WWE Turning Point: Analyzing Historical Impact of Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold

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WWE Turning Point: Analyzing Historical Impact of Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold
Credit: WWE.com

With WrestleMania 30 less than 48 hours away, fans are speculating on who will be victorious and the memorable moments they will witness in New Orleans.

As with any other year around the big event, looking back on its past always gives fans plenty to talk about.

It has been 16 years since Shawn Michaels defended the WWE title against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in Boston at WrestleMania 14.

In this edition of WWE Turning Point, we turn back the clock and dissect that match and the importance it had on WWE going forward.

 

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin

Credit: WWE.com

Despite finding success in WCW as a former Television, Tag Team and United States Champion, no one would have been able to predict the heights that Austin would reach in WWE.

After a short-lived run in ECW in 1995, Austin came into WWE under the guidance of Ted DiBiase. Given the name The Ringmaster, it seemed Austin would become a steady mid-card talent for the company.

He was able to defeat Savio Vega in his first WrestleMania appearance, but it was the summer of 1996 when he had his breakout moment.

At the 1996 King of the Ring, Austin defeated Vega, Marc Mero and finally, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, to win the tournament. It was the moment Austin had been waiting for.

In an interview with Dok Hendrix following the match, Austin created his now famous "Austin 3:16" phrase. From that moment on, Austin was a star in WWE.

After a long, intense feud with Bret Hart and The Hart Foundation, Austin was primed for a shot at the WWE title following his victory in the 1998 Royal Rumble.

 

Shawn Michaels

Credit: WWE.com

Michaels competed at WrestleMania every year starting at WrestleMania 5 and going until WrestleMania 12. After a brief hiatus that caused him to miss WrestleMania 13, he returned to the company.

By the time WrestleMania 14 rolled around, Michaels was a three-time WWE Champion and he had also helped form the group D-Generation X.

In late 1997 at the Survivor Series, Michaels defeated Harthis long time nemesis—in what became known as the "Montreal Screwjob".

With that win, Michaels seemed like he could pull anything off. With the rest of DX in his corner, Austin would have his work cut out for him in order to become champion.

 

Buildup to WrestleMania 14 Main Event

With his win in the Royal Rumble, Austin was deemed No. 1 contender and a shot at the title was coming. At the same event, Michaels defended the title against The Undertaker in a casket match that would help change the course of his career.

Though Michaels retained the belt, he suffered injuries to his back while re-aggravating a previous back injury. It would take everything he had in him to compete at WrestleMania.

With the main event for WrestleMania 14 set, Michaels enlisted the help of DX as well as The New Age Outlaws to help him deal with Austin as they headed to the event.

Credit: WWE.com

But a man who wasn't even part of WWE would end up becoming one of the biggest factors in the championship match—Mike Tyson.

Vince McMahon announced Tyson as the special guest referee for the match, but when McMahon referred to Iron Mike as the "baddest man on the planet", it rubbed Austin the wrong way.

Austin came out and confronted Tyson, then the two men had to be separated. This forced McMahon to change Tyson's role at the event to special guest enforcer.

To play things up more, Michaels challenged Tyson to a fight on Monday Night Raw a few weeks later. Just as the two men were about to go at it, Tyson took off the shirt he was wearing to reveal DX t-shirt underneath.

How would Austin overcome these odds?

 

The Match

The match itself was a war between two of the greatest competitors in WWE history.

Michaels went all out to keep his title, resorting to tactics like hitting Austin with a ring bell. He just wasn't able to keep him down as Austin showed the determination of a champion.

During the match, Tyson played up his role of being in Michaels' corner.

A crucial juncture in the match came when Michaels tried to apply a sleeper hold and Austin countered by backing him into the turnbuckle. He broke the hold, but they also took out the referee at the same time.

Michaels hit a flying elbow drop from the top rope before trying for his signature Sweet Chin Music. Austin was able to duck, but Michaels immediately countered his attempt at the Stunner.

Michaels threw his superkick but Austin caught his foot, spun him around, kicked him in the abdomen and hit the Stunner.

Michaels was down, but so was the referee. As Austin went into the cover, Tyson jumped into the ring and registered a quick three count before raising the hand of Austin.

After the match, Tyson, who was now holding up an Austin 3:16 t-shirt, was questioned by Michaels. When Michaels took a shot at Tyson, the former professional boxer laid him out with a counter right hand.

Austin and Tyson then celebrated together, creating a very symbolic moment in WWE history.

 

Historical Impact

This match had it all. Two great competitors involved in a passing of the torch scenario that created a new era in the WWE.

With herniated discs in his back, Michaels would not compete in WWE for over four years following this match. Austin would go on to become one of the top Superstars in WWE history.

Austin was able to climb the ladder following his victory in the 1996 King of the Ring. On March 29, 1998, Austin had one of the best moments of his career in Boston.

His career skyrocketed after that night.

As for Tyson, he basically earned a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame due to this performance. Celebrities have always been a big part of WrestleMania, but his presence and participation in this match was key to its success.

There is no question that this should be considered one of the most important matches in WWE history. We'll be lucky if the WrestleMania XXX main event comes anywhere close.

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