No Holds Barred
Steve Austin (c) vs. The Undertaker
Austin’s non-reaction to this being made No Holds Barred earlier makes sense as that allows Triple H and Vince McMahon to come down and interfere on his behalf, and Vince even places himself at ringside before we get going. The typical Austin-Taker match is a basic common all-garden brawl. Normally, over the previous five years or so, they’d go 50-50 (even when Austin was a heel back in 1996) but because Austin is a freshly turned heel they have him get his ass kicked. Luckily he’s an expert at that. So they brawl around ringside, then they brawl around in the ring. Austin is the first to take advantage of the rules by grabbing a chair but that gets him nowhere. Austin, having gotten nowhere, goes right after the Stunner and gets booted back down. Hell, son, that’s like getting turned down for holding hands with a girl and asking for anal sex instead. Eventually Austin uses Vince as a distraction and goes after Taker’s knee. This is the last vestige of a dying era as they desperately try to cling on to Attitude style. Paul Heyman makes a valid point on commentary by saying that Austin spent the previous four years saying “DTA; don’t trust anybody” so why did we trust him? Austin slows the match right down by working the knee but the fans bite anyway and chant “Austin sucks”. Anyone tuning in for the first time in a year or so would be somewhat confused. Out to the floor again and Taker chokeslams Austin through the announce table, thus wigging Vince out something fierce as he expects to be next. Taker’s time wasting gives Austin a chance to kick out and plan his next piece of cheating. Although, given the No Holds Barred stipulation Austin can pretty much hit Taker with everything that’s not nailed down and get away with it. Taker blades off one plunder shot as the WWF couldn’t do a main event without blood during Attitude. Unfortunately for them Attitude is over. Austin’s massive grin after punching at Taker’s head gash is genius. Austin’s heel run would be hard for him as he’d been such an amazing babyface, that keeping himself heel was tough. Heyman and Ross get into an argument over how Austin has changed with Paul winning out by reminding us that he used to manage both guys. Austin NAILS Taker with a chair shot and a massive “Austin” chant breaks out, demonstrating again how hard it was to keep him heel. Austin hauls Taker up; Stunner! Taker kicks out so Austin wears him out with chair shots. Taker goes low and hits the chokeslam before getting some receipts with the chair. Triple H runs in but gets a chair shot of his own. Think they’re overdoing the chair shots yet? Taker has it won so Vince jumps in to break the fall. Taker kicks his ass too with Austin accidentally chair shotting the boss. Taker sets for the Last Ride but Hunter finally gets in a sledgehammer shot and knocks Taker out. Kane comes down to try and even the odds but Austin has already scored the pin to retain. This was a lot more fun than the other Austin-Taker-Hunter-Kane stuff as they cut loose the dead wood spots. They worked hard and had a decent brawl, on a par with most of their other big matches.
Final Rating: **¾
No Holds Barred