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WrestleMania XIV: A Turning Point or Inconsequential, But Promising, Show?

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WrestleMania 14 Shawn Michaels Mike Tyson Steve Austin

WrestleMania XIV has been seen as a turning point in WWF history. It was the WrestleMania that saw us saying goodbye to Shawn Michaels, the volatile, rebellious, but very talented champion, due to a back injury that looked to be a career ender. Taking his place at the top of the mountain was Stone Cold Steve Austin, ready to embark on a revolutionary feud with the tyrannical, scheming, nefarious owner of WWF, Vince McMahon.

 

In the revolutionary group HBK had helped found, Degeneration-X, Triple H was ready to take the renegade group to new heights of popularity and take the Monday Night Wars that had been going on for three years, and that WWF seemed to be losing, to the doorstep of WCW, turning the tide of the war.

 

The Undertaker, long the seemingly immortal Phenom, had been revealed to be all too human, with the revelation that his younger brother, Kane, was still alive. One of the greatest and longest running feuds in WWF was just beginning and would become career definers for both men for decades.

 

Rocky Maivia has completed his transformation into The Rock and about to take his first real steps to becoming a major league player as leader of the Nation of Domination.

 

So many good or great things were about to happen in WWF, it was just waiting for this night to happen.

 

Except that they weren’t, or no one knew they were going to happen because of WrestleMania XIV.  Nothing I’ve described was guaranteed or waiting in the wings for the last bell to ring, so they could burst forth onto the stage.

 

Does that mean that WrestleMania XIV should be completely dismissed as inconsequential because the fallout was incidental to the event? Or should it be appreciated for its own merits and the doors it opened that allowed so many cool things to take place? Let’s find out.

 

Opener:

We get a montage about the place of tradition and the Attitude Era at WrestleMania, and why it’s still important, even in the Attitude Era.

 

This is the first WrestleMania to feature JR and Lawler together as the commentators.

 

Battle Royal To Determine the #1 Contender For The WWF Tag Team Championship

We start with fourteen of the fifteen team already at ringside. We’re told that if one member of the team is thrown over the top rope, both members are out. That sounds kind of stupid to me, but what do I know?

 

Legion of Doom’s music hits, to everyone’s surprise. LoD comes out with Sunny and with a whole new look, including helmets. The crowd is ecstatic at seeing LoD back and chants for them.

 

I’m not going to try and keep up with this, it’s a battle royal. It’s a good match and the crowd enjoyed it.

 

Winner: Legion of Doom by eliminating the New Midnight Express. LoD celebrate. Hawk is a little hesitant to hug Sunny.

Comment: I think some of the rules for this were kind of stupid, but I enjoyed the match anyway.

 

We get a look at some of the public appearances WWF did in Boston leading up to WrestleMania, including HBK and Tyson kissing Austin on the head when his arms were caught in the ropes.

 

WWF Light Heavyweight Championship: Taka Michinoku vs Aguila

 

Taka is out to an okay pop. Aguila gets no reaction.

 

I have trouble following Light Heavyweight/Cruiserweights and typing because they move so fast, so I’m not going to try. These guys are great athletes, but this match had its rough and slightly sloppy spots. This match was really good and the crowd seemed to enjoy it.

 

Winner: Taka Michinoku by pinfall. Aguila is a good sport and raises Taka’s hand in victory

Highlights: This whole match is a highlight reel.

Comment: I love Cruiserweight matches, so this was a thumbs up for me.

 

Ginnifer Flowers (one of then President Bill Clinton’s many alleged affairs) is with The Rock. Rock insists on calling Ms. Flowers ‘Ginny’ and says that he’s ‘The People’s Champion’. Ms. Flowers is not impressed and asks Rock about what he would if he was the leader of the country. Rock says that the term ‘Leader’ is beneath him and a better term would be ‘ruler’.

 

Ms. Flowers is still not impressed and brings up the homeless situation(Commenter: The heck does this have to do with wrestling or the IC Title?). Rock plays up the heel and basically says that he doesn’t really care about the homeless situation, as long as he has his palatial palace. Ms. Flowers keeps bringing up political stuff that has nothing to do with WrestleMania, or the Intercontinental Championship, so I fast forwarded through it.

 

WWF European Championship: Triple H (with Chyna) vs Owen Hart

 

The DX Band plays Triple H and Chyna to the ring and they get a pretty good pop. Trips is still going by ‘Hunter Hearst Helmsley’, but he’s basically the Triple H he would become after this show. We’re told that Chyna will be handcuffed to Commissioner Slaughter in order to try and keep her from interfering. We get a recap of the feud between Helmsley and Owen Hart.

 

Chyna is not happy about having to be cuffed to Slaughter and neither is Helmsley. Trips tells Slaughter that if he wants Chyna cuffed to him, he’ll have to do it himself. Slaughter obliges, but Chyna still refuses to cooperate, but Slaughter won’t back down and Chyna is seemingly neutralized.

 

Owen is out to a pretty good pop and this match starts with a slugfest. Owen’s injured ankle gives him a little trouble, but not a lot. Owen slides outside and taunts Chyna, who tries to take a swing at him, but can’t because of Slaughter.

 

This was a really great match. Both guys really tore the house down. Chyna does find a way to help Helmsley, even cuffed to Slaughter, but she gets sick of the restraint and throws powder in his eyes, which distracts Owen, allowing Helmsley to get the pin.

 

Winner: Triple H by pinfall after the Pedigree. Once Chyna is freed of Slaughter, she cheapshots him and throws him over the guardrail.

Highlights: Chyna being stuck with Slaughter. Owen taunting Chyna.

Comment: I enjoyed this match immensely.

 

We get a recap about the feud leading up to the third Mixed Tag Team Match at WrestleMania, which is more about how badly Mero treated Sable because she became more popular than him. Just going by this video recap, I’m already dreading this match.

 

Mixed Tag Team Match: Marc Mero and Sable vs The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust and Luna Vachon

 

Goldust and Luna are out first to a mixed to negative reaction. Mero and Sable are out next to a really great pop. Sable looks like she’d rather be doing something else.

 

Goldust and Mero start out, and I’m already tired of this. Goldust and Luna were okay, but Sable and Mero were awful.

 

Winner: Sable gets the win for her team by pinning Luna after the TKO. Mero isn’t happy that Sable got the win but celebrates anyway. Sable goes to leave, but Mero stops her so they can celebrate in the ring together.

Highlights: It ended.

Comment: Oh, I’m glad that’s over.

 

We were about to get a video recap about the Rock/Shamrock feud, but someone named Tennessee Lee, who looks and sounds like Colonel Robert Parker from WCW, is introducing us to Ginnifer Flowers, who is on the arm of Jeff Jarrett. I’m not sure why Jarrett’s there since he is NOT part of this IC Title match and his suit is ugly.

 

Jarrett asks Ms. Flowers if he’s great. Ms. Flowers says that she’s been with great, and he is great. Okay, apparently Ms. Flowers is going to be the special guest ring announcer for the Intercontinental Match, but I’m still not sure why Jarrett or Lee are there.

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship: The Rock (with the Nation of Domination) vs Ken Shamrock

 

Rock is out first with Nation of Domination to raucous boos. The ‘Rocky sucks’ chants are LOUD. A noticeable absence from the Nation members is Farooq. Shamrock is out next to a thunderous pop.

This match starts fast, furious and all over the place. This was a great match. Both guys brought a lot of intensity to this match and the crowd was definitely on Shamrock’s side.

 

Winner: Ken Shamrock gets the initial win by submission by making Rock tap like a drum, but when he refuses to break his ankle lock, the decision is reversed, and he’s disqualified, and Rock retains the belt. Shamrock, not to mention to the crowd, are furious by this decision and goes after Rock and beats him up some more on the DX Band stage.

Highlights: Shamrock suplexing the members of the Nation trying to come to Rock’s aid. Farooq coming out and then refusing to help Rock.

Comment: I liked this match a lot. It told a good story and left the crowd wanting more.

 

We get a promo about the wrestlers and how they are real athletes.

 

JR and King are back and we’re told that WrestleMania XIV has grossed over $1 million, the highest grossing event in the history of Boston.

 

Dumpster Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: The New Age Outlaws vs Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) and Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk)

 

Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie are out first to a loud pop. New Age Outlaws are act next and they ‘re getting a pretty decent pop and cut a promo on Cactus and Chainsaw.

 

This match isn’t pretty and is pretty chaotic, as you would expect from anything featuring Mick Foley and Terry Funk teaming up. There was a spot of the Outlaws beating up Terry Funk, and if it weren’t for the fact that I knew Terry Funk had done crazier s**t and dealt with crazier people than the Outlaws, I might have felt bad. Actually, I did feel bad…for the Outlaws.

 

This was actually a really good match, hardcore premise notwithstanding. These teams worked really well together and really made this match a lot better than its premise sounded.

 

Winner: Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie after getting both Outlaws in the dumpster and pinning the lid down with a forklift so they couldn’t get out.

Highlights: Terry Funk driving a forklift and swearing at the Outlaws. Funk and Cactus hitting the dumpster, deafening the Outlaws.

Comment: That was fun, I liked that match.

 

We get a recap of the Undertaker/Kane feud, starting Paul Bearer’s warnings to the Undertaker that Kane was alive and coming for him. Kane’s arrival at IYH: Bad Blood, to the casket match between Undertaker and HBK, that would end up ending HBK’s career for awhile. And Undertaker’s return and vow to defeat Kane.

 

The Streak: The Undertaker vs Kane (with Paul Bearer)

Pete Rose comes to the ring to a mixed reaction to be the guest ring announcer and he trashes the Boston fans, pointing out that they hadn’t won a World Series in almost eighty years (this is 1998, remember) and that the last time he was in Boston, they (the Reds) had kicked the collective butts of the Red Sox in 1975(that’s not really true, almost every game was close and the Reds took the series 4-3).

 

Finally, Kane comes out with Paul Bearer to a loud pop. Pete doesn’t know what to make of this, until Kane grabs him and tombstones him, to the joy of the crowd before the lights go out.

 

The Deadman Cometh in one of the most iconic entrances in WrestleMania history. The druids come out with lighted torches, and there are a TON of them, to what Wikipedia says is ‘O Fortuna’.  After there are enough druids to light Taker’s walk down the long aisle, Taker, looking a little like Count Dracula, comes out to an AMAZING pop. This is a great match for this entrance alone, you truly have to see it to believe it. Taker brings the lights back up and this match is almost ready to go.

 

We start off with a slugfest and just keep going. This match isn’t technical or scientific, this is a fight. Kane was a still a little rough around the edges, but this was a really good match. Of the four ‘big guy’ matches Taker had in the 90s, this was probably the best in terms of story and physicality.

 

Winner: Undertaker by pinfall, but Paul Bearer attacks him from behind, Taker retaliates, but Kane beats Taker with a steel chair before tombstoning him on the chair and leaves him lying on the mat. The Streak is 7-0

Highlights: Pete Rose taking a tombstone. Undertaker’s entrance. Taker taking out the Spanish announce table and the Spanish announcers. Tito Santana (who was part of the Spanish announce team) continuing to do commentary on the floor. Taker tombstoning Kane three times and Kane JUST missing the kickout on the last one.

Comment: This is my favorite match of the Streak in the 90s. The story was fantastic, and the match was amazing, while leaving room for the feud to continue.

 

We get one of my favorite promos with the old-timers, talking about how things were done in their day, but putting over the new generation by cheering on the younger generation.

 

We get a recap of the HBK/Austin feud and Tyson’s place in it.

 

WWF Championship Match: Shawn Michaels vs Stone Cold Steve Austin (Special Enforcer: ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson).

 

Tyson comes out to a loud round of boos, probably due to him being aligned with DX at the time. Tyson keeps doing the DX sign, to the crowd’s annoyance.

 

Austin comes out next to the thunderous pop we’re used to hearing him get. Austin and Tyson have a staredown and exchange some words.

 

We see DX backstage, to a mixed reaction, getting ready to go out for what few knew would be HBK’s last match for four years. HBK looks high, but confident. According to legend, Undertaker confronted and threatened HBK to make sure Michaels did what he was supposed to in the finish. Not saying that it’s true, but that’s the legend.

The DX Band starts up. HBK is out to raucous boos, but he doesn’t seem to care.

This match was really good. Everyone did a good job helping HBK get through the first part, but HBK still performed pretty much like he always did. If I didn’t know that he’d suffered what seemed to be a career-ending injury, I wouldn’t have known the difference, except for a few spots where it was clear he was in a lot of pain.

 

Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin by pinfall due to a fast count by Tyson after Mike Chioda was taken out. Austin gives Tyson an Austin 3:16 shirt. HBK is livid and has words with Tyson but makes the big mistake of hitting The Baddest Man on the Planet. Tyson responds with a right hook and down goes Shawn Michaels. Austin and Tyson celebrate in the ring. Tyson lays the Austin 3:16 shirt over HBK like you’d cover a corpse.

 

Highlights: HBK still being able to perform despite being in what had to be excruciating pain and taking a knockout punch by Mike Tyson. Austin pulling HBK’s pants partially down and HBK still being to run.  HBK kipping up, despite the pain in his back

 

Comment: This was a really good swan song (or so it seemed) for HBK. Even knowing he’d be back in a few years, I cried a little because he was always one of my favorites.

 

Overall Comments:

So, was WrestleMania XIV inconsequential since the fallout couldn’t have been known when the show started? In my opinion, no.  Even though this WrestleMania is only a turning point in retrospect, it was still a great show and certainly set up a lot of interesting storylines for the future.

 

It is easy to see this WrestleMania as a turning point knowing what was down the road for just about everyone on the card, but watching it on its own, I honestly found myself wondering what was going to happen on RAW the following day. No one knew what this WrestleMania’s fallout would be, so while I don’t see it as the turning point it’s touted to be, I do see it as an interesting and fun show that enticed me to go to the post Mania RAW for that year and see what was going to happen next.

 

Celebrities: Pete Rose was a damn good sport, but why the heck was Ginnifer Flowers asking The Rock about politics?

 

Stinkers: Mixed Tag Team.

 

Match of the Night: Undertaker vs Kane

 

Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this show, and would’ve tuned into RAW next night if it was happening today.


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