SLAM! WRESTLING: And Nothing but the Truth

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.

Monday, April 5, 1998

Wrestlemania XV lacked magic

Eric Benner
Special to SLAM! Sports

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Last Sunday witnessed the fifteenth coming of the messiah called Wrestlemania. Our own Greg Oliver was on-hand, and I was there, live, at some sports bar, watching it on television. My first reaction was "woo-hoo, what a show!" Quickly, though, as the days past, my memories of Wrestlemania have faded.

You may ask yourself why my column is a weekend late this week. It's not because of some mix-up, it's not because of a laziness on this writer's part, or a lack of memory. It's because I sat down, I started to write my reactions to Wrestlemania, as I always do the week after, and I had a thought.

Was Wrestlemania really that good or was it just the hype and the good crowd? Was Wrestlemania XV really a good show?

I couldn't decide for myself, so I had to watch it again. And Friday morning, that's just what I did. I sat down and watched Wrestlemania.

I have to say, I wasn't impressed. The second time around, with no wrestling fanatics or alcohol or other surroundings to affect my judgement, I found myself fast-forwarding through much of it.

Why? Why did this Wrestlemania lack that magic which has been prevalent at wrestling's number one show?

I personally think that the answer varies from match to match. The Hardcore title match which started things off seemed no better than your average Raw hardcore match, and the mix of Billy Gunn, Hardcore Holly (whom I love, by the way), and Al Snow was little more than uninspiring. I think that switching around the respective titles of Gunn and Jesse James was a mistake. Anyhow, the match was good, but not excellent, and certainly not Wrestlemania.

Moving ahead to the intercontinental title match, that particular four-way didn't exactly make me jump out of my seat. I confess that Ken Shamrock is starting to grow on me, and I usually like the Road Dog, but Goldust and Val Venis don't do much for me. Easily the two best wrestlers of the four, but they're pretty boring. And I don't even want to get into the ridiculousness of the four-way elimination match. It doesn't make any sense. This match was a dud by WM's standards, too.

The lady's championship match was a joke. Get those models out of there and give us some female wrestlers.

Mankind was injured, so I'll let this one slide, but Mick Foley and Paul Wight are capable of better. Again, this was a strong match, but nothing spectacular.

Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett lost some of my fan support in their match against the unexciting duo of Test and D-Lo. There was the chance for a really exciting and innovative tag team to emerge here, and maybe even rob the champs of their straps, but now I'm starting to think that WWF and their southern neighbours have something in common with their tag divisions.

Perhaps the only truly interesting segments in the show came out of the DX matches, HHH versus Kane and X-Pac versus Shane McMahon. Chyna's turn back to Hunter Hearst Helmsley but her double turn and his turn back to the heel side was a refreshing change of pace for the night. There could be some interesting developments following this angle, but - and I forget who said this - it's a shame that the WWF didn't capitalize on Helmsley's old identity, with his bow and music and fancy patronizing talk, to earn him some heel heat. Of course, X-Pac will forever be the underdog, won't he? I guess that's how you get the little guy a pop. Shane McMahon winning a title match at Wrestlemania, though? That seems kind of out of place.

There isn't much to say about the main event that you probably haven't already thought. It was a well-threaded piece of work, with great mic work from the Heartbreak Kid and Vince McMahon to lead us off, and a solid effort from both competitors. The match was the kind of thing that puts WCW main events to shame with its continuity and was for almost two years able to keep the WWF promotion afloat. But it lacked something. A certain je-ne-sais-quoi. Last year, the match was very similar - a heel who didn't fight his own battles dropping the title to the emerging and then re-emerging Stone Cold Steve Austin. This year, though, I didn't buy it. Shawn Michaels has put on some of the most electrifying matches in sports entertainment history, and I guess the Rock has done his share, too. I think I know what it is. Remember when Austin and the Rock were feuding over the Intercontinental title? Come on, I know you remember this. The Rock stealing the belt and then Austin winning it back and throwing it over a bridge? That stuff was hilarious - but the matches were squashes, and I guess I just didn't buy Austin/Rock as a main event, not with this build-up. I thought Michaels had a chance last year, or at least that he'd get help from Iron Mike or DX. The Corporation can't do anything right, and the only boxer on hand was kicking the keister of the now-burried Bart Gunn.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, being too hard on Wrestlemania XV. Maybe it's always like this, and the atmosphere while you watch it is what makes it so great. I don't know, and I won't pretend that I do. The funny thing is, though, that I think I enjoyed watching the Raw after Wrestlemania more than watching Wrestlemania that second time on Friday. Hardly a classic, eh? Maybe by luring us in with their tried-and-true combination of interviews and short matches, the WWF has weaned us off the pure stuff, the classic stuff. And now I just don't crave it as much? Who knows? Do you?

Mail Bag:

James Fasoline, from, writes:
*Hi, I want to make a point, but first I wanted to say I love your column! I've been reading it since it was at and other sites. Now to my point: Am I the only person who loves the Corporation!?!?!? I mean, look at their lineup. Vince MacMahon, the biggest genius of a promoter and all-around best heel ever. Ken Shamrock, a solid (and pretty funny when he is mad) wrestler. Test, who looks very promising. Big Bossman, a tried-and-true veteran heel with good mic skills. HHH, who is going to main event status with Chyna at his side. The Stooges, who, well, the Stooges. Shane MacMahon w/the Greenwich Posse, a great angle in addition to Shane starting to look better and better as a competitor. And last but NOT least, the most ELECTRIFYING MAN in SPORTS ENTERtainMENT HIStorrRrrrYYYYY, the Rock. He has charisma coming out the you-know what, and GREAT mat skills to back up the (hilarious) big mouth of his. I think they each of them compliment the other perfectly. Any combination of them can add up to memorable interviews and classic confrontations.*

You know, you're right. I am starting to like the Coporation. Not so hot at the beginning, but it grew on me. Kind of the opposite of the cool-concept-turned-sour we call the nWo, eh?

Anna Valleser,, writes:
*I used to watch WCW as much as the WWF. About a year ago I completely abandoned WCW because I often found myself being bored and annoyed by the fights. WWF has always been interesting, in or out of the ring. I don't think anyone can really argue that. Recently WCW has been going more into the "soap opera" thing that WWF has had going for a while. But I find it only makes it even more annoying! Most of the "dramas" we "just happen to catch" backstage don't really make any sense. Most of the time it has absolutely nothing to do with anything at all, in or out of the ring. So what if the NWO are having leadership issues? What does that have to do with what is happening, or going to happen, in the ring? Is there going to be an NWO Royal Rumble to determine who is going to be the leader? Is Hogan going to step in? Considering the egos that are in the NWO why would anyone WANT to be the leader? At least with the WWF we can take a pretty good guess what's going to happen.*

*Sigh* I gotta tell ya, my first instinct is, I don't care. You're right, I watch the WWF first and foremost (I still watch Nitro though) because it's entertaining, and above all, it makes sense. You know those papers you wrote in high school, the ones which seemed good when you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, but which got a C- anyway with some pretty negative feedback? That's WCW. And remember that guy who just couldn't write a bad essay, who just knew how to put his thoughts together so well that it didn't matter what he said, it was how he said it? That's not WCW.

Michael Arnett, amichael@Matrox.COM, writes:
*How about that Fake Goldberg chant at the ACC? As soon as they stopped the tape, chants of "Goldberg sucks" filled the arena.*

That's because Goldberg does suck. I thought it was funny, too. I wonder if you'd get some "GILL-BERG" chants in a WWF arena after you turned off the fake "GILL-BERG" chants?

Have a great week, everyone. Thanks for writing, thanks for reading, I'll see you all in five short days.

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