Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Legacy of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - Disc #3

1. Steve Austin vs. The Rock - No Holds Barred Match - (Backlash '99) - 5
2. Steve Austin vs. Eddie Guerrero - (Smackdown! '00) - 4
3. Steve Austin vs. Triple H - No DQ Match - (Survivor Series '00) - 6
4. Steve Austin vs. Triple H - Three Stages of Hell - (No Way Out '01) - 7
5. Steve Austin vs. Rock - No DQ Match - (Wrestlemania X-7) - 7

Austin and Rock brawl in a wild, meandering bout that was somewhat fun but ultimately fluff. It was reminiscent of the same match a young child would have with his Rock and Austin action figures, as they brawled up and down the aisle, on and through tables, knocking down parts of the set, etc. Rock even takes a camera from a nearby cameraman and ends up taking a “Stone Cold Stunner” on a table while filming his own demise—very Blair Witch Project-esque minus the creepiness. Austin versus Eddy is a short, but a decent TV bout, as Guerrero is eating up the opportunity getting a spotlight match and is really aping and enthusiastically selling Austin’s stuff. The next match Austin himself said was affected by his less than stellar performance, and many Internet writers like dropping their pants on shitting all over it, but I actually enjoyed most of it as a slow, methodical fight, with the pace lending it more of a sense of believability than the incredibly over-the-top Rock match earlier on this disc. Granted, the ending sucked fierce, featuring them out in a parking lot where Austin used a crane to pick up a car Triple H was in and dropped it violently upside down, was even laughable by Michael Bay standards. Also, there was a brawl in the backstage area that was heavily edited, as they removed all footage of Chris Benoit—this pissed me off and made me want to stomp a mudhole in whoever made that decision.

The next match was the epic Three Stages of Hell. I remember when it originally took place, during my crazier younger days, friend Steve and I tried to watch it in his basement as a friend taped it from pay-per-view but it just seemed painfully long and dull and a giant insult and from two egoists. My opinions have changed dramatically; as now, I thought this was quite good, with the emotion, physicality, selling, intensity, and everything through the roof. The first fall, a regular match, goes to Austin with the “Stone Cold Stunner” after twelve minutes of solid work. The second fall is anything goes, and it does, as Triple H scored the win after hitting Austin with a sledgehammer and his patented “Pedigree.” Finally, we have a cage match, which was a jarring and pleasantly violent conclusion to this blockbuster. They use weapons to bludgeon, reverse and kick out of each other’s big moves, and it all ends when Austin swings a barbed wire board as Hunter swings a sledgehammer and Triple H lands luckily on top of Austin as they both fall to the mat.

The final match on the set is one of three WrestleMania main events Rock and Austin had against each other. The crowd is just molten hot here, and while I wasn’t a fan of their other match on this set, they really bring their top shelf stuff here and you really get the impression you’re watching something special. Another cool thing is that both guys are bleeding here, which really ups the drama, as usually you don’t see a lot of blood in the WWE and whenever you do it’s just one guy not both competitors. It shows to what lengths these icons will go to in attempt to win at the grandest showcase of them all. The ending hurts the match, as Vince McMahon comes to the ring and interjects himself, really killing the build, as they use the no disqualification stipulation to their advantage mercilessly pounding Rock with a chair until he’s done. Austin comments on the DVD that if he could have, knowing Rock was leaving shortly for Hollywood and that his own career was quickly drawing to an end, he’d have called an audible and beat McMahon’s ass as he know that the Texas crowd and wrestling fans in general didn’t want to hate him as a bad guy. In retrospect, it probably was a pretty bad decision, but this match is still one of few that for me captured the excitement of the WrestleMania matches from my childhood.

All in all, I enjoyed this set, and would go ahead and recommend it. I liked the first disc, especially the WCW stuff and amazing Bret match, hated the ECW stuff, also the third disc had some really fantastic stuff on it, too. The second disc, from the “Attitude” era, wasn’t my favorite (the Kane matches were plain awful) but fans of that period in wrestling history will likely get a kick out of it if they don’t already have all of the material already. I think they should have done a five-disc set, and not spread things so thin, but for what it’s worth this is a decent look at one of our era’s biggest superstars.

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