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WWE Backstage Report: March 31, 2020

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The Rock now has Austin on the defensive, and he gives him another chop block! Henry points out the attack on the legs. That’s smart strategy given Austin’s bad knees. The Rock puts Austin on the desk to SMASH the knee on the monitors! Booker says that’s the “Bobby Bowden clip.” The Rock stomps Austin around the way. Renee asks how working matches in a feud, what are some of the psychological tips for a third match like this? Booker says the first thing is, “We’ve been here before.” The Rock stomps away on Austin’s legs as Booker says that the familiarity already tells both wrestlers what they need to do the next time.

Again, The Rock and Stone Cold know the business, they know just about every aspect to this, and the key is to go and “create pandemonium.” The key is to instill a feeling fans haven’t felt before. The Rock slams Austin’s legs against the apron! He drags Austin to the post and brings it up the middle! Booker notes that The Rock can make a spit-punch into something so big, that’s the sign of a true puppet master. Renee notes how the fans are turning on The Rock because of how he’s playing the Heel. Henry says another thing that people might not realize, but Jim Ross was perhaps at his best calling this match and telling the story. Austin rallies back with haymaker after haymaker and then a whip. The Rock kicks back then kicks the bad leg out!

The story telling in this match is incredible. JR deserves as much credit and respect for this match as the two men in the ring. The Rock smashes Austin’s knee and then puts on his version of the Sharpshooter! Renee notes how much JBL helped Booker with his commentary chops to help propel stories forward. Booker agrees, it takes a multitude of guys to pull things like this off. But The Rock making his transition, he is still the most beloved wrestler in this business. And still being able to flip a switch and get people to dislike him is truly what makes the business. Austin gets the ropebreak and The Rock undoes the Sharpshooter, only to drag Austin out to the apron and throw hands. The Rock drags Austin to a corner as the ref reprimands. The Rock scares the ref off with a show of the backhand!

Renee notes that the same kind of turn is notable in Austin VS Bret Hart. What does that feel like to mentally prepare yourself for when the crowd turns? Booker loved it, being both good guy and bad guy. But there is of course a huge difference in the two roles, though obviously the Face gets more praise. The Rock takes it to a new level as he grabs Austin’s vest and puts it on. But if you’re the ultimate Heel, you revel in it, and The Rock was able to do that. The Rock shows so by dumping a bunch of water on his head and then splashing everyone around him.


The Rock struts to the ring but Austin is on him with haymakers! Henry says that’s what makes The Rock The Rock. He could poke fun at himself just as much as the other wrestlers. Austin whips but The Rock reverses, only for Austin to dodge and lariat back! Henry points that exchange out as both men are down, this is a well disguised breather break for them. This is the halfway point, give or take, so you need the break to make it the rest of the way. Booker loves that The Rock still has the vest on. The Rock throws hands but Austin counter punches! Austin whips to swing a back hand but The Rock dodges, only to run into Austin’s Thesz Press! Booker says that is the art of being a great worker, and no one else did it like those two. Henry can’t help but agree.


Austin runs to drop his double dirty bird elbow! Cover, TWO!! Henry notes that this match here, Austin VS The Rock at WM19, stacks up against all the other great matches in Mania history. And that includes Andre VS Hogan at WM3, as much as it did for WrestleMania as an event. This match, though, is just as pivotal because of two undeniable Mount Rushmore of Wrestling members going head to head. Booker agrees with that. Austin stomps a mudhole, flips off the ref and then stomps some more. Austin whips The Rock but The Rock dodges and ducks to LEAPING LARIAT! And kips up! Fans fire up and Booker again says this is truly what the business is. The Rock fires up but turns around into Austin stealing The Rock Bottom! Cover, TWO!!

Henry loves that the gap between stealing the move and going for the pin, Austin sells his knees. This is just masterful, all the nuances and subtleties. Henry could watch this match over and over and find new things in it. Austin waits for The Rock to stand, but The Rock blocks the Stunner to STEAL the Stunner!! And everyone loves that the fans go wild. The Rock crawls to the cover, TWO!! “A thing of beauty.” And this is already about 20 minutes. Both men are on adrenaline and the fans’ reaction. It’s like extra oxygen or gas. The Rock throws those signature haymakers, then gives double dirty birds, only to swing into the STUNNER! The Rock really sells, too! Henry says The Rock was always the best at that. Renee says Byron Saxton from a couple weeks ago is pretty good.

Austin rises first and looms over The Rock. The ref argues with him, but Austin pushes the ref away. This allows The Rock to LOW BLOW! The Rock knows the fans saw it but it doesn’t matter what they saw! And now The Rock stands over Austin and he prepares the most electrifying move in pro-wrestling! The People’s Elbow MISSES! Austin wants a Stunner but is denied, to a SPINE BUSTER! Off comes the vest, and the other elbow pad, to another try… PEOPLE’S ELBOW! Cover, TWO!!! Booker knows fans knew this wasn’t the end yet still felt it might have been. You set the hook and bait the fish in! Henry says the one thing different about this year’s Mania, the false finish(es) really only work when fans can fall for it. The Rock hits the ROCK BOTTOM! Cover, TWO!! Another example right there.


The Rock waits for Austin to rise. Booker notes that a lot of the crowd excitement is from being conflicted. The fans don’t want Austin to win, and they don’t want The Rock to lose, badum tsh. But Renee says it really is magical when you don’t know how to feel. Austin slowly gets up, The Rock intensely glares all around, and fans reach a fever pitch. Austin fights off the Rock Bottom, but then turns around INTO A ROCK BOTTOM! Cover, TWO!!! “Look at his eyes!” Booker knows the wrestling part is one thing, but the theatrics is another. You need to take the fans on a ride they will remember forever. That is this match!


The Rock waits for Austin to rise again, and it takes a bit longer than before. The Rock grabs Austin, takes a dramatic pause, and then hits ANOTHER ROCK BOTTOM! Cover, The Rock wins! Again, masterful story telling from two living legends. And The Rock was forever thankful for Austin giving that final match. In fact, The Rock reflected and posted an Instagram video about it! “This was his last match, Stone Cold Steve Austin. And when I mean his last match, I mean literally his last match.” The very last match of Austin’s career. No one but they knew it, and it still gives The Rock goosebumps. “I hit him with three Rock Bottoms,” and that was the appropriate level needed to win against The Texas Rattlesnake.

Rock remembers whispering, “I thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me. I love you.” Austin replied with, “I love you, too.” Rock gave Austin a slap on the chest and left the ring. Austin retired that night, and it was truly unforgettable. Renee says WM19 was a great match and an end of an ear, so to speak. But this is not the end of WWE Backstage! Another icon steps back into the ring this WrestleMania Weekend! Is John Cena in for the fight of his career?

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