Stun the World (Wrestling Federation): The Move That Ignited A Great Rivalry

Brian Damage

There is no question, that one of…if not the greatest rivalries of the WWF’s ‘Attitude Era’ was between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon. It was the feud that set the tone for years to come that had a wrestler battle the corporate structure. The lines between good and evil were blurred and it became a battle of doing things the one way as opposed to doing it whatever way I want it to go. This rivalry all started with one maneuver and the rest became must see TV.

Stone Cold Steve Austin was rapidly becoming the most popular anti hero in the WWF. A man who was like no other “superstar” the company has ever had. For years and years, the top face of the WWF played within the rules of the company. Guys like Hulk Hogan preached to kids to train, say your prayers and eat your vitamins. Other guys like Bret Hart were of the white meat babyface mold as well. Then here comes Austin, who curses, drinks beer and attacks faces and heels at will. The majority of WWF fans loved his style and his rebellious ways. It was in many ways, a culture shock from the way the promotion was with wrestlers who apparently had day jobs as garbage men, hockey players, plumbers and clowns. Austin 3:16 was more than a catchy phrase for merchandise sales…but an actual movement within the structure of the very sugary way the World Wrestling Federation had operated.

On the night of September 22, 1997…at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City…the WWF held an episode of Monday Night Raw. Stone Cold Steve Austin was continuing his unabashedly ways of causing havoc much to the chagrin of play by play announcer Vince McMahon. While McMahon was still portraying himself as just a regular employee of the company…most fans were “hip” to Vince being much more than that. Many knew that it was Vince who was the real owner of the WWF despite McMahon playing it off as just an announcer and interviewer.

That night at the Garden, it just felt like something big was going to happen. At the time, Madison Square Garden was the place where big moments usually happened for the company. This night was no different. Austin was running roughshod and getting into confrontations with the police and Vince the announcer went to the ring to call out Steve Austin and begin his own transition from WWF employee to WWF owner.

Vince and Austin were one on one in the ring for an interview. The crowd was already electric and red hot that evening. I was personally in attendance for this show and it was indeed a lively crowd. Vince McMahon began in subtle ways scolding Austin for all of his actions in and out of the ring. McMahon tried reasoning with Austin to “work within the system” as a WWF superstar. The more McMahon tried to reason with the Texas Rattlesnake…the more Austin became agitated. The MSG crowd started to scream and shout towards the ring for Austin to attack the usually sugary sweet Vince.

When it looked like Vince had calmed down Stone Cold….Austin kicked McMahon in the stomach and delivered his trademark Stone Cold Stunner. The crowd at MSG absolutely exploded in cheers as they finally saw they world’s worst wrestling announcer get his just due. It was more than that for the more educated fans at the time as they saw Austin stun the boss. Austin then dropped to the mat and started to talk smack to a wide eyed Vince who just laid there.

The New York City police then handcuffed Austin as the crowd continued to go wild. Austin didn’t stop cursing and screaming at the cameraman as he was escorted up the ramp to the back. That one incident set the stage for the great feud that was to come between the two. Vince McMahon would become Mr. McMahon and saw things like Austin pretend to shoot McMahon causing Vince to urinate on himself, moments with Austin destroying Vince’s personal property, beer baths and of course plenty more stunners.

3 thoughts on “Stun the World (Wrestling Federation): The Move That Ignited A Great Rivalry

  1. And if you look at that singular stunner in a broad sense, it may have hurt Vinnie Mac but it also signaled the end of wcw.
    We all talked about Scott Hall and his shocking nitro appearance as a big and memorable event which it was but so was this one and the image of Austin double birding while handcuffed.

    And at least the first stunner went off better than what is probably the last stunner for Vince

    Liked by 1 person

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