WWF: WrestleMania XIV

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WWF: WrestleMania XIV
March 29, 1998
Boston, MA
Fleet Center

The current WWF champs are as follows:

World Champion: Shawn Michaels (11/9/1997)
Intercontinental Champion: The Rock (12/8/1997)
World Tag Team Champions: The New Age Outlaws (11/24/1997)
European Champion: Triple H (3/17/1998)
Light Heavyweight Champion: TAKA Michinoku (12/7/1997)

Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.

  • 15 Tag Team Battle Royal

Winners of the battle royal get a shot at the WWF tag titles at Unforgiven: In Your House in April. The entrants include: the Quebecers, the Headbangers, Faarooq & Kama, Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown, the Godwinns, Disciples of Apocalypse, Sniper & Recon, Savio Vega & Miguel Perez Jr., Steve Blackman & Flash Funk, Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor (or Too Much), Jose Estrada & Jesus Castillo, Chainz & Bradshaw, the Rock N Roll Express, and the returning LEGION OF DOOM with Sunny by their side. LOD wear different than usual attire to the ring. Right off the bat, you notice they are wearing goalie masks to the ring. Sunny’s outfit leaves little to the imagination as well. When they take off the masks, the signature Mohawk hairstyles are gone in favor of just really short buzz cuts. Animal is wearing shorter than usual tights. They have these baseball catcher shin pads to take forever to take off as well. Just way too much going on with them right now.

Anyways, onto the match. Kurrgan comes down and throws out Sniper to ensure they lose as if there was any chance of them winning. Barry Windham appears and gets rid of Chainz so that Bradshaw loses without having to mess with him at all. Mark Henry stays in the ring for a few moments after D-Lo was eliminated before he’s thrown to the curb by Henry Godwinn. The final four teams come down to LOD, DOA, the New Midnight Express, and the Godwinns. Henry knocks one of the DOA twins to the floor to send them to the showers, but then the other DOA twin throws Phineas out to the floor, so now both teams are quickly done. Well, that doesn’t make any sense. The Godwinns then grab their slop buckets and KO Hawk and Animal and tell the Midnights to toss them out. They try to keep Animal on the floor while they double-team Hawk, but it can only last for so long. They come back and clothesline both Bodacious Bart and Bombastic Bob out to the floor to win the whole thing. (8:21) Just a way to showcase the reinvented Legion of Doom. While there was really no mention (except “2000” was on their tights) by the commentators or the graphics, they will be known as LOD 2000 going forward as they take us into the 21st CENTURY!!!! ½*

Kevin Kelly and the Honky Tonk Man will be on the WWF Superstar Line throughout the show tonight. HTM holds up an Alex Award for “Best Sports & Gaming” 1-900 number. Hah. AN ALEX AWARD, YOU SAY? SON, GIMME THE PHONE – NOW.

We see some footage of media appearances from the WWF guys over the weekend.

  • WWF Light Heavyweight Championship: TAKA Michinoku (c) vs. Aguila

They take turns doing their signature dives to start. In the ring, Aguila fights back with a series of lucha-style armdrags. TAKA takes a powder and gets drilled with a corkscrew moonsault plancha. Back inside, Aguila ducks a corkscrew moonsault and hits a moonsault press. MOONSAULTMANIA! Aguila catches TAKA up top with a double jump hurracanrana. TAKA comes back with his missile dropkick and calls for the Michinoku Driver, but Aguila slips away. He tries another hurracanrana, but TAKA puts on the brakes and drops him with a sitout powerbomb. Another moonsault from TAKA misses. Aguila comes off the top only to be met with a dropkick. That’s all she wrote as TAKA delivers the MICHINOKU DRIVER for the win. (5:59) Really just a collection of spots until Michinoku hit his finish. Most of them looked pretty good, but there’s not much of a story going here. This would be the last WWF Light Heavyweight title defense on PPV until October which tells me they have already given up on this division not even six months into the experiment. *½

Backstage, we go to Gennifer Flowers who is conducting a sitdown interview with the Rock. She asks him various political questions. He seems like he would be a benevolent-ish dictator to the American people, which puts him only about a step behind Donald Trump. HIYOOOOOO! I believe this is the first instance of us smelling anything that the Rock is cooking. His catchphrases are so well known by now that you almost don’t realize you’re hearing something new and different at the time when you go back and watch these now.

  • WWF European Championship: Triple H (c) (w/Chyna) vs. Owen Hart

The DX band plays Helmsley’s entrance here. We see Chyna is wearing makeup tonight. Commissioner Slaughter will be handcuffed to Chyna throughout the match to prevent any shenanigans. Naturally, Chyna makes it difficult for the Sarge to handcuff her. The story of the match is all about Owen’s sprained ankle. Ross tells us that he only took off the cast today. Owen BUM RUSHES THE SHOW to start and beats the crap out of Triple H. Helmsley comes back and knocks Owen to the floor hoping for some extracurricular activity from Chyna, but Slaughter pulls her away from Owen. Helmsley tries to dive on Owen from the apron, but Owen moves and Hunter takes a bump on the guardrail. Back inside, Helmsley avoids the Sharpshooter and delivers his signature facebuster. He continues through his Harley Race spots like the High Knee and the suplex followed by the knee drop. Owen fights back, but runs into a boot in the corner busting his nose open. DDT gets two. Helmsley finally goes for the ankle – kicking and stomping and twisting. Owen comes back ducking a boot in the corner and slides to the floor to split Helmsley’s up rights using the ringpost. Missile dropkick from Owen connects, but he sells the ankle and slow to cover. Belly to belly suplex gets 1-2-NO! Spinning heel kick scores another nearfall. Owen uses his bad ankle to connect with the enziguri kick and sells *that* to prevent a quick pinfall attempt. He tries a hurracanrana, but Helmsley blocks with a powerbomb. Owen comes right back with a flying body press for 1-2-NO! They avoid one another’s finishers as Owen gets kicked off into the corner and collapses head first into Triple H’s balls. Not enough selling from Helmsley for that one. PEDIGREE once again is blocked. Owen applies the SHARPSHOOTER and Chyna is able to help pull Triple H to the ropes despite Slaughter trying to pull her back. You’re useless, Sarge. Chyna then throws powder in Slaughter’s eyes. Owen grabs at Chyna only for Helmsley to drive a knee into his back from behind. As Owen stands up and turns around, Chyna low blows him into a PEDIGREE to give Helmsley the win. (11:30) Once ref Tim White unlocks the handcuffs, Chyna decks a blinded Commissioner Slaughter and throws him into the front row. Heel Helmsley and babyface Owen didn’t work too bad together. **¾

  • Marc Mero & Sable vs. TAFKA Goldust & Luna

Mero and Goldust start this contest doing some stuff that nobody cares to see because obviously you want to hold off on the Sable/Luna confrontations. Sable tags to get her hands on Luna, but catches her around the ring and right into the arms of Goldust. When Mero gets Goldust reeling, he tags in Sable to kick Goldust in the face. Luna won’t tag in and Mero goes back to wrestling with Goldust. Crowd only wants Sable here. When they collide and tag out, Sable and Luna do the catfight bit and the crowd loses their minds. Sable shows off some decent kicks in the corner lighting up Luna and then goes over to catch Goldust napping with a forearm smash. Luna takes a clothesline to the floor as the crowd continues to show Sable their support. Tag to Goldust, he gets nailed again by Sable and takes a powder. Mero tags in and whips Goldust into the steps before throwing him back inside the ring. Slingshot splash by Mero hits knees. Goldust gets Sable all riled up again and while the ref is busy with her, Mero low blows Goldust. He tries a TKO, but Goldust slips off his shoulders and hits a DDT. Mero flips out of the Curtain Call and goes into Wildman Marc Mero mode. Knee lift, Merosault, and the Super Hurracanrana gets 1-2-NO! Goldust and Luna collide allowing Mero to score another nearfall. TKO connects on Goldust, but Luna breaks up the pin and jumps on Mero’s back. Mero walks over to Sable and tags out allowing Sable to cover Goldust. The ref is busy breaking up Mero and Luna to count. While he’s chatting with Mero, Luna comes off the top rope to hit Sable only to miss and nail Goldust. Whoops. Sable grabs Luna and debuts the SABLE BOMB. Cover, 1-2-NO! Luna rakes the face and does a few things, but it just leads to a TKO from Sable to end this match. (9:12) This was some interesting Russo booking where it clearly worked. If you didn’t know any better, you might think Marc Mero is still a babyface at this point. I’m sure Sable using her hubby’s own finish will piss him off though. We’ll find out tomorrow night on RAW! Highly entertaining match here. **½

Tennessee Lee introduces Jeff Jarrett and Gennifer Flowers to the world to talk about how great Jarrett is. Flowers is the special ring announcer for the next match.

  • WWF Intercontinental Championship: The Rock (c) (w/the NOD) vs. Ken Shamrock

Nothing she can say about Shamrock though as he sprints to the ring to get after the Rock. If Rocky gets DQ’ed, he loses the IC title. Faarooq is conspicuous by his absence here. Shamrock beats Rock in and out and back in the ring to start. Lawler wonders if Faarooq didn’t order the rest of the Nation to not get involved here. After nearly three minutes of that, Rock dumps Shamrock on the floor and whips him into the steps. Back in, he delivers the People’s Elbow for two. Shamrock then dumps out Rock himself and and brings a chair into the ring. When ref Jack Doan tries to stop him, Shamrock throws the ref away into the corner. Rock picks up the chair and blasts Shamrock over the head. Just brutal. Cover, 1-2-NO! Shamrock kicks out, makes his fiery comeback, and submits Rock with the ANKLELOCK. (4:50) He wipes out D-Lo, Kama, and Mark Henry with belly to belly suplexes before going back to applying the Anklelock on the Rock. Faarooq comes down in his street clothes and appears to be coming into the ring to break up the hold, but then makes a statement by walking back to the locker room instead leaving the Rock to endure more agony. Awesome. Rock is bleeding from the mouth. Some “referees” and an “agent” we’ve never seen before comes down to calm Shamrock down, but they all take suplexes. Rock gets carted out on a stretcher while Howard Finkel announces that the decision has been reversed and the Rock is still the IC champ. Shamrock then runs to catch up with the Rock. He turns over the stretcher and leaves him for dead over by the DX bandstand. He holds up the IC title to a thunderous ovation and drops the belt back on Rock to end this madness. **

  • (Dumpster Match) WWF Tag Team Championship: The New Age Outlaws (c) vs. Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie

While he’s announced as Chainsaw Charlie, it’s just Terry Funk now carrying a chainsaw which somehow seems even more terrifying. This is essentially casket match rules with a dumpster. The Outlaws work together and nearly put Funk and Cactus in the dumpster in about five minutes of clubbering. Gunn has his nose busted open. However when they go close the lid, Cactus gives them both the MANDIBLE CLAW with each hand and Funk comes out swinging a cookie sheet. Cactus uses a cookie sheet to land a Cactus Elbow on Gunn while Funk DDTs Road Dogg onto one. They bring out the ladder if only for Gunn and Cactus to get knocked off into the dumpster for a cool visual. Cactus gets out of the dumpster before the Outlaws dump Funk into the dumpster with a double powerbomb. Well that was brutal. The Outlaws then take Cactus backstage to beat him some more. This appears to give Russo some ideas for a plethora of hardcore matches in the future. Anyways, Cactus knocks them down with a steel chair as Funk appears and starts up a forklift. Cactus lays out the Outlaws on the pallet and Funk drops them into an “unofficial” dumpster to win the match. (10:00) At least for one night: ladies and gentlemen, we have *NEW* WWF tag team champions. Certainly outside the box booking at the time in a match that had never really been done on a WWF PPV, which makes it really stand out on this card. As I said in the recap, it is the precursor for the WWF hardcore style that we’ll see ad nauseum over the next four years. **¾

Ross announces this is the highest grossing event in the history of wrestling in Boston.

Future WWE Hall of Famer Pete Rose comes out to introduce this next match and pisses off the Boston crowd by bringing up the 1975 world series and various other Red Sox atrocities. He then introduces Kane and Paul Bearer to the ring. Apparently Kane is a Red Sox fan because he grabs Rose and delivers a TOMBSTONE for the biggest babyface reaction of the night since Sable first got hold of Luna.

  • The Undertaker vs. Kane (w/Paul Bearer)

One could argue that this match has been building all the way back to SummerSlam 1996 when Paul Bearer first turned on the Undertaker. Technically, it wasn’t until May of last year when Bearer started mentioning Undertaker’s brother in order to blackmail Undertaker into reuniting with him. Anyways, here we are. The first official showdown between the brothers of destruction. Undertaker gets a fancy entrance here with druids carrying torches as he “walks through the flame of hell” to fight his brother. Big time staredown to start. Taker delivers the first punch and Kane barely moves. He continues to strike Kane until he backs him into a corner, but they just have no ill effect. Taker catches Kane with a boot in the corner and twists the arm looking for Old School, but Kane knocks him down with a short-arm clothesline. Taker sits right up and tries a crossbody block, but Kane catches him and drops him in the corner to put the boots to him. He hangs Taker out to dry and comes off the top rope to lower the boom on his brother. Back inside, Kane continues to beat up Taker in the corner. When Kane telegraphs a backdrop, Taker tries the legdrop and ends up on Kane’s shoulders. He punches on Kane, but Kane drops Taker down on his face. They go to the floor for some ringside violence. The steps come apart and Kane drops half of the steps onto Taker. Paul Bearer gets a chance to put the boots to Taker. Back inside, Kane brings UT in with a suplex. Chokeslam to Taker! Cover, 1-2-NO! Kane picks Taker up off the mat. WHAT. Taker fights out of a chinlock, but Kane lays him out with a clothesline and an elbow drop. Back to the chinlock. Taker dumps Kane on the apron to escape the hold and boots him to the floor. Taker then delivers his epic plancha only to be slam dunked by Kane into the Spanish announce table! Back in, Kane hits UT with a flying clothesline. He unloads on Taker, but Taker covers up and starts firing back on his brother. He manages to catch Kane in position for the Tombstone, but Kane reverses and delivers the TOMBSTONE himself. Cover, 1-2-NO! More punches are traded. Taker appears to win the battle as he clotheslines Kane down for the first time in this match. He gives Kane a Chokeslam and finally nails the TOMBSTONE. It doesn’t get the pinfall. Taker delivers a second TOMBSTONE. Nope. Taker hits Kane with a flying clothesline of his own and tries one more TOMBSTONE. YES. Undertaker wins. (17:00) The WrestleMania win streak continues to #7 now for the Undertaker. Kane kicked out at three, but I get that. He’s this supernatural being that can’t really be defeated this way. Afterwards, Kane leaves Taker lying with a TOMBSTONE on a chair. As they leave, Taker sits up and gives them an evil glare to ensure us that this story is far from over. Well, Taker’s rope-a-dope strategy worked. **¼

  • (Special Outside Enforcer: Mike Tyson) WWF Championship: Shawn Michaels (c) (w/Triple H & Chyna) vs. Steve Austin

In June 1997, the Tyson-Holyfield heavyweight title rematch ends in a DQ in the third round, as Tyson bites Holyfield’s ear and causing worldwide controversy. With Tyson gone from boxing and being a life-long wrestling fan, the “Baddest Man on the Planet” was finally free to embark on a new career with the WWF. All that mainstream attention that Tyson would bring could not have come at a better time for the WWF. While they were making progress, they were still getting their butts handed to them on a weekly basis by WCW Monday Nitro. While Tyson isn’t responsible for the turnaround of the company, he was certainly used as a powder keg for the Austin-McMahon feud, as Austin picked a fight with Tyson immediately coming into the company, which pissed off Vince and took their feud to a higher, angrier level. Speaking of Austin, he won the Royal Rumble and earned this WWF title shot and has become the most popular wrestler in the business. Now he just needs the WWF title to make it official. As JR says, “it don’t get no bigger than this.”

Shawn uses the stick-and-move strategy to start. Austin catches him with a nasty forearm smash and takes Shawn from buckle to buckle. As he’s trying to escape, Shawn gets his tights pulled down and then takes a backdrop over the top rope onto Helmsley. HHH attacks Austin from behind and sends him into the guardrail only to have him and Chyna both sent to the back. That’s right, Tyson’s got this. While Helmsley and Chyna are leaving, Austin jumps Triple H and throws into the DX band instruments. HBK helps out his brethren and hits Austin with a cymbal stand. Austin fires back, but gets whipped into the dumpster next to the stage. It’s WrestleMania 14, folks! Back to the ring, Michaels goes crashing into the corner with the Ray Stevens bump that ruins Shawn’s back and hinders the rest of the match. Austin delivers a stun gun and goes for the Stone Cold Stunner, but Shawn escapes to the apron and takes a right hand down onto the announce table instead. Back inside, Shawn escapes a chinlock with a jawbreaker and goes to post Austin’s knee, but gets yanked into the post. Over near the timekeeper’s table, Austin takes a backdrop over the guardrail and gets whacked in the face with the ring bell. JR wonders how neither official saw it. Back in the ring, Shawn grimaces with every move he makes. Next thing you know, Austin gets a second wind and throws Michaels over the top rope to the floor. Shawn finally gets a break and wraps Austin’s knee around the post. From there, he takes Austin to school. When Austin tries to roll out, Shawn knocks Austin onto the announce table with a baseball slide. Tyson throws Austin back inside, which allows Shawn to clip Austin from behind to do more damage. Figure-Four is applied and Shawn cheats like CRAZY. Austin manages to fight out and mount a comeback. Shawn tries to cut him off with a sleeper, which causes ref Mike Chioda to get sandwiched in the corner. Now Austin starts turnbuckle smashing and stomping a mudhole and walking it dry. Shawn manages the Flying Forearm and even more incredible the kip-up. Flying Elbow Drop connects and he tunes up the band. They trade finisher attempts culminating in Austin hitting the STONE COLD STUNNER. With no ref, Tyson slides in and fast-counts the pinfall. (20:04) Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got a NEW WWF Champion. Afterwards, it’s now evident by the trading of the shirts that Mike Tyson was on Austin’s side the entire time, and it was all just a ruse to screw with DX. Shawn punches Tyson for the disrespect, but gets met with a knockout blow for the awesome JR call. Not the amazing title-changing, history-making match that Austin truly deserved. You have to hand it to Shawn though for finishing the match despite all he was experiencing. ***¼

Final Thoughts: From top to bottom even almost twenty years later, I still think this is one of the most entertaining WrestleManias of all-time. It’s not a show that you would watch to see great wrestling (or the Attitude Era in general for that matter; WCW was still king in that category), but it’s overflowing with that sports entertainment value or soap opera intrigue that blows WCW out of the water. From a historical perspective, WrestleMania 14 is obviously very important. It’s one of those “changing of the guard” shows like a WrestleMania 21. I don’t think I need to go into how Stone Cold Steve Austin standing at the top of the mountain of the WWF is historical to any wrestling fan. With all that said, I’m giving WrestleMania 14 an easy thumbs up.

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