Thursday, 20 December 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF Capital Carnage 1998

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Event poster
December 6th, 1998
London Arena, London, England

A lot had changed since the World Wrestling Federation had presented their last UK-only pay-per-view.

That had taken place back at the Birmingham NEC arena on September 20th, 1997. It was called One Night Only and was notable for being the night Shawn Michaels humiliated national hero Davey Boy Smith, taking his European Championship in the process.

Along with Triple H and Chyna, Michaels had gone on to officially declare himself the leader of D-Generation-X and dethrone Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in the main event of Survivor Series 1997.

That event, forever known as "The Montreal Screwjob" was the catalyst for unprecedented change in the WWF, change which would ultimately give us the creative and financial resurgence known as the Attitude Era.

A year down the line, as the WWF returned to the UK, that change was evident from top to bottom.

Michaels was no longer an active competitor, with Triple H taking his place at the helm of DX. Bret Hart and The Bulldog were long gone from the company, and in almost every conceivable way, the World Wrestling Federation that arrived at the London Arena on this cold December night was an entirely different entity than the one UK fans had last seen in September '97.






With that being said, let's head to England's capital for Capital Carnage 1998.

There's a Fatal Fourway a'Comin'

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler
We began tonight's show with a hype video for tonight's fatal four-way main event pitting Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Kane and Mankind against one another.

Though it lacked much of the drama and storytelling that most WWF PPV openings had, this one was nonetheless effective in building excitement for the match.

After panning through a sea of fan-made signs and hyper audience members, we were greeted by Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler for the usual introductions.

As Ross and Lawler talk us through tonight's matches, I'll take a moment to point out two things about this show.

1: This would be the night that Ross would suffer his second attack of Bell's Palsey. This one would happen as Ross was actually on air.

This came just hours after Ross had learned that his mother had passed away. Imagine getting that news and then going on to still call a pro wrestling news. What a hero that man is.

2: This is only the second show we've ever reviewed on Retro Pro Wrestling that your writer was actually live in the crowd for.

Yes, somewhere in that 10,000-strong crowd was an excitable 14-year-old wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin t-shirt who had no idea he'd still be writing about this event 20 years later.

With that being said, let's get on to the matches.

Gangrel vs. Al Snow (w/ Head)

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Gangrel faced Al Snow
So, we got things underway with a fun little opener pitting Al Snow against everyone's favourite vampire warrior, Gangrel.

It's been said before that because Gangrel's whole gimmick was so memorable, many of us forget that he was actually a pretty solid performer.

Here, he proved that by taking the fight to Snow in an enjoyable contest, suplexing him from pillar to post and engaging in some pretty sweet exchanges.

With the London faithful firmly behind him, Snow did mount a comeback, and even gave his opponent Head, but alas, it wasn't to be his day.

Mid-bout, Edge and Christian made their way to ringside, and, after Snow had drilled Gangrel with his mannequin head, Christian kept the referee distracted while Edge lept off the top rope and took out the J.O.B Squad leader.

Gangrel made the cover and this one was over.
Your Winner: Gangrel

Out in the depths of the arena, Mankind told us that he was in "the coldest boiler room I've ever been in" (because, you know, England gets pretty cold in December) before reminding us that tonight's fatal four-way was no holds barred, no DQ, no countout.

Wrapping up one his typically intense and well thought-out promos, then told us that after tonight, the London Arena would be up there with the likes of the Tower of London as a popular tourist attraction were gruesome things once happened.

L.O.D 2000 (Animal & Droz) vs. The Headbangers

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - LOD 2000 vs. The Headbangers
Prior to this match getting underway, we were reminded of that oh-so-classy 'Hawk is an Addict' angle and the time Droz pushed him off the Titantron.

The Headbangers had recently turned heel again yet here they were loved by the London crowd. Whether that's because we just loved Mosh and Thrasher or simply hated Droz so much we'd cheer for his opponents, I can't remember.

What I can tell, you from watching this, is that we certainly did hate Droz.

While his partner Animal got a lot of love, the former football star was loudly booed by the audience.

That was about the most interesting thing about this short little contest.

OK, so it wasn't terrible, but it barely got the chance to get going before Droz got rolled up and pinned.
Your Winners: The Headbangers

Post-match, Droz and Animal got into an argument which led into a full-scale brawl that had to be stopped by a gaggle of referees.

The brawl wasn't much, but it was still more exciting than that previous match.

'The end is near, Austin'

Up next, we were shown a flashback to the special Friday night edition of Raw which had aired earlier that weekend.

On that show, Undertaker had attempted to put Kane in a body bag and send him to an insane asylum via ambulance.

However, it turned out that Kane had escaped, sent 'Taker in the ambulance, and then helped Stone Cold shove Paul Bearer (now back with The Undertaker) down a sewer.

To this day, I always remember watching that segment. To this day, I'd still love to know how they pulled it off.

Anyway, that took us to Michael Cole, who stood by for an interview with The Deadman.

With his typically morbid promos becoming ever more macabre as of late, 'Taker talked about Austin's rotted soul and how we should pray for Stone Cold because all kinds of sinister things were going to happen to him.

As usual, this was captivating stuff from The Phenom.

Val Venis vs. Goldust

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Val Venis faced Goldust
These two had previously gone at it at Judgement Day: In Your House 25 during that whole saga when Terri Runnels was sleeping with Val Venis.

Since then, Terri had gone onto declare herself pregnant with Val's love child (which Val himself disputed thanks to having a vasectomy) and form PMS with Jacqueline.

Yet even with her out of the picture, it seemed The Big Valbowski and Goldust still hated each other.

Tonight, they channelled that hate into a decent yet immediately forgettable, by-the-numbers match.

Though pretty basic, this was actually a decent watch, ending when Val narrowly escaped a Shattered Dreams and rolled up Goldie for the three count.
Your Winner: Val Venis

Unfortunately for the wrestling porn star, he didn't get the chance to celebrate for very long.

Goldust beat him up some more and then finally hit Shattered Dreams, much to the delight of the UK audience.

Tea time: a pile of pious crap

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Vince & Shane McMahon
Next, we were shown a clip of Vince McMahon giving a guest lecture at the prestigious Oxford University.

This was followed by the Chairman making his way out, accompanied by his son Shane McMahon, and The Stooges, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco.

Patterson kicked off promo time by telling us that Mr McMahon had changed tonight's card around.

Instead of The Rock vs. Triple H (or Hunter Hearst Hem-sley, as Patterson continually called him), we'd get Triple H vs. Jeff Jarrett and The Rock vs. X-Pac.

Gerald Briscoe then said little of note before handing the mic to Shane.

Here, Shane took the opportunity to address footballer-turned-actor, Vinnie Jones.

The Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels actor was set to be the special guest enforcer in tonight's main event, and Shane had a few thoughts on this.

Specifically, he had thoughts on Jones' reputation as a "hard man," which in the UK, basically means you're known for being physically tough, if not a little violent.

This being 1998, Shane had no problem suggesting that Jones was actually hard because he was George Michael's gay lover.

"Oh come on, Vinnie Jones is a man's man, but not like that!" cried Jim Ross on commentary, as if being accused of being gay was the worst possible thing that could ever happen to someone.

Ah, good ol' homophobic '90s.

Shane's whole promo was terribly cringe-worthy.

To begin with, Vince's wasn't much better.

The evil overlord of the World Wrestling Federation took to the mic and began by telling us all that 'tea time is a load of pious crap,' even going so far as to toss away the cup of tea that I was drinking.

The crowd booed like they were supposed to, but there was something very odd about this statement. I remember being there, live in the London Arena at aged 14 and wondering why I was supposed to be upset that Vince didn't care for a spot of tea.

Watching it back, I still think it was a pretty dumb line.

Fortunately, Mr. McMahon redeemed himself with one of the best promos I've ever heard him cut, launching into a scathing tirade about Britain's past as a colonial power, it's fall from grace, and it's inferiority to the United States.

Vince gave us history, he gave us politics, he gave us social commentary. Above all, he gave us a compelling reason to hate us.

It was awesome and would have been even more awesome had Vince not then predicted that one day the UK would be governed by "a Prime Minister of Pakistani descent" as though this were a bad thing.

Yep, racism and homophobia in one segment. What a time that decade really was.

Edge vs. Tiger Ali Singh

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Tiger Ali Singh faced Edge - nobody gave a shit
Does nobody else find it weird that Tiger Ali Singh would always show up at these WWF UK PPVs despite doing next to nothing on television for the rest of the year?

Here, the second generation star drew heat for dedicating this match to his Indian forefathers who suffered under the tyranny of the British Empire (fair enough) but then basically got his ass handed to him in a short nothing match with future main eventer, Edge.

The Brood member quickly dominated his opponent, only for Singh to score the upset with a quick roll-up (another one) that he reinforced by putting his feet on the ropes.
Your Winner: Tiger Ali Singh

Afterwards, Singh continued the beatdown, only for Edge to once again take control and batter the evil foreigner.

It's gonna be emotional

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Michael Cole & Vinnie Jones
Up next, Michael Cole brought Vinnie Jones to the ring in order to respond to the earlier put down from the McMahons.

Though clearly amped up and enthusiastic, Jones came across as an unintelligent thug, responding to Cole's simple questions with even simpler answers (such as repeating the phrase 'bring 'em on!" over and over).

The crowd loved it but, looking back, it all seemed terribly scripted and forced.

Mixed Tag Team Match
WWF Women's Champion Sable & Christian vs. Jacqueline & Marvelous Marc Mero

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Sable teamed w/ Edge to face Marc Mero & Jacqueline
Christian's partner Edge had previously teamed with Sable back at Summerslam 1998 so now it was the younger of the two 'brothers' to tag with the women's champion.

Quite why Sable would choose two gothic dudes as her partners is anyone's guess, but there ya go.

Meanwhile, Marvelous Marc Mero had recently fired Jacqueline after she cost him a match against The Big Boss Man on Heat.

He'd then gone onto Raw and promised that if he couldn't beat "that jobber" Duane Gill, then that would be the last we'd ever see of him.

Naturally, The Marvelous One lost (thanks to interference from The Blue Meanie) and that was it for Mero's WWF career.

Except of course for tonight, when he was forced to meet his final outstanding contractual obligation, teaming with his pissed-off former manager.

The match itself was fine, with some fun, playful spots breaking up some solid action between the two men.

Eventually, Mero took a walk and Christian gave chase, leaving Sable to finally get her hands on arch-rival Jacqueline.

It didn't take long for the women's champion to dispose of her opponent either.

A few punches and a TKO were all it took to win the match.
Your Winners: Sable & Christian

Afterwards, Jacqueline took out her frustrations on referee Tim White by attacking him. White lifted Jacqueline onto his shoulders, allowing Sable to reach up and pull off Jacqui's top.

Having been there live, I can tell you that there are only three things I really remember from Capital Carnage:

  1. McMahon insulting tea time
  2. The Rock vs. X-Pac being awesome
  3. Jacqueline having her top ripped off and exposing her boobs to half of London while atop Tim White's shoulders.

For years, I'd kind of had an inkling that this was planned but had never been entirely sure.

Watching this show back today (For the first time in 20 years), it's obvious that Jacqui was wearing a very loose-fitting shirt and no bra, almost as if she -gasp- wanted to flash her breasticles to 10,000 people.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock (w/ Big Boss Man) vs. Steve Blackman

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Ken Shamrock faced Steve Blackman
When I said there were only three things I remember, I really mean it.

I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of ever seeing this match before. Now that I watch it back, I realise why.

Before it started, Jim Ross told us that this was going to be a great match.

Unfortunately, Jim Ross lied.

This was the most boring thing on the card so far. A basic, kick-punch-chinlock repeat affair that was beyond dull.

In fact, the only interesting thing that happened in the whole match was when the crowd started chanting 'you fat bastard!' at Shamrock's second, The Big Boss Man.

Speaking of Boss Man, it came as a relief he finally whacked Steve Blackman in the ankle with his nightstick, allowing Ken Shamrock to slap on the ankle lock and pick up the three count.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Ken Shamrock

Continuing the trend of post-match beatdowns that had occurred after just about every match on the card so far, Boss Man beat up on Blackman a little afterwards.

If you smell what The Rock is cookin...

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Do you smell what The Rock is cookin?
Backstage, World Wrestling Federation Champion The Rock told Michael Cole that he was going to squash "that bony jabroni" X-Pac in their upcoming match.

Seemingly unphased by the change in his opponent, The Great One planned to wrap out his promo with his famous catchphrase.

There was just one problem:

He couldn't remember it.

First, he tried "whatcha gonna do," then "and that's the bottom line." He went for "to be the man, you've got to WOO," and even attempted "I'm the best there is, the best there was," but still it wasn't right.

Finally, The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment his on "If you smell what The Rock is Cookin'" and this fun little segment was over.

Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra McMichael) vs. Triple H (w/ Chyna)

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Jeff Jarrett & Debra
I keep using the word "fun" in this review because that's the best way to describe it.

None of the action up to this point had been particularly amazing, but outside of the Intercontinental snooze-fest, most of it had been an enjoyable watch.

The same was true of Jeff Jarrett vs. Triple H.

While both men would have much better matches in their careers, this one saw the two veterans prove themselves to be masters of their craft.

It was the case of the cunning heel versus the super-hot babyface in a non-stop, back-and-forth battle.

After a very entertaining contest and some shenanigans involving Debra and Chyna, Hunter Hearst Hem-sley hit the pedigree and got the three count.
Your Winner: Triple H

I should mention -because this is obviously important- that Debra looked smoking hot here.

Stone Cold is in a bad mood

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Michael Cole interviews Stone Cold Steve Austin
Clearly trying to keep himself warm in the frigid British winter, Stone Cold Steve Austin told Michael Cole that he came to England to whoop somebody's ass, and it didn't matter who's ass that would happen to be.

Maybe it was jet lag, maybe it was just the cold, but Austin seemed rather subdued, answering each of Cole's questions slowly and calmly before finally declaring that he was in a bad mood and sending the interviewer away.

D'Lo does London

Before the next match, we were shown a video of former European Champion D'Lo Brown making is way around London, pretending that he lived at Buckingham Palace, mispronouncing the River Thames (its pronounced "tems") and announcing that Her Majesty The Queen had renamed Big Ben to Big D.

D'Lo, you see, had lost the title to X-Pac some time ago but was still going around pretending to be the champion.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg Jesse James & Bad Ass Billy Gunn) vs. Mark Henry & WWF D'Lo Brown

Most matches involving the New Age Outlaws had a terrible tendency to be formulaic.

Basically, Road Dogg would get beat up for a bit, Billy Gunn would make the save, and then it would just..kind of end.

Tonight, the popular champions stuck to their tried-and-trusted formula, yet they also mixed it up enough that this became one of the better matches you'd see them in.

The overall result was -you guessed it- fun.

Like many of the performers tonight, you got the idea that the outlaws, as well as D'Lo and Mark Henry,  were having a lot of fun, and that translated into another entertaining match.

Eventually, Bad Ass Billy Gunn got the win for his team.
Your Winners and Stil Tag Team Champions: The New Age Outlaws

Prior to the next match, we were reminded of The Rock's surprising heel turn and WWF Championship win back at Survivor Series 1998.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion The Rock vs. WWF European Champion X-Pac

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - The Rock defended the WWF title against X-Pac
Making his first PPV title defence since winning the gold, The Rock took the fight to X-Pac in what was by far the best match of the night so far.

Both champ and challenger traded the advantage several times, building up the drama of the match with every move.

At one point, The Rock was fed up of being beaten up by X-Pac and threatened to leave, only for Triple H and Chyna to arrive and send the champion back to the ring.

The challenger's allies then stuck around for the rest of the match, running interference in a way which made no logical sense (they were the babyfaces after all) but was very enjoyable all the same).

After an absolute stormer of a title match, Triple H just beat up on The Rock, costing his buddy the match.
Your Winner via Disqualification and Still WWF Champion: The Rock

Afterwards, there was, you guessed it, another beatdown.

Hunter and X-Pac (the babyfaces, remember?) put the boots to The Rock. Ken Shamrock ran in to help out his Corporation teammate, but he got attacked too.

Needless to say, the crowd loved it.

Time for the main event

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Referee Gerald Brisco told Vinnie Jones he had to leave
Before the final match got underway, Tony Chimmel introduced us to our special guest ring announcer, Shane McMahon.

In turn, McMahon introduced us to our special guest timekeeper, Pat Patterson, who got a rousing "You Fat Bastard!" chant from the crowd, and also Gerald Briscoe, who was taking The Big Boss Man's place as special referee, leaving Boss Man to stand outside as a second enforcer to watch Vinnie Jones.

Naturally, Briscoe got a solid chant of "The referee's a wanker!"
Next, Shane introduced us to our special guest commentator,
none other than Vince McMahon himself.

This made it the first time Vince had joined King & JR on commentary for a PPV since Badd Blood: In Your House 18.

Big Boss Man was then announced as the Corporate Enforcer, after which Tony Chimmel welcomed Vinnie Jones.

The toughman received a huge ovation from the London crowd and got into a shoving contest with Boss Man, resulting in Briscoe showing him the red card (because football).

This meant that Jones had to leave, and finally, we were allowed to have our main event.

Fatal Four Way
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mankind vs. Kane vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)

Special guest enforcer: The Big Boss Man

WWE / WWF Capital Carnage 1998 - Mankind, Kane and Undertaker stand over a fallen Stone Cold Steve Austin
I won't lie, one of the most awesome things about this whole main event was hearing Vince slip naturally back into his commentary voice.

He was still technically a heel, sure, but he was a heel Vince McMahon - Commentator rather than a heel Mr. McMahon - Evil Overlord.

As for the match itself, it was all the chaotic, violent fun you'd expect from an Attitude Era four-way match.

Plenty of brawling, swinging chairs and, of course, a crowd who ate it all up.

Mankind, Undertaker and Kane all worked hard here, but really, this was the Austin show plain and simple.

The London crowd were hugely into The Texas Rattlesnake and blew the roof off the place when he finally got the win over Kane.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

To end things, Austin had a beer bash with Vinnie Jones and Earl Hebner, who had counted the winning three count after Austin had beaten up Gerald Briscoe.






All in all then, a fun show.

WWF Capital Carnage isn't the kind of pro wrestling that's going to change your life.

It isn't the kind of pro wrestling event that's going to have you raving to all your friends about afterwards.

But it is the kind of event you can pop on for a few hours on a quiet afternoon and be glad that you did.

The Rock/X-Pac WWF title match is the true standout here, with the main event a close second.

That said, outside of the atrocity that was Shamrock/Blackman, everything here is watchable and -for the most part- enjoyable.


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