I was a junior in High School when Wrestlemania 14 invaded the Fleet Center in Boston. I marked out like a schoolgirl at a Justin Bieber concert when it as announced a year earlier during the Wrestlemania 13 broadcast. Fast forward one year later, and I’m wondering how I’m going to skip school without my parents finding out to see the WrestleMania Public Workout at City Hall Plaza.
It was a well-timed endeavor that required me to leave my house and walk all the way around my neighborhood and double back to hideout at a friend’s house, who was also skipping school. My father is one of those folks who loves to look out the window and take in the sights. The only way to avoid him was to stand on the back porch banister and jump over a large un-climbable fence. I flew over the fence with the grace of a bear and hit the ground running on my way to the train station.
I arrived at City Hall Plaza three hours early, and there must have been 5,000 people already there. In-ring action saw Taka Michinoku pin Scott Taylor to retain Light Heavyweight title and the Headbangers defeated Los Boricuas to retain the NWA Tag Team Titles. The show ended with an in-ring confrontation between Steve Austin and DX, with Mike Tyson, in which Austin was jumped by Los Boricuas and tied in the ring ropes, allowing Tyson, HBK, and HHH to kiss Austin’s head.
Shawn Michaels received no love from the Boston faithful as some fan nailed him in the head with a battery. He left the ring in a heated frenzy, and HHH was left to pick up the pieces with a confused Mike Tyson. Shawn and Vince McMahon got into a heated argument in the entranceway and Vince had the angriest look I have ever seen on a human being as he yelled and pointed at the ring. Of course, HBK listened to the boss and went back to the ring.
Later that evening, my father summoned me to the living room. I had no idea what was coming as he calmly asked me to sit down and watch something he had recorded. He popped a tape into the VCR and I was treated to the six o’clock news courtesy of WCBV Channel 5 Boston. News anchor Natalie Jacobs provided a lovely voice-over saying, “You are watching a truant officer’s worst nightmare” as the camera panned by yours truly flipping the bird and yelling obscenities while proudly wearing my Austin 3:16 shirt.
My jaw hit the floor in sheer terror as he rewound the tape and asked me if I recognized the individual on the screen. I couldn’t believe it. He asked me what I was thinking, but my mouth could not produce an answer. He told me I was grounded for a week, and I could forget about Wrestlemania.
Around 2:00 pm on Wrestlemania Sunday, a sudden rush of courage came out of nowhere, and I knew I was catching that 2:49 pm train into Boston. As I left the house, my Mom asked me where I was going. I didn’t say anything, I just looked at her. She knew where I was going and gave me her blessing with a simple smile.
My friends and I arrived in Boston and the front door of the Fleetcenter was turned in a mini block party courtesy of the W.W.F. Every local radio station was giving out free food and swag. We bought stolen Wrestlemania t-shirts from some guy in an alley. I also bumped into Vlad the superfan that can be spotted in the front row of every W.W.F. pay-per-view in the ’80s to ’90s. I wanted to ask him how he always got such good seats but I was too scared to ask.
We secured our last row balcony seats and get ready for the grand-daddy of them all. The show opens with the worst rendition of the national anthem ever sang courtesy of Chris Warren’s D-Generation X band. I believe it was dubbed the “new wave alternative version.” They were booed out of the building, and if you heard it, you would have booed them too. Jim Ross tried to cover it up on commentary by saying, “That is what the W.W.F. is all about. The freedom of expression.”
The opening match was a Tag Team Battle Royal to determine the #1 contenders for the tag titles. Animal & Hawk won by eliminating The New Midnight Express (Bombastic Bob Holly & Bodacious Bart Gunn). They came in with a new look calling themselves L.O.D. 2000 and a new manager in Sunny. L.O.D. got a big pop when their music hit because they were in the midst of a break up the last time they were seen on T.V. There were a lot of makeshift teams, and the one that got the biggest reaction was Flash Funk & Steve Blackman. Taka Michinoku pinned Aguila with the Michinoku Driver to retain the Light Heavyweight title. Both wrestlers worked hard but their match equated to a firework show.
Triple H pinned Owen Hart to retain the European Championship after a low blow from Chyna. The main attraction of this match was whether or not Chyna could interfere in the match since she was handcuffed to Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter. Chyna threw powder in Slaughter’s face during the closing moments of the match, giving her the opening to cost Hart the match.
Marc Mero & Sable defeated Goldust & Luna Vachon in a mixed tag team match. Sable was unquestionably the star of this match as her Powerbomb on Luna got one of the biggest pops of the night. Ken Shamrock defeated the Rock via ankle lock submission to win the Intercontinental Championship…but the decision was reversed when Shamrock wouldn’t let go of the ankle lock and belly to belly suplexed the officials who tried to make him release the hold. At the time, I was extremely disappointed about this because I was a big Shamrock fan.
The best match of the night was the Dumpster Match, where Cactus Jack & Terry Funk defeated the New Age Outlaws to win the tag team titles. The finish came when Funk used a forklift to drop the champions in a dumpster backstage. The titles were declared vacant the next night on Raw since it was determined the Outlaws were dumped in the wrong dumpster…lol, you got to love this business.
The Undertaker and Kane wrestled each other for the very first time. Before the match, Pete Rose came out and called Boston the city of losers and made references to the 1986 World Series. Kane came out and hit Rose with the Tombstone for his trouble.
Undertaker won the match after hitting Kane with three tombstone piledrivers. Afterward, Kane recovered and tombstoned the Undertaker onto a steel chair. This was the match I was most excited about, and it didn’t deliver. It was slow-paced, and the fans were chanting “Holyfield, Holyfield” throughout the match
The main event featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels w/ Mike Tyson as the special guest enforcer was a great match, but it is known more for its historical significance. Austin winning the WWF Title in this setting solidified him as the biggest superstar in the industry.
Everything was executed to perfection. The finish came when Austin caught the superkick, and hit the Stunner. Tyson revealed he was wearing an Austin 3:16 shirt underneath his DX attire, and K.O.’d Michaels for his trouble. Watching this at the time felt like you were a part of something special. It is one of the most important WrestleMania moments of all time because it ushered in the Attitude Era.
My friends and I were on cloud nine as we walked down to the commuter rail platform, only to discover the 11:49 pm train was going to be delayed until 2:00 am. Great, I already was going to catch an ass whooping from my Dad, and now I won’t be home until almost 3:00 am. I should have called my folks to let them know, but I was too scared.
Outside it was pandemonium. Yelling, screaming, and people getting arrested were the sights of the evening. Fans jumped on the hood of any wrestler’s car that left through the front gate of the arena. A white limo pulled up to the gate, and security doubled in an instant.
The limo took a right-hand turn out of the gate and stopped in the middle of the street. A muscular bald guy in jeans and a black t-shirt emerged from the sunroof. He was looking in the opposite direction so no one could see his face. Fans rushed to see if it was him. I snuck by the police and made it to the limo. He turned to look at me and it was him! Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Like the biggest mark, I yelled: “IT’S HIM, IT’S REALLY HIM.” The police blockade became a wall of jello as fans ran towards the limo. Austin started slapping hands with everyone as the police pulled people off the limo. I hung on to the limo with my knees on the bumper and hands gripped tightly to the boomerang-shaped T.V. antenna until one of Boston’s finest knocked me down with a forearm shiver to the jaw.
Definitely not my proudest moment.
I got home a little before 3:00 am, and lucky for me, my Dad was asleep. It felt like I had only slept for two minutes, and it was already time to get ready for school. I told my Mom about the train delay and asked her if I could stay home, and of course, she said no.
I came home after going through school like a zombie, expecting my father’s wrath. He was at work, and I asked my Mom if he had said anything. She replied, “He didn’t say anything. Nothing at all”. I said, “How could that be?” and she said, “He should have known better than to think he could prevent you from going to WrestleMania of all things…You’re still grounded, though.”