Rewriting the Book: What if … Shawn Michaels Never Lost His Smile?

7 Submitted by on Fri, 11 January 2013, 11:40


By C.G. Scum

What if Shawn Michaels never “lost his smile” or forfeited the WWF Title in February of 1997?

In early 1997, the WWF was at a low point ratings wise, and losing consistently to WCW Nitro on Monday nights. The backstage friction between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, which has been very well documented in the years following this was snowballing into a bigger issue seemingly by the day, at the same time, the Undertaker and Sycho Sid (who wound up main eventing WrestleMania 13 for the WWF title against each other) were both major main event players in the company. Both Vader and Mankind had also established themselves as legitimate top of the card heels at this point that were certainly in the title hunt and Steve Austin was emerging as what would eventually become arguably the biggest star the company has ever seen. In addition to these seven performers being at the top of the card as this event transpired, several new faces would soon return to the company, debut, or mature from a mid-card spot to prove to be main event players that would also have had their destiny changed if Michaels never forfeited the strap that night. These stars would include Ken Shamrock, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Owen Hart, the British Bulldog, and a host of other superstars that were a part of the WWF roster at this time. Had Michaels not forfeited the title the career paths at this time of all of these stars mentioned and many others would have changed in some way, some possibly in a much more drastic manner, as due to the “losing of his smile,” and the mis-trust caused by instances such as this that happened involving him and Bret Hart, the inevitable rematch between the two never took place until the now-infamous 1997 Survivor Series when their lack of trust of one another and paranoid hatred had made it nearly impossible for them to work together. Hart has noted in his auto biography that he felt Michaels forfeited the title rather than putting him over, an opinion shared by many, while Michaels in his own book stated much the opposite. Had Michaels not forfeited the title at this point and if he and the “Hitman” found a way to work together, there is a very viable chance that the events that would have followed involving he and Bret, where neither man seemed willing to “put the other over,” quite possibly could have been avoided. Had their relationship not grown so strained at this point, it is also very possible and even likely that they would have continued to work together on camera and actually allowed for their “feud” to run its course, rather than end in the bitterness and controversy that lingered for over a decade following that now infamous November Sunday night in Montreal. Regardless, 1997 was an exciting time as WWF began making its comeback in the Monday Night Wars and planted the seeds for what was to become “the Attitude Era.” Had this event  not happened, it certainly would’ve reshaped the landscape of the company and not only Shawn and Bret, but of the entire WWF roster at the time in some way. So, without further ado, I give you my debut “Rewriting of the Book,” and we begin our story on a Thursday night in Lowell, Massachusetts.

This story takes off as a special Thursday edition of Raw airs live from Lowell, MA on February 13, 1997. Shawn Michaels, the current WWF Champion had originally been scheduled to face Sycho Sid in a world championship rematch at this show after regaining the World Title at the Royal Rumble just a few weeks prior. It was announced; however, that Michaels had been hurt in what was possibly a career ending injury, so instead he was set to open the show with an interview conducted by Vince McMahon, who was joined by then-WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon. During that interview, Michaels detailed his frustrations and spoke of both the good and bad that he had been through over the course of the past year during which he spent most on top of the wrestling world as WWF Champion. He went on to say that due to his injuries he was going to be forced to take some time off and vacate the title, actually handing it over to Monsoon during the segment. In this story, the Michaels interview goes exactly as it had gone until HBK reaches the much talked about part of the interview where he speaks of the many things he has lost recently, stating that “most of all I’ve lost my smile.” We begin right as those words come from Shawn’s mouth

Thursday, Raw, Thursday- February 13, 1997- Lowell, MA

(WWF Champion Shawn Michaels has expressed his disappointment during the emotional interview with McMahon. Moving along with the interview, Michaels hands over the WWF title to President Monsoon, detailing the issues that have troubled him in his run as champion, eventually he gets to the following statement…)

Michaels: “…What I’m gonna do is go back home and see what is left for me, whether it be in this ring, whether it’s out of this ring, I know that over the last several months I’ve lost a lot of things and one of them has been my smile and I know it doesn’t mean a whole lot to everybody else, but, it means a lot to me , so I have to go back and I have to fix myself, and take care of myself and I have to go back and find my smile, because somewhere along the line I lost it and I don’t care if its unpopular and I don’t care if people wanna make fun of me because I’m an emotional guy” (The sound of glass shattering interrupts Michaels as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s music hits over the PA. Austin heads out toward the ring with a microphone in hand, cutting off Michaels)

Austin: “Let’s hold on here just one minute. You wanna come out here with your little suit on, and cry to these people about your pretty little smile, you wanna call yourself the “Boy Toy,” well let’s get one thing straight here, Stone Cold Steve Austin don’t like toys, and he ain’t out here playin’ any of your little games, and he sure as hell ain’t no boy. If you think for one second anyone gives a crap about you losin’ your smile, you’re dead wrong, son, ‘cause the only thing Steve Austin is interested in seeing Shawn Michaels lose is that shiny WWF championship belt, and since I won the Royal Rumble, you look right here at me with your beady little eyes right now, and know that if you weren’t giving it away you’d be losing your precious little belt to me.” (Michaels tries to start talking, but Austin interrupts him)

Austin: (with hand up in front of Michaels face cutting him off): “Ehhh, Ehhh, I ain’t done talking yet, so you don’t interrupt “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. So, now what I am getting at is that it looks like your scrawny little yellow carcass is out here, handing over the WWF championship and takin’ your pretty little smile and goin’ home? Well, I don’t give a damn where you go or what you do, but if you are handing the belt to anyone, I’m the number one contender after my Royal Rumble win, so you may as well give that ‘sumbitch’ a quick polishing and hand it right over to ol’ ‘Stone Cold.’” (Looking nervous, McMahon tries to calm Austin down, almost quietly begging him to stop, Michaels expression goes from saddened to angry but he still hangs his head, now looking at the belt as Monsoon holds it. Just as Austin goes to speak again, Bret Hart’s voice is heard over the PA and he appears on the Titan Tron.)

Bret: “Here we go again, the same old story, Shawn Michaels taking his ball and going home when he doesn’t get his way, and Steve Austin running his big, fat, foul, vulgar mouth, lying and complaining while the true winner of the Royal Rumble and true number one contender, ‘The Excellence of Execution’ just gets passed over and misused again. This ain’t happening again, I am not standing for it. I won the Royal Rumble, I eliminated that piece of garbage out there in the black t-shirt and everybody saw it as plain as day, so if the ‘Boy Toy’ needs to go home and fix himself and his smile or go work on his little cutesy stripper dance, he can hand that title right over here to ‘The Best There Is, the Best There Was, and the Best There ever Will Be.’  I am sick and tired of getting screwed over by the WWF and I demand action be taken and I demand it be taken right here tonight in Lowell, Massachusetts. So, McMahon, you or your do nothing President, Monsoon had better make something happen and make it happen quick. He may run his mouth, and talk a good game, but the fact is I have beaten that hyena, Steve Austin every time I ever faced him and Shawn Michaels has ducked me and hid behind his little Kliq buddies and Monsoon and WWF officials for a whole year like a chicken.” (McMahon looking angry begins to intervene, but Monsoon speaks over him, cutting off Bret from continuing)

Monsoon: “Enough, that’s enough from you Bret, you are way out of line here, and Austin, you are a complete madman, you’re totally out of control. We have rules and regulations here that need to be followed and abided to. We have a situation here regarding the WWF Championship right now that needs to be addressed immediately. You both do have legitimate points and they will be heard and weighed out in a professional, fair, and unbiased manner, but you are not going to come out here and tell me what I am going to do or who I am going to give what in any way, shape, or form. I am the President of this company and we have a serious situation and a serious injury to our World Champion, Shawn Michaels.” (Bret cuts off Monsoon and begins speaking again.)

Bret: “A serious injury? A serious injury? I have not missed a date here in almost 14 years, I’ve fought with broken ribs, concussions, right now I have serious knee damage and you don’t hear me complaining. I am calling Shawn Michaels out and I am calling him out as a complete fraud and right here before the world, I am gonna prove it.” (Monsoon again interrupts)

Monsoon: “That’s out of line; you can’t come out here making claims like that with no proof of…” (Bret cuts him off again)

Bret: “You need proof, I got your proof right here (Camera zooms back and Bret is in the trainer’s room, a doctor is sitting beside him) “Here is your proof right here, here is Shawn Michaels’ doctor, let’s see what he has to say about the ‘Boy Toy’s’ injury. So, doc, what exactly was your final diagnosis of Shawn Michaels injury?”

Doctor: “Shawn Michaels has some serious wear and tear resulting from his grueling schedule over the past year as WWF Champion. He has considerable knee and back damage that will eventually need…” (Bret cuts off doctor)

Bret: “Get to the point here doc, what did you tell Shawn Michaels about competing in the ring?”

Doctor: “I suggested that it would be in Mr. Michaels best interest to take some time off from active wrestling, however, I did tell him that his injuries are no worse than they have been throughout his career and that there are no quick remedies to his issues, so, he would not be in any real danger of worsening his injuries if he did continue with his current workload.”

Bret: “There you have it, a chicken and a liar, and he is your WWF Champion, Monsoon. So what do ya’ have to say now about your champion, huh?”(Monsoon again speaks over Bret, he, Austin, and McMahon all look at Michaels, who continues to hang his head, his face now looking very angered)

Monsoon: “I said that’s enough, Bret. Shawn, is that your doctor? We need to clean this whole mess up right now. I will be heading to the back to speak with this doctor and sort things out with him and Shawn Michaels and I will be back out here as quickly as possible tonight was some definitive answers and decisions on the status of the WWF Championship, the scheduled title defense for tonight, the number one contender, and how all of these things will pertain to the remainder of tonight’s broadcast and to the In Your House Pay Per View event, “Final Four,” to be held this Sunday in Chattanooga, Tennessee.”

After the commercial break, we hear some shouting coming from behind a dressing room door and Sycho Sid pounds the door open, muttering angrily that “If he don’t want to give me what I want, I will take what I want and nothing will go down tonight until this is settled.” Sid strides past the interview area, where Shawn Michaels is standing, slowing down only to shoot him a stare before continuing to pace away, giving out his maniacal laugh as he gets further down the hall. Dok Hendrix is standing by in the Raw interview area with the WWF Champ, he begins questioning Michaels

Hendrix: “Shawn Michaels, it sounds like you have certainly got some explaining to do here. What is the story? What is going on? Are you or aren’t you the WWF Champion?”

Michaels: “You know what; I am sick and tired of explaining myself around here. I am sick and tired of Steve Austin; I am sick and tired of Bret Hart running my name down behind closed doors. Hell, I am sick and tired of working my tail off for this company and the WWF fans to hear them chant for that big goof Sid. I’m sick and tired of it all. I have given you people 150 percent night in and night out, I have given, and given, and given, and I think it’s high time that I stopped giving and started taking, for myself. I am the hardest working and most exciting champion this company has ever seen, bar none, and that includes, you Bret, and if it kills me or puts me in a wheelchair, I will stay the hardest working champion this company has ever seen. I don’t care if it’s the Hitman, Stone Cold, big Sid, the Undertaker, or whoever they want to put in my way, but I will be in Chattanooga this Sunday and I will be putting the gold on the line, and I will be doing it for one person, me, the Showstopper, the Main Event, Shawn Michaels”

They go to the ring as the next match is introduced with the Honky Tonk Man joining the broadcast team for the bout. In a shocking upset, relative newcomer, Rocky Maivia defeats Intercontinental Champion, Hunter Hearst Helmsley to become the new title holder. After a short break following the title change, action goes back to the ring as the Undertaker is set to take on Nation of Domination member, Savio Vega. Immediately following the announcements, the broadcast team notes that President Monsoon will make a blockbuster announcement about the main event of tonight’s show and regarding Sunday’s Pay Per View. As the match starts, the Undertaker takes an advantage over Vega, when Sid enters and proceeds to walk down the ramp and toward the ring. As the Undertaker is preoccupied with the outside the ring members of the Nation, Sid scoops Savio off the mat and plants him with a chokeslam. The referee turns to admonish him and he also gets a huge chokeslam for his troubles. The Undertaker turns around and he and Sid stare each other down before they start trading huge right hands. The two monsters battle with neither giving an inch until they are separated by a large security force, referees and agents from the back. Undertaker has his back to the ramp as he and Sid exchange words while being held back and from behind Mankind sprints out and blindsides the Dead Man with a vicious elbow to the back of the head, pouncing on him with a flurry of fists. The security forces rush to break the new melee up and Sid is freed, joining in on the carnage, the Undertaker, Sid, and Mankind brawl with each other all the way to the backstage area as they go to a commercial break

Following the commercial, WWF President Gorilla Monsoon is in the ring with a microphone

Monsoon: “Ok, people, let’s get right down to business here, as we have a lot to address and not a lot of time to mess around. First, I’d like to address the WWF Championship and more specifically, Shawn Michaels. Given my conversation with his doctor and after a talk with Shawn in the back I can say without question that regardless of his actions earlier here tonight, Shawn Michaels is still the reigning WWF Champion. That being said, he has not been cleared to compete tonight against Sycho Sid, and quite frankly, given what we just saw from Sid, I’m not so sure his actions are worthy of him being rewarded with a title shot anyhow. But he does have a rematch clause in his contract and while he cannot compete tonight, Shawn Michaels has been cleared to compete this Sunday at “In Your House.” Quite frankly, Shawn Michaels entire situation earlier was not befitting of a champion and in getting back to Sid’s interference earlier tonight in a match, neither of these superstars in my opinion have acted professionally, nor do they deserve any breaks, so while they will face off for the WWF Championship this Sunday in Chattanooga, there will now be a third competitor in that contest, making it a triple threat contest. Coming on the heels of the melee that we just saw here on Raw, I have decided that the third party competing for the title at “Final Four” this Sunday, will be Mankind, and just so they can get a jump start on things one half of our double main event here on this special edition of Raw will see Sycho Sid face off against Mankind one on one.  Now, onto the number one contendership regarding who will face the winner of the “triple threat” match at WrestleMania 13. Since both Bret Hart and Steve Austin have somewhat legitimate arguments in this scenario, they will also be facing off this Sunday in Chattanooga, however, due to the fact that upon review, Austin had been eliminated from the Royal Rumble it is safe to say that the two men who were eliminated by him after his feet had touched the floor also deserve the same opportunity to go on and face the WWF Champion at WrestleMania. Those two superstars are the Undertaker and the man they call Vader. Thus, these four men will compete in the first ever “Final Four” match this Sunday, where the bout will be contested under elimination rules and a combatant can be eliminated through pinfall, submission, or by being thrown over the top rope and having both feet touch the arena floor. Whoever is left standing as the winner of the “Final Four” match will be the undisputed number one contender and will get a shot at the WWF title at WrestleMania. As a preview to Sunday’s first ever of its kind match, we will see all four of these stars compete, as the second half of our double main event in a tag team match here tonight, as the team of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Vader will join forces to take on Bret “The Hitman” Hart and the “Phenom” himself, the Undertaker. I hope this has cleared up any and all confusion moving forward and I thank you, the WWF fans for bearing with us through a controversial and confusing matter. Now let’s hope that we have restored some semblance of order around here and that the chaos and madness that we have seen both tonight and the past few weeks has now subsided.  Oh, and by the way, I almost forgot, both of these main event matches tonight will share one common thread, as they both will have the same man as the special guest referee, the WWF Champion, the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels.”

Following another break, Shawn Michaels music hits and HBK appears in referee’s attire, hamming it up as usual as he jukes his way to the ring. Mankind is then introduced as the strains of his ring music eerily blare throughout the arena. After his introduction, Sycho Sid’s music comes on and he makes his way to the ring as well.

Match- Psycho Sid vs. Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer)- (Shawn Michaels is Special Guest Referee)- The match begins as both Sid and Mankind tear right into each other, trading kicks and punches with both grapplers gaining a brief advantage until Sid ducks a clothesline and floors his opponent with a huge boot to the face. Mankind struggles to get to his feet, scurrying to the corner, where Sid refuses to allow him to his feet, choking him out with a big foot on Mankind’s throat. Michaels administers a count and when Sid fails to break he maneuvers his body between the two forcing a break. Sid responds by shoving the official and without hesitation, HBK retaliates with a loud slap across the face that has Sid doubling over and rubbing his face. Taking advantage of the situation, Mankind springs to his feet and rocks the Sycho with a double arm DDT. Both wrestlers are very slow to get up, as referee Michaels reaches a seven count on the fallen pair. Sid is the first up, pulling himself up by the top rope slowly and from across the ring, Mankind charges and hits a big clothesline, in typical Foley fashion, with the momentum carrying both Sid and Mankind over the top rope and to the arena floor. Mankind again appears the worse for wear, and Sid is the first up again, using a fist full of hair to pull Mankind up before an Irish Whip into the ring steps sends Foley knees first into the steel, flying over the top of them at full speed, despite the impact from the solid contact made.  Sid returns to the ring, where he and Michaels begin arguing and while they trade words, the Undertaker begins stalking his way down the ramp and to the ringside area, obviously with revenge from the earlier incident on his mind. He strides straight to the still fallen Mankind, who lies with his boots still somewhat hanging from the steel steps. Undertaker pulls the steps out a bit and slings his fallen rival over his shoulder only to drop him with a sickening thud as a result of a vicious Tombstone on the unforgiving steel. Seeing the carnage caused by the Dead Man, Sid has slid out to the other side of the floor and retrieved a steel chair as the Undertaker unphased climbs to the apron and into the ring where he trades stares and words with the special referee. Sneaking up from behind the Dead Man with the chair in hand as the conversation between him and HBK continues, Sid readies to take a swing at the Phenom from behind, when in a split second, Michaels floors him with Sweet Chin Music, driving the chair into his face and rendering him unconscious. Undertaker having barely flinched, looks at HBK, who shrugs his shoulders and then puts his hands over his eyes sarcastically as if to tell him to ‘have at it.’ Undertaker scoops up the still unconscious Sycho and drops him head first on the chair that is still in the ring with his second tombstone delivery of the match, leaving Sid motionless as he calmly leaves the ring staring down Michaels the entire time, heading back up the ramp as apparently his job here was done. While all focus was on the Dead Man exiting, the resilient Mankind slowly has crawled back up onto the ring apron, slinking over to his opponent and draping an arm across him as the WWF Champion slides in and makes the three count. Mankind struggles to his feet and Michaels raises his hand as the victor, taking a few steps toward leaving the ring before knocking the winner silly with another lightning like superkick, and HBK’s music blares as he finally makes his exit giving a few cocky sways and jukes as he happily bops back up the aisle toward the dressing room having left both of his opponents for Sunday laying as the show heads to a commercial break.

Following the commercial break, each of the four contestants in the Main Event tag match is introduced as their music hits. Vader enters first, followed by Stone Cold. The Hitman is introduced next and then the lights go down and the gong hits for the Undertaker. When he raises his arms and the lights come on, HBK’s music hits and he comes back out still in his skin tight referees shirt and his awkwardly short black spandex shorts to officiate the match.

Match-Vader and Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart and The Undertaker (Shawn Michaels is Special Guest Referee) – The bell sounds to start the match as Hart and Vader circle each other. Bret is sizing up Michaels and the two trade a few choice words before Vader throttles the Hitman with a clubbing forearm to drive him to the mat. He continues his assault, working over Bret with a series of powerful blows before flooring him again with a whip to the ropes and a full speed chest to chest collision. He scoops Hart up again and fires him to the turnbuckle, Bret hits sternum first going full throttle as his head snaps back from the impact and Vader follows in with a huge splash in the corner. He turns his opponent around and unleashes a fury of left and rights to each side of the stunned Hitman’s skull before Austin reaches out and slaps Vader’s chest tagging himself in. Vader is not pleased with the blind tag and he lets Austin know it. The two begin jawing and Austin throws his partner a “two fingered salute,” as he repeatedly stomps Bret in the chest as he still lies in the corner on the mat. Michaels begins to count and Austin stops at the four count, turning and giving the referee the same “two fingered greeting” that he just offered Vader before adding one last stomp to the fallen Hitman. Now Michaels and Austin begin jawing as they stand chest to chest giving Hart a chance to slightly recoup. Austin goes for a right, but it is blocked and Bret fires back, trading punches at first but after several shots, he ducks an Austin right and slides behind to hit a perfect Russian leg sweep. Both men now try to crawl their way to their partners and Austin is the first to reach, but Vader at first pulls back, causing Austin to shoot him an icy stare and to again flip ‘The Mastodon’ the bird before he gets up and gets ready to head back to battle. Hart has reached his corner and tags in the Undertaker, but just as Austin gets set to charge, Vader returns his partner’s favor from earlier and tags himself back in, wearing a sly smirk on his face as he eyeballs a now irate Austin. The Undertaker takes the advantage over his huge foe, getting a big pop from the crowd after weakening him with an onslaught of rights and left and scooping the 450 pound monster up for a body slam. The ‘Taker and Bret begin showing signs of continuity as they tag in and out with each other, remaining fresh as they work over big Vader. Hart begins working on the legs of his much larger opponent, dropping him first to his knees and then to his back in the corner, where he quickly slides out and wraps Vader’s legs around the corner post in a figure four. Michaels warns Hart to release and when he ignores the warning, slides to the floor and begins physically pulling the Hitman’s legs apart, breaking the hold. Bret immediately gets in the face of the champion as the two trade heated words until Hart pie faces Michaels, sending him sprawling to the floor before Bret rolls back into the ring where he stops only to spit at Austin before returning to his corner to tag back in the Dead Man. Austin, more so just wanting a fight and responding to the Hitman’s actions, than entering to aid his partner, comes across the ring and he and Hart begin trading fast rights and lefts. At this same point, the Undertaker has continued to work over Vader, taking him by one arm and walking the top rope, getting ready to launch off with a big forearm shot to the shoulder. Before he has the chance to take flight, HBK has returned to the ring and gives a hard two handed shove to the back of Bret, who is sent flying into the ropes, knocking the Undertaker all the way to the arena floor. A confused Hart turns to confront Michaels, but unsuspectingly walks into a quick boot to the stomach and a “Stone Cold Stunner,” courtesy of the Rattlesnake. Austin goes for the cover, but Michaels refuses to count as Vader is still the legal man in the ring. At this point Vader begins yelling at Austin to get out of the way as he prepares to climb the ropes and finish Bret off with a “vadersault.” Austin at first seems to concede, stepping part of the way out of the ring as Vader starts his climb. (While all this is going on in the ring, Mankind comes back down the ramp with a lead pipe in hand, sneaking around the corner and waiting for the Undertaker to attempt to climb back into the ring. Once he is part way up the apron, Mankind  blasts the Dead Man with the object in the knee, dropping him to the floor, where he pounces on him, shrieking out loud as his applies the mandible claw.) Before Vader can finish his ascent to the top rope, Austin again tags himself in and quickly pulls his partner off the ropes, catches him with a kick to the gut and a devastating stunner. (Sid has now also returned, making his way to ringside and picking up the pipe used by Mankind to begin choking Foley as he struggles to hang on to his grip on the ‘Taker.) After Austin has dropped his partner, he turns around and in “taking his eye off the ball,” walks right into a picture perfect small package from the now recovered Hitman, with Michaels hopping into position and counting a reluctant, yet fair one, two, three.  Both Austin, Hart, and Michaels spring to their feet immediately, weary of each other. As they have a quick stare and trade some comments, Vader blindsides Austin and begins viciously working him over. Hart and Michaels start trading fists as well, while the melee between Undertaker, Sid, and Mankind has now also spilled into the ring. ‘Taker spins Hart around and starts laying right hands on him, pulling him away from Michaels. When HBK spins around he walks right into the mandible claw courtesy of Mankind. Foley pushes Michaels away as he loses the grip on the claw and the champion walks right into a huge powerbomb from Sid as Raw goes off the air with all seven superstars brawling around the ringside area as announcer Jim Ross screams in promotion of the big pay per view laying just three days away. “This thing has gotten out of control; it looks like its last call on a Saturday night in downtown Muskogee. What is gonna happen on Sunday? Folks, we are out of time.”

In Your House 13, “Final Four”- February 16, 1997- Chattanooga, TN

Before going live on Pay Per View, the “Free For All” broadcast airs from the UTC Arena in Chattanooga, with in ring promos cut by each of the four participants in the first ever “Final Four” match. The first to the ring is Bret Hart, who is interviewed by Kevin Kelly. It is of note that prior to the televised “Free for All” promos, there was a non-televised dark match that saw Henry and Phineas Godwinn defeat the Headbangers.

Kelly: “So, Bret tonight is the night, all the obstacles you have overcome to be here, all of the “overlooking” of you and your legacy that you have voiced. It can all be put behind you tonight at “In Your House,” in the first ever “Final Four” match, where your destiny and a main event slot at WrestleMania awaits you with a win.”

Bret: “You know what Kevin, you say that like it’s not the truth, you say that and it sounds somewhat sarcastic to me. Let me help get this through your head, get this through the head’s of all these people out here, and get this through the head’s of all three of my opponent’s head here tonight. I am what I say I am, “The Excellence of Execution,” and tonight, even though the Final Four is just another hoop that WWF higher ups want to make me jump through, Steve Austin, Vader, and The Undertaker will all be “excellently executed,” and then there is no way that any one can deny me my spot as number one contender and there is no way that anyone can deny me my shot to fill my destiny as a four time WWF Champion come Wrestle Mania 13. There should be no disputing my deserving that title shot after clearly winning the Royal Rumble, but if I still need to prove myself around here after almost fourteen years, then tonight I will prove that I am exactly what I say I am, and that is “The Best There is, the Best There Was, and the Best Their Ever Will Be.” (Bret leaves the ring to mostly cheers, but a somewhat mixed reaction, as Kelly remains in the ring waiting for his next interview subject.)

It’s time; it’s time”…Vader’s intro music hits, as the Mastodon strides to the ring with his manager, Paul Bearer at his side. Kelly begins to ask a question, when Vader rips the microphone from him, intimidating the announcer to take a few steps back and leave the ring.

Vader: “Ever since I came here to the WWF it’s been one reason or another that Vader has not been allowed to be the man. Well you people all know who the man is, and when I squash all three of my opponents tonight, no one can stop me from going on to Wrestle Mania and winning the title to begin the WWF’s era of “Vader Time.” Oh yeah, and Steve Austin, you wanna sucker me into a “stunner?” Well, your time is coming tonight boy, I will beat the holy hell out of your redneck ass and you will regret the day you ever got up in my business. Tonight the ‘Rattlesnake’ gets his slimy little neck squeezed until the last breath of life seeps out of his limp body and once he is out of the way, then finally, It will be time, time, Vader Time.” (Vader and Paul Bearer mug into the camera as the “Free for All” goes to the studio with Dox Hendrix, previewing the entire lineup.)

Next up, the lights go down for the sensational entrance of The Undertaker, following the Vader scare, Kevin Kelly is no longer in the ring, so the ‘Taker simply stands alone with the stick.

Undertaker: “Three tortured souls will meet their collective destiny tonight here at “Final Four,” my creatures, three souls that will be taken by me on my way to WrestleMania. I have not been getting the respect I deserve around here lately and that was apparent just a few days ago when Psycho Sid and Mankind stuck their noses in my personal business, and they will be dealt with accordingly and shown the true meaning of respect in due time.  The Dead Man and his creatures of the night are the most dominate force in the World Wrestling Federation and have been since day one when I arrived on the scene and if I can’t get shown the respect I have earned from my dominance over the past six years, then I may have to not only show them, but I may have to teach my three opponents a little lesson in respect tonight, too. No matter what, you can rest assured that the Undertaker will have his hand raised in the “Final Four,” and you can rest assured that I will go on to WrestleMania to get back the WWF title, and most importantly, “Hitman,” Austin, and Vader the three of you can rest(eyes roll back into head)in peace. (‘Taker slowly walks back to the dressing room and the glass breaks, meaning only one thing, “Stone Cold” is on his way to the ring.)

Austin walks to the ring at a quickened pace. The reaction is mixed, but most cheer him as he hits the ring. He grabs a microphone.

Austin: “Wah, wah, wah. Yap, yap, yap. I am listening backstage here and all I keep on hearin’ is a bunch of gums flappin’ and a bunch of little crybabies out here sobbin’ and singin’ the blues. Well guess what, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin don’t give a rat’s ass about The Undertaker and his respect, he don’t give a crap about Vader and his little threats, and he certainly don’t give a damn about the biggest crybaby of them all, Bret “the Hitman” Hart out here in his little pink and black tights bellyaching that he keeps getting screwed. He needs to quit with his complaining and sobbin’ about getting’ screwed, because tonight all three of them bastards are screwed because they gotta face “Stone Cold,” and once I toss all three of ‘em out like yesterday’s garbage  tonight, come WrestleMania 13 when I become the new WWF Champion, Steve Austin will introduce this company to a whole new era of hell raisin’, beer drinkin’, and finger flippin’ (flips a double bird at the camera), and that’s the bottom line, ‘cause “Stone Cold said so. (As Austin’s music hits, the “Free For All” portion ends and the Pay Per View portion is about to begin.)

The pay per view portion of the event begins with a promo package reviewing the controversial ending at Royal Rumble and the happenings at Thursday, Raw, Thursday, pumping up both the “Final Four” match and the Triple Threat World Title match. The intro finishes and we start at the broadcast booth with Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler, who give a complete rundown of the card. The card starts out with Marc Mero, who was accompanied to the ring by Sable getting the win over Leif Cassidy. The second match of the night sees the Nation of Domination (Faarooq, Crush, and Savio Vega) defeat Goldust, Bart Gunn, and Flash Funk in a six man tag, when Faarooq pins Gunn.  We next head to the back stage interview set where Dok Hendrix is standing by with Mankind and Paul Bearer. Mankind sits on the ground rocking back and forth, pulling on his scraggily hair as Hendrix addresses him.

Hendrix: “Mankind, Paul Bearer, you have to feel pretty lucky as it seemed your strategy worked to a tee this past Thursday on Raw. You ambush your rival, the Undertaker and as a result somehow you come into tonight with a chance at leaving “In Your House” and heading out on the ‘Road to WrestleMania’ as WWF Champion.”

Mankind: (Still rocking back and forth, speaks in his high pitched almost shrill) “You know something Dok Hendrix, I do not feel lucky. Look at me for cripes sake, (voice raises to a scream) LOOK AT ME, DOK. I’m not pretty like you and Shawn Michaels, and while it is debatable, I also do not think I would quite qualify as a “psycho.” But, messing up “The Heartbreak Kid’s” pretty face sure is always a lot of fun. I actually forgot to tell Shawn Thursday on Raw that I think near the end of the show I found something of his, I found something that he had lost. You see, Dok Hendrix, When HBK turned right into the mandible claw I found Shawn’s mysterious ‘lost smile ,’ (Mankind getting increasingly excited, his voice shrieking and gaining in volume) and if I can be truthful, it felt damn good to find that smile because while I was locating your smile, Shawn,  I realized that once I had a grip on you with the mandible claw, you were helpless and this time if I can throw these fingers down your gullet, then (yells again) I’M GOIN’ TO WRESTLE MANIA, and I will not just be going to appear at WrestleMania, oh no, I will be going  as the WWF champion and maybe I will bring your smile along for the ride too, Shawn or maybe, just maybe, I’ll knock your smile straight down your pretty boy throat. Just think, Uncle Paul (looks at Bearer), wouldn’t it be ironic if instead of Shawn Michaels finding his smile, that this smile right here (Mankind smiling widely, points to his missing teeth as the camera zooms in) was suddenly the smile on all the posters heading into the ‘granddaddy of them all.’ Maybe HBK can’t find his smile, but Uncle Paul, (again looks to Bearer) I sure found mine, didn’t I? It’s right here and when I take down Sycho Sid and Shawn Michaels tonight this smile right here will be attached to the new face of this company and then and only then, we can all ‘Have a nice day.’”

The show continues on with an Intercontinental Title match where new champ, Rocky Maivia gets a pinfall win over the man he beat for the title earlier in the week, Hunter Hearst Helmsley. After a solid match between the two, we again head to the back, where Kevin Kelly is with Sycho Sid, who has his head leaned back manically, belting out his trademark laugh. Kelly starts the interview.

Kelly: “Sycho Sid, you’ve waited and waited for your rematch and the time is now upon us. Last minute thoughts as you head into the Triple Threat match tonight.”

Sid: “The hour is upon us and it is time for “the Ruler” to start taking control. (Laughs, again, manically)Shawn Michaels we all know who the better man is between you and I, ‘cause I beat you every time out there when there wasn’t some kind of cheap interference, little man, and its plain to see, Shawn Michaels that you ain’t half the man that Sycho Sid is. Mankind (another laugh) you put your nose in my business and somehow got yourself in this match. You see, that, my friend, was a large mistake on your behalf and as for you tonight, I will see to it that you pay for your mistakes in the form of pain and suffering (Another laugh) and by the night’s end you will be looking at the new WWF champion, and you will be looking at the “ruler of the world.”

After that interview, they go back to the broadcasters, who give a preview of the next match for the WWF Tag Team titles as the Champions, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog are disqualified in their match against Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon, but despite the loss, they retain the tag belts. After this bout, the cameras are again in the back, as Dok Hendrix stands outside the dressing room of Shawn Michaels as he is readying for his “triple threat” world title defense.

Hendrix: “World Champion, Shawn Michaels, what a roller coaster ride of a week it has been for you. With all you have been through both physically and emotionally, the odds are stacked against you tonight as you face the monster, Sycho Sid and the deranged animal that is Mankind. How do you get past such a challenge and keep your WWF title with WrestleMania and a main event spot at the big show against the winner of the ‘Final Four’ tonight hanging in the balance?”

Michaels: “Dok, you say that like the ‘Heartbreak Kid’ has never had to fight through adversity. You say that like the deck has not been stacked, like the odds have not been against Shawn Michaels since his first day here in the World Wrestling Federation. Simply put, how do I get past Mankind and Sycho Sid? I get past them by being exactly what I always am, the best. I rise to the occasion just like I always do on the big stage, except this time I rise to the occasion for me. Not for you, not for the fans, tonight, I do it for me. So, when the final bell rings, after the band has already tuned up some ‘Sweet Chin Music,’ the ‘Showstopper’ will once again get his hand raised in victory and once again will head to WrestleMania as WWF Champion and as “The Main Event,” and like I said before, I head there against whoever wins the ‘Final Four’ later tonight, but most importantly, I head there for me.”

Following the interview, J.R. and the King introduce a promo package that runs detailing the ‘Final Four’ match. It reviews the controversial finish at the Royal Rumble and the differences that have developed between the four contestants in the weeks since. Immediately as it finishes, the ‘glass shatters’ and ‘Stone Cold’ stomps toward the ring. Vader is introduced next, with Paul Bearer at his side, followed by ‘The Hitman,’ with the Undertaker being the final man introduced.

Match- “Final Four” Match to determine the number one contender for the WWF Title at WrestleMania 13- Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker vs. Vader (w/Paul Bearer)- The first ever “Final Four” match kicks off as Hart and Austin immediately go right at each other, as do Undertaker and Vader. Austin takes the upper hand on Bret and nearly eliminates him within seconds of the opening bell, flinging him over the top rope, but Hart lands on the apron and clings for dear life to the bottom rope as Austin repeatedly kicks him, trying to send his rival to the floor. The Undertaker gains the advantage on Vader, backing him into the corner and working the big man over with “soup bone” like rights and lefts to the head and body. He backs away and scores with several big elbow shots to the side of Vader’s skull, staggering him and eventually dropping him to the mat. Hart has slinked all the way back into the ring, but Austin is still in total control, as he whips the “Hitman” into the ropes and scores with a Lou Thez press, which is followed by a flurry of right hands described by commentator  Jim Ross as “piston-like.” Bret begs off a bit sliding into the corner, but Austin shows no mercy as he “stomps a mud hole in him, and walks it dry.” (Another call from Ross describing the series of boots laid on Hart while down in the corner.) The Undertaker, continues to work on Vader, hitting much of his trademark offense as the match moves along, stunning the crowd as he hits the super heavyweight with a side slam before following with a near fall after three consecutive elbow drops. When referee, Earl Hebner slides in for the two count, Bret uses the opening to catch Austin with a low blow, buying him a breather and dropping the “Rattlesnake” to his knees. Meanwhile, The Undertaker pulls Vader  to his feet and follows an arm twist by going “old school” climbing the turnbuckle and walking the ropes, when his former manager, Paul Bearer jumps to the apron, and distracts him. Without missing a beat, the ‘Taker releases Vader and leaps from the ropes, catching Bearer with a forearm smash that sends him sprawling to the floor. Following the cheap shot on Austin, Bret has turned his attention to the Undertaker, blindsiding him with a chop block to the back of his knee. Once down, appearing to “smell blood,” Hart begins working the leg of “the Phenom,” dropping a series of elbows on the stretched out limb and then following up with several knee drops to the Dead Man’s now injured extremity. A now recovered Vader has taken full advantage of the still hurting “Stone Cold,” beginning to unload on him, mercissly pummeling Austin with right and left hooks to each side of his head. Playing the familiar role of a bully, Vader continues to batter Austin, finally pulling him to the corner, where he climbs to the middle rope and lands a devastating “Vader bomb.” In what both Lawler and Ross describe as “a huge mistake” Vader opts to gloat and flex, while screaming to the crowd rather than finishing “Stone Cold” in what appeared would have been an easy three count. Instead, once he finishes taunting the crowd and his opponent, he hits the ropes and comes back for a big splash, which sees Austin roll out of the way and spring to his feet. Bearer again hops to the apron , and again his attempt to aid his protégé backfires, as Austin grabs the portly manager by his collar. Vader attempts a sneak attack, but “Stone Cold” ducks at the last split second as manager and wrestler come together head on, sending Bearer to the floor again, with the impact hurling him all the way into the ringside barrier, which he bounces off, causing him to ricochet off and roll all the way underneath the ring. The collision also staggered Vader backwards and when he turns, Austin scores with a boot to the stomach and a “stunner,” bouncing right back up and snatching  “the Mastodon” by the back of his head and guiding his huge body over the top rope as the first man eliminated. Austin flips the angry Vader the bird as he looks back to the ring, and then turns to face off with his other two adversaries. Hart has continued to work on Undertaker’s leg, wrapping the hurt knee around the ring post twice before going for what appears to be his new favorite weapon in his vast arsenal, the figure four around the post. Austin attacks the hapless Undertaker, mounting him and raining repeated rights to his face as he lay defenseless. A huge commotion has developed outside the ring,  as officials try to get Vader back to the locker room area, as he still is at ringside, dropping several referees and agents as he refuses to leave. After clearing the area of all the help trying to remove him, and with the assigned official, Hebner trying to pry Hart’s legs apart and free the ring post figure four, Vader reaches under the ring and retrieves a large steel wrench. He climbs into the ring and upon hearing someone approaching Austin turns and walks into a vicious shot right between the eyes. “Dammit, NO!,” exclaims, J.R., as Austin is busted  wide open from the gruesome shot that renders him unconscious on the mat. As Hebner continues, jawing with Hart on the outside, Vader drags a seemingly limp Undertaker over and drapes him over the crimson masked Austin, sliding out of the ring  just before Hebner returns to make a three count, making “Stone Cold” the second man eliminated and leaving just Hart and the Undertaker to battle for the WrestleMania slot. Vader begins to leave, seeming completely satisfied, as Hart returns to the ring stalking the Undertaker. (Medical personnel have come to ringside and removed Austin from the ring, trying to tend to him. Once he regains consciousness, he refuses their aid and leaves on his own power to a large ovation from the admiring crowd.) Right as Bret leans to pull his opponent up, the crowd collectively gasps as “The Dead man” sits up. “It looks like business is about to pick up,” screams a now-near hoarse Jim Ross, as the ‘Taker rises to his feet and he and Hart meet in the center of the ring and trade right hands. Undertaker wins out in this battle of fists, again, going to the arm wringer and climbing the ropes, this time scoring big with his “old school” forearm smash. He pulls Bret to his feet and delivers  a pair of hard, face first Irish whips, to opposite corners, with “The Hitman” snapping off the buckle and crumpling to the mat following each. Now on a roll, the Undertaker slings the dazed “Hitman” into the ropes and a smack is heard throughout the arena as his hand hits Bret’s throat before he plants him with a big time chokeslam. Undertaker motions with his thumb across his own throat, calling for the end as the arena comes unglued, while Bret struggles to his feet and is slung over his opponents shoulder and again planted, this time by a Tombstone Piledriver. The ‘Taker folds Hart’s arms across his chest and Hebner jumps down for the one, two…and then he is inexplicably pulled by his legs out of the ring by an arm from under the ring just as his hand was about to slap the mat for a third count. Hebner falls to the floor, but latches on to the arm that tugged him from the ring, trying to drag the proprietor into clear sight. During this tug-o- war, Undertaker has made his way to this side of the ring , watching over the ropes in disbelief as Paul Bearer is dragged out by Hebner, after still being under the ring from his earlier collision with Vader.  Hebner and Bearer continue to struggle on the outside, and Undertaker, somewhat confused and angered turns to find the fallen “Hitman” has rolled under the bottom rope on the other side of the ring to get a breather. He stalks over to follow Bret, but when he puts his head between the ropes to climb out in pursuit, yet another collective gasp comes from the crowd, as a huge flash blasts the Dead Man in the face, as somehow, Mankind has rolled out from the opposite side of the ring and hurled a fire ball into the eye of “The Phenom.” Mankind retreats as, according to J.R., “the sickening smell of burning flesh has permeated the arena.” Bearer also at this point stops his scuffle with the referee as a singed and blinded and Undertaker staggers across the ring. Bret finally gains his senses and returns to the ring, sneaking behind  the Undertaker, just as the official also returns to the ring. The sightless and stunned ‘Taker doesn’t even see Bret coming as he is assisted over the top rope to the floor by a running clothesline, leaving “The Hitman” as the winner of “The Final Four” and the number one contender to move on and face the champion at WrestleMania 13. An exhausted “Hitman” falls to his knees in jubilation, before having his hand raised  and he is announced as the winner.

The broadcast cuts from the ring and Bret’s celebration to a promotional package on the upcoming World title, three-way bout. It reviews the Michaels and Sid history and the events surrounding last Thursday’s Raw involving Michaels and the WWF  title, as well as the Sid and Mankind run-ins that led to the announcement of the match. As this ends, we go back to the ring for the introductions for the Triple Threat Match. Sycho Sid is the first to the ring, followed by Mankind and his manager Paul Bearer, who are greeted with a venomous chorus of boos from the crowd on the heels of their heinous actions in the previous match. World Champion, Shawn Michaels is the last to enter and he receives a resounding ovation, despite the comments he had made in his interview earlier in the evening.

Match- Triple Threat WWF Championship Match- WWF Champion, Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) vs. Sycho Sid-The bell sounds and Michaels surveys the situation as Mankind immediately charges and rocks Sid with a fast flurry of right hands. Getting at Sid from the side, Mankind drops his larger foe and follows up with repeated boots to his fallen opponent. He turns and wildly charges Michaels, who surprises him by ducking from the charge and catching him as he turns around with a pair of lightning quick  arm drags, sitting into an armbar on the second. Mankind squirms to his feet and as Michaels turns to go back on the attack, he is blindsided by  a clubbing forearm from Sid that brings him to his knees. Both Mankind and Sid take advantage of the champion as he is down, raining fists and boots on to the chest and head of HBK. The two continue the double team and push Michaels under the bottom rope to the floor before turning their attention on each other. They begin with a stare down and trade punches in the center of the ring with Sid getting the better of the exchange. He fires Mankind into the ropes and drops him with a big clothesline, then scoops him to his feet and scores with a thunderous bodyslam. Again, Sid pulls his foe up by his hair and fires him toward the arena floor, only Mankind hits the ropes and does a 360, getting tangled in the ropes around his throat. Sid follows up and shakes the ropes, choking Foley out until he is freed and drops to the arena floor. Now the only man standing in the ring, Sid raises his arm and calls to the crowd, “Who’s the man?” In the meantime, Michaels has recovered and comes from the far side of the ring, staying on the floor in pursuit of Mankind. Paul Bearer steps in his way and is floored by one punch from the champion, who jumps to the ring apron and sprints toward Mankind, leaping from the apron and dropping him with a flying clothesline. Both wrestlers are down and Shawn is the first to rise, but as he does, Sid reaches over the ropes and with two fists full of hair, yanks Michaels back into the ring, slamming him to the mat all in one motion. The Sycho one methodically  takes his smaller opponent apart, choking him out as he lay on the mat in the corner with a huge boot pressed to the champion’s throat. The referee reaches a count of four three times in a row, as Sid brakes and then goes right back to the choke. Mankind returns to the ring and wildly charges Sid, who goes for a big boot to the face, which is ducked. Both men come off the ropes toward another and it is Mankind this time who whiffs with a clothesline, before the two again come off the ropes, both having the same idea as each land solidly with a clothesline to their opponent, sending both competitors to the canvas as the official begins to count them out. As the count reaches four, Michaels has recovered and got to his feet, taking turns in going on the offensive against both challengers, starting with a flurry of fast  rights to the face of Mankind before swapping to his other foe, Sid, and giving him a matching set of right hands. HBK pulls Mankind to his feet and sends him into the ropes, catching him coming back with a spectacular flying forearm smash, sending him all the way to the outside of the ring. Continuing to deal out equal punishment to both opponents, Shawn next turns back to Sid and following suit, whips him to the far ropes and levels him with an equally impressive forearm smash, with Sid also being rocked all the way out of the ring, actually falling right on top of Mankind. Instinctively, Mankind meets the incoming Sid with a mandible claw on the arena floor, plunging his fingers into his  mouth as he was falling on top of him. As Sid tries to squirm free and likewise, Foley attempts to strengthen his grip, Michaels surveys the situation and takes to the air again, throwing caution to the wind as he moonsaults from the top rope, wiping out both competitors on the floor. “It looks like a damn car crash out here, with bodies spillin’ everywhere, King,” remarked Jim Ross as each combatant was now in a bad way, writhing in pain on the floor. “Wait just a minute here, folks,” J.R. continues, “I am told we have a situation developing in the back.” (The picture goes to a split screen and we see a still bloodied Steve Austin pacing through the backstage area, turning over any furniture in sight and ducking his head in and out of different dressing rooms. “Where in the hell is he?” Austin proclaims to know one in particular. “Vader, ya’ fat, yellow bastard, come on out, your ass is mine.” He continues on his search as the two screens cut back to the one of just the action in the match.) “Oh, man, King, I would not want to be Vader, right now, Austin is pissed and he is walkin’ with a purpose,” says Ross before refocusing his attention on the match at hand, where  it appears that Mankind has gotten the worst of the Michaels moonsault,  as the back of his skull crashed of the guard rail surrounding the area. As Paul Bearer tends to him, the referee also goes over to check on the fallen grappler. In the meantime, Michaels returned to the ring, as Sid was a bit slower to return to his feet. Again taking the reckless approach that he has become synonymous with, Michaels comes full speed across the ring, leaving his feet for a suicide dive between the top and second ropes, hitting his mark as he sends Sid into the unforgiving steel off the guard rail as well. Keeping up the torrid pace, Michaels is quick to his feet and back into the ring, where he again charges across the ring and dives between the ropes, this time with Mankind in his sights. Shawn does connect, sending Foley back into the steel, but the blow is somewhat lessened by the referee, who was shoved blindly into the path of the torpedo-like titlist by Paul Bearer, taking the full brunt of the dive.  At this point, once again, chaos ensues with the referee down, as the crowd comes to its feet when the Undertaker, his face wrapped almost entirely in bandages comes down the ramp with bad intentions. Bearer frantically tries to revive his charge, as the Dead Man slowly stalks in their direction.  All the while, Sid has started slowly crawling back into the ring, where Michaels patiently awaits his, “warming up the band” with the lifting and stomping of his boot in anticipation of his finisher. Still on his knees, Sid slowly rises and HBK throws his patented superkick, but Sycho ducks, grabbing the front of the champion’s tights as he goes under the kick and using the momentum to pull Shawn toward the ropes, which he plummets through, landing again on the outside. Looking to seize the opportunity, Sid also returns to the floor, engaging in a struggle with a camera man to take his equipment, obviously with visions of attacking Michaels with the camera, much as he had done en route to his title victory at Survivor Series a few short months prior. Bearer has revived Mankind and the two are shocked to see the man who they had screwed out of a victory in the Final Four match seemingly unphased by the terrifying fire ball attack during the previous bout. Continuing his slow, methodical pursuit, the Undertaker watches his two enemies jump the railing and head for higher ground through the crowd. Seeing them flee and itching for a fight, the ‘Taker turns around just as Sid has rested the camera from the hapless photographer. Not caring who or what is in his way, the Undertaker drops the petrified camera man on his way towards Sid, knocking him silly with one huge right hand. As HBK gets to his feet, Sid is laying in wait prepared to scramble his brains with the camera. Just as he pulls it back to strike, the Undertaker has reached the apron and snatches it from him, dropping Sid with a thud he introduces the camera to the Sycho’s skull. He continues on into the center of the ring, dropping the camera on his way in. Steeping mad still from the earlier attack, the Phenom is taking his frustration out on anyone in sight, as he thrusts his right hand out and scoops Michaels off the mat by his throat, yanking him all the way up over his head before planting him to the mat with a devastating chokeslam. With Sid also still down, the Undertaker, scoops up the limp champion, and slings him over his shoulder, dropping him headfirst with a tombstone before turning back and out of the ring, slowly pacing back toward the dressing room. After the attacks by the ‘Taker finds both men out on the mat and the referee still down and out, it is Sycho Sid who comes to first. He scoops up a semi-conscious Michaels and treats him to a second chokeslam, as signs of life begin to be shown from the official outside of the ring. After the chokeslam, Sid soaks in some cheers from the crowd before calling for a power bomb to end the match and put the WWF title back around his waist. As he pulls Michaels’ head between his legs in setting him up, Bret Hart returns through the crowd, now in black cutoff jean shorts and a black and pink t-shirt, picking up a steel chair and he hops the guard rail at ringside.  Sid, does not see the Hitman behind him as he scores with an incredible power bomb. When he turns to again raise his hands toward the crowd before covering the battered champion, Hart swings for the fences, landing a sickening chair shot to the skull of Sid, staggering him with the first cut and knocking him completely silly with a second. Bret drops the chair on the floor and drags HBK by his arm toward the challenger, draping it over him and rolling out of the ring and to the floor as the referee finally makes it back to the ring for a very slow, one, two, and three, with Michaels gaining the victory and retaining his world championship. An exhausted HBK has his arm raised in victory, still winded and wounded from a grueling match. As the official releases Shawn’s hand, he is dropped from behind by the Hitman, who has re-entered the ring and thrown a vicious chop block to the leg of the champ. Hart relentlessly brings the steel chair down on Michaels’ now injured leg, before stopping to place his ankle inside the chair as he mounts the second turnbuckle. He leaps and scores with an elbow on to the chair as Michaels writhes in pain, his ankle appearing to be broken, as Bret gets to his feet and stomps the chair drawing another scream of pain from Shawn. He flings the chair from the ring and prepares to wrap Michaels’ legs around the ring post in his figure four maneuver, when a host of agents and referees come from the back and buy the medical staff enough time to tend to the leg of the world champ. (As the WWF personnel continues their  attempt to create distance between Bret and HBK, the screen again cuts to a split screen and we see Steve Austin now sprinting toward the parking lot area, with Vader in his sights a bit in the distance. Vader hops in an already started limousine that was waiting for his arrival and the car burns rubber, squealing out of the lot just as Austin reaches the back of the car, barely getting his hands on it before it pulls away. The camera zooms in on a seething mad Austin, still in his ring gear, with caked and dried blood still covering his face and torso. “We haven’t seen the last of this one, that I can guarantee to you, people,” chimes in J.R. as the split screen returns to just one and the still ensuing bedlam at ringside.) Hart backs off and wears a sarcastic smirk as he snatches the WWF title off the timekeeper’s table, walks back to the ring, and rests the strap on the chest of the fallen title holder before raising his hands and then motioning to his waist, implying that he will be the champion come WrestleMania. The show goes off the air as we see the image of the medical staff trying to strap Michaels to a stretcher as he squirms and moans in pain. Good ol’ J.R. brings us home, voicing a question on the minds of many given the vicious actions of the Canadian hero, “What is wrong with Bret “The Hitman” Hart. That is a living, breathing human being that he has just mangled. This is not the hero and role model that I have come to know and respect. We got a lot of questioned answered here  at the ‘Final Four,’ but we may have had even more new ones raised here tonight as well. What is gonna happen tomorrow night on Raw.”

Monday Night Raw- February 17, 1997- Nashville, TN

Raw begins with a video package showing the highlights of first the “Final Four” match and then the Triple Threat WWF Title bout. The “Final Four” package highlight the many twists and turns, including the Mankind interference and the Vader wrench shot/Austin searching for Vader later in the show. The title match highlights focus on much of the same, pinpointing the Undertaker returning and chasing Mankind from the match and attacking Sid, as well as Bret Hart’s attack on Sid, handing Shawn Michaels the win before viciously attacking him. Following the lead in music to the show and the pyro, the show starts immediately as once again the “glass shatters” and out comes “Stone Cold,” sporting a huge bandage on his stitched up head and a steel chair in hand. He hits the ring and immediately grabs a microphone.

Austin: “Let’s get right down to business here people, I have searched high and I have searched low for that big, yellow, piece of crap, Vader, but I ain’t finding him anywhere. So, here is what we are gonna do here tonight. (Austin unfolds the chair and sits down) “Stone Cold” is gonna park his ornery behind right here in this very ring until he gets him some of Big Van Vader’s  big, fat, bully,ass. So, I am done chasing you around and playing your silly little games. It’s time all right ya’ sorry son of a bitch, it’s time that Vader and his fat little white faced manager bring their carcasses down here. (He looks at his watch) I got all night and there ain’t a damn thing that is gonna go on here tonight in Nashville until I get me a piece of Vader.” (Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry Lawler sit at ringside worrying amongst each other as Austin holds the show hostage.) Come on out big fella, you made your bed and now it’s time you come down here and face the music and come face to face with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.” (Vader and Paul Bearer appear in the upper level of the arena, a spotlight shines on them as they stand in the crowd and respond to Austin’s demands.)

Vader: “Hahaha, ‘Stone Cold”’Steve Austin, the toughest S.O.B. in the World Wrestling Federation. You my friend had better be careful of what you wish for, because if I remember right, Austin, the last time you and I came face to face last night in that ring, someone got left layin’, someone got busted open from ear to ear, someone got to know what it feels like when their time arrives and Austin last night it was time, it was time, it was Vader time!”(Austin is now out of the seat and staring up in the crowd at the two responds with a challenge)

Austin: “Vader time, my ass. You are showin’ me right now your true colors, just like I said. Your colors ain’t the red and black that ya’ wear on your fancy little tights, it’s yellow like the streak runnin’ down your gutless coward back. You cost me my chance at the WWF title last night, you busted my skull open with a damn wrench, and even worse for you son, you done pissed off “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. I still got unfinished business in my quest for the WWF title, and I still got unfinished business with that pink and black crybaby, Bret Hart, but for right now, I only got one matter of business that needs taking care of and that piece of business is whipping your ass.  You can hide up in that crowd all you like, but “Stone Cold” is not gonna rest until he gets his hands on you and he’s  gonna get his hands on ya’ tonight. You don’t piss off “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and you sure as hell don’t bust his head open with a damn wrench and not get a little payback. You mark my words big man, tonight, I wear your blood on my hands, and there ain’t a damn thing you or your chubby little friend can say or do about it, and that’s the bottom line, ‘cause “Stone Cold said so.” (Austin charges hard to the outside over the barricade and up in  the crowd towards Vader who continues to taunt Austin and laugh in a devious cackle over the microphone until he is about half way up through the fans, when he simply turns and walks out of the arena area as the show goes to commercial)

When Raw returns, the broadcast team informs the viewing audience that due to the leg injury suffered at the hands of Bret Hart following last night’s title match, Shawn Michaels is not in Nashville for Raw tonight, but that we will be hearing from him next Monday on Raw, live via satellite from his home in San Antonio with an update on his status. They additionally state that “The Hitman” is however in the arena and we will hear from him later in the show. They then go back up to the ring for an Intercontinental title match, as champion Rocky Maivia defeats Leif Cassidy following his shoulder breaker finisher.  On a side note, during  the Maivia/Cassidy bout, announcer, Jerry “The King” Lawler, bad mouthed and ridiculed the entire promotion of Extreme Championship Wrestling, actually going so far as to invite the ECW wrestlers to show up and perform on next week’s Raw. A promo package for the replay of Sunday’s pay per view airs, followed by  a quick promo for WrestleMania 13, noting the date and venue. When Raw returns, one half of the Tag Team Champs, Owen Hart defeats Flash Funk with some outside assistance from his partner The British Bulldog, before we see a taped interview with Jim Ross and the Nation, where Faarooq challenges Ahmed Johnson to a street fight at WrestleMania before the show has another commercial break.

Returning from break, Kevin Kelly is in the back, standing by for an interview with Sycho Sid.

Kelly:  “Sycho Sid, last night you were so close, just moments away from regaining the WWF Title. But just as it seemed you would reclaim that belt, things changed, and they changed in a hurry.”

Sid: “Bret Hart, Bret Hart, (laughs in his trademark maniacal form) You wanted your shot, you had to have your shot. Well, I am fine with that, but your shot, it should’ve been at me. You screwed me, Bret! You took what was mine, and you handed it to Shawn Michaels. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have other things to keep me busy right now, but Bret Hart, you altered my destiny, and Bret, by doing that , you have altered your own destiny. I have  family  business that needs taking care of, but your time will come Bret. So go win your precious title at WrestleMania, but just know that when you do, you owe me one ‘Hitman,’ (cackles again in laughter) and once I have finished my ‘business’ Bret, it will be time for you to pay up, and when you do pay up, you will then know that I am Sycho Sid, and I am the ruler of the world!”

Vader and Paul Bearer are shown walking through the backstage area with their bags toward the door, just before they get there, WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon walks into the picture and addresses them

Monsoon: “Where exactly do you think you are going. You two have an awful lot of explaining to do. Did you forget that we have rules around here? Did you forget that you are governed under those rules? Well, I wouldn’t be going anywhere if I was you Vader, because you’re in the main event here tonight.”

Vader:  “Who the hell do you think you are talking to, Monsoon? I am the man they call Vader, and this is Paul Bearer.” (Monsoon interrupts)

Monsoon: “I know who you are, and I know this piece of garbage, too. (Looking at Bearer) I didn’t say anything about him, because his actions last night at ‘In Your House’ were inexcusable, and because of that not only do I have nothing to say of him, neither will anyone else tonight. Because, you and your partner are the only ones to be involved in that main event tonight, and I am being sure of it, as Paul Bearer is banned from the building for the remainder of the night.” (Security comes and escorts Bearer.)

Vader: “You can’t do this, Monsoon, you can’t make me…”(Monsoon interrupts  again)

Monsoon: “Oh, I can and I will and tonight, in our main event, you, Vader will team with your stable mate, Mankind in an unsanctioned, no disqualification tag team bout. Oh, and Vader, your opponents tonight will be the team of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Undertaker.” (Vader argues Monsoon’s decision as the camera cuts to the ring, where Kevin Kelly interviews Goldust and Marlena. This interview is of note as Hunter Hearst Helmsley is called out by Goldust and after the two mix it up, an unknown huge female with an enormous, muscular physique attacks Marlena and shakes her like a ragdoll. Immediately following this, Helmsley stays in the ring for his match with Bart Gunn. During the match, Gunn gets the win by countout when Goldust returns and interferes, chasing Helmsley from the building.)

After another commercial break, Bret Hart’s music hits and he strides to the ring and addresses the crowd as promised.

Bret: “Well, I guess it’s official now. Just like I told you all along, “The Excellence of Execution” will be going to WrestleMania to take back what is rightfully his, the WWF Championship. Now everyone wants to know , “why, Bret, why?” Why did I do what I did at the end of the title match last night? Why did I leave Shawn Michaels a crippled heap in the ring? Well, I’ll tell you why. First off, Shawn Michaels has been ducking and hiding and running for a whole year from me. He has played his political card in the back, he has faked injuries, he has ‘lost his smile,’ remember that nonsense last week? But now there is no avoiding it. Its Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, one on one at WrestleMania for the WWF title. That is what I have wanted for twelve long months and I had to be sure it was going to happen. As for my attack on the ‘Boy Toy’ after the match, that was my way of sending his scrawny, little ass a message. Let me be clear, Shawn Michaels, I don’t like you one bit. You have been handed one thing after another in the time I was not around and you don’t appreciate any of it. You have copied me and my style, stole my ideas and used them, claiming them as your own. I was always a champion for this company that the kids in the crowd and the boys in the back could look up to and be proud of, and Shawn Michaels, you are an arrogant, cocky, prima donna that is none of those things. So, you want to fake an injury and duck me, there you go Shawn, here is a real injury for you to fight through. So, when you limp down the aisle at the Rosemont Horizon, at WrestleMania 13, for the biggest rematch of your life, you had better be ready and you better leave all your lies and excuses at home. Because I am not leaving that building without that title, Shawn, because you know just like everyone here tonight knows, I’m the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be, and on March 23 on the biggest stage in this business, it’s time once again I prove it.”

We then see a backstage shot of Vader and Mankind  walking, heading out toward the ring as J.R. informs us that the main event tag match is up next. After a break, they are introduced, followed by “Stone Cold,” who comes sprinting to the ring causing Vader and Mankind to retreat to the outside, when the lights go down for the entrance of The Undertaker, who appears with new ring attire, as his overcoat has a big hood that comes over the back of his head and covers his face.

Match- Vader and Mankind  vs. Steve Austin and the Undertaker – The lights come up as the Undertaker slowly comes up the ring steps. He bows his head down and when he slowly pulls the hood back, his face, still scarred from the fire attack of Mankind under 24 hours earlier, is covered in some bandages and the ‘phantom’ like mask that he had worn a few years earlier when he had suffered an eye injury. “Oh my gawd, you want to talk intimidating,” voices Jim Ross at first sight of the facial gear on the “Taker. “I would not want to be across the ring form Austin and the Phenom when they are in this foul of a mood,” he adds. Austin stands in the ring to start, begging Vader to come in and lock up. Vader teases the confrontation, but ducks back through the ropes with a smirk, leaving a pre occupied and distracted Austin wide open for a blindside running forearm from Mankind. Dropping Austin with the first shot, he goes on the attack, repeatedly stomping him while on the mat, pushing him into the corner. After a double shot gun salute to know one in particular (Bang, Bang), Mankind sprints from one corner to the other, scoring right on the chin with a vicious running knee. With Austin in dire straits in the corner, Foley then wraps his legs up around the top rope, tying him to the “tree of woe.” Another running start sees Mankind hit a spot on flying elbow, again rocking Austin who is now in serious trouble. (As Mankind continues to work over Austin, Sycho Sid has walked to ringside and joined the threesome of Ross, McMahon, and Lawler. McMahon and Lawler welcome him to the broadcast table, Ross is a bit more questioning of his appearance, asking “What business do you have out here? You kept talking about unfinished business, can you expand on that for us? Sid thanks McMahon and the ‘King’ for their greetings and responds to J.R.’s questioning by saying, “All in due time, Jim Ross, all in due time. The business that I have to take care of will be dealt with when I say it is time (laughs) and for now I am just here to getting a closer look at this great matchup, ok?” Ross mutters “Getting a closer look, please,” before getting back to calling the action in the ring. Worthy of note is that is the last words even said by Sycho Sid as he observes the rest of the matchup.) Following the big elbow, Mankind again stomps the downed ‘Rattlesnake,’ who is forced to the arena floor. In classic Foley form, the hardcore legend comes full speed from the ring apron, dropping another well placed elbow on ‘Stone Cold’ as he lies prone on the concrete. Vader begins stalking around the corner as Mankind recovers and gets back into the ring. The Undertaker slowly begins around the same way, but before he has to cut him off, Vader has some choice words for Sid at the broadcast table and the Sycho takes his head set off and instructs the big man to get back to his corner. After exchanging some heated words, Vader does just that, and the Undertaker assists the battered Austin back into the ring, as he and Sid also exchange glances. Mankind tags in Vader, who is now more than happy to pick the carcass of the winded and beaten Austin. He tosses ‘Stone Cold’ to the ropes twice in a row, leveling him with two brutal chest to chest collisions, mugging and taunting the crowd after the second. He then drags Austin to the corner and climbs the turnbuckle, looking to score with a ‘Vader Bomb.” At the last second, Austin rolls out of the way and Vader misses, leaving both men struggling to get to their partners for a tag. Austin has just about reached, when Vader grabs his ankle to pull him away, but getting a second wind somehow, ‘Stone Cold’ sweeps his leg and mounts him once down, raining rapid fire right hands to his face. “Austin is like a man possessed,” observes, J.R., as he refuses to get off Vader, continuing to punch and kick his new rival until pried off by the official. Vader is trying by any means to get away from Austin as he has now gotten to the outside and has a steel chair, catching Vader before he could get over the guard rail with several loud shots to the back and arm of the ‘Mastodon.’ Back in the ring, the Undertaker could seemingly stand still no longer as he rushes to the other corner and yanks Mankind into the ring by his hair. The Undertaker brutally opens up on his foe backing him to the corner with a flurry of fists, before sending him across to the far buckle with an Irish Whip, following right behind with a clubbing clothesline to drop Mankind to his knees. Foley also now rolls to the floor in retreat and the Undertaker, refusing to let up, stalks him and again goes with an Irish Whip, this time sending him shoulder first to the ring post. Vader has in the meantime climbed into the crowd in attempt to get away for the crazed Austin, who continues lambasting him with the chair. He turns his huge opponent around and directs him back toward the ring with right hands to the skull, flipping him back over the barrier as they return to the ringside area. The Undertaker, following introducing Foley to the ringpost a second time has now cleared the Spanish announce table and is looking to do some serious damage. As he slaps his hand to Mankind’s throat, preparing to chokeslam him through the table, Sid stands up and the ‘Taker takes his eye of the ball, allowing Mankind to score a low blow. Foley then charges the ‘Dead Man,’ but the Undertaker ducks and backdrops him across the other announce table, breaking it and sending Foley into Sycho Sid, knocking him back to the floor as well.  Bodies are now laying everywhere, with the exception of Austin, who is still aggressively pummeling Vader.  As Sid rises, he and The Undertaker stare one another down until Mankind slowly rises at the back of the Sycho. Inexplicably, Sid thrusts his head between his legs and launches him through the already prepped Spanish announce table with a savage powerbomb, before he and Undertaker continuing sizing one another up. Austin, having stomped Vader into the mat to the point of almost being unconscious, now rolls out to the floor and begins digging under the ring apron. He looks to one side and then to a second, finally finding his weapon of choice, the same type wrench that he was hit was the previous night. He returns to the ring, but when he does, Vader has reached into his tights and a engulfs  Austin in a huge white cloud when he reenters, throwing some type of powder into his eyes, leaving him blinded. Undertaker has turned to come back into the ring and help his partner, when Sid yanks a TV Camera from a member of the production crew, spins him around and thumps the ‘Phenom’ in the skull with the equipment, leaving him laying before throwing the camera down and heading back toward the dressing room area. ‘Stone Cold’ swings blindly with rights and lefts, as Vader has now risen from his earlier throttling. Just as he prepares to hit the sightless star, he looks down and sees the wrench. An evil smile comes across his face, and Ross pleads from the broadcast position, “No, don’t do it. He is a living, breathing human being, damn it, no” just as Vader lands a near identical, brutal blow with the wrench, again busting Austin open on impact. Foley has somehow risen from the two trips he took through the tables, and has crawled back to the ring, just as his partner landed the sickening wrench shot. The barely conscious Mankind drapes his arm across the still motionless Undertaker, and for the second time in two weeks, records a three count and scores a huge pinfall victory for his team.  Raw goes off the air with a shot of the bloodied Austin and the unconscious Undertaker lying on their backs in the ring.

Monday Night Raw- February 24, 1997- Manhattan Center- NY, NY

(In addition to the building of storylines toward WrestleMania 13, this edition of Raw is notable for the appearance of ECW stars, as they had been invited to the program by Jerry “The King” Lawler the week before in the ongoing feud on their promotion’s TV between them and Lawler)

Following the intro video and music, Raw begins in the ring with a tag match that sees The New Blackjacks, Windham and Bradshaw, defeat the Godwinns after a big Bradshaw lariat on Phinneas. After Lawler again cuts a heel promo on ECW from the broadcast spot, the first ECW match of the night follows as Stevie Richards (with the Blue Meanie and Nova) defeats Little Guido. Paul Heyman joins the “King” and Jim Ross for commentary. We see graphic next stating that we will hear from WWF Champion, Shawn Michaels via satellite later tonight right before the commercial.

After the commercial we see “Stone Cold”  on a rampage with a steel chair in hand. He is in the backstage area and walks past the Headbangers, brutally attacking both men. He follows on down the hall past Savio Vega and Crush, asking them if they have seen Vader, when they ignore his question and just shrug and walk by he viciously  assaults them as well. The show then heads back to the ring for a second ECW bout, as Taz (with Bill Alphonso) dominates and forces Mikey Whipwreck to tap out to the Taz-mission. As they left the ringside area, Sabu leapt of the huge letter “R” in the word Raw that is part of the entrance ramp, wiping out Taz in an attempt to get at Alphonso. During this match we see a split screen where the Undertaker (still with the mask on) cuts a promo about the recent attacks both by and against him, addressing Mankind, Sid and announces his opponent for tonight.

Undertaker: “The day of reckoning is near, my creatures. Mankind, Sycho Sid, you both continue to feel the need to get involved in my business. You both continue to disrespect the legacy and the legend of The Undertaker. So, you have left me with no choice but to throw down a grave challenge that will result in the Undertaker owning both of your blackened souls. You have left me no choice but to return to my dark and evil roots. I am throwing down the gauntlet and throwing it down before both of you. My proposition is simple, it is Mankind versus Sycho Sid versus the Undertaker on the grandest stage of them all here in the WWF, WrestleMania 13. In order for me to finish off both of you and take from you both of your evil souls I also request that like last week’s tag match that this be an unsanctioned, no disqualification match. So, Mankind and Sid accept my challenge and be taught the respect that you have failed to show me. Tonight, I begin to show everyone here how I deserve to be treated and I start with my opponent tonight, another man who must be cleansed of his recent sins and lack of respect, Vader. Once he is dealt with and is laid to rest, come WrestleMania 13 it will be time for both of you to rest, in (eyes roll back) peace.”

After a commercial, we go back to the ring as Hunter Hearst Helmsley and the mysterious female bodyguard, now known as Chyna, are introduced. Bret Hart’s music hits after and the bell sounds to begin this matchup. The announcers tell us that immediately following this match we will talk with Shawn Michaels from his home in San Antonio

Match- Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley  (with Chyna) –The match begins with the two locking up and Hart scoring with a pair of armdrags. Helmsley takes to the corner to regroup and charges Hart, who side steps him with a drop toe hold, charging again after hopping back up, Helmsley again walks into a pair of arm drags with Bret sitting on an arm bar following the second until his opponent reaches the ropes for a break. Helmsley rolls to the outside for another breather and Chyna jumps to the apron and challenges Hart. Taking a minute to argue with the huge woman, Hart leaves himself open to a chop block from behind. Helmsley follows up with two well-placed knee drops and a two count. He picks Bret up and slings him off the ropes, catching him with a high “Harley Race” style running knee to the face. He slides around the back of the “Hitman” and rides a rear chin lock, pulling the ropes with one arm for leverage as Chyna distracts the official. Once his attention is back on the match, the referee breaks the hold, and Hunter whips Bret face first into the corner turnbuckle, again scoring a near fall after Bret falls back from the impact. Chyna again gets in the face of the official, tossing a small chain into the ring to her man, as she provides a distraction. Goldust and Marlena again come from the crowd and add to the confusion, arguing with Chyna as the referee’s back is still turned. Hunter, with the chain wrapped around his hand, turns his attention to yell at Goldust and his manager, allowing Bret to recover and catch him with an inverted atomic drop after he swings wildly and misses with his illegally wrapped right hand. The chain falls to the mat, but Helmsley bounces right back from the atomic drop, catching Bret with a boot to the gut, doubling him over. Hunter goes for the pedigree, but Bret backdrops him as the mayhem at ringside ensues. Bret retrieves the chain that he know has spotted and lays out Helmsley, tossing it to the side and twisting him into the sharp shooter as the referee returns, and checks the arm, dropping it three times and awarding the bout to the “Hitman.” Goldust and Marlena scoot back into the audience, and Chyna angrily challenges Bret as she tends to Hunter, walking him back to the dressing room. Bret remains in the ring, awaiting the live conference call with his WrestleMania opponent, HBK. The announce team hypes the Michaels conversation and after a brief commercial, Shawn appears on the TitanTron, sitting in a wheelchair. Vince McMahon addresses him first from the commentary spot.

McMahon: “Ok, Shawn Michaels, it’s great to see you, but it is concerning to see you in a wheelchair. We want know, the world needs to know, what is the extent of your injuries, and will you be ok to defend your WWF Championship against Bret “the Hitman” Hart at WrestleMania 13 in Chicago.” (Bret still in the ring interrupts)

Bret: “Will he be available? Wait, just a minute McMahon. I can answer that, he will be there, he cannot duck me any longer. I will not allow this to happen again, Shawn Michaels has ducked and hid from me for…” (Michaels now interrupts Bret)

Michaels: “Enough, I have heard enough from you, Hitman. I have had it with you running my name down, I have had it with this attitude you have that since your family is synonymous with this business that you are entitled to the WWF Championship. I have had it with you saying I am avoiding you and stealing your stuff. I haven’t stole anything and what it boils down to is that you are jealous, Bret. You are jealous of me and what I have become. Everything was just fine when you were on top of the mountain and I was second fiddle, but now that I have taken your spot, you can’t handle it. You can’t coexist. Well, get used to it, Hitman, because the “Heartbreak Kid” ain’t going nowhere. I have been told that it is very risky for me to participate at WrestleMania, that I could jeopardize my future in this sport I love, but I wouldn’t miss the chance to beat you, again, and shut your big, whiny mouth once and for all. You are on at WrestleMania, and just like last year, when the dust settles, the hand raised in the air will be mine.”

Bret: “Is that so, Shawn, it that how it is? Well, the truth is you have avoided me and you have stolen my ideas and my style. The whole “fightingest” champion shtick, that was me, Shawn, and what about the ladder match, Shawn, you are the “King of the Ladder Match,” are you, well, who brought that idea to you and the World Wrestling Federation five years ago, Shawn? Oh yeah, it was me. I’m happy to hear that you will be there at WrestleMania, get that leg healed up real good, because I  have had it too. I’ve had it with your excuses and when we go head to head finally I want you at your best, I…” (Shawn again cuts him off)

Michaels: “At my best? I am always at my best, Bret, and one way or another, you can mark my words,, the playing field at WrestleMania will be even. That I can guarantee you. So, you had better bring your best, Hitman, and when it is all said and done, I better not hear any more of your bellyaching and crying, because you will know that you have been defeated and it will be by the better man, the “Heartbreak Kid,” Shawn Michaels.” (Michaels music hits as camera shots alternate between him and Hart as the show goes to commercial. When it returns, we again see Austin in the back, still on a rampage, as he attacks both Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon with the chair, before he turns the corner and walks into WWF President Gorilla Monsoon who cuts him off and speaks.)

Monsoon: “Um, Steve, what do you think you are doing, around here. You are a complete maniac, you are totally out of control. How many times am I gonna remind you about the rules and regulations here in the WWF? I have had it.” (Austin intervenes)

Austin: “Your damn right I’m out of control, I have had my head split open by a damn wrench twice this week. I don’t give a crap about your rules. I am gonna wear that big bastard’s blood on these hands and that’s all I got to say about that.”

Monsoon: “Well, you better start giving a crap. I don’t agree with Vader’s actions, they have been cowardly and disgusting. I am looking into that situation, and next week on Raw, I have a huge announcement regarding that and regarding giving you the opportunity that you are looking for to get at Vader. There is just one piece of my plan that I have not quite figured out yet, but by next Monday, I am sure you will be pleased. That being said, you running around here all night attacking random superstars has created a dangerous work environment and I have no choice but to ask you to leave the building for the remainder of the show. You need to learn to follow the rules, Steve, I am sorry, but we will see you next week.” (Police and security escort Austin toward the door leading outside)

The final ECW match of the night is next, as Tommy Dreamer (with Beulah) defeats D-Von Dudley (with Buh-Buh Ray). Lawler and Heyman get into at the end of the bout, and the ECW boss is restrained by several of the company’s stars, including The Sandman, the Eliminators, and Taz. During this bout we see a split screen, where Mankind (with Paul Bearer) responds to the Undertaker’s challenge from earlier.

Mankind: “Dead Man, you want my soul? You want to return to your evil self and face me and Sycho Sid in an unsanctioned match at WrestleMania? I say that sure sounds like fun to me (smiles widely). I’d say that sound like a heck of a good time to me. Unsanctioned and no disqualification is like going home for me, Dead Man, and at WrestleMania 13, it will be a lot of fun to go home. Uncle Paul (looking to Bearer), I’m coming home, I’m coming home.”

Following the commercial, we go back to the ring for the main event. Vader is introduced first and he and Paul Bearer head toward the ring. Along the way to ringside, Vader gets into an argument with a fan in the front row, who upon closer look is UFC legend, Ken Shamrock. Vader taunts Shamrock, who points toward the ring and instructs Vader to get out of his face. The Undertaker’s music hits next and true to his promise earlier he has returned to an older entrance of his, as he is carried to the ring by his “druids,” much to the delight of the live crowd.

Match- Undertaker vs. Vader (w/Paul Bearer)- After the awesome entrance of “The Phenom,” He raises his arms, the lights come back up and Vader goes on the attack. The Dead Man is ready for him though, blocking the big shots thrown by Vader and taking an early advantage with some rights and lefts of his own. Seeming to be on a mission of sorts, the Undertaker runs through much of his trademark offense, following  an Irish Whip to the corner with a big clothesline, shocking the crowd by hitting a big sidewalk slam, and then dropping three consecutive elbows on Vader to score a quick two count. The Undertaker was distracted momentarily as Sycho Sid walked out to the announcer’s table, just as he had the week prior. Not losing focus though, he continues to pour it on against Vader, hitting a big boot to the face that sends the 450 pounder again to the mat. Upon his arrival to the table, Sid notes that he accepts the Undertaker’s challenge, making the three way no disqualification bout official for WrestleMania.  Meanwhile, Undertaker tosses Vader to the floor and follows up with a great show of agility for a big man, leaping over the top rope following a running start and scoring with a big clothesline on the floor. The impact of the blow sends Vader into the barrier, as the fans in attendance directly in front of him get all over his case. The Undertaker at this point turns his attention to Sid, walking to the announce table looking for an answer to his challenge for WrestleMania. The two trade words and Sid actually takes a wild swing, missing the ‘Taker, who grabs the Sycho by the back of the head and bounces his face off the table in front of him. At the same time, Vader has begun rising and jawing back with the fans, actually grabbing one by the shirt, before a right hand comes over the top of the hapless fan and rocks him. The place explodes, as it is Shamrock sticking up for the fan. Security steps in, but not before Vader responds with a cheap pie face as Shamrock was being restrained, leaving the mixed martial artist steaming mad as he sat back down. Vader begins to return to the ring, as he and Bearer talk with the official, leaving the referees back to the side of the ring in which the Undertaker is climbing back into. As he steps back on to the apron, the Undertaker senses Sid sneaking behind him with a chair, and turns with a huge right foot to his face, flooring his soon to be WrestleMania opponent as the chair smashed off his face and knocked him to the floor. The referee jumps to the floor and demands Sid be removed from ringside, when amidst the commotion, Vader has rolled to the outside and retrieved his trusty wrench from under the ring, unbeknownst to the ‘Taker. He holds it in the air for all to see as he pulls it out, but the crowd pops wildly again, as Shamrock reaches over and tries to rest the tool from Vader. The two struggle briefly, but Vader eventually wins out, returning to the ring just as the Undertaker, still looking at the official and Sid, slowly climbs through the ropes. At this same time, one of the Undertaker’s “druids” that was seated at ringside, stands and folds his chair up, sneaking quickly in behind Vader. He taps the big man on the shoulder and crushes the skull of Vader with a violent chair shot to the face, leaving the “Mastodon” a bloody mess on the canvass. The druid flips his hood down and it is “Stone Cold,” as the arena comes completely unglued.  On instinct, Vader slowly gets to his feet, where he is met by his opponent and in an impressive showing of strength, is scooped up and dropped headfirst with a tombstone, for the one, two, three. Chaos has ensued all over the arena, as Sid is still being forced back to the dressing room and Austin, upon leaving after the chair shot was offered a congratulatory hand shake from Shamrock. Austin refused the offer and the two traded heated words and then they too had to be separated by officials as Raw goes off the air after swapping camera shots between these two situations, the blood soaked Vader being tended to by his manager, and finally the Undertaker, on one knee, raising his hand and flipping his hair back in celebration.

(This is the end of Part One of the story, it will be continued, heading into March and continuing on the “Road to WrestleMania 13” with Part Two beginning the following week as Monday Night Raw heads overseas and emanates from Berlin, Germany)

Written by

Guilty of creating Rewriting The Book and The Greatest Night In The History Of Our Sport, and publishing them somewhat infrequently. Father of three, husband, avid gamer, lover of 90's MTV animation. Available for podcasts and children's birthdays at
7 Responses to "Rewriting the Book: What if … Shawn Michaels Never Lost His Smile?"
  1. SilentStranger says:

    I have to say, Im impressed, C.G really did a great job with this story, especially the interview segments, I like how he mimicked the wrestlers styles correctly.

  2. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    C.G., I have to say, you’ve done a damn fine job with this article, and I look forward to reading the rest of this story.

  3. Overlord-G says:

    This was a great read and you captured every Superstars’ mannerisms quite well. Perhaps I could simulate your scripts in WWE 13’s Universe Mode.
    Looking forward to the next part.

    • C.G. Scum says:

      Thanks. I tried to lay a good foundation in that first part. I like to think it continues to capture their mannerisms and get even more interesting as it continues to play out…but I guess the readers will have to decide that as the story moves along.

  4. simongr81 says:

    Reading part IV now. A true treat 🙂 !

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