At the biggest show of the year, Stone Cold Steve Austin battles reigning WWE Champion Shawn Michaels in the main event, as he looks to win his first world title. With Mike Tyson at ringside, and seemingly in cahoots with D-Generation X, the odds of a victory are not in Austin’s favour. Kane battles his brother, The Undertaker, whilst The Rock and Ken Shamrock fight over the Intercontinental Champion one more time…
Tag Team Battle Royal to determine No.1 Contenders for WWE Tag Team Championship at WWE Unforgiven PPV
(Winner: Legion of Doom)
Taka Michinoku (C)
(WWE Light Heavyweight Championship)
(Winner: Taka Michinoku, via pinfall)
Triple H (C) (with Chyna)
(WWE European Championship)
(Winner: Triple H, via pinfall)
Marc Mero & Sable
Goldust & Luna
(Winners: Marc Mero & Sable, via pinfall)
The Rock (C) (with the Nation of Domination)
(WWE Intercontinental Championship)
(Winner: The Rock, via disqualification, after the referee reversed his pinfall decision for Ken Shamrock)
Cactus Jack & Terry Funk
New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & Billy Gunn) (C)
(Dumpster Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship)
(Winners, and new WWE Tag Team Champions: Cactus Jack & Terry Funk)
Kane (with Paul Bearer)
(Winner: The Undertaker)
Shawn Michaels (C) (with Triple H & Chyna)
Stone Cold Steve Austin
(WWE Championship, with Mike Tyson as the Special Guest Enforcer)
(Winner, and new WWE Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin)
First thought was that Sunny looked superb, as she accompanied the Legion of Doom out for their entrance in the Tag Team Battle Royal. The match itself was uneventful, and just your typical battle royal. A match concept used far too often at Wrestlemania events to let more talent feature on the card.
The WWE Light Heavyweight Championship match was better than its previous PPV defence, which took place at WWE No Way Out 1998. I was surprised that there was no entrance for Aquila, which itself was a big giveaway of what the outcome of the match was going to be. The match was worked at a decent pace, but there was a complete lack of psychology throughout. It was just move after move, with no story being told. Not to me, anyway.
The Triple H/Owen Hart match was third on the card, and the first that felt like a Wrestlemania-worthy match. Chyna was handcuffed to Sgt. Slaughter, the idea being it would stop her from interfering, but that obviously wasn’t the case as it was her low blow to Hart that gave Triple H the opportunity to get the win. The match was worked at a good pace from the start, and the fans were completely behind Hart from start to finish. Very much a back and forth contest. Whilst she’s a heel, watching Chyna beat down Slaughter, and then throw him into the crowd, was cool.
Marc Mero, Sable, Goldust and Luna might have had the most fun match on the show. Certainly the crowd were into it more than any other, barring the main event. Sable was insanely over with the audience, and with Mero seemingly a babyface now, some of that rubbed off on him. He loses something playing a face, won’t lie. They teased Sable getting her hands on Luna a few times, but no success, and it was really pissing off the fans. When she finally did get hold of Luna though, she went nuts on her and it looked absolutely awesome – she even punched Goldust in the face twice!
That tag match had everything, and whilst Mero did most of the in-ring action for his team, it was Sable who stole the show and she looked damn convincing when she was in the ring. She hit some great power moves too, hitting Luna with a powerbomb and a TKO. We’ll ignore that Luna wasn’t the legal person for her team, when Sable finally put her away for the three count. Sable was just super over, and looked incredible right from her appearance to her performance. Proper Wrestlemania match, with the heels accidentally taking each other out, a hot feud, and a babyface that the crowd could really get behind.
The Shamrock/Rock contest was… interesting. I’ve written previously about how good their chemistry is on screen, so I was hoping for a big match here, but instead we were surprisingly presented with a pure beatdown of The Rock that was also pretty damn short. Shamrock owned him, and had the submission victory much earlier than I’d expected. I didn’t quite understand why Shamrock went crazy afterwards, wiping out the Nation, a hoard of referees, and locking The Rock in ankle locks again. The referee reversed his decision as a result of Shamrock’s continued beating of The Rock after the bell, which was bullshit to be honest, but it put huge heat on The Rock again which is only a good thing for the People’s Champion.
The dumpster match was nothing special, but had some good spots. Gunn and Cactus Jack coming off the ladder into the dumpster looked great, and the forklift being used to dump the New Age Outlaws into a backstage dumpster was a creative way to end the match. Given this is Wrestlemania though, the finish should’ve taken place in front of the live audience, not backstage. Especially given it meant new champions were crowned. New Age Outlaws could do more with the championship, so I expect them to get it back soon.
Kane and Undertaker’s match had been built up a lot over the and of 1997, and start of 1998. It didn’t disappoint, and was a good battle between two big guys. Taker leaping over the top rope to the outside, only to crash through an announce desk, was awesome. That it took three tombstones to put Kane away made the Big Red Machine look like a beast, and it was an interesting choice to have him be the one to leave the ring looking strong, after his post-match tombstone of ‘Taker onto a steel chair. Feud not over?
The main event had the crowd going crazy. Austin’s entrance felt big, but Michaels’ was awesome. Taking the fight to ringside so early on was exactly what the crowd wanted, as was the ejection of Triple H and Chyna from ringside. Both men went back and forth, and when Austin was throwing Michaels around, HBK sold it so damn well that Austin looked like a man possessed. Tyson turning on DX seemed underplayed, which I’m putting down to him not being a WWE talent and not working the moment as well as he should have. Nice moment having him knock out Shawn post-match too, and a good way for this incarnation of Shawn Michaels to leave the business as an in-ring talent. Austin just looks like he’s going to raise some hell now that he’s champion…
All in all, it was a good show. The top matches felt big, and the crowd was hot throughout. Some filler early on the card, but the company lacks huge stars at this point so makes sense for them to pad the show out a bit. As far as being WWE‘s biggest show of the year though, you do end the broadcast feeling that there’s better to come in 1998.
Match of the Night
Shawn Michaels vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
WWE Wrestlemania 14 Rating