This Day in Rasslin’ History: The Summer of Love

In the Spring of 1997, the odd combination of Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels became the World Tag Team Champions by defeating the British Bulldog & Owen Hart on an installment of Monday Night Raw.  After reigning as Champions for nearly two months, the pair was forced to vacate the titles due to an injury sustained by HBK.  Through a series of tournament matches, Bulldog & Owen won the right to face Austin & a partner of his choosing with the vacated straps on the line.  Although Mankind originally volunteered himself to be Austin’s partner, the Texas Rattlesnake refused the help, citing that he “wanted nothing to do with that freak.”  The baddest SOB in WWE history resigned himself to wrestling a handicap match with the belts on the line.  When it came time for the contest, however, on July 14, 1997, Austin received some help from an unlikely source.  Mick Foley, abandoning his Mankind persona for the first time since joining the WWE, danced down to the ring wearing tie-dye and sunglasses.  Dude Love was born.

Dude Love and Steve Austin would win the tag team titles that night.  Unfortunately, they were soon forced to vacate them when Stone Cold suffered a severe neck injury at the hands of Owen Hart.  Dude moved onto a feud with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and eventually transformed into Cactus Jack.  After a few months on the sidelines, Austin returned and began his feud with The Rock.  Meanwhile, also occurring on the July 14, 1997 episode of Monday Night Raw was Yoshihiro Tajiri’s first televised match in America, a losing effort to Taka Michinoku.

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