Wrestling Recap [3:16 Day]: Austin vs. McMahon (St. Valentine’s Day Massacre)

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“Talk about your psalms, talk about “John 3:16”…
Austin 3:16 says I just whupped your ass!”

With those immortal words, spoken by the legendary pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin after winning the King of the Ring tournament on 23 June 1996, a momentous wrestling career unfolded that would see everyone’s favourite beer-swigging, finger-gesturing anti-hero become not just an industry icon but a mainstream icon as well. Here’s to yah, Steve!

The Date: 14 February 1999
The Venue: Memphis Pyramid; Memphis, Tennessee
The Commentary: Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler
The Referee: Mike Chioda
The Stakes: Main event steel cage match to decide Austin’s WrestleMania fate

The Build-Up:
Ask any wrestling fan and they’ll tell you about the ratings war between the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and one of the greatest feuds of the WWF’s “Attitude Era”: the rivalry between the loud-mouthed, anti-authority “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and WWF Chairman Vince McMahon. After the infamous “Montreal Screwjob” saw Bret “The Hitman” Hart leave the WWF, McMahon’s evil “Mr. McMahon” authority figure frequently clashed with Austin’s rebellious ways. McMahon consolidated his power by ensuring that The Rock captured the WWF Championship and reigned supreme as the “Corporate Champion”, and personally ensured that Austin’s goal of recapturing the belt at WrestleMania XV: The Ragin’ Climax wouldn’t come to fruition by winning the annual Royal Rumble for himself! However, as he was a businessman and figurehead rather than a full-time wrestler, McMahon’s victory was forfeited and Steve Austin was awarded the WrestleMania XV match by default. Enraged, McMahon had only one option left; he goaded Austin into getting what he really wanted, a one-on-one match with the WWF Chairman (inside a steel cage, no less!), if Austin would put his WrestleMania opportunity on the line. Thus, after months of drama, tension, and confrontations between the two, the stage was finally set for Steve Austin and Vince McMahon to face-off for the first time.

The Match:
It’s easy to forget these days, in an era where World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) likes to push that crowds have mixed reactions to their top guys, just how absolutely white-hot Steve Austin was back in the day; anticipation would build in arenas to a fever pitch and then the people would literally explode into rapturous applause and non-stop cheering once they heard that familiar glass shattering, and that was more than evident in this match when Austin made his way down to the ring. Interestingly, as unanimous as the crowd’s support for Austin was here, they don’t exactly descend into a chorus of boos for Mr. McMahon’s entrance; instead, there was largely a feeling of apathy, potentially because they were just itching to see the WWF Chairman finally get his ass handed to him despite the fact that he was jacked up to the nines! Something else worth noting here is that this is the old black-bar cage, before the WWE switched to the much safer and more forgiving mesh-style cages, which not only makes it a lot easier for the competitors to climb (Austin perched himself at the top of the cage to beckon McMahon in) but also much more hazardous to their health.

McMahon taunted Austin and they brawled at ringside before the chairman crashed through the announce table!

Of course, Austin was practically frothing at the mouth as McMahon approached the cage, desperate for his hated rival to get into the ring, but McMahon purposely made him wait by loitering at ringside and taking his sweet time to enter. Naturally, this whipped the crowd into an uproar and incensed Austin, who chased the chairman around the ringside area before the two get into a bit of a slap fight on the cage wall. After toying with each other for a bit, Austin took a tumble to the floor and seemed to twist his ankle. Delighted, McMahon left the cage to try and capitalise on Austin’s injury, only to walk right into a trap! Austin decked McMahon with a clothesline and pummelled him across the announce table, slamming him into the steel cage, and then choking him out with a piece of extension cord. Firmly in control, Austin dumped McMahon over the barricade and put a beating on him in the crowd, refuelling with a cheeky brewski before running McMahon into the steel stairs. McMahon mounted a comeback, however, with a cheap shot and then lured Austin into the crowd for a brawl. McMahon tried to escape amidst the sea of people, but Austin caught him and dragged him back to ringside, slamming him into the barricade and the cage bars over and over, yanking the boss down from the cage when he tried to climb to safety and stomping right on his crotch. When McMahon tried one more time to climb into the ring and escape Austin’s wrath, Austin followed him and, after a bit of back and forth, knocked Vince from the cage and sent him crashing through the Spanish announce table!

McMahon continued to goad Austin and was left a bloody, beaten mess as a result.

Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler prattled on about how shocked and concerned they were at how quickly the match had turned brutal, and the doctors and referees rushed down to ringside to strap Vince onto a stretcher; when Howard Finkel tried to announce Austin as the winner by default (despite the match not having officially started yet), Austin cut him off and demanded that the match continue. Austin commandeered the stretcher and drove the helpless McMahon into the steel cage, pummelling him with the back board, and finally tossing him into the ring so the match can officially begin. The minute the bell rang, Austin wrecked McMahon with a clothesline, ripped off his neck brace, and decimated the defenceless chairman with repeated second-rope elbow drops. Seemingly satisfied, Austin went to leave via the door but McMahon goaded his rival back into the ring by flipping him the bird, receiving Austin’s trademark mudhole stomps in the corner for his troubles. However, McMahon managed to turn things around with a low blow and tried to clamber out of the cage, but Austin recovered fast enough to stop him and fling him back into the ring from the top of the cage wall. The crowd was loving it as Austin rammed McMahon into the cage wall over and over, busting him open and leaving him a bloody mess, but Vince continued to flip Austin off and stop him from leaving the ring. Incensed, Austin returned to the ring and left the chairman a bloody, crumpled heap.

Things come to a blessed and dramatic end when Paul Wight accidentally awarded Austin the victory.

The glorified brawl started to drag a bit as McMahon was completely helpless and fell victim to a big Stone Cold Stunner. However, Austin was so distracted with taunting his bloodied foe that he didn’t notice Paul Wight literally bursting up from under the ring right behind him! The massive giant manhandled Austin, launching him into the cage walls and helping McMahon to his feet so he can taunt his surprised rival. McMahon demanded that Wight throw Austin into the cage wall one more time, desperate for some retribution, but this proved to be his downfall as Wight’s throw was of such force that the cage wall breaks open, which allowed Austin to tumble out to the floor and be declared the winner. Wight was seething and McMahon was absolutely distraught that his grand plan had failed; Austin won the match and secured his WrestleMania championship match after a pretty lacklustre contest. Obviously, I don’t expect too much from Vince McMahon; the guy’s built and clearly know how to take a bump, but his role in his matches is simply to wind up his opponent (and the crowd), take as many cheap shots and shortcuts as possible, and to get the living shit kicked out of him and that’s definitely what happens here but it’s also a whole lot of stalling and mindless brawling. The match really didn’t do too much with the steel cage, and the guys were hardly even in it that much, so the gimmick ends up being a prop for some blood and Austin’s dramatic victory at the end. I think that match might’ve been paced a bit better if we hadn’t had the whole stretcher spot and the longer brawl in the crowd, and this was little more than a drawn out beatdown of a largely defenceless middle-aged man notable primarily for being their first time in the ring together and Paul Wight’s big debut, meaning that you could probably just watch a five minute highlight and see everything this match has to offer.

The Aftermath:
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre would end up being the last In Your House event as the WWF changed to permanent pay-per-view names with Backlash the following April, and the In Your House concept wouldn’t be seen again until 2020. Of course, the big story coming out of this match was the addition of Paul Wight to McMahon’s Corporation stable; soon renamed the Big Show, Wight began a tumultuous career flip-flopping between being a good guy and a bad guy depending on the situation and storyline. The Big Show ended up getting into a rivalry with Mankind over which one of them would be the special guest referee for the WWF Championship match at WrestleMania XV, with Mankind winning the match by disqualification and the Big Show seemingly turning against McMahon after being berated for his loss. Austin, of course, went on to have the first of three WrestleMania matches against the Rock, capturing the WWF Championship in the process, and continuing to feud with the Rock, McMahon, and the Corporation in the months that followed. McMahon’s issues with Austin would continue to escalate, leading to the WWF Chairman forging an alliance with the Undertaker to try and get the belt off the Texas Rattlesnake, which ultimately saw McMahon being forced off WWF television for some time as he continued to put more and more on the line in an effort to out Austin. Ultimately, their feud would be abruptly cut off after Austin took time off for neck surgery, but their paths would continually cross as they entered an ill-advised alliance and butted heads continuously even after Austin’s official in-ring retirement.

My Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Could Be Better

What did you think to the contest between Steve Austin and Vince McMahon at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre? Which of their encounters, matches, and moments is your favourite? What did you think to Paul Wight’s shocking debut? How are you celebrating 3:16 Day this year, what are some of your favourite matches and moments from Austin’s illustrious career, and what dream match would you have liked to see him involved in? Whatever your thoughts, share them below or drop a comment on my social media to let me know what you think about “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

Wrestling Recap [3:16 Day]: HBK vs. Austin (WrestleMania XIV)

“Talk about your psalms, talk about “John 3:16”…Austin 3:16 says I just whupped your ass!”

With those immortal words, spoken by the legendary pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin after winning the King of the Ring tournament on 23 June 1996, a momentous wrestling career was about to unfold before our eyes that would see everyone’s favourite beer-swigging, finger-gesturing anti-hero become not just an industry icon but a mainstream icon as well. Here’s to yah, Steve!

The Date: 29 March 1998
The Venue: FleetCenter; Boston, Massachusetts
The Commentary: Jim “J.R.” Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler
The Referee: Mike Chioda, with “Iron” Mike Tyson as the special enforcer
The Stakes: Main event singles match for the WWF Championship

The Build-Up:
As any self-respecting wrestling fan will tell you, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) was clawing back to prominence in 1999; after being beaten in the weekly ratings by World Championship Wrestling’s (WCW) Monday Nitro in the weekly television ratings for nearly two years, the WWF’s “Attitude Era” kept fans glued to the product, many of whom were deeply invested in the rivalry between the loud-mouthed, anti-authority “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and WWF Chairman Vince McMahon. Another crucial factor in getting eyes back on McMahon’s product was the outrageous antics of D-Generation X, a group of wrestlers led by then-current champion, the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels, who wielded incredible backstage influence and whose members were often involved in some of the WWF’s most controversial storylines.

The drama in the ring was reflected backstage as questions lingered regarding HBK’s professionalism.

After the infamous “Montreal Screwjob” saw Bret “The Hitman” Hart part ways with the WWF, McMahon appeared on television more frequently as the evil “Mr. McMahon” and frequently clashed with Austin’s rebellious ways. Hot off a feud with The Rock over the Intercontinental Championship, and despite McMahon’s efforts, Austin won a shot at the big belt, and a slot in the main event of WrestleMania XIV (also billed as WrestleMania X-raided) by winning the Royal Rumble event. He further raised the ire of the chairman when he publicly insulted legendary boxer Mike Tyson on an episode of Raw Is War, though the deck appeared to be stacked against Austin as Tyson revealed himself to be in league with D-Generation X. There was also a great deal of behind the scenes drama surrounding this match as, at the time, Shawn had a bit of a reputation for being unprofessional and, despite nursing a legitimate back injury that would scupper his career for some time, there was some doubt as to whether he would actually lay down for Austin as planned, to the point where the Undertaker was prepared to take matters into his own hands if necessary.

The Match:
Fans today would probably hate the promo package for this match as the majority of it was focused entirely on “The Baddest Man on the Planet” and his status as the special enforcer for the match. No doubt, Mike Tyson was a massive get back in the day and really helped to put more eyes on the product; for me, this is the kind of mainstream star you want involved in wrestling, not fly-by-night pop/rap stars, but then again what the hell for I know? Anyway, yeah, the package emphasises not only that Tyson is an absolute bad-ass but that he is D-X through-and-through and Austin barely features at all in it which, considering he was white-hot at this time, I can only assume is all part of the larger story of McMahon not wanting to put any spotlight on Austin and his rebellious ways.

The deck was stacked against Austin as HBK had every advantage going into the match.

Tyson, garbed in a D-X shirt, is the first to enter the ring and clearly seems to be enjoying his involvement with the product, which is always good to see. The crowd is, however, largely apathetic towards Tyson, especially once they catch a glimpse of Austin prowling around backstage, to say nothing of when his iconic glass shatters and he makes his way to the ring. After performing his signature rope taunt, Austin immediately gets all up in Tyson’s face, establishing right away that he isn’t afraid of or intimidated by Iron Mike. Shawn Michaels, “the greatest champion of all time” according to J.R., then makes a grandiose entrance; accompanied by some chump named Triple H (who was the WWF European Champion at the time) and Chyna and played to the ring by the Chris Warren D-X band, he expertly played the role of the cocky, arrogant heel by dancing about and wearing the smuggest grin on his face. And why not? Not only did he have the muscle in his corner, Tyson was also in his pocket so he had every advantage in the world except for the unanimous crowd support that Austin received. Tyson makes his presence known from the moment the bell rings by nonchalantly swiping at Austin’s ankles as he (as in Austin) is pacing the ring; when HBK hops about and taunts Austin, Austin gives him the traditional two-finger salute but HBK’s game plan, early on, is to wind Austin up into a frenzy by ducking and jiving away from him. Austin, however, puts a stop to that by throwing some punches in the corner, yanking down Shawn’s tights to expose his ass (much to the delight of the crowd), and finally tossing him out of the ring and into his D-X buddies.

A great deal of the match involves the two brawling on the outside.

When Austin follows to press his attack, he is assaulted by Triple H and tossed into the metal barricade. For his efforts, referee Mike Chioda has Shawn’s running buddies ejected from ringside. All of this was still enough for HBK to gain the advantage and a ringside brawl ensues that sees Shawn slam Austin with the band’s equipment and toss him into a dumpster but, the moment they get back into the ring, Austin regains control by countering HBK’s driving axe-handle and whipping the WWF Champion into a corner for Shawn’s signature flip spot. Austin starts to work on Shawn’s arm with a series of stomps; he shuts down Shawn’s speedy offense by dumping him into the ropes but, though he takes a dive to the outside and onto the table, HBK is still wily enough to avoid being hit with the Stone Cold Stunner. Austin presses his advantage, putting a beating on Shawn and going for a series of pins before wearing Shawn down with a headlock. Seems a bit early into the match for a rest hold but, considering Shawn’s injury and the bumps he’s already taken, it’s perhaps not surprising. HBK counters out of the hold and is finally able to gain some momentum by enduring a beating and walloping Austin in the face with the ring bell, which the referee conveniently misses.

The pace is a bit all over the place, possibly because of Shawn’s injury, making for quite a dull match.

Back in the ring, HBK starts working over Austin’s head despite clearing struggling with the pain of his back injury; more uninspired and slow-paced holds and moves follow before Austin springs back to life, tackles HBK, and tosses him outside again! HBK recovers and starts smacking Austin’s left leg and knee off the ring post and the steel steps, as though the match needs to slow down any more, and continues the assault when he gets back in the ring to put Austin’s leg through the wringer for a bit. Austin surprises HBK with a kick up the ass and a roll-up but this isn’t modern-day WWE so Shawn easily kicks out and continues to wear down Austin’s leg using stomps and the ring ropes. When Austin rolls to the outside for a reprieve, Shawn hits him with a baseball slide and Tyson hefts Austin back into the ring so that HBK can lock in the Figure Four Leglock. Despite HBK grabbing the ropes for additional leverage, Austin refuses to tap out and successfully reverses the hold and buy himself some breathing time. Austin almost catches HBK with a pin off a catapult into the corner and then Shawn transitions into a sleeper hold; in his desperation to get out of the hold, Mike Chioda gets squashed in the corner and taken out of the match.

Austin captures his first World Championship thanks to Tyson revealing his true colours.

The match’s pace finally picks up a bit as Austin hammers on HBK, does his Mudhole Stomp in the corner, and fires back with a flurry of offense. Shawn desperately knocks Austin down with his flying forearm/kip up spot and then clambers up to the top rope for his big elbow drop. After landing the move, Shawn begins tuning up the band for the knockout shot but, when he flies in with Sweet Chin Music, Austin ducks it, and goes for the Stunner! Shawn counters out of it, goes for the Superkick again but Austin catches his foot, spins him around, and hits the Stunner! Tyson then slides into the ring and counts a quick three count to give Austin the WWF Championship in a very sudden end to a fairly lacklustre match. Afterwards, Tyson reveals that he was an Austin 3:16 fan all along, a point he emphasises by laying HBK out with a big right hand and then leaving the ring with the new champion.

The Aftermath:
WrestleMania XIV was a monumental night in WWF history; not only was this the first of six WWF Championship runs for Austin, it was also the night that the WWF “scratch logo” became the new logo of the company; the “winged eagle” world championship belt was also replaced with a new design the following night, and Shawn Michaels took a four-year hiatus to recover from his injuries and get his shit together (which, in turn, saw Triple H succeed him as the leader of D-Generation X and truly begin his own ascent to the main event scene).

The aftermath saw some of the WWF’s greatest moments, with Austin at the heart of them.

Of course, the most prominent thing to come out of this event was Austin/McMahon feud; for the next five months or so, McMahon did everything he could to try and get the belt off Austin by either screwing him out of it or throwing challengers and obstacles his way. This led to the creation of the Corporation stable, Mankind’s transformation into Dude Love, the debut of Kane, and a series of successful title defences on Austin’s behalf before he was finally forced to vacate the belt when he was pinned by both the Undertaker and Kane. Austin and McMahon also got into a series of verbal and physical altercations, including a steel cage match at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and the war between the two helped the WWF to overtake the competition and establish themselves as the hottest game in town. Sadly, Austin’s white-hot run came to a premature end when he was written off television to get neck surgery and, while he did reappear in the company some time later, it was clear that his career was winding down thanks to fatigue and mounting injuries.

My Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pretty Good

What did you think to the contest between Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV? How would you rate it compared to their other bouts and which of their feuds, matches, and moments is your favourite? Were you a fan of HBK, D-X, and Tyson? How are you celebrating 3:16 Day this year, what are some of your favourite matches and moments from Austin’s illustrious career, and what dream match would you have liked to see him involved in? Whatever your thoughts, drop a comment below and let me know what you think about “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

Wrestling Recap [3:16 Day]: Rock vs. Austin (WrestleMania X-Seven)

“Talk about your psalms, talk about “John 3:16”…Austin 3:16 says I just whupped your ass!”

With those immortal words, spoken by the legendary pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin after winning the King of the Ring tournament on 23 June 1996, a momentous wrestling career was about to unfold before our eyes that would see everyone’s favourite beer-swigging, finger-gesturing anti-hero become not just an industry icon but a mainstream icon as well. Here’s to yah, Steve!

The Date: 1 April 2001
The Venue: Reliant Astrodome; Houston, Texas
The Commentary: Jim “J.R.” Ross and Paul Heyman
The Referee: Earl Hebner
The Stakes: Main event, no disqualification match for the WWF Championship

The Build-Up:
Man, I tell you what, if you were a wrestling fan between 1998 and 2001 you were living the high life! After losing to World Championship Wrestling’s (WCW) Monday Nitro in the weekly television ratings for nearly two years, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) finally began to turn a corner by ushering their “Attitude Era”, a central focus of which was the rivalry between the loud-mouthed, anti-authority “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and WWF Chairman Vince McMahon. One key aspect of this feud also involved Austin’s various run-ins with the Rock; the two had previously clashed over the WWF Championship at WrestleMania XV: The Ragin’ Climax, where the Rock (then endorsed as McMahon’s “Corporate Champion”) dropped the belt to Austin but the two had plenty of history prior to that as they had feuded over the Intercontinental Championship some years prior. After Austin won the Royal Rumble and the Rock recaptured the belt from Kurt Angle at No Way Out just a few months prior, tensions began to boil between the two now-friendly rivals; Austin’s wife Debra was forced to be Rock’s manager for a while, the two frequently brawled or left each other at the mercy of other wrestlers, and Austin, still on his big comeback from a career-threatening neck injury, famously warned the Rock: “I need to beat you, Rock. I need it more than anything you could ever imagine”.

The Match:
Of course, it’s hard to talk about this match without mentioning the excellent video package that told the story of the tumultuous build-up towards it by charting Austin’s big comeback, Rock’s WWF Championship win, and the rising tensions between the two following Austin’s Royal Rumble win. Originally set to Limp Bizkit’s “My Way”, even without this music this is one of the best hype packages the WWE has ever put together and really sold the intensity of this confrontation. Emotions were high going into this match thanks not just to the clearly partisan crowd but also J.R.’s rousing commentary and personal investment in the match; J.R. was widely recognised as Austin’s best friend and, as such, he spends the majority of the match selling the story of Austin’s big comeback and that this match is this the culmination of Austin’s journey through spinal surgeries, injuries, and adversity. Accordingly, he was outraged by the unexplained, last-second announcement that the match had been made a no disqualification contest, believing that there is some kind of conspiracy behind that decision despite the fact that both he and Heyman mention more than once that a no disqualification stipulation actually gives Austin, known for his wild brawling, the advantage.

Austin was noticably more aggressive, utilising many underhanded tactics throughout the match.

Austin came to the ring first to a raucous reception; this was during the time when Austin was coming out to Disturbed’s “Glass Shatters”, a rockin’ version of his iconic theme, though the massive ovation he received largely crowned out any music and even the commentary at times. Given that Austin was the home state hero, and that audiences were still high on rediscovering their love for him after all of his time out with injuries, this isn’t all that surprising and meant that the Rock, arguably the most popular wrestler in the WWF at that time, received a showering of boos not only during his entrance but also throughout the match. Honestly, this match was loud and boisterous right from the word “Go!” thanks to the crowd, who are a sea of cheers, reluctant boos towards the Rock, and a cacophony of emotion all throughout. You could feel the tension and anticipation in the air from the moment the match begins and it stayed at a constant level throughout, rising to a crescendo whenever Austin is on the attack. Accordingly, there was no standing on ceremony here and the match began with a full-on slugfest between the two. Austin even went for a belt shot in the early going, which might seem surprising but, watching the match in hindsight, you can see how Austin is pulling out all kinds of heel tactics throughout (shots with the ring bell, using his knee braces to attack the Rock’s forehead, undoing the corner turnbuckle pad, choking Rock with the ropes, among other notable moments). Though J.R. largely glossed over a lot of these elements, Heyman sold it well to remind audiences that Austin is driven, obsessed, with becoming the WWF Champion and willing to do anything and everything to emerge the victor.

Despite the no DQ stipulation, Hebner tried to appeal to each man’s reason and maintain order.

Austin dominated the match in the early going thanks to hitting a Lou Thesz Press, escaping the Rock Bottom, and taking the fight to the outside after Rock avoided being hit with a Stone Cold Stunner. The two brawled by the announce table for a bit before heading over the barricade and into the crowd; this wouldn’t be the first time the action spilled to the outside and, if anything, that tactic is a little over-used in this match but it plays to Austin’s strengths since he was largely a brawler by this point and his matches were more about high intensity, a series of punches, stomps, and recognisable spots, and, of course, the Stunner. The emotion of the contest wasn’t lost on the Rock, either, though, and this cost him during their ringside scrap as he allowed himself to get distracted by Hebner, giving Austin the chance to bash him in the head with the ring bell and bust him open. Hebner, easily my favourite referee and, arguably, the WWF’s most recognisable official, could always be counted on to be a big part of every match he was in but in a way that remained professional and subtle. Here, he spends the majority of the match appealing to each man’s reason; it was no disqualification but he still admonished the two for fighting at ringside, using weapons, and forced them to break submission holds when their opponent was in the ropes. However, because of how high the stakes and the personal animosity between the two rivals were, he often found himself being accosted or threatened by both men.

The two men traded Sharpshooters and Austin even busted out the Million Dollar Dream!

As Heyman was fond of saying during this time, Austin was “like a shark that smells blood” the moment the blood began flowing and began to relentlessly target the Rock’s lacerated forehead with a barrage of fists, shutting down a potential comeback with a Neckbreaker, and stomping away on the Rock in the corner of the ring. It was only when Austin found himself distracted by Hebner’s interference that the Rock was able to finally make a proper comeback by launching Austin into the exposed turnbuckle and gaining a little retribution by bashing Austin in the head with the ring bell, busting him open before Austin was able to regain control of the match with a wicked catapult into the ring post. Rock sold the hell out of that move, snapping his head back at the very last second to really sell the idea that he had collided with the post in a sickening way, which more than made up for the announce table simply collapsing under his weight and, potentially, ruining a planned table spot. Austin continued his assault by bashing Rock in the head with a monitor but Rock managed to finally turn the tide by locking Austin into the Sharpshooter; the crowd was thrust into a tumultuous sea of conflict as Austin screamed in agony, refused to quit, and desperately reached for the ropes but Rock shifted him back to the middle of the ring! Austin, though, was able to reach the ropes and then put the Rock into a Sharpshooter, with the crowd being far less divided about this and even less impressed when the Rock powered out of the move. Annoyed, and growing increasingly frustrated, Austin followed up with the Million Dollar Dream!

McMahon cost the Rock his best opportunity to win the match.

J.R. was as surprised as anyone else about Austin dusting off this long-forgotten piece of his arsenal but it was enough to drive the Rock to his knees and set up for the old “three arm” spot. The Rock, of course, kept his arm up at the last second (has this spot ever gone any other way?) and uniquely kicked himself off the corner of the ring to first counter into close two count and then hit a Stunner out of nowhere! Unfortunately, the Rock was too fatigued and hurt to cover quickly enough so Austin kicked out at two and it was at this point that Vince McMahon wandered down to ringside, much to the anger of both J.R. and the crowd. In the ring, Rock and Austin went back to exchanging blows and trading their signature Spinebusters; Rock, of course, followed his Spinebuster up with the People’s Elbow but McMahon broke up the pin. Incensed, the Rock chased McMahon around the ring and ran right into a Rock Bottom from Austin, though he managed to kick out at two for a dramatic near fall.

Austin sold his soul to the Devil himself to once again become the WWF Champion.

After the Rock countered out of a Stunner attempt, Hebner got knocked out of the ring and, in the carnage, Austin ordered McMahon to bring a steel chair into the ring. In a sickening moment, Austin held the Rock in place so that McMahon could deliver a vicious chair shot right to his head. It still wasn’t enough to keep the Rock down, though, and Austin was so infuriated that he got caught with a Rock Bottom. Luckily for Austin, though, McMahon distracted Hebner, and the Rock, long enough for Austin to recover and hit the Rock with a massive Stunner (which, of course, the Rock sold with a theatrical panache). Driven to the limit by the Rock’s tenacity, Austin began assaulting him with McMahon’s steel chair; he then delivered another sick shot to the head before driving it into the Rock’s chest and bashing him over the spine with it over and over and over, beating him to a pulp, and finally scoring the three count! The crowd erupted into thunderous applause but they, and J.R,, soon reacted in shock and anger as Austin and McMahon shook hands and shared a beer over the Rock’s bloodied and prone body. When the Rock stumbled to his feet, Austin put him down with one last belt shot to emphasise his sudden and unexpected change of character. J.R. was disgusted, appalled, and betrayed by the alliance between Austin and McMahon but Heyman, though shocked, believed that this was totally in character since Austin had promised to do anything to win and was always fond of the mantra: “DTA – Don’t Trust Anybody!”

The Aftermath:
The very next night on Raw is War, Austin and the Rock faced off in a rematch inside of a steel cage. It was during this match that Triple H forged an alliance with his much-hated rival and he and Austin came to be known as the “Two-Man Power Trip”. The Rock was subsequently assaulted by the two and suspended by McMahon to allow him the time off required to film The Scorpion King (Russell, 2002). After Triple H won the Intercontinental Championship, the Two-Man Power Trip went on a…well, a power trip, dominating the WWF and coming into contact with the only team big, mean, and powerful enough to oppose them: the WWF Tag Team Champions, Kane and the Undertaker, the Brothers of Destruction. Austin and Triple H were able to best the Brothers, though, but their reign of terror was cut short when Triple H suffered a horrific quadriceps tear. Austin continued on as a heel regardless, however, changing his music and becoming a more paranoid, unpredictable, and cowardly bad guy who turned his back on both the fans and his friends (resulting in a vicious beat down of J.R.). Although he briefly seemed to be returning back to the “old Stone Cold” in the face of the invasion from WCW and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), Austin ultimately joined forces with the WCW/ECW alliance and became this erratic, overbearing, narcissistic heel obsessed with the belt and being treated like the star of the show. Eventually, after the collapse of the WCW/ECW alliance, Austin would return to his roots as a babyface and begin the final stage of his career. Mounting injuries began to take their toll and Austin began to lose his passion for the sport, culminating in one last match against the Rock at WrestleMania XIX but that is a story for another day.

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.


What did you think to the contest between the Rock and Steve Austin at WrestleMania X-Seven? How would you rate it compared to their other bouts and which of their feuds, matches, and moments is your favourite? Were you a fan of Austin’s unexpected heel turn or do you think he should have called an audible and remained as a tweener? How are you celebrating 3:16 Day this year, what are some of your favourite matches and moments from Austin’s illustrious career, and what dream match would you have liked to see him involved in? Whatever your thoughts, drop a comment below and let me know what you think about “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.