The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF Over the Edge 98
- This is another one of my patented do-overs, as the original was of course done in 1998 and doesn't hold up well as a review. Plus I always felt that I overrated a lot of the matches at the time. So let's see what 4 years of perspective accomplishes, shall we? (And then let’s see what another 10 years of perspective accomplishes.)
- Live from Milwaukee, WI
- Your hosts are JR & King.
- Opening match: LOD2000 v. DOA.
LOD has new recruit Droz with them along with Sunny, and the DOA bring Chainz. Man, did that entire team go to hell or what? Between Droz' injury and Sunny's fall from grace, that babyface side ended up being a bad place to be. (Not to mention Hawk’s death about a year after I wrote this.) Meanwhile, the Harris twins are still kicking. Go figure. Big brawl to start, and Animal starts with 8-Ball. Luckily, the Harris twins are good enough thugs to wear nametags on their leather jackets, so we can tell the difference. Remember, if you're going to be rabble-rousing, at least have the courtesy to wear a nametag. 8-Ball gets a neckbreaker and a legdrop, but a charge misses and Animal gets a dragon-screw legwhip to take him down. A word on notation here, if I may. Most of this is short-hand for the more accurate descriptions of the move. For instance, some may find "Move vaguely resembling the same motions that one is supposed to make while doing a neckbreaker" too cumbersome to read (and type) 10 times over the course of a 10-minute match, so I just say "neckbreaker" for the sake of keeping things short and to the point, although perhaps I am sacrificing accuracy and/or clarity at the same time, but that's a chance I'm willing to take. For your own reference, laugh after every move name if it helps you come to grips with how badly done each and every move in this match is, as in neckbreaker (ha!) and a legdrop (*snort*), and so on. Hope this helped. Skull & Hawk do some shoving, and Skull drops some elbows. Sideslam gets two. Piledriver is no-sold (and this is doubly apropos, because not only is no-selling the piledriver Hawk's usual MO, but the piledriver itself is so bad, and so much in plain view as making absolutely no contact, that even Jerry Lawler has to cover up for it by noting that Skull didn't get any contact with it) and Hawk gets the neckbreaker, allowing the LOD to work Skull over in the corner. Animal hits the chinlock, and Hawk's legdrop gets two. Hawk then goes up and misses whatever, and he's YOUR drunk-in-peril. DOA gets a double-boot for two. Choking follows. Well, at least they can do THAT properly. Elbow gets two as JR seems ready to break out that old bowling shoe reference. Hawk fights back, but gets laid out by the other Harris brother, and that gets two for the Harris brother who isn't that Harris brother. Dammit, where's those nametags when you need them? (To make matters even worse, Brian Lee’s real name is…Brian Harris.) To the chinlock, crowd is bored. Beating in the corner continues, but Skull misses whatever off the top, hot tag Animal. He escapes a double-team and suplexes Skull, but 8-Ball switches off in a spot that goes nowhere. It's chaos! Madness! Lunacy! Everyone is running around as cluelessly as Jackie Gayda in a battle royale, (See, young’uns, Jackie Gayda was a fucking awful wrestler who managed to win a season of Tough Enough, although really not much worse than the Divas today but she had the misfortune of being around at the same time as Lita and Trish and Molly.) until Droz distracts 8-Ball and Animal powerslams him for the pin at 9:55. To quote Marge Simpson, "It's an ending. That's enough." DUD (I love that quote. It works in SO MANY situations.)
- Rock comes out to speak to his fanclub (which, admittedly, in 1998 wasn't as large as it is today) on the subject of how incredibly ugly the women in Milwaukee are, and why everyone in the city must therefore be a drunk to keep sane and reproduce. Faarooq comes out to defend the honor of drunks everywhere and messes up a piledriver onto a chair, completely missing the chair, and thus making it look ridiculous when Rock is carried off on a stretcher as a result. They fight later, you know.
- Jeff Jarrett v. Steve Blackman.
The feud so hot that it just couldn't be contained by RAW! Blackman attacks on the floor to start, and presses JJ back into the ring. Missile dropkick sets up something else from the top, but we never find out, as Jarrett bulldogs him when he tries it. Strutting results. Blackman kicks him down again, and gets a german suplex for two. JJ gets put into the Tree of Woe and choked. Tennessee Lee (Robert Fuller) distracts Steve by promising him a new pair of pajama bottoms, and the offer is so blindingly tempting that he doesn't even notice JJ clocking him from behind on the floor. (We also would have accepted “Zubaz pants.” Zubaz pants.) Back in, Blackman quickly shakes off the daydreaming and goes up, but misses and Jarrett dropkicks him for two. He charges and hits elbow, but when Blackman goes for a pump splash, he hits knee. They do a laughable pinfall reversal sequence, before Jarrett steps things up with a sleeper. Oh, man, they should re-sign him! All he needs is a spinebuster and he's set for the main event again! (Luckily TNA snapped him up so we’d never have to see him on RAW again.) Blackman, presumably showing that same fire and drive for the bigtime that HHH talked about in his speech, reverses to his own sleeper, as if to say "Hey, Jeff's not the only guy who can work main event style here!" Sadly, this deep and meaningful exchange of political statements is completely overshadowed by Al Snow trying to do commentary with the Spanish announce team and getting tossed out of the building. Who'd have thunk that mere years later, Snow and Blackman would forever revolutionize the face of tag team wrestling with Head Cheese? Well, I guess no one would have thunk that, because they sucked, but I felt like the moment needed a dramatic foreshadowing bit. (I’m sensing I was bored while writing this.) JJ suplexes out of the sleeper, and that eventually gets two as they lay around in a dramatic selling bit to wait for Snow to get tossed out of the building. Blackman fights back and gets a backbreaker. Spinkick and Buddy Landell elbow get two. The KICK OF FEAR follows, but this time Tennessee Lee is offering him a new pair of sticks, and he gets off his gameplan again. The heels miscommunicate, however, and Blackman gets a rollup for two. He grabs the kendo stick and nails Jarrett for two. He goes up, gets tripped up by Lee, and Jarrett finishes him with his own kendo stick at 10:14. Oh, the irony. Pretty good finish bails this one out. ** (Amazingly they pushed Jarrett even HARDER after this. I don’t know what he had on Russo, but it must have been good.)
- Marc Mero v. Sable.
This was advertised as Sable picking a wrestler to defend her honor and help her escape a personal services contract with the evil Mero. If Sable won, she was emancipated. If Mero won, Sable leaves the WWF forever. FOREVER. However, it ended up being Sable taking on the match by herself, and giving a big speech about women's empowerment and not needing a man to fight for her. Which was fine, except that Mero immediately tricked her into going for an easy pinfall, and then cradled her for the pin to win the match. "Forever" ended up being about two weeks, at which point she returned working for Vince McMahon and the angle was never mentioned again. Women's rights ain't what they used to be. (Not to mention when she left the company for realz, she sued and won, and then came back from THAT as well a couple of years later.)
- Sho Funaki, Dick Togo & Men's Teioh v. Taka Michinoku & Bradshaw.
Seriously, what in the hell were they thinking with this feud? On the upside, it's better than Bradshaw being the Texas Hardcore champ and feuding with Johnny the Bull on Heat while hitting him with a canoe. I think. (If only they had kept him there instead of deciding that making him World champion would be a splendid idea to try.) Speaking of Japanese stereotyping, someone sent me a bunch of banned World War II cartoons, and I gotta say that even as someone who's normally pretty much on the "lay off the politically correct BS" side of the fence, they did a pretty efficient job of offending me. Once Bugs Bunny starts throwing out racial slurs at buck-toothed and barefoot Japanese soldiers, that's pretty much over my line of tolerance. It amazes me that America's disgusting propaganda tactics got swept under the rug and buried while Germany got written as the only ones doing that sort of thing. I guess history really is written by the winners. (Most of those cartoons actually ended up on the last couple of volumes of the Looney Tunes Golden Collections, and in fact there’s a whole disc dedicated to them on one of the sets. That was pretty awesome of Warner, actually, although they stopped doing the sets.) Anyway, Bradshaw presses Taka onto Kaientai (this was, of course, before Taka joined the WWF-version of the team) on the floor. In the ring, Bradshaw comes in and Kaientai runs away like a monster is chasing them. Teioh starts with Taka to begin things properly and gets a hiptoss, but Bradshaw chases everyone off again. You get the feeling that the only one this is intended to help is Bradshaw? (Probably because it was.) Togo pounds Taka, but misses a charge and Taka gets a tornado DDT for two. JR makes history by issuing the first apologetic statement about how he wants to see the light heavyweight division get better, and how they're not quite there yet, but any day now. (You know what would really perk up the division? A midget holding the belt, preferably one dressed like an adorable leprechaun.) And people wonder why no one takes him seriously anymore. Funaki bails and Taka follows with a quebrada that gets so much hangtime that he overshoots and hits the railing at the same time as the target. Yikes. Togo jumps him on the way back in, however, and hits a wheelbarrow powerbomb. Funaki gets a suplex for two. Teioh with the big boot, and butterfly suplex for two. Togo corkscrews him and uses the Vulcan nerve pinch to slow things down a tick. Snap powerslam gets two. Funaki & Teioh hit the double-team DDT on him, but Bradshaw saves. Togo debuts the swanton bomb on PPV a year before Jeff Hardy (and hits it better), and then he and Funaki follow with a Paisan elbow. Taka elbows out of Funaki's sleeper, but Kaientai do their triple-team sequence. Funaki misses a charge, and Taka makes the hot tag to Bradshaw. He no-sells EVERYTHING, and I mean he barely even registers any of the shots from three guys at once, and powerbombs Funaki in vicious fashion. Tiger suplex on Teioh gets two. Taka comes back in with a Michinoku driver on Togo that gets two, but chaos erupts and Togo sneaks in a senton bomb for the pin at 9:53. Why couldn't we see the Miracle Ecstasy Bomb from Men's Teioh, dammit? And why didn't anyone stop and think that maybe it might have been a good idea just to make Taka & Funaki a team, and have them feud with Togo & Teioh instead of putting all the short guys on the same team? Bradshaw was useless for the purposes of this match, but there was some fun stuff with the Kaientai crew. **1/2
- Intercontinental title: The Rock v. Faarooq.
Rock is sporting a fashionable neckbrace from the earlier attack. Faarooq attacks and rips it off right away, then hits him with it. And Rock SELLS it. Faarooq gets a pair of clotheslines, and Rock bails. They brawl out and back in, where Rock gets a clothesline to take over. He works the neck, and gets a reverse elbow. People's Elbow gets a bit of a pop, although I was at a house show with him in the main event shortly after this and it got the MONSTER pop of the night. JR gives his usual disgust at Rock's showboating, but four years later the move would be used to polish off Hulk Hogan cleanly at Wrestlemania. Think on THAT one. Smack is laid down, and Faarooq clotheslines him and drops a headbutt for two. Rock DDTs him for two. Faarooq spinebuster gets two. It's the old "ref counts three but the heel has his foot on the ropes" trick, but the crowd is so bored that they don't even register the false finish. Rock quickly uses the Ric Flair pin (and draws a big pop) at 5:12. Well, at least it was quick. ½* The Nation and D-X get into a pullapart brawl afterwards.
- Kane v. Vader.
This is, ahem, mask v. mask. Guess who wins. JUST GUESS. Slugfest to start, won by Kane. Kane walks into a boot and Vader clubbers him. Kane reverses a suplex, but misses an elbow. Vader gets a short-arm, which Kane no-sells. Kane gets his own and slugs away, and slams him. Kane up top with the flying clothesline. Zzzzzzzz. Vader slugs back and gets the big boot, but Kane turns the tide again. More punching. Kane hits the chinlock to liven things up and chokeslams Vader, but he bails and finds a wrench. Oh, no, not a wrench! Back in, he gets a clothesline and goes up, but misses the Vadersault. Tombstone ends my pain at 7:18. Man, Kane was not good in the early years. (As opposed to…?) 1/4* Kane gives Paul Bearer the Vader mask as a trophy, and Vader gives a rather infamous interview where he declares himself to be a "fat piece of shit" because he lost. Vader was gone soon after. (Rough week for Vader between the Cold Day In Hell rant and this one.)
- D-Generation X v. Owen Hart, D-Lo Brown & The Godfather.
This was just after the "D-X visits Atlanta and turns face" angle that was inexplicably chosen by the WWE dunderheads on Confidential as the moment that sunk WCW. D-Lo and Dogg start and exchange hammerlocks. D-Lo slugs him down and overpowers him. He grabs a headlock, which Dogg hiptosses out of . Billy Gunn comes in and clotheslines Owen. Press slam follows, and we get some stalling, but Gunn walks into a leg lariat. HHH slugs Owen and gets the high knee, and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Dogg drops a leg for two. Owen goes low on HHH and Godfather comes in and pounds the shit out of HHH. HHH gets a facebuster and Gunn comes in, but gets kicked to death. D-Lo's dropkick is blocked with a catapult, and HHH stomps a mudhole on him. Road Dogg with the shaky-legs kneedrop for two. The Outlaws work D-Lo over and Gunn suplex gets two. HHH kneedrop gets two. Dogg gets caught in the heel corner with a cheapshot, and Godfather puts him down with a back kick. Owen gets a piledriver gets two. Neckbreaker and flying elbow get two. D-Lo's legdrop gets two, and we hit the chinlock. Dogg fights back, but walks into the Skyhigh powerbomb for two. Dogg bodypresses Owen for two, but Owen hooks the Sharpshooter. HHH saves. Godfather misses a pump splash, but a clothesline gets two. Back to the chinlock, and D-Lo goes up with the moonsault for two. Senton misses, hot tag Gunn. He cleans house on the heels as the camera closes in on his pathetic missed punches in the corner. A belt gets involved and D-Lo gets piledriven on it, but there's no ref. Owen Pedigrees HHH on that same belt, and gets the pin at 17:37. Whoa, that's pretty much the only time you'll see THAT finish. Pretty boring stuff here. *1/2
- WWF title match: Steve Austin v. Dude Love.
Okay, here it is: The match that established the Steve Austin Main Event Style forever and gave Vince Russo his idea to recycle 800 times after this. The Fink is forced to robotically introduce guest ring announcer Pat Patterson in glowing terms while reading from cue cards. Funny shit. Pat is apparently a Canadian legend on the level of Anne Murray. No argument there. Pat then introduces fellow stooge (and guest timekeeper) Gerald Brisco, including a plug for the body shop, of course. "We know who does the rear ends", JR notes. The introduction of guest referee is so incredibly over-the-top that you know Vince had to write it himself. And you know it's a special occasion because Mick has his teeth in. Patterson refuses to introduce a bum like Austin, but everyone knows who he is. Undertaker then delays the opening bell by making a surprise appearance as the guest enforcer to keep Vince in line. Vince starts bullying Austin right off the opening lockup. Dude's shoulderblock gets a REALLY fast two-count, and UT shoots Vince a dirty look. The counts slow down after that. (Perhaps Undertaker taped his fists menacingly in the locker room beforehand.) Crowd is just INSANE for Austin. Dude gets a knee for one and grabs a headlock, and they work off that for a bit. Crowd chants "Vince is gay". Well, that's just slander. Dude's teeth get knocked out, so Austin improvises a spot where he stomps on them. What an awesome touch. Well, now Mick's pissed, and he pounds on Austin in the corner, but walks into a Thesz Press and gets dumped. They brawl, and Austin hits the stairs. Vince tells them that there's no countouts, which is news to JR, so back in we go. Dude gets a legsweep for two, and chokes away. Dude drops an elbow and rams a knee into the gut for two. Austin gets a Neckbreaker and three clotheslines, and stomps a mudhole. Dude gets the Mandible Claw early on, but Austin hangs him in the ropes. Out we go, and Patterson "reminds" us that it's no-DQ. This, also, is news to JR, and he gets a bit bent out of shape over it. (I think this match worked so well because Russo’s goofy conceit about the rules changing mid-match was one of the first booking twists in a long LONG time that was wholly original. )Dude takes advantage of this sudden change of stips by choking out Austin with a TV cable, but hits a table and gets pounded. Austin sends Dude into the front row with a sick clothesline over the railing, and back to ringside for more ass-whooping. Back in, Austin crotches himself and Dude baseball slides him out again. Neckbreaker on the floor, and now Patterson "reminds" us that it's falls count anywhere. JR is shocked and appalled. Dude gets a backslide for two in the aisle. Austin rips his head off with a lariat and they fight to the cars used as scenery, where Dude backdrops Austin onto a car, and gets two. Austin hotshots Dude onto a car for two. They head onto the roof, but Dude blocks a stunner and sends Austin crashing to the floor in a crazy bump. Austin blades on the way down. Dude then sunset flips him off the top of the car, for two. Dude grabs an exhaust pipe, but Austin isn't ready to take the shot so they scrap it. Austin fights back, but a piledriver is reversed for two. Dude suplexes him and heads up to the roof of a car, but misses an elbow. Austin gets two from that. They head back to ringside and into the ring, where Pat trips Austin to put Dude back on offense. He exposes a turnbuckle, and rams Austin into it, then works the cut. Dude hits the chinlock and Austin fights free.but goes back into the turnbuckle again. Dude grabs a chair in desperation and uses that for a double-arm DDT that gets two, but charges and gets it back in the face. Now Austin is PISSED. Chairshot kills Foley DEAD, but Vince won't count. Dude recovers and charges with the chair again, but now Vince gets it upside the head and goes night-night. KICK WHAM STUNNER, no ref. Another ref runs in to count, but Pat Patterson gets rid of him at two. Mick reverses to a Mandible Claw and Pat decides to exercise his refereeing powers to count two, but Undertaker exercises his right to fuck shit up old-school and chokeslams him through a table. OH YEAH. Now THAT'S an effective use of Undertaker. You know a match is working when it's 4 years later and you'll still marking out watching it. Brisco tries the same refereeing strategy, and he gets no love from the Deadman, either. KICK WHAM STUNNER, and Austin uses Vince's own hand to count the pin at 22:26 and blow the damn roof off the building. ****3/4 Now THAT'S sports entertainment. (Here’s why the current WWE “rules” about how to be a “professional” bug the shit out of me. So CM Punk gets punished because someone ratted him out to HHH about not wearing a suit in the airport. Think about this for a minute: When did Steve Austin, the biggest star in the history of the UNIVERSE, ever wear a suit? What would happen if you told him to a wear a suit? And yet he was the biggest star they ever had. Further, what was the biggest FEUD they ever had? I can sum it up in three lines of dialogue: “You should wear this suit.” “Fuck you and everyone associated with you.” “Well, then I’m just going to have to destroy you.” In fact, they once did an angle on RAW where Vince tried to make Austin wear a suit, and Austin gave him a shot in the nuts in response. The irony is so thick that I’m shocked it doesn’t choke out the oxygen in the arena some nights.)
The Bottom Line:
Pretty brutal show for the first couple of hours, but in grand tradition of the Austin era, the main event completely bailed out the entire show and sent the crowd home on a high note. However, that match is available in full on the Mick Foley DVD, so skip Over the Edge and pick that up instead.
Recommendation to avoid.