Tyson Has Role in Wrestlemania XIV
Mar. 30, 1998
BOSTON (AP) _ Mike Tyson felt right at home in his wrestling debut. He threw a knockout punch, turned on a one-time ally and made a lot of money like he's done in his stalled boxing career.
Just where that career will go, he wouldn't say Sunday night. He preferred to discuss why he enjoyed his role as a ``special enforcer'' to help sell a World Wrestling Federation show.
``I haven't been here long enough and I haven't been messed over like I've been messed over in boxing,'' he said. ``That's a good reason.''
He was suspended from that sport last July for biting Evander Holyfield's ears June 28. Earlier this month, he sued promoter Don King and his former managers Rory Holloway and John Horne.
Might he now split ranks with Stone Cold Steve Austin, the bald, menacing wrestler who, with Tyson's help. took the WWF championship belt from Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV?
``Anything's possible. If the price is right, I'll fight a lion,'' Tyson said. ``We're in two different worlds. I rule my planet. He rules his. But, as of now, I'm nobody.''
That could change in July when the Nevada State Athletic Commission may rule on whether to return the license it took from him last July 9. The commission didn't object to Tyson's appearance.
But Tyson didn't talk about that Sunday after WWF owner Vince McMahon asked that questions be limited to wrestling.
Tyson had just fulfilled his role in the Austin-Michaels bout. He stood outside the ring, supposedly to help the referee, if necessary. But his ``D-Generation X'' T-shirt _ a reference to Michaels' camp _ betrayed his sympathies.
Or so it seemed.
With the referee seemingly stunned after being slammed against a turnbuckle, Tyson slyly reached in and slid him out of the ring.
``I'm on parole, please,'' said Tyson, who served time for a rape conviction. ``I did not slam a referee. I politely carried him out of the ring and put him on the mat.''
Austin then pinned Michaels, and Tyson leaped into the ring and counted Michaels out.
When Michaels got up and realized the betrayal, he argued with Tyson. The boxer floored the wrestler with a quick right that seemed to fall short of Michaels' chin, then raised arms with Austin, who held his WWF championship belt aloft.
``He saw the light,'' Austin said threateningly of Tyson's change of heart. ``It's probably a damn good thing he did come around if you know what I mean. Right?''
``Right'' Tyson said sheepishly.
Other celebrities hired to hype the event served as guest announcers for preliminary matches _ Pete Rose, banned from baseball and the Hall of Fame ballot for gambling, and Gennifer Flowers, alleged to have had a relationship with President Clinton.
Tyson was the main event but, until he went into the ring to count Michaels out, he stalked around the outside with a sneer but no impact on the action.
``I'd like to see him back in boxing because Mike Tyson is the best,'' Austin said.
Tyson, the youngest heavyweight champion in history at age 20, may have suffered the most realistic fall in a night full of phony plunges.
``I think he's out of place,'' fan Mark Cerullo said. ``It seems like he couldn't handle his boxing problems. Now he's trying wrestling.''
``That's the only way you can get hurt here,'' laughed boxer Vinny Pazienza, a ringside spectator who wisely stayed out of the ring, after Owen Hart flung Triple H through the ropes, sending an usher sprawling during a preliminary bout.
The show may not have helped Tyson's image but it didn't hurt his wallet. He reportedly was paid $3.5 million to $4 million. The WWF didn't do badly either. It charged each pay-per-view customer $34.95 and boasted of an in-person crowd of 19,028 that it said shelled out $1,029,230.
``I don't think it'll help Tyson's reputation,'' said spectator Shane Snader, wearing a Dave Matthews Band T-shirt. ``It's a great publicity move for him and the WWF.''
Some fans didn't care about Tyson: ``I'd be here anyway,'' said 17-year-old Adam Dabransky. And many did: ``Holyfield, Holyfield, Holyfield,'' they chanted during the Austin-Michaels bout.
One sign in the crowd said, ``Mike Tyson Bites.''
The first match looked like a Tyson entourage _ a crowd of 30 wrestlers jamming the squared circle in the WWF's first 15-team Battle Royal.
There also was a disqualification for a fighter who, like Tyson against Holyfield, wouldn't let go. ``The Rock'' kept his ``Intercontinental Title'' when Ken Shamrock refused to break a submission hold as the referee instructed.
Flowers, dressed in a red gown and escorted into the ring by wrestler Jeff Jarrett, told Jarrett, ``Honey, I've been with greats, and you are great.''
Rose, clad in a tuxedo, called Boston ``the city of losers'' as he introduced Kane and Undertaker. Rose didn't say anything as he was rolled off on a stretcher after Kane picked him up and drove him headfirst into the mat.
A WWF spokesman said, with a straight face, that Rose was fine.