Austin Heel Turn in Retrospect


With over 11 years of perspective on the Austin heel turn at Wrestlemania 17, what is your take today?  Should they have done the heel turn and just conducted it differently?  Should they have just had him win the belt from Rock as a face and do one more run on top against Angle, Benoit, Jericho, and HHH, then return the face vs. face job to a returning Rock at SummerSlam?  Should they have kept him face and had the Invasion start the next night, with DDP, Booker, et al challenging him?

I think a face Austin made the most sense, given the fact that Rock was leaving for a while and Stone Cold was still the fan favorite.  Rock & Austin could do a respect handshake and beer toast on Raw only to have Shane unleash the WCW guys, 'injuring' Rock til summer and beating down Austin.  You could have a precarious Austin/McMahon tandem brought together against a common enemy despite their disdain for each other.  Team WWF vs. Team WCW at Backlash 2001?  Austin could perhaps face DDP and Booker for a couple PPVs.  Then, when Rock returns in summer, you could have Steve go heel and join the WCW guys just to stick it to Vince and reinforce the DTA thing.  Heel-ish Austin vs. babyface Rock could happen somewhere in there, maybe with Rock leading the WWF against Austin and the WCW guys at Survivor Series.  Maybe Austin vs. Rock vs. HHH at Wrestlemania 18?

Hey!  No sneaky "rebooking the Invasion" questions, buddy. 

The problem was not Austin turning heel.  The problem was Austin turning heel on THAT night in THAT stadium.  Clearly the character was staler than John Cena and needed to shook up, I don't think anyone's arguing against that.  However, they rebuilt him by having him win the Rumble and then beating Rock in his hometown to win the World title, which is all kind of a babyface thing to do.  If they did that as a babyface and then had him go mad with power over the next couple of months and shockingly join the Alliance at the Invasion PPV, then you've got something.  Anything further would be rebooking the Invasion, so I shall say no more.