So after a three week absence my column has returned. Graduate school caught up with me and I had a litany of papers and book readings due that prohibited me from blocking out three hours to watch this show. I got all of that out of the way, though
-The WWF must have had a history buff on the production staff at this time because the video package for this card features clips of John F. Kennedy, Benito Mussolini, and George Patton. It is like a tame version of Mr. McMahon’s Utopia, but it is very effective at getting you excited for the show.
-Jim Ross and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
-Opening Contest: Owen Hart pins Edge with a rollup at 9:16:
Based on what was taking place on RAW, I have no idea why they did not book Edge-Gangrel here. Both men get loud ovations during their entrances, but Owen generates some heat by coming out in a Toronto Argonauts jersey. Owen is the right guy to lead the rookie through a good match and this one goes back and forth for more than nine minutes with neither man sustaining much of an advantage. Owen actually makes the “let me land on my feet as I’m diving toward your foot” spot work as he applies the Sharpshooter, but Edge quickly escapes. The man soon to be known as Christian appears near ringside and that allows Owen to cradle Edge and hand the rookie his first loss. I did not expect this result at the time, as Owen was directionless in terms of storylines. One of the better openers of 1998 that a lot of people forget. If you have never seen it, I suggest checking it out. Rating: ***¼
-Dok Hendrix and Sable urge us to call the Superstar line. Sable is a horrible pitchwoman for this.
-Al Snow & Scorpio (w/Head) beat Too Much after Snow pins Scott Taylor after a Snow Plow at 8:04:
Snow is a permanent part of the company now after beating Commissioner Slaughter in a boot camp match on RAW. WWF and WCW were in this weird phase in 1998 of booking pay-per-view matches between competitors that appeared on their C and D shows and this is a great example of that. The WCW example would be the Norman Smiley-Prince Iaukea match at Starrcade. This match is a dull mess that takes seven minutes to setup Snow decking Too Much with Head to get revenge for King of the Ring. If Brian Christopher had not been Lawler’s kid, I think he and Taylor would have been released by this point. It is a good thing they eventually stumbled on the Too Cool gimmick. Rating: ½*
-Michael Cole interviews the Undertaker and Kane. The Undertaker says that it is no one’s business who will beat Steve Austin for the WWF title tonight, but assures the audience that they have reached a deal with each other.
-“Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) beats Darren Drozdov with Marvelocity 5:11:
Our series of Shotgun Saturday Night-style matches with little build continues here, but hey, at least this is unique. Ross cannot help himself in referring to Mero’s old persona by saying that he is no longer a “Badd man.” Mero just gets the hell beat out of him in this match, as you can tell he is taking some stiff and reckless offense from his opponent. Jacqueline hits Droz behind the referee’s back with a shoe and Mero uses that to hit Marvelocity (the awesome new name for the Wild Thing) and win. So Mero now needs shoe interference to beat someone of Droz’s caliber? Unsurprisingly, this was Mero’s last win on WWF pay-per-view. Rating: *
-Call 1-800-737-1161 to get your “Down Where? Down Here!” D-Generation X t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)!
-A clean shaven Bradshaw, a look that makes him look COMPLETLEY different from his former Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw and Blackjack Bradshaw gimmicks, says Vader is about to learn it is “about survival of the fittest, not survival of the fattest.”
-No Holds Barred, Falls Count Anywhere: Bradshaw pins Vader with a neckbreaker at 7:56:
This match actually has a story as Bradshaw and Vader tried to be tag team partners during the summer and that did not work out. In retrospect, the WWF should have let that team just run through the division for a while. Who would not want to see Vader and Bradshaw just annihilating guys with power moves? Then again, that was eventually what Bradshaw and Faarooq became and what do you know, that finally got Bradshaw over. They brawl a little on the outside to pay lip service to the stipulation and then kick out of each other’s finishers. Who do these guys think they are working a main event style? Another lariat and a neckbreaker from Bradshaw, which Ross does his best to sell as a finisher as devastating as Jake Roberts DDT, put Vader away in what is the Mastadon’s last WWF pay-per-view appearance until 2005 (and let’s just forget about that one). We are proving the law of diminishing returns with these B-level matches thus far. Rating: ½*
-Kevin Kelly, Tom Pritchard, and Jason Sensation talk about tonight’s remaining matches. His impressions here of the Rock and Jeff Jarrett are not very good.
-D-Lo Brown beats Gangrel with the Sky High at 7:51:
Since D-Lo is no longer the European champion, he is back to being billed from Chicago. Looking back, Gangrel was a character ahead of its time. The 1990s had the goth craze, but with the Twilight stuff that came a decade or so later this gimmick could have been bigger than it was. Gangrel takes the running powerbomb like a champ and that’s the highlight as the crowd gradually turns on D-Lo’s stalling and the match’s tedious pace. Gangrel has several botches as well, so that just makes the match come off even worse. Lawler makes fun of a fan with a Hulkamania sign in the crowd, to which Ross asks if he is playing the air guitar. God, I miss snarky commentary like this that was actually entertaining. Eventually, Mark Henry wanders out, rams Gangrel into the post, and helps his friend win. Like Edge, this is Gangrel’s first loss. So, why didn’t we get Gangrel-Edge on this show instead of having them both lose to Owen and D-Lo? After the match, Gangrel spits blood in Henry’s eyes and hits D-Lo with the Implant DDT to get some of his heat back. This was just awful. Law of diminishing returns still in effect! Rating: ¼*
-A video package recaps the end of the triple threat match on RAW between the Rock, Ken Shamrock, and Mankind where Kane and the Undertaker interfered and beat up all of the participants.
-Shamrock tells Cole he will go as far as it takes to become the number one contender for the WWF championship.
-Dok Hendrix interviews the Rock, who gets a big pop from the crowd. He promises to lay the smackdown on Shamrock and Mankind and make them famous. It’s amazing how far along the Rock’s promo work has come over the past year.
-Kevin Kelly interviews Mankind, who goes on a hilarious rant about stupid things he has seen in his life. It culminates in an indictment of the People’s Elbow. He promises not to sell it.
-Triple Triple Threat, Steel Cage Match to Determine the #1 Contender for the WWF Championship: The Rock beats Ken Shamrock & Mankind when he pins Shamrock after a Mankind chair shot at 18:47:
This is one of the last uses of the blue bar steel cage and this has pinfall, submission, and escape rules. I remember being really excited for this because you could do this type of match in that awful WWF Warzone game on the Nintendo 64. Fighting your friends to escape the cage was always a good time, assuming you could go all the crazy button combos to pull off the moves. The Rock is insanely over here, getting chants before his entrance and throughout the match. Things pick up ten minutes in when the Rock overcomes a Mankind and Shamrock double team to deliver a double People’s Elbow. Not to be outdone, Mankind later dives off the top of the cage to try to elbow drop the Rock, but misses. Shamrock brings a chair into the ring when he is prevented from escaping the cage and he eventually get smashed in the head with it by Mankind. However, Mankind opts to climb out instead of going for the pin and the Rock covers Shamrock to win before Mankind can reach the floor. That was a nice finish and the right guy went over, but this had too much one-on-one action and too many dead spots for my taste. Rating: ***
-A video package recaps the Val Venis-Dustin Runnels feud.
-Val Venis (w/Terri Runnels) defeats Dustin Runnels with the Money Shot at 9:10:
This was the only pay-per-view appearance for Runnels preacher gimmick, which gets the jobber entrance. To show how times have changed, Runnels is somehow the heel here. This match is also the return of Terri Runnels to television after being gone for eleven months. Since Venis wrestles as a heel here, this match dies on the vine as the crowd does not care about Runnels and why should they? The guy has not won a meaningful match all year. Venis forgets to kick out of a bulldog at two and mercifully recovers and finishes the preacher off with the Money Shot. After the match, Venis makes out with Terri in the ring. Thankfully, Runnels would bring back the Goldust character to pay this off. Rating: ½*
-We get a recap of Jeff Jarrett’s continuing feud with D-Generation X that should have ended after SummerSlam.
-X-Pac & The New Age Outlaws beat Jeff Jarrett & Southern Justice when Billy Gunn pins Dennis Knight after a Fameasser at 11:20:
This is the last pay-per-view appearance for Southern Justice, as Mark Canterbury reinjured his neck after this and never returned to WWF television. X-Pac is placed in peril and is well suited for the role to take Southern Justice’s power moves. Despite that, the crowd could care less about Jarrett and Southern Justice, so this match, like many on tonight’s card, plays in front of a largely silent audience. The crowd finally gets into this when all hell breaks loose and in the midst of that, Jarrett levels X-Pac with a guitar. However, Gunn is able to catch Knight with a Fameasser (not yet named) and put D-Generation X over. After the match, X-Pac is selling an eye injury due to the guitar shot. Rating: ½*
-A video package hypes tonight’s triple threat match for the WWF championship.
-Triple Threat Match for the WWF Championship: Kane and the Undertaker pin Steve Austin (Champion) after a double chokeslam to create a confusing situation at 22:05:
In this match, Vince McMahon threatened to strip Austin of the WWF title if any superstar tried to help him and stipulated that Kane and the Undertaker could not pin each other. Austin launches a pre-emptive strike with a chair on the Undertaker during the latter’s entrance, which is the appropriate way to start the match, but he cannot capitalize and put Kane away before the Undertaker recovers. What I liked about the stipulation for this match is that it actually made some of the rest spots appear sensible, as Austin would try to keep Kane or the Undertaker out of the match and focus on the other man. In other words, this is like those ridiculous handicap matches the No Mercy career mode would make you play. It takes sixteen minutes before Kane and the Undertaker turn on each other, but they eventually join forces at the end to put Austin away with a double chokeslam. The only problem is that they both pin Austin, so who is the new champion? Austin had some well-timed comebacks and Ross’s commentary helped, but Kane and the Undertaker just did not have enough creative offense to take this up a notch. Rating: **½
-After the bell, McMahon sends Gerald Brisco to ringside to grab the bell and then runs to his limo backstage, escaping as Austin beats up the stooges. He flips Austin off before his limo speeds into the night.
The Final Report Card: This was a very, very strange card. Lots of matches added at the last second and the crowd did not care about a lot of what was taking place in the ring outside of the WWF championship match and the triple threat cage match. If you need a cure for insomnia, this is a great show to pick because after the opener things gradually get worse with the exception of the triple threat. The ending to the main event eventually created a great fall storyline, but it was an awful ending for a sub-par pay-per-view. What is it about September shows and screwy finishes when it comes to this company? In Your House 3, the weird ending to IYH: Mind Games in 1996, the Ground Zero double disqualification between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker (although that was actually good), and last year’s Randy Orton-Daniel Bryan debacle. The company might as well run a show called “September Screwed” (hey, it's better than Fast Lane!) because it has an awful record putting on enjoyable shows during that month of the year.
Buyrate: 0.86 (+0.41 from previous year)
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Down