I am working hard to catch up so I can finish this thing. Wrestlemania XII starts the Austin portion of this project and a HELL of a match that I would have never expected.
From The Pond in Anaheim, California
Hosted by Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Savio Vega
I’m pretty sure this is the first time or maybe the second that Austin used the black boots in the WWF, he was already transformed from “The Ringmaster” to “Stone Cold” but he was still using the white boots.
Vega tries to rush Austin but Austin gets the first blow. It’s a slugfest until Vega gets a headbutt and a side slam. They fight over some ground and pound until they get to the floor where Vega lays in some good chops and sends Austin back into the ring. He sets too early, however, and Austin catches him with a boot and sends him shoulder first into the post. Double axe from Austin drops Vega and he adds a front elbow drop that gets a two count. Armbar from Austin and an arm ringer into a hammerlock but Vega with a back elbow, he misses a roundhouse kick but hits sweet Latin chin music for two. Vega misses a punch and Austin hits him with another double axe, this time on the shoulder. Austin sends Vega into the post, shoulder first, again and goes to town on the arm. Step over shoulder bar is countered and Vega hits a clothesline but sells the arm injury. Austin back to work on the arm with a couple of knee drops and another shoulder bar. Vega gets to his feet and Austin with a hammerlock. Vega tries to counter but Austin pushes him off and lands a middle rope elbow that gets two.
Austin corners Vega and but Vega gets two on a high cross body. Austin back with a Lou Thesz press that gets two but Vega counters with a pinfall for two and they trade pinfall counters a half dozen times before Austin finally takes control and sends Vega into the mat. Corner whip but Vega catches Austin charging with a spin kick. Vega goes to the middle rope and tries to hit a splash but hits knee. Small package out of nowhere for Vega gets two. Austin back in control with an elbow drop and a scoop slam. He climbs to the top rope this time and eats boot. Vega rallies back and drops Austin with a big punch and a chop off the ropes. Big back body drop from Vega and two clotheslines, he goes for a leg lariat and accidentally nails the official. DiBiase slips the Million dollar belt in the ring and distracts Vega. Austin goes for the million dollar dream but Vega hits Austin with a kick. No ref though. DiBiase distracts Vega more and Austin grabs the belt and nails him with it. No ref so Austin hits him a second time and drags him to the center of the ring and chokes the shit out of him while DiBiase tries to revive the ref. A cold soda to the face does the trick and the ref stays awake long enough for him to see that Vega is out. Austin keeps the dream on for another minute after the bell as little elements of his new gimmick were creeping in.
(Austin def. Vega, submission, ***, not much in the way of crowd heat but not a bad match at all.)
In Your House 8: Beware of Dog 2
From North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina
Hosted by Jim Ross and Mr. Perfect
Caribbean Strap Match: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Savio Vega
The added stipulation is that if Vega wins DiBiase is done in the WWF but if Austin wins Vega becomes DiBiase’s chauffeur. Not sure exactly what differentiates a strap from a Caribbean strap but whatever. The straps are tied and the only way to win is to touch all four corners.
Austin tries a little psyche out method early but eventually they have contact and Austin gets an early jump on things laying in the elbow drops and punches. Vega reserves an Irish whip, however, and delivers a back body drop. Austin bails but Vega jerks him back with the strap, Austin bails again but Vega follows him and gets a knock down with a chop. Back in the ring and Vega gets some serious lashes in as Austin tries to escape but Vega is having none of it. Two ridiculous shots across the chest and Vega suplexes Austin back in the ring. Another nasty lash to the chest. Vega hits a roundhouse kick and touches the corners but gets stopped after the third. It’s now Austin’s turn to use the strap and these are some high level shots so Savio with a take down and they go for some ground and pound and both end up on the floor. Savio lays in the CARIBBEAN VIOLENCE~! But Austin rams him into the ring apron and follows with another stiff lash. Austin drops Vega across the steel railing and chokes him out with the strap. Austin suplexes Vega back in the ring and then he hogties Vega so he can touch the corners. Austin gets two corners but Vega whirls him around and sends him into the corner. They are really doing a good job of selling Vega’s knowledge of the match. Strap-assisted clothesline from Vega and he goes back to whipping. This is just a fight.
Vegas with some shots but Austin ducks and Vega goes over the top, however the strap connection forces Austin to go down with him and take a nasty unintentional bump on his knee. Austin tries to suplex Vega on the floor but it’s reversed. I can’t really describe how stiff these shots are you have to see it for yourself. Back in the ring Savio ties Austin’s arm and leg together and starts touch corners. Vega gets to three but no further as Austin hits a clothesline. Austin is wearing out Savio with that strap but Vega rallies back and posts Austin. More Caribbean violence (this guy’s chops are severely underrated). Vega goes up for the superplex but Austin headbutts Vega and sends him off. Austin stays on the ropes and climbs but Vega kicks his leg out and re-posts him. Second try at the superplex, Vega climbs to the top and hits it! Both men are out but Vega is up first and touches three corners before Austin cuts him off with a spinebuster. Austin chokes Vega on the middle ropes and hits a sit down splash. Austin chokes out Vega with the strap some more and whips Vega on the back (Mr. Perfect: “keep whipping him on the back, not the arm because he’s going to need the arm to drive you home”). Austin touches two corners but stops there when Vega provides resistance and goes for a tombstone, they both try to reverse it and Vega ends up on the floor.
Austin wraps the strap around Vega and hangs him for a few minutes (by the way Austin’s back is the color of a strawberry). Austin climbs to the top but misses a double axe and crashes into the railing. Vega tries to take advantage but Austin sends Vega into the steel steps. Vega smartly moves to the other side of the ring and pulls Austin into the post. Back in the ring and Vega hoists Austin in a fireman’s carry and touches three corners but Austin doesn’t let him get to the floor (the crowd has become very invested in this match). Austin with a nasty piledriver and he goes for a second one but Vega counters with a back drop. Austin recovers first and slaps on the million dollar dream but Vega puts Austin on his back and touches the first two corners but he’s fading and just decides to fight out of it by using ½ of the Bret Hart maneuver – walking the ropes and falling back. Austin with a stun gun onto the post! Austin wraps the strap around Vega’s neck and drags him across the ring. Austin touches a corner and Vega touches it right behind him. They both get to three as the crowd senses something. And they fight over the fourth but Austin “inadvertently” sends Vega into to the fourth corner. Later we would find out that Austin did this on purpose to rid himself of DiBiase. This match was an amazing fight, a true forgotten classic.
(Vega def. Austin, four corners, ****1/2, this is what happens when two guys decide to bust their ass and in the process a crowd that was clearly not interested in this match or this feud becomes heavily invested based on the will of the performers. Easily Austin’s best match before he became…Austin. Also credit to Perfect and Ross who got better in their commentary as the match got better. Everyone was on.)
Match: Not even close. HUGE EDGE: In Your House 8
Storyline: I don’t even remember where this thing began. I think they had a match on Superstars and it festered from there. So it was typical good-guy/bad-guy stuff. The IYH match was the official blow off I believe. DRAW
Intangibles: This is the interesting part. The Wrestlemania match was suppose to put Austin over as this emotionless wrestling machine. It didn’t although it was a start. Natural thinking was Austin had to go over at IYH but Vega instead won the match. However, once the true plot was revealed it gave the character Austin was trying to develop the edge needed to get where he wanted it to go…and far beyond. I guess the interesting side of this is how quickly Vega was shuttered back. He did the Nation of Domination thing and the Los Boricuas thing and actually subbed for Shawn Michaels in the No Way Out main event a month before Wrestlemania XIV but I leave this match feeling that the WWF never got the most out of him because it seems obvious that he had talent. I give a lot of the credit of the both matches to Austin but it does two to tango and Savio certainly brought everything he could to the table on this night and I respect that. Bottom line is this match was the fire that needed to be lit under Austin’s ass to take him to the stratosphere. HUGE EDGE: In Your House 8
Verdict: What Wrestlemania match? IYH all the way.