March 24, 2003
McMahon - Hogan get 3rd Degree
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling
It was all talk and no action on last night\'s WrestleMania XIX - Third Degree Live broadcast on TNN. Essentially a WWE informercial, the hour-long show hosted by Tazz and Michael Cole chatted with WWE superstars Steve Austin, Triple H and Hollywood Hulk Hogan about their upcoming matches at WrestleMania though their voices were largely drowned out by the live crowd.
Although the WWE site advertised the event as -- \"Questions fans have been dying to ask for two decades will be answered!\" -- fans were not permitted to pose queries at any time and no real insight was given into the relationship between Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon beyond what the average fan already knows.
As Vince McMahon once again makes himself the top star in his own company, everything discussed and everyone interviewed took a backseat to his match against Hollywood Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania XIX. Each guest was asked about their feelings on the feud and so too were former stars like Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenan and Roddy Piper before each commercial break. Ventura said the one thing that would make him come out of retirement would be a match against McMahon. Piper claimed that McMahon had bet \"all of his money\" on the first WrestleMania and if it would\'ve flopped, McMahon would\'ve been bankrupt. McMahon himself was not at the broadcast but cut a promo on Hogan during a video segment.
In an effort to bring some legitimacy to the showdown, sportscaster Bob Costas weighed in comparing the McMahon and Hogan match to golfers Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson squaring off on the Senior\'s Tour. The most poignant comment of the night though came from Steve Austin who said about the match-up: \"I don\'t give a rat\'s ass who wins.\"
Austin was the first to take the stage and before he ripped into The Rock, he saluted the U.S. troops fighting the war against Iraq.
\"I\'d like to thank the U.S. Armed Forces for doing what they are doing. We stand behind them all the way. As far as I am concerned, it is Austin 3:16 all the way. Open a can of whoop ass, after can of whoop ass, after can of whoop ass. That\'s all I have to say about that,\" said Austin.
WWE World Champion, Triple H, chewed up whatever time wasn\'t dedicated to discussing the McMahon and Hogan battle. The longest interview of the night, Triple H continued to mirror the suave, well-dressed, arrogant persona Ric Flair made famous. The WWE used the chat with Triple H to once again address criticism that the angle with challenger Booker T. has racist undertones to it.
\"Why would anyone think I am racist? Did I ever mention that word \'black\' in Booker T\'s promo? Did I ever say anything derogatory to Booker T\'s race?,\" asked Triple H. \"This has nothing to do with race. Booker T doesn\'t think it is about race.\"
While Triple H appeared live, Booker T.\'s side of things were examined in a video promo as was the WWE Championship match between Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle.
The show ended with Hollywood Hulk Hogan tearing into Vince McMahon and engaging in his usual pose down routine.