Date: 28th March, 1999
Venue: First Union Center
City: Philadelphia, PA
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler
& Jim Ross
Theme Song: “Rage” by Jim Johnston
When Road Dogg and “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn lost the WWF Tag Team Championship to The Corporation, they tried their hand at singles wrestling for some time with Gunn failing in his attempts to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship, but Road Dogg becoming Hardcore Champion until an injury prevented him from honouring a championship match. With Al Snow who ended up fighting himself, and then Bob Holly for the vacant belt at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House with the latter winning the title at the banks of the Mississippi River. When Road Dogg won the Intercontinental Championship on Raw is War, Gunn fought Bob Holly (now Hardcore Holly) and won when Holly crashed into an ad-hoc announce table Jim Ross had constructed for his pirate broadcast of the show. Holly felt enraged that circumstances had conspired against him, while Snow still wanted another chance at the belt.
In the previous year, due to the suddenly enlarged roster, a shootfighting knockout tournament entitled WWF Brawl for All was organized on a voluntary basis with Bart Gunn winning the tournament on August 24 after defeating every opponent by knockout aside from his opening round opponent Bob Holly. When Holly rechristened himself Hardcore Holly on February 15, decrying the poor gimmicks and tag team partners he had been given in the past, Gunn made his first appearance since winning the tournament, to remind Holly that not all his partners were of a poor caliber. After a hardcore match between the two, which Gunn dominated until a masked assailant threw him off the stage, noted mixed martial artist and boxer Eric “Butterbean” Esch, who held a 43–1–1 record at the time, challenged him to a Brawl For All fight.
From November’s Survivor Series until the night after St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, The Rock and Mankind traded the WWF Championship between themselves numerous time as Mr. McMahon screwed Mankind time and time again on his quest to headline WrestleMania. In their final match, a Raw is War ladder match, Paul Wight delivered the Showstopper to Mankind as he was about to win the match, removing his chances of appearing the main event. However, as Mr McMahon’s Corporate conspiracy of appointing Big Show as special guest referee to secure The Rock as champion began to fall apart, Mankind constantly reared his head offering his services as a second official. With The Rock and Big Show causing infighting in The Corporation, Mankind successfully canvassed for a chance to referee, but rather than have two conflicting referees, a match was booked which would see the winner have the right to officiate.
When Ryan Shamrock appeared front row on Raw is War, January 11, she gained attention not only from her brother but also Val Venis, who performed a flirtatious dance for her, and “Badd Ass” Billy Gunn who lived up to his moniker by mooning her. Enraged, Ken Shamrock fought Gunn at the Royal Rumble and then Venis at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, with Venis winning the Intercontinental Championship thanks to help from Ryan. Venis soon dumped Ryan though and she began a relationship with Goldust and Venis also unwittingly lost his championship to Road Dogg on Raw is War and so he found himself having to defend his championship against all the important men in Ryan Shamrock’s life in a four corners elimination match.
After The Rock won his “I Quit” match against Mankind at the Royal Rumble by playing a recording of his voice, Triple H demanded an I Quit match of his own but, as he was about to put Rock through the announce table, The Corporation came to the ring and Kane held his manager/girlfriend Chyna hostage, demanding that he quit the match. As soon as the match was over though, Chyna low blowed Triple H and revealed her alliances with The Corporation, promising to give him a Valentine’s Day present at the subsequent pay-per-view. Despite almost having the match won, Triple H suffered at the hands of an interfering Shane McMahon and illegal man Kane’s chokeslam. Triple H took revenge on the February 22 Raw is War by interfering in X-Pac’s match with Chyna, causing her to lose. Chyna then called Triple H out on March 8 but before they could fight Kane came to the ring and Chyna held up Triple H as Kane shot a fireball at him, though he would duck out the way causing severe retinal damage to Chyna. Despite not receiving any damage, Triple H maintained that the fireball was meant for him, an insult he took personally and an intended injury he wanted to return personally at WrestleMania. On March 22 Kane prepared to have a match against Goldust, but as he threw off his entrance robes and wig it turned out he was Triple H holding a flamethrower, shooting flames in Kane’s face. Meanwhile X-Pac, who had altercations with Shane McMahon previous to the February event, was frustrated with his Shane’s interference in the match and was goaded into putting his European Championship on the line in a tag team match with Triple H against Kane and Shane which Shane won thanks to Triple H being distracted by Chyna. With Shane claiming himself to be a fighting champion, he agreed to a rematch at WrestleMania but regularly interfered in X-Pac’s matches up until that point culminating in a Greenwich Street Fight on March 22 that ended in a no contest when the Mean Street Posse ambushed X-Pac and drove off with Shane in their car.
Tori was sitting front row as a plant as early as September 14’s Raw is War but it was not until late December that she began to act with stalker tendencies, sending flowers and notes to Sable, the WWF Women’s Champion and even helping her to defend her title against Luna Vachon at the Royal Rumble. On Raw is War the night after the previous pay-per-view, Tori invaded the ring again and was publicly shouted at and humiliated by Sable. Vachon then brought Tori to the ring a fortnight after, reprimanding Sable for her ego but a still-obsessed Tori helped attack Vachon. The following week on March 8’s Raw is War Tori fought Vachon with Sable in her corner but after receiving a squash from Vachon, Sable also gave Tori a Sable Bomb leading to Tori interrupting Sable’s Playboy interview by demanding a championship match at WrestleMania.
Having been buried alive in a Royal Rumble qualification match at Rock Bottom: In Your House, The Undertaker disappeared from television while The Acolytes, Faarooq and Bradshaw, began to act strangely eventually abducting Dennis Knight and leaving him tied up in a darkened room. On January 11 The Undertaker returned in slightly new attire, taking a seat in a ceremonial throne on the Raw is War stage while Paul Bearer stood beside him and The Acolytes brought Knight out and tied him to a table. There Undertaker performed a ritualistic ceremony, rechristening him Mideon. Undertaker began delivering ambiguous apocalyptic messages, but after recruiting Mabel, now Viscera and The Brood he began to be more direct, revealing his plan to attack Mr. McMahon and take over the World Wrestling Federation. The security of Mr. McMahon’s Corporation, The Big Boss Man, challenged the Ministry to a six-man tag team match which ended in a no contest when the Ministry abducted Shane McMahon and took him to Undertaker, who threatened him while choking him then gave him a letter to give to his father. McMahon replied the following week on February 22 by booking The Undertaker in an Inferno match with Kane on Raw is War, the first network television airing of that type of match. During the match McMahon provided commentary, nonchalantly revealing he had placed Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match against Big Boss Man for WrestleMania. During the match Paul Bearer gave an ominous gift to McMahon, a teddy bear. After Undertaker set Kane on fire, he turned to the enraged McMahon, taking the teddy bear (later revealed to belong to an as yet unmentioned Stephanie McMahon) and setting alight to it reducing Vince to his knees. Trying to defeat either of his problems, McMahon declared he’d never show such weakness again and put Mankind against Undertaker which ended with Undertaker almost chokeslamming McMahon through the announce table until Boss Man saved him. Undertaker continued with his mind games on March 8, ordering his Ministry to look for Boss Man all night and attacking any innocents who were in his way, eventually capturing Boss Man and crucifying him. Boss Man managed to escape while police were being beaten off by Undertaker’s minions until he offered himself to the police while being derided by McMahon. The following week he continued his assault, with videos playing throughout the evening of the Ministry at McMahon’s mansion ending in McMahon coming to the ring while Triple H brawled with Kane, begging Kane to help him. Kane ripped off his mask to reveal it was actually The Undertaker who grabbed McMahon by the throat as the lights turned off in the arena and when they came up, he was gone with McMahon alone in the ring.
The main event of the evening could arguably be traced back over a year. When Steve Austin won the Royal Rumble in 1998 Mr. McMahon made it quite clear he was not happy with a rebellious, foul-mouthed beer drinker as the potential representative for his company should he win the WWF Championship at WrestleMania XIV. When he did McMahon set on a six-month long quest to dethrone Austin as champion, which he eventually did in a de facto handicap match at Breakdown: In Your House against The Undertaker and Kane, who could not pin each other. As both pinned Austin at the same time the belt was made vacant, with the two men ostensibly fighting for it the next month at Judgment Day: In Your House but McMahon’s attempt to further humiliate Austin by have him officiate the match went awry when he attacked both men ending it in a no contest. A Deadly Games tournament was scheduled for Survivor Series in November in which it turned out that The Rock, not Mankind, was McMahon’s choice for winner and duly had the tournament manipulated to his advantage, while Austin lost in a match when McMahon’s son Shane, acting as referee, refused to count a pin fall to go to the finals. Knowing Rock would be busy feuding with Mankind, McMahon realized Austin was likely to use the 1999 Royal Rumble, rather than a personal attack, to attempt to reclaim the belt and laid down the stipulation that he must win a Buried Alive match against The Undertaker to be in the Rumble. When he did, with some help from Kane, McMahon further tried to prevent Austin winning back the championship by ‘randomly’ drawing him as the first entrant in the Rumble and drawing himself as the thirtieth. Having annoyed Commissioner Shawn Michaels McMahon was placed into the match as the second entrant. Despite a $100,000 bounty on his head, Austin survived almost all of the match, being the last person eliminated by Mr McMahon thanks to the distraction of The Rock, meaning that McMahon had earned a right to go to WrestleMania. As a part-time wrestler and a fellow member of The Corporation, McMahon explained the following night that he would be relinquishing his place at WrestleMania, the first Royal Rumble winner to do so, only to be told by Commissioner Michaels that if the winner is unable or unwilling to fight then the place goes to the runner-up. With McMahon irate, Austin revealed that he was willing to put his place on the line and not headline WrestleMania if McMahon would give him the opportunity to fight him one-on-one with no interference from The Corporation, and if he could beat him Austin would not go to WrestleMania. Their steel cage match at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre mostly consisted of McMahon running away but eventually the two fought with Austin winning the match under unusual circumstances when Big Show made his debut, coming from under the ring and throwing Austin into the cage with the walls of it coming open, meaning that Austin had inadvertently won the match.
This also marked the final appearance of Gorilla Monsoon before his death. Monsoon hadn’t been seen on WWF television since SummerSlam 1997. Prior to this, Gorilla Monsoon had appeared in 12 of the last 15 WrestleMania events (from I to X, XII). In WrestleMania XI, he appeared only in the Coliseum Video release. Here, he would make his final appearance as a judge for the WWF Brawl for All match.
Triple Threat Match
Hardcore Holly defeated Billy Gunn (c) and Al Snow (07:07)
Tag Team Championship
Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett (c) (with Debra) defeated D’Lo Brown and Test (with Ivory) (03:57)
Brawl For All Match
Butterbean defeated Bart Gunn (00:38)
Winner Becomes Special Guest Referee in WWF Championship Match
Mankind defeated “The Big Show” Paul Wight by disqualification (06:52)
Four Corners Elimination Match
Road Dogg (c) defeated Ken Shamrock, Goldust (with The Blue Meanie and Ryan Shamrock) and Val Venis (09:46)
Kane (with Chyna) defeated Triple H by disqualification (11:35)
Sable (c) defeated Tori (04:51)
Shane McMahon (c) (with Test) defeated X-Pac (08:38)
Hell in a Cell Match
The Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) defeated The Big Boss Man (09:46)
No Disqualification Match
Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Rock (c) (16:55)
(c) – refers to the champion(s) heading into the match
The event was met with mixed critical response. Canadian Online Explorer’s professional wrestling section gave the entire event 5 out of 10 stars. The main event between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWF Championship was rated 8 out of 10 stars, the Hell In A Cell Match between The Undertaker and Big Boss Man was rated 5 out of 10 stars, the match between Shane McMahon and X-Pac for the WWF European Championship was rated 7 out of 10 stars, the match between Sable and Tori for the WWF Women’s Championship was rated 1 out of 10 stars, the Four corners elimination match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship between Road Dogg Jesse James, Ken Shamrock, Goldust and Val Venis was rated 5 out of 10 stars and the Referee match between Mankind and Big Show was rated 4 out of 10.