February 15, 2009
Wrestlemania XIV, March 29, 1998, Fleet Center, Boston, MA
Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry “The King” Lawler
Now that we’re officially in Wrestlemania season it’s time to get the rest of these shows done. After this one I’ve got seven more to go, so other than a quick stop at No Way Out the old Manias are pretty much all that I’m going to cover for the next two months or so. Today we take a trip back to 1998 for the show that could be considered the official transition from the New Generation to the Attitude Era.
Opening Match: Tag Team Battle Royal
We kick things off with a fifteen team battle royal featuring all the regular tag teams of the time period, plus most of the singles guys not on the show slapped together into makeshift teams. Winner here gets a shot at the Tag Team Titles next month at Unforgiven. Most of the teams are already in the ring, but we get one more, and it turns out to be the slightly repackaged Legion of Doom now managed by Sunny. They had done a breakup angle a few weeks back after yet another loss to the Outlaws so this was somewhat of a surprise return. Just a big brawl to start out and with that many guys it’s impossible to keep track of anything going on. Savio Vega gets tossed by one of DOA so he and Miguel Perez are the first ones out. Kurrgan, who is not involved in the match runs in and eliminates former allies Recon and Sniper. Then, because what would a battle royal be without two outside interference spots, Barry Windham runs in and eliminates Chainz, who is teaming with his former partner Bradshaw. D-Lo Brown is tossed, which also eliminates partner Mark Henry. After that go The Quebecers, Kama/Faarooq, The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express, and Jose/Jesus of Los Boriquas. Mark Henry is actually still in the ring in spite of being eliminated a while back. Headbangers are next out and then someone finally tosses Henry to clue him in. Scott Taylor gets backdropped out to eliminate Too Much. Now things finally slow down a bit as we’re on to the final four which are: LOD, The Godwinns, DOA and the New Midnight Express. Henry eventually tosses one of the DOA, but he comes right back in and eliminates Phineas so both those teams are gone. Before the Godwinns leave though they attack LOD with the slop buckets and knock Animal to the floor. The NMX double teams Hawk for a bit, but can’t eliminate him. Finally, Animal makes his way back in and LOD takes over. Animal with a powerslam on Gunn, followed by Hawk with a big boot on Holly and the NMX get tossed to give LOD the win at 8:20. Pretty sad battle royal all things considered, although the crowd was hot for LOD. DUD
Light Heavyweight Championship Match: Taka Michinoku vs. Aguila
First and last Wrestlemania defense of the LH Title here. No real issue between them, it’s really just a match for the sake of a match. Taka starts with a side headlock and gets fired off, but comes back with a shoulderblock. He comes off again, but gets armdragged. Now Aguila comes off with a flying headscissors, followed by a spinkick to send Taka outside. Aguila connects with a baseball slide and then goes up. He connects with a moonsault to the floor. He then tries to suplex Taka in, but Taka slips out and dropkicks him to the floor. Taka runs, jumps to the top rope and then dives on Aguila from there. Back in, he takes Aguila down with a forearm and nails a seated dropkick for 2. He charges, but gets backdropped out. Dive is blocked this time and Taka goes up. Aguila meets him there and armdrags him down. He then gets a springboard armdrag, followed by a second one to send Taka to the floor. Corkscrew plancha hits, but when he goes to get Taka back in, Taka nails him and goes up. His corkscrew move misses, so Aguila goes up and gets a moonsault for 2. Taka smacks him and looks to go up, but Aguila meets him there again. Taka shoves him back down this time, but his splash attempt hits knees. Aguila sets him on the top rope and hits a springboard rana. Corner whip is reversed and Taka kicks him. He then goes up and nails a dropkick. He sets up the Michinoku Driver, but Aguila slips out. He tries a rana, but Taka counters it to a powerbomb. Taka goes up, but misses a moonsault and Aguila cradles him for 2. Now Aguila goes up, but Taka dropkicks him coming down. Now the Michinoku Driver hits and Taka gets 3 to retain at 5:58. Really good high flying spotfest with a lot of good action as they really made the most of the six minutes they were given. ***
Gennifer Flowers conducts a sitdown interview with The Rock, which is great stuff. The character has really developed well into a cocky, self centered heel by this point, and pretty much all the catch phrases are there. By now you know they’ve really got something with him.
European Championship Match: Triple H (w/Chyna) vs. Owen Hart
After the Survivor Series incident, Owen came back as a hot babyface that the fans really wanted to see get revenge on Shawn Michaels on behalf of his brother. That wasn’t to be though so he gets downgraded to feuding with the other half of DX, HHH. Except that HHH was both smart and influential enough to avoid ever putting him over too so really Owen has lost nearly all of his heat by this point. He had won the European Title from HHH back in February by beating Goldust, who was dressed as HHH, but Sgt. Slaughter declared that it counted. A couple of weeks back on Raw, HHH, who by now had recovered from his injury challenged Owen, who was suffering from an ankle injury of his own to an impromptu Title match, and beat him to regain it, so here we have yet another rematch. In an effort to ensure a screwjob, whoops, I mean fairness, Chyna will be handcuffed to Sgt. Slaughter and she’s none too happy about that, so we get the usual dramatics leading up to Slaughter finally getting the cuffs on. Owen charges right in and tackles HHH. Corner whip sets up a backdrop, followed by a clothesline and then a second one in the corner. He mounts HHH for punches and then uses a rana out of the corner for 2. Irish whip is reversed and HHH gets him with an elbow. He stomps Owen to the floor where Slaughter successfully stops Chyna from getting involved. HHH tries to drop a double ax from the apron, but Owen moves and HHH hits the rail. Back in, an Irish whip is reversed, but Owen still gets him with a spinebuster. He goes for the Sharpshooter, but HHH rakes the eyes to stop that. Owen sends him off, but puts his head down and takes the facebuster followed by a clothesline. He rams Owen to the corner and then stomps a mudhole. HHH whips him off, and he ducks the first time but then gets hit with a high knee for 2. HHH with a suplex, followed by a kneedrop and then he rams Owen to the buckle. Owen fights back and whips HHH to the corner, but runs into a boot. DDT by HHH gets 2. Now he starts going to work on the injured ankle, kicking it and dropping a knee on it. He keeps working it for it bit until Owen fights back again and shoulder him in the corner. Corner whip and Owen charges, but this time he ducks the boot, slides underneath, grabs the legs, and pulls HHH to the post. He then goes up and comes off with a missile dropkick for 2. Irish whip sets up a belly to belly for 2 and then he nails a spinkick for another 2. Ensiguiri hits next, but he kicked him with the injured ankle so he can’t follow up right away. When he does cover, HHH kicks out at 2. He tries the rana again, but HHH powerbombs him and gets a 2 count of his own. He sets Owen on top, but Owen shoves him back and comes off with a crossbody for 2. Corner whip is reversed and HHH sets up the Pedigree, but Owen counters to a Sharpshooter attempt. HHH kicks him back to the corner, so Owen hits and falls forward into the inadvertent headbutt to the groin spot. Owen gets 2 off of that and the sends him off the ropes, but puts his head down and gets kicked. Pedigree is setup again, but Owen backdrops out. He hooks the Sharpshooter, but Chyna manages to reach in and drag HHH to the ropes for the break. Slaughter gets on her case about this so she throws some powder in his face. Then with HHH distracting the ref, she nails a low blow on Owen. Pedigree finishes it for HHH at 11:30. Really good match, and although it had a cheap ending, it was all part of Owen’s building frustration and subsequent decision to turn heel and join the Nation. ***1/2
The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust & Luna Vachon vs. Marvelous Marc Mero & Sable
Mero and Goldust had teamed a few times recently before breaking up to setup this match which is the wrestling debut for Sable. Also, Mero had been going heel in the way he had been treating her but that was put on hold for the sake of this match. Sable wants to start, but Luna wants nothing to do with her so the men go at it. Goldust nails Mero and whips him off, but Mero gets a headscissors takedown and a clothesline. Tag to Luna, which the forces the tag to Sable. Luna runs and Sable chases, but Luna makes it back to her corner and tags before any contact is made. Goldust and Mero are back in now with Goldust nailing him. Irish whip is reversed and Mero hits a backdrop. Tag to Sable and they use a double team as Mero whips him off and Sable connects with a high kick. Luna won’t come in the ring though, so Sable tags back out to Mero. He whips Goldust to the corner, but Goldust gets the boot up and comes out with a clothesline. He drops Mero on the top rope and chokes him with Luna even getting a shot in. Irish whip, but Mero ducks and comes back off with a crossbody for 2. Now Mero puts his head down on an Irish whip and gets punched. Collision between the two leads to both of them tagging for the big showdown between the women. This gets huge heat as Sable tackles her and starts wailing away. She connects with kicks and a hairtoss, and then even gives Goldust a shot. She clotheslines Luna to the floor and the crowd is absolutely nuts for her. Luna makes it back to tag Goldust, so Sable nails him again before tagging out as well. On the floor, Mero whips Goldust to the stairs. He gets Goldust back in, but his slingshot splash hits knees. Just to make sure we know he’s not a pure babyface, Mero then nails a low blow. He tries the TKO, but it gets countered to a DDT for 2. Goldust sets up the Curtain Call, but Mero escapes and hits a kneelift. He goes up and hits a moonsault for 2. Corner whip, but Goldust gets the elbow up on the charge. Goldust goes up, but Mero hits the ropes and crotches him. Rana off the top rope gets 2. He comes off the ropes, but Luna kicks him, which draws his attention, but when Goldust charges, Mero moves and they collide. Rollup by Mero gets 2. Irish whip by Mero sets up the TKO, which hits, but Luna makes the save at 2. Actually she just kinda taps him on the back and the ref stops counting in spite of Mero being on top and Goldust’s shoulders being down the whole time which looked pretty bad. Sable steals the tag from Mero now and covers Goldust herself, but the ref is busy putting Mero out. Luna comes off the top, but Sable moves and Luna splashes her partner instead. Sablebomb on Luna only gets 2 and leads to a brief comeback by Luna before Sable connects with her own TKO for the pin at 9:12. Wow, was Sable hugely popular or what? If she hadn’t let it go to her head like she did, she could have gone on to be remembered as one of the biggest female stars in the history of the business. The match was ok, mainly thanks to the men, but Sable was the only one the fans gave a crap about. *1/2
Intercontinental Championship Match: The Rock (w/ D-Lo Brown, Kama Mustafa, & Mark Henry) vs. Ken Shamrock
This feud has been going on for several months and has seen Shamrock beat Rock on numerous occasions in both tag matches and title matches, but Rock always managed to hold on to the belt through some sort of technicality. For this match here, if Rock gets disqualified, he will lose the belt. Speaking of the belt, this is the final appearance of the classic style one that had been used since Tito Santana’s 2nd reign in 1985. The next night on Raw would see the champ come out with a new belt, the design of which is still used today. Rock comes out to a big “Rocky Sucks” chant and is accompanied by the Entire NOD minus Faarooq as they were teasing problems between he and Rock. Shamrock charges right in and attacks, punching away. Irish whip, which Rock ducks, but Shamrock still kicks him and clotheslines him out. Rock tries to walk away, but Shamrock chases him down, rams him into some equipment, and then into the rail. Shamrock has to go back in and break the count though, so when he comes back Rock takes advantage and nails him. Shamrock blocks a shot to the stairs however and Rock takes it instead. In the ring, a corner whip is reversed, but Shamrock comes right out with a clothesline. He hits a second one and keeps pounding Rock, including ramming his head repeatedly to the mat. Rock manages to grab the tights and fling Shamrock to the outside where he then whips Shamrock to the stairs. Back in, he gets a slam and hits the People’s Elbow, which gets a chorus of boos. It also gets a 2 count. Shamrock then comes back with some shots and tosses Rock to the floor again. Clothesline on the floor by Shamrock and then he grabs a chair. The ref tries to get it away, so Shamrock shoves him down, but Rock manages to get the chair and nails Shamrock with it for 2. Irish whip by Shamrock and he hits an elbow. Dropkick, followed by a powerslam gets 2. Belly to belly suplex sets up the ankle lock and Rock taps out at 4:49. Shamrock wins the IC Title, but he won’t let go of the hold. The Nation attacks, but Shamrock fights them all off and goes right back to the ankle. Faarooq runs in with Rock pleading for help, but instead he decides to turn and walk away, leaving Rock to fend for himself. More refs come out to try and get Shamrock away from Rock, which they do, but he beats them up for their troubles too. Rock gets wheeled out on a stretcher as they announce that because of his excessive post match violence, the decision has been reversed and Rock is now the winner via disqualification. Of course this doesn’t sit well with Shamrock, so he chases down the stretcher, dumps Rock off of it and beats him up some more. Fun stuff, and Rock was awesome here in his role. **
WWF Tag Team Championship, Dumpster Match: The New Age Outlaws vs. Cactus Jack & Terry Funk
During this run, Funk was actually being referred to as “Chainsaw Charlie” for reasons that aren’t quite clear, but I’m willing to ignore that if you are. He and Cactus had been feuding with the Outlaws for several months, the highlight of which was when the Outlaws pushed a dumpster that they were in off the stage on Raw. It was played as a serious situation and they took several segments of the show carefully taking Cactus and Funk out on stretchers, only to have them return later and attack the Outlaws once more. To settle things, we naturally have a Dumpster Match, which is exactly the same as a Casket Match, just with a different type of box to place your opponents in. They start brawling outside the ring with Gunn and Funk on one side and Cactus and Dogg on the other. Cactus sends Dogg to the stairs and then to the dumpster. He hits his running knee as Dogg sits in front of it. He then tries to get Dogg in the dumpster, but Dogg has found a tray and nails him with it. Gunn whips Funk to the rail, and then backdrops him into the dumpster with Dogg’s help. Gunn whips Cactus into it, followed by Dogg using a Russian legsweep to ram Cactus’ head into it. Funk has made his way to his feet, but the Outlaws repeatedly slam the lids of the dumpster on the challenger’s heads. Now they manage to get both Cactus and Funk in, but Cactus blocks the closing of the second lid and hooks the Mandible Claw on both Outlaws. Gunn grabs the tray and nails Cactus to end that, but Funk has found his own tray and nails Gunn a couple of times. In the ring, Cactus and Funk both hit neckbreakers on Dogg. Gunn is still down on the floor, so Cactus drops the big elbow on him using the tray for extra impact while Funk DDT’s Dogg in the ring. Cactus pulls out more toys, including a ladder which gets setup in the ring. Cactus climbs, but Gunn comes back, nails a low blow on Funk and follows Cactus up the ladder. Dogg grabs the tray, nails Funk, and he falls back into the ladder which tips over and sends Cactus and Gunn crashing into the dumpster in our biggest highspot of the night. They get up from that relatively quickly and the Outlaws get a stuff powerbomb on Funk into the dumpster. They then go after Cactus, and end up brawling all the way up the aisle and into the backstage area. We get a replay of the ladder bump before joining up with the action backstage. The Outlaws dump some racks onto Cactus and then whip him to the giant plastic Powerade bottles. Cactus comes back with chair shots for both and then hits a double arm DDT on Gunn onto a pallet. Funk has returned and is driving a forklift. Both Outlaws are now on the pallet, so Funk raises it and dumps them both into another conveniently located dumpster. Cactus shuts the lid and it’s over at 10:02. Cactus and Funk are the new Tag Team Champions. Unfortunately for them, the belts would be held up pending a rematch because of the use of an unofficial dumpster. The Outlaws would get the belts back the next night on Raw with help from their new DX buddies. Match was just a mindless brawl, and save for one cool highspot, wasn’t really that exciting. *
Kane (w/Paul Bearer) vs. The Undertaker
This is a match nearly a year in the making. Paul Bearer spent months dropping hints that Undertaker had a brother that was still alive after he had believed all along that his family had been dead for years and this even included a stint where Bearer blackmailed Taker into letting him be his manager again. That ended up going sour, so Bearer brought Kane in last October at Badd Blood to cost Taker a Hell In A Cell match against Shawn Michaels. From there Taker refused to fight his brother in spite of the path of destruction that he had been leaving behind. Finally, at the Royal Rumble, Taker had a Casket Match against Shawn Michaels which Kane once again got involved in, but instead of just costing him the match, he locked Taker in the casket and burned him alive. Taker was just fine, of course, but Kane had finally gotten to him to the point where he wanted the match and so here we are. Pete Rose is here to serve as special guest ring announcer, so he takes the opportunity to mock the city of Boston over its lack of baseball success. They’re doing better these days but at this point it was all true. So Kane then comes out and drops Pete with a Tombstone. It doesn’t really make much sense for them to give Kane a babyface spot like that when he’s supposed to be the heel here, but at least they got a running gag out of it that lasted for the next two years. So now Taker gets his spectacle of an entrance and we can finally get underway. Staredown starts us off and then Taker tries some punches, but the get no sold. He confronts the ref after he tries to get in the way, but that lets Kane get the elbow up when Taker charges back in. Kane misses his next shot however and Taker tries again, but it’s still having no effect. Corner whip is reversed, but Taker gets the boot up. Kane still gets him with a clothesline, but Taker sits right up. Kane gets him in the corner and puts the boots to him. Corner whip leads to a clothesline and then he drops Taker on the top rope. Kane goes up and comes down with a shot on Taker who’s still hanging on the ropes, and it sends him to the floor. Back in, Kane keeps working him over. Taker ducks off of an Irish whip and ends up on Kane’s shoulders, but Kane drops him in a sort of reverse electric chair drop. Taker goes to the floor where Kane picks him up and drops him on the rail. He then rams Taker to the stairs, then picks them up and nails him with them a couple of times. Kane gets back in which allows Paul Bearer to take a few shots at Taker. Kane suplexes him back in and keeps working him over. Corner whip sees Taker charge out with a clothesline. He comes off the ropes, but runs right into a choke slam which gets 2 for Kane. Kane goes to a rear chinlock, and that lasts awhile. Taker punches out, but Kane takes him back down with a clothesline and goes back to the chinlock. Taker gets out again and this time boots Kane to the floor. He goes for the running dive, but Kane dodges it and Taker goes crashing through the Spanish announce table. Kane hauls him back in and goes up top, coming off with a flying clothesline for 2. Taker fights back and manages to get Kane setup for the Tombstone, but Kane reverses it and hits his own for a close 2.5. Taker comes back again as they sell that Kane has thrown everything he has at Taker without being able to put him away, and is now beginning to tire. Clothesline knocks Kane down. Chokeslam sets up the Tombstone, but Kane kicks out at 2.5. The crowd is shocked at that one. Taker hits a legdrop and another Tombstone, but Kane kicks out again. Taker goes up and hits his own flying clothesline. Kane sits up from that, so Taker gets a third Tombstone and that just barely holds Kane down for the 3 at 16:59. Here’s one neat little storytelling touch about the finish. After the first two Tombstones, Taker did his usual “fold the arms” cover, but Kane kicked out. On the third try, he does a full lateral press, hooks the leg and that turns out to be the difference in holding Kane down for long enough to win. Post match sees Bearer get some shots in, but Taker nails him. This lets Kane come from behind and hit Taker with a chair. He then Tombstones Taker on a chair and leaves him laying. The match wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either, so I’ll call it **.
Main Event, WWF Championship Match: Shawn Michaels (w/Triple H & Chyna) vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Austin won the Royal Rumble to earn the shot here and then the next night on Raw he had a confrontation with the man who was to be the special enforcer here tonight, Iron Mike Tyson. DX unsuccessfully petitioned for a Tyson/Austin match instead, but no dice, Austin was going for the belt. One man not happy about that was Vince McMahon. Although their feud wouldn’t really take off until after Wrestlemania, Vince had already declared in no uncertain terms that he did not want Austin to be the champion of his company. Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels, now knowing that he would definitely be facing Austin at this show, decided to tip the odds in his favour by recruiting Tyson into DX. All of the odds appeared to be stacked against Austin leading to the fans getting more and more behind him in his quest. In real life, Shawn badly injured his back at the Royal Rumble and had not wrestled since that time. It was touch and go whether he was going to make this show, but ultimately “Mr. Wrestlemania” wasn’t going to miss it. Even knowing that he was going to need surgery, there were still rumours that Shawn was going to be Shawn and refuse to drop the belt in the ring. They even go as far as saying that Undertaker had to have a discussion with him about it that may or may not have included threats of violence. Anyways, none of that matters now, so let’s get on with the match. Shawn dances around a bit to start, so Austin just flips him the double bird. Next, Shawn ducks a lockup attempt and nails Austin with a jab. Second lockup try sees Shawn duck it again and connect with another jab. Now Austin’s pissed, so Shawn runs. Austin chases him back in, Shawn comes off the ropes, but gets nailed with a double axhandle. Austin rams him to the buckle, and kicks the legs. Shawn charges at him but gets backdropped out right onto HHH. Austin follows him out, but now HHH attacks him from behind and sends him to the rail. The ref ejects both he and Chyna from ringside, but Austin still wants a piece of him and chases him up the aisle to get it. This lets Shawn follow and attack, even nailing Austin with a cymbal from the DX Band’s stage. He also whips Austin to the dumpster before dragging him back to the ring. Shawn goes up top, but Austin nails him on the way down. Corner whip gives Shawn the chance to do his flipjob, and then Austin gets an inverted atomic drop for 2. Shawn then gets fired off the ropes, and Austin hits him with a stungun for 2. He tries the Stunner and almost gets it, but Shawn escapes to the apron. Austin knocks him down and he smacks his face good on the announce table. Austin rams him to the stairs and hits some elbows on the apron. Back in, he drops some more elbows and covers for a couple of 2 counts. He goes to a headlock, but Shawn gets to his feet and jawjacks out of it. Shawn drags Austin to the corner and looks to post the leg, but Austin pulls him forward into it. Now Austin goes out after Shawn and rams him to the rail, but then charges and gets over it. Shawn nails him with the bell, which JR claims the regular ref didn’t see, but Tyson did as though Tyson should call for Shawn to be disqualified. I have two questions about that. First, why would JR be campaigning in favour of a screwjob finish where Austin doesn’t get the belt? And second, what the hell would the regular ref have been watching that he would have failed to see the use of the bell. Was there a second match going on somewhere at this point? Back in the ring, Shawn is visibly in quite a lot of pain now as the injury is catching up with him. He controls with mostly punches and stomps. He stops to give the crowd the finger, so Austin tackles him and nails some of his own punches. He then tosses Shawn to the floor, but Shawn grabs the legs and drags Austin to the corner for the posting of the leg that he couldn’t get earlier. More work on the knee sets up a figure four leglock attempt, but Austin kicks him off and rolls him up for 2. Shawn gets right back on the knee, so Austin rolls out, but Shawn follows him with a baseball slide. Tyson actually rolls Austin back in the ring, but when Austin turns to confront him, Shawn clips the knee. Now the figure four gets hooked using the ropes for leverage and now we have a legit case where because the ref is looking at Austin, Tyson sees Shawn cheating and does nothing about it. After struggling for a bit, Austin turns it over and the hold gets broken. Austin comes out firing, slingshots Shawn to the buckle and then rolls him up for 2. Irish whip is reversed, and now Shawn gets a sleeper. Austin backs him to the corner to break, but the ref gets bumped in the process. Shawn charges at Austin, but gets backdropped onto the buckle. Austin rams him to the buckle again and then stomps a mudhole in him. Irish whip leads to a backdrop, followed by some choking on the ropes. Shawn ducks the next Irish whip and comes back off with a flying forearm that only saw him get an inch or so off the ground, but with as badly as he’s hurting it’s understandable. He kips up, which is definitely impressive in his condition, then goes up and drops the elbow. He tunes the band, but Austin ducks it. Stunner is blocked, as is a second try at the Superkick before the Stunner finally connects. Austin covers, Tyson comes in and counts 3, and it’s over. Austin wins his first WWF Title at 20:05 and much celebration ensues. Shawn confronts Tyson about the double cross, and ends up taking the knockout punch in his final bump for four and a half years. The explanation given was that Tyson only joined DX as a ruse to lull them into a false sense of security and that way he could help Austin out. Match wasn’t an all time classic or anything but kudos to Shawn for gutting it out in spite of the injured back and doing the job in the ring clean as a sheet. For that I will have it edge out HHH/Owen for match of the night honours by giving it ***3/4.
Alright, so that was a reasonably good show. Nothing really sucks here, with the exception of the opening battle royal, and everything else ranges from decent to really good. Unfortunately it is lacking that real blowaway match to send it over the top, but I still think I can call it a mild Thumbs Up. The recommendation is that it’s definitely worth a watch, especially to relive the ascension of Steve Austin to the top of the pack, which is a moment that changed everything for the company.