Yeah, the main event of WM14 was horrible, and that Over the Edge 98 match with Dude Love was one of the worst matches of all time. Let's not forget those horrible matches with The Rock at WM15 and Backlash 99, those guys don't know how to work at all. Oh and how can I forget that sloppy and dreadful Summerslam 98 main event with The Undertaker, why was Vince doing booking those 2 clowns in the main event!
WM 14 I'll buy. Even with Shawn's messed up back they still managed to have a pretty good match. The Dude Love and and Undertaker matches were solid, but they were hardly great. And no, I don't care for either of those matches against the Rock. As far as the "punch-kick-brawl into the crowd-break the announce table-overdo finishers" style that oversaturated every main event for most of '98 and '99 (and into 2000) the Rock matches were okay, but given the formula, that's not saying much. That terrible brawling formula killed a lot of those matches for me. There was just nothing to it.
The Dude Love match was more then just a wrestling match, it was the best booked wrestling match problay the WWE has ever done. The fued leading up to it and the match it self was amazing. It was more then just a wrestling match, it was why the WWF peaked. And the ending was just perfect. That was WWE at it's best.
To me, WWF at its best was stuff like the Bret/Owen saga.
I'm not going to argue that the Dude Love match was well booked and a good enough match. Best booked match ever is definitely stretching it. I might call it appropriate over-booking. I don't think it's necessarily WHY the WWF peaked, but it served its purpose. I'm not going to bash the match. But even you admit the best part about the match is the storyline and the booking. That's fine, but it doesn't exactly make me say, "Wow that Austin just had a killer match."
I just don't have a whole lot of love for much of the in-ring product from that era. The main events were the only matches that ever got any time at all but 95% of them just didn't interest me. Mostly it's the brawling and predictable formula that I mentioned earlier. I'm sorry, Austin/Kane, Austin/Rock (in 99), Austin/Vince, Austin/Undertaker (though I will admit Summerslam is their best match against each other), Austin/HHH (in 99) just didn't do it for me at all. Every match felt exactly the same. It was like they were just stalling for the finish and the first 15 minutes meant nothing. It was just mindless brawling with the predictable and pointless crowd/aisle brawling and announce table spots thrown in. Austin certainly used it the most, but Rock and HHH fell back on this at times too after Austin got hurt. Main events were just very underwhelming to me for a long time in between Bret's departure and the hot HHH/Foley series.
In hindsight, I should have said "After WM 14, Austin didn't have a good match until 2001." And from there, I'll give you this: the Dude Love match is good, and the Undertaker Summerslam match is pretty good. But other than that I can't think of another match I liked.
My point is this: for the better part of three years (late 97-early 01... and I know he missed some time with injuries in there), I really think he had three matches that can be considered good- Michaels, Dude Love, and Undertaker. 3 good matches in 3 years isn't very impressive. So while I admit my original statement may have been a little inaccurate, I completely stand by its sentiment.
Yeah but there is also arguement that the overall wrestling in that time period was horrible, but very entertaining and popular. When Vince Russo was in charge, his idea wasn't "We can build great ratings by great wrestling", he idea was more of making Pro Wrestling a normal "TV Show", granted it was entertaining, I grew up through that time period, and that was IMO as popular if not more then then Hulk Hogan era.
Steve Austin was still a capable wrestler then, but he didn't have the chance to wrestle againest Benoit, Angle, Jericho, RVD, and improved wrestlers in Rock and HHH.
That's what I'm trying to say. In your post you downside the legacy of Stone Cold, you're problay an older guy who grew up in the Hulkamania era who doesn't realize how popular wrestling was from 1998-2001.
If he grew up during the Hulkamania era, he had even more sucky wrestling and even more underwhelming Main Events. Watching Hogan during the Hulkamania is way more boring than watching Austin beat the crap out of The Rock. The dude has a point in that during the Attitude era the wrestling wasn't good even though they were really popular. I guess he started watching wrestling during Bret Hart's time on top with HBK and Austin fighting for the belt, 'cause they did put on great matches (that's because of Hart ofcourse).