March 29, 1998
Fleet Center, Boston, MA
Its Wrestlemania time once again, and we have finally arrived at a PPV that holds a very special place with me as a fan on a personal note. At seven years of age, Wrestlemania XIV was the first wrestling event (not just PPV) that I ever watched, and I've been hooked on this business ever since. Its quite the important show from a historical standpoint as well. There's a lot of debate as to when exactly the Attitude era began - some would say Montreal, others the stunner on Vince in MSG, whilst there is also a good case for this being the show that would officially bring the WWF into its most successful era ever. We all know the main event tonight - Michaels vs Austin for the WWF Championship, but in a move that gained a huge deal of media coverage for the company at the time, Vince managed to bring in controversial boxing icon 'Iron' Mike Tyson to serve as the guest enforcer for that match. Also tonight, the Undertaker returns to battle his brother Kane, something he vowed never to do. Its time to get this show started.
The show kicks off with a video package highlighting the history of Wrestlemania before focusing on the main event tonight. We then head into the arena where our announce team of Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler welcome us to the show. This would be the first of many Mania's that the two would call as a duo. The ring is already filling up with participants in our opening battle royal, so lets get this under way.
Number One Contender 15 Team Battle Royal:
The winners of this match get a shot at the tag titles at next month's PPV. This is really just a way of getting guys on the card and nowadays would have taken place on the pre-show. Once one member of a team is tossed over the top to the floor then the entire team is eliminated. Let's run quickly through the participants. We have two Nation of Domination teams in Faarooq & Kama Mustafa as well as D'Lo Brown & Mark Henry, two Boricua teams in Savio Vega & Miguel Perez and Jose Estrada & Jesus Castillo, Recon & Sniper of the Truth Commission, the Quebecers, Bradshaw & Chainz, Skull & 8-Ball, the Headbangers, Too Much (Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor), the Rock n Roll Express, the Godwinns, Steve Blackman & Flash Funk, the new Midnight Express (Bombastic Bob and Bodacious Bart, managed by Jim Cornette), and the returning LOD, now known as LOD 2000 after being repackaged and paired with Sunny. They get a pretty big pop. I'll let you work out who are the faces and heels in this thing. There's not much to talk about here. Its a quick and basic battle royal like the others we have seen at Mania so far. Kurrgan makes his way out during the match and eliminates his old Commission buddies, whilst Barry Windham also comes down and screws over his former Blackjack partner by eliminating Chainz. We come down to the LOD and the new Midnights, and after fighting off some Godwinn interference, the Legion of Doom pick up the win by eliminating their opponents at 8:19. LOD 2000 are your number one contenders to the tag titles. Basic filler here really, but hey, Sunny looked great.
We now see some highlights of Wrestlemania weekend in Boston, including the DX public workout where Austin was tied up at humiliated by the heel faction, adding further heat to our main event.
WWF Light Heavyweight Championship:
Taka Michinoku (c) vs Aguila
Once again Taka Michinoku looks to impress the crowd with another Light Heavyweight title defence. Unlike the past two Light Heavyweight title matches on PPV, this is face vs face as Aguila has teamed with Taka in recent months against the likes of Brian Christopher and Pantera. As a result we have a show of respect between both men in this one. There's not really much to talk about from a storyline perspective, its just two men going at it for the title. Nothing wrong with that for a belt like this. The match is pretty good and gets the crowd hot, which is really what the division was for at this point. Lots of high flying moves including an impressive springboard dive by Taka onto his opponent on the outside. After a bunch of high spots and near falls, Taka comes out on top as he hits the Michinoku Driver on Aguila to pick up the win at 5:47. Good stuff that could have been better with more time. After the match, Aguila congratulates Taka on the win and the two men embrace each other out of respect.
We now go to a pre-recorded interview from earlier in the day that saw the one and only Gennifer Flowers talk politics with the Rock. Great stuff here as Rock shows his ever growing promo skills and awesome heel persona ripping on the homeless, the judiciary and the White house in true Rock fashion. He also debuts a famous catchphrase - if you smell what the Rock is cooking. Fun spot here.
WWF European Championship:
Triple H (c) w/Chyna vs Owen Hart
Since our last PPV, Triple H has reclaimed the European Championship, defeating Owen Hart on an episode of Raw is War a few weeks ago to win the belt and continue the long standing rivalry between these two men thanks to the interference of Chyna. Owen gets his rematch here, and in order to prevent the same shenanigans going down, Commissioner Slaughter has decided that he will be at ringside handcuffed to Chyna. Triple H comes out to some decent heat as the DX band plays him to the ring. Owen follows to a solid pop and is entering this one with a bad ankle following an attack by Chyna with a baseball bat heading into this show. This is a pretty good match as you have two guys who know how to work. Owen is always great and Triple H was definitely making strides in this time period. Owen starts out on fire and eventually gets the sharpshooter on his hated rival, only for Hunter to counter and begin mounting his own offence. He starts working over Owen's injured ankle but Owen gets Hunter back in the sharpshooter later on. Chyna drags Slaughter on the outside and manages to pull Triple H to the ropes forcing a break of the hold. At this point, Chyna throws a hand full of powder into Slaughter's face, blinding the Commissioner. A distracted Owen checks on Slaughter which leads to Chyna hitting a low blow on the challenger. Helmsley follows up with a pedigree which puts the Black Hart down for the three at 11:27. Triple H keeps the European title in DX after what was a very enjoyable match. It made sense for Triple H to win here considering what the next night would hold, but more on that next time. After the match, Chyna decks Slaughter and throws him over the crowd barrier after being freed from the handcuffs.
After an ad for the latest Stone Cold T-shirt, we get a video package looking at the events leading to our mixed tag match - the third in Wrestlemania history.
Marc Mero & Sable vs The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust & Luna
Mero is still jealous of Sable, but he's toned down his heel act slightly heading into this show. This stems from the ongoing resentment between Sable and Luna, the two having brawled numerous times since coming to blows last month at No Way Out. On a recent episode of Raw is War, Goldust (still the crazy Artist) held Sable back to separate the two, something Mero took exception to. This led to a match between the two men on Raw which saw Sable and Luna handcuffed to the ring posts to prevent any shenanigans. During that match, Goldust freed Luna which led to the deranged woman beating on Sable at ringside and Goldust laying down the challenge for a mixed tag match at Wrestlemania. Sable gets the biggest pop of the night so far which tells you how over she was. The match is much better than you might expect. Its men against men and women against women here. Of course the crowd goes nuts when Sable gets into the match and finally gets her hands on Luna after she did her best to avoid the incredibly popular woman. She and Mero actually work nicely together despite their differences for the past few months, although that won't continue too much longer. We have slowly seen Goldust deteriorating in ring wise as he is a mess behind the scenes at this point, but he brings the goods tonight also contributing to an entertaining match. In the end Sable picks up the win as she takes out Luna with an impressive TKO (which actually looked better than one Mero hit earlier in the match) following some heel miscommunication for the pin at 9:05. Fun stuff here. Mero and Sable celebrate together, but this whole rivalry will continue going forward. Sable's star continues to grow.
As we get ready for our next match, a man by the name of Tennessee Lee is in the ring. He wants us all to stand up and welcome the greatest country music performer of all time - that's J-E-double F J-A-double R-E-double T. Yep, the NWA angle has run its course and Jeff Jarrett is back to his old country music gimmick as he makes his way to the ring with Gennifer Flowers on his arm. Kind of random for him to come out here, but I suppose they wanted the get to new (or old) character on the show. Flowers stays as she is the guest celebrity ring announcer for our next match.
WWF Intercontinental Championship:
The Rock (c) w/Nation of Domination vs Ken Shamrock
The history between these two is well documented at this point. Shamrock has been taking the fight to Rock for month's but has always been outsmarted when the I.C title has been up for grabs. Last month Shamrock made Rock tap out in the ten man tag match, but Rock got a measure of revenge on a recent episode of Raw is War. During a match between Shamrock and D'Lo Brown, the Rock smashed Shamrock with a stiff chair shot that would never be allowed today (that's a good thing) and then followed up by seemingly nailing Faarooq by accident. Or was it. Remember there has been a great deal of dissension in the Nation as of late pertaining to its leadership after all. As a result of that incident, Rock comes out with all the Nation members except for the leader here. Shamrock gets a decent pop and we are under way. This one has the additional stipulation that if Rock gets disqualified he will lose the title. Shamrock starts out on fire as Rock gets some great heat from the crowd with the "Rocky sucks" chants throughout the match. Rock attempts to walk out on the match, but Shamrock confronts him in the aisle and the fight is back on. Rock gets some offence in as the action returns to the ring, as he even busts out the People's Elbow. Shamrock snaps and brings a chair into the match, but the referee manages to calm him down. The ref goes down briefly as Rock whacks Shamrock in the head with the chair like on Raw. Shamrock kicks out and comes back however and locks Rock in the ankle lock, which causes the champion to tap out at 4:49. Ken Shamrock has won the Intercontinental Championship! He keeps the hold on as the Nation members at ringside try to get him off. Shamrock takes them all out with belly to belly suplexes and reapplies the hold on Rock. Faarooq heads down to ringside and gets on the apron, but instead looks at the screaming Rock and walks out on him, effectively turning face in the process. With the ankle lock still applied, officials attempt to get Shamrock to break the hold but he takes them out as well before calming down. At that moment, Finkel announces that the decision has been reversed and the Rock has retained the title by DQ. This causes Shamrock to snap as Rock is stretchered out. Shamrock attacks him again in the aisle, slamming him onto the band performance stage to a huge pop. Fun stuff here that was more about the angle of Shamrock screwing himself out of the title due to his temper rather than the actual match.
After a quick Attitude era promo its time for our tag title dumpster match.
WWF Tag Team Championship - Dumpster Match:
New Age Outlaws (c) vs Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie
As I mentioned last month, these team are involved in a heated feud over the tag titles which really began when the Outlaws interfered in a hardcore match between Cactus and Chainsaw on Raw is War back in February, putting both men into a dumpster and tossing it off the stage. The Outlaws were getting some major heel heat at the time as their act had really caught on by this point. In twenty four hours time that would go to the next level. This is a dumpster match, which is pretty much a casket match using a dumpster - you need to put both your opponents into the casket at ringside (remember that!) and close the lid to win the match. Cactus and Chainsaw get a good pop and we kick off which can accurately be described as a solid brawl. This is really your standard Attitude era type hardcore match with some brutal shots and solid bumps, the most insane of course being taken by Cactus. There's plenty of weapons involved as you would expect, and overall this is a pretty fun match. Cactus brings a ladder into play and comes crashing off into the dumpster since he is Mick Foley. The fight eventually spills into the backstage area - something that off the top of my head I don't think we have seen yet on PPV but I may be wrong - with the two fighting amongst boxes and a forklift. In the end Cactus nails both of the outlaws with a chair shot and then takes down Gunn with a double arm DDT on a crate. Both Outlaws are placed on the crate as Funk comes in driving the forklift and lifts his opponents up before dropping them into a nearby dumpster. Cactus closes the lid to win the match at 10:00 and just like that Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie are the new WWF Tag Team Champions. As I said, this match was a lot of fun and was something different at the time. Good moment for the Hardcore Legends, but the Outlaws showed they could hang with them here as well, making both parties look good in their. Of course the next night on Raw is War a rematch was ordered due to the dumpster being used not being the one at ringside. The two teams would face off again later that night inside a steel cage, a match that would have major implications that we'll get into another time.
We get an ad for Unforgiven next month and come back to our announcers talking about the Undertaker/Kane match. We get an excellent video package of the events leading to this match next.
Undertaker vs Kane w/Paul Bearer
After being taken out by Kane at the Royal Rumble, the Undertaker made his anticipated return on Raw is War earlier in the month. On that night Paul Bearer ordered the timekeeper to ring the bell ten times in memory of Kane's deceased brother, however as he did so the famous gong began to ring. A casket eventually appeared on the stage and was stuck by lightning. Moments later the Undertaker sat up out of the casket and challenged his brother to a match at Wrestlemania. In the past he had claimed that he would never fight Kane, but he said that after having been to the fiery depths of hell he spoke to his parents and explained that he was going back on his vow not to fight his own flesh and blood. Kane accepted and in the weeks that followed the two demons battled with their superpowers, striking lightning in the arena and Kane setting fire to a crew worker at ringside. The stage was set and the much anticipated battle was ready to take place on the biggest show of the year. Before we get their, none other than Pete Rose comes out to be the celebrity guest ring announcer for the match. He rips on the Boston crowd a bit and gets some insane heat but Kane cuts him off. He enters the ring and lays Rose out with a tombstone in a memorable moment (JR: THAT'S PETE ROSE!!!). The crowd cheer wildly but its more for Rose being laid out than it is for Kane as once the gong hits and the Phenom makes his way to the ring with the druids the crowd are clearly behind the Deadman. I've seen this match ripped quite a bit, but its another one of those matches where you need to look beyond the ring work to the total package. The crowd is into this as these two have had an amazing build to this match going all the way back to the summer of 1997. Its a fun big man fight with neither man selling the others offence, but in a battle like this that's okay because it fits their characters. This is a clash between two supernatural powers. The match starts out hot as both men deliver some stiff shots on each other. Paul Bearer distracts the referee at one point allowing Kane to hit Taker with the ring steps. Taker comes back and eventually goes for his flying clothesline over the top rope to the outside, but Kane moves and the Phenom goes crashing through the Spanish announce table. The two go back and forth once more as the action returns to the ring. Kane hits the tombstone, but Taker kicks out. In the end it takes three tombstone piledrivers from Undertaker to finally put Kane down for the three at 16:48. Taker is now 7-0 at Wrestlemania, whilst Kane looks strong in defeat. After the match, Paul Bearer and Kane team up on Undertaker, with Kane decking his brother with a chair shot to the head and then follows up with a tombstone onto the chair, laying the Phenom out. This rivalry is far from being over. I enjoyed this match as it was good from an entertainment point of view. This was also one of those feuds that really got me into the product as a kid at the time.
Up next we get a video package highlighting the events leading to our main event. We see both champion and challenger walk towards the curtain backstage before their entrances. You can see Michaels say to the camera 'this is for you Earl'. Senior referee Earl Hebner was in the hospital at the time of this show.
Shawn Michaels (c) w/Triple H & Chyna vs Steve Austin
Special Guest Enforcer: Mike Tyson
This all started back in January when Austin won the Royal Rumble entitling him to a WWF Championship match at Wrestlemania against Shawn Michaels. The following night on Raw is War, Mr McMahon brought Mike Tyson into the ring and announced that he would be the guest enforcer for the championship match at the big show. Of course, Austin interrupted and the two got into a brawl that is remembered as a classic moment in the history of the company and received a huge amount of mainstream media coverage at the time. A few weeks later, Shawn Michaels would also call out Mike Tyson on Raw. The two would tease a confrontation, but the WWF Champion ripped off Tyson's shirt to reveal a DX one underneath. Thats right, the guest enforcer was Wrestlemania was now a member of DX. The feud also saw the ongoing tension between Austin and Mr McMahon, as Austin would call Vince out on Raw a few weeks prior to this show and attempt to goad him into a fight over calling Tyson the baddest man on the planet. McMahon refused however, but things would escalate over the next month between those two, kicking off the greatest rivalry of all time. Anyway, Tyson comes out to a live performance by the DX band here. Austin gets a huge ovation from the crowd here in Boston, whilst Michaels gets some decent heat, also making his way out to a live rendition of the DX theme. The match is very good, which is a credit to both men considering neither was at 100% here - Austin was still recovering from his neck injury, whilst Michaels back was just hanging together. This would of course be Michaels' last match for over four years. Triple H and Chyna are at ringside early on and they attempt to turn the tide in the favour of the champion as Austin has the early advantage, but the referee has them ejected in the early going. Austin gives chase however and the fight continues up at the performance area, where Michaels hits Austin with a cymbal and sends him into a dumpster. Michaels picks up momentum as the match returns to the ring. You can really see the pain in Michaels' face at this point with every move he makes. That's why he's one of the best as he's still putting on a show. Michaels gets distracted mouthing off to the crowd which allows Austin to get some more shots in, but Shawn regains control and works over the challenger's knee. The match continues and the referee ends up getting taken out. They continue to battle some more and we get an always fun finisher reversal spot as Michaels and Austin miss sweet chin music and stunner attempts respectively until Austin finally hits the stunner on Michaels. Big pop for that. With the referee down, an excited Tyson comes in and counts a fast three count to end the match at 20:04 and Stone Cold Steve Austin is the new WWF Champion for the first time in his career. JR says it best 'the Austin era has begun'. A very good match that could have been even better if these guys weren't dealing with injuries at the time. A very memorable main event to a solid Wrestlemania.
After the match, Austin hands Tyson a Stone Cold T-shirt. Michaels recovers and confronts Tyson, unhappy about his loss. Tyson knocks the former champion out with a right hand to a huge pop. He drapes the Austin shirt over Shawn's body in a symbolic changing of the guard moment as Austin and Tyson leave together with the crowd going insane. We end the show with a highlight package and with that Wrestlemania XIV is off the air.
I loved this show when I first saw it back in the day, and I still enjoy it very much today. Whilst there was no stand out classic match on this card, most of the matches were pretty good which leads to this being a very solid Wrestlemania. Austin/Michaels was a very good main event and one of the more important matches in company history since it propelled Austin to the spot of number one guy in the WWF which would ultimately lead to the company regaining its spot on top of WCW in the rating war later in the year. Undertaker/Kane was also a lot of fun despite not being the greatest match from an in-ring standpoint. As far as the undercard goes it was very solid, with the European title match being highly enjoyable, and the mixed tag and dumpster matches also being pretty solid. Overall I'd really only say the opening battle royal was a waste of time, but it was what it was supposed to be - a chance for a bunch of guys to get the big payday. The crowd was excellent as well as they were hot for the whole show. Overall one of the better Wrestlemanias to this point in history.
Three Stars of the Night:
1. Steve Austin - his crowning moment as the top guy in the company following a solid main event. What more is there to say? This was the beginning of the Austin era.
2. Shawn Michaels - love or hate the guy in this time period you have to give him credit for putting on a show despite the condition he was in. Another strong performance from Mr Wrestlemania. He went out with a match he could be proud of. Thankfully this wasn't the end, but it will be a while before we see him in the ring again
3. Triple H - you could see this guy growing into a solid wrestler at this point of time. Very good title defence for the soon to be head of D-Generation X
Once again this was really difficult. I really liked a lot of the undercard matches on this show.
FINAL GRADE: 7 out of 10
ALL TIME PERFORMANCE TALLY:
What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1. The list is put together from all the shows I have reviewed thus far.
Bret Hart = 83
Shawn Michaels = 64
Steve Austin = 48
Randy Savage = 28
Undertaker = 21
Hulk Hogan = 18
Owen Hart = 16
Diesel = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 11
Mick Foley = 10
Razor Ramon = 10
Ted DiBiase = 10
Triple H = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
Jerry Lawler = 6
Bob Backlund = 5
1-2-3 Kid = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
Savio Vega = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Hakushi = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Tanaka = 3
Kato = 3
Vince McMahon = 3
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
The Rock = 3
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Crush = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Flash Funk = 1
Hawk = 1
Animal = 1
Taka Michinoku = 1
Don?t forget to follow me on Twitter at @Mpmcc91. Next week we head across the pond for a little known UK exclusive event known as Mayhem in Manchester before continuing along with the regular PPV schedule.