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Happy Anniversary Austin 3:16 WWE1996 King of the Ring

June 24, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

18 years ago on June 23, 1996 Steve Austin was able to capitalize on a unique opportunity and delivered a catchphrase that turned the pro wrestling business around. Happy 17th anniversary WWE King of the Ring 96 and Austin 3:16.

It is hard to imagine how different the pro wrestling business would have been if not for Austin’s performance at the 1996 King of the Ring. Austin was already breaking out but on that night he went from star to a superstar on the cusp of a phenomenon. It is even crazier to think about that if not for WCW signing away Hall and Nash, Austin 3:16 may have never even happened.

The original plans for the 1996 King of the Ring were booked for Hunter Hearst Helmsley to win the tournament. Triple H was booked to be in Austin’s spot, beating Marc Mero and Jake Roberts en route to a big push. Instead, Hunter was pinned in the opening round on television by Jake the Snake. This was of course all a result of Hunter’s participation in the “Kliq Curtain Call” at M.S.G. If you take a step back and look at the big picture, if WCW never signed Hall and Nash you’d have no curtain call at M.S.G, Hunter would have went over in the tournament, and who knows what kind of shake Austin would have had dealing with the politics of the Kliq. Amazing that what looked like such a brilliant move from WCW would later blow up in their faces when the door opened for Austin, he broke out, and the WWE turned business around and skyrocketed past WCW.

Austin was getting hot coming into the King of the Ring. He started developing the Stone Cold persona and he immediately stood out on the WWE television shows. Quite frankly I think it was Live Wire that really gave him the extra time needed and the platform to get the gimmick over. On Live Wire he would have more time to cut promos and just be “Stone Cold” than he would on a RAW or Superstars broadcast.

Going into the tournament it was tough to pick who would get the win. Most assumed it would be HHH because the newsletters had reported that he was in for a monster push. This certainly wasn’t set up to be Austin’s night. As a matter of a fact if you look back on Google you’ll see that the poster was all about The Ultimate Warrior and his match with Jerry Lawler. The tournament wasn’t even the focus of the promotion. Additionally feuds with Shawn Michaels-British Bulldog and Mankind-Undertaker got most of the attention on television going in.

Austin had a fantastic match with Marc Mero in the semifinals on pay per view. It is funny because Mero has gotten a horrible reputation due to insults from Mick Foley and Triple H in books and interviews but in retrospect he was a heck of a hand back then. Austin and Mero went close to twenty-minutes. Austin won with a bloody lip after hitting the Stunner on Mero in a competitive match.

Austin won much easier in the finals against Jake Roberts. Roberts had his ribs taped up after Vader attacked him after their semifinal. Austin dominated the match and worked the ribs before hitting the Stunner for the win and the King of the Ring in under five minutes. The match itself was probably one of the more uneventful in-ring K.O.R. finals but the same cannot be said for the post match promo, arguably the greatest and most influential in pro wrestling history.

The first thing I want to be done is to get that piece of crap out of my ring. Don’t just get him out of the ring, get him out of the WWF because I’ve proved, son, without a shadow of a doubt, you ain’t got what it takes anymore. You sit there and you thump your bible and you say your prayers and it didn’t get you anywhere. Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16 … Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass. All he’s gotta do is go buy him a cheap bottle of Thunderbird and try to dig back some of that courage he had in his prime. As the King of the Ring, I’m serving notice to every one of the WWF superstars. I don’t give a damn what they are, they’re all on the list, and that’s Stone Cold’s list, and I’m fixing to start running through all of them. As far as this championship match is considered, son, I don’t give a damn if it’s Davey Boy Smith or Shawn Michaels; Steve Austin’s time has come, and when I get the shot you’re looking at the next WWF Champion. And that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so.

It wasn’t long after that when you started seeing more fans cheer for Austin, wear Austin 3:16 t-shirts, and of course bring plenty of signs to the shows. Don’t be surprised if you see a fan today wearing that same shirt. The promo was the catalyst for a phenomenon that saw the entire business change and one man morph into the biggest draw in pro wrestling history. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Happy 17th anniversary Austin 3:16 and thank you Eric Bischoff for signing away Hall and Nash to make it all happen!

Stone Cold Steve Austin: The Bottom Line on the Most Popular Superstar of All Time

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Another Wrestling Mistake like Stone Cold Steve Austin?

June 16, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Professional wrestling is the kind of business where fans can look back 10-15 years later and ask, “What were they thinking?”

Never was that question asked so often as when “Stunning” Steve Austin was released by the WCW before he signed with Vinnie Mac and the boys in Stamford. Austin was one of the hidden gems in the company who released or misused or had the misfortune of going down with the sinking ship. He skills and craft was so “special” that even the great Ric Flair said of all the moves the company made over the years, letting Austin go was one of the worst.

Austin must not think so, mainly because he left one ship to ride another one, becoming one of the most popular characters of all time and helped define the “Attitude Era” of the WWE.

When the WWE made cuts this week that included 11 superstars (including one referee), did they make the right moves and did they part with the next “Steve Austin?”

Austin held 21 championships throughout his professional wrestling career, and is a 6-time WWF Champion as well as the fifth Triple Crown Champion. He was also the winner of the 1996 King of the Ring tournament, as well as the 1997, 1998 and 2001 Royal Rumbles. He was forced to retire from in ring competition in 2003, due to a series of knee and neck injuries.

Throughout the rest of 2003 and 2004, he was featured as the Co-General Manager and “Sheriff” of Raw. Since 2005, he has continued to make occasional appearances, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 by Vince McMahon. In 2011, Steve Austin returned to WWE to host the reboot of the reality series Tough Enough.

His popularity in some reports over the years, has rivaled his good friend The Rock and some would say it has passed that of the immortal Hulk Hogan. Who else do you know would defy character and beat the hell out of their own boss to prove a point?

Austin’s shtick and of course, Austin’s success.

In the same way WCW decided to wash its hands of Austin, who just weeks after his debut, defeated Bobby Eaton for his first WCW World Television Championship on June 3, 1991, maybe the WWE washing their hands of Drew McIntyre too soon and tried to revitalize his career. The former member of 3MB was as talented as others in the business, but I don’t think he was ever really given a chance to shine on his own.
McIntyre signed with WWE in 2007.

Along with a brief stint on the SmackDown brand, he spent time in developmental territories Ohio Valley Wrestling and Florida Championship Wrestling, winning the Heavyweight and Tag Team Championships later, before returning to SmackDown and quickly winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship. In 2010, he held the WWE Tag Team Championship with Cody Rhodes. McIntyre then experienced a dramatic plunge down the card, becoming an occasional competitor on WWE Superstars. In late 2012, he became a member of 3MB before being released last week.

McIntyre had a look of a champion and a skill set that I likened to Rick Rude and Barry Windham, His speed and strength were never really used and although he has won gold before in the company, he was not able to retain it for a long period and he was not able to draw like other superstars. Austin never had that issue, but unlike McIntyre, Austin could speak and sell when needed.

Timing for Austin was right, obviously timing was wrong for McIntyre. I can see him being a huge success in TNA or another indie promotion. But when all is said and done, does he become a success to the point of us asking, “What were they thinking?”

It was said once about a Texas Rattlesnake. Will be said again about a young Scotsman with a desire that was never quite quenched. This could be a huge game the WWE made. Let’s hope no one says I told you so in the near future.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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Steve Austin Talks Goldberg, WWE Stars, and One More Match

June 13, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Stone Cold Steve Austin has had some of the biggest matches in WWE history. Unfortunately there was still plenty of money left on the table due to a variety of circumstances, some of which Austin revealed in a recent media interview.

Anytime Stone Cold is going to talk to the media I am going to listen. Austin has turned into one of the more outspoken former WWE stars in recent months. The best Austin interviews are the ones he does with the wrestling media and a recent stop at Ring Rust Radio was no exception.

Austin covered a variety of topics on the interview. One of the more fascinating topics was when Austin was asked about guys he is disappointed he didn’t get to do a match or program with. Austin dropped some names, some obvious, and some not so obvious.

Well, I wasn’t in the right place, mentally, when they wanted to do Hogan. As far as what would draw money, hell that would do a ****pile of money, but I didn’t figure the match would be what it could have been if it had happened sooner. That would have been one that would have been cool if it happened. The Goldberg match, which was a no-brainer, but Bill decided to take the guaranteed money from Turner rather than jump into the WWE window and that didn’t really work out because he didn’t exactly peak out in WWE like he was in WCW. So that never really happened, but it would’ve been a great match. And I’m not putting Bill down for taking that money, I’m just saying that’s the way he played those cards and I can appreciate that. Just as far as key big guys off of the top, a match with Brock would’ve been bad ass, me and Punk would’ve been bad ass, and John Cena would’ve been a bad ass match. I think I could’ve gotten more out of Cena than anyone he’s ever worked with. I’m someone he can go out there with and have a come to Jesus meeting and get his ass fired up. I’ve got nothing but respect for that guy and a program with Steve Austin would’ve put him on another level that he has not been yet. He’s a top guy, and going to go into the WWE Hall of Fame, so when I say all that I mean it in a positive regard.

It’s funny because when everyone was talking about an Austin vs. CM Punk match two years ago I was beating the drum for Austin vs. Cena. Would the match be better? I don’t think so, however the dynamic of Austin and Cena in a feud together has the potential to be one of the biggest draws in WWE history. You can’t find two wrestling characters more polar opposite and while Punk vs. Austin also had some interesting dynamics, I think Austin vs. Cena was and still could be huge, huge money.

His point on Bill Goldberg is interesting. Goldberg likes to fancy himself a great businessman. In the end he not only got his guaranteed deal from WCW but also got a WWE deal. However, you have to guess that he left more money on the table by not coming over in 2001 and doing the match with Austin than what he made with his guaranteed deal. That match would have been a blockbuster and unfortunately Goldberg made the wrong play in my and it appears Austin’s opinion.

Austin also had some interesting thoughts about who in the WWE today can break through and become the next big star. Austin sees a few glimpses of stardom but isn’t convinced that anyone is a lock.

Man, I think it could be any one of a pool of people. I can’t sit here and drop names because I haven’t paid that much attention to the roster. I’ve been trying to DVR the shows. I am several months behind. I just subscribed to the WWE Network and I watched half of the pay-per view so far. Just from guys on the radar right now, I think all of the guys from The Shield have got big futures ahead of them. I don’t think they’re all carved in stone yet and there are still some missing pieces within each individual part of The Shield. Antonio Cesaro still has a hole somewhere in his game, but he’s certainly there. I predict a lot of success for that guy. I think Bray Wyatt is starting to kick ass and do a lot of great things. When they put Cesaro with Heyman, that was an interesting move because there were a lot of people starting to get off on Cesaro, and so they put him with Heyman, which put him back as a heel. The rest of the roster, I don’t know enough about. Here’s one thing that I will say; I remember watching some of my matches from Dallas on my email, and I was watching them back and I see an athletic body and a guy that’s stable, but the look was just not that great. So there are some guys down there that, as they go through the process and they’re not afraid to embrace making some changes and making some alterations to their gear, to their look to find the right gimmick and package to bring it all together. Man, there’s probably two or three diamonds in the rough down there because they’re not close to an appearance that is going to be the final thing that actually helps them get over and be received by the crowd as a heel or a babyface.

Austin has made similar comments about Cesaro on his podcast. He likes him in the ring but he has said several times that he thinks he is missing something. He isn’t a fan of his ring attire, I know that from listening to his podcast. His thoughts on the Shield were also quite interesting, although I am not sure how many holes that need to be filled at this point.

Finally, the million dollar question any good interview has to ask Austin is about a potential comeback. Austin was asked and while he was non-committal, no doors were closed.

I’d consider anything if the perfect situation or opportunity arose and it would be more than a million dollar question. I don’t want to sit here and promote a match, sell a match, or talk about making a comeback. The dirtsheets, or whatever you call them, and I talk to Dave Meltzer and Wade Keller all the time and they’re nice guys and I would consider them friends, I see Dave at almost every MMA fight, but I don’t want to stir any pots or hint or tease anything. People get their panties in a wad and say, ‘Stone Cold, either do it or not’. So, anything can happen, but I’m not going to endorse, promote, sell, or tease anything in regards to a match.

Austin typically gives this answer on his show and what is interesting is that he never says no. It is almost at this point as if he is sending some kind of an S.O.S. to the WWE and trying to let them know he is ready to talk.

Maybe we’ll get that Cena vs. Austin match after all?

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Top 25 Best WWE B-Show PPV Events In History

June 12, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

When you look past WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and even King of the Ring, what have been the best PPV events in WWE history? I pored through the last two decades of the promotion, and came up with this list of secondary-PPV excellence. All are recommended viewing on WWE Network.

25. Backlash 2009 (April 26, 2009 – Providence, RI)

After a largely-unfulfilling WrestleMania outside of Undertaker and Shawn Michaels’ timeless epic, WWE rebounded with a better show, surrounded by Chris Jericho’s battle with an ageless Ricky Steamboat, a tremendous Last Man Standing match with John Cena and Edge for the World Heavyweight belt, and Christian felling Jack Swagger to become ECW Champion. Tack Taker/Shawn onto this, make it four hours, and boom: a great WrestleMania.

24. No Mercy 1999 (October 17, 1999 – Cleveland, OH)

One of the few PPVs from 1999 that actually holds up years later, No Mercy took place two weeks after Vince Russo jumped to WCW. Perhaps his exodus was the good omen this show needed? Everyone remembers the Hardy Boyz, Edge, and Christian making literal and figurative leaps in their ladder match/coming-out party, but Triple H and Stone Cold held their own in a violent brawl of a main event for the WWE Championship.

23. Unforgiven 2006 (September 17, 2006 – Toronto, ON)

Blowing off a number of feuds in one satisfying event generally makes for a really good show, and three pressing issues were finished here: Trish Stratus retired after winning the Women’s Title from Lita to end their on-again/off-again rivalry, DX won a bloody Hell in a Cell match over The McMahons and The Big Show, and John Cena began a year-long WWE Title reign, toppling Edge in an excellent TLC match. Rare in this day, the conclusions felt definite.

22. In Your House: Beware of Dog (May 26-28, 1996 – Florence/Charleston, SC)

Stretched across two nights because of a powerful storm that knocked out satellite transmission during the PPV (Part II took place before Tuesday’s taping of Superstars), the composite event yields some forgotten classics, including Marc Mero and a still-green Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Steve Austin and Savio Vega’s brutal Caribbean Strap Match, where Austin began his ascent. It was quite rare for an In Your House to have two great matches.

21. Elimination Chamber 2014 (February 23, 2014 – Minneapolis, MN)

With the notion that Daniel Bryan probably wasn’t winning the WWE Championship here, more focus was on the WWE Network launching twelve hours later than the event itself. The final traditional “pay-per-view” boasts the anticipated Wyatt Family-Shield dream battle (before it was done in by free TV rematches) and a great Chamber match itself, which teased fans with a possible Bryan win before Randy Orton retained in the end.

20. Judgment Day 2005 (May 22, 2005 – Minneapolis, MN)

Twin Cities with another gem. SmackDown in 2005-06 produced a handful of quality PPVs when apparently Vinnie Mac focused solely on Raw (i.e. less micromanagement on the blue brand). The result: John Cena and JBL’s barbaric I Quit match for the WWE Title (surpassing their Mania match four times over), Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio’s throwback to simpler times, and a rare Paul London Cruiserweight title showcase, against Chavo Guerrero.

19. TLC 2012 (December 16, 2012 – Brooklyn, NY)

The brand-new Barclays Center was christened with one of WWE’s more inspired efforts in recent years. The first match everyone thinks of is the in-ring debut of The Shield, as they stole the show with a Match-of-the-Year nominee with Kane, Daniel Bryan, and Ryback under modified TLC rules. Forgotten in its shadow: Dolph Ziggler scoring his only high-profile win, and a damn good one, over John Cena, via a ladder match where AJ Lee would turn heel.

18. Money in the Bank 2013 (July 14, 2013 – Philadelphia, PA)

The ladder matches are pretty much never a bust, and were divided into two concepts for 2013: an “all-stars” match with former World Champions that was won by Randy Orton, and a “rising stars” one in the opener, taken by Damien Sandow. Both matches were great, even if the cash-ins made many fans miserable. Mark Henry’s startling heel turn on John Cena was paid off here with a quality World Title match, though the feud was abruptly cut short.

17. Fully Loaded 2000 (July 23, 2000 – Dallas, TX)

These days, the match results would lead to the armchair bookers to cry over the juiced-in main eventers going over on the new class, but there was more optimism in the Attitude Era. Triple H and Chris Jericho’s Last Man Standing match is hellacious, and Chris Benoit’s World Title battle with The Rock is a close second place. The best visual of the night goes to Rikishi, who pancaked Val Venis with a Superfly Splash off of a steel cage. Yes, really.

16. Backlash 2007 (April 29, 2007 – Atlanta, GA)

Take away the ridiculous handicap match where Vince McMahon became ECW Champion, and it’s top-to-bottom great. Both World Title matches (Undertaker and Batista’s Last Man Standing match, and John Cena retaining in a four way) are both WrestleMania quality. On the undercard, Chris Benoit’s US Title match with MVP, Hardy Boyz’ formula-tag with Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, and Melina and Mickie James’ Women’s Title match all held their own.

15. No Mercy 2002 (October 20, 2002 – Little Rock, AR)

With creative in freefall thanks to necrophilia, a stunt gay wedding, and a lack of Steve Austin and The Rock, WWE was in a bad place, though the SmackDown half of No Mercy thrived, while Raw withered. Two matches fought for the right to steal the show: a tag team tournament final between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, and Edge and Rey Mysterio, was perfection, while Undertaker and Brock Lesnar’s Hell in a Cell match artfully pinned the gruesome meter.

14. Payback 2013 (June 16, 2013 – Chicago, IL)

Something about the city of Chicago that brings out the best in WWE; they’ve had a PPV every year there since 2006, save for 2008 (though TNA had Bound For Glory there that year). CM Punk returned after a sabbatical to win match of the night honors against Chris Jericho, while The Shield’s Tag Team title defense against Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton got an honorable mention. The worst match of the show, Dean Ambrose vs. Kane, was actually pretty good.

13. One Night Stand 2005 (June 12, 2005 – New York, NY)

The spirit of ECW soared with the ultimate in reunion shows, hitting on every era in the company’s truncated history. One Night Stand was an all-star spectacle which thrived, in spite of the matches being relatively shortened. Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka waged their usual war, Chris Jericho and Lance Storm didn’t miss a beat in commemorating their first ever match, and the ECW brigade turning back WWE’s ‘invasion’ was a feel-good moment.

12. No Way Out 2000 (February 27, 2000 – Hartford, CT)

Ended on a major downer with what was thought to be Mick Foley’s retirement, but at least he went out in ultraviolent style via a Hell in a Cell match for Triple H’s WWE Title. The WCW defections enhanced the undercard, with Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle’s Intercontinental Title match, and a Radicalz six-man against Rikishi and Too Cool. That’s not even mentioning the usual quality tag team match pitting Edge and Christian against The Hardy Boyz.

11. No Mercy 2008 (October 5, 2008 – Portland, OR)

Not as well-regarded as many of the events on this list, but maybe that’s just because the IWC consensus had grown more cynical by this time? The main event, Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels in a World Title ladder match to conclude their hate-filled war, is, as such, a ‘lost’ five star match. The World Title match between Triple H and Jeff Hardy is an awesome face-vs-face match-up, and Big Show and Undertaker have their best match together.

10. One Night Stand 2006 (June 11, 2006 – New York, NY)

Gets the slight nod over its predecessor by having a better story element, and some appropriately lengthier matches. The WWE/ECW equivalent of nWo Souled Out, there are two very good World Title matches: Rob Van Dam vs. John Cena, and Rey Mysterio vs. Sabu (which the internet would have gushed buckets for in 1995). The show-stealer: a six-person bloodbath with Edge, Mick Foley, and Lita against Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk, and Beulah.

9. Extreme Rules 2012 (April 29, 2012 – Chicago, IL)

Hopefully in the past two years, the IWC has forgiven the ending to John Cena and Brock Lesnar’s “is this really the PG era?” car wreck, which displayed a level of intensity and pacing rarely seen in today’s WWE. Daniel Bryan and Sheamus finally got their proper match after the 18-second punch-in-the-sack that WrestleMania was, and it was a great two out of three falls match. Plus, CM Punk got to kick Chris Jericho’s ass in front of his family. Good times.

8. Vengeance 2003 (July 27, 2003 – Denver, CO)

Next to WrestleMania XIX, it’s the only other PPV from a dismal 2003 worth going out of your way to see. Three great matches dot the card: Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero for the US Title, The World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Rey Mysterio/Billy Kidman for the Tag Team straps, and Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, and Big Show’s triple threat for the WWE Title. Also notable for John Cena’s true breakthrough match in defeat to locker room measuring stick, The Undertaker.

7. Backlash 2000 (April 30, 2000 – Washington, DC)

One of the earliest examples of the PPV following WrestleMania being way better than WrestleMania itself, Backlash was almost an apology for their grandest event being more bland than grand. Putting the Radicalz in four different matches only stretched the greatness evenly, with Dean Malenko/Scotty 2 Hotty and Chris Benoit/Chris Jericho as standouts. Steve Austin’s return to help Rock win the WWE Title was one of those great markout moments.

6. Backlash 2004 (April 18, 2004 – Edmonton, AB)

Much harder to watch with Nancy and Daniel Benoit at ringside (along with now-aspiring wrestler David Benoit), Chris Benoit wins his WrestleMania rematch over Shawn Michaels and Triple H, nearly matching the quality in the process. The real story of the show was Randy Orton’s gutsy performance against Mick Foley in a hardcore war. The undercard produced some solid matches, namely Chris Jericho’s handicap win over Christian and Trish Stratus.

5. Vengeance 2005 (June 26, 2005 – Las Vegas, NV)

After Judgment Day and One Night Stand (which followed a great WrestleMania 21 and decent Backlash), Vengeance was the apex of an underrated 2005. The event began modestly enough, complete with awful Victoria/Christy Hemme ‘match’, but the last three matches bail it out big: Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle II, John Cena defending the WWE Title against Chris Jericho and Christian, and Batista and Triple H’s brutal Hell in a Cell World Title bout.

4. Judgment Day 2000 (May 21, 2000 – Louisville, KY)

With WWE’s spotless roster in the year 2000, and a desire to keep trouncing WCW every whichway, shows like this came to be. Count the classics: The Rock vs. Triple H in a WWE Championship Iron Man match. Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho’s submission match for the Intercontinental Title. Eddie Guerrero vs. Radical-mates Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn for the European Title. Can’t leave out Kurt Angle, Edge, and Christian as ‘The Jug Band’.

3. No Way Out 2001 (February 25, 2001 – Las Vegas, NV)

What can you say about a show that would have been the best PPV of the year in most other years, but is only nipped by the awesomeness of WrestleMania X7? Triple H and Steve Austin’s Three Stages of Hell match is an all-timer, as is Kurt Angle’s World Title loss to The Rock. Chris Jericho’s Intercontinental Title defense against Chris Benoit, X-Pac, and Eddie Guerrero understandably brightens the undercard. Even Stephanie and Trish had a great match!

2. In Your House: Canadian Stampede (July 6, 1997 – Calgary, AB)

At the height of The Hart Foundation’s mutual beef with Steve Austin and The United States, WWE put together it’s best two-hours of wrestling imaginable. The Harts’ ten-man tag with Austin’s American contingent nearly blows the roof off of the Saddledome, and there’s no lull in action. As for the rest of the card, you have Mankind vs. Triple H, Taka Michinoku vs. The Great Sasuke, and The Undertaker’s WWE Title defense vs. Vader, each of them a winner.

1. Money in the Bank 2011 (July 17, 2011 – Chicago, IL)

Barely ekes it out over Stampede, as Money in the Bank was three mostly great hours instead of two. CM Punk winning the WWE Title in one for the ages over John Cena, in front of his neighbors and friends, is an indelible memory. Christian and Randy Orton continued their engrossing World Title feud with a heated rematch. Both ladder matches are tremendous, namely the SmackDown one that Daniel Bryan took the briefcase in.

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Top 25 Greatest Heel Turns in Pro Wrestling History

June 05, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Seth Rollins’ betrayal of his Shield teammates in favor of Evolution has drawn both shocked reactions and lukewarm reception from viewers. While it’s too early to stamp Rollins’ turn as a success or a failure, here’s a look at some of the wrestling history he’s up against, the twenty-five best shifts to the dark side ever.

25. Shawn Michaels Superkicks Hulk Hogan (July 4, 2005)

Would’ve meant more if WWE had stuck to Michaels’ heel run, but Hogan’s alleged refusal to lay down (ironic if you’re Michaels) killed the impact. Independence Day Raw ends with Hogan and Michaels passively celebrating a win, and Michaels landing Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere.

24. Terry Taylor Gradually Betrays Chris Adams (May 1987)

With UWF’s excitable Jim Ross calling each turn of the key, Taylor was conveniently absent for Hot Stuff International’s assaults on Adams, culminating with Taylor subtly allowing Adams to be pinned in a Tag Team Title defense. In a later singles match, Taylor piledrove an injured Adams on the floor, solidifying the turn.

23. Scott Steiner Lays Out Brother Rick (February 22, 1998)

It seemed as though by 1998, everyone on the planet save for Steve Lombardi had joined the nWo. That the eventual “Big Poppa Pump” did so by mauling brother Rick during a Tag Team Title defense against The Outsiders is only diluted by the notion that everyone seemed to turn in this era.

22. Sgt. Slaughter Spits on America, Sides with Iraq (August 1990)

A rather silly grab at kick-starting jingoism and Hulkamania in one swipe, Slaughter (now departed from the dying AWA) returned to WWE as a Saddam Hussein-sympathizer in the midst of the Gulf conflict, as Iraq invaded Kuwait. Bad taste, but it drew its share of heat.

21. Triple H Joins the Corporation (March 28, 1999)

Chyna’s two turns in one night was dizzying enough against the backdrop of a time-period where somebody turned every week. Still, Triple H Pedigree’ing X-Pac at WrestleMania XV was the launching pad of Paul Levesque’s rise to the highest office in WWE, via a relentless main event push for the next decade.

20. Bret Hart Condemns America (March 24, 1997)

With crowds divided between heroic Hart and anti-hero Steve Austin, ‘The Hitman’ goes on a post-WrestleMania tirade against American values, and what he felt was a decline in decency and morals. Shortly thereafter, Hart assaulted rival Shawn Michaels, solidifying a heel turn in America, while remaining a hero around the world.

19. Chris Jericho Wounds Shawn Michaels’ Eye (June 9, 2008)

After pointing out Michaels’ bouts of unfair play, and insinuating that Michaels enjoyed retiring Ric Flair at WrestleMania, Jericho attacks his long-time rival on the set of The Highlight Reel, and sends him face-first into his Jeri-Tron 6000 set piece, igniting the last WWE feud to intentionally feature blood.

18. Ted Dibiase Chooses Skandor Akbar Over Jim Duggan (May 1983)

Although more of a face turn for Duggan than anything, Dibiase gets heel-turn credit for sinking lower than the rule-breaking Rat Pack. Akbar’s “Devastation Inc” was anti-American and inherently more nefarious than anything Duggan and Dibiase had done with Matt Borne, so when Dibiase accepted Akbar’s offer, it kicked off a heated feud between sell-out Dibiase and proud patriot Duggan, foreshadowing their WWE personas.

17. Stone Cold Sells His Soul (April 1, 2001)

Would’ve ranked higher had Austin’s 2001 not been so creatively bankrupt and ill-received (to be fair, a lot of that’s on Austin for still wrestling like an outlaw ass-kicker). But the story is memorable: Austin enlists sworn enemy Vince McMahon to help him beat The Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania X7, a match that Austin claimed he ‘had to win’.

16. Paul Bearer Betrays The Undertaker (August 18, 1996)

For nearly six years, Undertaker did not exist without Paul Bearer. Not a manager who needed a stable, Bearer happily co-existed with Undertaker as a package deal. That’s why during Undertaker’s Boiler Room Brawl with Mankind at SummerSlam, Bearer’s sudden turn, punctuated with an urn to Taker’s skull, was so shocking.

15. The Horsemen Leave Sting for Dead (February 6, 1990)

Sting found himself part of a babyface version of The Horsemen with Ric Flair and The Andersons, set to combat Gary Hart’s J-Tex Corporation. Sting, naive as he always was, made the mistake of challenging Flair for a World Title match, and was promptly beaten by his so-called friends. Sting injured his knee that night attempting to get revenge, but would go over on Flair for the gold at that year’s Great American Bash.

14. The Authority Excommunicates Daniel Bryan (August 18, 2013)

After cleanly going over on John Cena to become WWE Champion at SummerSlam, Bryan was faced with an eager Randy Orton, who was set to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Then referee Triple H (a babyface at this point) Pedigreed Bryan, enabling Orton (also a babyface before these actions) to score the title. Thus, The Authority was born.

13. Owen Hart Kicks Bret’s Leg (Out of His Leg) (January 22, 1994)

Simmering since Survivor Series, Owen Hart stewed in brother Bret’s shadow, claiming to have been held back out of jealousy. Cooler heads seemed to prevail, and the brothers faced the Quebecers for the Tag Team Titles at the Royal Rumble. When the Harts lost by stoppage due to Bret’s injured knee, Owen engaged in the ultimate meltdown, concluding by kicking Bret’s bad knee and leaving in a huff.

12. Austin Idol Bloodies Jerry Lawler (January 4, 1987)

Moments before Lawler was set to challenge AWA Champion Nick Bockwinkel for the gold, friend Idol entered the ring and demanded that “The King” step aside. Lawler refused, and Idol busted him open. A week later, Idol and new friend Tommy Rich continued the onslaught, ending with Idol cradling Lawler’s head and passively bitch-slapping him. The payoff was a cage match in April 1987 where the loser got their head shaved, and a near-riot ensued.

11. The Rock and Shane McMahon Go Corporate (November 15, 1998)

Shane’s heel turn ranks as one of the most unexpected in the jaded internet era, as he refused to impartially count Steve Austin’s pin of Mankind in the World Title Tournament. Less than an hour later, Shane and father Vince screwed simpleton lackey Mankind in the finals in favor of their new corporate champion, The Rock.

10. Ric Flair Crosses Dusty Rhodes (September 29, 1985)

A different sort of ‘heel turn’, as Flair would hardly qualify as a babyface in this instance. As a tweener, NWA Champion Flair retained the gold over Nikita Koloff inside a cage, and Koloff’s comrades laid a beatdown afterward. Rhodes made the save on his enemy’s behalf as an act of conciliation. Rather than accept the gesture, Flair allowed Ole and Arn Anderson to jump Dusty, and the three broke his ankle inside the locked cage. If Flair’s allegiance was on the fence before the day, he ended it as the top heel once more.

9. Marty Jannetty Eats Glass (December 3, 1991)

Legendary for the unique moment of Shawn Michaels propelling Jannetty through the window of The Barber Shop, and Jannetty blading on what was generally family programming. Had Jannetty not been temporarily let go after a police altercation in early 1992, the planned blowoff at WrestleMania VIII could’ve been epic. Still, it set Michaels in motion to become one of wrestling’s greatest stars.

8. Vince McMahon Embraces the Hate (April 13, 1998)

Hard to pin down the exact moment Vince became classified as ‘heel’, but post-Montreal, McMahon started to dance around the fire with simple remarks toward Steve Austin, including his wish that Austin not become the WWE Champion. After a pair of run-ins with Austin post-WrestleMania, McMahon accepted Austin’s challenge for a match on the Raw that turned the ratings tide against WCW, and “Mr. McMahon” became one of wrestling’s greatest villains.

7. Larry Zbyszko Betrays Bruno Sammartino (January 22, 1980)

Sammartino was wrestling royalty in WWE, and protege Zbyszko couldn’t get out of his shadow. During an exhibition match between teacher and student, Sammartino gamely outwrestled his younger opponent, much to Zbyszko’s frustration. Once thrown to the floor, Zbyszko returned with a chair, and bashed it over Bruno’s head, leaving him laying in his own blood. In real life, Zbyszko had his life threatened by numerous fans in the Northeast, before paying off the feud with a cage match at Shea Stadium.

6. The Freebirds Annihilate Kerry Von Erich (December 25, 1982)

Michael Hayes was chosen to be guest enforcer for Ric Flair’s NWA World Title defense against Von Erich, held inside a steel cage in Dallas, TX; true Von Erich territory. Late in the match, Hayes laid out Flair for Von Erich’s benefit, but Kerry wouldn’t accept the cheap win. Von Erich went for the door, only for Hayes’ cohort Terry Gordy to slam the door on his head. Von Erich failed to win the gold, and the Freebirds-Von Erichs long rivalry was ignited.

5. Paul Orndorff Clotheslines Hulk Hogan (June 24, 1986)

Friends ever since Orndorff turned face in the spring of 1985, Hogan and Orndorff would team a number of times in rivalry with Roddy Piper, Bob Orton, and others. When Orndorff began to show signs of jealousy, and a missed phone call to Hulk made Orndorff look bad, the two put aside differences for a match with King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd. Post-match, Orndorff clotheslined Hogan, and then piledrove him, kicking off a mega-feud for the WWE Championship.

4. Terry Funk Murders Ric Flair (May 7, 1989)

Flair was just minutes removed from regaining the NWA Title, concluding his iconic trilogy with Ricky Steamboat, when Funk (serving as a ringside judge in the event of a draw) forcibly asked for a title shot. When Flair dismissed him, albeit with some regard, as not among the next batch of contenders, Funk’s ‘apology’ for the intrusion was to wallop Flair, and piledrive him through the judge’s table at ringside. The two would war through the remainder of 1989.

3. The Mega Powers Explode (February 3, 1989)

In one of the most extensively-subtle performances in wrestling history, Savage would show slight discomfort at Hogan’s kind treatment of Miss Elizabeth, no matter how innocent. Additonally, jealousy of Hogan’s popularity factored into Savage’s deteriorating mental state. Finally, during a match with the Twin Towers, Hogan tended to the injured valet, and Savage finally lost it, exploding with a hate-filled tirade at a stunned Hulk, before nailing him with the WWE belt in front of a pained Liz.

2. Andre the Giant Confronts Hulk Hogan (January 26, 1987)

Upset at playing second fiddle to a ceremony for Hogan’s three-year championship reign, Andre walks off, only to return weeks later on Piper’s Pit with Bobby Heenan as his new manager. Andre calmly told an astonished Hogan that he had only one thing to demand: a World Title match at WrestleMania III. Hogan tried to reason with Andre, who callously ripped Hogan’s shirt and crucifix jewel off in response. The result was one of the most historic and important wrestling matches in history.

1. Hulk Hogan is “The Third Man” (July 7, 1996)

This time, it’s Hogan doing the turning. After Scott Hall and Kevin Nash invaded WCW in the spring of 1996, they promised a hostile takeover, and the addition of a third man. At Bash at the Beach, during the anticipated main event where that man would be revealed, Lex Luger was injured, leaving Sting and Randy Savage alone with The Outsiders. Hulk Hogan appeared to make the save, only to leg drop Savage, and reveal his treachery. Hogan’s post-match speech, denouncing WCW and the fans that turned on him, while announcing the formation of the New World Order, is the greatest promo of his iconic career, and that’s saying something.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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Stone Cold Steve Austin Talks Rumored Heat With Hulk Hogan

June 03, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Arguably the two biggest stars in our history of professional wrestling are Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Rumors of heat spread throughout the dirt sheets and Internet for years between those two but according to Austin, it just wasn’t true.

The access to someone like Steve Austin weekly on a podcast is unprecedented. Austin hosts his podcast twice a week and shoots on everything and everyone. Austin has turned into a heck of an interviewer, but it is generally Austin who is the one dropping the 411 as he likes to call it.

Austin recently conducted a lengthy interview with his former WCW boss Eric Bischoff. The four-part podcast is fascinating on every level and there isn’t a topic that these guys don’t cover. One of the more interesting topics however was Hulk Hogan.

Austin and Bischoff were discussing Austin’s run in ECW and the controversial promos he cut when all of the sudden the conversation shifted towards the rumored heat between Hogan and Austin. Austin revealed that there was never any heat between the two and was actually quite complimentary of the Hulkster.

I took a few shots at Hogan, who was never seemingly the target. When he was brought in (to WCW) I signed a different contract, because everybody thought their money was going to go up, I got a flat flee because I didn’t see it happening. Again as I say this, I talked with Hulk at the WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans, had a great, short conversation with him because everybody always thought that there was heat between myself and Hulk Hogan, and two very competitive individuals in the environment aren’t going to give each other too many props. Because that’s just not what you do. But, when you take a step back and you get out of it. There was never any heat with myself and Hogan. Even when I was hardly anybody in WCW I was competing with that guy. I wanted to be the best. And finally Stone Cold Steve Austin, the run that I had was not that long but very intense and white hot. The run that Hogan had lasted over thirty years. One of the best in the history of the business with world-wide name recognition. So I was very competitive with that guy, protective of my own legacy.

Very interesting stuff there from the former WWE champion. The one thing he never addressed here were the reports that he refused to work with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8. Reportedly Austin was Vince’s first choice to wrestle Hogan but Austin flat out refused. Austin confirmed this on a podcast he did with Jim Ross a few weeks ago. Austin wasn’t confident the match would be good and was concerned about who was going over. So while Austin says there was perceived heat between Hogan, well I think it is fair to say that fans had every right to assume that from those reports over the years.

It’s funny when you look back at some of the biggest matches in history that have been left on the table. Austin vs. Goldberg comes to mind and Austin vs. Hogan is probably next. The WWE could have had Goldberg early when Austin was still wrestling but they didn’t want to pay his contract. How foolish in retrospect? That said, as big as Rock vs. Hogan was Austin vs. Hogan could have gone down as the biggest match in wrestling history. Unfortunately the only reason that match didn’t happen was Steve Austin.

And that’s the bottom line.

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WWE Network: 10 Ric Flair Hidden Gems

May 27, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

You have probably seen all of Ric Flair’s legendary matches at this point but what about the ones you missed? Thanks to the WWE Network, you can go back and see the gems that you missed. Here are 10 great ones you probably never heard of to get you started.

There are dozens of top Ric Flair matches blogs on the Internet and most contain the usual suspects. Flair’s matches with Terry Funk at the Bash 89, the Ricky Steamboat series, Sting at C.O.C I, and Randy Savage at WM 8 generally round out the list. Flair was so damned good throughout his career, that there are plenty of others that don’t get the same attention. I thought it would be fun to scan the WWE Network for 10 Flair hidden gems that are just as good the usual suspects, yet seem to fly under the radar on the typical lists and DVD releases.

These matches aren’t in any particular order, nor are they necessarily a list of Flair’s greatest matches. These are simply 10 matches on the Network you need to go watch immediately to appreciate the greatness of Ric Flair. I have also done my best to provide links for those of you that have access to the WWE Network online.

Ric Flair and Arn Anderson vs. Steve Austin and Brian Pillman 2/3 Falls Match (Clash of the Champions ) - The word of mouth on this match has picked up steam over the last few years yet I still consider this one to be a hidden gem. This match was just an absolute clinic with four great technicians in the ring. The crowd was hot for this one and the intensity specifically between Flair and Pillman was tremendous. Flair and Double A take this one via DQ after 22 solid minutes.

WWE Network link - http://network.wwe.com/video/v32366657

Ric Flair vs. Sting (Clash of the Champions XXVII) - This match recently made my top 10 Sting WCW matches blog. In my opinion this was the best match the two ever had, better than even their classic 45-minute draw at Clash 1 and much better than their Bash 1990 match. I’d say the crowd was the x-factor that separated this from the others. This match was pretty action-packed from start to finish with all kinds of cool spots including Sting taking out Sherri Martel with a dive to the floor after Flair pushed her into the way. Flair winds up pulling off the upset as he rolls up Sting while Sting checks on Sherri and unifies the championships.

WWE Network link - http://network.wwe.com/video/v32354649

Ric Flair vs. Triple H Steel Cage Match (Taboo Tuesday 2005) - This is an absolute classic that is often overlooked when ranking Flair’s greatest matches. In my opinion this may be the best match Flair had in the WWE during this time period. It was booked very old school and built with drama and intensity as the former Evolution partners blooded each up in a match that needs to be seen to be appreciated. Flair pulled off the upset which led to a rematch at Survivor Series which was also fantastic.

WWE Network link - http://network.wwe.com/video/v31291027

Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan (Madison Square Garden, December 29, 1991) - I remember being blown away about how good this series was back in 1991 after seeing them wrestle twice at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The matches weren’t what you typically got from either guy. Hogan wrestled a little more and Flair cut about 20-30 minutes off of his match times. What you got were a fast-paced, dramatic, fun matches between these two champions. Unfortunately this one is only about ten minutes but it is one of the most fun ten minute matches you’ll get from Hogan during that time period.

WWE Network link – http://network.wwe.com/video/v31337481

Ric Flair and Sting vs. Great Muta and Dick Slater (Clash of the Champions VIII Fall Brawl ’89) - This was a wild main-event that was action-packed from the moment the bell rang. Slater replaced Terry Funk (Funk did a fantastic interview before the match saying he was hurt and wouldn’t be there) which sounds like a big letdown yet Slater was just as insane in here as Funk would have been. The crowd was jacked and the heat was unbelievable. This was the first time Flair and Muta touched which was huge at the time. The post-match angle is the icing on the cake. Terry Funk attacks Flair and tries to smother him with a bag. This match is the epitome of the greatness of WCW in 1989.

WWE Network link - http://network.wwe.com/video/v32286315

Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat (WCW Spring Stampede 1994) - This match is often overlooked when pundits discuss the Flair-Steamboat feud. While it isn’t nearly as hot as their classic series from 1989, it is still one of Flair’s best from his final WCW act. I remember hearing stories at the time that Flair and Steamboat both took it as a personal challenge to go out there and steal the show. They did. The psychology here is just brilliant and this match delivers once the drama peaks.

WWE Network link - http://network.wwe.com/video/v31664157

Ric Flair vs. The Undertaker No DQ Match (WrestleMania 18) – The lack of respect this match gets still surprises me. The finish of the match is one of the most climactic in WrestleMania history. A bloodied and beaten Flair constantly kicked out of the Undertaker’s finishes. The Undertaker got so frustrated he attacked the referee which was just tremendous. Unfortunately, Flair had nothing left after a Tombstone and went down 1-2-3, extending the Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak to 10. This was one hell of a war and an underappreciated classic.

WWE Network link - http://network.wwe.com/video/v31356687

Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich Steel Cage Match (WCCW Star Wars 1983) - This match while legendary for the Freebirds-Von Erich angle, it is highly underappreciated for the actual match. This is one of the oldest matches you can see of Flair’s right now on the WWE Network and it truly is a showcase of why he is regarded as a legend. As charismatic as Kerry was, he was hardly what anyone would regard as a great worker, yet Flair got a great match out of him here. The only criticism of the match I have is that the finish was a little overbooked in that it should have ended with the cage door being shut on Kerry’s head. You have heard about Ric Flair in the early 1980s but you don’t have many opportunities to see him. For that reason alone this match makes the list.

WWE Network link - http://network.wwe.com/video/v31314737

Ric Flair and Steve Austin vs. Maxx Payne and 2 Cold Scorpio (WCW Battle Bowl 1993) - I will be the first to admit that you will probably find better Flair matches on the Network. Yet, this is a special case as it showcases the only time I can recall that Flair and Austin ever teamed up in WCW. They were feuding at the time so they wrested as a hostile tag team. The match is very good just for the gimmick of Austin and Flair not getting along. Flair and Austin take this one but it’s a fun match to go back and watch to check out this dream team of legends for one-time only.

WWE Network link - http://network.wwe.com/video/v31572861

Ric Flair vs. Bret Hart (WCW Souled Out 1998) - I remember being so intrigued to see this match at the time after reading Flair and Bret bury each other for years in interviews. I don’t know if it was that competitive edge or dislike for each other that fueled extra motivation but this match was absolutely tremendous. It was also a reminder to anyone who doubted him that Flair still had plenty of gas left in the tank. This match was an absolute clinic and like Flair’s match with Steamboat at Spring Stampede four years earlier, it got better as it built. The psychology here from bell to bell may be the best of any match on this list. Flair taps to the Sharpshooter at the 18:02 mark. 10 more minutes and this match would be on every Flair and Bret top 10 blog on the Internet.

WWE Network link - http://network.wwe.com/video/v31662481

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Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs. Vince McMahon – Wrestling’s Greatest Feuds

May 23, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The number one way to make money in pro wrestling is with a great feud. Nothing draws bigger at the box office than an exciting rivalry pitting good vs. evil. Some rivalries are based on hatred, some are based on championships, and some are based on nothing more than a motivation to be the best. Today I spotlight one of professional wrestling’s greatest feuds.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon

It is funny because most of the feuds I have highlighted in this series over the last five years have come from my childhood. I am that annoying older wrestling fans who will tell you, “They don’t make them like they did in my day.” Yet I could agree that the most exciting feud I ever watched as a wrestling fan came long past my childhood. That feud was Stone Cold vs. McMahon.

Sometimes you look back at pro wrestling history and you see a trend with some of the biggest money drawing rivalries in wrestling. As great as they were, they were unplanned, generally an audible, and a situation where a negative was turned into a positive. I think that sums up the planning of Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon.

This was never a feud that was planned. This was a feud that fell into place due to a number of different circumstances in the WWE. Business was starting to pick up when everything came to a halt at the end of the summer of 1996. Steve Austin was starting to pick up steam when he became sidelined with a career threatening injury at SummerSlam 1997. An injury suffered at the hands of Owen Hart stopped Austin’s momentum right in its tracks. Steve Austin’s career was in serious jeopardy.

Vince McMahon was not having a whole lot of luck either. Vince found himself in one of the strangest situations where his world champion had signed with the competition, while holding the belt. Not only that, but everyone seemed to know about it. WCW was crushing the WWE and Vince seemed to be a few steps behind a new era of Attitude in the pro wrestling business. The stress that Vince McMahon must have been under at this time had to have been enormous.

The first seed was planted when McMahon stripped Austin and Dude Love of their tag team titles and Austin threatened McMahon. The seed was watered on September 22, 1997. RAW was live from Madison Square Garden for one of the biggest RAW shows of the year. Austin, still not cleared to wrestle, attacked Owen Hart, violating a restraining order. Vince tried to talk some sense into Austin and was rewarded with a Stone Cold Stunner. The crowd went insane and you could start to smell a money feud in the air.

McMahon turned the Bret Hart/Survivor Series 1997 fiasco into a positive and slowly began to morph into the heel maniacal CEO we would eventually see. We saw glimpses of it when McMahon yelled at Austin for ruining Mike Tyson’s appearance on RAW. Once Austin won the WWE championship from Shawn Michaels, Mr. McMahon was unleashed! It became Vince’s personal crusade to either turn Austin corporate or take the title away from him.

What proceeded was one of the most exciting years in WWE history. Every week McMahon would try and outwit Austin only to get outplayed by the Texas Rattlesnake. The chemistry between these two is unrivaled. They could turn even the silliest situations into some of the most entertaining moments in WWE history, such as Austin attacking Vince in the hospital.

The storyline was so simple in retrospect that you almost wonder why nobody did this sooner. Austin was the blue collar man who stood up against his rich boss and didn’t give a damn about the ramifications. What fan couldn’t relate to that? I remember going to house shows during that time and Austin was like a rock star coming out. Fans whether smart to the business or not didn’t like Vince. He was the perfect foil in this story. It was magic!

The key to this entire feud is that it took almost a full year before Austin would get his shot at McMahon in the ring (sans a match on RAW that saw Dude Love jump Austin). It is funny that in today’s environment Vince rarely lets anything simmer, yet his biggest money feud didn’t even see a match for almost a year. It’s a different time and there is more television to fill but there is certainly something to this formula that is lost in today’s WWE booking.

The Royal Rumble 1999 remains one of my favorite Rumbles ever simply due to the interaction of McMahon vs. Austin. The vignettes with Vince and Shane leading up to the match were priceless. Austin and Vince starting 1 & 2 was brilliant. The entire match was pure intensity as somehow or another you knew Austin was going to get screwed, yet he got the better of Vince for most of the night. The open with Austin stomping a mud hole in Vince was just tremendous.

But it was the steel cage match at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre that is the gem of the feud. This is a match you should fire up and watch immediately on the WWE Network. How would McMahon survive against Austin in a cage? The match was a one-sided affair but it was one of the most fun matches you’ll ever see on the network. Austin got screwed again by the debuting Big Show but the match certainly paid off in excitement after such a long wait.

The feud would play out for many years in many different forms but it was this period between the fall of 1997 and 1999 that was what I’d call the golden period of the feud. This feud singlehandedly turned the entire WWE business around and only a couple of years later Vince would wind up buying the same company that tried to put him out of business. No matter what WCW tried, there was just no way to compete with Austin vs. McMahon.

Even today I really enjoy seeing Austin and Vince interact on television. They haven’t done it in a while but there is always this fun tension between them whenever they are a few feet apart. It is a feud that defined an era and maybe had more impact on the pro wrestling industry than any rivalry in the history of the business. The feud sustained for several years including helping draw one of the biggest events in WWE history in WrestleMania 23.

Again it is interesting when you look back at the events that led up to this feud and quickly realize that Vince and Austin wound up stepping into something historic by accident. In the end they both needed each other. As fast as the Austin train was moving, he needed a dance partner. The unlikeliest dance partner wound up being the guy signing his pay checks. Austin would have been big, but would he have become arguably the second biggest star in pro wrestling history?

Without this feud there may not even be a WWE today. Would Vince have been able to compete against WCW and the n.W.o. angle? Would the company even be in business today? Take a look at the roster at the time and while the supporting cast was great, nobody was going to light the world on fire like Austin did with McMahon. I think it is fair to say that this feud saved the company.

And for that reason alone, Austin vs. McMahon is not only one of the greatest feuds in pro wrestling history, it may be the greatest.

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