On April 1st, 2001 at Wrestlemania X-Seven, Stone Cold Steve Austin shocked the wrestling world when he turned heel during his match with the Rock. After the match, we saw the unthinkable, when once bitter rivals in Austin and Mr. McMahon shake hands to close out the show. It was suppose to be a shocking, earth shattering heel turn. One that would top any and all great heel turns. If Hulk Hogan turning heel and forming the New World Order skyrocketed World Championship Wrestling to new and greater heights that the company has never seen…imagine what a Stone Cold heel turn could do?
That was the belief by WWE creative. It sounds like an epic moment on paper…but that’s not exactly how fans took it. You see, the difference between Austin and Hogan’s heel turns was the simple fact that the Hulkamania gimmick was old, worn and tired by the mid 1990’s. Most fans wanted to see a different and darker side to Hulk Hogan. Steve Austin on the other hand was still a huge star that fans gravitated to. Maybe, Austin wasn’t as popular as he was initially, but was still a bonafide mega star. The majority of fans weren’t ready to see a full out heel Austin. At most, he was a “tweener” he broke the rules, but did so against the company’s top villains.
So fast forward to the Monday night Raw after Wrestlemania. The WWE wanted to ensure that Austin would be accepted as the new top heel of the company. What better way to do it, but by putting him with another top heel in Triple H. The union between Stone Cold and the Game made sense on two levels. It would help establish Austin as a heel and also help elevate Triple H. You see, while Triple H was being pushed as a top heel, fans really gave him somewhat of a lukewarm reception. The pairing with one of the company’s biggest stars, would certainly help HHH too. This new team as it were, was nicknamed, ‘The Two Man Power Trip.’
The Two Man Power Trip only consisted of Triple H and Austin, but they did have the backing of Vince and Stephanie McMahon. Together, they ruled the WWE landscape by teaming together and interfering in each other’s singles matches. Stone Cold was the WWE champion and soon, Triple H would defeat Chris Jericho to become Intercontinental champion. Then at the next pay per view Backlash… The Two Man Power Trip defeated the Brothers of Destruction in Kane and the Undertaker to become WWE tag team champions. Together, the Two Man Power Trip held all of WWE’s major titles at once.
There was definitely an effort by WWE management to make the Two Man Power Trip the most powerful, heel team of all time. While it was working on some levels with elevating Triple H more and more and also started to bring credibility to Austin’s heel run…the angle only lasted for a little over a month. It wasn’t a case of creative decided to change directions with the characters or lack of enthusiasm from fans. It all ended due to Triple H suffering a very serious quad tear. It was an injury that nearly ended the career of Triple H.
With Triple H out on the shelf for a long, extended period of time…WWE could do nothing else, but split the team up. It was explained that Austin blamed Triple H for getting hurt and losing the tag team titles to Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. Austin would continue to play the heel, but would receive more cheers than boos. The WCW invasion angle would be put in its place. Triple H would be sidelined for over 8 months of action. Who knows what could have been if Triple H didn’t get hurt. Did they rush the invasion angle because they needed a top tier storyline? We may never know the what ifs.