PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1998

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - Event poster

November 15, 1998

Kiel Center, St. Louis, Missouri

Originally published - 2018.
Updated - November 12th, 2023

It had been one year and six days since the world of professional wrestling had changed forever. 

On that day, back at Survivor Series 1997, Vince McMahon had screwed Bret 'The Hitman' Hart out of the World Wrestling Federation Championship in the controversial finish to Hart/Michaels II.

Twelve months down the line, The Hitman was floundering as just another name down in World Championship Wrestling and Shawn Michaels was sitting at home nursing the back injury that would keep him out of active competition for years.

Only Vince McMahon was still around, having used the Montreal Screwjob as the catalyst to create the evil Mr. McMahon character.

Tonight, on the one-year anniversary (sort of), of that industry-changing event, McMahon was at his diabolical best as the sinister mastermind of a plot to crown his Chosen One as the new WWF Champion.

That championship had been vacant since In Your House 24: Breakdown, after both Kane and The Undertaker had pinned then-champion Stone Cold Steve Austin at the same time.

The Brothers of Destruction had then met at In Your House 25: Judgement Day  to try and determine which one of them could claim to be the champion, but since Austin had screwed them both out of that one, McMahon had created a tournament to crown the new champion.

That tournament was happening tonight, on the first Survivor Series event to feature no traditional elimination matches.

It's a Deadly Game

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 - Jerry 'The King' Lawler & Jim Ross

And so the 12th annual Survivor Series got underway with one of the WWF's typically dramatic opening video packages.

This one looked at each the combatants in tonight's tournament whilst a somber voiceover told us about the kind of epic sacrifices these valiant warriors would make.

As always, this was followed by the usual opening gambit from The Voices of the Attitude Era - Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.

The two reminded us that tonight's tournament was indeed a deadly game (narrator: it wasn't, it was a pro wrestling show) before being interrupted by the arrival of Mr. McMahon

Mr McMahon Introduces Mankind's Mystery Opponent

As part of his efforts to play Puppet Master and orchestrate the entire tournament, Vince McMahon, flanked by Pat Patterson, Gerald Briscoe, and his bodyguard, The Big Boss Man, introduced us first to WWF Hardcore Champion Mankind.

Back to being Mr McMahon's plaything, Mankind arrived freshly shaven under his mask and wearing a tuxedo.

He looked like the kind of fake Mankind you might find at a low-rent indie show.

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - Duane Gill's PPV debut

McMahon next promised to reveal the advertised mystery opponent, eliciting a loud "HBK! HBK!" chant from the live audience.

Man were they ever about to be disappointed.

Instead of a returning Shawn Michaels, Vince revealed that Mankind's first-round opponent was, in fact, Duane Gill, the lifelong jobber and future Gillberg who had apparently returned to the WWF after two years on the shelf.

The crowd was furious, but you couldn't help but love McMahon's over-the-top introduction, telling us that Gill had a "win-loss record like no other" and generally putting him over as some kind of main-event caliber superstar.

I don't care what you say, that was good stuff.

WWF Championship Tournament First Round Match
WWF Hardcore Champion Mankind vs. Duane Gill

As you might expect, Mankind destroyed Gill in about a minute, rolled him up, and pinned him.
Your Winner: Mankind

"Was that a real match?" asked Lawler, echoing the thoughts of everyone who watched it.

"Sure was!" quipped Ross in response.

Sable is Pissed Off

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - Kevin Kelly interviews Sable

Out in the back, Sable was found nursing her head with an ice pack after being attacked by Jacqueline earlier on Sunday Night Heat.

Kevin Kelly suggested to the blonde bombshell that the attack would have knocked her off her game.

"Knocked me off my game!?!" yelled Sable. "She didn't knock me off my game, she pissed me off!"

Channeling her anger into something productive, she then promised to beat Jacqueline for the Women's Championship later on in the show.

WWF Championship Tournament First Round Match
Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra McMichael) vs. Al Snow (w/ Head)

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - Debra McMichael leads Jeff Jarrett into battle

It's funny, I don't remember Debra McMichael using her last name in the World Wrestling Federation.

But there you go, and here she is, being introduced with her surname in what would be her first WWF PPV appearance.

Here, the former Queen of WCW led her man Jeff Jarrett into a short yet fairly enjoyable bout against Al Snow, ending when Snow drilled Jarrett with Head to bag the victory.
Your Winner: Al Snow

Up next, it was time for The Rattle Snake.

WWF Championship Tournament First Round Match
The Big Boss Man vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

From the moment Big Boss Man stepped through the curtain, Jim Ross began telegraphing the ending by speculating whether Vince McMahon's Head of Security was in it to win it, or simply to hurt Steve Austin as much as possible on behalf of his boss.

Following a few minutes of typical Austin brawling, it turned out to be the latter; Boss Man grabbed his nightstick and destroyed Stone Cold, ultimately eliminating himself from the competition.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Post-match. Boss Man continued his assault, battering Austin with the nightstick until cameras cut to McMahon's dressing room.

There, surrounded by his stooges, the boss was asked whether he was concerned that Steve Austin had advanced in the tournament.

Ever the devious heel, Vince merely laughed and claimed that the night was still young, with plenty more in store for Steve Austin.

WWF Championship Tournament First Round Match
WWF European Champion X-Pac vs. Stephen Regal

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - Real Man's Man Stephen Regal faced X-Pac

He's a man...Such a man!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Real Man's Man Stephen Regal was making his WWF PPV debut, appearing on his first PPV for any company since WCW World War 3 1997.

At first, Regal looked a little lost without being able to rely on his "Blueblood Snob" mannerisms that he had used so well throughout his career, but he and X-Pac soon settled into a groove to give us the best match of the night so far.

The majority of the contest saw Regal in control before the action took a tumble to the outside and brawled past the ten count.
Double Countout

Rather than let Austin get a bye to the next round, Vince ordered the match to go on for an extra five minutes, but apparently, X-Pac couldn't continue, so that was scrapped and Austin got the by anyway.

WWF Championship Tournament First Round Match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock vs. Goldust

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock

Can I just tell you now that I hate reviewing tournaments?

Already this feels like the never-ending nightmare that was Wrestlemania 4 all over again.

It doesn't help that this match was deathly dull. It was basically Ken Shamrock holding Goldust in a chin lock for five minutes before putting him in the ankle lock.
Your Winner: Ken Shamrock

Out in the back, Michael Cole told us that Steve Austin had refused medical attention before suggesting that no matter how beat up he was, Austin would find a way to make it to his semi-final match.

WWF Championship Tournament First Round Match
The Rock vs. Triple H The Big Boss Man

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - Big Boss Man

So, this was supposed to be a rematch from The Rock and Triple H's epic outing at Summerslam 1998, but instead, Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe came out to inform us that Hunter wasn't here tonight, and thus a replacement had been found.

That replacement?

The Big Boss Man.

Boss Man entered the ring for the second time that evening but was immediately rolled up into a small package and pinned.
Your Winner: The Rock

Big Boss Man was obviously irate, but alas, Rock was through for a match with Ken Shamrock in the quarterfinals.

WWF Championship Tournament Quarter-Final Match
The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Kane

In October 1997, in this very same arena, Kane made his debut, interfering in The Undertaker's Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels at Badd Blood: In Your House.

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - The Undertaker vs. Kane

A lot had changed in the intervening 13 months.

The two had been at war, facing off at Wrestlemania 14 and Unforgiven: In Your House.

They had also -briefly- been allies and now were sworn enemies again, this time with Paul Bearer having abandoned Kane to return to The Undertaker's side.

This was one of the better matches The Brothers of Destruction would have with each other over the years - a hard-hitting, reasonably paced brawl with a lot to enjoy.

The end came when Bearer distracted Kane, allowing Undertaker to drop his brother on his head with a Tombstone.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Afterward, Kane took out his frustrations by blasting the referee.

WWF Championship Tournament Quarter-Final Match
WWF Hardcore Champion Mankind vs. Al Snow

Mr McMahon had apparently stolen Mr Socko and wrapped it around Head, leaving Mankind to find it in this match.

That was the big story that overshadowed anything Foley and Snow did together, though that's probably because nothing Foley and Snow did together was all that entertaining.

Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a bad match in and of itself. It was perfectly fine for what it was, it's just that what it was, was basically filler, a necessary stop-gap to get us where we needed to be in the overall story dominating the show.

After a couple of minutes of not very much happening, Mick retrieved Socko from Head, slapped it in Al Snow's mouth, and won the match.
Your Winner: Mankind

Moving on...

WWF Championship Tournament Quarter Final Match
Ken Shamrock vs. The Rock

These two had battled throughout 1998, including memorable outings at Wrestlemania 14 and Royal Rumble 1998.

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - The Rock gets squeezed by Ken Shamrock

If this wasn't the best of their outings, it was certainly up there - outshining Regal/Pac and Taker/Kane for Match of the Night So Far honours and getting the crowd right on the edge of their feet.

After a thrilling, dramatic war, Big Boss Man (who had appeared in the final minutes) hopped up on the apron to throw his nightstick to Shamrock.

Rock intercepted, drilled his opponent, and when the referee turned around again, this one was over.
Your Winner: The Rock

Out in the back, Paul Bearer promised Michael Cole that The Undertaker would beat The Rock en route to becoming our new WWF Champion.

World Wrestling Federation Women's Championship
WWF Women's Champion Jacqueline (w/ Marc Mero) vs. Sable

Even as a horny 14-year-old (as I was in 1998) I never really saw Sable's appeal. Sure, she was a good looking woman, but she wasn't a patch on Sunny, nor did she have Sunny's enormous charisma and personality.

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - Michael Cole interviews Paul Bearer

Still, I must have been in the minority because the future Mrs. Lesnar was one of the hottest acts in the company at this time, spending most of her year in a war with Jacqueline and Marc Mero.

After losing out on the title the first time these two met for it, Sable had another chance tonight and took it in what was a surprisingly decent match.

No, it wasn't a classic, but it was kept short and sweet, and it was entertaining for the most part.

Somewhat predictably, Sable landed the Sablebomb to become champion.

Also of note here was that Shane McMahon was the referee, having been demoted to this "lowly" position by his father as punishment for signing Austin to a new, iron-clad five-year contract.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Women's Champion: Sable

Up next, more Stone Cold.

WWF Championship Tournament Semi-Final Match
Mankind vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

This was fantastic.

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - Stone Cold Steve Austin

Like a shorter version of the wild main events they had at Unforgiven and Over The Edge, this was Mick and Austin at their best, albeit with the added twist that Vince McMahon and his gang were there the whole time.

For the most part, they let the two combatants get on with having another awesome match, but then when the finish came, Vince and Co were all over it.

Austin hit a stunner and looked to have the match won, but Vince lept into the ring and beat up the referee.

Austin stayed in charge and made another cover. This time, Shane ran in, but instead of counting to three, got to two, flipped Austin the bird, and then ran off.

Gerald Brisco then hit Stone Cold with the weakest chair shot in known history, a third referee came in, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Mankind

Afterward, the two McMahons, Slaughter, Patterson, and Briscoe ran (well, lightly jogged) off, jumped in a limo, and sped away.

To catch them, Stone Cold committed grand theft auto, throwing another man out of his car, hijacking it, and speeding off.

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler then tried to wrap their heads around the idea that Shane McMahon had signed Austin to a five-year contract just to turn on him.

Like the rest of us, they couldn't figure it out either.

Welcome to the Attitude Era, ladies and gentlemen.

WWF Championship Tournament Semi-Final Match
The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. The Rock

If this had been an advertised marquee match on any other PPV, you have to believe that Rock and 'Taker would have delivered.

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - The Undertaker

As it was, they were here, in an unadvertised bout designed to further a storyline, and whilst it didn't suck, it was very underwhelming considering what you might expect from these two.

Possibly the sole highlight was Rock calling Paul Bearer a "big fat piece of shit."

The finish saw Kane come out and chokeslam The Rock in front of Earl Hebner, costing his brother the match via disqualification.
Your Winner via DQ: The Rock

Post-match, The Undertaker sought revenge on his brother for costing him a place in the finals by beating him all the way through the arena and out into the crowd.

Mick is Ready

Out in the back, Mankind told Michael Cole that he was ready to conquer the one last obstacle that stood in his way of becoming WWF Champion - The Rock.

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

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - The New Age Outlaws

This was a unique match type that I don't think I've seen anywhere else before or since.

Rather than your standard triple threat tag in which two men wrestled and could tag anyone from any team, each of the three teams had a man in the ring at once, making it like a normal triple threat match with tag partners.

Early on, JR told us that The Outlaw Rule (banning tag team partners from pinning each other) was in effect.

This was the rule that prevented tag team partners from pinning each other.

In other words, it stopped Road Dogg and Billy Gunn from pulling the same trick they used on an episode of Raw over the summer. I could've sworn that was on a PPV, but all my research proves otherwise.

Anyway, the rules resulted in Road Dogg playing Ricky Morton for almost the entire match before Billy Gunn pulled a Fameasser from the same place RKOs come from, and won the match.

Overall, this was pretty decent, but it doesn't take a wrestling genius to know that this was designed to simply get the crowd warmed and ready for the main event.
Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: The New Age Outlaws

Post-match, Billy Gunn pulled his trunks down and flashed his ass. Who did he think he was? Shawn Michaels?

The McMahons are Back

Prior to our tournament final, we were shown that Vince and Shane were back in the arena, bidding goodnight to The Big Boss Man.

World Wrestling Federation Championship Tournament Final
Mankind vs. The Rock

WWE / WWF Survivor Series 1998 Deadly Game - Vince McMahon celebrates with new WWF Champion The Rock

As both men sized each other up, Ross assured us that even though there was no time limit, we'd stay with the match as long as it went on.

"Yeah, you'll get to see all of this pay per view," quipped Lawler.
"King, that's not nice," Ross replied. "Making fun of the less fortunate."

This was, of course, a joke at WCW's expense after Halloween Havoc 1998 ran long and half of the Goldberg/DDP main event was cut off from the broadcast.

That aside, this was an absolutely fantastic main event, with the two pulling out all the stops to create a wild, chaotic brawl that really worked on every level.

Showing flashes of the violent brilliance that would later be the hallmark of their Royal Rumble '99 classic, Rock and Mankind went back and forth inside and outside of the ring until Rock slapped on the Sharpshooter and Vince pulled Montreal Redux.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: The Rock

The post-match celebrations were almost as long as the match itself.

Vince revealed that he, Shane, and McMahon had been in cahoots the whole time before The Rock basically told the audience to kiss his ass.

From there, Mankind expressed his bewilderment at how he could have lost the match without submitting, leading The Rock to blast poor Mick over the head with the title.

Finally, Austin ran out for the big hoorah, blasting both Rock and Mankind with stunners to end the show on a high note.

I know I claimed that watching this was starting to feel like watching Wrestlemania 4 all over again. That's because, in some parts, it was.

Tournaments just make a show seem longer than it is, and at times it was gruelling to sit through it.

However, you can't fault the impeccable storytelling that went on right from the opening match to the final Austin run-in. That, combined with some awesome wrestling (the main event, Shamrock/Rock and Undertaker/Kane among others) made this one of the company's best pay per views of the year.

For saying this was the first Survivor Series ever to feature no elimination tag matches, it was actually one of the best Survivor Series shows ever too. 

A great watch and worth tracking down. 

Buy The Complete History of Survivor Series eBook on Amazon

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
Other WWF Survivor Series reviews: 
 Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on FacebookInstagram, or Threads

Post a Comment


  1. The ending of Rock vs Foley was do stupid. They couldn't have come up with something better?