This week Throwback Thursday gets you ready for WrestleMania XXXIV as we pull a true gem from the archives of the WWE Network and celebrate the 20th anniversary of what can be considered one of the greatest WrestleMania’s of them all: WrestleMania XIV!
This was the event, after losing the “Monday Night Wars” to World Championship Wrestling for some 20-months, that finally catapulted the World Wrestling Federation to the top of the wrestling mountain. From the rise of D-X and Stone Cold Steve Austin to the birth of the “Attitude Era” to the inclusion of Mike Tyson the WWF was, at long last, trendsetters in pro wrestling once more. Three weeks after this event the WWF would defeat NITRO for the first time since June 10, 1996. But the real story of WrestleMania XIV surrounded Shawn Michaels, a bad back, and a World title match some in the company feared may not happen at all.
But how well does WrestleMania XIV hold up 20 years later? Let’s hit ‘play’ and find out!
The Network version of this event is a butchered mess. From missing segments, like the D-X Band’s opening performances and the reedited commentary to remove all but five “WWF” mentions, WrestleMania XIV on the Network is a disgrace!
In terms of context though, the Network has you covered. All past editions of Monday Night RAW as well as all prior PPVs are currently available for you to enjoy on the Network right now!
WWF WrestleMania XIV: D-X Raided (WATCH)
Date: March 29, 1998 – Location: FleetCenter, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 19,028 – PPV Buys: 2.3 (>740,000 homes)
Commentators: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler – Interviews: Gennifer Flowers & Michael Cole
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Shawn Michaels
WWF Intercontinental Champion: The Rock
WWF World Tag Team Champions: The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn)
WWF European Champion: “Triple H” Hunter Hearst Helmsley
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Taka Michinoku
The show opens with an excellent vignette juxtaposing the tradition of WrestleMania with a “new generation of rouges”, saying that “tradition is indeed alive and well because, after all, despite the brash bravado it’s the allure of World Wrestling Federation gold that has brought these men here tonight.” And later, “So tonight, through sacrifice and pain, through breath-taking displays of athleticism that defy mortal boundaries, these men that shun tradition are destined to become part of it.”
Because the opening D-X Band performances are cut we jump right straight to the first match where all but the final two teams are in the ring as Jim Ross welcomes us to WrestleMania while Faarooq and Kama make their way out.
— “15-Team Number Contender’s Tag Team Battle Royal for the WWF World Tag Team Championship” (WATCH – 1:50)
1) Los Boricuas (Jose Estrada, Jr. & Jesus Castillo), 2) The Nation of Domination (Mark Henry & D’Lo Brown), 3) The Quebecers (Jacques Rougeau & Pierre Ouellet), 4) Los Boricuas (Savio Vega & Miguel Perez, Jr.), 5) The Truth Commission (Sniper & Recon), 6) The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher), 7) Bradshaw & Chainz, 8) Too Much (Scott Taylor & Brian Christopher), 9) The Godwinns (Henry O. & Phineas I.), 10) The New Midnight Express (Bodacious Bart & Bombastic Bob) w/Jim Cornette, 11) Disciples of Apocalypse (8-Ball & Skull), 12) “Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman & Flash Funk, 13) The Rock & Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson), 14) Nation of Domination (Faarooq & Kama Mustafa), 15) Legion of Doom 2000 (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal) w/Sunny
Fourteen of the teams are around the ring waiting for the fifteenth and final team, the “debuting” L.O.D. 2000 (and Sunny), to arrive. This marked L.O.D.’s first televised match since the February 23, 1998 edition of RAW that saw Hawk and Animal come to blows after losing a Tag Team title match to the New Age Outlaws. This match is little more than a pier six brawl but not quite as exciting. The final four are The Godwinns, the New Midnight Express, L.O.D. 2000, and Skull & 8-Ball. After a scrum between the D.O.A. and the Godwinns it comes down to L.O.D. 2000 and the New Midnight Express. The Godwinns return, though, and glom both Hawk and Animal with their ““galvanized buckets”, as JR calls them. The L.O.D 2000 make their comeback and then dump both members of the Express over the top to win at 8:20.
WINNERS are L.O.D. 2000 (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal) w/Sunny (8:20)
As the L.O.D. 2000 celebrate we see a replay of the finish before a WWF Superstar Line promo is awkwardly edited out.
Next we see footage of the festivities for WrestleMania, including the 15,000 that showed up for the infamous D-X public workout, Austin’s appearance on Live with Regis & Kathy Lee, Flash Funk appearing on New England Cable News’ Kid’s Company, and the WrestleMania-eve V.I.P. dinner at Champion’s Restaurant & Bar.
— WWF Light Heavyweight Championship (WATCH – 16:07)
Aguila vs. Taka Michinoku(c)
Though there’s not a whole lot story-telling this is a very good match, one of the best in the division to this point. Both guys are doing what they can to steal the show which, on a card this stacked, is saying something. In the end Taka dropkicks an airborne Aguila before ending the match with the Michinoku Driver for the pin at 5:58 to retain the Light Heavyweight title in the only Light Heavyweight title match in WrestleMania history.
WINNER and STILL WWF Light Heavyweight Champion, Taka Michinoku (Pin, 5:58)
After replays we go to a classic pre-taped interview between Gennifer Flowers and Intercontinental Champion The Rock. We learn that the word “leader” is beneath The Rock, that so long as the homeless “keep their cardboard homes off The Rock’s freshly mowed grass, everything’ll be ‘copastetic'”, and that as long as the interns in the White House don’t do anything “orally wro—excuse me, Genny—morally wrong” The Rock wouldn’t have to lay the smack down “in a major way.”
As Helmsley and Chyna make their way to the ring we see footage from 2 weeks ago on RAW of Chyna helping Triple H steal the European title from Owen Hart followed by Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter fumbling with a key as he attempts to handcuff himself to Chyna.
— WWF European Championship – “Grudge Match” – Chyna is Handcuffed to WWF Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter (WATCH – 26:26)
Owen Hart vs. “Triple H” Hunter Hearst Helmsley(c) w/Chyna
This is a great match that tells a great story. With Owen looking to be closing in on regaining the European title Chyna helps Triple H, in the Sharpshooter, to the ropes before throwing a heap of powder in Slaughter’s eyes. With the referee’s back turned Chyna thumps Owen in the pills and Triple H takes advantage, hitting a snug Pedigree for the win at 11:30 to retain the European title. After the match Chyna attacks Slaughter, dumping the Commissioner in the first row.
WINNER and STILL WWF European Champion, “Triple H” Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/Chyna (Pin, 11:30)
A promo for the popular “Stone Cold University” T-shirt is edited out before we get a vignette highlighting the bizarre story of jealousy in the forthcoming mixed tag team match.
— “Mixed-Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 44:54)
Luna & The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust vs. Sable & “Marvelous” Marc Mero
Sable is o-v-e-r and, thanks to working with Luna for weeks heading into this show, looks pretty darn good as a wrestler while Luna shows off her brilliant psychology. The roof all but blows off the FleetCenter once Sable and Luna finally hook ’em up. Sable’s intensity is incredible to watch. Everyone looks great in this match that delivers on all fronts and has the fans hooked. In the end Sable, looking like her future-husband Brock Lesnar, turns and hoists Luna for the TKO to pick up the win at 9:41. After the match Mero celebrates with Sable as if he won the match.
WINNERS are Sable & “Marvelous” Marc Mero (Pin, 9:41)
There is a flurry of editing before Tennessee Lee introduces Gennifer Flowers who is accompanied by Jeff Jarrett, complete with pyro. Jarrett and Flowers do the “Ain’t I great?” shtick before the Nation’s music hits.
As The Rock and the Nation pose in the ring we see footage from the last couple weeks of RAW of Rock glomming both Ken Shamrock and Faarooq with steel chairs.
— WWF Intercontinental Championship – “Grudge Match” – Title Can Change Hands via Disqualification (WATCH – 1:00:56)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Gennifer Flowers
“The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock vs. The Rock(c) w/D’Lo Brown, Kama Mustafa, & Mark Henry
These two were natural rivals and natural opponents and it shows in this bout, which is a fight from the opening bell. Soon enough Shamrock tries to bring a chair in the ring which leads to the referee, attempting to take the chair away, being shoved down. Rock picks up the chair and brains Shamrock for a near-fall. As we see replays of the chair shot Shamrock hits the belly-to-belly on Rock before cinching in the ankle lock for the tap out with at 4:49. After the match Shamrock takes the Nation out before reapplying the ankle lock. Faarooq runs down but gives Rock the finger instead of saving him. Officials (some of them being wiped out by Shamrock) finally get Shamrock off of Rock, who is being carted away on a stretcher. When it’s announced that Rock has retained his title via reverse decision due to Shamrock not relinquishing the ankle lock Shamrock snaps, dumps Rock off the stretcher, and tosses Rock around the D-X Band’s stage.
WINNER and STILL WWF Intercontinental Champion, The Rock(c) w/D’Lo Brown, Mark Henry, & Kama Mustafa (Disqualification via Reverse Decision, 4:49)
Next we see the classic “WWF Attitude” promo. Afterwards JR announces the live attendance and gate (over $1,029,000 and first $1 million dollar Mania gate since WrestleMania IX) and says it’s “the highest grossing event in the history of Boston.”
As Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie, wearing a “Funk U” T-shirt, make their way to the ring we see footage of the now-infamous “dumpster dive” incident from the February 2, 1998 edition of RAW.
— WWF World Tag Team Championship – “Dumpster Match” (WATCH – 1:16:43)
Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie vs. The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn)(c)
This one is a war from the word ‘go’ that features a number of brutal spots and hard-hitting action. After powerbombing Funk into the dumpster the Outlaws brawl with Cactus all the way to the back where Cactus eventually gets the upper hand. Soon enough Funk reappears behind the wheel of a forklift! Jack puts the Outlaws on a skid and Funk uses the lift to move the skid (and Outlaws) to a nearby dumpster where Funk dumps the Outlaws. Jack closes the lids and Funk uses the skid to hold the dumpster shut for the win at 10:01 to win the pairs lone WWF World Tag Team title. This ended the New Age Outlaws first (of an eventual five) World Tag title reign at 125-days.
WINNERS and NEW WWF World Tag Team Champions, Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie (10:01)
There’s some more awkward editing before we see a classic vignette detailing the incredible Kane/Undertaker story.
Next Pete Rose comes out to serve as guest ring announcer for the forthcoming match to a round of boos. “Last time I was here,” Rose tells the Red Sox faithful, “we kicked your ass!” Rose’s “bad comic” routine, complete with a beautiful “how ’bout it?” is brilliant. Soon enough Kane comes to the ring and drops Rose with a tombstone seen around the world.
— “Brother vs. Brother Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:30:51)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Pete Rose
Kane w/Paul Bearer vs. The Undertaker
This first battle between Kane and Undertaker is an iconic encounter that continues to stand as one of the very best matches these two would ever have. Kane dominates much of this match, shutting down one Undertaker comeback after another, including putting Undertaker through the Spanish announce table. Eventually Kane wears himself out and Undertaker makes the comeback. Undertaker hits a big tombstone but Kane kicks out. Moments later Undertaker lands a second, crushing tombstone on Kane but again Kane kicks out! Finally Undertaker hits a clothesline from the top rope and delivers a third tombstone piledriver for the pin at 16:59 to improve to 7—0 at WrestleMania. After the match Paul Bearer attacks Undertaker before Taker returns the favor. Moments later Kane levels his brother with a steel chair, leaving the “Dead Man” laying.
WINNER is The Undertaker (Pin, 16:59)
Next we get the all-time classic “WWF Attitude” promo featuring Freddie Blassie, Ernie Ladd, Killer Kowalski, and Gorilla Monsoon, all of which, sadly, are no longer with us.
We get an excellent Stone Cold/Mike Tyson/Shawn Michaels vignette next followed by Mike Tyson, in D-X attire, making his way to the ring flanked by Tony Garea and Pat Patterson. In the back we follow both Stone Cold and Shawn Michaels to the Gorilla position before the D-X Band plays HBK to the ring.
— WWF World Heavyweight Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 2:07:51)
Special Ringside Enforcer: “Iron” Mike Tyson
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels(c) w/WWF European Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley & Chyna
Stone Cold is as over as anyone you will ever see on this night. Though all involved, including Vince McMahon, claim to have hated this match, it’s not actually all that bad. After interfering early in the match Triple H and Chyna are sent to the back. As for HBK’s back, it seems to hold up well until HBK backdrops Austin over the guardrail to the front row. From then on it is obvious that something, be it sciatica or muscle spasms (or both), is very wrong. In the end, with the referee down, Austin blocks Sweet Chin Music twice and hits the Stone Cold Stunner as Mike Tyson (being taunted by “Holyfield” chants from the crowd) slides in and counts the fast three-count at 20:05. This was Austin’s first (of an eventual six) WWF World title wins and marked the end of Michaels’ third and final WWF World Heavyweight title reign at 140-days.
WINNER and NEW WWF World Heavyweight Champion, Stone Cold Steve Austin (Pin, 20:05)
After the match Austin gives Mike Tyson an “Austin 3:16” T-shirt. HBK stands up and sees Tyson with shirt and tries to hit Tyson when “Iron Mike” drops Michaels with a short right hook. Tyson raises Austin’s arm as the confetti flies before draping the “3:16” short over HBK’s prone, gum chewing body.
The event closes with a replay vignette of some of the evening’s biggest moments, match-by-match.
There are few WrestleMania events that are, match after match, as great as WrestleMania XIV.
The coming out party of the “Austin Era”, the arrival of Sable, a classic Rock interview, and a classic brother versus brother showdown all help to make WrestleMania XIV one of the very best Mania’s of all-time! 20-years later, in spite of this terrible edit on the Network, the greatness still shines through!
Already subscribed to the WWE Network? Then you can relive this classic WrestleMania or see it for the very first time right now! And, as always, let us know what you think in the comments.
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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