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  • Connor Ewens

Fantasy Booking: Wrestlemania XIV

In the infamous words of famous fashion designers and musicians, the Bratz Dolls; We got that Bratitude, it's not an attitude, we got that Bratitude, yeah, come on. We are officially in the Attitude Era, where everything is ruder, cruder and concussions were a mere myth. We're still a few years away from actually good Wrestlemania's but there is still some stuff to enjoy on these shows. Here is the card we got from the biggest show of 1998:

Tag Team Battle Royal

Taka Michinoku (c) vs Aguila, Light Heavyweight Championship

Hunter Hearst Helmsley (c) vs Owen Hart, European Championship

Marc Mero & Sable vs Goldust & Luna Vachon

The Rock (c) vs Ken Shamrock, IC Championship

New Age Outlaws (c) vs Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie, Dumpster match for Tag Championships

Undertaker vs Kane

Shawn Michaels (c) vs Steve Austin, WWF Championship

To be fair there is only 2 real let downs on the show. The opener was a horrible mess of too many bodies and very little psychology. The Rock vs Shamrock was a let down of a match too due to the awkward match stipulation and booking. Everything else though was fine to very good, but it lacked a stand out banger of a match. WWE, this is how it's done.

Trying to make improvements to this show is hard because again, we have some well told stories going into the show but the matches could be a step better. At a first glance there is very little of this show I would actually change, but that doesn't make a very fun article to read me just retelling what happened in real life. So let's have a little fun with it.

I would have an actually decent rendition of America the Beautiful, not the awful DX Band version that is now edited out of the Network. Just get anyone in who was popular in 1997/1998 to sing it. Having a look...Missy Elliott? Shania Twain? Erykah Badu? I doubt any of them would. ZZ Top are wrestling fans, maybe they would do a performance that fans might not boo.

The show begins like in real life with a #1 contender match for the Tag Championships. It is not a battle royal though. It'll be a 4-team elimination match between; LOD 2000, Rock 'N' Roll Express, Too Much & New Age Outlaws. The planned Dumpster match between the Outlaws, Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie I would book for the previous PPV, No Way Out of Texas. Cactus & Charlie should still win, we will talk about them 2 later. This is the reappearance of the LOD after being taken on by the Outlaws in February. Too Much (I forgot they were named this before becoming Too Cool) are eliminated first by the LOD. The Outlaws use their heat with the LOD to bait them out of the ring and Animal ends up getting counted out thanks to Billy Gunn holding his foot preventing him from getting in the ring. The Outlaws are in control but the LOD come back down to the ring to cost them the match, Morton & Gibson hitting tandem dropkicks to Road Dogg to win the match. The Express win and get a title shot against Cactus & Charlie on Raw the following night.

Match number two also like real life is for the Light Heavyweight championship but Taka Michinoku has a different opponent. Aguila was fine but I think we can have a much more thrilling match. I would bring in the Great Sasuke. These two had an amazing match at In Your House: Canadian Stampede. Sasuke appeared sporadically throughout 1997 and still worked for Michinoku Pro and ECW at this time. Sure this is a rematch of a match we've already seen, but it was a tremendous match. Sasuke won their first encounter so have the Light Heavyweight champion Michinoku get his win back here.

In December, Ken Shamrock failed to take the away the WWF title from HBK, winning by DQ after interference from DX. Following the event, I would keep Shamrock feuding with DX and not with the Nation of Domination. Shamrock unsuccessfully challenges for the European title at the Royal Rumble thanks to Chyna's interference. At No Way Out with the Dumpster match taking place there, the new main event is a simple No DQ tag match pairing Austin and Shamrock together against Triple H & Kane. If you remember in the lead up to the Royal Rumble, Michaels teased that Kane was the newest member of DX. After Kane helped HBK defeat the Undertaker in that casket match, I'd maintain this very loose alliance, Paul Bearer saying "DX, me and Kane are willing to help you out, for now. But, one day, we will come to collect our payment." Whilst eyeing up the WWF championship. Badasses Ken and Austin defeat HHH & Kane thanks to the return of the Undertaker who finally gets physical with his brother after months of torment. Shamrock gets the pin on Triple H. At Wrestlemania, Triple vs Ken Shamrock for the European championship. Chyna is not handcuffed to Sgt Slaughter on the outside, instead she is locked inside a shark cage with the keys in the referee's pocket. When the action spills to the outside, Chyna manages to grab the referee through the bars and whack him into the cage. She retrieves the keys from the pocket and sets herself free. It is a brief 2v1 situation until Sgt Slaughter comes out. Chyna hoofs him in the bollocks, turns around into a huge belly to belly suplex from Shamrock. Triple H has the title, goes to hit Shamrock with it who ducks, Shamrock hits another belly to belly and cinches in the ankle lock for the submission victory. Triple H turns face soon after this anyways and doesn't need or use the European championship much so it makes sense for him to drop the title now.

Even after winning the tag team championships together, Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie still have a peculiar relationship where they express their fondness with each other by beating the shit out of each other. They didn't hold back on each other at the Rumble and they shouldn't when they cross paths again here. Cactus says nothing would bring him more joy than competing at Wrestlemania with one of his closest friends ever. Charlie says be careful what you wish for, because I'm going to put you through hell for my own satisfaction. Neither man turn on each other, they're just deranged and crave violence. I can't think of a better time to have a Wrestlemania-sized hardcore match between Foley and Funk. I don't need to do much else here. Have these two tear each other apart in any way that they feel fit. Chairs, 4x4's, barbed wire, hell even use the chainsaw as a weapon (obviously don't turn it on and slice each other up though). I'd give Cactus the win, both men can share a bloody hug and raise each others hands after murdering each other for our entertainment.

The mixed tag team match follows, Marc Mero & Sable vs Luna Vachon & Goldust. The story was booked rather well, the only detail I would change is have Marc Mero turn face to support his partner. Whilst the whole "jealous of the more popular valet" worked pretty effectively, at this point it doesn't actually boost Sable anymore who has gained confidence and standing up for herself. The angle just makes Mero look really weak. Have Mero admire Sable's independence and confidence, plus the heel actions of Luna and Goldust turn him face ahead of the match. The match was good, Mero and Goldust handled a lot of the action but Luna was good too. Sable was very limited in the ring but the spots she was given she pulled off well. Mero & Sable walk out victorious.

Next up is the Undertaker vs Kane match. This is another marmite match where people either love it or hate it. I think whilst the match is slow, the storytelling and the build was phenomenal. So, Kane debuts at Badd Blood, costing Undertaker his Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels. Over the following months, Kane demolishes the WWF roster and promises more destruction unless Undertaker accepts his challenge to a fight. Undertaker refuses to fight his brother. This leads to Vince McMahon even speaking to Undertaker, saying he respects him and his decision but he needs to get this under control otherwise he will force a match to happen. Ahead of the Royal Rumble, Undertaker tries to reach out to Kane and talks about the terrible things that have happened in their past. Undertaker apologises for any suffering that they have shared and asks Kane to stand by his side once again. Shawn Michaels teases that Kane is a DX member, however the Raw before the Rumble Kane hits the ring and scares them off an assault on his brother. The brothers stand off face to face, before Kane extends an arm to him. They grasp arms and shake, the brothers have reunited. Except, nope! Like in real life Kane costs Undertaker his casket match, setting Undertaker on fire in the amazing ending to the show. Undertaker is missing for a month, he reappears at No Way Out and finally throws some punches on his brother, though we don't see much of them fighting. Undertaker finally accepts his brothers challenge, with a twist. "If we are going to do this, we are going back to how this all began. Let's see how confident you feel, stepping inside Hell in a Cell when I am ready to destroy you." I think the only thing that would have added an extra layer to their Wrestlemania match is putting them inside the unforgiving steel structure. It is a poetic way to end this chapter of the Undertaker/Kane story. Of course Undertaker still walks out as the victor, taking his streak to 7-0.

The second to last match will be for the IC championship. At Survivor Series I would have Owen Hart retain the IC championship against Steve Austin thanks to overwhelming outside interference. Austin forfeited the title to the Rock so he could focus on winning the WWF title which I think was a lame way for the titles to change hand, so here is something else. After the Survivor Series, Owen takes a brief respite anyways because of the whole Montreal Double-Cross thing. In his absence, have the Rock declare himself the new number 1 contender for the IC title but brings up that no one has seen Owen since his brother went to the little leagues. He calls out Owen to face him tonight on Raw, or he will forfeit the IC title. Owen of course doesn't turn up so Rocky says he is now the new IC champion. The next week, Rock comes out carrying an old IC title, the one with the mustard yellow strap. I really like that design. The Rock calls himself the champion which draws the ire of Steve Austin. "Rocky ain't won anything in his life because he is a jackass and that's a fact" or whatever he would say. This sets up Austin vs Rock for the first time ever at IYH: DX. The Rock says he will defend the IC title, of course it isn't really a title match because he isn't recognised as the champion. During the match, Austin is fighting off the whole Nation of Domination. After a ref bump, we have the return of Owen Hart, wielding his IC championship. He runs into the ring and he wipes out to entire Nation including the Rock. He stares down Steve, flips him the bird because they're not friends, but leaves without touching him. Owen returns as a face, like he did in real life but we're keeping him away from the DX stuff. Whilst you may think we should have him and HBK clash because of the whole Bret stuff, there isn't really any time to book that feud before Shawn drops the title to Austin and temporarily retires. However, we can have a little interaction between them sometime soon. So, Owen returns and he's sick of hearing The Rock call himself champion when he is not. This sets up a champion vs champion match at the Rumble, which Owen wins thanks to the help of Jeff Jarrett who keeps the Nation at bay. Jarrett returned in late 97, however I would have him come back to the company as a face, mainly because the heel side in the company is already really stacked. At No Way Out Owen teams up with Jarrett & Ahmed Johnson to face the 3 good members of the Nation (Rock, Faarooq & D'Lo). The Nation win that match, The Rock steals Owen's IC championship afterwards. At Wrestlemania, Owen Hart faces The Rock for the IC title. Give them at least 10 minutes to work a good match, going under 5 minutes is criminal behaviour. Jarrett grabs his guitar and is prepared to defend Owen from the Nation, but this time he cracks Owen with it! The Rock is in The Shock and takes the pinfall feeling quite lucky. As Jeff walks away, he says "I didn't screw Owen Hart. Owen Hart screwed Owen Hart." In the following weeks and months, Jarrett reveals that he was paid off by Vince to help run the last Hart out of the company. The Montreal Double-Cross is credited for birthing the Vince McMahon character, but there was one huge missed opportunity from that too. They could have easily pushed Owen to becoming a top face in the company. The whole Hart family had huge fan support because of the incident, Owen came back as a face but WWE quickly dropped him back into being a midcard heel. Fuck that. Owen can feud with Jarret throughout 1998, whilst also being another top face against the McMahon regime. Though he and Austin dislike each other, they can grow to respect each other with a common enemy in Vince and his cronies.

All that leaves is our main event. Shawn Michaels defending the world championship against Steve Austin. I think the build was great, including Tyson as a DX enforcer but later revealing to be an Austin supporter was great. I would only make a few small changes to some of the booking. A key part of the build that should be mentioned is how both men are not seen as ideal company representatives by Mr McMahon, however he specifically says that he would rather have Michaels as the world champion instead of Steve Austin. Another small addition, I would have Vince McMahon join commentary for the main event where he doesn't entertain the idea of Austin even walking out of here as champion. When the referee goes down, Michaels nails Austin with the Sweet Chin Music but he is too exhausted and in pain to make the cover in time. He stands up to his feet and tunes up the band for one more superkick. Then Owen Hart comes in from the audience and pulls at Michaels foot distracting him, he waves goodbye to HBK, who turns around into the stunner. Tyson then slides in to count the pinfall, Owen flips off Vince at ringside before leaving. We still get the closing spot where Tyson puts on an Austin 3:16 shirt, KOs HBK and poses with Austin to close the show.

Just a quick recap of the card I booked:

New Age Outlaws vs LOD 2000 vs Rock 'N' Roll Express vs Too Much

Taka Michinoku (c) vs Great Sasuke, Light Heavyweight Championship

Triple H (c) vs Ken Shamrock, European Championship

Cactus Jack vs Chainsaw Charlie, Hardcore match

Marc Mero & Sable vs Luna Vachon & Goldust

Undertaker vs Kane, Hell in a Cell

Owen Hart (c) vs The Rock, IC Championship

Shawn Michaels (c) vs Steve Austin, WWF Championship

Did you like it? Did I make good changes? Do you miss the tag battle royal? Let me know what you think unless you missed the battle royal. Come back tomorrow when we will talk about Wrestlemania XV, a very hit and miss Wrestlemania card. Until then, see ya!


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