Wrestlemania Count-Up – #14: It’s Austin’s World And We’re Just Living In It

Wrestlemania 14
Date: March 29, 1998
Location: Fleetcenter, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 19,028
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross
America the Beautiful: Chris Warren

We have arrived in the Attitude Era full blast now. As of last year’s Wrestlemania, it was about as obvious as possible that Austin was going to be the guy that the company put itself on for the foreseeable future. Bret was gone due to Montreal and, we didn’t know it at the time, but Shawn was on his way out. This show was based completely around storyline with wrestling thrown in on the side.

The big deal at this show was Mike Tyson. Floyd Mayweather at last year’s show was nothing but a cheap imitation of this. Tyson being on the show was absolutely mind blowing at the time as he was one of the biggest names in the world. We all knew Austin would get the belt, but with Tyson there we wanted to see how he did it. The other feud was a mind blowing one as well with Kane vs. the Undertaker.

That feud is about as epic as you can get so I’ll go into the explanation for that when it’s time. This was the first show that was completely in the new era and it’s clear that the company was going in a new direction. You can see that in the very first match of the show. Before that though, we get an excellent video talking about how the new generation is killing off the tradition of Wrestlemania, but it questions if they really are doing so. Check it out if you get the chance. Where was I? Oh yes, let’s get to it.

The opening video is about how there’s a new era in the company. This era is full of brash young men that are fighting for the same title that Hogan and Sammartino had. Tonight instead of fighting history, they will become it. Cool opening video.

With no pyro or anything, it’s time for the first match.
Tag Team Battle Royal

Los Boricuas (Vega/Perez), Los Boricuas (Estrada/Castillo), Truth Commission, Bradshaw/Chainz, Nation of Domination (Henry/Brown), Nation of Domination (Farrooq/Kama), Quebecers, New Midnight Express (Bart Gunn and Bob Holly), Rock N Roll Express (original), Headbangers, Too Much (Too Cool), Disciples of Apocalypse, Steve Blackman/Flash Funk, Godwins, Legion of Doom 2000
This is for a title shot the following month at Unforgiven. The LOD is returning here, managed by the epitome of sex appeal, Sunny. If you ask most people here, Sunny was one of their first crushes. Just an absolute goddess. Anyway, this is a pretty big mess of a match. The rules are that if one man is eliminated, so is his partner. The RVD sign in the crowd amuses me. The crowd is going nuts for LOD, who were always ridiculously over.

We only see the intros of Farrooq/Kama and the LOD, more or less saying who the winners are automatically. Why there’s a remix of their song I have no idea. Anyway, Animal is in shorts now and Sunny is in very little. LOUD LOD chant starts up. Everyone starts on the floor so it’s a big brawl to start. Savio goes out. There isn’t much to say here as everything is a big mess with 30 people in the ring to start.

Kurrgan comes out and eliminates the Truth Commission. Barry Windham comes out to get rid of Chainz and Bradshaw. Thankfully that clears up a bit of space here. D’lo and Henry are out. The Quebecers are out. This is going so fast that you can’t keep up with anything at all. The original Express is out. This is annoying beyond belief.

Castillo and Estrada are out. Headbangers are out. Henry is still in there even though his partner is out. I have no idea who is left. Henry is gone finally. Too Much is gone and Lawler is mad. Uh the Godwins, the DOA, the LOD, New Midnights and that’s it. We slow WAY down and this is just boring.

The DOA is finally out. We went from like two eliminations a minute to one in three minutes. Ok the DOA is still in. Now the Godwins are out as is DOA. The Godwins get their buckets to drill LOD, making it harder for the new Midnights to pick them up and toss them as the LOD are now dead weight. Animal goes under the ropes but Hawk hangs on. I think you know the ending here. The LOD clean house and almost stereo eliminations give the old guys the win.

Rating: D-. This was awful. The ending was known far before the match ended, the eliminations were awful as they went far too fast, and there were WAY too many people in the ring at once with 30 being in there at the beginning. This team went nowhere for the most part but anytime Sunny looks like that you can’t call it a failure at all.
Light Heavyweight Championship: Taka Michinoku vs. Aguila

This is the epitome of filler. No one ever knew what to do with these guys so it would be Taka vs. random opponent of the month. This whole title was just a waste and I don’t think anyone missed it when it was exiled to Metal. It was clearly a response to the Crusierweights, but the problem was simple: most of the good cruiserweights were taken already.

Aside from Taka, the WWF guys had no personality, no substance to them at all, and were just dull. There was absolutely no structure to the division whatsoever. See what I’m doing here? I’m typing this out so I don’t have to be bored to death by this match. Dang it I have to watch it I guess. There was zero transition here at all either as we just start the match. No entrance for Taka either.

They slap hands to start and here we go. This is very much like the Moolah Women’s Title defenses back in the 70s and early 80s. Asai moonsault by Aguila who is only 19. We head to the floor for the second time tonight as Taka hits a huge plancha to take down Aguila.

We go into the ring and the fans go into their seats. No one cares about these guys and it’s pretty clear. There’s a reason why this division bombed and I’ve gone into it already. We go to the floor for the third time in less than three minutes. Taka counters for a bit but gets caught by a top rope armdrag.

Aguila does some great flips and we’re on the floor one more time. Nice corkscrew plancha by Aguila takes Taka down as we’re doing high spot, rest, high spot, rest, lather rinse repeat. Moonsault by Aguila gets two. Middle rope splash gets knees for Taka and the champion is in trouble. Michinoku Driver and a moonsault miss but Taka gets a counter with a dropkick and the second attempt at the Driver ends this.

Rating: D+. The match was fine but at the same time, this was rather pointless. It’s the definition of filler as there was no reason to care about any character. Only Taka got any kind of extended camera time and when the challengers are all gone a week later, why in the world should I get interested? The division never worked and those are some reasons why.

We see some woman that had something to do with Bill Clinton interviewing the Rock. This is completely hilarious as Rock is the most egomaniacal person of all time, saying that all the major issues like homelessness aren’t important as long as his lawn is clean. He’s the judge and jury and is always a hung jury, if you smell what he’s cooking. If my memory is right, that’s the debut of that line. He makes sex jokes about interns and is absolutely hilarious.

European Title: HHH vs. Owen Hart

This feud is a residual effect from Montreal. The time of HHH as leader of DX was on the horizon as was his face turn. That would lead to one of the best feuds of the late 90s between him and the Rock, culminating in an absolute war in the ladder match at Summerslam. Chris Warren and the DX Band play HHH to the ring. He’s champion here and Chyna will be handcuffed to Sgt. Slaughter, the commissioner, during the match.

We get a quick video of Owen’s bad ankle being destroyed by Chyna and losing the title to HHH as a result. Owen never got his big match with Shawn and was more or less buried and fed to HHH who moved on to bigger stuff. Owen was given the European Title after beating Goldust to keep him appeased but the writing was totally on the wall at that point.

Setting up the handcuffs takes FOREVER. Owen comes out and the fight is on in a hurry. Bret is actually mentioned here which is odd to hear indeed. Hurricanrana gets two. Owen was insane in the ring at times for someone his size. HHHHH gets in a shot to the knee and we hit the floor. Chyna tries to interfere but gets stopped cold by Slaughter.

Owen takes over again and we go back to the ring. Sharpshooter almost goes on but HHH rakes the eyes. Hart lowers his head and gets a facebuster because of it. Well if you do it that obviously you deserve to get a knee to the face. Crotch chop to Owen. Earl Hebner isn’t here tonight and is in intensive care for some reason. He’s watching Mania though, probably thinking of how to screw over Owen for a change.

Suplex by HHH gets no cover. Jerry screams at HHH to go for the ankle but it’s a Flair knee drop instead. DDT gets two. HHH finally goes after the ankle and the big beaked Canadian is screaming in pain. Owen’s nose is busted. More ankle work but Owen gets some shots in to take over a bit. He ducks a boot and slides HHH’s balls into the post. Get Stephanie stat!

Missile dropkick gets two as the ankle is ok enough for that I guess. Quick belly to belly gets two. Enziguri puts HHH down but it reinjures the ankle and down goes Owen. The delay allows HHH to kick out before the three. Rana is blocked into a powerbomb for two for HHH. Chyna keeps trying to interfere as Owen gets a cross body for two.

Pedigree is blocked into another Sharpshooter attempt but Owen manages to fall on the little Pedigrees again for two. Owen lowers his head again and almost gets caught in the Pedigree again. Instead it’s reversed into the Sharpshooter but Chyna is able to pull HHH to the ropes even with Sarge out there. That’s rather impressive. Chyna gets some white powder from somewhere (read as Waltman) and throws it in Slaughter’s eyes. A low blow to Owen lets HHH hit the Pedigree to end it.

Rating: B-. This was a pretty solid match but they needed a few more minutes. Also the cheating at the end made the Slaughter aspect completely pointless. It’s good but there’s just not enough there to warrant a higher grade. I liked it though as Owen and HHH were both good in the ring with HHH being a shell of what he would become.

Chyna beats up Slaughter post match to a big pop just because she can.

Apparently we have some technical difficulties as Vince should be checked for a heart attack. I didn’t notice anything.

We recap Sable vs. Mero with him being starved for attention while Sable became a star. He got Goldust and Luna to help him in some weird way. This was one of the weirder angles in the early Attitude Era which is saying a lot. Luna wanted to make Sable ugly and Mero defended her, bringing Goldie into it. This takes like three minutes to explain.

Marc Mero/Sable vs. Luna and Goldust

Oh he’s the Artist Formerly Known as Goldust here. I lay corrected. Mero is a boxer character here which mirrors his real life background. Goldie is of course dressed in a ridiculous outfit. Sable and Luna want to start us off. Sable is about as clueless as you could ask for. Remember that as I’ll get back to it later. Actually the guys start us off as the genitalia have to match here.

Off to the women as Sable gets a loud pop. Luna runs and the chase is on. Luna gets back in the ring and tags out so it’s back to the men. Mero backdrops Goldust and it’s off to Sable and Luna. Luna of course hides again like the heel she is so it’s back to Mero and Goldie again. You may notice Sable is doing NOTHING here.

Goldust gets a clothesline out of the corner to put Mero down and take over for a bit. Both guys go for cross bodies and it’s Goldust taking over again. The fans want Sable and I can’t say I blame them. She does look good here. Sable finally comes in to fight Luna and hammers away. She’s incredibly sloppy and fires “martial arts” kicks. Goldie gets drilled also and Luna is reeling.

She manages to get the tag off to Goldie so Sable hits him too. Mero beats on Goldust on the floor but can’t get a slingshot splash to come back in. Sable distracts the referee and Mero gets a low blow. TKO is countered into a DDT for two. Curtain call is reversed and Mero gets a running knee lift and a moonsault press for two. Top rope rana gets two and a rollup from heel miscommunication does the same.

TKO isn’t as crisp as it should be but Luna saves. Sable tags herself in and tries to pin Goldust. Luna misses a splash and Sable debuts her powerbomb to get two. See, for a big move like that it should END THE MATCH. Instead she ends it a few seconds later with a bad TKO.

Rating: C. Not a bad match here considering the star was Sable and Mero vs. Goldust was the core of this. While the did the lifting here, that still gives us the logical conclusion. Of course Sable gets the glory here by being told she’s such a great wrestler. This led to a somewhat sad story actually. After this match, Luna, a long since established veteran, claims that Sable refused to learn how to take bumps and would only get punched or slapped while Luna did all the work.

After the match, Sable was congratulated by everyone while Luna was left completely alone, with the exception of one person telling her she did well: Owen Hart. If you watch the match, you can see that Sable is completely clueless and is only able to do the two big moves that she knew. Other than that it’s all Luna. Also, Luna had always wanted to be the Women’s Champion, yet never got it because of Sable. A very sad story to me.

Jeff Jarrett and that woman from the Rock interview are presented to the crowd in a total waste of time. Oh and Tennessee Lee, the promoter of Jeff Jarrett, introduces them. He’s more famous as Colonel Robert Parker in WCW. Thank goodness the Nation of Domination’s music plays to hurry this along.

Intercontinental Title: The Rock vs. Ken Shamrock

This was an interesting little feud here. Shamrock was built up to be this fighting machine that had Rock’s number. Recently, Rock had gotten under Farooq’s, the leader of the Nation, skin, claiming that he, the Rock, was the reason for the group’s success. Four members of the Nation including the Rock are at ringside to face Shamrock. God that woman’s voice is annoying. Flowers is doing the announcing if you didn’t get that.

Shamrock really was sweet at what he did. He knew how to fight and he made sure you knew it. While never a great wrestler, he was completely legit and it made him that much more impressive sounding. Rock’s heritage is explained for the ten thousandth time, without it once being explained why his last name was Maivia and his father’s last name was Johnson.

It’s so weird because I’m watching Raw leading up to this as well as this show today so it’s kind of intriguing to see every little bit that set this up. Shamrock had been owning Rock recently and had let Rock get a clean chairshot which would get them fired today. Also Rock hit Farrooq with a chair for no apparent reason.

Shamrock sprints to the ring and it’s on. Rock ducks a lot of punches but gets kicked in the head to take him down. If Rock gets disqualified he loses the title. After some brawling on the floor it’s back in the ring and all Shamrock. The Nation interferes a bit to give Rock control as he sends Shamrock into the steps.

People’s Elbow isn’t quite of the people yet but it’s still good for two. Shamrock is up quickly, likely because it’s just an elbow. Rock is sent to the floor one more time and Shamrock grabs a chair. He shoves the referee down and Rock gets a BIG chair shot to the head for two. That was absolutely sick and is a great example of why those can be a bad thing. Shamrock does his usual stuff, grabs the ankle lock (yes, KEN SHAMROCK brought it to American pro wrestling, not Kurt Angle) for the quick tap to win the title!

Rating: C+. This was very quick but it did the job it was supposed to. Shamrock looked like an animal here and he massacred Rock with relative ease. When it was one on one Rock was completely overmatched and had to cheat to get anything going. The quick tap out was nice also.

Post match the Nation attacks and Shamrock fights them all off. Shamrock grabs the ankle lock again as Farrooq comes down. He looks at Rock and just walks away, more or less turning face. Shamrock grabs the hold again as referees and officials come down. They get their beatings too and Rock is taken out on a stretcher.

Shamrock’s eyes are FREAKY. Due to the beatings, the decision is reversed and Rock keeps the title. He goes after Rock and beats on him even more. Rock wouldn’t lose the title until August at Summerslam and Shamrock wouldn’t get it until October.

The WWF guys say they’re real athletes, which is true.

There’s a gate record tonight as there has never been a more lucrative event in this city. I find that hard to believe with Patriot games or Red Sox games.

Tag Titles: Cactus Jack/Chainsaw Charlie vs. New Ago Outlaws

The backstory here is simple. Jack was feuding with the Outlaws and got tired of getting beaten up, so he got his friend Charlie, a.k.a. Terry Funk to help him. Eventually the Outlaws threw them in a dumpster and threw them off the stage. This match for the tag titles is the result of that act. It’s dumpster match which means you have to put both guys in the dumpster.

Road Dogg is getting the entrance there but doesn’t quite have it yet since they’re not in DX yet. There’s a dumpster at ringside. This is far more of a brawl than a match as you would expect. They hit the floor immediately and the beating is on. It’s Cactus vs. Road Dogg and Funk vs. Gunn. Cactus tries a flip at Road Dogg but bounces off the dumpster instead.

The Outlaws are in control early and manage to get Funk into the dumpster. Roadie hits a Russian Leg Sweep to ram Cactus’ head into the dumpster. That was SICK. The Outlaws slam the lids of the dumpster on the back of the heads of their challengers. Cactus is in the dumpster while Funk is abused. Both challengers are in now and Gunn celebrates but Cactus gets up and gets a double Mandible Claw. They couldn’t shut the lid so the match isn’t over.

Funk pops out of the dumpster with a cookie sheet to hammer away some more. Cactus and Funk take turns giving neckbreakers to Road Dogg as this is a total brawl. Cactus Elbow with a cookie sheet to Gunn on the floor. He looks for more toys and finds a ladder. Oh dear. Cactus and Billy climb it for no apparent reason and get launched into the dumpster.

They both get out but Funk is powerbombed into it by Billy. The Outlaws take Cactus to the back and we don’t have a camera there so we see some replays. Ah there’s a shot in the back with Cactus falling into everything. After being thrown into some massive soda bottles, Cactus finds a chair to even the odds. He puts both Outlaws on a forklift which Funk commandeers to put them in a dumpster to win the titles.

Rating: C+. Hard one to grade here as it was a total mess to say the least. That being said, the challengers worked VERY hard out there and it’s not like the Outlaws ever wrestled anyway. The ending would come into play the next night on raw as the Outlaws would get the decision overturned because they were put into the wrong dumpster. Later that night, the company just happened to have a steel cage handy so the titles were on the line in a cage match. DX interfered, giving the titles to the Outlaws, who finally joined DX.

Now we get to the real stuff on this card. This whole show was built around two matches: the WWF Title match, and this one right here. In what might have been the best booked “silly” feud of all time, the Undertaker was set to do battle with his brother Kane. My God this was built up perfectly. Sit back, because this is a long backstory.

After Paul Bearer betrayed Taker at Summerslam 96, Taker was going after him. Midway through the previous year when Taker was WWF Champion, he feuded with Mankind, managed by Bearer. During that feud, Bearer mentioned the name Kane. This drove Taker insane as he kept trying to cover up what this name meant. Finally Bearer revealed that it was Taker’s brother, and that Taker attempted to kill him.

This led to Bearer eventually saying that when Taker’s parents were killed in a fire, the Undertaker was the person that started the fire in an attempt to kill his parents. What wasn’t known was that his brother was in the house with them. Taker says that it was an accident and that he tried to rescue them but firefighters held him back. Bearer would go on to reveal that he was in fact Kane’s father.

This results in one of the worst beatings ever recorded on WWF television, but it ends with Paul saying that it’s the truth and that Kane told him, because Kane was still alive. Apparently Paul rescued him from the fire and cared for him for the last 20 years, which was unknown to Taker.

This was all revealed over a several month long period of time. Finally, in August, Taker was facing Shawn Michaels in the first ever Hell in a Cell match. Shawn gets one of the worst beatings of all time, but as Taker signals for the Tombstone, the lights go out and we hear organ music. An explosion goes off and a 7ft giant walks through the curtain, accompanied by Paul Bearer.

Taker is stunned as this man rips the door to the cage off and tombstones Taker, allowing Shawn to pin him. There was one key to this whole thing that made it work to me: for probably 3 months, you only heard about Kane. Until the night of the Cell match, you never saw him.

You didn’t know what he looked like, you didn’t know how he dressed, you didn’t know how big he was. You knew absolutely nothing at all but what you heard. All you knew was he was the Undertaker’s brother. After all the buildup you got about him, no matter what he looked like when you finally saw him, he was going to be awesome. That my friends, is how you build up a character.

Anyway, Kane of course wants to fight his brother. In the interest of ratings, Taker says no way. Kane begins just destroying people left and right, including two brothers named Matt and Jeff. They never did anything after that I don’t think. Kane would randomly run in and beat people up, all while begging the Undertaker to fight him.

He would come to the ring and beat up his brother, but Taker kept insisting he couldn’t fight his own flesh and blood. Kane punched him one night and raised him hand to do it again, but Taker blocked it. The crowd went nuts over him simply raising him arm. Taker didn’t fight back though and got beaten up again.

Finally, Taker and Shawn were feuding again, leading up to the Rumble. HHH kept interfering, but one night, out of absolutely nowhere, Kane helped his brother. That Sunday at the Rumble, Taker was gang attacked and Kane came out. However, he beat up his brother and shut him in the casket, costing him the match. Kane then locked it shut and set it on fire.

However, after this occurred, it was revealed that the casket was empty, prompting Paul Bearer to be absolutely terrified, knowing that Taker was still alive somewhere. Kane continued to ravage the company, until one night on Raw, the arena was covered by a blue light, and druids brought out a body on a pedestal. A bolt of lightning hit it, and the man on it rose up, revealing himself to be the Undertaker himself.

In a completely over the top yet still amazing promo, the Deadman said he will gain his revenge on his little brother, accepting his challenge for Wrestlemania. The next week on Raw, Kane was in the ring having called out his brother, yet instead Taker appeared on top of the titantron, talking about how Kane would feel his wrath. Taker then threw a lightning bolt at the stage, igniting a coffin that was standing up. Inside was an effigy of Kane, that began burning.

And that finally leads us to this. The video on the PPV took over five minutes so you know this was a long story.
Kane vs. The Undertaker

Before the match, Pete Rose appears, insulting Boston. Kane then comes out and tombstones Pete Rose, starting a three year running joke feud between the two which was rather funny in my eyes. This was kind of funny but went on too long. Rose sounds drunk too. Also, was there a need to make Kane a face for 8 seconds like that? Anyway, JR puts it just right: as Taker is about to appear, JR says, “This ovation will be not of this world.” He couldn’t’ have been more correct.

The fans all have their lighters out, they’re going crazy, Taker has a line of druids all holding up torches which he walks under, the lightning, the thunder, the smoke, and Taker dressed in his demonic attire. It was absolutely amazing looking and finally the pair face off in the middle of the ring. This is still the best entrance of his I’ve ever seen. This match might have the best build up I’ve ever seen, which is covering a lot of ground.

Taker’s offense is no sold to start which is going to be something you read a lot in this review. Kane launches him into the corner but Taker keeps moving. Almost all Taker so far. Short clothesline by Kane but Taker pops up. Kane gets him in a Tombstone position but rams him into the buckle instead. You have to remember this is maybe the fifth match Kane had in this gimmick, at least two of which had been squashes. This isn’t something he’s used to yet.

Kane takes over and we slow things WAY down. These two seem incapable of having a good match for some reason. Taker winds up on Kane’s shoulders so Kane shoves him face first into the mat. Well kind of as it didn’t go like it was supposed to but you get the idea.

Out to the floor now as Taker is dropped across the railing. Kane drops the steps on Taker’s back as Bearer has the referee. The steps make a big sound and hit the referee in the leg, yet somehow the referee doesn’t call a DQ. Makes sense right? Taker is apparently trying to get Kane to punch himself out. Chokeslam gets two as Kane pulls his brother up.

We hit the chinlock. Now let’s time this as it goes on for FAR too long overall. Yet again we get the beginning of the Streak wrong, saying it started at Mania 8 instead of 7. Minute and a half on this particular chinlock until Taker breaks it up. A clothesline puts the more successful one down and it’s back to the chinlock. Just a minute this time as Taker lifts Kane up and puts him on the apron.

A big boot finally puts Kane on the floor. Taker dives over the ropes but Kane casually steps to the side and lets Taker crash into the table. Top rope clothesline puts Taker down again for two. You ever notice that everyone manhandles Taker better than the previous guy he fought?

Out of nowhere Taker grabs a Tombstone but Kane reverses into one of his own for a long two count. The crowd is barely alive for this by the way. Taker starts firing punches in and a big shot takes Kane down. Big boot is blocked so Taker has to settle for the Chokeslam. Taker gets the Tombstone but KANE KICKS OUT. This was unheard of as I don’t think that had ever been done.

Kane pops up so Taker has to hit a second Tombstone which AGAIN only gets two. Bearer is clutching his chest as he curses Undertaker. Taker goes up and hits a top rope clothesline to put Kane down one more time. The THIRD Tombstone finally gets the pin as he hooks a leg and Kane kicked out at about 3.1.

Rating: D+. While not great from a technical standpoint, this match’s build up was out of this world. A fine example of the hype carrying a match rather than the in ring work. The streak is beginning to mean something now as it reaches 7-0, although I don’t think that’s mentioned for another three years. The match itself more or less sucked, but the buildup was there and enough to make it passable. Cut about 5 minutes out of this and it goes WAY up.

Kane beats up Taker with a chair post match including a Tombstone on it.

We recap Austin vs. Shawn. Basically there’s not much build up here. Austin won the Rumble and got the title shot. On Raw one night, Vince had Mike Tyson show up as a guest, but Austin got in his face, flipping him off and starting a fight. This is what planted the seeds for the Austin vs. McMahon war that went on for nearly two years. Tyson is named the enforcer referee for the title match, but joins DX in between. It was his involvement with Austin that is credited with putting the WWF over the top of WCW, so in the end this was a great move.
WWF World Title: Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels

If you didn’t get that, Mike Tyson is a guest referee and allegedly in Michaels’ pocket. Yep Austin is over. Austin and Tyson immediately get in each other’s faces. Tyson is actually the outside referee here which is probably better. He grabs at Austin’s foot just after the bell. As JR says, it don’t get no bigger than this. Austin flips Shawn off as we’re waiting around a bit before we get going.

Shawn scores with some fast punches and then runs like an intelligent lad. Here comes Austin though and we get the Heart Break Tights Lowering. Austin goes for the knee, I guess trying to get rid of Sweet Chin Music. Shawn, with his tights still down, gets backdropped onto DX on the floor.

HHH jumps Austin on the floor but the referee doesn’t disqualify Shawn due to it being too easy of a way out. HHH and Chyna are sent to the back to a huge pop. Austin beats up HHH by the band area because he can. Shawn drills him with a clothesline for hurting his life partner though as this is your standard Attitude Era brawl.

Back in the ring Shawn gets caught coming off the top and here comes Austin again. Flair flip in the corner and Shawn is more or less dead. Atomic drop gets two for the bald one. Austin knocks him off the apron and Shawn’s head smacks into the table. That looked sick. Austin hammers away and the elbow gets two.

We hit the chinlock as it’s clear Shawn is far weaker than he usually would be. Shawn fights back though and it’s time for the ring post. Austin pulls Shawn in and Shawn’s head rams the post instead. Nice and simple counter there. We hit the floor and Austin is sent into the crowd via a backdrop. Shawn pops him in the head with the bell which the referee didn’t see. Tyson did though and is like “I want a new rubber duckie. I’ll name it Albert and I can bite his head off in the tub!”

Back in the ring with Shawn dominating completely. He hammers away on Austin while Tyson cheers Shawn on. Shawn flips off the crowd and limps around the ring. Austin gets a kind of spear and hammers away. Shawn goes flying to the floor again and his back must just be dead. He gets the leg of Austin around the post though to reestablish his dominance.

Shawn works on the knee for a good while as he’s trying to take away the Stunner I guess. That makes sense. According to JR that’s what he’s doing at least. Austin gets knocked into the table by Shawn and Tyson throws him back in. Here’s the Figure Four from Shawn as he channels his inner other old crippled dude.

The hold goes on for a good while but Austin reverses and Shawn lets it go. Austin catapults him into the post for two and it’s time for a sleeper from Shawn. Naturally the referee is bumped and Austin hammers away. Shawn gets the forearm (minus the jump but I can accept that) and nips up.

Top rope elbow looks to kill Austin but there’s no striped shirt wearing referee. Shawn starts to tune up the band as his face looks horrible from the pain in his back. Austin ducks the kick, Shawn blocks the Stunner, Austin catches the kick, Stunner, Tyson slides in and Austin wins his first title! JR: “The Austin Era has begun.” Perfect description. Tyson puts on an Austin shirt and knocks Shawn the heck out to end the show.

Rating: B+. We all pretty much knew who was going to win here, but we watched to see how Tyson would play in and how Austin would do it. Looking back now and knowing how much pain Shawn was in because of his back, this match goes way up in impressiveness for me.

You can tell when Shawn is selling and when he’s in real pain and it’s good to see that despite Shawn being a complete jerk backstage, he would go out and perform despite the pain he was in. I don’t care how big of a jerk he was, that takes guts. This match pretty much comes down to who is going to hit their big move first.

The match itself is much better than I remember it being. That’s not saying much because I, like most people, barely remember it. We all know the ending and the buildup, but that’s about it. Good, underrated match.­

Overall Rating: B+. If there’s ever been a show where the torch was completely passed, you’re looking at it. Austin winning the title finally is as about as important of an event as you can possibly have in company history. It launched the WWF ahead of WCW in the war, although that wouldn’t be official for a few more weeks, and it was also the last time Shawn would wrestle for nearly 5 years.

However, even with the Taker match, the solid work elsewhere and only two bad matches, you really do have an all around solid show. It’s not great, but it’s certainly worth checking out. Skip the Light Heavyweight match and about five minutes of Taker/Kane and you’ll love the rest of it in theory.

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