In the build-up to WrestleMania 32, the Flickering Myth writers look back at previous installments of the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’..
Savio & Miguel vs. Jose & Jesus, Recon & Sniper vs. Bradshaw & Chainz vs. Mark Henry & D’Lo Brown vs. The Quebecers vs. The Rock N Roll Express vs. The Headbangers vs. Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor vs. Skull & 8-Ball, Steve Blackman & Flash Funk vs. The New Midnight Express vs. The Godwinns vs.The Legion of Doom (15-Team Battle Royal)
Light Heavyweight Title Match: Aguila vs. TAKA Michinoku
European Title Match: Triple H w/Chyna vs. Owen Hart
The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust & Luna vs. “Marvelous” Marc Mero & Sable
IC Title Match: The Rock w/The Nation vs. Ken Shamrock
WWF Tag Title Match: Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie vs. The New Age Outlaws (Dumpster Match)
Kane w/Paul Bearer vs. Undertaker
WWF Title Match: ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels w/Triple H & Chyna
The only real disappointment on this card is the opener. Long before the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal or Money in the Bank Ladder Match, the WWF bookers had to come up with some other way to get as many wrestlers on the card as possible: a 15-team Battle Royal was their answer.
Filling the ring with competitors can be a great way to kick-off a WrestleMania, but unfortunately there was never any real investment in this one. For one thing, it was never in any doubt as to who was going to win! The last team were kept as ‘mystery entrants’, and as soon as that famous theme music blared and Legion of Doom made their way through the curtain, they were always leaving victorious. Hawk and Animal were making their triumphant return to the WWF, and there was no way the crowd was going to be robbed of a Road Warriors win.
If the opening tag bout left fans a touch underwhelmed, then the Tag Title Match later in the show certainly didn’t. The New Age Outlaws were heel champions going into this event and, while they weren’t officially DX members yet (they’d join the stable the following night on RAW), they were generating all kinds of heat in their feud with Mick Foley and Terry Funk.
In the build-up to this match, Billy Gunn and Road Dogg would attack Foley and Funk, before locking them in a dumpster and wheeling it off the RAW stage. It remains one of the most memorable segments in the show’s history, one which Foley would later describe as, ‘one of the funnier examples of bad sportsmanship’.
The ‘Mania match itself was stipulated so that the only way to win was to throw both opponents into the dumpster. It was the sort of crazy, lawless wrestling match that Foley and funk thrived in, and they certainly did that here. Ladders, lead pipes and even forklifts were used to devastating effect, injecting some much-needed violence into proceedings. With the exception of his Street Fight versus Edge, this might just be Foley’s finest ‘Mania moment.
Despite an above-average undercard, and two great semi-mains, the fact remains that when you think of WrestleMania XIV, you think of one match in particular: the main event between Shawn Michaels and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin.
The build to the match was phenomenal. Austin was reaching new heights as a bad-ass anti-hero, selling out arenas nationwide almost single-handedly. Michaels had been really left off the leash as leader of D-Generation X, producing some of his most entertaining work to date. Throw in the volatile element of ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson (Easily one of Vince’s best celebrity storylines) and it was clear that this match could be magical…
And it was magical.
Austin was ‘over’ with the crowd like nobody before him, and the entire arena became unglued as soon as his theme hit. ‘The Texas Rattlesnake’ put up the fight of his life here, not only against Michaels, but also against the constant threats of Tyson, Triple H and Chyna on the outside of the ring.
Austin was on fire, there’s no doubt about it, but the true hero of this bout is HBK. In a career littered with outstanding WrestleMania matches, it’s easy to forget just how good Michaels’ performance was on this night. A performance made all the more impressive by the fact that ‘Mr WrestleMania’ was carrying a severe back injury (one that would keep him out of action for the next FIVE years). You wouldn’t know it, of course, as HBK bumped around the ring with a level of energy that has to be seen to be belief.
The finish was executed perfectly. The Tyson double-cross was a genuine shock, and played out in an organic and realistic way. The closing images of Austin with the title, accompanied by Jim Ross’ classic commentary, makes for an unforgettable WrestleMania moment.
This was it: the birth of the Attitude Era.
There had been seeds sewn and a ‘Mania 13, and a significant change in direction for the company as a whole. However, as Austin raised his newly-earned title above his head, it became fundamentally clear that the Professional Wrestling industry had changed for good.
For its ‘historical significance alone, WrestleMania 14 is well worth a re-watch. Add to that a decent undercard and an incredible main event, and what you have is a ‘Mania show that is well above the average.
Jackson Ball – Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn