Hit and Run: Steve Austin Return in 2000

Rikishi before it’s announced he ‘did it for The Rock’

Back in November 1999 somebody ran down Stone Cold Steve Austin and when he made his return in September 2000 we found out who did it. Here I will look back at who ran down Stone Cold Steve Austin and some of the foreshadowing that we witness in hindsight and my other idea on who could have been the culprit in this hit and run attack. If you didn’t know already spoiler alert but it was…. Rikishi under order from Triple H.

At Survivor Series 1999 Triple H and his DX buddies lured Stone Cold Steve Austin to the parking lot area of the Joe Louis arena in ready for what looked like an ambush attack. But it wasn’t any ordinary ambush as he was quickly ran over by a car which then sped away leading to Vince McMahon and others tending to Stone Cold who was unconscious. Triple H appears and denies any responsibility immediately as McMahon accuses him of being behind the hit and run.

Austin is subbsecuntly out of action until September of 2000 due to his injury’s (They had to write him out somehow). The very next night on Raw after Survivor Series their begins a police investigation into who ran down Stone Cold Steve Austin. The number one suspect is Triple H but he denies he ran over Austin and the whole ‘who ran down Stone Cold’ angle was quickly forgotten about. I am fine with this as it made sense as Austin would be out for 9 months so there was no immediate way for Austin to get revenge. But why involve a police investigation only to drop it?

Fast forward to September 2000 and on the build to Unforgiven it’s announced that Stone Cold will be making his return to WWE and his aim is to find out the person responsible for running him down.

The Smackdown before Unforgiven, Mick Foley, who is in charge at this period had every WWE superstar at ringside as he begun his own investigation. Foley brought in the Rock as we knew it was his rental car that ran over Steve Austin. Rock denies he did it and any knowledge of who could run down Stone Cold Steve Austin. One man who is questioned is Triple H. Now in Kayfabe Triple H is the mastermind behind the hit and run. But he blatantly denies any involvement or knowledge of the incident and deflects blame to Kurt Angle. In kayfabe, Triple H is masterful at deceit and getting away with what is realistically attempted murder. Also at ringside is the culprit Rikishi who stands there watching everyone point blame at each other.

One interesting point that is brought up at Unforgiven is that Austin approaches The Rock and says that ‘He knows The Rock didn’t do it’ but he states it was his rental car and asks The Rock did he see anyone steal his car keys. The Rock says he didn’t see anyone or interact with anyone that night. This is a LIE as Scotty Too Hotty in the lead up to the reveal reveals that The Rock actually hung around with Too Cool and Rikishi that evening. Too Cool had no reason to lie and seeing as Rikishi did steal the Rock car keys then this must be true. This is a gap and flaw in the storyline and one that maybe that was left there in case they wanted to turn the Rock and make him the culprit after all? Maybe? Doubtful.

What was obvious foreshadowing in hindsight was the fact that the Raw and Smackdown before Austin’s attacker was revealed, Rikishi and The Rock started interacting and Rikishi even saved the Rock in the main event of the Smackdown. In hindsight we all should have seen this swerve coming.

On the Raw that Rikishi confesses that he was the man to run down Austin and that he ‘Did it for The Rock’ Austin was actually suspended by Foley so we end Raw waiting to find out Austin reaction. On Smackdown we have Austin waiting in the car park for Rikishi and we get JR and Foley pleading with Austin not to do anything stupid. Even the police turn up at one point to question him all believing he is going to run down Rikishi. But why hasn’t the police arrested Rikishi as there was an unsolved investigation on going.

In another bit of foreshadowing the Smackdown before No Mercy Rikishi starts using Triple H is notorious weapon of choice the Sledgehammer. 

Here’s a question for you… Why Rikishi? Of all the superstars they had at their disposal, the only reason I can think of that Rikishi was used was because he is the Rock cousin. I’m not saying he got this role because that’s who he is, more to the fact it’s more fitting with the storyline and direction they want to take. Who would I have chosen to be the culprit? I would have chosen the returning Billy Gunn.

I know it may seem a stupid choice but if I could re book the whole angle I would have Billy Gunn attack Austin and say it was him. You could have had the match at No Mercy and still reveal that Triple H was the mastermind. Gunn would have had a better push than Rikishi as nobody bought the idea of a heel Rikishi. He was massively over as a baby face and was rising up the ladder as the loveable but powerful dancer. I believe fans didn’t want to see him turn heel, not yet at least. Billy Gunn would have had a reason to do it and say he wanted to take Austin spot.

Triple H and Billy Gunn could have kept their alliance and played out the whole angle with Austin. Gunn could have taken a beaten and it wouldn’t have hurt his character the way Rikishi character was. As soon as No Mercy ended Rikishi had lost all credibility with fans as Austin beat him with ease. Billy Gunn on the other hand could have taken the beating and would gain his heat back by a promo and attacking Austin or The Rock, making him more powerful. He could have his rematch with The Rock from Summerslam 1999 saying he wanted revenge for the kiss my ass match that’s why he used Rock car and tried to blame it on him. Rikishi character was hurt badly by this and after survivor series his career never got back to the same heights they did of the summer of 2000.

Billy Gunn would have got a nice rub too and he could have kept some momentum he would have had going through the end of the year because of his run with Austin. Rikishi never makes it to Wrestlemania because of a ear drum problem but after eliminating The Undertaker from the Royal Rumble he ends up in a tag team with Haku.

In conclusion I believe WWE could have hidden who ran down Austin a little better as there is so many clues that Rikishi was the man to run down Stone Cold. At the time maybe it wasn’t obvious but in hindsight you can see all the clues I also believe that Rikishi was ruined by this heel turn and could have continued to rise as a top baby face getting a championship shot. Billy Gunn would have been a good fit as someone who had motive to frame the Rock and run over Austin thanks to his alliance with Triple H. Maybe it would have worked with Billy Gunn longer term maybe it wouldn’t have but I don’t think it would have been any worse than using Rikishi in that role.

If you agree or disagree please get in contact on Twitter @Thewresbook. You can also follow Anthony Davies on Twitter @Antos_87

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