Plans For Austin?

Scott —
I was reading something from one of your books about Steve Austin and it got me thinking. Were there any plans for Austin after WrestleMania XIX? He put the Rock over to set up Rock/Goldberg, then he was written out of the storyline the following night on Raw due to his messed up neck and apparent panic attack the night before the show. Or whatever it was. If he had been healthy enough to keep going, was there a plan for Austin? A move to Smackdown or a feud with HHH or Flair or Michaels on Raw or something? I seem to recall from your review of Raw the night after WrestleMania where Bischoff "fired" him you wrote something like, "See you on Smackdown!"

At the time I thought that the injury thing was a work, but in hindsight it’s pretty clear they were phasing him out in favor of Brock and Angle.  Plus given that Austin’s neck had been known to be shot since the Owen injury in 1997, he had been living on borrowed time anyway.  So unless Austin really dropped a bomb on them just before Wrestlemania, I’m sure they were prepared to let go of him and they had no plans following the Rock match. 

Booking plans

A few historical questions  about Vince’s plans – 1- Did Vince have a back up plan for Montreal? What would have happened had Bret listened to Davey Boy (or whomever) and not allowed himself to be put in the sharpshooter – what was Vince’s plan B as to how to get the title off him? 2- Did Vince expect Montreal to make him a top heel in the company? What was he expecting fan reaction to be? 3- On an unrelated note, what was the long term plan for the Two Man Power Trip/Canadian Violence Connection feud in ’01 had HHH not torn his quad? And what was the plan for HHH’s role in the Invasion? 

1.  They would have done a DQ finish and Bret would have surrendered the title on RAW the next night.  However, the odds of that actually happening are astronomical, because Vince would have found some way to screw Bret out of the title, even if Bret hadn’t fallen for the Sharpshooter spot.  Pretty much any submission move done by Shawn or any pinning predicament could have led to a bell being rung. 2.  Vince was so desperate that I don’t think fan reaction was even on his radar at that point.  3.  I had the whole plan outlined for me by a WWE writer, but I don’t use the same e-mail account anymore because otherwise I’d just reprint it here.  Basically HHH was going to do a slow burn babyface turn and occupy the spot that ended up going to Kurt Angle.  But, and this is a big one, the thing you have to keep in mind as well is that originally the Invasion angle was supposed to lead to separate WCW and WWF touring brands, and HHH & Rock were going to headline the WCW brand while Austin & Undertaker were going to be the WWF headliners.  So at the time plans were made for HHH and Austin, long-term plans were drastically different from where things ended up.  So it wasn’t like HHH and Austin were going to be wrestling all the time, it was more like they split up the team and HHH leaves for WCW so they can do interpromotional matches down the line.