Undertaker vs. Big Boss Man

Think of the worst match you can imagine and pair it with a nonsense storyline. That’s essentially what this match was, as Undertaker and Big Boss Man squared off inside Hell in a Cell.

Undertaker had been making The Corporation’s lives hell for weeks, tormenting the McMahon family and causing problems for Vince McMahon regularly.

Vince had chosen Big Boss Man as his head of security and subsequently, set this match up between ‘The Phenom’ and Big Boss Man.

Some acceptable wrestling took place early on, but the silliness began fairly quickly.

A pair of gimmicked handcuffs made for an embarrassing spot, which summed up the match to that point. The two violently beat down one another, using the cell to their advantage.

Eventually, the short (although it felt painfully long) match came to a close, as The Undertaker added another notch to his WrestleMania streak.

The match did not need the stipulation that it had been given. A no-DQ encounter would have sufficed, but the Hell in a Cell instead served to set expectations impossibly high.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this couldn’t get any worse, but then The Brood arrived. They dropped a noose down to The Undertaker and he “hung” Big Boss Man, live on WrestleMania.

This will forever be remembered as one of the worst decisions in wrestling history and thankfully has never been referenced since.

‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin vs. The Rock (c) – WWF Championship

Bizarrely, the best match of the night took place directly after the worst moment of the night.

The first in a trilogy of WrestleMania matches between The Rock and Steve Austin kicked off on this night, and it began with an infamous entrance for ‘The Rattlesnake’.

‘Stone Cold’ came to the ring sporting a t-shirt, rather than his famous vest, and he has since revealed that he simply forgot the vest at his hotel.

Despite all of the shenanigans from earlier in the night, the special guest referee was… no one? Vince McMahon tried to declare that he would be officiating, but the WWF Commissioner Shawn Michaels hit the ring and announced that Mike Chioda would be wearing the stripes.

Both Austin and The Rock hit their opponent with all of their signature offense. They battered one another with punches, and kicks and brawled through the crowd at one point before they used every aspect of the arena to tear each other apart.

The Rock focused his attacks on Austin’s injured knee, trying to weaken his challenger to the point of no return. 

During the action, three separate referees were removed from the match before Mankind made a triumphant appearance to officiate the match, as was his right. 

Rock and Austin looked to trade finishers, but neither was successful until ‘Stone Cold’ managed to lay out ‘The Great One’ with a Stunner and reclaim the WWF Championship. (For those paying attention, Michael Cole mistakenly spoiled this result earlier in the night.)

This match was good fun, but the poor quality of the rest of the card diminished its success.

25 Years Later

Interestingly, 25 years on, both men are touted for WrestleMania involvement once again.

The Rock is scheduled for the Night One main event, teaming up with Roman Reigns to take on Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes.

Also, it’s highly likely that ‘The People’s Champion’ will have an involvement in the Night Two main event between Rhodes and Reigns, with many speculating that Steve Austin could appear to fend him off.

Either way, the fact that The Rock is main eventing another WrestleMania two-and-a-half decades on from this one, is a testament to his character work in recent times.

Could we see The Rock and ‘Stone Cold’ feature at WrestleMania in Philadelphia yet again in 2024? We’ll have to tune in and find out.

More From LWOS Pro Wrestling

Header photo – WWE – Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network and Peacock.


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