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Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: A Cold Day In Hell!

The Netcop Retro Rant for IYH: A Cold Day In Hell.

With Summerslam 98 a mere two days hence, I thought it apropos to go back to the last time Steve Austin fought the Undertaker for the WWF title. (So that nails down the exact date this was written, at least.) 

Live from Richmond, Virginia.

Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.

Free For All match: Jesse Jammes v. Rockabilly.

Yes, it's the battle of the New Age Outlaws when they both sucked. Billy has his hair dyed brown for some reason. No heat on either side and Double J's music gets messed up by the sound techs. Nothing match as Billy controls and hits a DDT out of nowhere to halt a Jammes comeback and get the win. 1/4*  (Astonishing that these two would be the hottest act in wrestling just a few months later.) 

Opening match: Flash Funk (without Funkettes) v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (without heat)

BREAK IT...oh, wait, never mind. This was the "in between" period for HHH, after the blueblood thing and before the DX thing. He didn't even have Mankind to feud with until Canadian Stampede. JR notes that the Hart Foundation bought five front-row seats from a scalper. (They should have just hung out outside the arena, probably would have gotten the same seats at that point from guys giving out comp seats.)  Pretty bad match with zero heat. HHH does his four offensive moves and very little else. Chyna interferes now and then. More boring stuff happens with a nice Funk bump. HHH goes to the top rope (!) but misses. Funk gets a cross-body but picks up Helmsley and goes for the finisher but HHH suplexes him off the top and Pedigrees him for the win. * Chyna drops Funk on the top rope for fun. (Poor Flash lost his Funkettes due to budget cutbacks at this point, a fate that will probably befall Brodus Clay pretty soon, I’d imagine.) 

Clips from the UFC re: Ken Shamrock.

Ken offers some soundbites on the situation.

Mankind v. Rocky Maivia.

After losing the I-C title to Owen Hart, Rocky got jobbing duty until coming back as a member of the Nation. (That was actually a good decision, because it allowed Rocky to blow off residual fan hatred of his babyface run.)  Rocky gives an introspective interview about too much success before the match. The Rock is drawing no heat here. Back and forth match, Mankind does a nice somersault off the apron onto Rocky. Crowd is dead. Match is boring. Mankind takes a wicked Rock Bottom on the metal rampway and that gets a decent pop. Rocky goes for the finishing series (no People's Elbow) but Mankind rolls through a flying cross-body and applies the Mandible Claw for the submission. ** This loss was the catalyst for the heel turn. (And six months after I wrote this rant, they’d be main eventing for the WWF title.) 

The original Austin 3:16 t-shirt commercial.

Let's take you back to RAW where we set up Ahmed's gauntlet v. The Nation.

Ahmed Johnson v. Savio Vega, Crush & Faarooq.

I miss PG-13 rapping the Nation down to ringside. A very porky D-Lo Brown is also there and is a non-factor. If Ahmed can defeat all three members of the NOD, then they have to disband. Crush is the first guy in and they have a bad match. Ahmed uses a horrible Falcon Arrow for two. JR makes note of Ahmed's gang roots, which was the prelude to his joining the Nation a few weeks later. Crush keeps signalling for the Nation to run in but Gorilla Monsoon prevents them. Crush goes for the heart punch but Ahmed rolls him up for the pin. Thank god. Savio is the next guy in and is actually looking very lithe here. Savio whomps Ahmed, but Ahmed comes back eventually to take control. It spills out of the ring and Savio takes to him with a chair and gets DQ'd, then destroys Ahmed with the chair. This was a decent segment (compared with the last one). That leaves Faarooq. Very quick match as Ahmed hits the Pearl River Plunge in short order, but Faarooq kicks out at two to a massive heel reaction. Faarooq clips him, Dominator and Faarooq gets the win. About *1/2 total. Ironically, about a month later the NOD would self-destruct, creating the Gang Wars, and Ahmed would join the new and improved Nation version 2.0.  (I just redid this match on Vintage Collection recently, and holy god was it horrible.  I think *1/2 was actually being exceedingly generous.) 

More hype for Shamrock v. Vader.

Ken Shamrock v. Vader.

This is Shamrock's debut in the WWF and it's a submission match. (Has Vader ever submitted anyone in his entire career?  Does he even know any submission moves?)  Shamrock has different music from today's. Shamrock with some oh-so-stiff kicks that were likely real. (That was actually a real problem with Shamrock in his early days, as he had trouble with worked strikes and needed to work with people who could get him adjusted to wrestling.  Oddly, no one told him that he didn’t know how to work and then buried him for months.)  Good thing he doesn't do those anymore, otherwise there'd be muscle bruises all through the WWF. (People might have to get prescription painkillers!) They seem to be having trouble working together, which is understandable. Shamrock goes for a few submission holds which the crowd isn't digging. Ken does take a nice bump as Vader suplexes him over the top rope to the floor. Vader bleeds hardway from the nose from a stiff Shamrock shot. Vader seems legit pissed at Shamrock because of it. (Now he knows how 60% of his opponents felt towards him.)  Vader gets the advantage and goes for the Vadersault, but Shammy barely moves out of the way. Shamrock with more submission moves and then starts pounding Vader in the corner with mega-stiff shots and Vader nails him with a legit-looking right to the head in retribution. Shamrock quickly grabs the leg for the ankle-lock and submission. **1/2 A less-than-thrilling debut for Shamrock. Vader is legitimately injured by the ankle-lock and limps out with help from the referee.  (Sounds like an interesting trainwreck, actually.) 

WWF title match: The Undertaker v. Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Austin is only really, really over at this point as opposed to the levels he's at now. The Harts make their way to ringside as UT and Austin do the staredown. Brawl to start and then Undertaker takes over. Long side-headlock from Austin. UT breaks free and Austin goes to work on the leg. Austin wraps UT's leg around the pole and then lips off the Hart Foundation. Back in the ring and Austin continues kicking at the leg, including an STF. Ross notes that if Lawler ever moved out of Memphis he might learn some more holds. Oooooo. More working on the leg from Austin, then Austin gets tossed outside the ring and Undertaker goes to work on *his* leg. Well, they've got the psychology thing down pat. Undertaker viciously stomps the braced leg of Austin. (Why didn’t more people do that, I wonder?  Dude wore a target on his knee for YEARS and no one ever really went for it.)  Austin responds with a spinning toehold, and goes back to work on UT's leg. UT tries the ropewalk and Austin drops him on the top rope. Superplex blocked by UT, but his big elbow misses. Double whip, sleeper and Austin counters with a jawbreaker. Austin gets put in the corner and rears back with the field goal to the Undertaker's...uh...creatures of the night. UT with his own lowblow (big pop), chokeslam, but Austin rolls to the ropes. Austin snaps UT's neck off the top rope, Stone Cold Stunner, but Brian Pillman runs over and rings the bell so Hebner doesn't count. Zombie situp, whip, reversal and UT goes for the tombstone, Austin reverses for his own, but Undertaker reverses AGAIN and hits it this time for the pin to retain. This was actually a really good match. *** (Note that they made sure to make Austin look like a legitimate threat before jobbing.)  The Harts beat the hell out of the Undertaker after the decision, and Austin uses the moment to dump Bret out of his wheelchair and steal his crutches in order to make the save. The faces clean house and the Harts retreat. Then, in one of *the* defining moments for Austin, he jumps UT from behind and stuns him, just because he can. Fabulous.

The Bottom Line: Main event was a good piece of the Austin-Hart storyline, but the rest was pretty forgettable crap. The WWF was in a major rut at this time outside of the awesome Hart Foundation saga, and it showed as they missed Shawn tremendously. Recommendation to avoid, and see you at Summerslam!  (This sounds like an interesting show on paper, actually, with Rock v. Mankind, Austin v. Undertaker and Shamrock v. Vader all on one two-hour show.  Might have to track it down and give it another go sometime.) 

Comments

  1. This was the first ppv I went to. And the reaction for Farooq kicking out the Pearl River Plunge was pretty big live.  There was also a dark match that saw Owen and Bulldog retain the titles against the LOD via a Dusty Finish DQ if I recall correctly.

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  2. "(Poor Flash lost his Funkettes due to budget cutbacks at this point, a fate that will probably befall Brodus Clay pretty soon, I’d imagine.)"
    Don't even JOKE about WWE dropping Dat Ass Squared (Or cubed, if you count Naomi's ass as two)

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  3. That shot that Vader gave Shamrock towards the end of the match drew a huge gasp from the crowd. We thought that Vader had legit gotten pissed and knocked Shamrock out. Also, the anklelock finish was out of nowhere. Nowadays, it's an established finisher but back then, people in the crowd were thinking, "all of those big shots and a frickin lame footlock/toe hold thing is the finish?" 

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  4. Christopher HirschMay 18, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    "Austin is only really, really over at this point as opposed to the levels he's at now."

    If this was written two days before SummerSlam 98, not sure what you're talking about.

    Still remember this show quite well, best part of living in England was getting all the pay per views on satellite.

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  5. Christopher HirschMay 18, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    That ass move they do is the one part of Brodus' act I don't fast forward through, best women's entrance since Melina did the splits on the apron wearing a skirt.

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  6. Shamrock's music here is so bad, and so unfitting, it's hilarious. 

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  7. I've never seen that match but reading this review makes me shocked that Faarooq kicked out of the Plunge. Ahmed's stock must have been really low for that to happen because his finisher was one of the more devastating ones in the company at the time.

    Come to think of it, I'm surprised no one else has used that finisher now. Of course, I couldn't see a guy like Mason Ryan pulling it off without blowing both his quads.

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  8.  Oh man, I just watched it, and I still mark out for it. Shamrock's laying in stiff shots to Vader in the corner and you can tell Vader's getting quite annoyed by it. Then he just levels him.

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  9. I had heard that Shamrock was ordered to beat the crap out of Vader for working stiff against everyone.

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  10. One of the rumors going round was that Shamrock was told to go stiff on Vader as a receipt for all the times Vader worked stiff on everyone else. Once Vader knew what was happening he tried to fight back but Shamrock was able to take him out.

    And Vader used submission holds back in UWFi days.

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  11.  Yeah I haven't watched this show in a while but wasn't it like some terrible saxophone/bass jazzy tune?

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  12. Actually Ahmed was extremely protected in this match.  He took out Crush and had Savio beat so Savio took him out with a chair. He had Farooq beat with the PRP but took too long to cover and Farooq capitalized on it. It was a pretty shit match but the booking made him look pretty good. Everyone around me wasn't saying Ahmed was a chump for losing but how he had Farooq beat who had to take the cheap way out. Of course a 1997 crowd in Va wasn't very smarky or anything but that's the type of reaction you want in that sort of situation in my opinion.

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  13. One of the guys I went with was the photographer for our high school newspaper and somehow used that to get us comped lower level tickets. He got a press pass and was able to sit behind the Hart Foundation. He said that Pillman was totally into his wildman act during the time. Just acting manic and yelling at fans.

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  14. Ah, I gotcha. Thanks for the note!

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  15. About 9:20 in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7S2SY2pSgw

    Also, it was impressive that Farooq could get Ahmed up for the Dominator.

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  16. On Classics on Demand right now they have the go home show for this PPV and the Raw the night after. I wish I could go back in time and slap the shit out of 1997 me for watching Nitro most of the time. That show has not aged gracefully.

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  17. I remember ordering this one, and I knew Austin wasn't winning the title at that point, but damn did I enjoy that match.

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  18. There is a great "Vadermania" video from the guy who does botchamania detailing all his most notorious moments.  Fun video, i wouldn't want to work with Vader

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  19. I kind of liked the booking of Taker in his first run.  He avenged a previous loss to Mankind at the PPV before this (though not in the main event), beats Austin clean but still looks vulnerable (instead of immortal as he does now), and next up is the KotR match against Farooq which is more of the same.  I really liked this time in WWF lore - although only watching in hindsight.

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  20. Yeah! Ummm....should we high-five or something?

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  21. Wait, I'm confused. How come Ken Shamrock didn't lose in his first match from a lucky punch? I thought that was how these things are supposed to go.

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  22. They never do cool stuff like Austin giving the Undertaker a Stunner just because. Every show (Raw, SmackDown, PPVs, etc.) just end with a way too long shot of a guy, usually Cena, trying to show some emotion.

    I used to love during the Monday Night Wars when something big would happen right as the show was going off the air.

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  23. Christopher HirschMay 18, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    I remember that match with Faarooq being awful.

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  24.  I dunno, I watch the Nitro's, and find them to be a bit more entertaining. I'm a huge nWo mark, so I dig all that, plus you've got some decent undercard stuff. Raw though, other than the Hart/Stone Cold stuff, is pretty bleh, as they just hadn't pulled themselves out of the rut yet.

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  25. You mean you don't wax nostalgic about watching Kenny Kaos take on Lismarck, Jr?

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  26. I enjoy the Nitros more than Raw as well.

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  27. Vader deserved every single stiff shot he ever received, and Shamrock should've cranked the ankle lock until his ankle broke.

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  28. I can't believe people actually enjoy Nitro knowing what is going to happen. Seriously, it's an incoherent 20 minute rambling Hogan promo followed by a decent cruiser match, followed by terrible storylines and angles and a main event that never happens. And then Sting points at everyone. 

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  29. I don't. I wax nostalgic about Jerry Flynn vs Tombstone.

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  30.  They had even decent matches and storylines.

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  31.  thats why I didn't watch Nitro but stuck with Raw instead (even in 1996, when Nitro was the better show for a lot of weeks).

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  32. Pillman is pretty underrated (yes, there are a lot of people that acknowledge he was "good"... when instead he was AMAZING at what he did).

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  33. I enjoy the old Nitros too more than the old RAWs, although both are helped/hurt by whether or not I can actually remember what happens haha. 

    For me it sort of depends on the era -- 1997 Nitro I enjoy a lot.  Two hours is the perfect amount of time given the roster they had at the time.  You usually get several good matches -- I really miss the old six man lucha matches in particular.  What angles/storylines are you referring to that you thought were terrible btw? 

    I do sort of agree about the Sting stuff, but while the build to Hogan/Sting is pretty deliberate (Sting does do a lot of pointing) it is also a a lot of fun to watch the crowd lose their mind when he started dropping from the rafters and such.  The two minute main event / no finish / NWO run in / Sting attacks to close the shows definitely get old quick though.

    1997 was a better year for RAW and Nitro both than 1998 was for either in my opinion.  Especially the USA vs Canada stuff.  That was amazing and almost all of the guys involved could and would work a good match on those shows. Once you get to 1998, RAW feels like 90% promos.  It's just so... much... talking and dumb humor.  Nitro going to three hours really hurt too, because most of the time, instead of getting longer matches, you just got an extra hour of promos and commercials.  I think that really hurt the crowd response to the shows in the arenas.

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  34.  uh... no?

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  35. At the point where I'm at in WCW 1997, the story lines as far as I can tell are...

    DDP/Savage. Not bad. DDP's promos have not aged well, they are so corny. 

    Mongo McMichael/Jarrett bromance. Terrible all the way around.

    Mongo/Reggie White. Yes, Mongo is involved in two different story lines at once and as far as I can tell is a face in one, and a heel in the other.

    Some kind of breakup angle with Konnan and Hugh Morrus. Still not sure what is going on. 

    The Mortal Kombat feud with Glacier/Wrath/Mortis. Shockingly I'm digging it this time around. 

    Luger and Giant teaming and being boring and not really doing anything. 

    Hall/Nash/Syxx against Piper/Flair/Greene. The coked out promos from Piper and Flair are fun. 

    Plus the previously mentioned way too long Hogan promos and the bait and switch main events.



    As for 1998 Raw, that's my favorite wrestling show ever. Yeah, it's promo and angle heavy but they were hitting on everything in the summer and it felt like every different story line was connected. 

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  36. Semi-related: I haven't seen Superstars or NXT ever but apparently Johnny Curtis has been doing some kind of crazy-Pillman-esque character. Anyone know if it's any good?

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  37. I remember as a kid, not yet smartened up but getting there, thinking that Rocky must be leaving WWF or something because he lost to Foley here. Crazy to think they'd end up having some of the biggest main events in WWF history a few years later. I saw them wrestle in Canada once, that Raw 2 nights after Montreal when everyone was injured or out and Foley was playing Dude Love, and it honestly felt like we got a shitty mid-card-ish main event. Hard to believe a year later that'd be a World title match.

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  38. The show sounds better in retrospect than it is, because of the matchups. Not saying it's a bad show. With the last two matches, it becomes decent. But I just found that it was merely another PPV.

    Though Hebner giving Austin the finger was awesome (remember watching it with my buddies, and we all roared).

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  39. Ken had been in wrestling roughly half an hour at that point; if you want to send a message to a vet like Vader, you use another vet, not someone green as good weed like Shamrock was at that point.

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  40. I think it was all part of the plan. You can hear Vader yell out more kicks near the end and I think the haymaker from Vader was planned to get over the fact that Shamrock can beat you at any time.

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  41.  As far as the WWF goes, although 1997 was great (even with Raw losing to Nitro most of the year), I personally liked 1998 Raw more. The Attitude era may not have aged well for some, but it definitely has with me. 1997 Nitro was way better than 1998.  Going to 3 hours was NOT a good move.

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  42. Austin/Taker is an easy **** imo. Really underrated match from them

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  43. It's not that great a show, I think Scott's ratings are fair. Watched it recently, it's more interesting in hindsight but not *better*.

    What is underlooked is the Revenge Of The Taker PPV from around this time. I think it's that one. Excellent brawl on whichever PPV it is between Taker and Mankind, with a SICK head first into the accounce table bump. Guess who from.

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