Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Thursday, 17 January 2019

PPV REVIEW: WCW Souled Out 1999

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Event poster
January 17, 1999 
Charleston Civic Center, Charleston, West Virginia

From the summer of 1996 to the winter of 1997, there was no hotter wrestling company on the planet than World Championship Wrestling. 

Already giving the World Wrestling Federation a serious run for its money with their flagship Monday Nitro broadcasts, the company found all new levels of success with the arrival of Scott Hall & Kevin Nash.

When that particular band of Outsiders were joined by Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach 1996, a New World Order of wrestling was formed (brother) that catapulted WCW into the stratosphere.

For over a year, the Turner-owned enterprise was seemingly untouchable. It seemed as though they could do no wrong...

Until they did.

In December 1997, they promoted Starrcade 1997, headlined by a match between Hogan and Sting which had been a year in the making and which still gets talked about today as one of the most perfect examples of long-term booking ever carried out in pro wrestling.

Yet the disastrous, laughable finish to that match would serve as the catalyst for the company's gradual decline.

As 1997 turned into 1998, the brand would begin to lose their stronghold over the pro wrestling industry and, as the year went on, one bad decision after another saw the company spiralling out of control.

But hey, that was then, and this was now.

1999 was upon us, and World Championship Wrestling had a whole new opportunity to prove that they could turn things around and reestablish their dominance.

Would they seize that opportunity tonight on this, their first Pay-Per-View of the new year? Or would Souled Out 1999 prove to be just another step towards the eventual demise of one of what was formerly the hottest wrestling company on the planet?

Let's head to Charleston, West Virginia to find out.

WCW is back in charge

WCW Souled Out 1999 - WCW President - Ric Flair
In place of the usual opening video, we began tonight's broadcast with the voice of Tony Schiavone saying "we interrupt this broadcast for a special announcement."

This was literally the first thing that happened. The broadcast hadn't even begun yet, so there was technically nothing to interrupt, but hey, let's not dwell on that too much, shall we? I'm sure there'll be things much more dumb than that on tonight's show.

Anyway, the special announcement came from WCW President Nature Boy Ric Flair, who was shown delivering a press conference as though he were the actual President of the United States giving a State of the Union address.

Flair told us that "WCW is back in charge" and that he would lead an army of hundreds in ensuring that the nWo never took over again.

Just to prove that WCW had won the battle against their New World Order rivals, the nWo logo was crossed out in the official WCW/NWO Souled Out 1999 graphic.

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan
You could see this clearly from the announce table where Schiavone, joined by Iron Mike Tenay and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, welcomed us to the show.

The trio reminded us of the ending to Starrcade 1998, in which Scott Hall used a taser to help Kevin Nash beat Goldberg for the WCW title and how that had led us to a "stun gun on a ladder" match between Hall and Goldberg later on tonight.

I'll remind you that Vince Russo didn't join WCW until September of that year.

Speaking of Goldberg, we cut to a shot of him sitting on the floor of his locker room and clutching his ankle as though he'd been attacked.

The announcers also told us that 19-year-old David Flair would be making his pro wrestling debut here, volunteering to help out his father, Ric, after two of the WCW President's allies had turned their backs on him.

We'll get to that fun story later. For now, let's get to the ring.

Mean Mike Enos vs. Chris Benoit

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Mike Enos faced Chris Benoit
WCW's Random Match Generator strikes again.

The company had a long history of throwing odd matches onto PPV for no reason, and this, apparently, was one of them.

Chris Benoit was part of the reunited Four Horsemen and came out with that totally awesome Horsemen theme, whereas Mean Mike Enos was...well, Mike Enos was  basically Generic Bad Guy Wrestler in Black Trunks #1589.

Not that Enos' lack of star power had any negative impact on this match.

The former Beverley Brother dominated the bulk of this solid, hard-hitting contest and though he did spend too much time spitting on his opponent for this writer's liking, he did at least look good here.

Alas, it wasn't to be Enos' day.

The Cripper slapped on the crossface to pick up the win at the end of a reasonably enjoyable opening match.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit

Moving on...

Norman Smiley vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Norman Smiley faced Chavo Guerrero Jr
Remember that time Chavo Guerero's gimmick was that he was crazy and rode around on a wooden hobby horse called Pepe?

That time was now over because, apparently, Norman Smiley had kidnapped said toy horse and ground it down into sawdust.

Tonight, he brought that sawdust with him in an urn, leaving Chavo to come out horseless and looking for revenge.

Unfortunately for the third generation star, he wouldn't get it.

Smiley controlled the bulk of this really enjoyable match, using a combination of European-style stretching and some typical American pro wrestling spots to hurt his opponent from bell to bell.

Sure, Chavo got some offence in, but this was 90% Norman and 100% fun.

Though not a technical classic, Smiley's larger-than-life personality and unique offence made it a tremendous watch.

In the end, Guerrero looked to be mounting a comeback so Smiley threw Pepe dust in his opponent's eyes and locked him in a chicken wing for the count.
Your Winner: Norman Smiley

Out in the Internet Location, Konnan told Mark Madden that he was going to find out who made the call to kick him out of the nWo. He was going to hunt that person down and, when he caught them, he was going to beat them up.

Konnan sounded either super stoned or super tired here. Whichever it was, he didn't come off well.

Fit Finlay vs. Van Hammer

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Van Hammer faced Fit Finlay
Nothing says 'top-level PPV quality' quite like a Van Hammer match.

Towering over most of his opponents with his well-defined body and long, blonde hair, the WCW veteran had always had 'the look.' Unfortunately, he'd never had much of anything else, especially not the ability to put on an exciting match.

That was particularly evident here as he went up against Fit Finlay in a tremendously tedious contest.

Like Norman Smiley before him, Finlay brought plenty of European-style offence to the table. Unlike Smiley, Finlay had an opponent who wasn't capable of selling that offence in a way that created any excitement.

Not that Hammer's own offence was much better.

After several minutes of inaction that put the crowd to sleep, Finlay emerged victorious thanks to the tombstone piledriver.
Your Winner: Fit Finlay

Up next, we were reminded of Ric Flair's rivalry with Curt Hennig and Barry Windham.

More specifically, we were reminded of the time on Nitro when a fresh-faced David Flair volunteered to help Ric take down the future West Texas Rednecks. Flair had initially been reluctant, but his buddy, Arn Anderson, had encouraged Nature Boy to let David compete.

If this were any other wrestling show, this would be the point where I'd say "that match was next," but this was WCW, so naturally, it wasn't.

Wrath vs. Bam Bam Bigelow

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Wrath
What was next was this; a match which, while decent, went on for far too long.

When you get a match between two big men like Wrath and Bam Bam Bigelow, you want it to be short, explosive and high-impact.

This was none of those things.

Sure, there was some high-impact offence here and there, but for the most part, both men tried to wrestle a match that was more befitting men half their size.

So, while some parts were enjoyable, others were a chore to watch.

In the end, Bigelow used Greetings From Asbury Park to get the three.
Your Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow

Toss my salad and peel my potatoes...

"Yo, yo, yo, let me speak on this!"
WCW Souled Out 1999 - Konnan faced Lex Luger
If Konnan was angry about being kicked out of the Wolfpac by Kevin Nash and Lex Luger, he certainly didn't show it.

He danced his way down to the ring and then took to the microphone to warm up the crowd.

After doing the whole "bowdy-bowdy" thing, K-Dogg told us about all the different types of salad dressing, then encouraged Luger to "get ready to bow down, toss my salad and peel my potatoes."

I may be naive, but to this day I still don't know what "peel my potatoes" actually means.

What I do know, is that of all the things Konnan had ever said, this was the one thing the producers of the WCW Mayhem music album chose to immortalise in one of the songs from that album.

Konnan vs. Lex Luger

Throughout his career, Lex Luger always worked best as a heel.

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Konnan vs Lex Luger
It was in the role of the villain that The Total Package displayed a level of captivating charisma that was simply non-existent as a babyface.

Here, he displayed that charisma in spades when took to the microphone to tell Konnan that despite having a lot of love for him, K-Dogg just wasn't able to make the cut. He then offered his opponent the chance to walk out and forfeit the match, saving himself from a beat down.

Naturally, Konnan responded by clocking Luger, and this one was on.

Like Wrath/Bigelow before it, this one went on for far too long, but it also proved to be the first time all evening that the crowd would really come alive.

Indeed, whereas the Charleston faithful had been relatively quiet since the start of the show, they exploded in the early going as Konnan finally got his revenge over Luger, and remained very vocal for the rest of the match.

That made the whole thing a lot more enjoyable to watch, especially as it looked as though Konnan would get the big win the fans were hoping for.

Alas, it wasn't to be.

Just as he had Luger in the Tequila Sunrise, Miss Elizabeth came to the ring looking absolutely gorgeous and sprayed him in the eyes with what the announcers told us was black spray paint, but which I believe would later be revealed to be mace.

That gave Luger the opportunity to break free, apply the Torture Rack, and win the match.
Your Winner: Lex Luger

Afterwards, Konnan was helped to the back by Mickie Jay and WCW's trainer.

Loser Wears a Dress Match
Perry Saturn vs. Chris Jericho (w/ Ralphus)

Before the bell, Tony Schiavone told us that Saturn and referee Scott Dickinson had broken into the business together but had recently had some sort of falling out.

The disagreement had been fuelled by Chris Jericho telling Dickinson that Saturn hated him, and was played out here by the referee and Saturn having words in the early going.

So, that was basically the ending of the match telegraphed well in advance, but despite the obvious spoiler, this was still the best match on the card so far.

It was interesting watching Jericho here at the start of 1999, knowing where he'd be by the time the year was done. He came to the ring with Ralphus in tow, carrying a brown paper bag which contained the dress the loser would have to wear when they lost.

Locking up with Saturn, the two engaged in a fast-paced, hard-hitting contest that was a pure joy to watch.

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Chris Jericho & RalphusNo, it wasn't the greatest match of all time, but compared to what had gone before it, this was five-star classic stuff.

After a gripping see-saw battle, Saturn rolled up Jericho and looked to have the match won.

Dickinson grabbed Jericho's foot to help him reverse the pin attempt, made the predictable move of a fast-count, and gave the match to the soon-to-be Y2J.
Your Winner: Chris Jericho

Post-match, Dickinson laughed with Jericho as Saturn was forced to slip into a leopard print dress. The former ECW star's latest gimmick was born.

David Flair wants to be David Flair

Out in the Internet Location, David Flair displayed all the personality of an emotionally-stunted biscuit when he said that he wanted to walk out of the arena tonight being known as David Flair and not just Ric Flair's son.

Obviously, the best way to step out from his father's shadow was to team with his father in his debut match. Or something...

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship Four-Corners Match
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman vs. Juventud Guerrera vs. Psicosis vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Billy Kidman & Rey Mysterio Jr.
You know, it occurs to me only now that this is the only championship match on the PPV. Interesting.

It also occurs to me that this is a dumb concept. Two men start the match and any wrestler can tag any other wrestler. Whoever scores the pinfall becomes the Cruiserweight Champion.

So, if you wanted to be the champion, why would you even tag out in the first place?

The problem with this concept was easily solved by having the wrestlers basically ignore the whole concept in the first place.

Sure, things started out in traditional four-corners fashion, but it eventually broke down into a four-way free-for-all that offered lots of entertaining spots.

Granted, it didn't offer much other than spots, but it's worth mentioning that "spotfests" in and of themselves aren't universally terrible. Placed in the right position on the card and used sparingly, they can be useful in adding a bit of fun to a pro wrestling show, and that's exactly what this one did.

Following a whole bunch of cruiserweight craziness, Kidman hit the Shooting Star Press on Juventud Guerrera to retain his title.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Billy Kidman

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Chris Jericho confronts Booker T
Out in the back, a be-suited Booker T was seen talking to's Mark Madden about Chris Jericho's victory over Perry Saturn.

It was at that moment that Jericho himself turned up and got into an argument with the former Harlem Heat member.

Booker accused Jericho's of "having the referee in your pocket" whilst Jericho argued that "it's not my fault I won the match," which, when you think about it, is a dumb thing to say.

Predictably, this argument led to the two men agreeing to face each other the following night on Nitro.

Curt Hennig & Barry Windham vs. WCW President Nature Boy Ric Flair & David Flair (w/ Arn Anderson)

Hennig was still part of the nWo here, but Windham, apparently, was not. Not that it stopped him from being just as callous on the microphone as he and Curt Hennig traded verbal jabs with the Nature Boy.

At one point, Flair told Hennig & Windham that unless they wanted to "go work for the WWF" they had better stop their talking and start fighting.

WCW Souled Out 1999 - Ric Flair teamed with David Flair
They soon did, but not before David Flair spent a few minutes convincing Ric to let him start the match against Barry Windham.

Though all this stalling took a while, it did at least mean that the crowd were more than pumped up to see Windham and Flair Jr. go at it.

At one point, Windham went for a bodyslam which David countered with a headscissor take over and the crowd erupted like they'd just seen Goldberg spear the s**t out of somebody.

Yet just when it looked the youngster would prove to be a chip off the old black, things quickly deteriorated.

The two men regrouped and locked up again. David Flair wrestled his way into an advantage, but when he went for a hip toss, he basically slipped his arm around Windham's waist and forced Windham to hiptoss himself.

It was a horrible looking move that elicited some serious cringe.

Fortunately, that was almost the last offensive thing David Flair would do all match.

Ric tug in, and what we got from here was essentially a handicap match, with David playing the traditional role of "dumb babyface who keeps trying to help his partner but only succeeds in distracting the referee."

Though not a technical masterpiece, this was a decidedly old-school match that did have a lot to offer.

Eventually, Arn Anderson hit Curt Hennig over the back of the head with a tire iron then threw a lifeless David Flair on top of him. Flair, who had just been beaten up, lay prone over Hennig as the referee counted to three.
Your Winners: Ric & David Flair

The bell ringing was not the end of this one.

Very quickly, the nWo Job Squad ran out and began to attack Anderson and Ric Flair whilst David looked on, helpless.

Chris Benoit ran to the rescue, but the numbers proved too much and he too was beaten up. The numbers continued to swell with the arrival of the nWo Wolfpac - that being Kevin Nash, Buff Bagwell, Lex Luger, Scott Steiner and Hollywood Hulk Hogan himself.

WCW Souled Out 1999 -Hulk Hogan taunts Ric Flair & David Flair
As Ric was handcuffed to the ring post, the dastardly nWo men stretched out David, sprayed "EZE" on his back (for Eric Bischoff) then proceeded to whip him with Hogan's belt.

Though this whole post-match angle did go on a little bit too long, it was nonetheless very effective. The sight of Ric Flair, handcuffed to the ropes and crying his eyes out as he tried to shield his battered son from the wrath of the evil New World Order was harrowing.

Indeed, if the whole point of pro wrestling is to elicit emotion, then this was one angle that was perfectly executed. You couldn't help but feel for Flair and hope and pray that somebody would come to the fallen hero's rescue.

Nobody did, and the bad guys simply walked away, ready to fight another day.

Finally, after a brief video package recounting the rivalry between Scott Hall and Goldberg, it was on to our main event.

Stun Gun Ladder Match
Scott Hall vs. Goldberg

WCW Souled Out 1999 -Scott Hall faced Goldberg in a ladder match
Well, what a mess this was.

At Wrestlemania 10, Scott Hall and Shawn Michaels had introduced mainstream audiences to the concept of the ladder match in what is still remembered today as one of the greatest matches of its genre.

A year later, at Summerslam 1995, he and Michaels did it again, putting on another classic that helped both men cement their status as Masters of the Ladder Match.

Three-and-a-half years later, however, Scott Hall showed absolutely no signs of being the same man that had battled Michaels back in the mid-90s.

He began tonight's main event by taking to the microphone and gloating about how he'd cost Goldberg the title at Starrcade '98. He then also reminded us of that shot we'd seen at the start of the show where Goldberg was on the floor, clutching his injured leg. Hall told us that because Goldberg was hurt, he wouldn't be competing tonight.

Michael Buffer disagreed, apologising for "that false statement from Scott Hall" and introducing the former WCW Champion.

What followed was a sloppy, sluggish horror of a match that was far removed from Hall's classics with HBK.

Even when Goldberg was busted wide open, and even when he pushed Hall off the ladder a bunch of times, nothing could escape the fact that this was a truly horrible match.

Part of the problem, of course, was that Goldberg was trying hard to sell the injury to his leg that Hall had mentioned earlier. However, he seemed to be focussing so hard on selling the leg that he became incapable of doing anything interesting.

It was painful to watch.

At one point, Goldberg looked to have the match won. He was at the top of the ladder, about to claim the stun gun that he'd need to zap Hall with to win the match. Instead, Disco Inferno -of all people- ran out and pushed Goldberg off.

Hall then got the stun gun, but the match wasn't over.

Again, you had to zap your opponent in order to win.

Goldberg blocked Hall's attempt to zap him, took the gun and teased zapping Hall with it for several millennia.

Instead, he threw it in the air and then hit Hall with a spear and a jackknife.

At that point, the camera crew messed up and spoiled a surprise by cutting to the entrance way even though nobody was there.

Back in the ring, Goldberg stunned Hall and won this atrocity of a match.
Your Winner: Goldberg

Immediately, Bam Bam Bigelow popped up and started attacking Goldberg, but Hall recovered from being zapped by a stun gun as if it was nothing and proceeded to zap both Goldberg and Bigelow with it.

It was -as many things in WCW were- stupid.

So, was Souled Out 1999 the start of a new era for World Championship Wrestling?

Was this the start of them putting their past mistakes behind them and turning things around? 

In a word, no. 

Apart from that ridiculous and awful main event, there wasn't much here that was on the level of the miserable mistakes WCW had made in the past, but there was nothing that gave you any hope for the future, either. 

Yes, Smiley/Guerrero was a fun little undercard match, and yes, Jericho and Saturn tore it up as best they could and subtly earned themselves Match of the Night honours, but there was nothing here to get overly excited about. 

All in all, it was just another forgettable pro wrestling show; the kind of thing you might feel OK about watching to pass the time on a boring Sunday afternoon, but not the sort of thing you're ever going to recommend to friends.

Other WCW Souled Out reviews:

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Thursday, 10 January 2019

EVENT REVIEW: WWF Mayhem in Manchester 1998

WWE / WWF Mayhem in Manchester 1998 - Event poster
April 4th, 1998
Nynex Arena, Manchester

Today's review of WWF Mayhem in Manchester is one of only a very few reviews that I've done outside chronological order in the past couple of years. This is simply because I actually believed that this event took place the following year, in 1999.

What makes this embarrassing, is that I was actually there. The Nynex Arena (or Manchester Arena as it's now known) was about 20 minutes from where I lived at the time, so it was a no-brainer that I'd be there.

That makes tonight's show only the second time I've reviewed something on Retro Pro Wrestling that I was actually there for in person.

In case you're wondering, the first time was One Night Only back in September 1997, the night Shawn Michaels cheated hometown hero The British Bulldog out of the European Championship.

Fast forward just seven months later, and The Bulldog was in WCW while Shawn Michaels was a home nursing a back injury.

Not only that, but the whole landscape of the World Wrestling Federation felt much, much different than it had done in the latter part of 1997.

Need proof?

Compare reviews from that year to the reviews from 1998.

All done? then join me as I head to the Nynex Arena and relive the first true Attitude Era show I ever attended live.

A New Attitude Comes to England

WWE / WWF Mayhem in Manchester 1998 - Event logo
The version that we're reviewing tonight is the VHS version, which kicks off with Michael Cole telling us basically what I've already told you:

That this was the first Attitude Era event to come to England.

We began with clips of the WWF Superstars outside one of the main hotels in Manchester City Centre and then moved to Cole telling us about the history of WWF PPVs in the UK.

First, he told us about Summerslam 1991, when he, of course, meant Summerslam 1992. I'm surprised nobody in the edit picked up on that.

Then, he told us about the aforementioned One Night Only.

Finally, he showed us clips of the show we were about to see, Mayhem in Manchester.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Brakus

WWE / WWF Mayhem in Manchester 1998 - Jeff Jarrett beat Brakus
Unfortunately, this VHS version was a heavily abridged edit of the actual event, so we started out with more Michael Cole.

This time, he talked over a cut-down clip of a match between Jeff Jarrett and Brakus, a guy Cole told us was a "European favourite," despite the fact that none of us over here had ever heard of him.

From what we could see, the match looked like a fairly standard opener, ending when Jarrett slapped Brakus in the figure four.
Your Winner: Jeff Jarrett

Cole then told us what the next match was and then said "let's get right to the action," so let's do that, shall we?

The Disciples of The Apocalypse (Skull & 8-Ball) vs. The Godwins

WWE / WWF Mayhem in Manchester 1998 - The Godwins beat Disciples of the Apocalypse
Since nothing interesting happened here, I'll take this moment to tell you that the production values here are non-existence.

This is basically like watching a house show with Kevin Kelly the omnipresent Michael Cole commentating over it.

Not that this is necessarily bad. It's just, you know, a different look.

Back to the match, The Godwins won and nobody cared.
Your Winners: The Godwins

Let's keep going

Marvellous Marc Mero (w/ Sable) vs. Bradshaw

WWE / WWF Mayhem in Manchester 1998 - Sable
I've got a feeling that if all the matches are clipped then this review isn't going to be very good.

Still, I've started, so I'll finish.

All we saw here was a quick clip showing us Sable signing some autographs (because, you know, she was super popular), followed by a return to the ring where Bradshaw reversed a TKO and hit Marc Mero with a Clothesline From Hell to win the match.
Your Winner: Bradshaw

The Nation (WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock & D'Lo Brown) vs. Ken Shamrock & Owen Hart

Though still edited, this was the closest thing we got to a full match so far.

It was also a whole lot of fun.

WWE / WWF Mayhem in Manchester 1998 - Owen Hart & Ken Shamrock faced D'Lo Brown & the Rock
Interestingly, Owen Hart was wearing his Slammy Award Winner attire, something which I'm positive he'd no longer been wearing at this stage.

Regardless as to what he was wearing, he and Ken Shamrock dominated the bulk of what we saw from this effort against D'Lo Brown and The Rock.

Shamrock, in particular, seemed to do most of the work, at one point even going for a walk through the crowd with the Intercontinental Champion before finally putting D'Lo in the Ankle Lock to win the match.

Watching it back, that was a hugely enjoyable bit of pro wrestling.
Your Winners: Ken Shamrock & Owen Hart

Moving on...

The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/ Luna Vachon) vs. Cactus Jack

WWE / WWF Mayhem in Manchester 1998 - Goldust faced Cactus Jack
Though it wasn't on a par with the previous match, former WCW alum Cactus Jack and Dustin "TAFKA Goldust" Rhodes worked hard here to deliver a solid match that had a lot to like about it.

OK, so it wasn't the longest bout ever, and ok, so it wasn't exactly five-star PPV quality, but it was an entertaining affair from start to finish.

In the end, Goldust got the better of Cactus thanks to Luna Vachon who, from outside of the ring, held Cactus' leg down to stop him kicking out of Goldust's pin.
Your Winner: The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust

Afterwards, Cactus Jack attacked Goldust, but Luna jumped into her man's defence.

This brought out Sable for a huge pop.

The two girls then had a pull-apart brawl which also saw Marc Mero return to the ring. If you recall, Mero and Sable had defeated Luna and Goldust back at Wrestlemania 14, so there was certainly no love lost there.

After Luna bailed, Sable called her out on the mic. Vachon didn't turn up, so Sable took out her frustrations on Mero, pushing him to the mat.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg Jesse James & Bad Ass Billy Gunn) vs. L.O.D 2000 (Hawk & Animal)

WWE / WWF Mayhem in Manchester 1998 - The New Age Outlaws in crappy DX t-shirts
If there's one thing I remember about this event, it's that I went in really wanting to buy the classic D-Generation-X t-shirt, only to find they only had a crappy version that had the WWF logo exploding out of the DX logo.

It was a bad design, but it was the best they had, so I bought it anyway.

I mention this because Road Dogg and Bad Ass Billy Gunn were wearing those t-shirts as they made their way to the ring, having only very recently joined DX.

Still, this was at the time when the WWF's answer to the nWo were still technically heels, and so our champions acted as such.

If you ask me, from an in-ring standpoint, the New Age Outlaws were far better as heels.

Sure, they were on fire when it came to getting the crowd worked up as babyfaces, but most of their actual matches when they played the good guys were long, boring, and formulaic.

Here, they were far more interesting as they took the fight to the men they originally beat for the titles, the recently-repacked L.O.D 2000.

After absorbing plenty of punishment, the challengers looked to have the match sewn up, even lifting Road Dogg up for a Doomsday Device.

Before they could land it, however, Chyna ran in to cause the DQ.
Your Winners via Disqualification: L.O.D 2000 (New Age Outlaws retain the titles)

Chyna put in her second appearance of the evening immediately following that match.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Triple H (w/ Chyna)

WWE / WWF Mayhem in Manchester 1998 - Bad editing from WWF's production crew
Further proof of bad editing in this video is that the overlay graphic told us Steve Austin was fighting Triple HHH, so like *gets the calculator out* Nine Hs?

Regardless as to how many Hs he had in his name, The DX leader and Stone Cold put on an explosive championship match together.

A rematch of sorts from their meeting almost two years prior at In Your House 11: Buried Alive, both champ and challenger worked hard to deliver a really exciting performance, even if it was a little on the short side.

Towards the finish, the champ drilled Triple H and Chyna with stunners, pinned Hunter, and got the three count.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin

And with that, it was onto our main event.

Kane (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. The Undertaker

WWE / WWF Mayhem in Manchester 1998 - The Undertaker wrestled in biker gear
Ah yes, that infamous time that The Undertaker's attire got lost in transit, so he had to wrestle dressed up as one of the members of the DOA.

This early version of Biker 'Taker went up against brother Kane in a Wrestlemania 14 rematch that was decent without being spectacular.

Personally, I would have put Austin/HHH on last as it was certainly the highlight of the show, but that's not to say Taker/Kane was bad.

It was a perfectly fine match for what it was and had the predictable ending of Undertaker hitting the Tombstone piledriver to pick up the win.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

And that, my friends, was that.

All in all then, the first Attitude Era event to take place in England was a rather unspectacular affair.

If you never see this event in your life,  you're honestly not missing much. 

Yes, Austin/HHH was great and by far the best thing on the show, but then again, the two would have better matches down the line, so you don't need to worry about this one. 

Besides, this show was about 90% Michael Cole and nobody needs that, not even Mrs Cole. 

1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
  3. WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl 1998
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1998 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 14 
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1998
  8. WWF - In Your House 21: Unforgiven
  9. WCW Slamboree 1998
  10. WWF - In Your House 22: Over The Edge
  11. WCW Great American Bash 1998 
  12. WWF - King of the Ring 1998
  13. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1998 
  14. WWF - In Your House 23: Fully Loaded 
  15. WCW - Road Wild 1998
  16. WWF - Summerslam 1998
  17. WCW - Fall Brawl 1998
  18. WWF - In Your House 24: Breakdown
  19. WWF - In Your House 25: Judgement Day 
  20. WCW - Halloween Havoc 1998
  21. WWF - Survivor Series 1998
  22. WWF - Capital Carnage 1998
  23. WCW - World War 3 1998
  24. WWF - In Your House 26: Rock Bottom
Other WWF UK event reviews 
  1. Battle Royal at the Royal Albert Hall 1991
  2. Summerslam 1992
  3. One Night Only 1997
  4. Capital Carnage 1998
    Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

    Thursday, 3 January 2019

    PPV REVIEW: WWF Rock Bottom 1998: In Your House 26

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Event poster
    December 13, 1998
    General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

    1998 had been a long and spectacular year for the World Wrestling Federation. 

    With the Attitude Era now in full effect, the company had started the year still languishing behind World Championship Wrestling in the legendary Monday Night Wars but were now once again reasserting their dominance as the world leaders in professional wrestling.

    Of course, much of the company's reversal in fortunes was down to the roaring success of Stone Cold Steve Austin and his epic rivalry with Vince McMahon, a rivalry which captured the imagination of fans in a way that few stories would do before or since.

    Yet whilst Austin was reaching the zenith of his career, another of the Attitude Era's stars was still on the rise, spending much of the year transforming from a popular mid-card act to a bonafide main event superstar.

    That man was, of course, The Rock.

    Tonight, on the last big event of the year, The Great One himself, the World Wrestling Federation Champion would prove that he was indeed one of the industry's biggest stars with his very own pay per view.

    Here's what happened when the WWF rounded out 1998 with the 26th In Your House, Rock Bottom.

    In The Rock's House

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - The Rock at Planet Hollywood
    After a quick bit of "exclusive footage" which revealed preparations for tonight's Buried Alive match, we turned our attention to World Wrestling Federation Champion, The Rock.

    The Great One moved through a hotel lobby of some description, welcoming us to tonight's show in his usual braggadocious fashion.

    The champ told us that from now on, all the In Your House events would be called In The Rock's House, and that future PPVs would have names like "Rock Solid" and "Laying the Smack Down."

    So that was something to get excited about.

    With that, it was on with the show.

    Someone Will Be Buried Alive

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Jerry 'The King' Lawler & Michael Cole
    Our show began properly with one of the WWF's typically excellent video packages.

    This one reminded us that The Undertaker had now formed The Ministry of Darkness, had "crucified" Austin on a giant Undertaker symbol, and was now generally a creepy dude.

    Tonight, he and Austin would go at it in a Buried Alive match in which one man would be thrown into a deep grave and, well, buried alive.

    Michael Cole, who was making his PPV commentary debut here alongside Jerry 'The King' Lawler, showed us the grave and welcomed us to the show before it was on to our first match.

    For those wondering, Jim Ross wasn't on the show because his mother had passed away and because, as Cole would tell us later in the show, JR was also feeling "a bit under the weather."

    Supply & Demand (Val Venis & The Godfather w/ The Hos) vs. Mark Henry & D'Lo Brown (w/ Terri Runnels & Jacqueline)

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - The Godfather teamed with Val Venis
    To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how official that team name was for Val Venis and The Godfather, but I saw it on Wikipedia once and it will do for this.

    Whatever they were called, the duo opened up the show by taking to the microphone. Making separate entrances, Val first described himself as being like butter on a pancake as both "melt in the hot spot." which sounds all kinds of icky.

    Then, The Godfather came down and said that whilst it was the holiday season, he was giving his hos to Val for the evening.

    From there, The Godfather's former Nation of Domination teammates, D'Lo Brown and Mark Henry came down with Terri Runnels and Jacqueline.

    The girls had recently formed an alliance, though why they'd chosen to align themselves with D'Lo and Henry was something that not even the announcers could explain.

    As for the actual match - it was a reasonable effort by all accounts and the perfect way to start a show like this one.

    The crowds were super into every move, which of course made the whole thing that much more exciting.

    With the referee distracted by some commotion on the outside of the ring, Jacqui climbed inside, pulled Val's pants down and hit him, giving Mark Henry the chance to slam Val down to the mat and score the win for his team.
    Your Winners: D'Lo Brown & Mark Henry

    Triple H vouches for the New Age Outlaws 

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Doc Hendrix interviews Triple H (w/ Chyna)
    The web was still in its infancy back in 1998, so the WWF Superstar Line was still very much a thing. 

    Before we got onto some more wrestling, we had Doc Hendrix shilling said hotline by interviewing Triple H.

    With Chyna standing by, Hunter told Doc that despite Comissioner Shawn Michaels banning DX from ringside during the tag team title match, his buddies The New Age Outlaws would still get the job done in the ring. 

    Earlier, on Heat...

    Prior to the next match, we were taken back to Sunday Night Heat from earlier in the evening.

    On that show, Mankind had viciously attacked his upcoming opponent, The Rock, injuring the champ's ribs in the process.

    Mankind had then revealed a clause in his contract which said that if The Rock forfeited, he would lose the WWF Championship and Mankind would become the new champion.

    To quote Susan Saint James:


    The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) vs. The Oddities (Kurgan & Golga w/ Giant Silva & Luna Vachon)

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - The Headbangers vs. The Oddities
    True story, I always thoughts babyface Luna Vachon was adorably cute in her own weird way.

    Anyway, that confession aside, this match between the good guy Oddities and the brash, violent bad guys The Headbangers had all the potential to be terrible.

    Instead, it was actually kind of fun, or at least as much fun as you could have watching anything involving Kurgan.

    After a short back-and-forth, Mosh got a flying crossbody on Golga (the man better known as Earthquake) and earned his team the victory.
    Your Winners: The Headbangers

    Backstage, Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe pandered to Mr McMahon. Meanwhile, Shane McMahon looked on.

    Owen Hart vs. Steve Blackman

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Owen Hart battles Steve Blackman
    Owen Hart had recently announced his retirement after causing a serious neck injury to Dan Severn.

    At around the same time, Owen's character from his earliest WWF run, The Blue Blazer, had begun making appearances and attacking Steve Blackman.

    This was enough to cause a heated rivalry between Blackman and Hart, the latter of whom was incredibly over here in Canada.

    Owen's popularity no doubt made this match much more enjoyable. That said, I couldn't help but watch with a certain tinge of sadness knowing that, with the arrival of the Blue Blazer character, we were moving into the final months of Owen's life.

    On a lighter note, this was a decent effort. Owen dominated the bulk of the contest, much to the delight of the Canadian crowd. Yet when his opponent kept making comebacks and going on the offensive, a frustrated Slammy Award Winner simply took off, leaving the referee no choice but to call the ten count.
    Your Winner via count out: Steve Blackman

    Backstage, Vince McMahon went in search of Mankind. He eventually found him in what Foley had deemed to be his "office" but which was, in fact, just a large storage cupboard.

    Vince entered and closed the door behind us, meaning we'd never get to hear what Mankind had to say to the man he called "Dad."

    The J.O.B Squad (Al Snow, Scorpio & Bob Holly) vs. Brood (Gangrel, Edge & Christian)

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Edge & Gangrel
    Honestly, the only two people I ever remember being in the J.O.B Squad are Al Snow and a pre-Gilberg Duane Gill, so it was a bit surprising to see Scorpio and Bob Holly making their way out with Snow.

    Meanwhile, The Brood came down without the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship which Christian had won just a few months ago at Judgement Day: In Your House. He'd since lost that title to Duane Gill, effectively rendering that title a non-entity until the year 2000.

    This is one of those matches that got better as they went on.

    At first, the whole thing seemed a bit sloppy and disjointed, but when it finally broke down into everyone just hitting big moves on each other, it was actually fun to watch.

    Like everything on the card so far, "fun" was about the kindest thing that could be said.

    None of these matches were anything special, but for the sake of filling up time on the undercard, they were all perfectly acceptable.

    Of course, it didn't help that neither Cole nor King seemed to care much about the match, instead talking about Commissioner Shawn Michael's recent decisions and, well, anything apart from what was happening in the ring.

    This one ended when Christian hit the as-yet-unnamed Unprettier on Scorpio and got the three count.
    Your Winners: The Brood

    Backstage, Mankind and Mr McMahon continued to thrash things out. We couldn't hear what either man was saying.

    Striptease Match
    Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra) vs. Goldust

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Jeff Jarrett battles Goldust
    So, the deal here was that if Goldust won, Jeff Jarrett's manager, Debra McMichael, would have to strip off. If Goldust lost, however, then he would have to strip off.

    The crowd were firmly behind Goldust, which isn't surprising when you consider that the crowd were mostly horny men who wanted to see Debra strip. I must admit, the former Queen of WCW was (and is) far more attractive than I ever gave her credit for back in the late 1990s, so I honestly don't blame them.

    Given what was at stake, the hot crowd helped make this one of the better matches on the card so far. Again, it wasn't anything amazing - but it was a really enjoyable outing with both Jarrett and Goldust playing their roles perfectly.

    Towards the finish, Jarrett distracted the referee whilst Debra walloped Goldust with a guitar.

    Three seconds later, we had a winner.
    Your Winner: Jeff Jarrett

    Or did we?

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Debra Strips
    Before Goldust was forced to take his kit off, Commissioner Shawn Michaels came out for his first PPV appearance since losing to Steve Austin back at Wrestlemania 13. HBK sent Jarrett to the back and then said that since Debra had used a guitar, Jarrett was disqualified, meaning Debra would have to strip.

    Not that she seemed to mind much.

    The blonde beauty milked the moment for all it was worth, slowly stripping off to her bra and panties.

    I've got to be honest with you, it was more attractive than anything we'd seen from the WWF's number one diva, Sable, or even from my beloved Sunny.

    The segment ended with Jeff Jarrett storming to the ring to confront Michaels whilst The Blue Blazer wrapped his cloak around Debra, much to the dismay of everyone.

    Meanwhile, out in the back, Vince McMahon was seen leaving Mankind's "office."

    World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
    WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg Jesse James & Bad Ass Billy Gunn) vs. WWF Hardcore Champion The Big Boss Man & WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock (w/ Shawn Michaels)

    D-Generation-X are banned from ringside

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Bad Bum Billy Gun
    Oh, you didn't know?

    This was basically every New Age Outlaws title defence you've ever seen.

    After riling up the crowd, the Road Dogg spent the majority of the contest getting battered from pillar to post by Ken Shamrock and The Big Bossman until Bad Ass Bily Gunn finally made the hot tag and cleaned house.

    Whilst it was fairly textbook, it was just like everything on the show so far - a decent effort without being spectacular.

    Not too surprisingly, the Outlaws retained their titles.
    Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: The New Age Outlaws

    Afterwards, Billy Gunn pretended to masturbate with the Boss Man's nightstick.

    The Making of The Corporate Champion

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Vince and Shane McMahon w/ The Rock
    Prior to our title match, we were reminded of how The Rock and Vince McMahon fooled everybody into thinking they hated each other, but were actually working together. The two colluded to get The Rock all the way into the final of the Deadly Games tournament at Survivor Series 1998, thus making the future Hollywood superstar a WWF Champion for the first time.

    Looking back years later, it was exciting to see a new superstar having reached the top of the mountain.

    And to think, this wasn't even The Rock at his peak.

    After the video, we cut to the locker room, where, accompanied by Shane McMahon, Vince told The Rock that Mankind had agreed to waive the clause in his contract that would award him the title should The Rock forfeit.

    All Mankind asked in return is that there were witnesses to watch him and Rock initial it.

    Vince convinced The Rock that it was a good move. Apparently, they'd be doing that out in the ring.

    World Wrestling Federation Championship
    WWF Champion The Rock (W/ Vince & Shane McMahon) vs. Mankind

    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Mankind confronts Vince McMahon
    Mankind had the short-lived remixed version of his first theme tonight. Like many things on this show, it's one I'd totally forgotten about.

    After his entrance, The Rock made his way out with Vince and Shane, and that's where the real fun began.

    Taking to the mic, Mankind agreed that he would waive the forfeit clause, but only if Vince admitted in front of everybody that he had never heard Mankind say "I Quit" in the controversial, Screwjob Redux Incident back at Survivor Series.

    Though he hadn't said them at Survivor Series, Mankind did say the words "I Quit" several times in this opening gambit, something that would come into play in the run-up to the 1999 Royal Rumble.

    Unsurprisingly, Vince refused.

    In fact, he told Mankind that The Rock had definitely heard Mick quit, and that was good enough for him.

    Just as Mick then went to attack Vince, The Rock struck from behind, and this one was one.

    Right from the word go, it was clear that this was building into a terrific title match.

    The two quickly took a tumble to the outside, Mankind's natural playground.

    There, the challenger went to work with some hardcore offence. That prompted Vince to take to the microphone and order the referee not to be lenient. Basically, said Vince, as soon as the referee had a legitimate reason to disqualify Mick, he should do so.

    "He's just making the rules up as he goes along!" cried Cole.

    "No he isn't," replied King. "You're always supposed to be disqualified if you break the rules!"

    King 1 - 0 Cole.

    Anyway, that only made the match even more interesting.

    From there, it built it up into some classic Attitude Era craziness, with The Rock taking Cole's headset and putting himself over on commentary whilst attacking Mankind from behind the table.

    Back and forth they battled, every move increasing the intensity, doubling the drama. The two had the crowds on the edge of their seats, waging a brilliant war against each other which ended when Mankind slipped on Mr Socko and rammed it down the champion's throat.

    The Rock passed out and we had a new champion!
    Your Winner and New WWF Champion: Mankind

    Or Maybe not.

    Vince took to the mic and informed us that, yes, Mankind had won the match, but he wasn't the champion.


    Because the WWF title could only change hands on pinfall or submission, but since The Rock had neither been pinned nor submitted, but just passed out, he was still technically the champion.

    OK, let's do this again then:
    Your Winner: Mankind (The Rock retains the title)

    Understandably irate, Mankind took out his frustrations on Vince and slapped Mr Socko on him. When Shane tried to save his dad by smashing Mankind with a steel chair, Mick no-sold it and Socko'd Shane, too.

    Eventually, Ken Shamrock and The Big Bossman ran out to save the McMcMahons.

    Time for Buried Alive

    Before we got to our main event, we got a quick look at the recent history between The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

    This basically revolved around Austin costing 'Taker the title back at Judgement Day.

    To retaliate, Undertaker had whacked Austin over the head with a shovel and then attempted to embalm him, only for Kane to come to Austin's rescue. Stone Cold and Kane then threw Paul Bearer down a manhole (an image which has stuck with this fan for years), after which Undertaker went all demonic and promised to make Austin burn in hell.

    Tonight, the two would meet in what was to be the company's second only Buried Alive match on PPV. The first, of course, was back at In Your House 11: Buried Alive.

    Buried Alive Match
    Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)

    If Austin wins, he gets a place in the 1999 Royal Rumble
    WWE / WWF Rock Bottom 98 - In Your House 26 - Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker - Buried Alive
    Have I mentioned how much I love The Undertaker's theme from this period?

    Sadly, that was probably the best thing about this match.

    Whereas the previous WWF title match was dramatic and intense, the Buried Alive match was long and laborious, with only occasional flashes of the wild, exciting brawling that had been the hallmark of Austin's main event run.

    It wasn't that they didn't try.

    At various times it seemed like the two were moments away from really kicking it up a gear and giving us a classic main event.

    However, much like their match at In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell, the two struggled to deliver much of any genuine excitement, and the whole thing fell flat.

    Towards the finish, an explosion erupted from inside the open grave. Kane popped out and went to war with his brother whilst Austin chased Paul Bearer backstage.

    Stone Cold returned a minute or so later, directing a huge digger into the arena.

    Kane tombstoned 'Taker. 'Taker fell in the grave, and the digger dumped a bunch of dirt on it.
    Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

    Afterwards, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Super Impartial Referee Earl Hebner drank a beer on The Undertaker's grave to end the show.

    This is one of those shows that you keep waiting to get better. Instead, you find yourself sitting there, match after match thinking "yeah, that was OK, but nothing special."

    That was the frustrating thing about this show. Every match was decent in its own right and nothing was particularly terrible. Even the match involving The Oddities had at least some entertainment value, but other than that, there was nothing that was must-see. There was nothing that really stood out. There as nothing, in other words, that made you feel excited about watching pro wrestling.

    That, of course, is apart from the WWF Championship match.

    Though Rock and Mankind would have a better outing at the following month's Royal Rumble, their battle here showed why The Rock deserved to be in the main event, and why Mankind deserved to be right up there with him.

    If you have the WWE Network and you don't have anything else going on, it might be worth spending a few minutes watching Rock/Mankind. Otherwise, there's nothing on this PPV that's actually worth your time. 

    1998 events reviewed so far
    1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
    2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
    3. WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas 
    4. WCW - Superbrawl 1998
    5. WCW - Uncensored 1998 
    6. WWF - Wrestlemania 14 
    7. WCW Spring Stampede 1998
    8. WWF - In Your House 21: Unforgiven
    9. WCW Slamboree 1998
    10. WWF - In Your House 22: Over The Edge
    11. WCW Great American Bash 1998 
    12. WWF - King of the Ring 1998
    13. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1998 
    14. WWF - In Your House 23: Fully Loaded 
    15. WCW - Road Wild 1998
    16. WWF - Summerslam 1998
    17. WCW - Fall Brawl 1998
    18. WWF - In Your House 24: Breakdown
    19. WWF - In Your House 25: Judgement Day 
    20. WCW - Halloween Havoc 1998
    21. WWF - Survivor Series 1998
    22. WWF - Capital Carnage 1998
    23. WCW - World War 3 1998
    24. WCW Starrcade 1998
    Other WCW Starrcade reviews:
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      Thursday, 27 December 2018

      PPV REVIEW: WCW Starrcade 1998

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Event poster
      December 27, 1998 
      MCI Center in Washington, D.C

      Here's something that I don't think has ever happened before in the history of Retro Pro Wrestling: This Starrcade 1998 review is being published exactly 20 years to the day that the actual event took place.

      That's pretty cool, right?

      At least a lot cooler than the state of World Championship Wrestling at the tail end of 1998.

      Indeed, after tearing the World Wrestling Federation a new one and dominating the competition throughout the middle part of the 1990s, 1998 had seen the company slowly but steadily beginning to spin out of control as one bad decision after another saw them losing any momentum they'd once gained.

      Meanwhile, on the opposite side of pro wrestling's biggest war, the WWF had spent most of the year mounting an unprecedented comeback, clawing their way to the top of the mountain on the back of white-hot main event superstars The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin and, of course, on the back of a whole new Attitude.

      With the year now coming to a close, would WCW show that they weren't out of the fight just yet?

      Would the company put their best foot forward and give its fans hope for a better  1999?

      Or would Starrcade 1998 be just the latest in a long line of bad decisions?

      With the company's own white-hot star, Goldberg, putting his streak and the WCW title on the line against Kevin Nash, we all know the answer to that one.

      But hey, we're here anyway, so we might as well jump into the show, right?

      The Streak is On The Line

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
      After a brief video introduction highlighting what a powerhouse Goldberg was, we cut to the usual dramatic introduction from Tony Schiavone.

      Along with Iron Mike Tenay and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, Schiavone told us that Goldberg was currently 173-0, defending a title that had been in existence since 1905.

      The trio also informed us that, as per Eric Bischoff's demands, none of the Four Horsemen besides Ric Flair were allowed in the building, giving Easy E a distinct advantage in his match with the Nature Boy later on in the show.

      We then cut to Mean Gene Okerlund for a bit of 1-900-909-9900 action before the bell sounded, Dave Penzer spoke up, and it was on with the action.

      World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship Triangle Match
      WCW Cruiserweight Champion Kidman vs. Juventud Guerrera vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Rey Mysterio faced Kidman and Juventud Guerrera
      Kicking off the show with what Mike Tenay promised us could be a "show-stealer," Rey Mysterio Jr. came to the ring with a random hip-hop theme that I don't recognise at all.

      That aside, this was a fun opening match.

      OK, so it wasn't the all-out show-stealer Tenay had predicted, and there were certainly times when you could tell the three combatants were merely shuffling from one spot to the next, but hey, some of those spots were a blast to watch.

      After a good back-and-forth battle, Latino World Order leader Eddie Guerrero got involved, trying to assist his boy Juventud Guerrera in picking up the win.

      Unfortunately for the LWO, Mysterio gave Kidman the assist in reversing a pin attempt, and the former Flock member retained the gold.
      Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Kidman

      Post-match, an irate Eddie Guerrero berated Rey and Juvi for being "morons" and not LWO material. This is despite the fact that, during his entrance, Rey dropped his LWO t-shirt to the ground and trod on it, effectively disassociating himself from the Latino faction.

      This is also despite the fact that Rey had already left the group at the previous month's World War 3 event.

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Eddie Guerrero with Juventud Guerrera
      This whole, boring segment lasted almost as long as the previous match had, and culminated in Eddie calling out Kidman with the words "I challenge you to a cruiserweight champion!"

      Fortunately, Kidman knew Eddie had meant a championship match and came down to accept the challenge.

      In perfect heel mode, Eddie then claimed he wasn't ready (he was still wearing street clothes), but then relented and took the match to stop Kidman calling him a sissy.

      World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
      WCW Cruiserweight Champion Kidman vs. Eddie Guerrero

      Lacking the flash and panache of the previous encounter, this was still nonetheless a good match, albeit one that told a different story.

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Billy Kidman defended his cruiserweight title twice
      Here, we had the fresh challenger, Eddie Guerrero dominating his battle-weary opponent for the bulk of the contest, with Kidman barely keeping himself in the match.

      Rey Mysterio stood guard as the champion's second, with Mike Tenay telling us that he was only in the LWO because he'd been forced to (probably by losing a match).

      Ah, so that makes sense now.

      Meanwhile, despite being berated by Eddie earlier, Juventud Guerrera continued to run interference for the LWO leader.

      He wasn't the only one.

      Towards the finish, another LWO member who the announcers told us was Eddie's bodyguard came down to distract the referee. This backfired, as Rey gave Kidman the assist, allowing the champ to hit another shooting star press to retain the gold.
      Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Kidman

      A bizarre video package followed which saw clips of the Goldberg/Kevin Nash rivalry mixed with floating clouds and choral music.

      It was odd.

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Norman Smiley vs. Prince IukeaNorman Smiley vs. Prince Iaukea

      Yes, Norman Smiley vs. Prince Iaukea on one of the biggest pay per views of the year.

      Welcome to the WCW, folks.

      Look, I'm not saying it was a bad match. The two actually put on a pretty solid wrestling clinic, but it went on forever and absolutely nobody cared.

      After almost 14 minutes of body scissors and assorted submissions, Smiley slapped on the Norman Conquest chicken wing to win the match.
      Your Winner: Norman Smiley

      Afterwards, a tired-looking Scott Hall turned up "unannounced" to cut a tedious promo about how 1998 had not been his year but 1999 would be.

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Scott Hall promised to have a better 1999
      Distancing himself from former teammate Kevin Nash, Hall claimed that he had nothing to prove to Nash or to the fans, but only to himself.

      Though hindsight would prove that this would indeed serve a purpose, it was neither very interesting nor entertaining.

      We then got a clip of Bam Bam Bigelow arriving at a WCW show and beating up Hall, which somehow led to a pull-apart between Nash and Goldberg and, finally, a three-way between Nash, Bigelow and Goldberg.

      Maybe Bam Bam was still upset about something from the time he and Nash teamed up at King of the Ring 1995.

      The Cat (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Perry Saturn

      Now known simply as The Cat, Ernest Miller began tonight by taking to the mic to tell the crowd that they were lucky to see him compete and "whoop this guy."

      He then did his usual schtick in which he gave his opponent five seconds to leave the ring to avoid said whooping. Naturally, Perry Saturn declined the invitation.

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Ernest 'The Cat' Miller faced Perry Saturn
      Though Miller was never the greatest (despite that being his whole gimmick), this was at least an effective way of getting heat before he and Saturn locked up.

      The actual match was kept short and played for laughs in the early going, with the cowardly Cat doing all he could to try and stay away from Saturn.

      Alas, he failed, got his ass kicked, and lost the match after Sonny Onoo tried to kick Saturn, missed, and smashed Cat in the mush.

      Cat kicked his manager back but got a Death Valley Driver from Saturn and was pinned.
      Your Winner: Perry Saturn

      Post-match, Miller shoved Onoo, apparently ending their relationship.

      "Meeeeeeeeean...WHOOO! Gene!"

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Ric Flair interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund
      Up next, Okerlund interviewed a returning Ric Flair about his upcoming match with Eric Bischoff.

      Styling and profiling like no other before or since, Nature Boy vowed to tear Bischoff limb from limb in a highly entertaining promo, reminding us all that he was indeed a jet-flying, limousine-riding, kiss-stealing, wheeling-dealing son of a gun.


      In case you were wondering what caused this match, we next saw a video package which traced the Bischoff/Flair rivalry all the way back to the Outsiders invasion of 1996.

      If you recall, this led to Bischoff being revealed as part of the New World Order and becoming an egomaniacal dictator.

      The video package recounted many of Bischoff's most dastardly power-mad moves, including trying to rid WCW of Ric Flair, beating up David Flair, and generally being a massive D.

      After all that hype, you'd assume the big showdown between the two was next, but let's not forget that this was WCW, so of course, it wasn't.

      Buff and Scott Threaten Konnan

      Out in the back, Buff Bagwell and Scott Norton busted into Konnan's dressing room to tell him that the nWo Black & White was now under Steiner's control.

      The two then said that even though they'd promised not to beat up Lex Luger, they couldn't say the same about K-Dogg.

      This brought in Luger himself. The Total Package sent Bugg and Scott packing before having his loyalties questioned by Konnan.

      Brian Adams & Scott Norton (w/ Vincent) vs. Fit Finlay & Jerry Flynn

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Brian Adams & Scott Norton faced Jerry Flynn & Fit Finlay
      Biggest pay per view of the year, folks!

      OK, so this wasn't terrible, but if that's about the best you can say about a wrestling match then that's not exactly a good sign, is it?

      After a whole bunch of kicking, slamming and chin-locking, Scott Norton powerbombed Jerry Flynn to get the fall for the nWo Job Squad.

      The most interesting thing to happen here was that Tony Schiavone told us the main event was now a No-DQ match.
      Your Winners: Brian Adams & Scott Norton

      Out in the entrance way, Mean Gene gave Eric Bischoff a chance to respond to Flair's earlier promo.

      A cocky heel in the best possible sense, Sleazy E put Flair over for "putting his life on the line" in a wrestling match despite having heart problems.

      Flair, according to Bischoff, really had no choice though because, and I quote "In the hundred and four years that Flair's been wrestling, he never saved a nickel" and now needed the money.

      Say what you want about Eric Bischoff, this was very good stuff.

      World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
      WCW TV Champion Konnan vs. Chris Jericho (w/ Ralphus)

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Chris Jericho & Ralphus
      Prior to the match, we were shown a clip from Nitro of Chris Jericho putting the Lion Tamer on a skinny little dude dressed as Konnan.

      Jericho then came out doing the thing where he wore the TV title after having stolen it, pretending to be the champion.

      This would have been interesting if WCW didn't do the exact same gimmick every few months with different wrestlers.

      Hitting the ring with Ralphus by his side, the future Y2J wished us all a Happy Jericholiday before mocking his opponent's slang and baggy pants.

      Konnan then came down and had one of his best matches in a long time, a solid seesaw battle that was hugely enjoyable from start to finish.

      Rivalled only by the opening triple threat in terms of quality, this very fun match ended with Konnan locking in Tequila Sunrise to keep his title.
      Your Winner and Still WCW TV Champion: Konnan

      Out in the "Internet Location" The Giant got mad at Lee Marshall because he believed Marshall had insinuated The Giant couldn't beat DDP.

      Moving on...

      Eric Bischoff vs. Ric Flair

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Ric Flair dominates Eric Bischoff
      Much better than this writer imagined, Bischoff vs. Flair was exactly what it needed to be:

      Several minutes of Nature Boy beating the ever-loving snot out of the WCW President to the delight of the live audience.

      At once point, Bischoff did mount a comeback, using a few karate kicks and driving Flair's head into the guardrail.

      It was at this point that Flair bladed probably just for the sake of blading. The match really didn't need it and it looked stupid, but otherwise, Flair had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand as he battered Easy E from pillar to post.

      The end came sometime after Little Naitch took a nap.

      Flair slapped on the Figure Four but an unshaven Curt Hennig came down, gave Bischoff an International Object, and helped him win the match.
      Your Winner: Eric Bischoff

      Post-match, Hennig dragged a battered, lifeless, yet victorious Bischoff backstage.

      Coming up...DDP Takes on The Giant! 

      Prior to our next match, we were shown a video that told us how we got to Giant/DDP.

      Basically, it began with Giant aligning himself with Bret Hart and helping The Hitman regain the US title from Page.

      Giant then attacked DDP, even destroying the old WCW logo set-piece as an excuse to eventually reveal the new logo and set-piece that nobody liked.

      The Giant vs. Diamond Dallas Page

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - The Giant faced DDP
      I wanted to like this match. I really did.

      Diamond Dallas Page had become one of WCW's hottest acts in 1998 and had been involved in some genuinely enjoyable matches (as well some not-so-enjoyable ones involving Dennis Rodman), but this?

      This was mostly slow, tedious, and not very interesting.

      Towards the finish, Bret Hart ran in swinging a chair, but missed Page and got The Giant instead.

      Not that it mattered, the two competitors continued to battle in a finish that was more exciting than anything else in the entire match.

      To finish, Page hit the Diamond Cutter off the top for the three count.
      Your Winner: Diamond Dallas Page

      Afterwards, Page and Hart trash-talked one another.

      We then got the weird Goldberg and Kevin Nash in the clouds video, and with that, it was time for our main event.

      World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
      WCW World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash

      WCW Starrcade 1998 Review - Kevin Nash beat Goldberg for the WCW title
      This is one of those occasions when rewatching wrestling shows twenty years after the fact can seriously spoil your enjoyment.

      Sure, Nash and Goldberg both worked to their strengths to give us a main event calibre big man match, but the ending to this one is so well known that I just couldn't buy into anything that was happening.

      Instead, I found myself sitting here waiting...waiting for the inevitable.

      Then, it happened.

      Disco Inferno ran in wearing a Wolfpac T-shirt and got speared to hell and back. Bam Bam Bigelow ran in and got battered too.

      Then, Scott Hall, disguised as a member of security, clambered up onto the apron and tasered the champion.

      Nash then recovered from having been beaten up by Goldberg and -not knowing Hall had been involved- powerbombed his way to infamy.
      Your Winner and NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Kevin Nash

      Ladies and gentlemen, one of the worst decisions in WCW history had just been made, and knowing WCW history, that's saying something.

      The Finger Poke of Doom was imminent, the eventual demise of World Championship Wrestling not far behind.

      After two really enjoyable cruiserweight matches, Starrcade 1998 quickly devolved into a bizarre show which, for the most part, played out like a random episode of WCW Saturday Night rather than the company's flagship Pay Per View. 

      Whilst the likes of Smiley/Iaukea and nWo vs. Flynnlay weren't exactly awful, they weren't PPV quality either. 

      Meanwhile, the main event, whilst certainly befitting a show like Starrcade in terms of its stature, really was the beginning of the end of WCW as we know it. 

      It's sad really because at times World Championship Wrestling really had been the best pro wrestling show on the planet. 

      1998 events reviewed so far
      1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
      2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
      3. WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas 
      4. WCW - Superbrawl 1998
      5. WCW - Uncensored 1998 
      6. WWF - Wrestlemania 14 
      7. WCW Spring Stampede 1998
      8. WWF - In Your House 21: Unforgiven
      9. WCW Slamboree 1998
      10. WWF - In Your House 22: Over The Edge
      11. WCW Great American Bash 1998 
      12. WWF - King of the Ring 1998
      13. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1998 
      14. WWF - In Your House 23: Fully Loaded 
      15. WCW - Road Wild 1998
      16. WWF - Summerslam 1998
      17. WCW - Fall Brawl 1998
      18. WWF - In Your House 24: Breakdown
      19. WWF - In Your House 25: Judgement Day 
      20. WCW - Halloween Havoc 1998
      21. WWF - Survivor Series 1998
      22. WWF - Capital Carnage 1998
      23. WCW - World War 3 1998
      24. WWF - In Your House 26: Rock Bottom
      Other WCW Starrcade reviews:
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        Retro Pro Wrestling

        New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.