by Logan Scisco
-Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Chicago, Illinois.
-Opening Contest: Al Snow (w/Head) beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with the Snow Plow at 7:14:
This is a curious opener since Snow has a lingering feud with Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett does come out to crickets and tries to convince Mero to let him wrestle Snow instead, but Mero says refuses. After all, he has a job to do for the new hot act in the company. Mero puts on a good effort in his last pay-per-view match in the company, but unless Sable is involved no one really cares about him anymore. Snow reverses the TKO into his finisher and picks up the win. Rating: **¾
-LOD 2000 beat The Disciples of Apocalypse & Paul Ellering when Droz pins Skull after a Doomsday Device at 5:55:
The awful DOA-LOD feud reaches its climax here, at least on pay-per-view. Chainz and Sunny ended up as casualties of this feud, never reaching the end of the story. It’s so weird to see the Hawk and Animal with their hair grown out. Hawk is not doped up on pain pills tonight and works with Animal to deliver the Doomsday Device, but Droz steals the pin and Hawk is not happy. Boring bout, but at least they kept this short. Rating: ½*
-Dok Hendrix talks with Al Snow and Sable and hypes the Superstar Line. Call 1-900-737-4WWF to hear from the winners and losers! Sable reminds us that “everyone likes a little Head.”
-Light Heavyweight Championship Match: Christian (w/Gangrel) pins Taka Michinoku (Champion w/Yamaguchi-San) with an inside cradle to win the title at 8:36:
The light heavyweight title is defended for the first time in ages here and since they pulled it out of mothballs the outcome could be predicted from a mile away. This was Christian’s in-ring WWF debut. Michinoku had no heat, but the crowd reacts to the high spots. Ross makes a subtle dig at the booking by saying that he wants to see more light heavyweight matches. Spots happen, but they do not mesh together and the match fails to tell an adequate story as a result. Michinoku appears headed to win the match with a Michinoku Driver, but Christian cradles out of it to win the meaningless title. Solid match, but the crowd was not buying into it. Rating: **¾
-Kevin Kelly and Tom Pritchard interview Droz in the WWF.com backstage area. Droz says he seized an opportunity and that is why he is on the first string. Droz actually cuts a really good heel promo here.
-A video package recaps the Goldust-Val Venis feud.
-Goldust pins Val Venis (w/Terri Runnels) after a low blow at 12:09:
The crowd is happy to see the return of Goldust, but unfortunately there are not that many mind games that find their way into this contest. Venis spends the bulk of the match working the shoulder, but none of that factors into the closing stretches of this match. Venis nearly runs into Terri on the apron and that allows Goldust to shatter Venis’s dreams and pick up a win. This was better than most expected, but this storyline is still a little confusing as to who the face and heel really are. Goldust got a small push from this win, while Venis was shifted back into the midcard. Rating: **½
-Michael Cole tells us that Triple H and Ken Shamrock got into an altercation backstage, where Shamrock smashes a car door into Triple H’s knee. X-Pac interrupts to say that he will deal with Shamrock tomorrow night on RAW. He promises to regain the European title.
-European Championship Match: X-Pac (w/Chyna) defeats D-Lo Brown (Champion) with an X-Factor to win the title at 14:36:
Since he is the champion, D-Lo is back to selecting a European hometown and in this match he is from Milan, Italy. Ross announces that the Nation of Domination has parted ways, which I always thought was a cop out. A stable that lasted for nearly two years deserved a better send off than dissolving off-air. Looking back at the series of matches between these two, one forgets how much X-Pac carried them as Brown’s offense aside from a few signature spots was pretty deficient. In this match X-Pac bumps all over the place as his high flying offense fails him. They run a false finish off of a ref bump where D-Lo clocks X-Pac with the title and D-Lo makes the same mistake of jumping into an X-Factor, which is what cost him the title to X-Pac the first time, to lose. Did not care for the finish because Brown should have learned not to do that again, but the crowd came unglued at the end. Rating: ***½
-Call 815-734-1161 to purchase your Austin 3:16 baseball jersey for $39.99 (plus $9 shipping & handling)!
-Cole tells us that Paul Bearer was allegedly seen going into the Undertaker’s locker room earlier. The Headbangers interrupt his report and hurl some insults at the New Age Outlaws. Mosh insinuates that the Outlaws are doing each other and says that they will do the j-o-b on the p-p-v.
-WWF Tag Team Championship Match: The Headbangers beat The New Age Outlaws (Champions) via disqualification when the Road Dogg blasts Mosh with a boombox at 14:10:
The Headbangers earned this title shot by busting the Road Dogg open on the previous RAW with a boombox. It shows how little depth there is in the tag division that they are even getting a title shot. What is funny about the boombox spot from RAW is that Ross keeps having to say that the boombox that broke over the Road Dogg’s head is not a JVC boombox. JVC was a sponsor at the time so I suppose they got upset that fans might think their product was cheap. Both Outlaws end up in peril in this match and the Headbangers do a good job cutting off comebacks. In fact, the Headbangers do such a good job with it that the Road Dogg breaks up the Stage Dive by hitting Mosh with a boombox, thereby causing a disqualification. This was a great booking technique to give the Headbangers another title match down the road and rebuilding them as threats. Rating: ***¼
-Michael Cole says he can confirm that Paul Bearer entered Kane’s locker room backstage. Mankind comes by and via Socko he communicates that he is fired up. He blasts Shamrock’s promo ability, saying it has to be the second leading cause of teen suicide. He then does a weird routine where he interrogates Mr. Socko about what underwear he is wearing.
-Intercontinental Championship Match: Ken Shamrock (Champion) defeats Mankind via submission when Mankind applies the Mandible Claw to himself at 14:36:
The dueling stories of this match are whether Shamrock can make Mankind submit and whether the Mandible Claw is enough to put Shamrock down for the count. Shamrock outmaneuvers Mankind throughout the bout, but the Mandible Claw is put over as Mankind’s equalizer. Mankind takes one too many risks on the floor near the end and Shamrock powerslams him into the steps. This leads to the ankle lock in the center of the ring, but instead of submitting to the hold, Mankind chooses to apply the Mandible Claw to himself. Nice finish to a true battle of wills. Rating: ***
-After the bout, when Shamrock hears he won by Mandible Claw he beats on the unconscious Mankind and gives the referee a belly-to-belly suplex. WWF officials rush out and Mankind recovers in time to apply the Mandible Claw to Shamrock and walk out to a decent pop.
-The Big Bossman tells Cole that unauthorized camera crews are not allowed near Vince McMahon.
-Mark Henry (w/D-Lo Brown) pins The Rock after a splash at 5:04:
The Rock is the hottest act in the company at this time, so you would figure he squashes Henry to move onto bigger and better things right? Wrong. The Rock does dominate a lot of the action, but in a piece of booking that made no sense at the time Henry gets the win after D-Lo runs interference. To the WWF’s credit, this did factor into the storylines leading up to Survivor Series, but it was probably the biggest pay-per-view upset of 1998. Rating: *
-A vignette is aired for Survivor Series with the Deadly Game song.
-A video package hypes the Undertaker-Kane main event.
-WWF Championship Match with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as Special Guest Referee: The Undertaker and Kane wrestle to a no contest at 17:38:
The crowd is way more into Austin than they are either of the guys wrestling for the title, so it creates a really strange dynamic. Austin does not take his job seriously, as he mixes ridiculously slow counts with ridiculously fast counts. A funny spot takes place when Kane and the Undertaker fight on the floor and Austin volunteers to give the Undertaker some microphone chord to choke his brother. I wish I could report that this match broke the mold for the Undertaker-Kane series, but that’s not the case here as the Undertaker works the leg for five minutes and puts the crowd into a coma. Austin even looks bored doing his job. After fifteen minutes of dullness cue the overbooking as Kane chokeslams Austin and Paul Bearer wanders out with a chair. However, instead of hitting the Undertaker he turns and hits Kane, which has zero impact. The Undertaker’s chair shot to Kane is another matter, but Austin refuses to count the pinfall. When the Undertaker complains, Austin gives him a Stunner and tees off with a chair and then counts both men out and declares himself the winner. I bet Vince Russo was screaming to book this as “Austin is refusing to follow the script!” until he was shot down by McMahon, Cornette, and a few other members of the booking team. Austin’s antics are the only reason this avoids a DUD. Rating: ½*
-Austin goes backstage looking for McMahon but is unsuccessful so he goes back into the ring. Austin gloats that McMahon will not fire him, but McMahon has the Titantron raised and appears in a box behind it. As the crowd pelts him with memorabilia and garbage, McMahon tells Austin that he is fired. Austin closes the show by promising McMahon that he has not seen the last of him.
The Final Report Card: I remember not enjoying this show in 1998, but looking back it had some pretty solid in-ring work. There are a few clunkers, but outside of the main event the other matches put the crowd in a good mood and displayed perfectly acceptable wrestling. While it is annoying that we did not get a WWF champion after this show, the selling point was more about whether Austin would do his job or not and if you thought Austin was really going to crown a winner here you were a moron. I will go with a thumbs up on this show, but save yourself the trouble if you ever watch this thing on the Network and turn it off after Shamrock-Mankind.
Buyrate: 0.89 (+0.29 from previous year)
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Up