Jim Ross has divulged that he was not a fan of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s villainous turn at WrestleMania X-7, and he tried to make his feelings known.
WrestleMania X-7 is one of the most revered shows in wrestling history. The show was headlined by Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock meeting for the WWE Championship. At the time Austin and Rock were the two most beloved figures of the WWE audience but that was about to change.
Towards the end of the match, Austin’s arch-nemesis Vince McMahon helped the ‘Texas Rattlesnake’ defeat Rock with the help of a steel chair. Austin and McMahon shook hands and shared a beer after the contest as Ross looked on from the announce desk.
Speaking on his Grilling JR podcast, Jim Ross discussed the lead-up to the match. Ross noted that Austin was always going to be the firm favourite in his home state.
“I think Rock and Austin wanted to keep it serious and transact their business because neither of them was overly sure of how this was gonna be received. I had my ideas. You’ve got the home-grown Texas product wrestling in his ‘home’ market, he grew up just down the road in Edna. Advertised from Victoria. He watched Houston – Paul Boesch television his entire life. We had told that story. It was like a homecoming for the challenger.”
JR then stated that he had reservations about the turn from Austin, although these weren’t well-received:
“So who do you think they’re gonna cheer? It wasn’t that they were angry at Rock but you’ve got a Texas legend here. That’s coming back and drew the biggest house in Astrodome history over any event. And you’re gonna turn him heel. To me, and I’ve used this analogy before, it was like making John Wayne in one of his war movies a Nazi. It didn’t work, it was never gonna work. Anybody that thought ‘oh, we might have got it over…’ No, tell me what you would’ve done to get it over and I’d love to know that. I just don’t think it was possible. I expressed myself and was told to shut up on more than one occasion. ‘We’re going that way, leave it alone’.”
“You’ve gotta do the commentary sensitively by what you’re hearing and not make Rock a heel. that was the key thing not making The Rock a heel. We weren’t sure and we didn’t want to expose what our creative was gonna be with Austin. You couldn’t make Steve – force-feeding him as a babyface, just let the thing evolve. Let it go and play off the audience; what are they buying, what are those two guys selling. So it was an interesting balance that we were walking.”
Ross then spoke about Steve Austin’s wife’s involvement in the story between Austin and The Rock. Before WrestleMania, McMahon decreed that Debra had to act as The Rock’s manager, accompanying him to the ring for matches. That aspect of the story was dropped by the time WrestleMania X-7 came around.
JR explained why:
“The Debra thing, it may just have been a deal where Vince wanted to get her on the show. I don’t know. It just was ill-timed and I’m not knocking anything about Debra. If it had been a valet that had a lot of wrestling experience; that was a bump taker like Trish [Stratus] or Lita, that type of thing then ok, I get it. But the two guys were not for it. All they had to do was – Rock had to raise an eyebrow and Austin had to look at his shoes and Vince knew well, we ain’t doing that.”
Jim Ross also talked in-depth about the time around WrestleMania as being the most tumultuous of his career. WrestleMania X-7 occurred only six days after WWE bought World Championship Wrestling.
If you use any quotes from this article please h/t and link back to Inside The Ropes.