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Love the site all the way from the UK. Do you think Austin's elevation to IC Title was unnecessary in 97? He was clearly the biggest star in the company & they didn't feel the need to put the intercontinental strap on the likes of Hogan, Taker & Yoko previously before they won the big one
 

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He probably didn't need the belt by summerslam 1997 because he was so huge and was pretty much streamrolling towards the WWF title. However i think it was put on him as a filler before he become WWF champion and as his first single title to see how he carried himself.
 
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What Stuart82 said. Plus, there's an old saying that the championship doesn't make the superstar, the superstar makes the championship. Back then, there was only one world title and the Intercontinental Championship still carried around a lot of prestige and meaning as the second major championship of the company. Why not then put it on the most popular star in the company? It wasn't time for Austin to win the Royal Rumble and begin his main event push yet, so putting him into the Intercontinental Title picture for 4-5 months was a good booking choice. Also keep in mind that the original plans called for Bret keeping the WWF Title until Wrestlemania 14 where he would then drop the belt to Austin and put him over with a pinfall loss for the first time. So feuding with Owen was a good way for Stone Cold to continue his feud with the Hart Foundation in the Summer of 1997 without over saturating his feud with Bret specifically by just wrestling him and only him over and over again.

You can say that guys like Hogan, Undertaker and Yoko never won the IC Title before winning the world title but a lot of guys did. Ultimate Warrior went into his match with Hulk Hogan while carrying the IC strap. He forfeited it only after defeating Hogan for the world title. Bret lost the IC Title only less than two months before winning his first world championship. Shawn Michaels won the strap one last time in the Summer of '95, even though they must have known already that he was getting the world title push come the next year's Rumble and Wrestlemania, which he did. The Rock, like Austin, was IC Champion for the final time only three months before winning the WWF Title. John Cena won the US Title (which was the second most important championship on the Smackdown brand then) before winning the WWE Championship, and in fact, held the title even during the build to his match with JBL at Wrestlemania 21. He only lost the US Title like 3-4 weeks before winning the big one.
 

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Austin was not the biggest star in the WWF in 1997. He was becoming the biggest star, however Shawn, Bret & Undertaker were ahead of him. Austin didn't main event the WWF until the 1998 Royal Rumble, his first singles main event was Wrestlemania.
 

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I don't really understand why Austin won the Royal Rumble that year if they didn't have any plans for him to go for the title at Wrestlemania 13. We know that it worked out amazingly since we got Austin vs Hart instead, but it's also common knowledge that match was not the original plan back at the Rumble since Shawn was supposed to face Bret at Wrestlemania again.
 

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I don't really understand why Austin won the Royal Rumble that year if they didn't have any plans for him to go for the title at Wrestlemania 13. We know that it worked out amazingly since we got Austin vs Hart instead, but it's also common knowledge that match was not the original plan back at the Rumble since Shawn was supposed to face Bret at Wrestlemania again.
It was something no one expected plus it helped start the whole Bret Hart whinging angle so he would eventually turn heel. Austin was never going to main event WrestleMania 13 but after his match with Bret at survivor series and the fans starting to cheer for him, him cheating to win may of been a way to get him some heat as he wasn't suppose to be a face. The Bret match at WrestleMania 13 wasnt planned till much later after the royal rumble.
 

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Austin wasn't the biggest star in 97.
Austin was not the biggest star in the WWF in 1997. He was becoming the biggest star, however Shawn, Bret & Undertaker were ahead of him. Austin didn't main event the WWF until the 1998 Royal Rumble, his first singles main event was Wrestlemania.
No he wasn't..

BY WM14 YES....all the hype with him and Mike Tyson.
I think you could argue whilst not the biggest or the number one guy he was certainly the most popular in the company from mid 1997 onwards. Against The Undertaker at Cold Day in Hell he got a massive face reaction despite being the clear heel and going against The Undertaker who was the top face at that time, against Shawn Michaels at King of the Ring in Michaels first pay per view match since he "lost his smile" his entrance was the same level if not more cheered then Michaels. Every Raw more and more of the crowd were wearing Austin 3:16 shirts and it was pretty much the majority of the whole crowd just having a shirt or sign do to with Austin. After he broke his neck and was just coming out doing interviews and stunning people he got the louder reactions. I'm not saying he was the number one guy just yet but his popularity was seriously off the page!
 
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It just wasn't necessary for him at the time to win the belt during 1997. I'm pretty sure the plan was for HBK to drop the title to Austin at Mania for the longest time and was a real commitment Vince had for the Austin and the title. If you watch "Greatest Rivalries", Bret reveals that his plan was to drop the belt to Austin on his last night in WWE but Vince said no and obviously was pushing for Shawn to have it for Austin instead. If Austin's reign didn't begin at Wrestlemania 13 then we would of looked back and probably prefer it happened that way anyways
 

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I don't really understand why Austin won the Royal Rumble that year if they didn't have any plans for him to go for the title at Wrestlemania 13. We know that it worked out amazingly since we got Austin vs Hart instead, but it's also common knowledge that match was not the original plan back at the Rumble since Shawn was supposed to face Bret at Wrestlemania again.
1. As mentioned, it was an attempt to reverse the cheers that Austin was already starting to get. Having him be the first ever person to obtain a dirty win in a Royal Rumble match was a way to try and accomplish that but the fans were already deciding that they loved Stone Cold.

2. It was a way to start having Bret Hart whine about always being screwed, which would later provide a huge catalyst for his heel turn. (This would later carry over to when Austin cost Bret the WWF Title against Sid in February and when Undertaker cost him the belt a week or two before Mania which was what led Bret to push Vince down and yell all the obscenities into the microphone, and then there was a HUGE case of life imitating art when Bret was screwed for real at Survivor Series '97.)

3. It intensified the Austin/Bret feud and made things even more personal between the two.

4. It was a nice feather in the cap for Austin to get to brag about winning a Rumble (tainted victory or not), even though he wouldn't actually end up in a Wrestlemania main event until a year later.

5. Most of all, it was just unpredictable. Rather than book it the usual standard way of someone simply winning the Rumble and headlining Wrestlemania, they threw a wrench into it and shook things up a bit, which I can appreciate. It led to an awesome Final Four main event the next month. I personally think the whole idea of a heel being tossed out but the referees not catching it and so he slips back in and wins the Rumble could be reused today. Perhaps even to the point where they don't end up in either world title match. It'd be a great rub for an upper midcard heel.
 

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I don't really understand why Austin won the Royal Rumble that year if they didn't have any plans for him to go for the title at Wrestlemania 13. We know that it worked out amazingly since we got Austin vs Hart instead, but it's also common knowledge that match was not the original plan back at the Rumble since Shawn was supposed to face Bret at Wrestlemania again.
Michaels got "hurt" the following day. Does anyone know what the plan was before everything turned into a mess?

As far as him winning the IC belt goes. Filler. They had to fill time in between WM 13 and WM 14 when he'd get the proper build to be face of the company.
 

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He wasn't exactly a main event star in 1997, he was still a rising star. The WWF main event scene had Hart, Michaels, Pyscho Sid and Undertaker dominating the title scene. Also there was nothing wrong with him winning the I.C title either. It was the second biggest title in the company and gave him some extra momentum.
 

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Michaels got "hurt" the following day. Does anyone know what the plan was before everything turned into a mess?
Michaels was gonna drop the title to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13 in a rematch from the previous year (but without the Iron Man stipulation, of course.) As for Austin, I read somewhere that there was talks of him and Rocky Maivia for the Intercontinental Title. The funny thing about the latter is that Austin as becoming so beloved and Rocky so hated that seeing Austin pummel Maivia and probably win the IC Championship would have still gotten a strong enough positive reaction from the fans that night to turn him face right then and there (although Austin's babyface reactions wouldn't really start picking up until around the summer.)
 

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I agree with OP. While Austin was not yet the biggest star in 97, I don't think it's a stretch at all to say that he was the most popular. We'll obviously never know how he would have done with a proper IC title run because he of the neck injury at Summerslam, but I do think that an IC title run for Stone Cold was somewhat unnecessary considering the way that he was booked in the first half of 97. He won the Rumble (albeit in a dirty finish), then he went on to be in the main event match on 4 of the next 6 PPV cards. And the 2 matches that weren't main events ended up being 2 of the best matches of the year (Mania vs. Bret and KOTR vs. HBK). And let's also not forget that Austin was booked in high profile singles matches with the company's 3 biggest stars during that period, and not once did he ever suffer a 100% clean loss in those matches. He passed out rather than say "I Quit" in the Mania match with Bret, he went over him via DQ the following month, there was the interference from Pillman at IYH: A Cold Day in Hell in the title match vs. Taker, and there was the double DQ finish with HBK at KOTR. He still took a backseat to all those guys (and rightfully so), but he also came out of those matches looking pretty damn good himself. If that isn't an example of absolutely perfect booking to turn a red-hot midcarder into a true main event player, then I don't know what is. After that hot first half of the year, an IC title run kind of felt like a step back for Austin, IMO.
 

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My guess would be that Vince wanted Austin to win a mid card title right before he went on to become a full time main eventer. Unfortunetly, he broke his neck during his first reign and his reign suffered because of that. We were just getting weeks of promos by Austin on whether he will team up with Mankind or not and that eventually led to Vince vacating the IC title. I think his second reign was just about him getting revenge on Owen and winning the title. Then he forfeited the title to the Rock because he had 'bigger fish to fry'. Luckily, the IC title was important back then so a statement like that didn't hurt the credibility at all. Especially considering Rock would then challenge Shamrock for the belt and finish runners up in the Rumble of 98.
 

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What's so wrong with him holding the I.C championship? Triple H held the title in 2001 after he had long transcended the title. It was hardly unnecessary either, considering how much prestige the title held back then. Either way, no harm came to having him hold the title.
 

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^I don't think there was necessarily anything wrong with Austin holding the IC title, it just didn't fit with the way that he had been booked up to that point in the year. The WWF spent the first half of 97 showing that Austin could hold his own against all of big main event players, so to have him turn around from that and go after the IC title just seemed like it was meant as a transitional storyline to keep Austin busy until he could win the Rumble and go on the RTWM.
 
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