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Stone Cold Steve Austin Wrestlemania vs. Shawn Michaels
Image: WWE

Wrestling

WrestleMania Retrospective: The Stone Cold Era Begins At WrestleMania XIV

The night history was made, and the Stone Cold Era began for WWE.

THE BACKGROUND

At the 1998 Royal Rumble pay-per-view WWE World Champion Shawn Michaels successfully defended the championship against the Undertaker in a casket match. Also at the event, Steve Austin won the Royal Rumble and thus earned a title shot at WrestleMania XIV.

Perhaps most notable at the Royal Rumble, Mike Tyson watched the event from a press box. The following night on RAW, Vince McMahon revealed that Tyson would be the special referee and, later on, the special enforcer for the match between Austin and Michaels. There was a confrontation between Austin and Tyson where Austin flipped Tyson off, leading to a pull-apart segment.

 The Stone Cold Era Begins At WrestleMania XIV
Image: WWE

On the February 2nd edition of RAW, DX tied Austin up in the ropes and taunted Austin by rubbing the WWE World Championship in Austin’s face. Austin led a team to defeat DX & Savio Vega in a non-sanctioned match at In Your House: No Way Out Of Texas. Michaels didn’t compete in the contest due to a back injury.

In a plot twist, Mike Tyson aligned with DX on the March 2nd edition of RAW. Over the next few weeks, Michaels continued gaining momentum on Austin by knocking Austin out with superkicks.

Before the start of the main event, Austin and Tyson have a heated standoff. As the ringside enforcer, Tyson remains at ringside with a WWE-sanctioned referee calling the match in the ring.

THE ACTION

Early on, they circle the ring to get a feel for each other until Austin flips Michaels off, much to the delight of the Boston crowd. Michaels sneaks a jab in to stagger Austin but doesn’t follow up on the advantage. Michaels runs away from Austin but, upon returning to the ring, is decked by a clothesline and rammed into the corner face-first. Austin pulls down Michaels pants and kicks Michaels butt. Austin backdrops Michaels over the top rope and onto Helmsley on the floor. Helmsley attacks Austin from behind, sending Austin into the railing face-first. The referee confronts Helmsley and ejects Helmsley and Chyna from the ringside area. That announcement brings a look of fear onto Michaels face.

Michaels axe handles Austin on the floor, but Austin attacks Helmsley on the stage for the DX band. Shawn nails Austin with a piece of the drum set, but Austin responds with strikes. Michaels stops Stone Cold by sending Austin into the dumpster from an earlier match. Austin punches Michaels coming off the ropes, and continues with several strikes. After being sent into the corner, Michaels ends up upside down. Austin delivers an atomic drop for a near fall. Stone Cold keeps control with a wrist lock, but Michaels punches free. Austin drops Michaels over the top rope with a Stun Gun but only manages a two-count. Michaels avoids a Stunner attempt but is punched off the apron and hits the announcer’s table face-first.

 The Stone Cold Era Begins At WrestleMania XIV
Image: WWE

Austin slams Michaels face-first onto the ring steps and delivers a forearm strike. Stone Cold continues with a forearm drop off the ropes. Austin keeps Michaels on the mat with a sleeper hold. Michaels breaks free with a jawbreaker before going to the floor, but Austin uses his legs to send Michaels face-first into the ring post. Michaels backdrops Austin over the railing into the crowd, but Austin doesn’t stop his pursuit. Shawn desperately grabs the ring bell and smashes Austin over the head, but Austin doesn’t stay back for long. They return to the ring, where Michaels drops Austin with an axe handle strike and pummels Austin with punches on the mat. Michaels casually stomps Austin on the face and rams Austin into the corner.

Shawn snapmares Austin to the canvas and grabs his lower back in pain. Michaels delivers a stomp to the lower midsection of Austin and flips off the crowd. Austin surges back with a tackle and punches Michaels several times. Austin tosses Michaels over the top to the floor. Michaels wraps Austin’s leg around the ring post as Tyson watches the action. Michaels jams Austin’s injured left knee into the canvas in the ring. Shawn taunts the commentators while continuing to stomp Austin on the leg. Austin kicks Michaels away into the corner and almost wins with a rollup. Michaels quickly jams Austin’s knee into the mat to regain the advantage.

Austin vs. HBK
Image: WWE

Michaels splashes onto Austin’s knee several times, causing Austin to roll to the floor in front of Tyson. Shawn baseball slides Austin onto the commentator’s table, and Tyson moves Austin back into the ring. Tyson distracts Austin allowing Michaels to chop-block Austin. Michaels slowly locks in a figure four-leg lock, but Austin doesn’t give up despite Michaels using the ropes for extra leverage. Austin rolls over to counter the hold, but Michaels lets go quickly. Austin pummels Michaels with punches before catapulting Michaels into the corner and nearly wins the match.

THE CONCLUSION

Stone Cold comes off the ropes, but Michaels stops Austin with a sleeper. Austin backs Michaels into the corner, but the referee is also sandwiched in the corner. Austin drops Michaels over the top turnbuckle and delivers several punches. Stone Cold sends Michaels into the corner, followed by stomps. Michaels comes off the ropes and is met with a backdrop. Austin chokes Michaels over the middle rope briefly. Michaels ducks a chop and forearms Austin causing both men to be down on the mat. They remain on the canvas until Michaels kips up and heads to the top rope.

Michaels struggles but leaps off and delivers an elbow drop. Michaels signals for the end and waits in the corner before stomping the mat and looking for the Sweet Chin Music. Austin staggers to his feet and ducks a kick. Michaels avoids a stunner but misses another Sweet Chin Music allowing Austin to hit the Stunner! There’s no referee, but Mike Tyson enters the ring and counts the fall for Austin to win his first WWE World Championship!

Mike Tyson at Wrestlemania
Image: WWE

THE AFTERMATH

After the match, Austin hands Tyson an Austin 3:16 t-shirt. Tyson accepts the shirt after playing to the crowd. Michaels is on the mat, shocked that Tyson has turned on DX. Michaels confronts and attempts to strike the boxing champion. Tyson ends up knocking out Michaels and raising Austin’s arm in victory.

This contest would be Shawn Michaels last match until SummerSlam 2002 due to a nagging back injury Michaels suffered at the 1998 Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Meanwhile, this victory started Austin’s incredible reign as the main event act for the WWE for the next several years. Austin’s 1998 saw him wrestle the likes of Mick Foley, Kane, and The Undertaker on pay-per-view and remaining the champion after each defense.

Written By

Bob Colling Jr. is a professional wrestling writer and reviewer based in Syracuse, New York. He is the owner of Wrestling Recaps a website dedicated to reviewing and documenting professional wrestling from a wide range of promotions. In his spare time, he is often times podcasting about professional wrestling or on the losing side of gambling bets.

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