Vince Russo believes Steve Austin’s emergence as a WWE main-eventer caused Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon’s rift in 1998.
Michaels lost the WWE Championship to Austin in the main event of WrestleMania 14. Before the pay-per-view, The Heartbreak Kid had been pushed as a top star for many years alongside the likes of Bret Hart and The Undertaker.
Russo, WWE’s former head writer, spoke about Michaels’ issues with McMahon on the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling podcast. He said the three-time WWE Champion was not to blame for the breakdown in communication with his boss:
“I swear because I witnessed it and I saw it, as soon as Vince had his shiny new toy in Austin and Vince could see the writing on the wall, he kicked Shawn Michaels to the curb like Shawn Michaels was an opening match wrestler. I saw this with my own two eyes. Bro, that did not sit well with Shawn,” stated Russo. [13:15-13:48]
Russo clarified that Michaels did everything that the WWE Chairman asked of him during a time when the company frequently lost to WCW in the ratings. For this reason, the top star allegedly felt that he deserved to be treated better by Vince McMahon.
How Vince Russo played a role in the Shawn Michaels-Vince McMahon feud
Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon’s relationship became so bad that they were reluctant to even speak to each other for weeks before WrestleMania 14.
Although Vince Russo worked as a writer at the time, he also had the responsibility of relaying messages between McMahon and the then-WWE Champion:
“Shawn and Vince were at absolute odds, to the point of not speaking to one another.” Russo continued, “I was the guy relaying messages from Shawn to Vince, from Vince back to Shawn. I was right smack in the middle of it.” [12:12-12:35]
Michaels eventually mended his relationship with McMahon when he re-signed with WWE in 2002. The 56-year-old joined the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011 as an individual and in 2019 as a D-Generation X member.
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