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What the World Was Watching: Unforgiven 1998 - In Your House

by Logan Scisco

With some of my graduate work behind me, I finally had time to devote three hours to this show and continue my reviews of the World Wrestling Federation in 1998.  Before academic responsibilities got in the way, Steve Austin and Vince McMahon’s feud started moving to another level and ended WCW Monday Nitro’s 82-week winning streak.  Dude Love, Austin’s former tag team partner, was inserted into the angle as McMahon’s alleged representative.  However, that match on this show is overshadowed by the Inferno match booked between the Undertaker and Kane.  Meanwhile, Ken Shamrock and Faarooq have joined forces because they hate the Rock and Triple H has dominated his feud with Owen Hart.  The Legion of Doom have been rechristened “LOD 2000” and given Sunny as a manager, but it’s sort of like putting lipstick on a pig and their best days are behind them.  Still, their victory in the WrestleMania XIV tag team battle royal gives them a title shot on this show against their rivals the New Age Outlaws.  Finally, Sable is becoming the top diva in the company and Luna Vachon has threatened to rip her clothes off in the first Evening Gown match in WWF history.  Got all that?

-Jim Ross and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are broadcasting from Greensboro, North Carolina.  They speculate on what Vince McMahon means when he says something “catastrophic” is going to happen tonight.

-Opening Contest:  Ken Shamrock, Faarooq & Steve Blackman beat The Rock, Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown (w/Kama Mustafa) when Faarooq pins the Rock with a Dominator at 13:35:

Faarooq is wearing his usual ring gear here, which does not quite fit his face turn.  He does get a big pop for whipping D-Lo with a belt in the early going, though.  Amazingly, Ross is able to restrain himself and not discuss the football credentials of some of the participants until nine minutes in.  A pretty dull opener that quiets a hot crowd, but its booking follows logical wrestling principles as Faarooq pins the Rock to make him seem like a credible challenger for the Rock’s Intercontinental title and set up a one-on-one match between the two in the near future.  Rating:  **

-Michael Cole interviews the winning team and Faarooq says this was the opening shot of a long war that he is going to wage against the Nation.

-WWF Champion Steve Austin comes out and throws the timekeeper into the ring.  Austin interrogates him over why he rang the bell to prematurely end the Dude Love-Steve Blackman match on the previous RAW and makes it clear that if Vince McMahon tries to screw him out of the title that he is going to give the timekeeper the beating of a lifetime.  Nice thread of storyline continuity here.

-The announce team recaps the Triple H-Owen Hart feud.

-European Championship Match with Chyna Suspended in a Cage Above the Ring:  Triple H (Champion) pins Owen Hart after X-Pac hits Owen with a fire extinguisher at 12:27:

One fan has the ability to predict the future in the audience tonight, carrying a sign that reads “Playboy needs Chyna.”  Commissioner Slaughter being an antagonist for D-Generation X has lost much of its luster, as the arrival of Vince McMahon as the owner of the company makes him look very weak on the totem pole, but it is still a lot clearer than the five or six authority figures roaming around the “WWE Universe” today.  Owen has lost a lot of heat since starting this feud in January, illustrating why wins and losses matter.  This is a good match, but it lacks the atmosphere of their WrestleMania encounter and the focus is more on Chyna bending the bars of the cage she is in, dangerously hanging onto it while she is trying to escape, and then having the Road Dogg lower the cage so she can get to the ground.  The ensuing chaos allows Triple H to get another controversial win over Owen when logic dictated that Owen goes over here.  This did have a somewhat logical payoff, although that would require an Owen turn and we’ll get to that in future reviews.  Rating:  ***

-Cole interviews Owen Hart, who lets us know that “enough is enough and it’s time for things to change around here.”

-NWA Tag Team Championship Match:  The New Midnight Express (Champions w/Jim Cornette) defeated The Rock N’ Roll Express when Bodacious Bart pinned Robert Gibson after a Bombastic Bob bulldog at 7:22:

This is a bonus match, which illustrates the lack of depth in the company at the time, but we are in NWA country so the Rock N’ Roll Express get a decent pop while the Express are greeted with silence.  God bless Ross as he tries to hype put over the Rock N’ Roll and this match, but his historical references go over the head of most of the audience since the WWF rarely emphasized wrestling history at this time.  Referee Tim White and Cornette have a funny showdown where Cornette dares White to fight him and White scares him off.  You might assume this would be decent, but there is more stalling than action and the match moves very slowly.  The Express hit their double dropkick on Bart, but shenanigans ensue and the Express retain the titles, which no one cares about.  Rating:  *¼

-Dok Hendrix interviews Goldust and Luna Vachon and Luna emphasizes that she wants to strip Sable of all her clothes.

-Evening Gown Match:  Luna Vachon (w/Goldust) beats Sable at 2:34:

Marc Mero does not come down to the ring with Sable because he is allegedly humiliated by Sable’s recent antics.  Maybe he meant her promos.  The crowd chants for Sable, which makes sense if you consider her the face, but little sense in terms of the match since they want to see her without her clothes.  Since we’re getting more Russo booking around this time it is not surprising that this ends with a screwjob, as Mero shows up, distracts Sable, and allows Luna strips Sable of the top of her dress.  After the match. Sable strips off Luna’s dress and then takes off the rest of her clothing underneath the ring.

-Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson, and Gerald Brisco walk to the ring and McMahon reiterates that “anything can happen in the World Wrestling Federation.”  McMahon debunks that a conspiracy is in the works tonight and that he is just going to be at ringside because he was born in North Carolina.

-Call 1-900-737-4WWF to hear from the winners and losers of tonight’s matches!

-WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) defeat LOD 2000 (w/Sunny) when Road Dogg pins Hawk at 12:21:

LOD 2000 did not get a lot of airtime before this match, which is as close to a vote of no confidence from WWF management as you can get.  Sunny’s dress is nowhere near as eye catching as her WrestleMania XIV attire.  The LOD get a nice nostalgia pop, but after that there’s not much to see except some token power moves.  Animal does a good job staying in peril, which was appropriate because Hawk botches several moves throughout.  The finish makes little sense, as the referee says Hawk does not lift his shoulders on a German suplex, but Road Dogg never lifts his shoulders to earn a victory.  After the match, the LOD give the referee a Doomsday Device and the referee does a stretcher job.  Thankfully, this is the end of the Outlaws-LOD issue.  This was also Sunny’s last WWF pay-per-view appearance.  Rating:  ¾*

-Jeff Jarrett “sings” with Sawyer Brown, a country music group.  The crowd is so enamored with this performance that they chant “We want Flair!”  It always baffles me that the WWF brass thought this stuff was going to get Jarrett over.  At the end of the performance, Steve Blackman attacks Jarrett, but after he puts Jarrett in a submission move, Tennessee Lee blasts Blackman with a guitar.

-A video package hypes the Inferno match between the Undertaker and Kane.  Lawler has a hot dog ready to roast at ringside.

-Inferno Match:  The Undertaker beats Kane (w/Paul Bearer) at 16:02:

I’m really surprised that they did not make this the main event of the pay-per-view considering how low key the Steve Austin-Dude Love title match was, but maybe they were afraid of these two putting on a less-than-stellar match like WrestleMania.  This match is one of those that sounds good in theory, but is terrible in execution because it is very difficult to build drama and this quickly becomes a kick-and-punch affair.  Things pick up after the Undertaker throws Kane over the top rope and Kane goes to leave, which does not make a lot of sense for Kane’s character, but Vader makes a surprise return to a big pop and fights Kane back to ringside, where the Undertaker hits a plancha.  The Undertaker destroys Bearer on the Sawyer Brown stage and knocks Kane’s arm into the fire to win.  Things really didn’t look good for Kane at the time, as he lost his second consecutive match, this one definitively, to the Undertaker.  It’s quite amazing that he maintained his upper midcard standing as a character after this.  Rating:  *½

-A video package recaps the Steve Austin-Vince McMahon/Dude Love feud.

-WWF Championship Match with Vince McMahon at Ringside:  Dude Love defeats “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) via disqualification at 18:48:

The big story of this match is whether Love and McMahon are working together and if McMahon is going to screw Austin out of the title by intimidating the timekeeper.  McMahon waits to come out until eight minutes into the match and Pat Patterson hilariously carries the folding chair for McMahon to sit in.  I always wondered during this feud why McMahon favored Love.  Was he that much better of an alternative?  Would you want your company led by a man who’s stuck in the 1960s/1970s?  McMahon tries to get the timekeeper to ring the bell when Love applies an abdominal stretch, but the timekeeper doesn’t budge and the match continues.  The referee eventually gets bumped, which causes him to miss Love applying the Mandible Claw (or Love Handle if you prefer) and the battle spills to the floor where Austin knocks McMahon out with a chair to a HUGE pop.  Austin counts his own fall and his music plays, but we eventually hear from Howard Finkel that Love is the winner by disqualification since Austin hit a WWF official.  McMahon does a stretcher job as well.  Love took some nasty spills in this match as per usual and the brawling was technically proficient.  I’m not really a fan of the ending, but in storyline terms it worked out for the best since McMahon wanted to make it certain that Austin would lose the title at the next pay-per-view by stacking the deck against him.  Rating:  ***½

The Final Report Card:  This show illustrates that most of 1998 was Steve Austin and not much else.  His match was the most exciting on the show and the midcard had lots of weird things happening like the LOD getting another push, the Rock N’ Roll Express getting a WWF pay-per-view match in 1998, and Jeff Jarrett feuding with Steve Blackman for lack of something better to do.  The main event is exciting and Triple H-Owen is their usual solid outing, but compared with WrestleMania XIV this show did not blow you away or even make you feel satisfied.  Owen loses again, the Outlaws kept the belts in a match finish that made no sense, the Inferno match was nothing special, and the main event had an inconclusive finish.  Some of these things, like the Owen loss and the inconclusive main event finish, led to greater things down the road and those shows will be the ones that will get a thumbs up rating, not this outing.

Attendance:  21,427

Buyrate:  0.85 (+0.35 over previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down


  1. I will never get Jarrett coming back in 1997, bashing the country singer gimmick, then going right back to it within two months.

  2. LOD and the NWA stuff were so hilariously out of place on these shows.

  3. Inferno Match is horrendous. Austin and Love fought the next month at Over the Edge, right? I remember that being pretty solid.

    Big fan of your reviews, which I prefer the opinion over the play-by-play, which does nothing for me.

  4. Stone Cold/Dude Love ***1/2 ??? Wowza

  5. I always found the Rock & Rolls/Cornette feud to be unfair. Cornette could just switch from the Midnight Express V1, to the Midnights V2 (with Stan Lane), to the Heavenly Bodies, to the New Midnight Express...

    The Rock & Roll Express gets older... Cornette's guys stay the saammmee aaagggeee....

  6. Same thing with Dustin Rhodes dropping the Goldust gimmick like 5 times, then always coming back to it. Both guys had to admit that it was the most over they could get at the time.

  7. Jeff Jarrett was a total heatsink. He's one of those guys that I changed the channel on every single time, and I like watching Jerry Flynn and Glacier wrestle.

  8. AverageJoeEverymanMarch 18, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    I like Austin vs Dude to the tune of at least ****, that bump that Mick took back first to the corner of the stairs was sick. Also I will be the only one to say that I at least liked the idea of Gunn and Holly as a tag team with Corny as a mouthpiece. They were both above average in the ring and both better as a team than singly (other than Big Shot Bob period) and I thought their matching outfits were sweet.

  9. Cornette's his own hero.

  10. I thought the NWA stuff could have worked in their favor for that reason. It was such a contast with the Attitude Era stuff, I feel like a Cornette-led group of 'old school' guys (Jarrett, New Midnights, Windham for a short time, maybe even Terry Funk) could have worked as short-term foils for the newly-faceturned DX.

  11. I remembered it being better also. Just checked Scotts rant. He gave It 4 stars. To each his own tho, I can't quibble over subjective ratings

  12. At the time I felt like Vader would have been a good hired gun for Vince at this show. 1997 wore a lot of the Vader's luster off, but as a one-off mercenary to sacrifice as Austin's first challenger, I think it could have worked. Vince gets desperate after Austin wins the belt at Mania, so he hires the biggest, toughest dude he can find. The Mick thing seemed forced. If I may retcon a bit. . .

    Austin vs. Vader, WWF Title
    Kane vs. Taker
    Cactus vs. Funker, (Street Fight to build Mick back up as Austin's next challenger)
    Rock vs. Faarooq, IC Title
    Shamrock/LOD vs. Nation, 6-Man Tag
    HHH vs. Jarrett, EURO Title
    Outlawz vs. New MX, TAG Title
    Sable vs. Luna

  13. Oh, I loved Jarrett's utter confidence that "shooting" about Austin 3:16 being blasphemy would rocket him to the top.

  14. Didn't Austin refuse to have a proper feud with him?

  15. All I remember from this show was the Inferno Match turning out much lamer than my HS buddies and I figured at the time and Sable's boobs being ridiculously enormous.

  16. Yeah, it's kind of hard to review these matches in a vacuum. At the time, some of the garbage brawl type stuff seemed fresh. In light of the "hardcore division" stuff they would beat into the ground and the ECW-style stuff becoming standard on the Big Two, this match was less innovative.

  17. I think so. I just remember his big return on Raw being one incredibly lame "shoot" while Jeff made his best serious tough guy face.

  18. Cue Mike Graham headbob and quote.

  19. I'm gonna need a link to that odd driving rant he wrote a few months ago.

  20. Honest to God, I loved Jarrett as the misogynist asshole who liked putting women in sharpshooters. It was hilarious to me for some reason. And carrying around the guitar like a doofus.

    The only thing holding him back from main event status was his voice, he sounded like Mr. Garrison from South Park.

  21. Your penis must be comically small.

  22. I always wondered during this feud why
    McMahon favored Love. Was he that much
    better of an alternative? Would you want
    your company led by a man who’s stuck in the 1960s/1970s?

    He just wanted the belt off of Austin no matter what. You gotta figure he was behind both Undertaker and Kane as well at certain points and they're not that much better alternatives from a character standpoint either. Plus, at worst, he figured he could simply be able to keep manipulating Mick, which he failed to do with Austin.

  23. I remember how big Sable's boobs were here.

  24. YankeesHoganTripleHFanMarch 18, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    Hey as Spring Breakers proved he's "jacked up on Jesus"

  25. McMahon didn't favor Dude Love. Dude Love wanted the attention of McMahon and Vince was using Foley to get to Austin. It eventually set up the double cross at survivor series. (I might be completely wrong on this and blurring all Vince/Austin/Foley angles into one)

  26. That was just the most random cameo, I was just stunned in the theater.

  27. I watched this show a few months ago and it still felt like they were figuring out the kinks.

  28. You've never heard of Cracked?

    That surprises me.

  29. I think the only time I ever slightly tolerated him was him with Owen.

  30. Pretty sure I went out with her around 04

  31. Obviously not if they keep falling for Parallax,

  32. Yeah. The story I've heard is that Austin was pissed at Jarrett's return promo. He didn't necessarily take it as a personal insult, but he feared that it could lead to some religious groups boycotting the WWE and ruin his momentum and/or the company when it was desperately trying to get back on its feet.

  33. "Amazingly, Ross is able to restrain himself and not discuss the football credentials of some of the participants until nine minutes in. "


  34. This started a string of 7 PPVs in a row where the main event featured some combination of Austin/Foley/Taker/Kane. The streak was broken with the Survivor Series' Mankind/Rock finals (Though it had Austin/Mankind and Taker vs Kane in earlier rounds)

  35. Owen is like 1-39 against HHH. HHH gets a lot of crap for his burials (Booker T, RVD) but this has to be the worst offender.

  36. No 50-50 booking there!!!

    And it kind of made sense HHH was getting pushed regardless, while Owen had made it clear that he was leaving the first micro-second that he was legally allowed to. Might as well put guys over.

  37. Vince never really got behind Undertaker either until he had no other options left. UT was going to be just as big of a hassle as Austin so Vince put him through a lot of obstacles to get his shot at SummerSlam.

  38. I agree with this. Vader got a HUGE reaction on this they subsequently had him job again to Kane and call himself a "fat piece of shit." Vader was a victim of the Russo booking where Russo wanted to put younger guys over at the expense of older guys like Vader. Makes sense, but Vader still had something to contribute and his Japan run after he left the WWF proves that.

  39. Yeah, that was rather disturbing reading that. I get it if somebody cuts you off calling them an asshole or a bitch. But to take it further and dream up this whole scenario of you beating a women to a bloody pulp the taking it further and writing it all out the. Going even further and posting it for "entertainment" purposes.that just seemed very creepy and really disturbing on another level.


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