Stone Cold Steve Austin has always been one of those wrestlers that puzzled me. I didn't ever think of him as being an entertaining wrestler to watch. Other wrestlers have flashier moves and more high flying action in their matches. His popularity obviously stems from his behavior, from what he does in the ring to what he says. And he came at a time when people were starting to hate Vince McMahon. So it was just obvious what had to be done. The situation was different from what was happening in WCW. Instead of having two groups face off with one being anti authority, you have one man try to take on the whole system. It really appeals to anyone that might have felt like the system was holding them down. Be it the government or work or the people around them. Flipping the finger and drinking beer. This is what most people think of when they think of wrestling. Not Stone Cold but the kind of person that would watch wrestling. We discussed many times how wrestling shows are an outlet of emotion. Anger and aggression. And while people had been doing that for a while, Stone Cold seemed to be one of those wrestlers who did that for us in the ring. Taking down the smiling good guys and beating down the boss. It seemed to start a whole series of story lines where one wrestler would try to face seemingly insurmountable odds. You had the Rock against the McMahon Helmsley Faction or DX against Vince McMahon again. I believe that people in the audience could connect with Austin and see him as the kind of person they would be if they could let go. And if they were big and strong.
The match of Stone Cold vs Dude Love was a good example of how Stone Cold was that hero who over came the odds to triumph. The match with the special referee is always a unique one to watch because the question of who's side the referee is on comes up sometimes as well. But in this case it was clear that McMahon was out to get Austin. And it creates this sense of desperation in the audience I think. When watching a match like this, I don't wonder who will win, but my thinking is more along the lines of how can Austin prevail. It seems like so many factors have to be taken into account. The referee, the cronies on the outside and then there is the fact that Dude Love is no pushover and not a stranger to punishment. So how can one possibly hope to win? Well the way the match ended reminded me of the discussion we had lately about brawn over cunning. After destroying everyone in and around the ring, Austin took McMahon's own words and outsmarted the owner by taking his hand and giving himself the win. Therefore, Austin was one of those cases that showed a shift toward appreciating smarts in the face and despising the overwhelming brawn the heel had to work with.
The best thing about this matches is that no matter the ending they go with, it is always going to make the crowd go wild. If Austin beats down everyone and gets the win, the place goes wild and people cheer for their win. If Austin was beat down and lost, the people would have been angry and booed. Both situations would bring people back the next night to Raw to see what would happen. How angry would McMahon be at having lost his chance to screw Austin? How would Austin get back at McMahon for screwing him over? It made for great TV and it is something I wish I could have witnessed.
The match itself was pretty well done. The two cronies on the outside were not as much of a factor as I thought they would be. And the focus did not seem to be on Dude Love which made me feel like there was no way he could win. Austin was the focus and how he would deal with McMahon being the referee was the question on everyone's mind. The match itself did not cause many eruptions from the crowd it seemed except for when the Stunner came and when McMahon was knocked out. As a wrestler I don't think Austin is that much of a crowd pleaser. He has his own move set but the only one that really has the crowd erupt is the Stone Cold Stunner. He has to do things like hit people with chairs or flip them off or win to have the crowd pop. For me, this match is a better example of a match with the purpose of telling a story and not being a competition between athletes. The biggest proof of this is the fact that it doesn't seem to push Dude Love any higher in terms of competitor status. It just serves to further the hatred McMahon has for Austin and for the crowd to cheer some more.