Thursday, 19 July 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1998

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - Event poster
January 18, 1998
San Jose Arena, San Jose, California.

It was the dawning of a brand new year, and in many respects, the dawning of a brand new era in the World Wrestling Federation.

Despite spending most of 1997 slowly transorming their product into one with an edgier, more adult-orientated feel,it wasn't until the wake of the 1997 Survivor Series that the Attitude Era officially began.

A few months later, we found ourelves here, at the first Royal Rumble of that Attitude Era and the first World Wrestling Federation pay per view to feature the 'scratch' logo that was so synonymous with that time period.

With that in mind, this was the one show that was about to set the tone for the rest of 1998, the first full calendar year of the Attitude Era.

Here's what went down when the 1998 Royal Rumble came live from San Jose, California.

Everyone Wants to Be Champion

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler announced the showOur show tonight began with a dramatic video package highlighting someone the superstars in tonight's Royal Rumble match and telling us how important t it was to each of them that they won the annual 30-man battle royal.

From there, Jim Ross welcomed us to the 11th Royal Rumble and reminded us that we'd have three title matches on tonight's show. Ross' broadcast colleague, Jerry 'The King' Lawler informed us that none other than Iron Mike Tyson was in attendance.

Just to prove it, a shot of Tyson (referred to as 'huge WWF fan' by Ross) enjoying the show from a skybox was shown.

The crowd booed loudly for the boxer, but were then more happy about our opening match.

The Artist Fomerly Known as Goldust (w/ Luna Vachon) vs. Vader 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - Luna Vachon supports Goldust in his match with Vader
These two had been at war since Survivor Series 1997, when The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust -then just Goldust- had refused to tag In when he teamed with Vader, Steve Blackman, and The Patriot as Team USA to take on Team Canada.

So after a series of incidents on various episodes of Raw, they finally got together for a match tonight that was decent for what it was but hardly worth much of anyone's time.

Saying that, I did enjoy Goldust's T.A.F.K.A gimmick, mainly because it was so different from what everyone else was doing, but even that couldn't stop this match from being anything more than average.

In the end, Vader went to Vader Bomb Goldust but Luna Vachon jumped on his back.

Undeterred, The Mastadon hit the move anyway with Luna on his back in what was a pretty cool way to end things.
Your Winner: Vader 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - The Godwins demand Michael Cole tell them where Steve Austin is
Out in the back, Stone Cold Steve Austin arrived and Michael Cole tried to get a word with him.

Austin had nothing to say other than to tell Cole to park his pick up truck for him and be careful with it lest he get his ass kicked.

As Austin stormed off, Cole began reminding us about the story of tonight's show -that Stone Cold was a marked man and everyone was after him- until he was interrupted by The Godwins, who proved that point by demanding to know which way Austin went.

Sunny is Your Guest Referee 

Be still my beating heart, the love of my life during the 1990s was here, and as a way to get her on the show, she was the special referee for our upcoming minis match.

Six-Man Minis Match
Battalion, Tarantula, and El Torito vs. Nova, Mosaic, and Max Mini 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - Tarantula and Max Mini met in a six man mini match
Normally these mini matches were pretty fun, but this one was kinda bland and disjointed, and did a good job of exposing why the little luchadores weren't kept around long term: they basically did the same thing over and over.

The match got repetitive pretty quickly and became uninteresting.

At one point, they did that spot -so popular on indie shows across the world- when they each took turns to do suicide dives on one another, but even that was rubbish because the three or four guys on the outside waiting to catch the one doing the dive did nothing to disguise the fact that they were just stood there waiting.

In the end, Mini scored the inevitable win, and this one was done.
Your Winners: Max Mini, Nova, and Mosaic 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - Iron Mike Tyson hangs with Shane and Vince McMahon
Out in the back, The Nation of Domination charged into Steve Austin's locker room but only found an Austin foam finger instead.

We then returned to the arena, where we were shown Vince and Shane McMahon talking to Mike Tyson.

The Rock is Ready For Shamrock 

Prior to our next match, we were shown clips that recapped The Nation of Domination's rivalry with Ken Shamrock, including the episode of Raw in which Mark Henry turned on Shamrock and joined The Nation of Domination.

That took us backstage, where Rocky Maivia referred to himself constantly as The Rock whilst practicing becoming one of the most entertaining promos in the industry.

He wasn't there yet, but this was light years ahead of the awkward babyface promos he was cutting a year earlier.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Rocky Maivia vs. Ken Shamrock

After a slow start, this one evolved into an exciting match with a fun finish.

After a see-saw battle, challenger Ken Shamrock looked to have the title won, only for a Nation of Domination run in distract the referee.


That allowed The Rock to drill Shamrock with a pair of brass knuckles and make the cover, though not before stuffing the foreign object into his opponent's trunks.

To the champ's surprise, The  World's Most Dangerous Man kicked out, and planted Mavia with a belly to belly suplex.

A three count later and we had a new Intercontinental Champion...

...or did we?

No, we didn't, because Rocky told the ref to check Shamrock's trunks.

He did, and the decision was reversed.
Your Winner via Disqualification and Still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Rocky Maivia 

Out in the back, Los Boricuas beat up either Skull or 8-Ball (did anyone ever know which one was which?) thinking that he was Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Oh You Didn't Know the LOD Were Legends? 


WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - The Legion of Doom promise to destroy the New Age Outlaws
Up next, Michael Cole voiced a video package which reminded us what utter legends The Legion of Doom were, and also how horrible The New Age Outlaws had been in attacking them and even shaving Hawk's trademark do.

That took us to Road Dogg Jesse James and Bad Ass Billy Gunn's entrance for the upcoming tag team title match, and the first PPV appearance of Road Dogg's famous 'Oh you didn't know?' catch phrase.

From there, we got the ever-present Michael Cole informing Hawk and Animal that doctors didn't want Animal competing due to a back injury he received when the New Age Outlaws and D-Generation-X powerbombed him off the apron through the announce table.

Animal ranted and raved that doctors didn't know what they were talking about, whilst Hawk made a thinly-veiled threat to murder the Tag Team Champions.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg Jesse James & Bad Ass Billy Gunn) vs. The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) 


WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - The Legion of Doom challenged the New Age Outlaws for the tag titlesAnd so it was that we finally got down to the action.

Though not the greatest tag team title match in the world, this one was at least pretty entertaining for the most part.

Towards the finish, Road Dogg handcuffed Hawk to the ring post on the outside, leaving Animal to fend for himself.

The big man did a good job too, and almost had Bad Ass Billy Gunn best until Roadie came in with a chair to cause the Disqualification.
Your Winners via DQ (The Legion of Doom)

Afterwards, the Outlaws continued their assault until Hawk broke free and cleaned house.

Mildred Bowers Wins Stone Cold Steve Austin's Pickup Truck 

The truck that Austin had earlier asked Michael Cole to park was apparently being given away in some kind of sweepstakes, and it was won by an old lady called Mildred Bowers.


Years later, in true Stone Cold fashion, Mildred would hit the news for claiming that the secret to living to 103 was drinking beer.

With that, ladies and gentlemen, it was almost time for the 1998 Royal Rumble.

Steve Austin Was A Marked Man

As the dubious winner of the 1997 Royal Rumble, Steve Austin was a favourite for this year's event.

It that didn't make him a marked man, the fact that he'd spent recent weeks dropping the Stone Cold Stunner in everyone from The Rock to The Godwins to Marvellous Marc Mero did.

1998 Royal Rumble Match
30-Man Battle Royal featuring The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Cactus Jack, Dude Love, Mankind, The Headbangers, Owen Hart, Honky Tonk Man, 

Like the time Demolition started the match against each other at Royal Rumble 1989, tag team partners Cactus Jack and Terry 'Chainsaw Charlie' Funk started this year's event against each other.


Unlike Ax and Smash, however, Cactus and Charlie invited each other to hit the other one with chair shots and generally demolished each other with chairs and trash cans.

At one point, Tom Brandi came in as the number three entrant but got the Bushwhacker treatment and was immediately eliminated.

The Rock arrived as number four, and the match was on, with the likes of Headbanger Mosh, Steve Blackman, and Blackjack Bradshaw making up the numbers.

At one point, Owen Hart came out as the number nine entrant, but was attacked by NWA North American Champion and his future tag team partner Jeff Jarrett as Jim Cornette cheered on.

In other highlights of this year's event:
  • Rocky and D'Lo Brown turning on each other
  • Chainsaw Charlie eliminating Cactus Jack, but Foley returning as Mankind and eliminating Charlie, then -after getting eliminated again- returning as Dude Love
  • Owen Hart returning to take out Jeff Jarrett but being eliminated by Chyna and an injured Triple H, neither of whom were in the match.
  • A random cameo from the Honky Tonk Man (Lawler yelled 'my cousin! I mean, the Honky Tonk Man!')
  • Austin and Rock having an exciting brawl on the outside after both went through the middle ropes.
All of this for us down to our final four - Nation of Domination team mates Farooq and The Rock, and former tag team Champions Steve Austin and Dude Love.


Farooq dumped the Dude, Rocky sent Farooq out, then we got an intense brawl between Austin and The Rock which ended with the predictable win for Stone Cold.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Up in the VIP section, Mike Tyson told Michael Cole that he was glad 'Cold Stone,' had won, and that he was looking forward to a match between The Undertaker, who he'd been a fan of for years and 'the young, up and coming hungry tiger,' Shawn Michaels.

Right.

World Wrestling Federation Championship Casket Match
WWF Champion Shawn Michaels (w/ Triple H & Chyna) vs. The Undertaker

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - Shawn Michaels defended the WWF title against The Undertaker
After costing him the Championship in a match against Bret 'The Hitman' Hart at Summerslam 1997, Shawn Michaels had been in The Undertaker's bad books.

The two had met in a fantastic match at Ground Zero: In Your House 17 before going on to have an even better rematch in the first Hell in a Cell match in history at Badd Blood: In Your House 18, a match that became an all-time classic.

So, needless to say, expectations were pretty high for this one.

Sadly, it failed to meet those expectations, but that says more about the high standards set by the Heat two matches than it does about this match itself, because it was still very good, and ultimately saved the entire show from mediocrity.

After taking a good deal of punishment from the champion, The Undertaker made the big miracle comeback and destroyed Michaels.

HBK fought back and we got a cool spot which saw both men fighting in the coffin, but a chokeslam and a tombstone off the apron into the coffin looked to have Michaels beat.

Before we could get a new champion, however, Undertaker sighed a big 'oh no, not this again, as we got The Royal Rumble 1994 ending all over again.

This time, it was the New Age Outlaws and Los Boricuas who made the attack.

Kane then came down, and Jim Ross told us he was here to help Undertaker (apparently the two had formed some short-lived alliance that I'd totally forgotten about) but instead he turned on him and slammed him the casket.

The lid was closed and the match was over.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels

Afterwards, Kane and Paul Bearer locked the casket then rolled it up to the entrance, where Kane attacked with an axe before setting it on fire and kicking off the first full year of the Attitude Era in dramatic, memorable style.




And so, that was the 1998 Royal Rumble, a show that didn't even begin to matter until the main event.

Don't get me wrong, the actual Rumble match was pretty fun, but with the entire build up focussing on Austin, the winner was never in doubt.

The main event was also good stuff, though again, it lacked a certain something compared to Shawn and The Undertaker's first two matches in late 1997.

Still, as the first Royal Rumble of the Attitude Era, this one is actually worth a look.






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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.