PPV REVIEW: WCW Spring Stampede 1998

WCW Spring Stampede 1998 - PPV REVIEW event poster
April 19, 1998
Denver Coliseum in Denver, Colorado

There once was a time when World Championship Wrestling pay per views were about as a good as pro wrestling got in North America. 

Sure, there had often been lacklustre main events featuring past-their-prime stars doing the bare minimum to string a match together, but before that, you could more or less always count on a world-class undercard to quite simply tear it up.

Indeed, half the reason that Retro Pro Wrestling expanded to covering WCW pay per views from the formation of the nWo onwards was simply that such shows were an absolute joy to watch.

But as 1998 steamrolled on, shows like Spring Stampede 1998 were becoming less of a joy and more of an absolute chore to sit through.

Questionable booking, stars who clearly couldn't be bothered, utter nonsense from the commentators. Put it altogether, and even the biggest WCW fan on the planet would have a hard time sticking up for the company.

Still, with every new show I put on, I remain optimistic:

Surely this will be the exception to the rule - the one late-90s WCW PPV that really delivered?

Let's find out together, shall we? 

Trouble is Rife in the nWo

WCW Spring Stampede 1998 - Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
Our show tonight began with a video looking at the recent dissension within the ranks of the New World Order and how that might possibly effect tonight's main event between Macho Man Randy Savage and Sting.

That took us to Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, who told us that said main event was now no Disqualification.

With that, it was onto our opening contest.

Saturn (w/ Kidman) vs. Goldberg

We were in full Goldberg Undefeated Powerhouse mode here as he looked to demolish a member of the Flock before challenging that group's leader, Raven, for the US title the following night on Nitro.

At this point, Goldberg was at 73-0, with Mike Tenay claiming that most of those 73 wins had been squash matches. It's a good job he didn't say all, because that would be ignoring the competitive match he had with Steve 'Mongo' McMichael back at Starrcade 1997.

This wasn't a squash either, because Saturn basically dominated the bulk of the match with some wicked-looking offence before finally falling prey to a terribly sloppy jackhammer to make it 74-0.
Your Winner: Goldberg

The undefeated streak continued...

Chavo Guerrero (w/ Eddie Guerrero) vs. Ultimo Dragon

WCW Spring Stampede 1998 - Eddie & Chavo Guerrero
The story here was that if Chavo Guerrero won, he could stop being Eddie Guerrero's whipping boy, but if he lost, Eddie would be twice as hard to him.

Quite what the Ultimo Dragon stood to gain from being involved in this was anyone's guess.

The match was as good as you could hope for - not a Cruiserweight classic by any standards, but a perfectly enjoyable match which saw Chavo's refusal to adopt Eddie's 'Cheat to Win' mentality cost him a win.

At one point, Dragon looked to be injured, but Chavo would take advantage of it and ended up in the Dragon Sleeper.
Your Winner: Ultimo Dragon

Afterwards, Eddie berated his nephew, but we cut to Diamond Dallas Page talking to WCW.com before we could see anything happening.

No Time Limit World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW World Television Champion Booker T vs. Chris Benoit

WCW Spring Stampede 1998 - Chris Benoit vs. Booker T
Both challenger Chris Benoit and Champion Booker T had wrestled to a couple of ten-minute time limit draws on Nitro so today they were given all the time they wanted to let rip, and let rip they did.

From start to finish this was an absolutely tremendous match that looked to have a win for The Crippler when Booker tapped out to the Crossface.

There was just one problem - referee Mickey Jay had been knocked out.

When both ref and champ recovered, the match went the opposite way and Booker T retained the title.
Your Winner and Still TV Champion: Booker T

Afterwards, as the referees helped Jay to the back, Benoit paced around, irate that he should have been the victor.

Ladies and gentlemen, this one was far from over.

British Bulldog (w/ Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart) vs. Curt Hennig (w/ Rick Rude)

WCW Spring Stampede 1998 - Curt Hennig & Rick Rude
What a boring mess this turned out to be.

The idea was that Rick Rude would be handcuffed to Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart to prevent him interfering just as Chyna had been to Sgt. Slaughter at Wrestlemania 14 the month before.

To make sure this went down properly, we had an African American policeman come out and oversee the handcuffing.

In the ring, the British Bulldog worked over Curt Hennig's injured and fully-braced knee in a tedious battle until we saw that Rude had become free and handcuffed Neidhart to the ringpost whilst at the same time The Anvil randomly choked out the policeman until it was revealed that the policeman was actually Vincent...because you know, all black men look alike *eye roll*

Somehow, this resulted in a win for Hennig, though the sloppy ass confusion made it hard to tell how.
Your Winner: Curt Hennig

Post-match, the inevitable 3-2 beatdown ensued.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho vs. Prince Iuakea

WCW Spring Stampede 1998 - Chris Jericho vs. Prince Iuakea
Prince Iuakea hadn't been seen on WCW PPV since World War 3 1997, when he was merely an extra body in the sixty-man battle royal.

He'd had his last PPV singles bout a year earlier at Spring Stampede 1997, but now he got a chance to challenge Chris Jericho for the Cruiserweight belt.

Jericho, who was having the run of his career here, stopped on his way to the ring to first quote us some Cheap Trick ("I Want You to Want Me") and then dedicate his upcoming title defence to arch-rival, Dean Malenko, who hadn't seen seen at all since losing to Jericho and getting yelled at by Gene Okerlund at Uncensored 1998.

The match took a while to get going, but when it did it turned into one of the best bouts on the card so far, second only to the Booker/Benoit clash.

After almost capturing the title on several genuinely exciting occasions, Iukea succumbed to the Lion Tamer and this one was over.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho

Afterwards, Jericho stole Iukea's sarong as a trophy.

Quoth the Shakespeare

Out in the back, Raven talked to Lee Marshall for WCW.com, quoting Shakespeare in a promo that basically can be summed up as Raven promising to hit the Evenflow DDT on Diamond Dallas Page.

Buff Bagwell & Scott Steiner vs. Lex Luger & Rick Steiner (w/ Ted Dibiase)

WCW Spring Stampede 1998 - Scott Steiner & Buff Bagwell
Prior to the match, Buff Bagwell feigned a hand injury by wearing the worst looking cast of all time and claiming that the match had to be cancelled because of it.

Mean Gene Okerlund then came out with JJ Dillon, who brought a doctor in the ring to check it out. Bagwell got so angry at this that he grabbed Dillon with his good hand, thus proving the whole thing to be a ruse.

The match then got underway and was a short and painless affair that ended with Rick Steiner chasing his brother away before Lex Luger lifted Buff for the match-winning Torture Rack.
Your Winners: Lex Luger & Rick Steiner

Out in the entrance way, Mean Gene told us to call the Hotline to find out who was returning to WCW, and with that, it was back to action.

La Parka vs. Psicosis

WCW Spring Stampede 1998 - Psicosis
I can't explain why, but Psicosis was always one of my favourite luchadores, and I enjoyed this match about as much as was possible.

No, it wasn't amazing, and yes, the crowd seemed not to give any kind of a crap, but it was fun for what it was, and ended when my man beat La Parka with a guillotine leg drop...

...which was kind of dumb because Parka was right next to the ropes and could have just reached out for them, but there ya go.
Your Winner: Psicosis

Moving on...

Baseball Bat on a Pole Match
Kevin Nash & Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper & The Giant 

I'll remind you that this was well before Vince Russo started working for WCW.

WCW Spring Stampede 1998 - Hulk Hogan & The Disciple
Kevin Nash and Hollywood Hogan were having issues as the nWo grew further and further apart, but the two looked to put their differences aside as they went up against Rowdy Roddy Piper and The Giant in a tag team Baseball Bat on a Pole match which, though sloppy in places, was a surprising amount of fun.

After a reasonably entertaining battle, Piper retrieved the bat but Hogan threw it away and had The Disciple come out with another one.

Nash held Piper in place for Hogan, but Hot Rod moved and Big Sexy bore the full brunt of the bat to the ribs.

Undeterred, Hollywood went to work on Piper and eventually pinned him.
Your Winners: Hollywood Hogan & Kevin Nash

Afterwards, Nash yelled at Hogan and then set The Giant up for a powerbomb, but Hogan turned on his partner and smashed him across the back with the bat.

No Holds Barred (Raven's Rules) World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Diamond Dallas Page vs. Raven

WCW Spring Stampede 1998 - Raven set to face DDP
Raven had been carrying the belt around with him and even came it second, which would make you think he was the champion, but he was in fact the challenger. This was the kind of confusing stuff that WCW did often.

Either way, he and Page had a wild and awesome no holds barred match that truly delivered.

After some fantastic action, Horace Boulder -disguised as a member of the ring crew- gave Raven the assist to give him the title.
Your Winner: Raven

The following night, Raven would defend the belt against Goldberg, and we all know how that ended.

No Disqualification World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Sting vs. Macho Man Randy Savage

Compared to the previous no holds barred title match, this was very disappointing, and its rare you'll ever see me saying that about a Macho Man Randy Savage match.

It didn't help that his match with Sting was needlessly overbooked.

At one point, Miss Elizabeth got involved but Savage used her as a shield, pulling her in the way of a Stinger splash.

Officials helped her to the back, but then referee Charles Robinson got squashed too.
WCW Spring Stampede 1998 - Sting set to defend the WCW title against Randy Savage

Savage went up for the big elbow, but Hogan came up and pushed him off the top, then Nash came down and jackknifed Sting.

Why the referee had to get bumped for this to happen when it was a no DQ match anyway is anyone's guess.

Nash then drapsed an unconscious Savage on top of Sting, dragged Lil Naich over, and three seconds later we had a new Champion.
Your Winner and New WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Macho Man Randy Savage

Afterwards, Hogan and The Disciple beat on Nash and Savage until Scott Norton came to break it up.

Though there was a lot to enjoy about Spring Stampede 1998, nothing beyond the Raven/Page match was up to the level of recent WCW PPVs.

Yes, some matches were fun, but the company had given us so much good stuff in the past that this whole thing fell short.

There's far worse events in the world, but nothing here -not even Savage becoming Champion- is worth watching.

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 
More WCW Spring Stampede reviews
  1. WCW Spring Stampede 1997 
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  1. I don't remember Hogan and Desciple beating on Nash and Savage.