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Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels Talk WrestleMania 14

Stone Cold Steve Austin is quickly turning into one of the most entertaining podcasters on the Internet. Austin’s podcast is a blend of both pro wrestling and topical talk but of course it is the wrestling that interests me. In addition to hosting, Austin has also turned into a heck of an interviewer. That is why I was excited when I heard that he was going to get a shot to interview Shawn Michaels.

Steve and Shawn are obviously friends and it made for a tremendous interview. Quite frankly it was one of the best I’ve ever heard with HBK. They hit on a lot of topics but the one that really grabbed me was when they went back in time and revisited WrestleMania 14. It is a rare opportunity to hear two of the biggest stars in wrestling history sit down and reflect on one of the biggest matches they ever had, especially when it was on a WrestleMania. I felt like I was listening to two a Raider and Patriot talk about the tuck rule game.

What makes this one so good is that there is more meat to this story than just any old wrestling match. Austin was super hot at the time, Michaels was on the way out, and there were all kinds of stories at the time about Michaels being difficult to work with. Now we get to hear the real story from the players themselves and to Michaels’ credit, he comes across as honest here as you can hope for when he looks back at that difficult time in his career.

As I said earlier the whole interview is great, but here is how it went down when Austin and Michaels went back in time to discuss quite arguably the biggest turning point in all of professional wrestling history.

Steve Austin: What did you think when Vince McMahon told you Mike Tyson was going to be involved, what ran through your mind? Were you down with that?

Shawn Michaels: At best I can recall I don’t think I knew about it, I can remember hearing about it but you did the first thing with him. To be perfectly honest I can remember I’m sure I can remember being a little jealous. “Mike Tyson is going to be here and I’m in the main-event with Steve and I don’t even get to do anything with him?” I didn’t know we were doing the D-X thing or anything like that the first time when you guys went out there and did the confrontation with him where you pushed him and all of that with Vince. I didn’t even know where we were going then. You know what I mean? As you know Steve somebody could have told me that and it’s gone now. You knew it was going to be big, you knew it was going to help obviously the pay per view, having done a fair amount of those WrestleManias with “stars” this one felt like this was going to be one that really worked to our advantage. Everybody knew, you’d have to have been a dummy not to know that you were coming on hot. For me and again, just being 100% totally honest it’s one of those things where you’re like you know it’s cool, all of the stuff that’s happening is big but you’re not a part of it and that was admittedly a tough pill to swallow and obviously not being the great guy that I am now (laughs)

Steve: The guy I’m talking to right now is a lot different from the guy back then. I remember back then that tension was high and we started building that WrestleMania 14 thing and we brought Tyson in and everything was going full speed ahead and I remember the time you super kicked me on the top of the ramp there that one time and Triple H was there and, it was a hell of a buildup but man it seemed there was a little bit of animosity there and you seemingly to me were just in a lot different space then you are now, you were beat up…

Shawn: The thing is the animosity was never you, it was at the situation, it was at Vince, the career is over, I’m dropping the title, it was palpable that this was going to be big, there was absolutely nothing good going on with me, so I was a dick to everybody.

Steve: That being said how were you on a physical level? What kind of pain level were you in going into that match through the build?

Shawn: I remember having that one dude Francois, he came down to my place and was working with me, you know every day before that. I have to be honest. I was on a fair amount of stuff so for me to say what I would have been like completely off it, I can’t say. I can tell you that going into it, when the whole thing started, it was excruciating. You have had that unbelievable pain going down your leg, the leg feels like it’s dragging, and I guess for me that was the thing that…pain for me, mentally I could always deal with pain. Mobility and feeling heavy always, that more than anything bothers me, frustrates me, and that’s the thing that also added to my frustration and my attitude and everything then knowing that, the one thing that I always had, even if I was the biggest prick in the world, I could always go out there and just rip it down and tear it up, and I knew that was not going to happen this time. That more than anything bothered me and affected my psyche more than anything else, you know what I mean? Does that make any sense?

Steve: It was interesting because I remember going into that match and I remember coming out of that match and I won my first championship but gosh, you and I had ripped the ring up 100 times when I first came into the company and then on the grand stage it wasn’t so much. It’s just honestly between you and me, as many matches of the year that you have had and that I’ve seen. Could it have been better? It could have been a lot better but given the situations and everything that was going on, we went out there and we did what we had to do. So I win the belt that night and you dropped the title to me, a big deal, a big step in my career and something that I’ll never forget. After that match where were you in your head? Was it a letdown, a disappointment, just part of the business, a weight off your back, where were you when that three count happened, you went back to the dressing room, and just kind of chilled?

Shawn: First thing was, there was no, it took a long time for me to get to the chill stage. Honestly now years later, it’s still the one 1 question people always ask me. “If you could change anything…” I’m not big on the whole regret thing because I don’t like to change anything because it might change where I’m at but if you could have one do-over that match has always been one of those things. I don’t know if you can remember but I remember creatively, I was always as were you, good. We ended up doing basically what you and Hunter had been doing at house shows. Just because I wasn’t even there mentally, had no drive to come up with something good and creative, I was never like that, even if I was in the ring with someone I didn’t like, my ring performance was never affected by that standpoint because that’s one thing that I wouldn’t let suffer. The fact that it wasn’t ripping the down bothered me. The fact that the company was moving bothered me. I can remember, me, my biggest priority that night was nobody putting a shirt on me, I can remember being angry about that! It wasn’t until I got home and I just got away from it all, that I think it finally sort of, I got a little relaxed and sort of felt like the weight of the world was off my shoulders. I can remember watching the show the next night and Hunter and Kid coming out and bringing all of that, and again him doing the promo, “you dropped the ball”, and all of that kind of stuff, and remember absolutely none of that bothered me in the least bit. Having the ability and the clarity to not get upset with the moving on when you leave, that’s the first time that I sort of felt like, “Holy cow”, you know what I mean? The shirt being laid on me yesterday bothered me so much, how come this doesn’t? That’s when I think the idea of, you know the job as great as it is it keeps you so busy and to just maybe have time to get a hobby, not go get in the car, to lay around, you know what I mean? To just sort of do whatever it is you want, I think that’s the first time I thought about since I was 19 years old. That sunk in, to answer your question probably 24 hours later it took time to settle in.

There are some great takeaways there. Probably the biggest is just getting inside the head of a guy like Shawn Michaels who was on top of the world yet knew that this angle, no matter how big it was for the WWE, was the end of his run, and likely the end of his days as king of the mountain in the WWE. It was also interesting to hear how both guys were frank about the match being disappointing. I remember getting into an argument on Twitter with someone who took issue with the fact that I left this match out of one of my top 10 WrestleMania blogs. I always felt the match was average at best, not terrible, but nothing special, and to hear these guys who obviously have a lot of pride in their performance openly admit the same was fascinating.

I do remember seeing a few Austin-Michaels matches pre-WrestleMania, even one on Monday Night RAW. They were good, real good, which is why WrestleMania was such a letdown. Regardless of the letdown inside of the ring, it was obviously a gigantic success outside of the ring and that is all that really counts when you look at it from a business anyway.

Oh and why the WWE isn’t booking these Austin podcasts on WWE.com is probably the biggest mystery of all.

[amazon_link id=”B000LC3IKG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]WWE: The Shawn Michaels Story – Heartbreak & Triumph[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B005FWO3OM” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ] Stone Cold Steve Austin: The Bottom Line on the Most Popular Superstar of All Time[/amazon_link]

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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