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Attitude Era Classics: WWF Wrestlemania 14

WWF Wrestlemania 14

March 29th 1998

The Fleet Centre, Boston, Massachusetts

Attendance:  19,028

Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

Buyrate: 730,000

 

The fourteenth edition of Wrestlemania was very important for a number of reasons. After a few rough years from 1993 to 1997, business was about to pick up again for the World Wrestling Federation. Bret Hart left the company after the Survivor Series and it was decided that Stone cold Steve Austin would be the guy to lead the company in this time period which is often referred to as the Attitude Era. People suggest that this is the show where the Attitude Era began, but I believe that this is the show were the Attitude Era really started to pick up.

The main event would be Stone Cold vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship but the big news surrounding the main event was the inclusion of Mike Tyson as the guest enforcer. Tyson was suspended from Boxing after biting Evander Holyfield’s ear, so Vince McMahon paid him a reported $3 million to be a part of Wrestlemania. This gathered a lot of mainstream press (I remember BBC news and Sky Sports News covering it!) and once again, the wresting world was focused on the WWF after getting their arses kicked in the ratings by WCW. A few weeks after this event, Raw is War beat Nitro in the ratings. Wrestlemania 14 was an important show on many levels so the pressure was on. Were they ready to step up? Let’s find out.

 

The show kicks off with highlights of past Wrestlemania events and the legends of the sport. Video packages have improved a lot over the years and it will continue. We head off to the arena where some guys are already at ringside for our opening contest. We get the entrance for Faarooq and Kama Mustafa. After they were introduced, our mystery team is introduced; The Legion of Doom managed by Sunny. The LOD have undergone a massive transformation and are now repackaged as LOD2000.

 

15 Team Battle Royal

Faarooq & Kama, Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal), Savio Vega & Miguel Pérez, Jose Estrada & Jesus Castillo, The Truth Commission (Recon & Sniper), Bradshaw & Chainz, Mark Henry & D’Lo Brown, The Quebecers (Jacques & Pierre), The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson), The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher), Too Much (Scott Taylor & Brian Christopher), Disciples of Apocalypse (8-Ball & Skull), New Midnight Express (Bombastic Bob & Bodacious Bart), Steve Blackman & Flash Funk and The Godwinns (Phineas & Henry)

The winners of this match get a shot at the tag titles at next month’s PPV. This is really just a way of getting guys on the card and nowadays would have taken place on the pre-show. Once one member of a team is tossed over the top to the floor then the entire team is eliminated which is an unfair rule if I’m being totally honest.They get a pretty big pop. I’ll let you work out who are the faces and heels in this thing. There’s not much to talk about here. It’s a quick and basic battle royal like the others we have seen at Mania so far. Kurrgan makes his way out during the match and eliminates his old Commission buddies, whilst Barry Windham also comes down and screws over his former Blackjack partner by eliminating Chainz. We come down to the LOD and the new Midnights, and after fighting off some Godwinn interference, the Legion of Doom pick up the win by eliminating their opponents.

Winner: LOD 2000

Rating: ½ *

30 people in the ring at one time. That’s too much. It was it hard to follow and I had to re-watch the match a few times just to see when certain teams got eliminated. I also didn’t care too much for the amount of interference shown in this match. LOD were very over with the crowd, no other team had a shot really. As I mentioned, this was a nice way of getting more people on the card.

 

Kevin Kelly and Honky Tonk Man are hyping up the Superstars Line. Honky Tonk puts other an award that the WWF won for their Superstar line.

 

We now see some highlights of Wrestlemania weekend in Boston, including the DX public workout where Austin was tied up at humiliated by the heel faction, adding further heat to our main event.

 

WWF Light Heavyweight Championship

Aguila vs. Taka Michinoku ©

Once again Taka Michinoku looks to impress the crowd with another Light Heavyweight title defence. Unlike the past two Light Heavyweight title matches on PPV, this is face vs. face as Aguila has teamed with Taka in recent months against the likes of Brian Christopher and Pantera. As a result we have a show of respect between both men in this one. There’s not really much to talk about from a storyline perspective, it’s just two men going at it for the title. Nothing wrong with that for a belt like this. The match is pretty good and gets the crowd hot, which is really what the division was for at this point. Lots of high flying moves including an impressive springboard dive by Taka onto his opponent on the outside. After a bunch of high spots and near falls, Taka comes out on top as he hits the Michinoku Driver on Aguila to pick up the win. After the match, Aguila congratulates Taka and they embrace each other out of respect.

Winner and STILL WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Taka Michinoku via pinfall.

Rating: **

Well that was fun! There wasn’t much storytelling or psychology on display as it was all about the moves and spots. It was fast paced and something WWF fans weren’t accustomed to at the time. It’s a shame we don’t have a Light Heavyweight division anymore, it truly brings something different to the table.

 

We now go to a pre-recorded interview from earlier in the day that saw the one and only Gennifer Flowers talk politics with the Rock. She asked him what things would be like if he was the leader of the country. He said he’d prefer to be called the ruler. Rock says as long as he’s got his palatial estate in Miami he doesn’t care about the homeless. Flowers: “How would you run the White House?” As long as the interns beneath The Rock didn’t do anything orally wrong (he then corrected himself to say morally wrong) then everything would be okay. He also debuts a famous catchphrase – “if you smell what the Rock is cooking”. Rock was by far the most improved performer on the roster. His heel turn was a God sent. He has come a long way from the goodie – goodie Rocky Maivia character and he’ll continue to get stronger and stronger.

 

WWF European Championship

Triple H © /w/ Chyna vs. Owen Hart

In order to prevent any interference from Chyna, Commissioner Slaughter has decided that he will be at ringside handcuffed to Chyna. Triple H comes out to some decent heat as the DX band plays him to the ring. Owen follows to a solid pop and is entering this one with a bad ankle following an attack by Chyna with a baseball bat on a previous episode of Raw. He was the babyface more out of sympathy after what happened to his Brother Bret at Survivor Series. This is a pretty good match as you have two guys who know how to work. Owen is always great and Triple H was definitely making strides in this time period and working with an elite worker like Owen Hart could only be beneficial for him. Owen starts out on fire and eventually gets the sharpshooter on his hated rival, only for Hunter to counter and begin mounting his own offence. He starts working over Owen’s injured ankle but Owen gets Hunter back in the sharpshooter later on. Chyna drags Slaughter on the outside and manages to pull Triple H to the ropes forcing a break of the hold. At this point, Chyna throws a hand full of powder into Slaughter’s face, blinding the Commissioner. A distracted Owen checks on Slaughter which leads to Chyna hitting a low blow on the challenger. Helmsley follows up with a pedigree which puts the Black Hart down for the three. After the match, Chyna decks Slaughter and throws him over the crowd barrier after being freed from the handcuffs.

Winner and STILL WWF European Champion: Triple H via pinfall

Rating: *** ½

That was a solid mid-card match with the right amount of time allotted to it. The like the amount of nearfalls too. Triple H wasn’t the elite worker as he would eventually become but he was showing a lot of promise round this time. Owen played his part was as the face but he was a lot better as a heel. He’d eventually turn heel in a few months’ time whiles Triple H would turn face.

 

We get a video package hyping our upcoming mixed tag match between Marc Mero & Sable against The Artist Formally Known as Goldust and Luna. The story told that Mero was jealous of Sable’s popularity.  The match was coming about from the on-going resentment between Sable and Luna. The two of them have been involved in a number of brawls in recent weeks On a recent episode of Raw is War, Goldust (still the crazy Artist) held Sable back to separate the two, something Mero took exception to. This led to a match between the two men on Raw which saw Sable and Luna handcuffed to the ring posts to prevent any outside interference. During that match, Goldust freed Luna which led to the deranged woman beating on Sable at ringside and Goldust laying down the challenge for a mixed tag match at Wrestlemania.

 

The Artist Formally Known as Goldust & Luna vs. ‘Marvellous’ Marc Mero & Sable

Sable gets the biggest pop of the night so far which tells you how over she was. The match is much better than you might expect. Its men against men and women against women here. Of course the crowd goes nuts when Sable gets into the match and finally gets her hands on Luna after she did her best to avoid the incredibly popular woman. She and Mero actually work nicely together despite their differences for the past few months, although that won’t continue too much longer. We have slowly seen Goldust deteriorating in ring wise as he is a mess behind the scenes at this point, but he brings the goods tonight also contributing to an entertaining match. In the end Sable picks up the win as she takes out Luna with an impressive TKO (which actually looked better than one Mero hit earlier in the match) following some heel miscommunication for the pin.

Winners: ‘Marvellous’ Marc Mero & Sable via pinfall

Rating: ***

Another good match, a lot better than what I recalled it to be. Great work from everyone involved. Sable was mega over here and Luna was great as a heel. Personally, I always felt that Luna doesn’t get the recognition she deserves, she really was one of a kind. In a shoot interview, Luna talked about how Sable refused to do any bumps and she was sternly told that if she injured Sable, she would lose her job! If you watch the match, you can clearly see that Luna was carrying Sable all the way, and after the match, Sable received a heap of praise whiles Owen Hart was the only person to congratulate Luna. But, saying that, Luna has gone on record to say that this match was a career highlight.

 

As we get ready for our next match, a man by the name of Tennessee Lee is in the ring. He wants us all to stand up and welcome the greatest country music performer of all time – that’s J-E-double F J-A-double R-E-double T. Jeff Jarrett is back to his old country music gimmick as he makes his way to the ring with Gennifer Flowers on his arm. Kind of random for him to come out here, but I suppose they wanted the get to new (or old) character on the show. Gennifer serves as the guest ring announcer for the next match.

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship

The Rock © /w/ D’Lo Brown, Mark Henry & Kama Mustafa vs. Ken Shamrock

The history between these two is well documented at this point. Shamrock has been taking the fight to Rock for month’s but has always been outsmarted when the I.C title has been up for grabs. Last month Shamrock made Rock tap out in the ten man tag match, but Rock got a measure of revenge on a recent episode of Raw is War. During a match between Shamrock and D’Lo Brown, the Rock smashed Shamrock with a stiff chair shot TO THE FACE~! That would never be allowed today (that’s a good thing) and then followed up by seemingly nailing Faarooq by accident. Or was it? Remember there has been a great deal of dissension in the Nation as of late pertaining to its leadership after all. As a result of that incident, Rock comes out with all the Nation members except for the leader here. Shamrock gets a decent pop and we are under way. This one has the additional stipulation that if Rock gets disqualified he will lose the title. Shamrock starts out on fire as Rock gets some great heat from the crowd with the “Rocky sucks” chants throughout the match. Rock attempts to walk out on the match, but Shamrock confronts him in the aisle and the fight is back on. Rock gets some offence in as the action returns to the ring, as he even busts out the People’s Elbow. Shamrock snaps and brings a chair into the match, but the referee manages to calm him down. The ref goes down briefly as Rock whacks Shamrock in the head with the chair like on Raw. Shamrock kicks out and comes back however and locks Rock in the ankle lock, which causes the champion to tap out. Ken Shamrock has won the Intercontinental Championship! He keeps the hold on as the Nation members at ringside try to get him off. Shamrock takes them all out with belly to belly suplexes and reapplies the hold on Rock. Faarooq heads down to ringside and gets on the apron, but instead looks at the screaming Rock and walks out on him, effectively turning face in the process. With the ankle lock still applied, officials attempt to get Shamrock to break the hold but he takes them out as well before calming down. At that moment, Finkel announces that the decision has been reversed and the Rock has retained the title by DQ. This causes Shamrock to snap as Rock is stretchered out. Shamrock attacks him again in the aisle, slamming him onto the band performance stage to a huge pop.

Winner and STILL WWF Intercontinental Champion: The Rock via DQ

Rating: * ½

This was more of an angle then a match. It put over Shamrock’s aggression whiles making Rocky look like a star because he was able to find ways of keeping the title. They would have matches throughout the year at King of the Ring and Survivor Series.

 

They aired an “Attitude” promo about how the wrestlers are athletes. Damn, I fucking loved those promos.

 

Up next is the dumpster match between the New Age Outlaws and the ‘Hardcore Legends’, Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk). These team are involved in a heated feud over the tag titles which really began when the Outlaws interfered in a hardcore match between Cactus and Chainsaw on Raw is War back in February, putting both men into a dumpster and tossing it off the stage. The Outlaws were getting some major heel heat at the time as their act had really caught on by this point.

 

WWF Tag Team Championship

Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie vs. The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & Billy Gunn) ©

This is a dumpster match, which is pretty much a casket match using a dumpster – you need to put both your opponents into the casket at ringside (remember that!) and close the lid to win the match. Cactus and Chainsaw get a good pop and we kick off which can accurately be described as a solid brawl. This is really your standard Attitude era type hardcore match with some brutal shots and solid bumps, the most insane of course being taken by Cactus. In the ring, Jack set up a ladder in the ring. Gunn and Jack each climbed the ladder, Dogg hit Funk into ladder and they went crashing into the dumpster. You can question why they even climbed the ladder, but I’d rather appreciate the bump. Jack and Gunn got out of the dumpster. Gunn powerbombed Funk into the dumpster. There are plenty of weapons involved as you would expect, and overall this is a pretty fun match. Cactus brings a ladder into play and comes crashing off into the dumpster since he is Mick Foley. The fight eventually spills into the backstage area with the two fighting amongst boxes and a forklift. In the end Cactus nails both of the outlaws with a chair shot and then takes down Gunn with a double arm DDT on a crate. Both Outlaws are placed on the crate as Funk comes in driving the forklift and lifts his opponents up before dropping them into a nearby dumpster. Cactus closes the lid to win the match.

Winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie

Rating; ***

Once again, another good match. (A common theme on this show right?) This was a showing of hardcore wrestling which was becoming popular in the WWF at the time. There were some wild bumps in this match with Cactus Jack being the most impressive of the group. I have to hand it to the Outlaws.  They worked really hard and kept up the pace against the Hardcore Legends. The feud was done to elevate the Outlaws. I’d say the mission was accomplished. They earned a lot of people’s respect after this.

 

Undertaker vs. Kane is up next.  This was their first televised match. The build-up to Kane’s debut was fantastic. It started way back in 1997 where Paul Bearer reviled that the Undertaker had a brother and Kane was coming back to get his revenge on Undertaker, who apparently burned down the family home killing his parents by accident. Kane however, survived the fire but suffered server burns. He eventually made his debut at Bad Blood, costing Undertaker the match against Shawn Michaels. Undertaker spoke out saying that he would never fight his younger brother. Then there was a time where we thought that they were on the same page but that was swerve though. Kane cost Undertaker another victory at the Royal Rumble he also locked him inside the casket and set it on fire! On an episode of RAW, Paul Bearer ordered the timekeeper to ring the bell ten times in memory of Kane’s deceased brother, however as he did so the famous gong began to ring. A casket eventually appeared on the stage and was stuck by lightning. Moments later the Undertaker sat up out of the casket and challenged his brother to a match at Wrestlemania. In the past he had claimed that he would never fight Kane, but he said that after having been to the fiery depths of hell he spoke to his parents and explained that he was going back on his vow not to fight his own flesh and blood. Kane accepted and in the weeks that followed the two demons battled with their superpowers, striking lightning in the arena and Kane setting fire to a crew worker at ringside. The stage was set and the much anticipated battle was ready to take place on the biggest show of the year.

 

The guest ring announcer for the match was supposed to be baseball legend (and notorious gambler) Pete Rose, who Finkel called a future Hall of Famer. Well, he made the WWE Hall of Fame. “Last time I was here we kicked your ass.” That was a reference to when he was on the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970s and they beat the Boston Red Sox. “You can’t win a World Series!” Huge heat. “I left tickets for Bill Bucker, but he couldn’t bend over to pick them up.” More boos for Pete. He called them the city of losers. Apparently, the Boston sports team became quite successful after this event. I think they should thank Pete Rose. Kane made his entrance with Paul Bearer. Pete was scared. Kane gave Pete a Tombstone!! Only in the WWF right? The crowd cheered wildly. They were happy that Pete got destroyed. Undertaker is out next. His entrance was epic. I’ve Undertaker wrestle live numerous of times and I’m telling you, you will get goose bumps watching it. It’s one of those things that you must witness live.

 

Kane /w/ Paul Bearer vs. The Undertaker

Famous staredown to start and Taker delivers a series of right hands driving Kane to the corner. Taker charges into an elbow, and gets thrown into the corner. Taker comes out quickly and fires away again. Kane whips Taker into the corner, but runs into a big boot. Taker goes for an Irish whip, but gets a clothesline from Kane. He sits right back up though and goes back to the right hands. Taker hits the ropes, but gets caught by Kane who sticks Taker in the corner upside down and kicks away. Irish whip sends Taker across to the other corner, and Kane follows in with a clothesline. Kane drops Taker on the top rope, and delivers a springboard forearm off the top sending Taker to the floor. Taker rolls back in, and Kane delivers an upper cut sending Taker to the corner. Taker hits the ropes, and ends up on Kane’s shoulders pounding him down, but Kane counters sending Taker crashing to the mat. To the floor they go, and Kane drops Taker down on the guardrail. Kane continues the assault firing Taker into the ringsteps, and then throws the ringsteps down on the back of Taker. Kane places Taker on the bottom half of the ringsteps and slams the top half on top of him. Kane goes into the ring, and Paul Bearer delivers a few cheapshots on the floor. Kane brings Taker back into the ring with a suplex, and rams Taker’s head into the top buckle. Taker gets whipped into the corner, and comes out with a clothesline to Kane. Taker hits the ropes, but runs into a chokeslam from Kane. Kane covers but lifts up Taker at two and goes to a side headlock. Taker fights out with a series of fists and delivers an uppercut to break the hold. Kane comes right back with a clothesline, and an elbow drop. Back to the headlock goes Kane, but Taker counters out this time by lifting Kane up and crotching him on the top rope. Taker sends Kane to the floor with a big boot, and then goes out after him with a tope over the top rope, which misses sending Taker through the Spanish Announce Table. Kane fires Taker back inside, and heads to the top rope delivering a flying clothesline for two. They trade blows in the middle of the ring, and Taker gets the better of it. Taker hits the ropes and ducks a clothesline. Taker goes for a tombstone, but Kane reverses into a tombstone of his own. It only gets a two count however. Taker comes firing back with a clothesline and a chokeslam. Tombstone connects for Taker, but Kane is out at two. Taker delivers a legdrop and another tombstone, but again Kane is out at two. Taker goes to the top rope and delivers a flying clothesline. A third tombstone connects, and Taker finally gets a three count. After the match, Bearer threw in a steel chair. Bearer decked the ref and then he tried to attack Undertaker with his weak kicks. Undertaker decked Bearer with a punch. Kane hit Undertaker in the back with the chair. Kane gave him a Tombstone on a steel chair. This set up the rematch a month later at Unforgiven, which was the first ever Inferno Match. Undertaker is now 7-0 at Wrestlemania.

Winner: The Undertaker via pinfall

Rating; **

Really good big man match here. The match was decent but the build-up and story was amazing. Kane was booked like an unstoppable monster. It took 3 Tombstones to finish him off. That was unheard of at the time because once Undertaker connected with the Tombstone it was over! Undertakers leap onto the Spanish announce table was memorable as well. It was slow a bit in the middle, but did a great job of getting Kane over as a monster and a serious threat to Taker, while keeping Taker’s invincibility alive.

 

We get a video package of the legends (Pat Patterson, Gorilla Monsoon, Freddie Blassie etc) putting over the current stars. It was a nice video package.

 

It’s main event time! Video package highlighting Mike Tyson’s career in boxing and his role in WWF so far. The moment when Tyson debuted, got into the ring with Vince and Austin interfered for the biggest shoving match in wrestling history was one of the most iconic scenes in company history. I’ll never forget JR’s epic “TYSON AND AUSTIN!” call. It was a huge deal. Later on, Tyson would join Michaels as a member of DX with Michaels & Hunter. Tyson was the guest enforcer for the match meaning he was outside the ring for the match.

 

Mike Tyson made his entrance wearing a DX shirt. His crotch chops were very awkward. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin made his entrance. One of the loudest pops I’ve ever heard in my life. It was an equivalent to an 80’s Hogan pop. This was a huge moment in Austin’s career and the crowd was there to support him. Michaels spoke to the camera backstage saying “This is for you Earl” because Earl Hebner was in the hospital at this time although he would return to the company.  It’s worth mentioning that both guys were coming off major injuries. Austin got dropped on his head by Owen Hart at Summerslam 1997 and he was out of action for a few months afterward. He had returned to full time action here, but he was definitely not at 100% health. He had to wrestle a different style. Michaels had a legit back injury going into this one. He was out of action for over a month because of it. I can only imagine how many painkillers he was on to try to get through this match. You could see how bloated his face was. I guess that’s because of all the different drugs he was hooked up on at the time.

 

WWF Championship

Special Guest Enforcer: Mike Tyson

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels © /w/ Triple H & Chyna

Shawn prances around a bit from the start, and that earns him the double bird from Austin. Shawn bails to the floor, and Austin chases. Back into the ring Shawn ducks a clothesline, but gets hit with one on the way back. Shawn gets rammed into the buckle, and tries to bail but Austin puts a stop to that with a handful of trunks. Austin then backdrops Shawn over the top with his bare ass exposed to the world. Something for the women, eh? Austin follows him to the floor, but HHH attacks from behind and rams him into the ringpost. The referee makes the call not to disqualify Shawn, but rather to eject HHH and Chyna. Austin goes after HHH and Chyna in the aisle, but turns into a clothesline from Shawn back by the DX band. Shawn delivers a shot with the cymbals from the drum set and then whips Austin into the dumpster. Shawn walks Austin back to the ring, and heads to the top rope.  Austin catches him with a shot on the way down, and Irish whips him into the corner. Shawn hits the ropes and runs into an inverted atomic drop for two. Austin grabs a wristlock, but Shawn gains control with a thumb to the eye. Shawn hits the ropes, but Austin catches him in a waist lock and drops him on the top rope. Austin goes for the stunner, but Shawn bails to the apron. Austin clotheslines Shawn onto the announce table and goes out after him. Austin fires Shawn into the ring steps and then sets him up on the apron delivering a pair of elbows. Back inside Austin deliver the FU elbow drop for a two count. Austin grabs a side headlock, but Shawn comes out of it with a jawbreaker. Shawn rolls to the floor, and he drags Austin to the ring post. Austin is able to pull back though sending Shawn face first into the post. Austin fires Shawn into the guardrail, and tries a charge but gets back dropped into the crowd. Shawn nails Austin with the ring bell sending Austin back over to the arena floor.

Shawn fires Austin back inside and delivers a double axe handle. Shawn mounts on top of Austin, you can really start to see how badly hurt Shawn is by his facial expressions. Shawn fires Austin into the buckle, and snap mares him back to the middle (Shawn yells out “fuck” because he was in so much pain at this point) before mounting again with a series of strikes. Shawn delivers a stomp to the gut of Austin, and stops to give the fans the double bird. That allows Austin to come storming back with a double leg takedown and a series of strikes before firing Shawn to the floor. Austin goes to follow him out, but Shawn takes the legs out from under him and drags him over to the ring post. Shawn posts Austin’s knee on the ring post three times, and heads back inside. Shawn drives the left knee of Austin into the mat, and follows up with a series of kicks to the injured knee. Shawn clearly looking very frustrated here as he continued to work through his back injury. Single leg takedown by Shawn sets up a figure four attempt, but Austin kicks off sending Shawn into the post. Austin rolls up for two, and Shawn goes right back on the offense driving Austin’s leg into the mat. Shawn sets Austin’s leg on the bottom rope, and drops down on it a few times. Austin rolls to the floor, but gets a baseball slide from Shawn sending him into the announce table. Tyson throws Austin back into the ring, and Shawn clips Austin’s knee. Shawn locks in a figure four leglock, and grabs the ropes for leverage. Austin eventually is able to roll the hold over, and Shawn gets to the ropes to break. Austin grabs a double leg take down and catapults Shawn into the ring post. A rollup gets two for Austin. He hits the ropes, but runs into a sleeper from Shawn. Austin backs Shawn into the corner, and the ref gets caught in the middle taking him out. Shawn charges at Austin, and gets thrown into the turnbuckle. Austin stomps a mudhole in the corner, and sends Shawn to the ropes delivering a backdrop. Shawn ducks a back elbow off the ropes and delivers a flying forearm. Shawn nips up and heads to the top rope delivering the elbow drop. Shawn starts to tune up the band, but Austin ducks the chin music. Austin goes for the stunner, but Shawn blocks that sending Austin to the ropes. Austin comes off the ropes and catches a boot from Shawn, spins him around, and this time delivers the stunner. Austin makes the cover, and Mike Tyson counts the three giving Austin his first World Title. Tyson’s three count was pretty fast, I guess Tyson got a little excited and it wasn’t a part of the match. The crowd was going wild for Austin’s win. Stone Cold was celebrating. He gave Mike Tyson an “Austin 3:16” t-shirt. Michaels woke up to tell him that he thought Tyson was with him. Michaels was arguing with him. He poked him in the chest, and then threw a right hand and Tyson decked him with a right hand of his own. Crowd loved that one too. Tyson draped an Austin 3:16 shirt over Michaels’ body

Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin via pinfall

Rating: *** ½

Two of my favourite wrestlers ever are Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin. This is a highly underrated match. Had both men been 100% I’d dare say that this match would have been a 5 star classic. No doubt about it. The inclusion of Tyson was done well. They didn’t ask him to do a lot but his post-match punch on Shawn drew a loud pop from the crowd. This was Austin’s best match post neck surgery. He had a good run of matches with Mick Foley after this but his neck problem would resurface again which would lead to more surgery in 2000. As for Shawn, he deserves heaps of praise for showing a lot of heart by working through with his back problems. You could see it on his face (and hear it when he swore) just how much pain he was in. It’s a historic match, because it kicked off the attitude era and gave Austin his first title, but it should be remembered for the performance of the Showstopper.

 

Post match, Austin and Tyson walked out of the arena together. A video package of highlights ended the show.

___________________________________________________________________________

Random thoughts

  • There’s a famous story going around surrounding the main event. The story suggested that Shawn was unwilling to wrestle because of his back problems and even suggested to have Hunter wrestle on his behalf, in other words, Shawn was unwilling to drop the title. The story goes that the Undertaker was giving Shawn menacing looks throughout the night as a way to threaten him in case he had any thoughts about not dropping the belt and he even went as far as saying “If you don’t drop the title, I’ll drop you!” Jim Cornette mentioned in a shoot interview that at the start of the match (Austin/Michaels), Undertaker taped up his firsts and sat in front of a TV to watch the match and once it was over, ‘Taker removed the tapes and left. I can imagine this being true because of the reputation Shawn had at the time but Shawn had always denied the allegation. In ’98, I was starting to read about wrestling on the Internet and I didn’t know Shawn had retired. I always thought he was taking a break much like what Bret did back in ’96. I honestly though he would never wrestle again. But I was wrong. Shawn returned in 2002 as a changed man with a different outlook on life.
  • The Boston crowd was excellent. Like all crowds during the Attitude Era, they were loud and got well involved with the matches especially during the main event. On behalf of Rif Rasslin’, I’d like to say “We love you Boston”.
  • Pete Rose’s promo was hilarious. He delivered it better than most wrestlers in the WWE today. You could tell that he was having a blast doing it and when Kane did the Tombstone on him, the fans went ape-shit over it. In 2004, Pete Rose became the first inductee into the Celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame, people may scoff it but I truly believed that Rose deserves the induction.
  • Speaking of Kane, he looked like such a scary badass by taking three tombstones from Undertaker. That’s how you book a new character strong from the beginning. The way they booked him the beginning was very smart. He may have had a few shitty storylines over the years (Katie Vick/ Kane vs. Kane) but between October 1997 throughout most of ’98, the Kane storyline was pretty frikken awesome!
  • What a turnaround for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson! He’s heel turn helped give his career the shot in the arm it so badly needed. The Rock was going from strength to strength after this and in a year’s time, he was main eventing Wrestlemania as the Champion. You have to give credit to Vince McMahon for believing in him so much when others would have given up on him.

 

Best Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold – They worked really hard despite their limitations.

Worst Match: 15 Team Battle Royal – Too many people in the ring at one time. Made it hard to follow at times.

Attitude Era Moment: “The Austin Era has begun”.

 

Top 5 Superstars

1. Shawn Michaels – Showed a lot of heart working through his back injury.

2. Stone Cold – He finally reached the mountain top. He would change the entire landscape of the Wrestling industry.

3. Mick Foley (Cactus Jack) – He took a lot of punishment and performed some sick bumps during his match. He and Funk did everything to make the Outlaws look great.

4. Triple H – Working with an elite worker like Owen Hart would be beneficial for his growth as a performer.

5. Owen Hart – One of the best performers in the company at the time. Showed heart as a babyface but he was a lot better as a heel though.

 

Superstar Rankings

Stone Cold – 29pts

Shawn Michaels – 28pts

Bret Hart – 18pts

Undertaker – 14pts

Mick Foley – 12pts

The Rock – 11pts

Triple H – 6pts

Owen Hart – 4pts

Taka Michinoku/ Ken Shamrock – 3pts

Vader/ D’Lo Brown– 2pts

British Bulldog/ Kane/ Terry Funk – 1pt

 

Overall Show Rating: (Out of 10): 8.5

I’d loved this show back in the day and I still love it today. Whilst there was no stand out classic match on this card, most of the matches were pretty good which leads to this being a very solid Wrestlemania. It’s a Wrestlemania that didn’t blew me away with its matches but what did impress me was the booking and solid ring work from everyone involved in the matches. I mentioned that this was an important show, did they deliver? Oh hell yeah!

 

Pay Per View Rankings

Wrestlemania 14 – 8.5

One Night Only – 7.5

Royal Rumble ’98 – 7

Summerslam ’97 – 6

No Way Out of Texas’ 98 – 5.5

Ground Zero – 4

Survivor Series ’97 – 4

Bad Blood – 3

D-Generation X – 2.5

 

Up Next: WWF Mayhem in Manchester

https://rifrasslin.wordpress.com/category/attitude-era-classics/

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