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OO ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA
Road to WrestleMania XIX: A Compulsive 
Fan's Guide to the Granddaddy of 'Em All
March 25, 2003

by Rick Scaia
OnlineOnslaught.com

 

An Introduction to The Guide

Well, thank whatever gods you believe in:  because the magic is back!

After last year's disastrous build-up to WrestleMania X-8, it looks like the first WrestleMania of the "World Wrestling Entertainment" era just might be the year-defining spectacle that we half-expect out of the "Showcase for the Immortals."  What projects to be a 10-match card has either years of history, more recent drama and tension, and/or the promise of stellar in-ring work to recommend every single match.  Well, OK: nine out of ten matches.  Damn you, Big Show and A-Train!

This is a far cry from last year, when puppy dogs, ambulance attacks, and broken cinder blocks were key components to mind-jarringly retarded storylines that crippled WrestleMania's appeal, and left the then-WWF's own rank and file (namely, Kevin Kelly) to opine that the Hulk Hogan vs. the Rock match was enough to sell the entire card, and that if you were a real fan, that'd be enough to get you to buy the PPV.

Well, luckily for Kelly and the WWF, it did turn out that Hogan and Rock defied the odds (and Hogan's dubious in-ring ability) to provide an undeniable signature WrestleMania moment: sheer electricity from the Rock and pure, ultra-concentrated doses of nostalgia from Hogan combined for a match, though of debatable "star rating" value, that was one of the most fun and entertaining in WrestleMania's history.  But unluckily for the then-WWF, the other portion of Kelly's prophecy was also essentially borne out as only Hogan/Rock stands out as a memorable part of last year's event; nothing else could rise sufficiently above the preceding weeks of stupidity to deliver WM-caliber goods.

This year, one match in particular may appeal more or less to you as an individual fan... but no one match is being asked to carry the whole show for the whole audience.  To the contrary, we've got either four or five legitimate PPV main events, matches that mark the end of months (or in some cases, YEARS) of hostilities:  the seeds were sown for the top few matches no later than last December, an eternity by today's wrestling standards.

In this way, WrestleMania XIX shapes up as a throwback to years' past... although WM's legacy as the Granddaddy of Them All has remained and even thrived in the PPV-of-the-Month era, there always seemed something even more special about the WrestleMania's of my grade school days, when there were only 4 PPVs a year... but when WM was the only one with blow-offs to months-long feuds that I had the chance to pay $15 to go see on a giant screen, closed circuit TV.
 
Today, PPV events only require me to press a button while sitting on my couch, so the specialness of the old-school closed-circuit TV days may be gone...  but this year's Mania has recaptured a bit of that old-school demonstrably-more-important-than-any-other-show vibe that I remember so fondly from past WMs.

I have no doubts that part of the reason this WrestleMania feels so utterly stacked is because the Fed knows it dropped the ball last year.  No doubts at all.  They may deny it.  Hell, it might even be a bit of a subconscious thing.  But it's gotta be real.  Remember the last time the Fed botched a 'Mania really badly?  That was WM13... and they came back guns blazing the next year -- Mike Tyson, start of the Stone Cold era, Pete Rose, Kane/Taker, coming out party for "The Rock," Cactus and Terry Funk, and other cool stuff -- to "make good" for the previous year.

This year, "guns blazing" apparently means replacing some of that major celebrity sizzle with a ton more in-ring steak.  I am not complaining.  I am, in fact, more excited for WrestleMania this year than I have been since 2000 (yeah, I know it turned out 2001's show was better, but 2000 definitely had more buzz).  So let's see if I can't get you feeling the same way with a bit of history and loads of minutiae!

This year's show takes place Sunday, March 30, at Seattle's Safeco Field.  It will be only the second WM to take place at an open-air venue (WM9 took place outdoors in Las Vegas).  Though Safeco does have a retractable roof, it is one that only covers, but does not fully envelop, the stadium.  So a particularly windy or rainy evening in Seattle could still leave some fans cold or wet.  Safeco Field should draw the largest non-Dome crowd in WrestleMania history, somewhere in the vicinity of 55,000.

So... with just days or hours (depending on when you read this) until WM19, let's dispatch with the prelude, and hit the on-ramp to Memory Road.  Just as in previous editions, this year's version of Online Onslaught's Road to WrestleMania will focus on three main historical topic areas. And then, of course, on Friday, we add a detailed preview of this year's show. 

Just choose from the items below to check out the detailed history, statistics, and trivia behind 18 past years of WrestleMania and how it all ties in to this year's big event (note: articles are being posted daily, and won't all be available until Friday, March 28):

HIGHLIGHTS: YEAR BY YEAR
There is no better way to gain an appreciation for the spectacle that is WrestleMania than to look back at the highlights, main events, and celebrity sightings at each of the past 17 WMs to date. Take yourself on a roller coaster ride where the attractions include Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, and many, many more. Strap in for a decade-and-a-half-in-the-making retrospective! (more...

NUMBERS: WINNERS, LOSERS, AND IRONMEN
This is it... the document that could win you a bar bet with a drunken pal this Sunday during the PPV. Who's won the most WrestleMania matches? Who's been in the most consecutive WM of the WWF's current roster? Who are the clutch main event performers and who has choked in title matches on the year's biggest show? I've got all that info and then some for you. (more...

OBSERVATIONS: THE ODD BUT THE TRUE
Sometimes it's not the obvious, factual history that gives the best indicator of the true legacy and depth of the WrestleMania tradition. So you've gotta dig into the barrel and find the real connections that make this event the biggest and best of 'em all. From the best and worst 'Manias.... to the different gimmicks..... to the deceased legends.... to strange interactions, coincidences, and whatever other bizarre observations didn't really fit in elsewhere will pop up here.  (more...)

PREVIEW:  IS WM19 ANOTHER CLASSIC IN THE MAKING?
We've had double main events before at WrestleMania... but how do we categorize this year's event?  Two World/WWE Title matches, plus two grudge matches with years of history, and with a match between an iconic superstar and his latter-day incarnation.  That's a spicy meatball.  Brock/Angle, Booker/HHH, Hogan/McMahon, Rock/Austin, or Michaels/Jericho?  Which one has the most promise going in?  And which one will have delivered the goods once the final curtain has fallen?    (more...

If there's not enough here to satisfy your WrestleMania Jones, WWE also maintains a website that sort of does some of the same things I'm trying to do here.  At www.WrestleManiaHistory.com, you'll find the Fed's stab at making some of the statistics and trivial observations I make here...  I, no disrespect intended, would suggest that I've done a better job with the pure facts and cool observations, and would also point out that it doesn't look like they've updated any of the data to include last year's WM18.  But to be perfectly fair, WrestleManiaHistory.com blows me away in one area:  they've got tons of video and photos from each WM that blow away my own year-by-year summary.  I won't begrudge you the chance to fill up on the sorts of memories that I cannot serve up without committing severe acts of copyright infringement.

So...  enjoy what I provide here.  Supplement it with WWE's fancy pictures and video.  But mostly, just do whatever the hell it takes to mark out and be a Wrestling Fan on Sunday night.  Screw this Smart Fan nonsense...  at least until Monday morning, when the OTHER WrestleMania tradition kicks in.  For as much fun as it is to cut loose in the week leading up to the big show, it's just as much fun to try to be the first to go on record with where the latest Mania fits in with all the others!

I also hope you will put that Smart Cap on briefly at some point leading up to or just after WM19, for a wholly other reason...  because as always, I would love to know what you think of this feature and how I can improve it for the seventh edition, which should be coming your way in about 51 weeks!  Drop me a line at rick@onlineonslaught.com to let me know what you'd like to see in future editions of The Road to WrestleMania!

Road to WM Navigation
HOME  -/-  YEAR-BY-YEAR  -/-  WINNERS & LOSERS  -/-  
OBSCURE OBSERVATIONS
  -/-  WM19 PREVIEW

E-MAIL RICK 
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