Good stuff on the BoD lately.
Question on the Austin WM X7 turn - there's been a lot of chatter on the BoD about the Austin end of the storyline - "Aging former champ coming off a huge loss in 3 Stages of Hell, questioning whether he still has it, and makes a deal with the devil to hold on to his spot at the top." And then he descends into heightened levels of paranoia "My Name is Stone Cold Steve Austin etc." It is a great story arc, whether or not it actually happened or was created by internet geeks to retroactively explain what was going on.
Anyway, here's the question - thiat all would explain Austin's motivation, but what was Vince's motivation to screw Rock and give Austin the title? After all, he hated Austin for years. The whole Austin/Mcmahon storyline was predicated on how he thought Austin was a bad face for the company. How did that change? And to answer "he wanted to have the champion in his pocket" doesn't make sense either, because, to what end? As long as the champion is worthy face for the company and THIS BUSINESS, why would he care if it was Austin or Rock? At least the whole Austin/Mcmahon storyline made sense, and later, when he was supporting HHH in 2000, it was because HHH was "married" to his daughter, but what was Vince's storyline motivation for X7?
Oh hey, it's Austin's heel turn day.
I think that the WCW buyout really derailed whatever character arcs were originally planned out for the Austin heel turn, in a big way. Unless you want to fan-wank the storyline into "Shane buys WCW and Vince is forced to align with his biggest enemy in order to fight him off" or something, but you're right, it really was a senseless storyline twist from Vince's perspective. Another reason why people hated it so much, I think.
As a hardcore wrestling nerd at the time I recognized what tremendous work Austin was doing with the gimmick, but as a fan I was sick of it by King of the Ring and just wanted to see him stun some dudes again, and I think it really killed the character and left it too late to salvage by the time they tried to do so in November.