Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only
Sign in to follow this  
Charles (Loss)

[1998-03-29-WWF-Wrestlemania XIV] Shawn Michaels vs Steve Austin

Recommended Posts

They get off to an awesome start with Michaels throwing jabs and celebrating and Austin chasing him down and beating the tar out of him. Then the ref ejects HHH and Chyna and the match loses all of its momentum somehow. For one thing, DX had been such a big part of helping Michaels keep his title that it seems strange that no ref had thought to send them to the back until this match. Is Mike Chioda just that much smarter than Earl Hebner?

 

Then you have stuff like Austin chasing down HHH for no reason (even with the interference, in the biggest match of his life Austin should be focused solely on Michaels) and the brawling up by the band and dumpsters, all of which gets rendered pointless when Austin just goes right back on offense. I complained a lot about the Unforgiven match, but Austin looks like much more of an asskicker there than he does here. It takes Michaels forever to take control. I assume it's in part because of the injury, as there's no way Austin would have gone to a chinlock if everything were OK. Some of Michaels' offense is nice, like the chopblock after the Tyson distraction, but for the most part this section of the match really drags. Michaels' stuff with the knee isn't really vicious enough to seem threatening. The grimacing is pretty distracting (I know, not really a fair complaint).

 

Austin's comeback doesn't feel like anything special, although the finisher reversal stuff is a nice sequence. In the end, I think they do a much better job stacking the deck against Austin in his next two PPV matches; this one doesn't feel like much of a conquest. Mike Tyson is barely a factor at all. I know that this is a big part of WWF history, and the crowd goes crazy when Austin wins (and keeps going crazy as the year goes on), but by itself this match doesn't even seem like it builds up to the big moment all that well. The crowd is surprisingly quiet for large periods of this (which leads to stuff like Michaels flipping them the bird just to get some heat) or chanting "Holyfield." Ross tries hard to get this over as this huge match and sounds silly when he says that he's never seen anything this intense; he's broadcast matches from both guys within the past year that were more intense than this.

 

I know that as a big moment this was a success, but, I dunno, the crowd was going to go nuts when Austin won regardless of how it happened. It doesn't feel hollow like Sting's victory at Starrcade, but I don't think that the wrestlers did that good a job of setting this moment up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with a lot of Gregor's points. The match does a have a huge match feel and the moment is there for Austin. I also want to commend Shawn during this match as you could tell he was in an extreme amount of pain and gutted through best he could. However, this match does have a disjointed and unfocused feel with Shawn on control and there is a feeling of biding time to the big moment at the finish. I dont really like modern New Japan switching reversals in rapid succession now so I wont be hypocritical and say the finishing sequence did a ton for me besides getting over the stunner as a knockout finish. Austin gets his big moment, Tyson was serviceable in his role and I think his count was fairly fine, and the WWF has a huge star now. (***1/4)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At least they didn't give me false hope about the match being any good. In no time at all Shawn's ass is on display and they've completely killed the momentum with stupid outside stuff. I have carte blanche to do some clipping.

 

It didn't matter a bit as long as they had the right finish. Austin becomes the company ace as the fans go home happy. However much they paid Mike Tyson for his services was well worth it. The amount of mainstream publicity it generated was unbelievable. Over here in the UK I think all the national newspapers sent a reporter over to cover it. That hasn't been the case for a single wrestling card since.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am far, far higher on this match than anyone else here, I think because I see something much deeper here than just the mechanics of the match. This is a torch passing. But it's not just a torch passing. The guy passing the torch is limping his way to the next guy in the assembly line who isn't in great shape either. And I think somewhere in all of this is a statement about wrestlers not really being treated as human beings, be it by fans, promoters, their peers ... not even really respecting their own mortality in some ways. Michaels put on an incredibly gutsy performance and this felt like a match where they had to deviate from what they had planned when his back failed him. So he went back to basics and worked the leg and stayed on the mat, and he did it incredibly well. And working a match that basic on such a big stage at a time when Shawn really needed to be the showstopper and just couldn't do it one last time makes for a fascinating viewing. It demonstrates that it was time. Even if Austin wasn't red hot, even if the WWF wasn't resurgent ... Shawn needed to simply go home. I don't know - I need to fully formulate my thoughts, but I think there's a lot more to this match than meets the eye. How can a match where both guys were so obviously hurting and managed to gut it out be disappointing? I thought it was great in fact. Add in the backdrop of a guy whose rep for being unprofessional was so well-known that he made a catchphrase out of it actually losing decisively here. I can't wait to try to put it in the proper words when doing the e-book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having rewatched this I think the match is disappointing because even though both guys were obviously working hurt, they didn't do a whole lot to make that add to the drama in a positive way. Those seemingly unplanned moments of Shawn writhing in back pain while trying to build heat off some dull leg work err more on side of awkward watching than an engaging showing of fighting spirit. If anything, the fact that they insisted on working 20 minutes with minimal interference and Shawn getting badly exposed instead of a 12 minute smoke-and-mirrors deal takes a bit away from Austin's win by making it feel more like a formality than a hard-fought victory. Also, I'm not even sure if Shawn's performance deserves the rep it seems to have gotten as one of the gutsiest performances ever considering that a few months later Misawa had a MOTYC at the dome with Kawada while in just as bad shape.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know that Shawn's performance was one of the gutsiest ever, but his resilience did add drama to the match. His story, and they made this part of the build-up, was that beneath all the flash and controversy, he was a tough, resourceful champion when pushed. Well, we sure got to see that, with him grasping for the tools available to him--in this case, the legwork. Not sure how he was "badly exposed." I didn't find the match as stirring as Loss, despite the melding of reality and spectacle. They could have stacked the deck against Austin a bit more, either by keeping DX around longer or getting Tyson more involved. And the ending seemed a little easy and pro forma. But it was all good enough, especially given the circumstances.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, I'm not even sure if Shawn's performance deserves the rep it seems to have gotten as one of the gutsiest performances ever considering that a few months later Misawa had a MOTYC at the dome with Kawada while in just as bad shape.

Putting qualifiers on literal broken backs is a level of internet criticism I think we'd all be better off without

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am far, far higher on this match than anyone else here,

 

Well allow me to join you on the bandwagon for this match. I remember getting Wrestlemania: The Legacy 14 VHS set for Christmas in 1999. This was the first show I watched and I remember watching this match over and over again. It was my first foray into watching Shawn Michaels and then being able to see a really good (what I perceived considering the time between Backlash and Survivor Series 99) Steve Austin match. I consider this match to be extremely influential in my wrestling fandom because simply watching Shawn battle through and Austin win his first WWF title made things extremely satisfying.

 

And yes...this one was for you, Earl. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I have to end up closer to Loss on this spectrum. It doesn't quite transcend serious analysis on the level of Warrior vs. Savage at WM7 where the whole is so much greater than the X's and O's, but it's another match where in the end, the moment matters much more than the mechanics and the individual pros and cons of the quality of work. Whether the WWF knew in advance that Michaels was done or not (and it seems that they did), they couldn't have done a more effective job in getting him over beforehand as a guy who could play through pain and adversity...until he couldn't. Even someone like me, who's predisposed to hate him in general and as a DX member specifically, is having a hard time coming up with a gutsier HBK performance, even if it's far from his best overall. You can't accuse Michaels of not leaving it all in the ring here, and as a swan song it seems rather fitting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Knowing how much pain HBK was going through, this is an uncanny performance. Good match, which in WWF has been few and far between so far this year, but it gets better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No matter what you think of Mike Tyson, he's an elite athlete, one of the most fearsome boxers who has ever lived. Why he can't do a crotch chop to save his life is still mysterious 20 years later.

And the original D-Generation X theme is still a banger, even when played live. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is neither man's best match, but they both put in a good performance and churn out a enjoyable match given the circumstances. The crowd is fully invested in Austin's rise to the top the Tyson stuff adds a lot of drama. They work around Shawn's hurt back by starting the match off with some stalling before having a brawl around the arena. Shawn even eats a back body drop from the ring to the floor, an insane move to take when your back is literally broken! The match quality takes a dip once they get back in the ring as it's becomes apparent that HBK can't wrestle the pace that he's used to. After a ref bump, the enforcer Mike Tyson to count Austin's pin. This is a the moment the Attitude Era truly begun. Just imagine how good this could of been if neither man was injured!

★★★

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×