The night of September 22, 1997 provided wrestling fans with two huge moments that took place on WWE’s Monday Night Raw and WCW Monday Nitro. At the time, we may not have known they were huge moments, but 20 years later we can look back on them and celebrate them for the history making moments they were. Let’s start with Raw.
Steve Austin was out of action following Owen Hart’s botched Tombstone Piledriver at SummerSlam 1997. Due to the uncertainty of Austin’s health status, WWE did a storyline where Owen Hart had a protective order against Austin that prevented Austin from attacking him. This was when Austin had really taken off as a babyface with the “Austin 3:16” phenomenon leading to a ridiculous amount of t-shirt sales and plenty of signs at every WWE show. While Austin was not the top face in the company at the time, you could tell WWE was going to push him hard and they should have because he was on fire.
After Owen Hart’s match with Brian Pillman ended in a disqualification thanks to Goldust going after Pillman, Austin attacked Owen in the ring when he was doing a promo. The cops showed up in the ring to save Owen and pull Austin off. That led to Vince McMahon, who was on commentary with Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, going in the ring to try to calm Austin down.
The role of Vince at the time was as an announcer, but earlier in 1997 they started using him in angles more and would tell the audience he was the the Chairman/Owner of WWE. A lot of people didn’t know that. I know that may sound crazy to people today, but I was in high school at the time and I had friends that had no idea Vince owned the company.
Before I get to those details, it’s important to note that this show took place in Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was the arena that WWE considered “home” and any time a show took place there, fans knew something big could happen.