Former WWE executive Jim Ross says Steve Austin was unhappy after Shawn Michaels walked out on the company in 1997.
Austin and Michaels’ 49-day reign as WWE Tag Team Champions abruptly ended when Michaels briefly left the company following a backstage fight with Bret Hart. Dude Love (a.k.a. Mick Foley) became Austin’s new tag team partner after the tag titles were vacated.
Ross, who is close friends with Austin in real life, discussed Foley’s WWE career on the latest episode of his Grilling JR podcast. During a conversation about Foley replacing Michaels, he disclosed how Austin felt about Michaels’ exit.
“Nobody appreciated Shawn walking out on the company,” Ross said. “I can tell you that Austin was not happy about him walking out on Steve, so it was just tumultuous times. I’ve said this before - I may have said this on part one of this podcast regarding Mick - one of the reasons that I wanted to bring Mick into WWE is because I wanted his influence in our locker room. I wanted to get away from the controversy and the personal bulls*** and the ego and the insecurities.”
Steve Austin and Dude Love held the WWE Tag Team Championship for 55 days. Once again, the titles were forced to be vacated after Austin suffered a serious neck injury against Owen Hart at SummerSlam 1997.
Shawn Michaels eventually faced Steve Austin after returning to WWE
Shawn Michaels walked out on WWE in June 1997 and returned a month later. He defeated Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1997 in one of the most controversial matches in WWE history.
The two-time WWE Hall of Famer also worked with The Undertaker in late 1997 and early 1998 before facing Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV.
Steve Austin defeated Shawn Michaels in the WrestleMania XIV main event to win his first WWE Championship. The Undertaker famously threatened to beat up Michaels if he sabotaged the match in any way.
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