Friday, March 16, 2012

Mania Memories: Gold for Stone Cold

The new champ (WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

For several years the WWF was struggling in the Monday Night Wars with WCW.  Ted Turner's deep pockets were able to lure some of Vince McMahon's top talent away.  By the time Wrestlemania 14 rolled around, the pendulum was starting to swing back into Vince's favor.  Mike Tyson, Shawn Michaels, and Stone Cold Steve Austin are a big reason why that happened.

In the main event of Wrestlemania 14, Austin challenged the Heartbreak Kid for the WWF title.  Michaels was cockier than ever, having scored impressive wins over the Undertaker in the months leading up to Mania.  He had also beaten Bret Hart in the infamous "Montreal Screwjob" and fans were still a little bitter to say the least.  Austin was the anti hero, who really picked up steam and fan support the year earlier at Wrestlemania 13.  Having won his second consecutive Royal Rumble, Austin was the number one contender and going to Mania.

1-2-3 
Mike Tyson was brought in as an enforcer for the match.  But weeks before the big bout, Tyson pledged his allegiance to DX (Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna) thus stacking the odds against Austin.  Little did we know, Tyson had a trick up his sleeve and was actually in cahoots with Austin and when the ref in the match took a bump, Iron Mike jumped into action and made the three count.  A new champ was crowned and a new era was about to officially get underway.  When HBK came to from the Stone Cold Stunner he'd received, he argued with Tyson before the former boxing champion cold cocked Michaels and knocked him out.  Fans at the time had no idea this would be the last wrestling match HBK would be in more than four years.

Other talent would soon start rising to the top as a result of the events at Wrestlemania 14.  The Rock was the Intercontental champion and successfully defended against Ken Shamrock.  The Rock was months away from his own run as the WWF champion too.  Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk in a stocking over his head) beat the New Age Outlaws in a dumpster match for the tag team titles, however the decision was reversed.  I don't remember what the technicality was, but it happened the next night on Raw. Triple H was successful in defending the European title against Owen Hart.  These two had a pretty good feud going on at the time.  It was a pleasant surprise.

Painful...
Goldust was going through some changes at that point, and was known as The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust.  He was no longer with Marlena and instead hanging out with Luna Vachon.  The two were feuding with Marc Mero and Sable and came up short in their match against the married couple.  Taka Michinoku beat Aguila in a WWF light heavyweight championship match.  And the Undertaker returned after being in a casket set a blaze to defeat his brother Kane.

LOD 2000 (WWE)
Another surprise at 14 was the return of the Legion of Doom.  This time Hawk and Animal were known as LOD 2000 and their new manager was a bikini clad Sunny.  The legendary team won a tag team battle royal that included 14 other teams including the original Rock n Roll Express and a new version of the Midnight Express (which didn't hold  a candle to "Sweet" Stan Lane and "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton.)

Kane meets Pete (WWE)
The stars were also out at Wrestlemania 14 with former Bill Clinton (alleged) lover Gennifer Flowers and Pete Rose.  This would establish the running gag of Rose and Kane having issues at Manias to come.  It also lead to Rose being the first celebrity inducted into the Celebrity Wing of the WWE Hall of Fame.

Overall, I loved this card.  It was the start of a new era in wrestling.  I think after a lame Wrestlemania 13, 14 definitely gave the company and the business for that matter a much needed shot in the arm which ultimately ended up changing wrestling forever.

What are your thoughts on Wrestlemania 14?  Am I overselling it?  Share your impressions here or on our Facebook page.

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