Friday, August 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania XIV

Because of the WWE Network, fans can now watch every single WrestleMania from start to finish.

30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania XIV

Mike Tyson, right, gets a finger in the chest from wrestler Shawn Michaels during Wrestlemania XIV in Boston Sunday, March 29, 1998. (Winslow Townson/AP file)
Mike Tyson, right, gets a finger in the chest from wrestler Shawn Michaels during Wrestlemania XIV in Boston Sunday, March 29, 1998. (Winslow Townson/AP file)

Because of the WWE Network, fans can now watch every single WrestleMania from start to finish.

So, for 30 days leading up to WrestleMania XXX, we will take an extensive look back at each event from the very first, to the most recent.

Here's the WrestleManias we've covered so far:

WM I | WM II | WM III | WM IV | WM V | WM VI | WM VII | WM VIII | WM IX | WM X | WM XI | WM XII | WM 13

WrestleMania XIV

Date: March 29, 1998

Venue: FleetCenter (TD Garden), Boston, Mass.

Attendance: 19,028

Match Results:

Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) win 15-team battle royal

Light Heavyweight Championship – Taka Michinoku def. Aguila

European Championship – Triple H w/Chyna def. Owen Hart

Mixed Tag Team Match – Marc Mero & Sable def. The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust & Luna

Intercontinental Championship – The Rock w/Nation of Domination def. Ken Shamrock

Dumpster Match for World Tag Team Championship – Cactus Jack & Terry Funk def. New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & Billy Gunn)

Undertaker def. Kane (Undertaker: 7-0)

WWE Championship – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin def. Shawn Michaels w/Triple H & Chyna

Observations:

- If WrestleMania XII was a sign that WWE had begun turning the corner and WrestleMania 13 was a sign that it had begun to round the corner, WrestleMania XIV showed the world that it had fully turned the corner and was ready to fly down the straightaway at 200 miles per hour. WWE was fully entrenched in the “Attitude Era” and it showed as the company bolstered a revamped roster with fresh characters that captivated audiences live in the arena and on television every Monday night.

- Leading the way for WWE was Steve Austin, who was becoming wildly popular. WrestleMania XIV served as a lot of things, but one thing it served in particular was as the coronation of Austin as the No. 1 guy not only in WWE but also in all of professional wrestling. Just like Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III, Bret Hart at WrestleMania X and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII, Austin had taken his place atop the wrestling industry.

- While the roster was as deep as it had been in years, Vince McMahon decided to up the ante by adding Mike Tyson to the main event of Austin versus Shawn Michaels. In 1998, Tyson was not only a lightning rod for attention, but he still possessed that air of toughness about him that won him so many fights before the bell even rang. The result was a media frenzy that surrounded the event. Jim Ross even noted during the show how many media outlets were around ringside taking photos, including the Philadelphia Daily News.

- The match itself between Austin and Michaels probably wasn’t as good as it could have been, but it was still enjoyable nonetheless. The main reason why the match didn’t quite live up to its potential was because Michaels was hampered by a severe back injury he had suffered at the Royal Rumble two months prior. Michaels has earned the moniker “Mr. WrestleMania” for his great performances on the biggest stage, but WrestleMania XIV was his gutsiest performance out of them all. Michaels was healthy enough to work the match, but it was painfully obvious (no pun intended) that he was in a good deal of pain during the match. You can tell he wasn’t simply selling an injury either. He was really in pain. There were times where Michaels seemed to have trouble simply bending over to pick Austin up off the mat. Sometimes, he wouldn’t do it at all and would squat down instead. Despite the pain, Michaels worked the match without a whole lot of restrictions. He still took back-body bumps, got tossed out of the ring and did his patented nip-up — all of which probably added to the pain he was suffering. Although he gutted his way through this match, Michaels’ back injury had taken its toll and forced him to essentially retire. Michaels didn’t wrestle for four years until he met Triple H in a match at Summerslam 2002. He didn’t make another WrestleMania appearance for five years.

- Tyson wasn’t the only celebrity to take part in the festivities during the show. Pete Rose was scheduled to be a special guest ring announcer for the Undertaker-Kane match, but decided to run down the city of Boston for its losing ways. What followed was the beginning of a trend: Rose getting beat up at WrestleMania. Kane came down to the ring and delivered a tombstone piledriver to Rose. Rose went on to appear at the next two WrestleManias, only to get beat up on both occasions.

- After Rose was dragged out of the ring, The Undertaker made one of the most spectacular entrances in WrestleMania history to that point. As usual, Undertaker took his time getting to the ring, but this was the first time he used the druids as apart of his entrance at WrestleMania. Spectacular entrances are status quo for Undertaker now, but with the story leading up to the match, this entrance will always stand out.

- There were a lot of other firsts on this night as well. This was the first time the European Championship was defended at WrestleMania, the first time Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler announced a WrestleMania together as a duo and the first (and thankfully only) time a dumpster match took place at a WrestleMania. It was also the birth of The Rock’s legendary catchphrase, “If you know what I’m cookin’.” The phrase was eventually tweaked, but the genesis of it was on this night.

- Speaking of that dumpster match, it marked Terry Funk’s first appearance at WrestleMania since WrestleMania II in 1986. In the 12 years in between his appearances, Funk wrestled for World Championship Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling and for various promotions in Japan.

- Lawler spent the majority of the Light Heavyweight title match between Taka Michinoku and Aguila hyping up Brian Christopher. That wasn’t because Lawler was simply a big fan of Christopher’s work. That’s because Christopher is Lawler’s real-life son. Also, Aguila eventually took off the mask and became Essa Rios in WWE.

- Someone who probably should have put on a mask during this event was Goldust, who sported an odd look. I guess it was supposed to go along with his gimmick of being the Artist Formerly Known as Goldust, but he didn’t wear gold. He wore an awful-looking silver outfit with red face paint. And his hair was a completely different story. It’s amazing to think that in 2014 — 16 years later — that Goldust could be in twice as good of shape than he was back then.

- The tag team battle royal that opened the pay-per-view was not all that great. There seemed to be a severe lack of chemistry and wherewithal as to what was going to happen next, especially when it came to the Legion of Doom and the New Midnight Express. By the way, who thought the New Midnight Express would be a good idea? For that matter, who thought the New Blackjacks would be one, too?

- While Austin was becoming the most popular male on the roster, Sable was undoubtedly the most pupular female at this point, as the mixed tag match was mostly based around her. Every time she stepped in the ring, the crowd Boston went nuts as if she was this butt-kicking machine.

- Tito Santana was a member of the Spanish announcing team on this night. He was also one of the men The Undertaker nearly flew into during his match.

Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
About this blog
The Squared Circle is a one-stop shop of pro wrestling news, recaps and observations. You can also enjoy interviews with some of your favorite stars from the world of professional wrestling both nationally and locally. Reach Vaughn at vjohnson@philly.com.

Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected