Wrestlemania I-XXX Series. (14/30)

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Wrestlemania XIV (Tagline: dX raided) drew 19,028 fans to the FleetCenter in Boston, Massaachusetts on March 29th 1998. The card featured five championship matches, including Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels in the main event for the WWF World Championship, with “Iron” Mike Tyson as special outside enforcer.

The event is historic as following Wrestlemania XIV, the WWF ushered in the “Attitude Era” in its entirety, with the new “scratch” logo, and a new WWF Championship belt. The WWF also beat WCW in the ratings one month later, for the first time in eighty-four weeks. The build for the event saw Mike Tyson align himself with D-Generation X (Shawn Michaels, Triple H & Chyna) to stop the “The Toughest Son of a Bitch in the WWF” Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Vince McMahon introduced Mike Tyson to stack the deck against Austin, as he (in kayfabe) he did not want Austin to become champion. Vince McMahon was still a “good guy” at this point, despite the chaos Steve Austin had created over the past year.

Much to my delight, Vince McMahon did not appear on commentary, leaving Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler to begin a partnership that would last over ten years. Jim Ross accurately described the action despite Lawler’s distractions. Lawler cut back on the tasteless jokes from previous years, and would often praise the popular heels, and disagree with (almost) everything Jim Ross said.



Wrestlers making their Wrestlemania debuts include: Brian Christopher (Grandmaster Sexay), Steve Blackman, Aguila (Essa Rios), Taka Michinoku, Mark Henry and Kane.

Terry Funk returned to the WWF, and wrestled at his first Wrestlemania since Wrestlemania II (12 years) to team with Cactus Jack. WWF had renamed him “Chainsaw Charlie”. Luna Vachon also returned to Wrestlemania for the first time since Wrestlemania X (4 years).

Shawn Michaels suffered a serious back injury in the casket match against The Undertaker at the Royal Rumble event. A back drop to the outside caused two herniated discs, but he still worked the main event against Steve Austin for the WWF Championship. HBK officially retired from wrestling following this event.

The event was heavily “D-X” influenced. Also many videos packages aired to explain and hype storylines (rarely shown att previous events).. The American National Anthem (“America The Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner”) returned, however, Chris Warren and the D-X band killed it with a weak performance and excessive screeching, which caused the fans to boo them heavily, during and after.

As D-X were the main heels leading into the event, Warren and the D-X band could have (just guessing here) played this way to garner heat for the stable. The fans saw it as weak and disrespectful, but the band returned to play the D-X theme later in the night.




Match #1 – 15-team battle royal to determine the number one contenders to the WWF Tag Team Championship. Participants: Los Boricuas (two teams), The Truth Commission, Flash Funk & Blackman, Chainz & Bradshaw, Nation Of Domination (two teams, Mark Henry & D’Lo Brown, Kama & Faarooq), The Quebecers, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, The Headbangers, Too Much, DOA, The Godwinns, The New Midnight Express (w/ Jim Cornette) and LOD 2000 (w/ Sunny).

All I remember is LOD 2000 making their entrance with their new attire, Sunny looking scorching hot (much to Lawler’s delight), and the crowd chanting “LOD!”. No other teams mattered at that point, and the match saw much outside interference (like we didn’t have enough wrestlers in the match), and DOA eliminating The Godwinns after being eliminated themselves.

Sadly, the tag team division had the New Midnight Express to take on LOD 2000, and they were no match. The crowd only cared for LOD and Sunny, and nothing else mattered in their eyes and mine.


Match #2 – Taka Michinoku (c) vs. Aguila for the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship.

WCW was using their cruiserweight division to great effect by this time, so I could only see the match as something WWF didn’t want, but decided to introduce to spite the opposition. Nevertheless, I was happy to see a “light heavyweight” match for a championship. I knew Aguila had never won the title, so it was obvious who was going to win.

The match was filled with high-risk spots, and once again, Jerry Lawler buried the flamboyant style and gave little reason to care for it. Why give us high-flying action if Lawler’s going to bury it?

it was lacking a meaningful feud, and you could tell it was there as filler. The crowd enjoyed it though, and so did I. Taka finished Aguila with a sweet Michinoku Driver.

After the match, Taka and Aguila showed respect for one another. As they raised each others arms, Jerry Lawler expressed his disgust. Jim Ross replied by asking if Lawler knew the meaning of the words “honor” and “respect”.

The Rock and Gennifer Flowers had a very interesting backstage interview after the second match, and all I can say is .. heel Rocky was exceptionally entertaining. I tried to find a video of it, but it seems WWE has blocked it everywhere.


Match #3 – Triple H (c) (with Chyna) vs. Owen Hart for the WWF European Championship

Felt awkward as Jerry Lawler told everyone how he hated anyone with the surname “Hart”, considering the recent events of the Montreal Screwjob. I always found it interesting how Owen didn’t leave when Bret Hart, British Bulldog and Rick Rude left WWF for WCW after Survivor Series.

The match had one stipulation, Chyna would be tied to Commissioner Slaughter with handcuffs. Slaughter met resistance from Chyna, but eventually managed to get her arm and handcuff her wrist. Triple H was introduced as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, although Jim Ross was calling him Triple H at this point. The old Hunter Hearst Helmsley gimmick was coming to an end, and (I believe) he would simply be known as Triple H going forward.

Owen Hart always reminds me of Chris Jericho for some reason. Not by the way he looks, by the way he works. He made Triple H work to keep up with him. The match wasn’t anything special, just like HHH vs Goldust from the previous year, it was the ending which was most memorable.

Chyna was handcuffed to a heavy-looking Slaughter, and as she tried to interfere, Slaughter held his ground. At this point it was more about Chyna trying to interfere (the fans were cheering for it) than the match itself.

Chyna found some white powder outta’ nowhere and threw it in Slaughter’s eyes. Chyna was then free to low-blow Owen Hart (outta’ nowhere and very well executed) to set HHH up for the pedigree. The match was never going to be a classic, as it was there to show the night belonged to D-X. I laughed at the heel antics, and labelled it as “vintage HHH and Chyna”.


Match #4 – Marc Mero & Sable vs. Luna Vachon & The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust in a Mixed Tag Team Match.

Such a bizarre story leading into this one. Apparently Sable was the only face in the match, as Mero was jealous of her (in kayfabe) for getting all the attention. Vachon and “fat” Goldust just didn’t like either of ’em. Sable had portrayed a quiet, yet attractive figure as the valet for Marc Mero, and the fans loved it when Sable showed aggressive side. This was Sable’s debut match, and the fan anticipation was high.

The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust wore a silver attire with red facepaint, and was noticeably over-weight He looked horrible, and I felt sad as Mero ran circles round him.

The match was great for two reasons, 1) Sable, and 2) how over she was. Literally everything Sable did got Steve Austin-like reactions. It was crazy … the fans were absolutely in love with Sable and everything she did. Luna Vachon played to this exceptionally well, as she ran away from Sable to begin with, and the crowd were booing her.. The anticipation of Sable getting her hands on Luna was very clear. When she finally got her, the fans popped loud, and I couldn’t help but join in! “Cat Fight!”

Not only that! Sable attacked Fatdust (that’s my new name for him) and stiffly punched him in the face on several occasions. She was literally smacking Fatdust around like she was a bloke, it was so awesome. In the end, Sable managed to deliver an epic powerbomb on Vachon (which should have ended the match), and followed it up with a weak-looking TKO (similar to an F-5) to get the pin-fall.

I was expecting a crap fest, but the crowd and intensity from Sable made it worthy. Once again, Goldust lost at Wrestlemania, which continues his Wrestlemania losing streak. Mero celebrated with a reluctant Sable afterwards, but ultimately did not take the spotlight from her. Just, wow, the divas WISH they could get a reaction like that from a crowd.


Match #5 – The Rock (c) (w/ Kama, Mark Henry & D’Lo) vs. Ken Shamrock for the WWF Intercontinental Championship – Had The Rock been disqualified, he would have lost the title to Ken Shamrock.

The friction between The Rock and the Nation’s leader Faarooq was highlighted before the match. Shamrock made his entrance to a well-received pop. Shamrock attacked Maivia (JR was still calling him Maivia) immediately as The Rock sold offense like only he could.

The match was dominated by Shamrock, and after failing to put him away, he got frustrated and introduced a steel chair, only for the referee to intercept. Shamrock knocked him down, and the ref did not disqualify him for it. Shamrock locked in his anklelock submission, and The Rock tapped like a drummer boy. The match was easily the worst of the singles bouts, but the destruction which followed (kind of) made up for it.

Shamrock was declared the winner initially, and suplex the other four members of the Nation in quick succession. Shamrock went right back to the anklelock on The Rock. Faarooq ran down to the ring and climbed on to the apron. He looked down on The Rock screaming in agony, and decided to walk away.

Shamrock refused to let go of the hold as an army of referees swarmed the ring. Shamrock let go with a crazy look in eyes, as he continued “Suplex City” on anyone who came close. After leaving a pile of destruction, The Rock was just kinda .. hanging off the side of the ring apron, selling the offense like a movie star.

Medical personal lifted The Rock on to a stretcher, as Finkel announced “Intercontinental Champion, The Rock!”. Finkel realized the microphone didn’t work properly, so he repeated the announcement in full; the result had been reversed due to Shamrock refusing to let go of the anklelock.

As expected, Shamrock went right back to Suplex City (as The Rock held his championship in the air), and made haste towards The Rock, knocking him off the stretcher. Shamrock was eventually restrained, as The Rock was seen to. Shamrock decided to leave the ringside area, as the commentators reiterated the fact his nickname “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” was not just a name, it was fact.

The Rock made Shamrock look like a star here, as he continued the heel character which got him to the main event scene. The match was lackluster, the carnage was top-notch, and the dusty finish kept the feud going.


Match #6 – The New Age Outlaws vs Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie in a Dumpster Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship.

The fans already knew the words to Road Dogg’s entrance at this point. He also called Chainsaw Charlie “Terry Funk” on purpose, after warning those with weak hearts. Funk wore a Terry Funk shirt, and Lawler did not hold back with the “old-age” jokes. Foley had filled out considerably from the previous Wrestlemania, and looking a lot more like the Foley we know.

As you would expect from these two teams, the match was not pretty. Funk took most of the damage, and fought in the dumpster more often than not. Cactus and Funk, despite being “hardcore legends”, used weapons, but not as often as you would like. Cactus Jack introduced a ladder to the match, which received a loud “ECW” chant, to go with the “RVD” and “ECW” signs in the crowd.

The Outlaws dominated most of the match, as they were clearly the quicker team with better chemistry. Cactus and Funk almost lost, but luckily some stalling from Gunn gave Cactus time to recover and lock in two mandible claws.

After the Outlaws delivered a shockingly good powerbomb on Funk, sending him square into the dumpster, the Outlaws double teamed Cactus to the backstage area for no particular reason. The intensity went to another level as they threw Cactus like a bowling ball towards four giant (human-sized) soda bottles.

They continued the beat down on Cactus until Funk appeared outta’ nowhere. Cactus smashed both Outlaws skulls with a steel chair (chair shots to the head are banned nowadays), as Terry Funk found a forklift.

Cactus placed them on the forklift, as Terry Funk used the forklift to drop them into another dumpster. The lids were closed, making Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie new tag team champions. They banged on the side of the dumpster, mocking the Outlaws, and celebrated with the belts. A crazy match which had its good moments, but could have been better had more weapons come into play.


.Match #7 – The Undertaker vs. Kane (w/ Paul Bearer)

The video package for the Undertaker/Kane feud is probably my favourite in the series so far. You will never find a more menacing Kane than he was in 1998. The story was set, and the two brothers were destined to collide in a match which would be heard by the living, and the dead, for all eternity. If this promo video does not make you watch Wrestlemania XIV, nothing will. This is absolute must-see for anyone who has never seen it before. Buckle in kids, it’s about to get scary.


Can you feel the goosebumps yet? Well the scare factor did not end there, as Pete Rose made his way to the ring to announce the contest. Hmm yeah, Pete Rose, instead of just announcing, he decided to go for the cheap heat and attack the Boston Red Sox.

I found it hilarious when, Kane, the guy who’s supposed to be the big bad menacing heel to end The Undertaker, made his way to the ring with fireballs booming behind, got in the ring, and delivered a tombstone piledriver to Rose; which obviously received a loud ovation. Only in the attitude era would they blatantly give a heel something “cool” to do before a match. In vintage Undertaker fashion, dozens of druids appeared with torches to light the walkway, as The Undertaker made his grand entrance.

You know, I won’t go into this too much. The match was good and established Kane as the “Big Red Machine”. Was it an absolute classic match? No, but it didn’t need to be. On this occasion, Kane dominated The Undertaker for long periods, and he was easily the biggest threat to the streak so far.


Match #8 – Shawn Michaels (c) (w/ HHH & Chyna) vs Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWF Championship, with Mike Tyson as special outside enforcer.

Having someone with the popularity of Mike Tyson involved in your main event, absolutely huge for the WWF, and a clear punch to the jaw of WCW. When you’re going to bring in a celebrity, this is how you do it right. Tyson was firmly in D-Xs corner as he continued to crotch-chop his junk into an oblivion. Just like the previous match, it’s better explained with a video promo. So sit back and enjoy!

Michael Cole sells these video promos better than his entire commentary career. As stated above, Shawn Michaels was walking into the match with a severe back injury. He had no right being in the ring at this point, but he needed to pass the torch. With the popularity of Stone Cold Steve Austin, it was time to make a new face of the WWF, and Michaels did everything in his power to help.

The match was intense, and lot more like the main events of the attitude era. It wasn’t about wrestling holds, it was about the fight, and neither man held back. Despite Michael’s clear limitations, watching the match, you wouldn’t believe he was so injured he would be retired for four years. All you see in this match is the crowd going nuts over everything Austin did. It seemed like a formality to the fans, Austin was leaving as champion.

The match was better than many wrestlers can handle when they are perfectly able, so Michael’s should be praised for his performance. After many false finishes, Steve Austin delivered a stunner while the ref was knocked down. Austin covered Michaels for the pin, and Mike Tyson quickly entered the ring and made a fast three-count, giving the victory and title to Austin. The crowd popped loud as Austin celebrated with Tyson. Lawler was dumbfounded, as he tried to figure out what happened. Tyson held up an Austin 3:16 shirt to the crowd to show his true allegience.

Michaels, who had just worked an intense match through his injury, got in Tyson’s face and demanded answers. Michaels tried to hit Tyson, but Tyson quickly blocked and reversed it into a short punch of his own. Michaels sold it like he was hit by a tank, and appeared to squirm on the floor as the camera showed a close-up of his face.


Conclusion – One of the best Wrestlemania’s I have seen in the series. And not for the matches, but for the sheer entertainment value. Some of the matches were lacking, or had dodgy finishes, but that’s a trend you will see in all the Wrestlemanias I have reviewed so far.

I’m going to include Vince Russo in this conclusion, and I’ll do so in a positive light. Russo is responsible for the storylines behind Austin vs McMahon, Undertaker vs Kane, D-Generation X, and the rise of The Rock, and by this point Russo had worked in creative over a year. He had turned a company around which was struggling to fight the mighty WCW/nWo angle, and could now be seen as a threat to WCW.

I also found it funny when Austin mentioned WCW as his motivation for reaching the main event level, as any Austin fans may have grown a dislike for WCW for firing Austin the way they did. Austin did this at the biggest stage, at an event which included Mike Tyson. The mainstream coverage would have picked up on that and the message would have been heard from wrestling fans of other promotions.

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