Greatest Feuds of the Attitude Era - Austin Vs McMahon
by, 10-23-2011 at 07:55 AM (2917 Views)
November 9th 1997. The day the Attitude Era began.
The day the Attitude Era began will always be debated. Some will say King of the Ring ’96 when Austin delivered the ‘Austin 3:16’ line, others will say WrestleMania 13 when Bret Hart and Stone Cold finally collided but I point to Survivor Series ’97 as the key date. Austin is in no doubt the prominent wrestler of the era but it was McMahon, not Austin, who finally changed the course of wrestling forever.
When he cost Bret Hart, a talent who signified the old style of wrestling, the WWF Title, he created a heel character who could rival Austin for fan reaction. The Attitude Era would deliver fantastic heels like Triple H and The Rock but they were not main event wrestlers at this point. Shawn Michaels was cast in the heel role but his antics with DX ultimately proved popular with the crowds and he became more of an anti-hero.
McMahon later introduced the Attitude Era formally with this opening to an episode of Raw Is War little over a month following the PPV:
The DX/Austin feud was the trigger that pushed Stone Cold to the highest level and delivered him his first of many WWF Titles. Michaels retired prematurely following WrestleMania 14 match which left Austin without a rival.
The Raw after WrestleMania 14, Mr McMahon and Stone Cold met in the first of many heated encounters which would be the ultimate feud that defined the early part of the Attitude Era. McMahon handed Austin the new WWF Title but warned him that he wasn’t a fan of his rebellious nature and perhaps, as the new face of the WWF, he should act as a WWF Champion should. Austin, unsurprisingly, gave McMahon his answer in the form of a Stunner which rocked not only the Chairman, but the thousands in attendance and the millions at home.
But for all their heated encounters it would be criminal to forget their many humorous moments as well. This first occurred when it appeared that Austin had decided to become the corporate champion that McMahon had dreamed of:
The feud was basically a revision of an old formula. Think Looney Tunes for a minute. Road Runner would just be going about his business and each episode would revolve around Wile E Coyote attempting, and ultimately failing, to kill him. In the Attitude Era it was basically McMahon making attempt after attempt at getting the WWF Title out of Austin’s hands and the crowd took great joy in watching him fail on a regular basis.
It appeared that McMahon had won when he fired Austin for not refereeing a match between The Undertaker and Kane for the vacant WWF Title. But Austin was not gone for long. He made his return in a famous scene when he held a toy gun to McMahon and revealed to him that Shane McMahon had re-signed him.
Shane McMahon cost him his shot at the Survivor Series ’98 tournament when The Rock won his very first WWF Title. Austin almost won the ’99 Royal Rumble but a distraction from The Rock allowed McMahon to throw him over the top rope. In the end McMahon gave up his title shot which proved to be a big mistake as Shawn Michaels, the WWF Commissioner, decided that the shot should go to the runner-up Austin.
Stone Cold agreed to fight McMahon at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in a cage fight for the WrestleMania title shot. McMahon did make a stipulation that Austin couldn’t touch him before the match though which led to a hilarious set of segments as McMahon tried to goad Austin in to attacking him and getting himself fired. Big Show debuted in the match to help McMahon but ended up making Austin the winner when he threw him through the cage.
Stone Cold went on to win the WWF Title in a classic match with The Rock at WrestleMania XV although shortly afterwards the McMahon father/son pairing cost him the title against The Undertaker.
Then Linda and Stephanie, who owned 50 percent of the company, handed over their part of the company to Austin and in a bid to rid his life of the McMahons he invited the father and son to a handicap ladder match for his percent of the company. The McMahons ultimately cheated in the match by having the briefcase heightened when Austin went to capture it so it would be unreachable. Austin had the last laugh when he revealed that shortly before losing his control of the company he signed himself to a five year contract and gave himself a title shot against The Undertaker. He won and became a four time champion.
In a final bid to get Austin out of the WWF, McMahon created a match between Austin and The Undertaker where if Austin won, McMahon would have to leave TV and if The Undertaker won, Austin would leave the WWF. Stone Cold was the victor and it would be two years before the feud picked up again.
At WrestleMania X7, Stone Cold defeated The Rock for the WWF Title with help from McMahon. The new partnership led to Austin becoming a heel, despite still being hugely popular with the crowd, and a series of comical moments as Austin and Kurt Angle battled for McMahon’s attention. Austin left to join the invasion and after it failed he returned to the WWF.
The 2001 rivalry wasn’t anywhere near as cool as the 98/99 rivalry although by that time the Attitude Era was almost finished.
In my opinion it’s the greatest wrestling feud of all time. It didn’t rely on wrestling because McMahon but creatively it was a masterpiece. For two years, week-after-week, they created some classic moments and hilarious encounters and the fans loved it. Austin represented the inner rebel in everyone and when he stunned McMahon for the first time it was the dream of every working person, the ultimate ‘Fuck You’ to the boss.
Bret Hart left in 1997 because the WWF couldn’t afford his ten year contract anymore. Normally having to release your top star and champion to your rivals is a signal of the end but in a twist of fate it was a sign of the beginning. It is possible that perhaps this rivalry saved the WWF.
Depending on the feedback I’d like to make this Greatest Feuds of the Attitude Era a regular blog. So feel free to leave your comments because they mean a lot to me….
IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU THINK!