Date: 30th March, 2003
Venue: Safeco Field
City: Seattle, WA
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry “The King” Lawler,
Tazz & Michael Cole
Theme Song: “Crack Addict” by Limp Bizkit
The main feud heading into WrestleMania on the SmackDown! brand was between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar, with the two feuding over the WWE Championship. Angle won the title three months prior at Armageddon by defeating then-champion The Big Show with Lesnar’s help. At the Royal Rumble in January, Angle defeated Chris Benoit to retain the WWE Championship, and Lesnar won theRoyal Rumble match to become number one contender to the WWE Championship at WrestleMania when he last eliminated The Undertaker. The following month at No Way Out, Lesnar and Benoit defeated Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Shelton Benjamin, and Charlie Haas) in a Handicap match. During that Pay Per View, Edge was supposed to team up with Lesnar & Benoit to wrestle Team Angle in the scheduled Six Man Tag team match but Edge was attacked backstage and it was announced he could not participate in the match. On the March 6 episode of SmackDown!, Lesnar defeated Paul Heyman in a Steel cage match to earn a championship match against Angle the next week. The next week on SmackDown!, Angle defeated Lesnar to retain the WWE Championship. Before the match began, Kurt, who was “praying” in the corner, switched with his brotherEric. Lesnar then came out and the match began. Shortly after the match began, Benjamin and Haas came to the ring and distracted Lesnar, which gave Eric time to switch back with Kurt. As Lesnar regained his focus, Kurt was able to pin him with a small package for the win. The following week on the March 20 episode of SmackDown!, SmackDown General Manager Stephanie McMahon told Angle that if he tries to get himself disqualified or if his brother, Benjamin, or Haas try to interfere in their match at WrestleMania, he would lose the title.
The main feud on the Raw brand was between The Rock and Steve Austin. On the February 20 episode of SmackDown!, The Rock returned to WWE after a six-month hiatus from wrestling (since SummerSlam). On that evening, he was in a confrontation with Hulk Hogan before their WrestleMania X8 rematch at No Way Out. At the No Way Out event, The Rock defeated Hogan with the help of Vince McMahon. On the following night’s episode of Raw, The Rock returned to the Raw brand in a 20-man Battle royal that would determine the opponent for the World Heavyweight Championship. Rock however, was unable to win after he was eliminated by Booker T; after the match, Rock criticized Steve Austin for being chosen as the Superstar of the Decade by the WWE fans in January, beginning the feud between Rock and Austin. The following week on Raw, Austin, who was on a long hiatus before returning that previous Sunday at No Way Out, made his WWE television return, as he cut a promo about the WWE fans, before he was interrupted by Rock, who challenged him to a match at WrestleMania because The Rock, himself, was obsessed of not beating Austin at a WrestleMania event by the time they fought at WrestleMania XV and X-Seven during a four-year span. As soon as the challenge was made, Raw General manager, Eric Bischoff, announced that the following week on Raw, Rock would face Booker T in a match, and if he won, he would have the choice to face either Austin or Triple H at WrestleMania. On the March 10 episode of Raw, Rock, with Bischoff’s approval, announced that he would pick his own opponent for later that night, which turned out to be The Hurricane, in hopes for Rock to gain an easy victory. However, Austin made his way down the entrance ramp, which distracted Rock and allowed Hurricane to Roll up Rock into a successful pinfall, which made the Austin-Rock match at WrestleMania official. On the March 24, and final episode of Raw leading into WrestleMania, Austin was banned from entering the arena that night. He managed to enter the arena and attack Rock, however, before Rock fled the ring.
The secondary feud on the SmackDown! brand was between Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon. One month prior at No Way Out, during a match between Hogan and The Rock, McMahon came down to the ring, only to distract Hogan, which allowed the referee, Sylvan Grenier to give The Rock a chair, which Rock used to hit Hogan and pin him for the win. After No Way Out, McMahon proclaimed that Hulkamania was dead and proclaiming a new ‘mania; McMahonamania. On the March 6 episode of SmackDown!, Hogan informed McMahon that Hulkamania was not dead and that McMahon had nothing to do with creating it. McMahon informed Hogan that he did not hate Hulkamaniacs or Hulkamania, but he hated Hogan. He then told Hogan that he hated him for leaving WWE (then known as the WWF) for Ted Turner’s WCW and for testifying against him in the steroid trial in the 1990s. McMahon proceeded by challenging Hogan to a match at WrestleMania where if Hogan lost, he would have to retire from professional wrestling. Hogan accepted his challenge later that night. Two weeks later on the March 20 episode of SmackDown!, McMahon and Hogan had a contract signing for their match at WrestleMania. As Hogan was preparing to sign the contract, McMahon attacked with a steel chair from behind. Shortly afterward, McMahon hit Hogan several times with the chair in the head, causing him to bleed. McMahon then signed the contract and forced Hogan to sign with his blood.
Another feud on the Raw brand was between Triple H and Booker T, with the two feuding over the World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H won the title three months prior at Armageddon by defeating then-champion Shawn Michaels in a 3 Stages of Hell match. Since that event, Triple H had fought Scott Steiner during the following two pay per view events for the World’s title. First was at the Royal Rumble, where Triple H got himself disqualified when he nailed Steiner with the Sledgehammer but retained the title. Then at No Way Out, he defeated Steiner by Pinfall to retain the title. On the February 24 episode of Raw, Booker won a 20-man Battle royal by last eliminating The Rock to become the number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. On the March 3 episode of Raw, World Champion, Triple H, cut a controversial promo on Booker T. Triple H downplayed Booker T’s WCW success, pointing out that the WCW Championship had been held by non-wrestlers like Vince Russo and actor David Arquette calling WCW and its title “a joke”. He implied that Booker T, as a convicted criminal, would never win a world championship in WWE. In the Wrestlemania XIX press conference Michael Cole questioned Triple H as to whether he had cut a racist promo, Triple H confirmed this was not the case and was indeed referring to Booker’s criminal past. A week later, Booker got revenge by attacking Triple H in the bathroom, laying him out. On the March 24 episode of Raw, Booker T & Goldust defeated Triple H & Ric Flair in a Tag team match.
Another feud from the Raw brand was the squabble over the WWE Women’s Championship; the champion Victoria had captured the title from Trish Stratus back in November atSurvivor Series. Then a month later at Armageddon, Victoria defeated Stratus and Jacqueline in a Triple threat match to retain the Women’s title. Stratus and the returning Jazz had a match on Raw to determine who would challenge Victoria for the Championship at WrestleMania. During the match, Victoria entered the ring and hit both women with the title belt, earning a double disqualification. It was then announced that Victoria would defend the title against both Stratus and Jazz in a Triple Threat match at the pay-per-view.
A smaller feud, also from the Raw brand was between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels. When Michaels was a guest on Jericho’s in-ring show The Highlight Reel, Jericho claimed he had idolised Michaels from a young age and that he had been his inspiration to become a wrestler. The feud had been ongoing for some time with Jericho sabotaging Michaels in the Royal Rumble after Michaels received the #1 entry which Jericho wanted to enter. The feud would be settled as the two would face each other in a match at the pay-per-view.
Matt Hardy (c) (with Shannon Moore) defeated Rey Mysterio (05:37)
The Undertaker defeated Big Show and A-Train (09:42)
Triple Threat Match
Trish Stratus defeated Victoria (c) (with Steven Richards) and Jazz (07:17)
Tag Team Championship
Triple Threat Tag Team Match
Team Angle (c) defeated Los Guerreros and Chris Benoit & Rhyno (08:48)
Shawn Michaels defeated Chris Jericho (22:34)
World Heavyweight Championship
Triple H (c) (with Ric Flair) defeated Booker T (18:45)
Hulk Hogan defeated Mr. McMahon (20:47)
The Rock defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin (17:55)
Brock Lesnar defeated Kurt Angle (c) (21:07)
(c) – refers to the champion(s) heading into the match
On the SmackDown! episode after WrestleMania, SmackDown General Manager Stephanie McMahon announced Kurt Angle suffered a pulled hamstring and a neck injury, while Lesnar suffered multiple concussions. She later announced that a tournament would take place to determine the number one contender to Lesnar’s WWE Championship. On the April 17 episode of Smackdown!, John Cena would become the number one contender after he defeated Chris Benoit in the tournament’s final match. At Backlash, Lesnar defeated Cena to retain the WWE Championship. Lesnar would then feud with The Big Show, as he defeated him at Judgment Day to retain the WWE Championship in a Stretcher match. Lesnar would however lose the WWE Championship to Angle at Vengeance in a Triple threat match that also involved The Big Show. Lesnar then regained the WWE Championship from Angle on the September 18 episode of SmackDown!, in an Iron Man match winning 5-4.
On the April 3 episode of SmackDown!, Vince McMahon forced Hulk Hogan to leave WWE forever as a part of their storyline. On the May 1 episode of SmackDown!, “Mr. America” (who was in reality Hogan under a mask), made his debut on Piper’s Pit, where McMahon promised to prove America was in reality Hogan. Also involved in the feud was Zach Gowen, a one legged wrestler who was brought into the feud by Mr. America. After multiple failed attempts to prove Mr. America was Hogan, however, McMahon succeeded on the July 3 episode of SmackDown!, after he aired footage of Mr. America unmasking and revealing himself to be Hogan. He then announced that Hogan was fired from WWE.
On the Raw episode after WrestleMania, Steve Austin was fired from the WWE in storyline by then-Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff due to medical reasons. Austin was then re-hired by WWE CEO, Linda McMahon, however, as Co-Raw General Manager on April 29. Later that night, The Rock taunted Austin for his firing; which proceeded to Rock challenging another superstar in a match. Goldberg would answer the Rock’s challenge by stating that “you’re [The Rock is] next”, which led to Goldberg spearing The Rock. On the April 14 episode of Raw, The Rock would accept a challenge made by Goldberg, which he rejected a week earlier, in which the two would wrestle each other at Backlash. At Backlash, Goldberg successfully pinned Rock. After the match, The Rock gave a farewell speech in which he stated that he was to take a sabbatical from professional wrestling.