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, 25 October 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Road Wild 1998

August 8, 1998 
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis, South Dakota

Yes, it was that time of year again, time for the stars of World Championship Wrestling to jump on their Harleys and ride into South Dakota.

Their mission?

Put on a wrestling show that nobody would have to buy tickets for just so that head honcho and noted motorcycling enthusiast Eric Bischoff could have a chance to hang out at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

In books, articles, and on countless blogs (including this one), WCW's Road Wild concept has been written off as being a pretty dumb idea, but this time, this time the company were really out to excel themselves.

This time, the company had booked a main event so ludicrous and so baffling that it still has wrestling purists scratching their head to this day.

Here's what happened when World Championship Wrestling rode into Sturgis for the third year running with Road Wild 1998.

Jay Lenno: Wrestling Superstar?

Our show tonight began with a hype video for one of the most ill-advised main events in pro wrestling history: Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff against Diamond Dallas Page and Jay Leno.

WCW Road Wild 1998 Review: Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' HeenanYes, that Jay Leno, the podgy, middle-aged television presenter who wasn't exactly renowned for his athletic prowess.

Sure, Dennis Rodman may have been terrible at the previous month's Bash at the Beach '98, but at least you could feasibly make the argument that Rodman was at the top of his chosen sport and therefore had at least some athleticism that could have made a move to pro wrestling work (if 'The Worm' wasn't so off his face when it came to match time).

Jay Leno: Wrestling Superstar, however, will forever go down in history as one of pro wrestling's all-time worst ideas.

Anyway, intro aside, we got our regular introduction from Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and Iron Mike Tenay. Whilst Tony Schiavone went all out with the Village People impression and Mike Tenay did at least don a spiffy-looking denim jacket, Bobby Heenan had apparently ditched the annual tradition of looking a bit silly at the Sturgis show and instead just wore a t-shirt and baseball cap.

As we'd soon see, Heenan wasn't the only one who couldn't be bothered making an effort on tonight's show.

From there, we got Mean Gene Okerlund sitting on a bike to shill the show's sponsors, after which, it was down to our first match of the evening.

The Barbarian (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Meng

WCW Road Wild 1998 Review: Former Faces of Fear partners Meng & Barbarian faced each other
Often underrated, The Faces of Fear were one of my favourite tag teams from this period and could always be relied upon to deliver a pretty unique match.

Unfortunately, their quality as a tag team didn't translate to being able to put on a decent singles match.

Whilst Barbarian hitting a couple of huge suplexes (including one off the top rope) was genuinely exciting, they were the only things that were.

The rest was directionless brawling which served only to link the two suplex spots together.

What made things worse was that even when Barbarian hit the Big-Ass Top Rope Suplex of Doom, a cool move no matter who you are, the Sturgis crowd failed to react.

Still, at least this was a blow-off match to an epic, well-thought-out story, right?

Not exactly.

Apparently, not even the announcers new why Meng had returned after a hiatus and begun feuding with his former partner.

After a sluggish opener, Meng slapped on the Tongan Death Grip, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Meng

Though of course, it wasn't.

Throughout the match, you couldn't help but be drawn to the fact that non-wrestling manager Jimmy Hart was wearing elbow pads.

If this seemed like an odd choice of attire, it suddenly made sense. Hart and Barbarian were joined in the ring by former Dungeon of Doom teammate Hugh Morrus.

The three attacked, with Hart diving off the top rope and splashing Meng before Morrus hit the No Laughing Matter moonsault.

Finally, Hacksaw Jim Duggan stormed to the ring to put us all out of our misery and finally get the crowd active with the proverbial "USA! USA!" chant.

The Dancing Fools (Disco Inferno & Alex Wright w/ Tokyo Magnum) vs. Public Enemy (Flyboy Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge)

WCW Road Wild 1998 Review: Alex Wright & Disco Inferno vs. The Public Enemy
With very few exceptions, I always like to give any match the benefit of the doubt.

After all, some matches which look bad on paper prove to be actually enjoyable when they actually take place.

Unfortunately, this wasn't one of those matches.

In fact, this one was even worse in practice than it looked on paper.

After several minutes of truly terrible wrestling, Tokyo Magnum handed his teammates a trash can, and Alex Wright smashed Johnny Grunge over the head with it.

Instead of calling for the DQ, the referee just stood there whilst Wright and Disco Inferno stomped the hell out of Grunge.

To make matters more silly, Rocco Rock didn't even bother to help his partner at first, instead going all the way to the back to fetch a ladder to hit them with.

It was at this point that Tony Schiavone told us "they" had changed the match into a no-disqualification street fight.

Who "they" were would remain a mystery.

If it was the wrestlers themselves, what gave them that authority?

If it was the officials in the back, how did they let the wrestlers know?

If it was the referee, why refer to him as a plural?

It was dumb.

WCW Road Wild 1998: That toilet seat is a good indication of how shit Dancing Fools vs. Public Enemy really was
What was even more dumb was that The Dancing Fools walked off and came back out with a table, then challenged Public Enemy to a street fight AFTER Schiavone had already told us that's what it was.

The Public Enemy then went to the back again and brought out more junk including a toilet seat and the kitchen sink because, you know, the kitchen sink joke in hardcore matches never got old.

More garbage -in every sense of the word- followed. This included an incredibly botched ladder spot and Magnum Tokyo accidentally hitting Alex Wright, causing both men to just...walk off.

"This is a mess," said Tony Schiavone, vocalising what we were all thinking.

I say all, the Sturgis crowd did seem to like the sight of grown men hitting each other with aluminium cookie sheets and trash can lids, but honestly, Schiavone was right. This was a mess.

With his partners gone, Disco Inferno had to writhe around selling a beating for the better part of three minutes whilst Public Enemy rearranged furniture for the finishing spot.

Honestly, this took so long that it completely took you out of the match, or at least it would have done had the rest of said match not been so utterly awful.

In the end, Grunge put Disco on top of three tables and Rocco climbed a lighting rig then crashed onto Disco.

Grunge rolled Disco back in the ring, and this was finally over.
Your Winners: The Public Enemy

Man, this was really not a good show so far.

Dean Malenko: Special Referee

WCW Road Wild 1998: Dean Malenko hangs out in the Internet Location
Out in the back, Lee Marshall (looking like a fat Ted Dibiase) asked Dean Malenko if he could be impartial in his role as special guest referee for the cruiserweight championship match between Chris Jericho and Juventud Guerrera.

In his usual charismatic, flamboyant style, The Man of 1,000 Holds basically said that no, he wouldn't.

So there was that.

Raven's Rules: Falls Count Anywhere in Sturgis City Limits Triangle Match
Raven (w/ Lodi) vs. Saturn vs. Kanyon

Raven and Saturn had put on a spectacularly bad match back at Bash at the Beach, but with the addition of Kanyon, they were able to take things up a notch and deliver a passable Falls Count Anywhere match.

An early highlight saw Kanyon and Saturn pay homage to the latter's ECW days by drilling Raven with Total Elimination (or as Joey Styles would have it TOTALELIMINATION!), after which we got your standard three-way match with a walk up to the entrance way and back again.

Though it failed to elicit any real excitement, this was at least more entertaining than the two matches, right up until the finish where Lodi ran in, Horace Boulder got involved and made a terrible mess of everything, and Saturn DVD'd Raven for the win.
Your Winner: Saturn

Not one person in Sturgis cared.

Psicosis vs. Rey Mysterio Jr

Winner Earns a Cruiserweight title shot

WCW Road Wild 1998: Psicosis vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.
Eschewing the usual lightning-fast pace of your typical cruiserweight match, Psicosis and Rey Mysterio Jr. worked a slower, more methodical style here and, surprisingly, it worked really well.

Though this may not have been to the level of their previous pay per view outing at Bash at the Beach 1996, it was still an enjoyable bout that proved the two were much, much more than just one-dimensional spot monkeys.

After a good effort which saw Psicosis dominate the bulk of the contest, Mysterio hit a neat springboard 'rana to earn the right to challenge for the cruiserweight championship.
Your Winner: Rey Mysterio Jr

Moving on, this show was about to go from bad to worse.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
Acting TV Champion Stevie Ray vs. Chavo Guerrero (w/ Pepe)

This whole thing was so confusing and outright stupid that I had to go read a whole bunch of backstory just to make sense of it.

WCW Road Wild 1998: Chavo Guerrero faced Stevie Ray for the TV title - neither man was actually the champion
Basically, Booker T was the actual TV Champion, but he was injured so his brother, Stevie Ray, had taken it upon himself to defend the title.

Since nobody had actually told him not to, Stevie had declared himself the champion.

This led Chavo Guerrero to state -quite rightly- that if Stevie could just randomly declare himself the champ, then so could he.

Thus, Chavo, now in full-on bat-shit crazy mode following his big feud with Uncle Eddie, claimed that he had just as much right to call himself the legitimate champ as Stevie Ray did, and had even typed up a contract to make it official.

On the face of it, that's actually a logical storyline.

I'm not saying it's a great one, but in theory, it works.

In practice, however, none of this was actually explained properly, so all you got was Chavo randomly talking about a contract, two minutes of Stevie Ray chasing Chavo around the ring before hitting him with the Slapjack (Pedigree) for the three count.
Your Winner and Still Self-Proclaimed TV Champion (Dave Penzer's words): Stevie Ray

Afterwards, Big Stevie threatened to beat up Chavo some more, but Eddie Guerrero, who had been feuding with his nephew right up until the previous month, came out to make sure Chavo came to no further harm.

Still quite rightly not trusting his uncle, Chavo refused any help.

Again, this could have worked. This should have worked, but it was all played out in a half-assed random fashion that it made no sense.

Nor did the announcers even try to make it make sense which, you know, is kind of their job.

Chris Jericho is Ready for Juvi

Out in the 'Internet Location,' Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho told Lee Marshall that he was going to put away Juventud Guerrera once and for all.

Rick Steiner vs. Scott Steiner

WCW Road Wild 1998: Scott Steiner (w/ Buff Bagwell) tries to get out of his match with Rick Steiner
And so, months after turning on his brother back at Superbrawl VIII in February, Scott Steiner was finally going to get his comeuppance against Rick Steiner here tonight.

Except he wasn't.

Instead, J.J. Dillon came out and told us that because Rick had battered Scott with a steel chair on that week's episode of Thunder, doctors had declared that Big Poppa Pump would be unable to compete for the next two weeks.

Just to hammer the point home, Buff Bagwell wheeled Scott Steiner out on a hospital bed, wrapped up in casts and wearing an oxygen mask and a drip. Bagwell also wore a neckbrace for reasons obscure.

With the crowd chanting a very loud "BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT!" Dillon informed us that the match would take place at Fall Brawl, and if it didn't, Scott Steiner would be "banned for life" for wrestling.

At that point, Steiner made a miracle recovery and lept from his bed in anger. Rick Steiner then gave chase and that was that.

Bullshit indeed.
No Contest

On a related note, the "wear a cast to pretend you're injured but then suddenly forget you're injured and make a miracle recovery" thing is the exact same gimmick Buff Bagwell had already used at Spring Stampede 1998 just a few months earlier.

Brian Adams (w/ Vincent) vs. Steve 'Mongo' McMichael

WCW Road Wild 1998: Steve 'Mogo' McMichael faced Brian Adams
Look, I'm not going to lie and tell you this was a good match. However, I do have a bit of a soft spot for Steve 'Mongo' McMichael.

The guy was hugely charismatic and he always gave it everything he had, even if what he had wasn't very much.

So yes, I enjoyed watching Mongo here, and yes, I know I'm probably one of only three people in the world who did.

In reality, the match was nothing to get too excited about and ended with a ref bump, a botched chairshot which saw Vincent hit teammate Brian Adams, and a Mongo Spike (Tombstone Piledriver) for the win.
Your Winner: Steve 'Mongo' McMichael

Afterwards, Mean Gene hung out with some hot women to once again shill the show's sponsors.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho vs. Juventud Guerrera

Special Guest Referee: Dean Malenko
WCW Road Wild 1998: Chris Jericho defended the Cruiserweight Championship against Juventud Guerrera
At his most arrogant and annoying best, Chris Jericho did a perfect job of riling up the fans before the match, telling them that he rode a Honda motorcycle and calling the fans 'Weekend Warriors.'

Clearly, Jericho was one of the few men on the card who came motivated to work today.

At least his opponent was equally as fired up.

Between the two of them, Jericho and Juventud Guerrera were able to get the crowd more involved in the show than they had been at all up to this point, pulling them along for a very good cruiserweight championship match which was helped further by Malenko.

After what turned out to be the best match on the card, Jericho found himself on the top rope. Juvi charged forward, Malenko launched him into the air towards Jericho, and one top-rope hurricanrana later, we had ourselves a new champion.
Your Winner and New WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Juventud Guerrera

Afterwards, Deano Machino laid out Jericho, who could later be seen throwing a tantrum and whacking the corner post with a steel chair.

nWo Invitational Battle Royal
Featuring: WCW World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg, Scott Hall, Scott Norton, The Giant, Scott Hall, Curt Hennig, Konnan, Lex Luger, Kevin Nash, and Sting

WCW Road Wild 1998: Scott Hall & The Giant
If you ever wanted to see a bunch of main event stars (and Konnan) standing around doing as little as possible, this the match for you.

Right from the word go, you got the distinct impression that nobody in the ring would have even moved if they thought they could get away with it.

It's like they went out to deliberately do the bare minimum and go home. Hell, Lex Luger didn't even bother to get changed, wrestling the whole thing in jeans.

Anyway, with a pinfall or over-the-top rules, Goldberg threw everybody out (apart from Kevin Nash, who eliminated himself going after former partner Scott Hall) and then hit an admittedly-impressive Jackhammer on The Giant to pick up the win.
Your Winner: Goldberg

Ladies and gentlemen, there's still half an hour left and only one match to go, this can't be good, especially as we all know what that match is.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff (w/ The Disciple and Miss Elizabeth) vs. Diamond Dallas Page & Jay Leno (w/ Kevin Eubanks)

WCW Road Wild 1998: Jay Leno & Diamond Dallas Page
Kevin Eubanks is apparently Jay Leno's band leader from his TV show...

Because if there's anyone you want in your corner to back you up in a pro wrestling match, it's a band leader.

Surprisingly, this wasn't the worst match on the card tonight, in fact, it actually wasn't *that* terrible.

Perhaps it's because the last time Hogan and DDP met in a tag team main event, an off-his-face Dennis Rodman had been involved and made the whole thing look a mess.

Compared to Rodman's performance, Jay Leno looked like AJ Styles, and to give the TV host his credit, he did try hard and put in some effort.

Still, despite said effort, and a good effort from all involved, this was still only decent at best.

After an over-the-top back-and-forth contest, Eubanks hit Bischoff with Diamond Cutter, Lenno got the pin, and this was all over.
Your Winners: DDP and Jay Leno

Post-match, the nWo did a beat down until Goldberg ran out for the save. We then had an awkward moment where Goldberg and the referee botched the typical "everybody stand with their hand raised" spot to end the show. Making a mess of such a simple move was actually a fitting end to such a horrible, horrible show.

Though you have to give Jay Lenno credit for working as hard as he could, it really does speak volumes about the quality of Road Wild 1998 that his match wasn't the worst thing on the card. 

With the notable exception of Jericho/Juvi, nothing on this show was worth watching, and though I gave some praise to Mysterio/Psicosis and the three-way Raven's Rules matches, those bouts were only really good in context and, in the grand scheme of things, really aren't worth tracking down. 

Watch for the novelty value of Jay Lenno: Wrestling Superstar, but otherwise, avoid this show. 

I ended last month's Bash at the Beach review by saying that it was one of WCW's worst shows of 1998, if not all time, but I stand corrected. This is, and by a long shot. 

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 
Other WCW Road Wild Reviews
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    Friday, 19 October 2018

    PPV REVIEW: WWF Fully Loaded - In Your House 23

    July 26, 1998 
    Selland Arena in Fresno, California

    It was the summer of 1998 and D-Generation-X were one of the most popular acts in professional wrestling. 

    Popular enough, it turned out, to be the focal point of all the advertising for the 23rd In Your House event, Fully Loaded.

    Popular enough, also, to see their leader Triple H feature in one of the marquee matches against another rapidly rising star.

    Indeed, despite featuring on only a small handful of PPVs throughout the year, 1998 really was looking to be a breakout year for the man known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

    It was in this year that he went from solid mid-card act and Shawn Michaels' lackey to showing signs that he too could be a top-level performer.

    Tonight, Hunter would have his biggest opportunity to date to prove that he was worthy of a main event spot, a one-on-one encounter with The Rock.

    Here's what happened when two of the WWE's most successful stars looked to put on a career-changing performance on a hot summer's night in California.

    The King Gets a Peek at Sable’s Peaks

    In a rare move, we began tonight with a cold open featuring Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler entering Sable’s dressing room.

    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 Review - Jerry Lawler interviews Sable
    With his flush-red face and giddy demeanour, Lawler looked like your typical horny schoolboy as he asked Sable if she could give us a description of the outfit she’d be wearing in her bikini contest later on in the show.

    Rather than describe it, however, Sable offered to show the King and promptly disappeared behind a screen. There, she took her top off and invited The King for a look.

    Unable to contain himself, The King went off grinning from ear to ear.

    Clearly, whatever Sable was wearing was worth watching the PPV for.

    More Questions Than Answers

    After the typical WWF signature, we finally got our video package, this one telling us that tonight’s main event threw up more questions than it answered:

    1. Were The Undertaker and Kane really in cahoots?
    2. Could WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin trust The Undertaker?
    3. Was Mankind just a pawn in some wicked game?
    Tonight, we’d find out live as the World Wrestling Federation went Fully Loaded!

    Pyro and crowd shots followed, along with an introduced from The Voices of The Attitude Era, Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, and with that, it was into it first match.

    Val Venis vs. Double J (w/ Tennessee Lee)

    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 Review - Val venis makes his PPV debut against Jeff Jarrett
    Hellloooo Ladies....

    Yes, here we had the pay per view debut of wrestling porn star, Val Venis.

    Doing his usual spiel before the match, Val claimed that he was about to do something he’d always wanted to do, and insinuated that he might pull his trunks down, but was interrupted by Tennessee Lee.

    Warning Venis that he was about to make a fool of himself, Lee led Double J to the ring along with the newly repackaged Southern Justice, who was, of course, the former Godwins, now using their real names and wearing Suits.

    Tim White sent Dennis Knight and Mark Canterbury backstage before the match even started, after which Kaientai made a surprise appearance.

    Whilst the referee sent most of the group to the back, Yamaguchi-San was allowed to join JR and Lawler on commentary to talk about Val apparently appearing in a porn movie with Mrs Yamaguchi-San.

    Not to worry though, because the following evening, the Kaientai leader promised that his men would do something to Val that would ensure he was never the same again.

    As we all know, that was the time they tried to choppy-choppy Val’s Pee Pee.

    As guest commentary spots often did, this distracted from what was otherwise a reasonable effort from the two men in the ring.

    Though fairly nondescript, it did look to have the crowd’s attention until Val rolled up his opponent for the win.
    Your Winner: Val Venis

    Afterwards, Venis took to the mic to make fun of how short Yamaguchi-San was.

    Non-title match
    WWF European Champion D’Lo Brown (w/ The Godfather) vs. X-Pac (w/ Chyna)

    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 Review - D'Lo Brown pins X-Pac
    D’Lo Brown had only just become European Champion after being Triple H on that week’s Raw thanks to an assist from The Rock, but he was not putting the title on the line here because he was a heel and therefore obviously a coward.

    Title or no title, this was a decent match with lots of fast-paced action and some great spots from both men.

    After a fun encounter, X-Pac stopped The Godfather from getting involved by punching him off the apron, but walked right into a Sky High and lost the match.
    Your Winner: D’Lo Brown

    Out in the crowd, Edge looked on, brooding.

    The Undertaker is not Here

    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 - Kevin Kelly & Tom Pritchard man the booth
    Out in the back, reporters Kevin Kelly and Tom Pritchard told us that The Undertaker had not arrived yet.

    Kelly was worried -very worried- but Pritchard reminded us what a great reputation The Undertaker had backstage, so there was no way he’d let everybody down.

    Terry Funk Announces Retirement #1275

    Out in the back, makeshift tag team Terry Funk and Bradshaw were standing by to give comments on their upcoming match against Farooq and Scorpio.

    Instead, Funk used the opportunity to announce that this would be his last match in the WWF for about six months because fighting and teaming with Mick Foley had taken it out of him.

    The news came as a surprise to Bradshaw, who stormed off, angry.

    Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen in this match?

    Farooq and Scorpio vs. Terry Funk and Bradshaw

    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 - Terry Funk upset Bradshaw by announcing he was taking six months off
    And so, future Acolytes Bradshaw and Farooq found themselves in opposite corners, going against each other months before they finally paired up to become a legendary team.

    This is like that time Road Dogg and Billy Gunn has a match against each other at In Your House: 14 - Revenge of The Taker.

    Anyway, the match was about as meh as you might imagine and culminated in a loss for the Texans following a pretty sweet 450 splash from Scorpio.
    Your Winners: Scorpio & Farooq m

    To the surprise of absolutely no one, Bradshaw turned on Funk after the match.

    Scorpio tried to help, but Bradshaw turned him inside out with a Clothesline From Hell and then attacked Farooq with a chair for good measure.

    Vader vs. Mark Henry

    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 - Mark Henry faced Vader
    I feel bad for Vader - once a certified main eventer and a legit badass now a directionless mid-card act.

    He and Mark Henry had cost each other a shot at the 1998 King of The Ring tournament and had engaged in a brawl on that show.

    This led to a series of angles on Shotgun Saturday Night, and now to tonight’s match, which was bland and void of all excitement.

    After a couple of minutes of nothingness, Henry splashed Vader and got the win.

    Nobody cared.
    Your Winner: Mark Henry

    After a shot of The Hart Home in Calgary (site of tonights Dungeon Match) and an update of sorts from Kelly and Pritchard (still no sign of The Undertaker), we got the arrival of WWF Tag Team Champions Kane and Mankind, with their manager, Paul Bearer.

    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 - WWF Tag Team Champions Mankind & Kane
    The duo (referred to by JR as ‘The Poster Boys for Pestilence’) stood by as Bearer cut a compelling promo, boasting about The Undertaker’s absence and warning Stone Cold that he would meet his demise tonight.

    As good as Bearer was here, he wouldn’t get a chance to say much more as he was interrupted by the men Kane and Mankind had beaten for the tag team titles, The New Age Outlaws.

    Getting the biggest pop of the night so far, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn issued a challenge for a title match the following night on Raw.

    When the champs didn’t reply, the Outlaws attacked, and we got a full-scale brawl that was eventually broken up by a gaggle of officials and Commissioner Slaughter, who was still around at this point.

    The Disciples of Apocalypse (Skull & 8-Ball w/ Paul Ellering) vs. L.O.D 2000 (Hawk & Animal)

    So, let’s catch up.

    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 - Paul Ellering watches The DOA take on LOD 2000
    Chainz was gone, and Skull and 8-Ball had now teamed up with Paul Ellering, the former manager of Hawk and Animal, who were now without Sunny, who had left the company and would never be the same woman again.

    Meanwhile, the WWF were moving towards making Hawk’s real-life substance abuse problems a storyline, having him fail to have his partner’s back and other such shenanigans.

    This would, of course, lead to that time Droz pushes Hawk off the top of the Titantron, both would leave the company, and Animal would show up in WCW a year or so later, overweight and underwhelming.

    Until all that, we got your bog standard big man tag team match.

    Despite its slow pace, this one did have some decent spots, though not enough to make it an entertaining match.

    After what seemed like an eternity, the Road Warriors hit a Doomsday Device (and unless I misheard, JR called it a ‘Devastation Device’) but identical twins Skull and 8-Ball did the ol’ switch-a-roo and a plain simple DDT gave the win to the bikers.
    Your Winners: The Disciples of the Apocalypse

    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 - Vince McMahon w/ Sgt. Slaughter & Gerald Briscoe
    Still, at the point where he didn’t have his own theme music, Vince McMahon sauntered out after the match with Gerald Briscoe, Pat Patterson and Commissioner Slaughter in tow.

    McMahon told us that if Undertaker didn’t show tonight, it was Stone Cold’s fault and not his, because Stone Cold had done all kinds of heinous things to ‘Taker on Raw.

    From there, McMahon reminded us of the caveat that came with all pro wrestling shows that says ‘card subject to change.’

    With that in mind, McMahon announced that he had a replacement in mind if Undertaker didn’t show, and introduced us to none other than The Brooklyn Brawler!

    Brawler was -as he always was- so entertaining here, so much so I would have liked to have seen him in the match!

    Dungeon Match (Submission rules)
    Owen Hart vs. Ken Shamrock

    Special Guest Referee: Dan Severn
    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 - Owen Hart punishes Ken Shamrock in The Dungeon
    Supposedly ‘live’ from the Dungeon, though obviously pre-taped, this stiff, MMA/pro-wrestling was hugely compelling - the sort of fight that demands your attention from the word go and is so intense that you just can’t take your eyes off it.

    After a seriously hard-hitting match, Shamrock went to kick Owen in the face but ended up pasting special referee Dan Severn instead.

    This gave Owen the chance to grab an obviously fake dumbbell and knock Shamrock out with it.

    Owen then slapped on a cross face and moved :
    Shamrock’s hand up and for him.

    A groggy Severn recovered from the kick just enough to see Shamrock ‘tapping’ and gave the match to The Black Heart.
    Your Winner: Owen Hart

    Damn, that was fun.

    Two out of Three Falls for the World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
    WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock vs. Triple H

    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 - The Rock is ready for his match with Triple H
    I don’t know if they were running short of time or if it was just cut from the version I’m watching (an original copy and not a Network version) but we didn’t get the usual pre-match ‘let’s get ready to suck it’ stuff from Hunter.

    What we did get, was the referee sending The Nation and DX to the back but letting Chyna stay because she had a manager’s license.

    Speaking of Chyna, she actually made her debut the last time HHH and Rocky Maivia met for the Intercontinental Championship, back at In Your House 13: Final Four back in February 1997.

    Funnily enough, The Rock was the champion then too.

    Understandably, this match was a lot better than that one. In fact, it was a lot better than anything on the card so far,

    Featuring several cameos from both DX and Nation members (yes, after they’d been banished from ringside), plenty of brawling and good old-fashioned wrestling, this was the best match either man had wrestled up to this point in their careers.

    It was hugely entertaining and got more and more dramatic as it went on, and would have been even better had the ending not been so predictable.

    Right from the early going, JR made sure to give us regular reminders that this match has a 30-minute time limit.

    You always know when that gets mentioned that we’re heading for a time limit draw, and that’s exactly what happened here.

    After one fall a piece, this terrific match ended when the time expired.
    Draw (The Rock retains the title)

    The good news is that this led to a ladder match at Summerslam, which to this day remains among my favourite matches if all time.

    The Undertaker is Here

    Prior to the main event, Kelly and Pritchard revealed that yes, The Undertaker had arrived.

    Exclusive Rock Promo

    As I say, this is an original copy of the PPV (or at least of the VHS version) so I’m not sure if this exists on the WWE Network, but it’s basically The Rock leaving the arena with D’Lo Brown and bragging about his big win over Triple H.

    Dustin Runnels Prays For Our Souls

    Having ditched The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust gimmick, Dustin Runnels took to the ring to deliver a solemn prayer, hoping that God could save us from the filth and smut we were about to endure.

    Bikini Contest
    Jacqueline (w/ Marc Mero) vs. Sable

    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 - Tale of the Tape for Jacqueline vs. Sable Bikini contest
    Fresh from a brief run as Harlem Heat’s manager in WCW, future Hall of Famer Jacqueline had now partnered with Marc Mero to help him in his battle with estranged wifi, Sable, even going so far as to challenge her to a bikini contest.

    In her defence, Jacqueline looked smoking hot, and at one point accidentally (yeah, right) flashed us a nipple, but this was clearly the Sable show.

    The blonde bombshell first teased us by taking off her T-shirt to reveal a ‘conservative’ crop-top, telling us that Vince McMahon had ordered to do so.

    However, said Sable, Vince couldn’t stop her as it was live TV, so she took that off to reveal the topless, handprint pasties look that we all remember so fondly.

    Naturally, the crowd roared Sable to a win before Vince came, made her cover-up, and escorted her backstage.

    At the time, I remember this being total shock value and genuinely excited, but I was a horny 14-year-old back then, and now I’m not sure this has aged all that well.
    Your Winner: Sable

    After a reminder that Undertaker had cost Austin the WWF title in a match with Kane at King of the Ring 1998, we were told how this ultimately led us to a tag team title match against Kane and Mankind here tonight.

    World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
    WWF Tag Team Champions Kane & Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin & The Undertaker

    WWE / WWF - Fully Loaded 1998 - Steve Austin tells The Undertaker he's number one!
    This is the first PPV that Undertaker had that badass Attitude Era theme, so that’s cool.

    I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews of this match, but I actually think it was good for what it was - filler match to advance storylines en route to Summerslam in much the same way that the In Your House before Wrestlemania was used to build to that event.

    Whilst that doesn’t mean it was a five-star classic, it was an entertaining contest that followed the typical chaotic brawling style of Attitude Era main events.

    After a good back-and-forth effort, Undertaker tombstones Kane to win the match, and the tag team titles.
    Your Winners and New WWF Tag Team Champions: The Undertaker and Steve Austin

    Not that the win put the new champions on the same page. After the bell, Undertaker grabbed both tag belts and stormed off backstage to end the show.

    As a pay per view, Fully Loaded was typical of WWF events at the time - garbage undercard with a hot main event that made up for it.

    The tag team title match was fun in its own way, but it was the Rock/HHH match that really stole the show, proving that WWF had its next generation of main event stars all ready and waiting for their chance to shine.

    Overall, this wasn’t a PPV that is must-see, though that Rock/HHH, X-Pac/D'Lo and the Owen/Shamrock Dungeon Match are worth a watch.

    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 
      Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

      Thursday, 11 October 2018

      PPV REVIEW: WCW Bash at the Beach 1998

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: Event poster
      July 12th, 1998
      The Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Florida

      Since its inception in the 1980s, it had always been Starrcade which had held the distinction of being World Championship Wrestling's answer to Wrestlemania. Yet it's probably fair to say that Bash at the Beach was an event just as important to the company during the Monday Night Wars. 

      After all, it was at this event in 1996 that Hulk Hogan famously revealed himself to be The Third Man, kickstarting the New World Order angle that would catapult WCW to the most successful period in its entire history.

      The following year, WCW looked to further its popularity by having Hogan, now the company's resident bad boy, team up with another infamous ne'er-do-weller in the form of basketball star, Dennis Rodman. 

      Fast forward twelve months, and 'Rod the Bod' was back for another summertime fling with Hogan and the nWo.

      Here's what went down when the two teamed up to face DDP and Karl Malone on what was becoming well-established as one of WCW's biggest events of the year.

      Summer Madness

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
      We began our show tonight with one of WCW’s famously terrible opening videos recalling the big matches on tonight’s card.

      Clearly, the company were paying so much money for Lanny Poffo to sit at home that they couldn’t afford a decent production team to make their opening videos.

      Anyway, from there we went to our usual trio of Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, and Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, told us just how important tonight’s show was.

      Then, after Mean Gene Okerlund took some time to encourage us to call 1-900-909-9900 (kids, get your parents’ permission) it was onto our first match.

      Raven’s Rules
      Saturn vs. Raven (w/ The Flock)

      Regular Retro Pro Wrestling readers will know that I’m sometimes overly generous with my match reviews.

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
      You may also remember that I normally talk highly of Saturn’s matches too.

      His outing with Kanyon at the previous month's Great American Bash 98 was hugely enjoyable, and he’d had some good matches with the likes of Chris Benoit and Booker T earlier in the year.

      But this?

      This was just awful.

      Saturn seemed off a step throughout the whole match, whilst Raven seemed to just kind of be there.

      That It was bad enough to begin with, but then Nick Patrick got squashed in the corner (ref bumps in No DQ matches. Why?) and things quickly went from bad to worse.

      At one point, Saturn put Raven on top of a table. Tony Schiavone accidentally called it a chair and was mercilessly mocked by Tenay and Heenan.

      That was funny, and probably the best part of the whole match.

      What wasn’t funny was that Saturn then set up another table on top of the first and headed to the top rope. Kanyon then came out and pulled Raven to safety.

      In one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen in all my years writing these reviews, Saturn waited a good few seconds after Raven was gone, looked at the empty tables, and waited a second longer, and then jumped through them anyway.


      In the ring, Kanyon hit Raven with the Flatliner.

      Some other stuff happened, but honestly, this was such a mess that none of it mattered.

      Eventually, Raven hit the Evenflow DDT and this one was over.

      You know what? As if all that wasn’t disappointing enough, the WWE Network dubs over Raven’s awesome Come as You Are rip-off theme with the squawking ravens theme he had in WWE.

      Your Winner: Raven

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: Mean Gene interviews Eddie Guerrero
      Up next, Mean Gene brought out Eddie Guerrero to hype his upcoming Hair vs. Hair match with nephew, Chavo Guerrero Jr.

      For reasons that didn’t make much sense, Chavo had apparently first booked himself into a match with Stevie Ray, so Eddie -who was never not entertaining as hell- devoted his promo time to warning Chavo that Stevie was going to destroy him, after which he (Eddie) would merely come in, hit the frog splash, and give his nephew a haircut.

      Kidman (w/ Lodi) vs. Juventud Guerrera

      Now, this is more like it.

      Wrestling in his first ever pay per view match, Kidman tore it up with Juventud Guerrera in a match that was non-stop fun from start to finish.

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: Billy Kidman faced Juventud Guerrera
      Where the previous match was sloppy, messy, and embarrassing to watch, this was tight, crisp, and an absolute joy to watch.

      Unfortunately for Kidman, making his PPV debut didn’t mean a win. He was hit with Juventud’s awesome 450 splash and lost the match.
      Your Winner: Juventud Guerrera

      Out in the ‘internet location,’ Lee Marshall tried to act cool and talk about how everyone wanted to get rowdy rowdy and bowdy bowdy with K-Dog.

      Konnan used this as an opportunity to put over his Wolfpac brethren before going off on a tangent and questioning Marshall about his terrible choice in beach shirts.

      Stevie Ray vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr

      In keeping with the summer theme, Chavo Jr. Came out wearing a rubber ring and brandishing a water pistol. He then proceeded to infuriate Stevie Ray by dancing about the place and striking poses.

      I won’t lie, Crazy Chavo was super entertaining and actually pretty funny.

      Eventually, Chavo offered his opponent a handshake, only to submit the moment it was accepted.
      Your Winner: Stevie Ray

      You see, by submitting the moment Stevie Ray touched him, Chavo had ensured he was still 100% for his match with his uncle, therefore ruining the plans of Eddie Guerrero, who had expected to go in against a beaten-up Chavo.

      Hair vs. Hair Match
      Chavo Guerrero Jr. Vs. Eddie Guerrero

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: Eddie Guerrero hurts nephew Chavo Guerrero
      Chavo’s comedy capers continued in the early going of this match and were equally as entertaining.

      Then, Eddie decided he’d had enough of his nephew’s playing and beat the life out of him.

      What followed was a very solid match that ended when Chavo tried to cut Eddie’s hair but Charles Robinson stopped him.

      The distraction allowed Eddie to roll up his nephew and get the win.
      Your Winner: Eddie Guerrero

      Afterwards, Chavo snatched the hair shaver from Eddie and began to shave his own hair like a lunatic.

      This freaked out Eddie and he ran off.

      I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I really enjoyed this version of Chavo.

      Disco Inferno (w/ Alex Wright) vs. Konnan (w/ Kevin Nash & Lex Luger)

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: Disco Inferno gets bowdy-bowdy
      This was billed as a special bonus match, but it really wasn’t much of a match at all.

      After Disco Inferno and his sometime tag team partner Alex Wright mocked Konnan’s usual opening call-and-response promo, Konnan himself came down, completely ignored it, and just did the same promo anyway

      What followed was about a minute and a half of nondescript action, culminating in the referee getting distracted by Lex Luger putting a Torture Rack on Alex Wright outside the ring.

      This gave Kevin Nash the chance to sneak in and Jackknife the bejeezus out of Disco.

      Konnan slapped on the Tequila Sunrise, the ref turned around and this one was over.
      Your Winner: Konnan

      Moving on...

      The Giant vs. Kevin Green

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: The Giant faced football star Kevin Greene
      Last seen on a WCW PPV at Slamboree 1997, football star Kevin Greene made his annual summertime stop at the company for a match with The Giant.

      This had originally been scheduled as a tag match pitting Greene and Goldberg against Giant and Curt Hennig, but since Goldie had gone on to win the title and Hennig had become his first challenger, we had this instead.

      For what it was, this certainly wasn’t bad.

      Kevin Greene may have been an ‘outsider’ who only dabbled in pro wrestling during football’s off-season, but he always seemed to put a lot more effort in, and to take the craft a lot more seriously, than many of his fellow crossover stars.

      Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t an amazing match by any stretch, but Greene and Giant were able to work to each other’s strengths to put on a passable performance before the man who would one day become The Big Show picked up the win.
      Your Winner: The Giant

      Meanwhile, on, Curt Hennig told Lee Marshall that experience was all he needed to dethrone new champion, Goldberg.

      Chris Jericho = Buyrate

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: James J. Dillon confronts cruiserweight champion Chris Jericho
      Next, we were supposed to have a Cruiserweight Championship match pitting reigning champion Chris Jericho against arch-rival Dean Malenko.

      However, as a recap was quick to show us, that match was now off the cards. Dean Malenko had gotten himself suspended by breaking the terms of a no-contact agreement he and Jericho had entered into with JJ Dillon and the WCW Executive Committee.

      Never one to disappoint his legions of Jerichoholics, Lion Heart made his way out to the ring anyway, promising to do a little song and dance routine for the audience.

      It was at that point that ‘Jojo’ Dillon arrived on the scene, admitting that maybe he had made a mistake by not booking the champ in a match.

      Jericho was absolutely priceless in his response, pulling hilarious facial expressions which had this writer laughing out loud.

      Really, however, the last laugh belonged to Dillon, who said that, if Jericho wanted it, he had a match lined up for him against ‘a local wrestler who hasn’t wrestled in six months.’

      Believing this meant a quick-and-easy outing against ‘a no-name jabroni,’ The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla accepted and even requested that the match remain No Disqualification, as per the original terms of his planned match against Malenko.

      Dillon agreed and introduced the local wrestler who hadn’t wrestled for six months, the returning Rey Mysterio Jr.

      No Disqualification World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship:
      WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio Jr

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: Chris Jericho
      Wearing a knee brace almost as big as him, Rey Mysterio Jr challenged the man who beat him for the Cruiserweight title back at Souled Out ‘98 in a match that fell short of that earlier outing in terms of quality.

      Mysterio and Jericho would have many classic matches over the years, but unfortunately, this one wasn’t one of them.

      Sure, it was a decent effort, but it lacked a certain spark that made so many other Jericho/Mysterio bouts so spectacular.

      At one point the two briefly, and I mean briefly took advantage of the No DQ stipulation to go for brawl onto the Bash at the Beach set.

      There, Mysterio planted Jericho into the sand, prompting Tony Schiavone to deliver the line of the night.

      ‘That sand may be a soft landing, but the thing about sand is it’s certainly going to be irritating.’

      I wonder if any wrestler had tried to win a match by irritating their opponent before?

      Anyway, a few short minutes later, Dean Malenko arrived on the scene, putting Jericho off his game and allowing Mysterio to counter The Walls of Jericho and roll up his opponent for the three count.
      Your Winner and New WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio Jr.

      Post-match, Dean Malenko chased Jericho to the back and beat him up, totally distracting from Mysterio’s big return championship win in front of his hometown crowd.

      World Championship Wrestling World Television Champion
      WCW World Television Champion Booker T vs. Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: Bret Hart challenged Booker T for the cruiserweight championship
      Despite first saying that he was only helping the nWo but not actually a member, Bret Hart came down for his TV title match to the classic nWo theme, which I suppose makes him a certified member at this stage of his career.

      From the outset, this one had all the makings of a really good match, with both champ and challenger holding nothing back and performing the kind of work that made both of them certified legends.

      Yet just when it was looking to go from good to great, Booker dove through the ropes to the outside and smashed head-first into a Bret Hart chair shot.
      Your Winner via DQ and Still WCW TV Champion: Booker T

      Afterwards, Bret destroyed Booker T’s knee then slapped him in the ring-post-figure four.

      Roughly 500 hours passed with Bret applying this hold before Booker’s brother, Stevie Ray sauntered down to ringside.

      Bret merely got up and walked off, whilst Stevie Ray looked on at his brother with disgust and disappointment.

      A heel turn wasn’t far away.

      World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
      WCW World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg vs. Curt Hennig

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: Curt Hennig challenged Goldberg for the WCW ChampionshipWith a nasty cut in his forehead from apparently headbutting a locker too hard during his pre-match ritual, Goldberg headed out to make his first title defence in a match where the outcome was never in question.

      Curt Hennig was one of the greatest pro wrestlers in history, but here he was just another piece of cannon fodder for the champ to destroy in a couple of short minutes.

      Inevitably, a spear and a jackhammer put the champ at 112-0.
      Your Winner and Still WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Goldberg

      You know, this is the first WCW PPV I recall watching where the company did video packages for most of the big matches just like the WWF had done -and continue to do- on a regular basis.

      Such a video preceded both that title match and our upcoming main event.

      Hollywood Hulk Hogan & Dennis Rodman (w/ The Disciple) vs. Diamond Dallas Page & Karl Malone

      WCW Bash at the Beach 1998 Review: DDP & Karl Malone faced Hulk Hogan & Dennis Rodman
      At Bash at the Beach 1997, Hogan and Rodman had teamed up to face Lex Luger and The Giant.

      This time they were back against Diamond Dallas Page and another basketball player, Karl Malone.

      For the record, there’s still 32 minutes left to go on this show, and this is a match featuring two non-wrestlers and an ageing Hulk Hogan.

      If you thought half an hour sounds long, just try sitting through it, it felt at least three times as long.

      I never thought I’d say this about a match involving DDP, but this main event was utterly atrocious.

      It was painfully slow, featured several decades of stalling in the early going, and saw a drunk-ass Dennis Rodman sloppily fumbling his way through some horrible offence.

      All in all, this match had no redeeming features whatsoever.

      I would say that the only good thing about this match was that it ended, but even that was spectacularly bad: The Disciple hit a stunner on DDP to give the bad guys an unnecessary win.
      Your Winners: Hulk Hogan and Dennis Rodman

      Post-match, Karl Malone, who, along with DDP, did actually look decent in this match, hit Disciple with a Diamond Cutter, then took out his frustrations by hitting referee Charles Robinson with the same move.

      And that, ladies and gentlemen, ends one of WCW’s worst shows of 1998, if not of all time. 

      Top and tailed by two truly appalling matches, everything in between that wasn’t Eddie/Chavo or Kidman/Guerrera ranged from disappointing to dreadfully boring.

      Given how good WCW has been a year or two prior, it’s sad to see the company in such a poor state.

      Recommendation: Avoid Bash at the Beach 1998 at all costs unless you’re having trouble sleeping, in which case it makes for a good anaesthetic.

      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
      Other Bash at the Beach reviews
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        Thursday, 4 October 2018

        PPV REVIEW: WWF King of the Ring 1998

        WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1998 Review: Event Poster
        June 28, 1998
        Pittsburgh Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

        "Talk about your psalms, talk about John 3:16, Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!" 

        It had been two years -almost to the day- that Stone Cold Steve Austin had delivered one of the most famous speeches in pro wrestling history, a speech that would set him on a journey to becoming one of the biggest money-making pro wrestlers of all time. 

        In that time, the landscape of the World Wrestling Federation had changed dramatically.

        With Austin as the foul-mouthed, beer-swilling anti-hero at the head of the pack, the company had embraced a new Attitude.

        It was an Attitude that had not only seen the company turn the tables in the legendary Monday Night Wars, but had also seen a man promise to set himself on fire on live television if he didn't dethrone Austin for the WWF title.

        Would we really see pro wrestling's first case of self-immolation? Or would Stone Cold Steve Austin, who had begun his journey to the title two years ago at this very event, see everything he'd worked so hard for finally taken away from him?

        Let's head to Pittsburgh for the first King of the Ring of the Attitude Era to find out:

        God, Have Mercy On Their Souls

        Tonight’s show began with your typical dramatic video package, this one setting a foreboding tone for the rest of our main events.

        First up, Vince McMahon had vowed to put an end to arch-rival Stone Cold Steve Austin once and for all by pitting him in a First Blood match against Kane.

        The video then told us about Undertaker and Mankind reliving their classic rivalry inside the second Hell in a Cell.

        From there, we got the usual shots of a rabid, hot crowd followed by a welcome from Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.

        The two were surrounded by gasoline cans just in case, you know, Kane lost and had to torch himself.

        Six Man Tag
        WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku and The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) vs. Kaientai (Mens Teoh, Dick Togo, and Sho Funaki w/ Mr Yamaguchi)

        WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1998 Review: Taka Michinoku & The Headbangers faced Kaientai
        You know, not every wrestling match has to be a dramatic, emotional rollercoaster packed with high spots and more high spots.

        Sometimes, a match can just be fun, and that’s exactly what this one was.

        With the combination of The Headbangers’ wacky, fan-friendly characters and the Japanese men busting out some entertaining exchanges, this turned into a very enjoyable -if short- opening match.

        After absorbing the brunt of the punishment, Taka Michinoku was finally rescued by Mosh and Thrasher and hit the Michinoku driver for the big win.
        Your Winners: Taka Michinoku and The Headbangers

        Up next, we had the return to WWF PPV of the one and only Sable.

        If you recall, Sable had been banished from the WWF after losing a ‘match’ against estranged husband Marc Mero just the previous month at Over The Edge: In Your House 22.

        WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1998: Vince McMahon with Pat Patterson
        Not long after, she was reinstated by Vince McMahon and now here she was, just weeks after being banished, already back and introducing Vince to the crowd.

        Still, without the ‘No Chance in Hell’ music he’d later be so synonymous with, McMahon strutted out to ringside with The Stooges, Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe.

        After Briscoe instructed Sable to leave and held the ropes open for her, renowned heterosexual and lady’s man Pat Patterson gave Sable a cheeky slap on the ass, prompting the blonde beauty to turn around and slap him so hard she appeared to cut his face.

        Vince then cut a long promo in which he asked the crowd whether they’d come to see Stone Cold retain or Kane win the WWF title. It was like one of Scott Hall’s famous surveys, albeit with only half the crowd reaction.

        From there, McMahon spent the rest of the time insulting the crowd. It was entertaining, sure, but added nothing to the show.

        King of the Ring Semi Final
        Double J (w/ Tennessee Lee) vs. Ken Shamrock

        WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1998: Michael cole interviews Ken Shamrock
        So, for the first year ever, the King of the Ring PPV only featured the annual tournament’s semi-finals and final.

        First up we had Ken Shamrock making quick work of 2018 Hall of Famer Double J in a short and explosive contest.

        I still haven’t figured out why it was necessary to only refer to Jeff Jarrett by the name Double J, especially when we also had Triple H on the roster, but hey, I made that same complaint last time, so I won’t go into it again here.

        This was a perfectly decent though immediately forgettable match that ended when Shamrock slapped Jarrett -sorry, Double J- in the ankle lock to advance to the final for a date with either The Rock or Dan ‘The Beast’ Severn.
        Your Winner: Ken Shamrock

        Afterwards, Tennessee Lee ran in and got belly-to-bellied into oblivion.

        Shamrock then told ringside interviewer Michael Cole that he hadn’t come to the show to be second best, and wasn’t prepared to leave as such

        King of the Ring Semi Final
        WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock vs. Dan ‘The Beast’ Severn

        WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1998: Dan Severn puts The Rock in an arm bar
        Here’s a big difference between WWF and WCW during the Attitude Era.

        We’re only half an hour into this and yet already on our third match with a promo in between.

        If this was WCW, we’d likely have just finished talking about the opening match

        Anyway, here we had Dan ‘The Beast’ Severn making his WWF PPV in yet another match that was decent by far too short to actually matter.

        As a kid, I used to think Severn was the most boring human being (not just wrestler, but actual human being) on the planet. This match only made me change my mind by a smidgen.

        In the end, The Godfather (who was definitely The Godfather now and no longer Kama Mustafa) and Mark Henry came out to distract the referee whilst D-Lo Brown ran out through the crowd wearing a chest protector and hit the frog splash on Severn.

        Rock made the cover, and this one was over.

        I should also mention that the chest protector was originally to sell a pectoral injury that had apparently been caused by Severn in a King of the Ring qualifying match on Raw, but which would, of course, later become his gimmick.
        Your Winner: The Rock

        Afterwards, The Rock told Michael Cole that there was no way long-time rival Ken Shamrock would beat him in the final.

        Too Much (Too Hot Scott Taylor & Too Sexy Brian Christopher) vs. Al Snow & Head

        WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1998: Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor beat Al Snow & Head
        So, here’s the story as best I understand it.

        Al Snow had ‘returned’ to the WWF but without a contract, and tried all kinds of shenanigans to get in and get a meeting with Vince McMahon, including having Jerry Lawler sneak him into the building.

        When all those attempts failed, Snow simply stole Lawler’s crown, setting up a rivalry with Lawler, his son Brian Christopher, and Christopher’s new partner, Too Hot Scott Taylor.

        Tonight, the duo would make their first appearance on a PPV as a tag team by taking on Al Snow, with Al’s mannequin head as his tag team partner.

        If Snow and Head could beat Too Much, Al would get his meeting with Mr McMahon.

        The match itself was fine and had a couple of fun spots, but mostly it just sucked the air out of the venue.

        After Al looked to have the win, Lawler (who had been appointed Special Guest referee) tossed Christopher a bottle of Head and Shoulders shampoo.

        Christopher then attached the bottle to Head, and pinned Head to get the win.
        It was dumb, but funny, though sadly not funny enough to make up for another the large amounts of tedium.
        Your Winners: Too Much

        UPDATE: Due to a combination of watching and reviewing multiple shows at once and yet only posting a new review once a week, many of these reviews are written many months before they actually get published on here. 

        This one, for example, was first written around March 2018. It was then uploaded to the blog in early August, just days after Brian Christopher Lawler tragically passed away

        Though you guys won't read it until at least October, Lawler's death is still very fresh in my mind and I just wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to a man who had some mightily large shoes to fill and yet was still very entertaining in his own right. 

        Sure, the early days of his run in WWF weren't exactly perfect, and the whole "Head and Shoulders" thing is proof of that, but he was more often than not a joy to watch. 

        Anyway, on with the show.  

        X-Pac (w/ Chyna) vs. Owen Hart

        WWF King of the Ring 1998 Review: Owen Hart puts a sleeper on X-Pac
        Four years prior, X-Pac and Owen Hart had put on a storming five-minute masterpiece en route to Owen’s big win at King of the Ring 1994.

        Tonight they were given a little bit longer to really let rip and deliver the best PPV match Owen Hart had been a part of in a long time.

        It’s worth mentioning that this was X-Pac’s first WWF PPV match since In Your House 6, and his first PPV match overall since Fall Brawl 1997.

        Here, both men delivered the goods right up to a messy finish.

        With X-Pac laying out on the arena floor after absorbing some serious punishment, Mark Henry came down and splashed him one.

        Chyna then got all up in Henry’s face until Vader randomly ran down and started brawling with the future Sexual Chocolate.

        In the ensuing confusion, Chyna drilled Owen with a DDT, allowing X-Pac to get the win.
        Your Winner: X-Pac

        WWF King of the Ring: Paul Bearer
        Up next, Paul Bearer (who really was not in good shape at this stage of his career) came out to remind us that The Undertaker had beaten him up, and to tell us a weird story about Kane watching The Undertaker on WWF Superstars every Saturday morning and wanting to be like his brother.

        Now that Kane was just like his brother, Bearer vowed that Kane would become the new champion.

        Despite looking like crap, this was an engaging promo from Bearer that worked well in getting you even more invested in the upcoming title match.

        World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
        WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (w/ Chyna) vs. NWA Tag Team Champions The New Midnight Express (Bombastic Bob & Bodacious Bart w/ Jim Cornette)

        WWF King of the Ring 1998: Former Smoking Gunns Billy & Bart Gunn square off
        The main highlight of this ‘added bonus match’ was an intense interaction between former Smoking Gunns partners Bad Ass Billy Gunn and Bodacious Bart Gunn.

        Two things made this particularly enjoyable.

        1. JR and King actually acknowledged that the two were -in kayfabe terms- actually brothers despite not being involved in storylines with each other for a long while.
        2. After an intense staredown, the two actually put on the best pure wrestling segment on the card, and that includes the earlier X-Pac/Owen Hart thing.

        The rest of the match was a reasonably enjoyable textbook tag, with Road Dogg playing the face-in-peril and Billy finally getting the hit tag.

        After an exciting finish that also saw Jim Cornette get low-blowed by Chyna, the outlaws hit a double hot shot on Bombastic Bob for the win.
        Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: The New Age Outlaws

        Moving on...

        King of the Ring Final
        WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock vs. Ken Shamrock

        WWE / WWF King of the Ring 1998 Review: Ken Shamrock celebrates winning the tournament
        The Rock and Ken Shamrock had spent most of 1998 at war, first meeting at the 1998 Royal Rumble and then again at Wrestlemania 14.

        Taking nothing away from either of those two matches, this was definitely the best of the three - a solid outing that became more and more intense as it went on.

        The only thing detracting from this was the guest commentary from Triple H.

        I was a big fan of Hunter at the time, and still enjoy his work, but his juvenile jokes and double entendres added nothing to the presentation here.

        After a good outing, Shamrock slapped on the ankle lock to become your 1998 King of the Ring.
        Your Winner and 1998 King of the Ring: Ken Shamrock

        As this was the Attitude Era as everything was supposed to be edgy and grown-up, we didn’t get the usual coronation ceremony or even a winner’s speech.

        Instead, Shamrock just paced about a bit.

        Hell in a Cell
        Mankind vs. The Undertaker

        From their first pay per view outing two years ago at King of the Ring 1996 to their Boiler Room Brawl later that year at Summerslam 1996 and their Buried Alive match at In Your House 11: Buried Alive, Mankind and The Undertaker had battled in more than their fair share of memorable matches before, but this, this was something else.

        This was what would become one of the most famous matches of all time, a match that put Mick Foley on another level, and guaranteed that Hell in a Cell II was the only thing anybody remembers when they think about King of the Ring 1998.

        You don’t need me to tell you anything about this one, but I will anyway.

        We’ve seen people come off the top of the cage since this match (Shane McMahon against The Undertaker two years ago springs to mind) but it always looks like a planned high spot, too safe, too sterile.

        Even 20 years later, the initial shock of seeing Undertaker just hurl Mankind off the top of the cell in the opening minute of the bout gives me goosebumps, likewise when Foley crashed through the top of the cage and the chair landed on top of him.

        What I had forgotten about, was that after the initial high spots and after Undertaker had chokeslammed Terry Funk literally out of his shoes, there was a good few minutes of brutal action that followed.

        And it was captivating.

        I’ve never been a fan of excessive violence for the sake of excessive violence in pro wrestling, but this wasn’t the case here.

        Everything was done with purpose, everything added to the drama of the match. Everything combined to create a story that is as compelling today as it was 20 years ago.
        Your Winner: The Undertaker

        After a video package recapping the rivalry between Steve Austin and Kane, it was fine for the two to meet in our main event.

        World Wrestling Federation Championship First Blood Match
        WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Kane

        If ever there was a match that screamed ‘Attitude Era,’ this one was it.

        Wild, chaotic and thoroughly entertaining, this was everything you could ask for from a 1998 WWF main event.

        Both champ and challenger battled forth in a hugely enjoyable offering which game to a head when referee Earl Hebner got squished on the outside.

        That was the cue for Mankind to hobble to the ring and attempt an attack on Austin, only for the Rattlesnake to blast his former tag team partner with a Stone Cold Stunner.

        Mankind got back up, but The Undertaker came to the ring to even the score. Both ‘Taker and Austin swung at Foley with a chair, but the middleman ducked and Austin took the brunt of the blow, busting him wide open.

        For reasons that made no sense, ‘Taker dragged Hebner into the ring and doused him with gasoline.

        Apparently, this worked to wake Hebner up, because he took one look at a blood-soaked Austin and called for the bell.
        Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Kane

        24 hours later, Austin would win the title back on Raw

        And so we got yet another WWF Attitude Era PPV with a lacklustre undercard followed by a scorching main event.

        Though there was some fun stuff to be found (the opening six man, Pac/Hart and Outlaws/Express), the bottom half of the card was mostly a cluttered, crowded mess.

        Only when it came to the King of The Ring Final did the show really find its groove, though of course, nobody remembers that.

        The only thing they remember is Hell in a Cell... and there's a very good reason for that. 

        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 
        Other King of the Ring 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.