(This is a show I don’t remember at all outside of the main event, and even then I mostly remember our group being convinced that they’d somehow hotshot the belt onto the Rock here.)
- Live from Chicago, IL.
- Your hosts are JR and Lawler.
- Opening match: Al Snow v. Marc Mero.
Pretty good pop for the Snowman. After both guys are in the ring, Jarrett's music starts up and he wanders down to ringside, seemingly to be included in the match. Mero attacks from behind as Jarrett gets escorted out. Snow with a bunch of clotheslines for a two count. "Sable" chant during a headlock. Mero with a flying elbow to take over. Then he decides to go after the Head and gets cradled for two. They trade head-fake clothesline spots and then Snow with a DDT. Nice moonsault from Snow, and then Jackie is on the apron, allowing a low blow and DDT from Mero. Only gets two. Jackie chokes Snow out on the ropes. Kick and kneelift from Mero. Mero to the top with the Merosault for two. Snow with the rapid-fire headbutts, but eats a clothesline. Enzuigiri from Snow cues the comeback. Skyhigh powerbomb and Snow goes to the top but misses the moonsault. Mero with a rolling cradle for two. Whip to the corner and Samoan Drop by Mero, and he goes to the top. Shooting Star press misses. Snow gets two on the resulting cover. Mero goes for the TKO but Snow spins out and Snowplows Mero for the win. The match was sound enough, but done in sloooooooow motion. **1/2 Crowd was totally out of it during the match -- they pop for the catchphrases and Head, but not for the wrestler. Not a good sign. (Yeah, Snow didn’t really gain any traction until the hardcore era began in early 99.)
- Shots of Austin being herded around by the Three Stooges during Heat.
- DOA & Paul Ellering v. LOD2000. Hawk is still injured last I heard, so hopefully he'll stay on the apron most of the way here. (Yeah, “injured”.) Droz looks pretty cool with the LOD gear. LOD gets the hometown pop. Skull attacks from behind to start against Animal. Neckbreaker and whip, but Animal reverses and cleans house. Damn, Hawk tags in. Ugly powerslam by 8ball. Hawk with an ugly powerslam of his own. Clothesline and he no-sells some DOA offense and hits the neckbreaker. Droz in with a flying elbow but gets distracted and beat up in the wrong corner. Sidewalk slam (called CORRECTLY as such by JR -- take notes, Tony) by DOA. (All these years later and now I don’t even know what a “sidewalk slam” is SUPPOSED to be. Was the “official” move supposed to be like Ron Simmons’ spinebuster?) Droz comes back with a flying clothesline but it doesn't help much. Ellering comes in with some kicks, selling him as ineffective, which is actually silly because Ellering is a perfectly good wrestler. Hot tag to Hawk, who cleans house. Pier-six brawl and LOD goes for the Doomsday Device. Droz pins a DOA guy for the pin. Hawk looks upset by this. I'm just glad it's over, and if it takes a Hawk heel turn tease to get there, so be it. 1/2* (Was this before or after the “suicide attempt” by Hawk? Feels like before. So sad on so many levels.)
- Dok, Sable, Snow and Head plug the Superstar Line.
- Lightheavyweight title: TAKA Michinoku v. Christian (w/ Gangrel).
(The debut of Christian!) They trade some stuff and Christian ends up outside the ring, setting up the springboard plancha from TAKA. We see Edge sitting in the cheap seats watching. (I THINK that I know him.) Christian shoulderblocks his way in, but ends up laying on the second rope and Taka comes off the top and drives his knee into his head for a two count. Christian with shoulderblocks in the corner, and hits a kind of inverted DDT. Locomotion double suplex and a face-first suplex for a two-count. Nice. Crowd is still dead. Chinlock by Christian doesn't help. Taka fights out but misses a move and dives right to the floor. Christian off the top with a somersault bodyblock to the floor. Back in the ring with a nasty powerbomb for a two count. Slam and choking. They're just moving too slow here. Christian to the top and it misses. Taka up, but Christian with forearms. Taka hits the dropkick and baseball slides him out, then nails a nice Asai moonsault. Taka with chops in the corner (whoo), then a whip to the other corner. Taka with a cross-body off the top, Christian rolls through for two. Taka with a rollup for two. Taka with a seated dropkick for two. Cross-corner whip, and another, but Christian catches him with a russian legsweep on the third try for two. Powerbomb, but Taka escapes and goes up for a Tornado DDT. He calls for the driver, but Christian reverses to a cradle for the pin! Surprisingly big pop for the upset as Christian wins the title in his first match. *** (Did he gain the title shot by incessantly chanting “ONE MATCH! ONE MATCH!” at everyone beforehand?)
- Val Venis v. Goldust.
I think the fans are becoming uncertain who the heel and face in this feud are. (Oh, that would only get worse! Just wait until Wrestlemania. As a point of reference, if you held a gun to my head right now and asked me who the heel and face were at this point, I wouldn’t be able to do much better than a blind guess.) Val's intro gets cut off by Goldust's entrance. Big pop for Goldust. Goldust attacks right off but Val comes back with elbows and rapid-fire punches. Goldust gets tossed and they fight outside, as Val gets whipped to the railing and then dropped face-first on the STEEL steps. Val pounds away as Goldust comes back in and tosses Goldust again. Val to the top with a cross-body to the floor. Goldust back in and Val off the top, but hits Goldust's fist. Atomic drop and slingshot belly-to-back from Goldust. Cross-corner whip and clothesline for two. Val with a wristlock and Goldust kind of whips him off. Rolling necksnap and they end up outside, and Goldust goes shoulderfirst to the post. Val works on his arm. Short-arm scissors from Val. Goldust fights out but Val goes back to the arm. Two count from Val, Goldust up, and Val clotheslines him for another two. Russian legsweep for two. Whip and powerslam, and Val goes for the Money Shot. Goldust knocks him down with punches and superplexes him for two. To the second rope and it misses. Sleeper from Goldust and Val suplexes his way out of it. Clothesline and a backdrop from Goldust, then the bulldog. Terri is up on the apron and screaming something at Goldust. (“If you keep trying to get those breast implants I’m gonna fuck New Jack and then brag about it on Facebook, whatever that is.”) Val goes for the sneak attack but Goldust moves and proceeds to punt Val in the Big Valbowski. YEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!!!!!! This is obviously enough for the pin. Good match. ***
- Clips of Shamrock beating the hell out of HHH on Heat.
- European title match: D-Lo Brown v. X-Pac.
Chyna looks yummy tonight. (Jesus, how much was I drinking!?!) D-Lo is from Milan, Italy. Huge "D-Lo Sucks" chant, which can only mean good things for him. (Unless he accidentally breaks a guy’s neck on national TV, but what are the odds of THAT happening?) Shoulderblock from D-Lo to start, which the crowd doesn't appreciate. Shots in the corner and an arm wringer from D-Lo. X-Pac rolls out of it ala Owen Hart. Clothesline by D-Lo for two. Slam and elbow from D-Lo. More "D-Lo Sucks" from the crowd. Cross-corner whip but the charge misses. X-Pac fights back with the spinning kicks in the corner, and the Bronco Buster. D-Lo utilizes the Jeff Jarrett counter to retake control. Two count off the ballshot. Long chinlock slows it down. X-Pac fights out but D-Lo hits the flying body attack thing for a two count. Running powerbomb for two. D-Lo offers a crotch chop to Chyna. He tries a superplex but X-Pac blocks and shoves him down. Cross-body but D-Lo rolls through for a 2 3/4 count. Knee to the neck to slow it down again. X-Pac elbows out and kicks him right in the face in the corner, but misses a charge. D-Lo to the top with a Bret Hart elbow for two. Backbreaker for two. X-Pac is the BUMP KING~! right now. Texas Cloverleaf by D-Lo. X-Pac powers out. They trade blows and it's another "D-Lo Sucks" chant. Slam by D-Lo and he goes for a somersault senton. It misses. X-Pac recovers and hits a spinning kick and flying clothesline. To the corner and this time he hits the Bronco Buster. Chyna nails D-Lo for a two-count. Ref gets bumped and X-Pac hits the belly-to-back, signalling the entrance of Mark Henry. D-Lo grabs the European title while Henry runs interference on Chyna, and nails X-Pac...for two. D-Lo with a cross-corner whip and another running powerbomb for two. X-Pac is either gone or selling being gone really well. D-Lo to the top and X-Pac hits the carpet muncher on the way down for the European title. Yet another good match. Must be something in the water tonight. ***1/4 (They rehearsed this match a bazillion times on house shows, so I should hope it was good.)
- Michael Cole mentions Paul Bearer and gets harassed by the Headbangers.
- WWF tag title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Headbangers.
(Were the Headbangers seriously still a thing by this late in 98? I thought Glen Ruth was long gone by then.) The crowd wakes up for the NAO's intro. The 'Bangers attack during the "Tag team champions of the woooooorld" bit. Mosh gets double-teamed by the Outlaws. Neckbreaker by Mr. Ass for two. Roadie in with a hiptoss and a pair of dropkicks as Thrasher comes in. Two count. Thrasher begs off and gets nailed in the corner. Cross-corner clothesline and a headlock, but Mosh tags in and nails Jammes to take control. Two count. Throat-first drop on the top rope. Leapfrog onto Jammes for a two-count. Bangers double-team as the crowd yells "Suck it" to encourage the champs. (They should have used that chant for Billy & Chuck instead.) Roaddog with a belly-to-back and hot tag to Gunn. Gunn cleans house with an avalanche to Thrasher and a press-slam on Mosh. Thrasher pulls down the top rope and Gunn ends up outside, getting beat up by Thrasher. Two count by Mosh. Billy Gunn is into Ricky Morton mode as Thrasher suplexes Mosh onto Gunn and comes off the top himself. It gets a two count. Side headlock, which Gunn powers out of. Flying headscissors by Gunn. Thrasher in to prevent a tag to Roadie. Jawbreaker by Thrasher for two. Mosh hammers Gunn while the ref is distracted. This is total WWF formula. In one of the oddest things I've ever seen, the fans spontaneously re-enact the champs' intro to try and re-energize the Outlaws. Man, they love that intro. Sleeper by Thrasher, meanwhile. Billy reverses but gets suplexed. Mosh whips Thrasher into Gunn and charges, but Mosh gets caught with a suplex. Hot tag by Gunn...not. Flapjack by the Headbangers as Roadie gets escorted out, and finally he flips out and finds a boom box at ringside, then blasts Mosh with it, drawing the DQ. Cheap booking but still a decent match. **1/2
- Cole lets us know Paul Bearer is in Kane's dressing room. I wish they'd send Bearer anywhere else. Mankind and Mr. Socko (who is wearing black underwear) interrupt.
- Intercontinental title match: Ken Shamrock v. Mankind.
Line of the night from Lawler about Pat Patterson's ficticious tournament win in 1979: "15 men got behind him but Pat came out on top." Shamrock kicks the leg to start and goes right to work. Robo-Shamrock actually works for me. (Yeah, I was a big fan of this phase of Shamrock’s career, until he joined the Corporation and started trying to emote again.) Wristlock and fireman's carry by Shamrock. Mankind with kicks and a slam to come back. Legdrop for a one-count. Shamrock back to work on the arm. Crowd notes that Shamrock sucks. Vicious knees to the face. Double-leg takedown by Mankind and they roll around, with Shamrock ending up with a front facelock. Mankind rams him to the corner to break, and clotheslines him. Forearms to the head, blocked by Shamrock. Rana by Shamrock and Mankind hits the Mandible Claw out of nowhere, but Shamrock is close enough to the ropes to bail. JR notes that Dr. Sam Shephard used the Mandible Claw many moons ago. Back in the ring and they fight over the Claw again. Shamrock fights out with punches and they end up outside the ring. Shamrock goes shoulder-first to the steps, but the ref prevents use of a chair. Shamrock with a Vandaminator on the distracted Mankind, then blasts him with the chair. Back in the ring and Shamrock with a clothesline for two. Wristlock by Shamrock. Mankind bites to break. Whip, but Mankind misses a charge and Shamrock belly-to-bellies him. Mankind with a shot to the gut and a double-arm DDT. Running knee in the corner and he hangs Shamrock in the Tree of Woe. To the turnbuckle 10 times and Mankind legdrops him on the ropes. Cactus clothesline sends them to the floor. Elbow off the apron. Yup, he's jobbing. Mankind takes a charge and gets powerslammed on the floor, hitting his ankle on the steps. That should be enough. Shamrock stomps on the ankle and applies the anklelock, but Mankind fights to the ropes. Shamrock stomps his ankle some more and re-applies the hold. Mankind is hitting himself in the head to keep from submitting, and he applies the Mandible Claw to himself to cause himself to black out, and the referee stops the match. Shamrock is upset at this -- he wanted to win with the anklelock. He takes out the ref in anger, allowing Mankind the chance to load up Mr. Socko and put Shamrock out. Ooooo-kay. **1/2 (This seems to be a period where I was kind of boring to read, overly detailing the matches and not adding much of interest to them.)
- Michael Cole wants an interview with McMahon, but Big Bossman has issues. Namely, he threatens to shove his nightstick up Cole's ass. Admit it: Ray is much cooler this way. (Yeah, that cool factor didn’t last long. But certainly, yes, Bossman as Vince’s badass bodyguard was a match made in heaven.)
- Mark Henry v. The Rock.
Second from the top? Geez, Mark should be honored. Mark reads a poem for Chyna. Monster face pop for the Rock. Slugfest to start and a big clothesline by the Rock. Cross-corner whip and clothesline. Suplex on Henry for two. Outside and Henry goes face-first to the steel stops and the table. Rock gets one in return and Henry tosses him back in. Another clothesline from the Rock but a Henry elbow turns the tide. Big elbow for two. Clothesline and choking on the second rope. Cross-corner whip and posing. Rock fights out but gets caught with a clothesline. Nice legdrop for two. Knee to the back, which Rocky fights out of and then lays the smack down in the corner. Whip and DDT for two. I think he was going for the spinning DDT but Henry messed up. Slam and the PEOPLE'S ELBOW~! D-Lo comes down and distracts Rock, allowing a clothesline and big splash for the pin! Whoa! Crowd is in shock at that one. **1/4 (What a waste of a Rock job THAT was.)
- Survivor Series promo.
- WWF Title match: Undertaker v. Kane.
Austin gives the pre-match instructions and adds a double-bird for both. UT goes on the attack quickly, hammering Kane in the corner. Powerslam by Kane. Clothesline and zombie situp. Kane kicks away, and a cross-corner whip, but he eats boot on the charge. Clothesline by UT for...zero. Austin refuses to count. Kane with a clothesline for a fast two count. The brothers fight outside the ring and UT rams Kane to the steps. Austin helpfully offers a cable to UT to use. UT chooses a chair instead but misses on a home-run swing. Kane rams UT into the table and puts him headfirst to the post. Back in the ring and UT with a suplex, but Kane does the zombie situp right away. Clothesline and UT with the zombie situp. Kane tries some sort of suplex but UT blocks and whips, reversed by Kane, and UT goes over the top and starts kicking away at Kane. Ugh, this is an ugly match. UT works on the leg. Kane comes back with a sidewalk slam and an elbow. Big boot misses and UT goes back to the leg. Yay. You'd think that after 500,000,000 matches Kane & UT could do something more interesting than this. Kane gets tied in the Tree of Woe and UT goes back to the knee. Choking in the corner. Crowd is getting noticeably restless. UT charges and gets caught with a spinebuster. Clothesline by Kane. Shots in the corner and a cross-corner whip, and suddenly Austin gets bumped and chokeslammed by Kane. They suddenly put aside their differences to beat the hell out of Austin. But Undertaker clips Kane from behind, but Kane chokeslams him. Then Paul Bearer waddles out with a chair just to annoy me even more. Bearer asks Kane to step aside so he can hit him with a chair, but hits Kane instead. Kane no-sells. UT gets the chair and wallops Kane, but Austin isn't likely going to count the pin. He stunners UT for fun and whacks him with the chair, then counts both guys out, declaring himself the winner. Call it *. (That is an INCREDIBLY generous rating for that match. This might have been one of the worst WWF main events ever.)
- We follow Austin into the back as he searches for Vinnie Mac. He doesn't find him and makes his way back out to the ring. Vince is behind the screen above the entrance with the Big Bossman. The "Asshole" chant starts again. Quoth Vince: "Screw you Austin, you're fired". (Certainly not the last time we’d hear that.) Austin offers no apologies and departs after enjoying a cold beer.
The Bottom Line:
Well, that was pretty much as unsatisfying an ending as you can get. (Ya THINK?!? Can you IMAGINE the nerd rage today that would threaten to bring down Twitter if they had two guys fighting over a vacant title on PPV and didn’t deliver a winner? This was the very definition of a bullshit bait-and-switch ending.) We still don't have a WWF champion and Austin is fired. (For one day. He’d get reinstated by Shane McMahon, the next night I believe, setting up the classic “Bang 3:16” skit where he pulled a fake gun on Vince and made him piss his pants in fear.) I was running thumbs in the middle but I've got to go down with the bad booking and ending of the main event. I was sure Rock was walking out with the belt, but I guess not. Maybe tomorrow. (Or even at the next PPV!) Thumbs down. (Seems more like a thumbs in the middle show to me.)