“TYSON AND AUSTIN!” Remembering Iron Mike’s First Big Wrestling Angle

Our man recalls the night Mike Tyson and Stone Cold kicked the Attitude Era into high gear.

Photo: WWE

As we all know, Mike Tyson is back in the news of the wrestling world this week after his altercation with Chris Jericho on this past week’s episode of Dynamite. And as we all know, this isn’t the first time Mike Tyson stepped foot into the world of pro wrestling.

So for this week’s Retro Review, I decided to look back on Monday Night RAW from January 19, 1998: The night of the infamous Mike Tyson and Stone Cold Steve Austin confrontation.

24 hours before this show was the Royal Rumble. On the previous week on RAW, Kane came out to help his brother fight off D-Generation X. But then at the Rumble, Kane turned on his brother and set the casket on fire.

We get the Undertaker’s theme to start after the RAW intro. But Paul Bearer comes out instead to major heat. The crowd chants “you suck” at Bearer and he responds with “If I do, I must be good at it.” Ummm, okay Paul. Don’t really think that line was needed.

Bearer chastises the crowd and says that he had all of them fooled. I can confidently say that as a kid, even I was not fooled by what happened last week. I knew Kane would eventually turn on Undertaker. We all did.

Bearer gives a play-by-play of the actions of him and Kane last night. I remember being confused as to why they used the ax on the casket at the time. I know now it was to help the fire breathe.

I understand this is to extend the storyline, but Bearer is going a little too long here. And just as I type that, Undertaker’s music hits and four druids bring out the casket from the Royal Rumble. In the years ahead, they would do a much better job with the druids. These guys look like four guys paid off the street.

When the casket gets to the ring, pyro goes off in the corners and Kane comes out of the casket. Bearer presents him as the last surviving member of the Undertaker family. The segment went two or three minutes too long. Really didn’t need Paul Bearer giving a full play-by-play on what happened the previous night.

D-X is interviewed in their locker room. Triple H says he proved Owen Hart was a loser and maybe he should head down south too. If you remember, Owen Hart attacked Shawn Michaels at the In Your House: D Generation X PPV and was suppose to fight Michaels at either the Rumble or the next PPV for the WWF title. But Michaels balked at it.

HBK says they are going to search the entire arena for the Undertaker because they feel bad about what happened. A coked-up HBK playing detective? Should be fun.

Disciples of Apocalypse vs the Nation of Domination

It is Chainz, 8 Ball and Skull against Faarooq, D-Lo Brown and Kama. The gang wars storyline during this time sucked. The wrestling sucked. The stories sucked. But Vince Russo will let you know this was great because he created it.

Kama awkwardly jumps over Chainz at one point. Chainz then hits an awful hip toss and some of the worst elbow drops you will ever see. How bad do you have to be to be a worse wrestler than the Harris Brothers?

Skull tags in and eats a bad spinning kick from Kama and he gets some heat on him. There’s an awkward double collison between Skull and Faarooq that poor Faarooq now has to sell.

All six men start brawling and the ref throws out the match. Fellow nation members The Rock and Mark Henry come out. Ken Shamrock and Ahmed Johnson come out to even the odds and clear out the Nation.

As bad as the match was, the crowd loved the brawl and Shamrock/Ahmed save at the end. Shamrock was still over at this point and was screwed out of the Intercontinetal title last night.

Oh lord, we have a Vic Venom promo for the RAW Magazine. He talks about shooting and to send the cash to order the magazine. Not the first time Russo probably begged someone to send him cash (probably? it’s pretty much the entire business model of his website these days! – Ed)

A hearse is shown pulling up.

Tom Brandi vs Marc Mero w/Sable

Mero is from Buffalo, NY (that’s my hometown) so I’ll always have a soft spot for the guy. This is Mero’s heel run here where he is sick of people cheering for Sable all the time. I thought he was great in this role.

I personally think Mero gets a bad rep from some people. He was a solid worker. Go back and watch any of his matches in 1996 before his knee injury. And then after he adopted with this gimmick and it was great. Was he ever going to be a top guy? No. But as a mid-carder he was very good.

Michael Cole calls the feud between Mero and Brandi a “hot simmering feud.” I have zero memory of it but I doubt it was ever hot and simmering. Some guy comes to ringside a couple minutes into the match and gives Sable a bouquet of flowers. Mero comes out and destroys them and sends Sable away.

Sable stays at ringside though. Some decent action here. Though considering the match we just saw these two look like Steamboat and Savage from Wrestlemania 3. The crowd is into some near falls. Sable jumps on the apron, allowing Mero to hit a low blow and the TKO while the ref is distracted for the win. Mero beats down Brandi with the flowers after.

We cut back to D-X coming up on the hearse. They open it and women come out of it. HBK and HHH jump into it with the women as Chyna closes the door.

Mike Tyson is shown arriving to the arena.

The Quebecers vs Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack

WHERE THE HELL IS THE DAMN QUEBECERS MUSIC??? This return here for them was a quick cup of coffee. This may have been their only match on RAW.

Jacques Rougeau has a world-class mullet going on here. But it is 1998 and someone didn’t tell him that mullets are no longer a thing in the world of pro wrestling. The Quebecers dominate Chainsaw until Cactus Jack comes into the ring. Jack then applies the mandible claw on the ref and sends both Quebecers to the outside.

Chainsaw then hits a springboard Vader Bomb on them to the outside. Thankfully he didn’t try the moonsault. Cactus eventually gets the barbed wire bat. Apparently they were DQ’d so a win for the Quebecers!

D-X asks the mini wrestlers if they have seen the Undertaker. Chyna lifts up Max Mini but he says he hasn’t seen him.

NWA North American Championship: Jeff Jarrett (c) vs Blackjack Bradshaw

Oh god. This is a match out of my nightmares.

These guys are at the top of my least favourite wrestlers of all time list for various reasons. Jarrett comes out with the Rock n Roll Express and Jim Cornette. Cornette spends the first two minutes in a non-stop rant that may be the most entertaining thing of this whole match.

This is 100% the bathroom break match for the crowd. The Rock n Roll Express keep landing cheap shots on Bradshaw when the ref isn’t looking. Bradshaw connects on a big boot and C-level powerbomb. Cornette distracts the ref. Bradshaw takes out the Rock n Roll Express but then gets accidentally clotheslined by his own partner, Blackjack Windham, allowing Jarrett to get the win.

Bradshaw gets attacked after the match. Windham then attacks Bradshaw as well after the match, though Windham looks like he would rather be doing anything else at this point.

We get the start of the WAR ZONE next. If you remember, they pretty much used to brand RAW as two separate shows at this point. It is Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler on commentary.

The crowd buys the Undertaker’s music again for a second time. We then cut to what appears to be the Undertaker coming down from the top of the arena, moving at a snail’s pace. It goes completely dark as what appears to be the Undertaker is in the ring. But it is actually Shawn Michaels as he takes off the Undertaker robe.

Triple H and Chyna come down with a grill. Oh man, this is the D-X cook-out segment. HBK looks to be about 6 out of 10 on the coked out scale.

They take out hot dogs, marshmallows and a big sausage out of the back. Where are the graham crackers and chocolate for smores? Or the buns and condiments for the hot dogs? What an awful cookout.

Triple H offers Owen Hart a shot at his European title next week. HHH says it is man vs boy. To demonstrate, HBK holds up a hot dog with two marshmallows for boy and the big sausage for man.

Triple H tells the California ladies to not bother riding space mountain because it is old and bleach blonde. But remember, HHH always respected the legacy of Ric Flair.

Shawn Michaels says he beat Undertaker all by himself last night. Michaels turns his attention to Stone Cold. Michaels says to ask everyone in the back and everyone he sent down south, and they will tell Austin that the Heartbreak Kid lays down for absolutely nobody. That was normally because Michaels would forfeit the title before he ever had the chance to lose it.

I hated this match as a kid. Why? Because these were my two favorite wrestlers at the time fighting. And they are both my two favorite wrestlers of all time (Michaels is 1, Austin is 2).

Owen Hart, The Headbangers and Taka Michinoku vs Los Boricuas

What a random mix match of faces here. Once again, Owen Hart looks like he would rather be anywhere else. Owen has the face of a man that knows he was suppose to get a WWF Title shot but no longer has it.

Honky Tonk Man is on commentary for some reason. I have no idea why but Jim Ross has a good line as he says Honky and Lawler are talking “like they are cousins.”

Match goes about three minutes and ends with Owen Hart locking in the Sharpshooter for the win.

The Rock vs Ahmed Johnson

Ahmed has just come back from injury #78520. He’s also a little bit bigger in the belly on this comeback. He runs down to the ring and looks like he is ready to pass out when he finally gets there. Ahmed had so much potential in 1996 but could never stay healthy. Then he was stuck in a 12 year feud with the Nation of Domination.

This is at the start of The Rock’s launch into stardom. The “Rocky sucks” chants are loud throughout the match. Mark Henry comes out three minutes into the match, hits Ahmed with a chair and gives Rock the win. Ken Shamrock comes out after the match for the save.

WWF Tag Team Championship: New Age Outlaws (c) vs The Godwinns

Road Dogg and Billy Gunn are wearing overalls. Road Dogg says it is to show support of the Godwinns and that they respect Southern Justice. Billy gets stripped down to tights. The crowd is once again dead for this match. Probably because it is two heel teams fighting each other. And the Godwinns are well past their “care-by date” at this point.

Of course another problem is that Billy Gunn gets worked over the second the bell rings. And no one cares about the Outlaws yet so there is no heat for Billy Gunn to get the eventual hot tag. Road Dogg then tosses Billy the stuffed pig they came to ringside with, who uses it on Phineas and gives the Outlaws the win. The pig had a brick in it. I wish someone had hit me with a brick during this match.

A plug for the WWF Superstar line. Jim Ross asks if this will be a “Macho Week” for the WWF. Savage’s contract was up at the time in WCW and there were heavy rumors that he might return to the WWF at this point.

Vince McMahon is in the ring and introduces Mike Tyson. Vince asks Tyson who some of his favorites were and he says Bruno Sammartino.

And here we go. Vince is ready to make his announcement and Stone Cold’s music hits. WWF officials immediately charge the ring as Austin salutes everyone in the corners.

Vince asks Austin why he is here. Austin says seeing Tyson make friends and shaking hands with everyone in the back makes him sick. Austin says he respects what Tyson has done in the boxing world but now Tyson is in Austin’s ring. Austin says he wants a piece of Tyson’s ass. Tyson does a good job looking over at Vince like he’s not sure what is going on.

Austin tells Tyson he can beat Tyson any day of the week, twice on Sunday. Austin says if Tyson isn’t understanding what he is saying, he always has a little sign language for him.

That sets off the famous Austin/Tyson brawl starts that puts everything in motion. Vince yells at Austin that he ruined it as Austin is dragged to the back by WWF officials.

They come back from commercial and the show ends with Tyson in the back, telling Vince to bring Austin out there.

+++

So because this is pro wrestling everyone wants to compare what happened on Dynamite between Tyson and Chris Jericho to what happened here on RAW. So let me dive a little into that now.

The main reason the Tyson/Austin angle worked is because from the start, it was taken as a serious moment. Austin was pissed that Tyson was in his ring. And Tyson wasn’t about to take any shit from Austin.

On Dynamite, Jericho was goofing around in the ring with the Inner Circle for about ten minutes before he suddenly turned his attention to Mike Tyson.

Now, had Jericho been serious in the ring during that segment and angry before hand backstage maybe that helps the angle. But literally minutes before Jericho called out Tyson he was gifting Sammy Guevara a rolling scooter and talking about his love for Marc Anthony.

Jericho and AEW also wanted you to remember something that happened between Jericho and Tyson almost ten years ago. I had zero memory of it.

And if Jericho wanted us to remember it, maybe it should have been brought up by someone at some point during the show. Or hell, even bring it up at Double or Nothing as a casual throwaway line.

In 1998, Mike Tyson was a huge star. In 2020, I know he is supposedly training for a comeback match but again, I had no idea about that until after the show.

You also have to compare Tyson’s demeanour during the Dynamite segment and RAW. Tyson looked serious and ready to fight on RAW. On Dynamite he looked like he was just laughing and looked like he really didn’t care one bit about what was going on.

Everything about the Tyson/Austin angle worked. We still have to wait for the results of the Jericho/Tyson angle, but I don’t think it will ever be as memorable as “TYSON AND AUSTIN! TYSON AND AUSTIN!”

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