What Really Happened Between Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels Before WrestleMania 14
Steve Austin was never fully satisfied with his first WWE championship win, and behind the scenes, Shawn Michaels was not an easy person to get along with. Here are the surprising details of what took place in the lead-up to their historic match.
It is no secret, Shawn Michaels was in a bad place during the lead-up to March 29, 1998’s WrestleMania 14 main event against Stone Cold Steve Austin. Shawn had broken his back at the Royal Rumble earlier that January after taking a severe bump to the outside off of Undertaker’s casket. You can see this nasty bump below:
Behind the scenes, Shawn allegedly was doing everything in his power to politic against dropping the belt to Steve Austin.
Behind-The-Scenes Drama at WrestleMania 14
Many did not take this lightly, including The Undertaker, who stood stoically in Gorilla Position with fists wrapped, ready to confront Michaels after the match had he not done the honors for Austin.
On The Steve Austin Show, the ‘Texas Rattlesnake’ was asked about his experiences working with Shawn Michaels:
Steve Austin’s Perspective on Working With Shawn Michaels
"It was a real pain even getting to the match, and Shawn will tell you this, he wasn’t in a good place, physically or mentally," Austin said of their WrestleMania 14 match. "He had a real bad attitude on him and didn’t feel like dropping the strap." Austin would, of course, go on to win the WWF Title at the event.
Whether you know him as the Texas Rattlesnake or just Stone Cold, you can show you’re a true fan with an awesome Steve Austin shirt. Wear it around the house or to your next wrestling watch party. Be sure to use code "PWS" for a sweet surprise at checkout.
Steve Austin elaborated on HBK’s attitude, specifying an open workout in Boston where Michaels was hit with a battery, which sent him over the edge. Neither he nor Mike Tyson, who was also present, knew if Michaels would return to the workout after leaving.
Despite the outcome of the WrestleMania 14 match, Austin wasn’t happy with it.
"I walked out of that thing as WWE Champion, but I told Vince that match was the drizzling *****," Steve Austin said. Austin noted that Vince assured him it was fine, and they accomplished what they needed to.”
Shawn Michaels’s Take on His WrestleMania 14 Mindset
What was Michaels’s psyche at the time? Read on to find out from the man himself! All quotes are taken from Shawn Michaels’s sit-down interview with Steve Austin on episode 2 of The Steve Austin Show: Unleashed.
Initial Thoughts on Mike Tyson’s Involvement
"What did you think when Vince McMahon told you Mike Tyson was going to be involved? What ran through your mind? Were you down with that?"
Shawn Michaels’s Reaction
"At best, I can recall, I don’t think I knew about it, I can remember hearing about it, but you did the first thing with him. To be perfectly honest, I’m sure I can remember being a little jealous. ‘Mike Tyson is going to be here, and I’m in the main event with Steve, and I don’t even get to do anything with him?’
I didn’t know we were doing the D-X thing or anything like that the first time when you guys went out there and did the confrontation with him where you pushed him and all of that with Vince.”
Shawn Michaels’s Post-WrestleMania 14
“I didn’t even know where we were going then. Do you know what I mean? As you know, Steve, somebody could have told me that, and it’s gone now. You knew it was going to be big.
You knew it was going to help the pay per view. Having done a fair amount of those WrestleManias with ‘stars,’ this one felt like this was going to be one that really worked to our advantage.
Everybody knew you’d have to have been a dummy not to know that you were coming on hot. For me – and again, just being 100% totally honest – it’s one of those things where, like, you know, it’s cool.
All of the stuff that’s happening is big, but you’re not a part of it, and that was admittedly a tough pill to swallow…and obviously not being the great guy that I am now…" (laughs)
Steve Austin’s Observations on Shawn Michaels’s Attitude
"The guy I’m talking to right now is a lot different from the guy back then. Back then, I remember that tension was high, and we started building that WrestleMania 14 thing, and we brought Tyson in, and everything was going full speed ahead.
I remember the time you super kicked me on the top of the ramp there that one time and Triple H was there and, it was a hell of a build-up. But man, it seemed there was a little bit of animosity there, and you seemingly, to me, were just in a different space than you are now. You were beat up…"
Shawn Michaels Explains His Reasons for Being “Difficult”
"The thing is, the animosity was never you…it was at the situation, it was at Vince; the career is over, I’m dropping the title, it was palpable that this was going to be big…there was absolutely nothing good going on with me, so I was a **** to everybody."
Physical Condition and Pain Levels
"That being said, how were you on a physical level? What kind of pain level were you in going into that match through the build?"
"I remember having that one dude Francois, he came down to my place and was working with me, you know, every day before that.
I have to be honest. I was on a fair amount of stuff, so for me to say what I would have been like completely off it, I can’t say.
I can tell you that going into it when the whole thing started. It was excruciating. You have had that unbelievable pain going down your leg, the leg feels like it’s dragging, and I guess for me that was the thing that- pain for me, mentally, I could always deal with pain.”
What Weighed Heavy On Shawn
“Mobility and feeling heavy- that more than anything bothers me and frustrates me, and that’s the thing that also added to my frustration and my attitude and everything then.
Knowing that, the one thing that I always had, even if I was the biggest ***** in the world, I could always go out there and rip it down and tear it up, and I knew that was not going to happen this time.
That more than anything bothered me and affected my psyche more than anything else, you know what I mean? Does that make any sense?"
Reflecting on the WrestleMania 14 Match and Aftermath
"It was interesting because I remember going into that match and I remember coming out of that match, and I won my first championship, but gosh, you and I had ripped the ring up 100 times when I first came into the company and then on the grand stage it wasn’t so much.
It’s just honestly – between you and me – as many matches of the year you have had and that I’ve seen. Could it have been better?
It could have been a lot better, but given the situation and everything going on, we went out there, and we did what we had to do.
So I win the belt that night, and you dropped the title to me. It was a big deal, a big step in my career, and something that I’ll never forget.
After that match, where were you in your head? Was it a letdown, a disappointment; just part of the business; a weight off your back? Where were you when that three-count happened? You went back to the dressing room…"
Shawn Michaels’s Regrets and Realizations
"First thing was…it took a long time for me to get to the ‘chill’ stage. Honestly, now, years later, it’s still the one question people always ask me: ‘If you could change anything…’
I’m not big on the whole ‘regret’ thing…I don’t like to change anything because it might change where I’m at [now], but if you could have one do-over, that match has always been one of those things. I don’t know if you can remember, but I remember creatively, I was always good, as were you.
We ended up doing basically what you and Hunter had been doing at house shows. Just because I wasn’t even there mentally, had no drive to come up with something good and creative, I was never like that.
Even if I was in the ring with someone I didn’t like, my ring performance was never affected by that standpoint because that’s one thing that I wouldn’t let suffer. The fact that it wasn’t ripping the house down bothered me. The fact that the company was moving on bothered me.”
Perspective: Finding Peace and Acceptance
“I can remember my biggest priority that night was nobody putting a shirt on me. I can remember being angry about that! It wasn’t until I got home and I just got away from it all that I think it finally sort of- I got a little relaxed and sort of felt like the weight of the world was off my shoulders.
I can remember watching the show the next night and Hunter and Kid coming out and him doing the promo, ‘You dropped the ball…’, and all of that kind of stuff, and I remember absolutely none of that bothered me in the least bit.
Having the ability and the clarity to not get upset with the moving on when you leave, that’s the first time that I sort of felt like, ‘Holy cow,’ you know what I mean?
The shirt being laid on me yesterday bothered me so much. How come this doesn’t?
That’s when I think the idea of…you know the ‘job,’ as great as it is, it keeps you so busy and to just maybe have time to get a hobby, not go get in the car, to lay around – you know what I mean? To just sort of doing whatever it is you want – I think that’s the first time since I was 19 years old.
That took time to settle in…"
Rick Rude: A Ravishing Man with a Tragic End
“He refused to budge.”
Rick Rude was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime kind of wrestler. He went by the nickname “Ravishing” — and rightfully so. He had a solid moveset, great looks, and unbridled arrogance with the in-ring skill to back it up. He played hard in the ring but even harder out of it.
Mr Perfect Curt Hennig – A Great Life with an Unfortunate End
On camera, Curt Hennig was arrogant, and he backed up his Mr. Perfect persona brilliantly. However, outside of the ring, it was a different story.
Doink The Clown – A Troubled Life For the Man Behind the Paint
Doink the Clown found fame in early 1990s WWE, but there was, unfortunately, trouble along the way for Matt Borne, the man behind the paint.
Secret Life and Tragic Passing of WWE Wrestler “Crush” Brian Adams
Hailing from Kona, Hawaii, “Crush” Brian Adams was a dominant force who underwent many striking transformations over his 17-year career.
After retiring from the ring, he worked as a bodyguard for “Macho Man” Randy Savage and was excited about opening a fitness spa alongside Marc Mero in Florida. Instead, sadly, tragedy struck.
Owen Hart’s Death: What Really Happened, From Those There
VINCE McMAHON: “Earlier that day, I was shocked and surprised by what Owen said.”
On May 23rd, 1999, the wrestling world mourned the loss of Owen Hart. People behind the scenes on this unthinkable day reflect on the tragedy, answering the all-important questions.
Want More? Choose another story!
Pro Wrestling Stories is committed to accurate, unbiased wrestling content rigorously fact-checked and verified by our team of researchers and editors. Any inaccuracies are quickly corrected, with updates timestamped in the article's byline header.
Got a correction, tip, or story idea for Pro Wrestling Stories? Contact us! Learn about our editorial standards here.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. This helps us provide free content for you to enjoy!