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 February 2021

Magazine Review: Inside Wrestling - November 1998

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Contents
Inside Wrestling was a magazine that promised to "rip the lid off pro wrestling." Yet rather than revealing any major insider secrets or backstage gossip, what it really did was reported on the world of pro wrestling as if it were a legitimate sport, reporting on kayfabe stories with genuine seriousness.

Sure, that may sound a little corny to some, but I used to love this kind of stuff and, to be honest, still do. 

There's something quite nice about getting sucked into kayfabe again and just enjoying pro wrestling as it's presented without getting sucked into things like workrate and five-star matches.

Besides, magazines like Insider Wrestling often did a great job at enhancing and explaining what we were seeing on our televisions each week, sometimes even better than the actual promotions the magazine was covering.

Don't believe me? Let's dive into this magazine review of Insider Wrestling from November 1998 and take a closer look.






Into the Apter Mags 

You'll notice from the image above that my copy of this magazine doesn't have a front cover. I've had this magazine in my collection literally since it first came out and I honestly don't now whatever happened to the cover.

The rest of the magazine is in good condition though, so we can easily browse through the contents and note all of the features, including Names Makin' News by the one and only Bill Apter, whose name -and frequent work on these type of kayfabe-keeping 'zines'- gave them the name Apter Mags.

You'll also notice that this is the November 1998 edition with the next edition due on September 29th, 1998 which, let's be honest, is a bit weird.

Anyway,  that pre-amble over, let's turn the page and see what's inside:

Sincerely Yours 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Sincerely Yours letters (1)

A lot of magazines -wrestling or otherwise- would start off readers' letters, and Inside Wrestling was no different.

One of the main topic in this month's letters was the Best of Seven series between Booker T and Chris Benoit which culminated in their match at WCW The Great American Bash 1998.

One reader, a Maurizio Cassani of Milan, Italy felt that it was a waste for the two to battle so hard with only the lowly TV title at stape, while Michelle Johnson of Scranton, PA hoped -much as we all probably did at the time- that WCW would see their epic series as a wake up call and focus more on the two of them than the never-ending saga of the nWo.

Elsewhere, there was praise for Savio Vega for kicking Brakus' (remember him?) ass in Brawl for All from Gerald Hookings in Houston Texas, while elsewhere, there was a lot more hate for the New World Order, though again this was more of the "we're tired of seeing them" variety than the "boo these are the baddies" variety.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Sincerely Yours letters (2)


Reporter's Notebook

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Stu Saks Reporter's Notebook


Over the page, Inside Wrestling publisher Stuart M. Saks opened his Reporter's Notebook to tell us about the opening of the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa. 

Saks was excited about the opening of the museum, which focussed mostly on amateur wrestling with a bit of a nod to the pro stuff, and about the fact that all-time legends Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne and Dan Dodge were all going to be there.

From what little research I've done, I gather that museum has since moved to Waterloo and is now called the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum

Over the page, you could save a whole bunch of money by subscribing to all of the Apter Mags - including Inside Wrestling, The Wrestler, and Pro Wrestling Illustrated in one bundle.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Combine and Save When You Subscribe to Pro Wrestling Illustrated


Names Makin' the News 

Oh man, there's all kinds of good stuff in this two-page section where the one and only Bill Apter himself tell us all the juicy gossip about our favourite superstars. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Names Makin' the News with Bill Apter



Some of the highlights include:

  • Diamond Dallas Page insisting that he and Karl Malone were at least partly responsible for Goldberg beating Hulk Hogan for the title and thus believing himself  to be deserving of a title shot.
  • Jerry 'The King' Lawler feuding with Giant Silva of all people in Memphis and also staring in Man on the Moon.
  • Sunny getting a viral infection in Mexico (I bet she did) and thus not being on TV with LOD 2,000
  • Tully Blanchard coming out of retirement to feud with Buddy Landel on the indies (and later to compete at the awful Heroes of Wrestling 1999 PPV)
  • Scott Steiner telling Apter that he regretted not getting into movies but insisting that we'd see him on a movie screen near us in the future. Seriously, could you imagine that? 

On The Road With Dave Lenker

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - On the Road with Dave Lenker talks about The Road Warriors


Honestly, doesn't On The Road sound like it should be match reports from house shows or something? 

Nope, instead, it's a spot in which Dave Lenker recalls a great conversation he had with Paul Ellering about how Hawk and Animal had ignored his advice not to hire Sunny, leading to him siding with the Disciples of Apocalypse.

"They called me one day a few weeks before Wrestlemania XIV," Ellering started, "and Hawk says 'we're thinking of taking Sunny as our manager.' I said 'who?' and Animal says "You know, Sunny. One of the smartest young minds in this business. She knows what she's doing."

How can you not love that?

Lenker's report was accompanied by an add for the weekly Pro Wrestling Illustrated Weekly newsletter that you could get either in print or via email, all for the low cost of $19.99 for 17 issues. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Pro Wrestling Illustrated Weekly Email Ad


Behind the Dressing Room Door 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Dave Rosenbaum writes about Paul Bearer being Kane's dad


This has got to be one of my favourite pieces in the whole magazine. In it, Dave Rosenbaum takes an entertaining look at the whole "Paul Bearer is Kane's Father" angle, questioning who in their right minds would ever even date Bearer, let alone conceive a child.
"Truth: As of press time, I had not been able to find a single woman who would admit to having ever dated Bearer. In fact, the general reaction when I asked 'Have you ever dated Paul Bearer?' was 'Do I look that desperate'?"
That's just one of the gems in this brilliantly-written piece, but it gets even better, and the next few paragraphs are even better:
"Some of them looked pretty desperate, but obviously not desperate enough to have dated Bearer. Or, perhish the thought, to have kissed him.
"But Undertaker's mother? A woman who owned a funeral parlor? Seducing the hired help? I can believe that. Let's face it, funeral parlor workers are not reputed to among the best looking women in the world."

Something about that really tickles me. It really never occurred to me that women who work in funeral parlors might have a reputation for being ugly, and I'm really sure that's not the case! 

Still, this was fun. 

Over the page, they really, really want you to subscribe to Pro Wrestling Illustrated. So much so, in fact, that this time they'll give you a free copy of the PWI Almanac. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Get The PWI Almanac With Your Subscription to Pro Wrestling Illustrated


Get yours now, wrestling fans!

The Insider, by Brandi Mankiewicz

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - The Insider by Brandi Mankiewicz bemoaned Nash turning face


It's been a long time since I read this magazine, but I get the impression that Brandi Mankiewicz was the resident heel, as she dedicated her Insider column to ragging on Kevin Nash for turning babyface and forming the nWo Wolfpac.

Though I was only a wee 14 year-old at the time and loved the Wolfpac, I do have to agree with Ms. Mankiewicz's assessment that Sting donning an nWo shirt of any kind after his hellish war with the group throughout 1997 was baffling, as was the whole idea of a babyface New World Order in the first place.

Over the page, we got an ad for the WBC Welterweight Championship pitting Julio César Chávez against Oscar De La Hoya in an "ultimate revenge" rematch.

This time...it was personal! 

On Assignment, by Liz Hunter 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Liz Hunter went on assignment to talk about Bret Hart's crap WCW run


Moving on, Liz Hunter went on assignment to say what we were all thinking at the time:

Bret Hart's run in WCW was a bit crap. 

Like many fans have done since, Hunter argued that The Hitman was underutilized -and often completely ignored- during his run with the Turner outfit.

"Heck, even Waldo was easier to find in a group than Bret in the sea of WCW talent," she writes, and wasn't wrong at all.

On the opposite page, an ad suggests that there might be something mentally wrong with us if we didn't subscribe to The Wrestling Analysist, a new publication promising...well...let me show you the description:
"In each issue, eight of wrestling's biggest stars are thoroughly evaluated. For each wrestler, you get an in-depth analysis covering 20 different categories, including offense, defense, experience, conditioning, stamina, power, ability to absorb punishment and much, much more."

I don't know about you, but I'd buy that. 

Inside Wrestling Profile - Sable  

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - The profile on Sable claimed she and Mero were "close friends"


What I love about this profile on Sable is that it suggests that she and Marc Mero were only ever "the closest of friends"  and not, you know, an actual couple.

There's nothing especially new here. It's essentially a cliff-notes outline of her career so far, from the day she debuted alongside Triple H at Wrestlemania 12 to her siding -and ultimately falling out- with her "close friend" Mero, being forced to leave the WWF after losing a match to him and eventually returning just a few weeks later after a nice little vacation.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Sable


The first piece not to be accompanied by an advertisement, this one instead featured a nice, full-page picture of Sable in all her catsuit-clad glory. 

Where Are They Now?

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Where Are They Now?


If you were enjoying the Monday Night Wars back in 1998 but couldn't help wonder where Dirty White Boy Tony Anthony, 'White Lightning' Tim Horner, Bill Dromo, and Paul DeMarco were at, The Wrestling Insider had you covered. 

Anthony and Horner had, of course, both spent time in Smoky Mountain Wrestling and were still plying their trade in the indies, though Horner was also working on a silk-screening business in Tennesee. Meanwhile, Dromo and DeMarco had both retired, the former running a Polish delicatessen in Smyrna, Georgia, and the latter running a wrestling school near Sacramento. 

Over the page, there's yet another advert offering to give you a free copy of the 1998 Pro Wrestling Illustrated Almanac if you subscribe to The Wrestler. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Subscribe to The Wrestler


Man, these guys were relentless with the subscriptions, weren't they?

News From the Wrestling Capitals 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Match reports in News from the Wrestling Capitals


Dave Lenker's On the Road piece may not have had anything to do with house shows, but this one does.

Here, we get match reports from the three major promotions that were around at the time (ECW, WCW, and WWF), as well as an indie show in Memphis.

The Mempis card, naturally featured Jerry 'The King' Lawler taking on Tracey Smothers. 

Elsewhere, the WWF gave us Ken Shamrock vs. Owen Hart and The Undertaker vs. Kane, the WCW match reports featured Goldberg vs. Konnan and Sting vs. The Giant while an ECW show in York, PA featured Mikey Whipwreck vs. Sabu.

There's nothing much of interest to note about any of these other than the fact that they happened and that a lot of the house show cards looked awful around this time.
Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Match reports in News from the Wrestling Capitals (2)



If you went to the same show that The Undertaker faced Kane on, for example, you could see exciting matches like Bradshaw vs. Savio Vega, while WCW were genuinely charging people money to watch Chris Adams vs. Barry Darsow and Marty Jannetty vs. Scotty Riggs

Matt Brock's Plain Speaking 

Harder than nails, veteran wrestlign reporter Matt Brock has logged more miles covering wrestling than any other jouranlist. Every month, Matt will travel to the sport's hotbeds, reporting on everything  he sees without fear or favor.

So more stuff from the road, basically. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Matt Brock's Plain Speaking


In this piece, we first went to Memphis, where Power Pro Wrestling promoter Randy Hales was trying to rid the territory of Jerry Lawler and even appointed Paul 'Giant' Silva as the new "King of Memphis."
Obviously, Lawler was having none of it and refused to be usurped.

In Cleveland, Steve Austin regained his title from Kane after losing it to him at King of The Ring 1998, while Elmhurst, New York played host to an ECW card that Brock didn't like too much because it was too violent and didn't seem to have much going on that interested him. 

Finally, Atlanta was, of course, the home of WCW, and it was here were Brock saw Goldberg "fight like a man" to beat Hulk Hogan for the WCW title. Seriously, this piece really wants us to know just how manly Big Bill is. 

HHH vs. Shawn! The Inevitable War Nobody Wants to Talk About 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  HHH vs. Shawn Micahels - The Inevitable War Nobody Wants to Talk About (1)

As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, you can be sure of this fact: If shawn Michaels returns to the WWF, Hunter Hearst Helmsley will be his first target.

Yes, this was a piece written after Michaels had dropped the title to Austin at Wrestlemania 14,  leaving Triple H to pick up the slack as the new leader of D-Generation-X. 

As you've probably gathered, this report by Dan Murphy looks at how HBK wouldn't have taken kindly to the Hs suggesting that he'd "dropped the ball," and would no doubt go after his one time friend as soon as he returned to action.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  HHH vs. Shawn Micahels - The Inevitable War Nobody Wants to Talk About (2)


Sure enough, four years after this magazine was published, Shawn did return to action and, yes, his first opponent really was Triple H.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  HHH vs. Shawn Micahels - The Inevitable War Nobody Wants to Talk About (3)


You have to imagine that, on that night somewhere in America, Dan Murphy was sat there beaming "I told you so."

Bret Hart's Startling Revelation: "Hollywood Hogan's Obsessions Will Be His Downfall"

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Bret Hart's Startling Revelation: Hulk Hogan's Obsessions Will Be His Downfall


In another feature article, Andy Rodriguez talks about Bret Hart's short-lived partnership with Hollywood Hogan. 

A compelling piece that actually added a level of depth to WCW's storylines that even WCW themselves didn't bother to do, this one sees The Hitman questioning whether it was wise for Hogan to focus so intently on arch-rivals Randy Savage and Roddy Piper when there was "the rest of WCW" to contend with.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Bret Hart's Startling Revelation: Hulk Hogan's Obsessions Will Be His Downfall (2)



According to Hart (or at least the writer pretending like he'd spoken to Hart), Hogan's obsession with his long-time adversaries was sure to be his demise.

Despite all that, Bret wanted to stay in the NWO Hollywood camp.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Bret Hart's Startling Revelation: Hulk Hogan's Obsessions Will Be His Downfall (3)



"Have no doubt that NWO Hollywood is the place to be," he apparently said. "I still have more options and choices here than I'd have in WCW, and definitely more than in The Wolfpac. I'll be with Hollywood for a long time."

No, Bret, you won't.

Expert Analysis: Austin vs. Goldberg! Who Would Win - And Why?

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Steve Austin vs. Bill Goldberg - Who Would Win and Why?

They were the two biggest stars of their respective organisations around this time, so it makes sense that Inside Wrestling would do a bit of fantasy booking to try and work out who would win.

Of course, had Austin's retirement in 2003 not happened roughly around the same time that Goldberg joined WWE, we might have actually seen this match. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Steve Austin vs. Bill Goldberg - Who Would Win and Why? (2)


Alas, it was never to be, so we'll have to settle for what the Inside Wrestling editorial staff thought about how such a match might go.

Dave Lenker, Bill Apter, and Harry Burkett all gave the nod to Austin, while Stu Saks and Frank Krewda were both adamant that The Texas Rattlesnake would eventually succumb to the Jackhammer. 

Is Stevie Ray Trying to Sabotage Booker T's Career?

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Steve Austin vs. Bill Goldberg - Is Stevie Ray Trying to Sabotage Booker T's Career? (1)


Up next, Steve Anderson wonders f Stevie Ray might be jealous and resentful of Booker T becoming a five time..five time...five time... Dubyaseedubya Television champion  and was threatened by his success.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Steve Austin vs. Bill Goldberg - Is Stevie Ray Trying to Sabotage Booker T's Career? (2)



Would the two brothers end up battling it out in the ring?

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Steve Austin vs. Bill Goldberg - Is Stevie Ray Trying to Sabotage Booker T's Career? (3)


Of course they would, this is pro wrestling after all. 

Hotseat: Dude Love - "Vinnie Mac Ruined the WWF!

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Dude Love Interview: "Vince McMahon Ruined the WWF"


Oh yeah, now this is the good stuff. The magazine's reporter had scheduled an interview with Mankind only to get a mixed-up Mick Foley in his Dude Love attire instead.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Dude Love Interview: "Vince McMahon Ruined the WWF" (2)


As such, we got a great, back-and-forth Q&A with plenty of gems like:

Q: Wait! I thought I scheduled Mankind for an interview! What's this?
A: (Mick Foley, adorned in his typical "Dude Love" attire, pulls up a chair) Hey, don't look so glum, chum "His royal Dudeness" is ready to create some malice in the palace!

and...

Q: Are you still angry at Vince McMahon for firing you?
A: Sure, I might be a hippy-dippy, FM-type longhair, but I've got feelings, too. I really thought Vince was my Mc-main-ma, you know what I'm saying? Over the Edge was the place were dreams were supposed to come true....Yeah, Steve Austin beat me, I  was too busy thinking about the chicks by my dressing room, that Three Dog Night eight-track I just bought, and those fancy finger sandwiches I had at The McMahon's pad the day before.
Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Dude Love Interview: "Vince McMahon Ruined the WWF" (3)


To sum up:

Yes, Dude Love was pissed at McMahon for firing him.

No, he couldn't comment on Mankind now teaming with Kane and Paul Bearer in a feud against Austin and Undertaker because he wasn't Mankind.

And yes, he thought "The Big Mc-Mac" (brilliant) was showing signs of early Alzheimers and might possibly destroy the very foundation of the World Wrestling Federation.

How can you not love things like this?

Junkyard Dog: A Tribute to a Unique Breed  

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Junkyard Dog Tribute 1


On June 2nd, 1988, Sylvester Ritter -better known to the world as the Junkyard Dog- sadly passed away after getting into a car accident. 

Here, Dan Murphy pays a fitting tribute to JYD, tracing his journey from a childhood in North Carolina up to his last in-ring appearance at ECW Wrestlepalooza '98 via stints in Stammpede, Mid-South, and yes, the WWF.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Junkyard Dog Tribute 2

This is a nice tribute to one of wrestling's most enduring personalities.

One on One: Sting vs. The Giant  

On a lighter note, next, we were apparently being treated to an unedited transcript of a telephone conversation between Sting and The Giant. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  One on One: Sting vs. The Giant


The two had beaten The Outsiders for the tag team titles at WCW Slamboree '98 when Scott Hall had betrayed Kevin Nash to join nWo Hollywood. Shortly after, The Giant had followed Hall, leading to a Sting vs. Giant match at The Great American Bash '98 in which Sting beat Giant for the right to chose a new tag team champion partner.

However, that wasn't to be the end of the war, and here, the two mouthed off against each other over the phone lines for our reading pleasure.

Sting hoped that Inside Wrestling had all their recording equipment in working order because otherwise it would be hard to understand The Giant, what with him having his lips permanently attached to Hulk Hogan's butt and all.

Meanwhile, The Giant called Sting a "pretty boy" and reminded him that The Giant had beaten Sting more than Sting had beaten The Giant.

This was fun, and the sort of thing I wish WWF and WCW magazines had done more of back in te day. 

Find Out How to Get into Pro Wrestling! 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Wrestling Book ad


The next couple of pages are given over to finishing off the regular features we started at the beginning of the magazine, so we won't cover those here except to say that on two of these pages, I'm drawn to these two ads for books on how to get into the professional wrestling business.

Whether you wanted to be a wrestler, a manager, a commentator or work behind the scenes, these books promised to tell you how to do that.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Ad for Hittin' The Mat by King Kong Bundy and Larry Sharpe


Honestly, I'd love to get my hands on one of those books for a review here on Retro Pro Wrestling.

Back Issues of Inside Wrestling 

To some, this list of all the back issues that you could order (with the obligatory order form) may not be all that interesting, but personally I find it fascinating the amount of pro wrestling history documented by this magazine over the years.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Inside Wrestling back issues


You could order the very first issue from February 1976 which looked at the night Andre The Giant had to be saved from Ernie Ladd, or yu could order the most recent issue featuring a mid-year report on the state of WCW.

In between, there were magazines that documented the rise of Hulkamania and The Four Horsemen, the Montreal Screwjob, the birth of the New World Order and everything in between.

Excellent.

We Sent Hulk Hogan to Cover Bockwinkel vs. Wahoo....AND ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE! 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Hulk Hogan covers Nick Bockwinkel vs. Wahoo McDaniel


Speaking of excellent, this next piece is fantastic.

Back in 1983, Hulk Hogan had left the American Wrestling Association but had returned for one night only to cover a championship match between AWA World Champion Nick Bockwinkel and Wahoo McDaniel and send a report into Inside Wrestling.

Instead, The Hulkster had gotten involved in the show after getting fed up with Bockwinkel and manager Bobby Heenan's relentless cheating. 

The match ended in a DQ thanks to Heenan's interference, meaning Bockwinkel kept his title but ended up getting his ass kicked by Hogan.

This gripping report tells us exactly what went down and is written by Joe Bua, the magazine's assistant editor who was there on the night.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Hulk Hogan covers Nick Bockwinkel vs. Wahoo McDaniel 2


Official Rankings and Roll-Call of Champions 

As we reach the end of the magazine, we got our roll-call of the current champions as well as "Official Rankings" which were determined by...well..let me repeat what Inside Wrestling says:
These ratings are compiled by the editors with the assistance of promoters, wrestlers, and reporters around the country, and are based on won-lost records for the past month, quality of opposition, and the inherent skill of each wrestler. 
Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Pro Wrestling rankings

The most interesting thing about this is that the magazine still refers to The Rock as Rocky Maivia despite him not using that name for the better part of a year.

Anyway, this is pretty much what you'd expect it to be: 

Austin and Goldberg were number one in their respective companies. Rock and Sting were number two and so on. 

In the Top 15 Tag Teams, Kane and Mankind were the top-ranked tag team by virtue of being the WWF tag champions and having more experience as a team than Nash and Sting. 

And, finally...

Blast From The Past: This Month In Wrestling History - Paul Ellering vs. Jerry Lawler, November 1981

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Paul Ellering vs. Jerry Lawler


Yep, our final page is a glorious shot of Paul Ellering dropping an elbow on Jerry Lawler during their feud back in 1981. 

Apparently, the reason why Lawler never criticised Ellering on Raw commentary during the latter's run as D.O.A's manager is that he remembered how much Ellering had battered him back in the 1980s!

And that's your lot.

If you want a closer look at the magazine scans in this post, I just uploaded them all to into this album on Facebook for you. 





Reviewing the November 1998 edition of Inside Wrestling really was a 'blast from the past' in the best possible sense.

As long as magazines like this were around, it's fair to say that rumors of kayfabe's death had been greatly exaguarted. 

Sure, most of us knew what was really going on back then, but magazines like Inside Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Illustrated were doing their best to keep kayfabe alive, and this fan for one appreciates that.

This was a fun read that brought back some great memories.

Til next time, 

Thanks for reading

Thursday, 18 February 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF Rebellion 2001

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Event poster
November 3, 2001 
Manchester Arena, Manchester, England 

Finally...The Rock returns to Manchester for World Wrestling Federation Rebellion, the latest in a series of UK-exclusive WWF Pay Per Views were nothing of lasting consequence ever seemed to happen.

Yes, it's becoming the norm that every Retro Pro Wrestling review of these shows starts with that kind of introduction, but while it's true that these shows rarely mattered in the grand scheme of things, that doesn't make them all completely terrible.

Since establishing both Rebellion and Insurexxion as UK PPV brands, the company had at least put some effort into delivering marquee matches and giving both shows a big-time feel.

Did that pay off in terms of quality entertainment? Or was this show forgettable in every sense f the word?

Let's head down to the Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester, England, to find out.






Tonight, it’s Austin vs. Rock III

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Paul Heyman and Jim Ross called the show
Though their match at Wrestlemania 19 is generally referred to as Austin vs. Rock 3 (being their third ‘Mania main event outing together) the actual third PPV main event match for the title between Steve Austin and The Rock would take place tonight here at The MEN Arena.

To build up to that, our opening match combines clips and soundbites from their previous feuds to make it appear as though tonight’s match was to settle a recent grudge between them even though they hadn’t had much interaction on TV since The Rock returned a few months previously.

Nonetheless, the video was decent stuff and led us to the usual pyro, crowd shots and greeting from our announcers Jim Ross and Paul Heyman.

The duo also told us that we’d see Chris Jericho defending the WCW title against Kurt Angle and then sent us to the ring for our opening contest.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship Steel Cage Match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Edge vs. WWF European Champion Christian

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Edge after beating Christian in a cage match
Edge
and Christian had been a solid tag team and were good performers in their own right, but when they met in the ring that never really translated into the kind of awesome matches you’d hope they would have.

The two had met in a ladder match back at WWF No Mercy 2001 and that had suffered due to some problems with pacing.

This time out, the ‘brothers’ met in a cage match and though their pace was much better, the match still wasn’t quite as good as this writer hoped it would be.

Then again, maybe that’s simply a matter of me managing my expectations rather than there being anything wrong with the match itself.

After all, it was still an above-average effort that clearly delighted the Manchester crowd, and at the end of the day, that’s probably all that matters.

Towards the finish, Christian looked to scale the cage and escape, only for Edge to drag his opponent’s feet through the cage bars and hogtie them with wrist tape so that he (Edge) could climb over and to the outside.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Edge 

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Hugh Morrus and Chavo Guerrero were perverts
After a video that reminded us that Kurt Angle had recently turned heel and joined The Alliance (dumbest move ever, by the way) we went backstage where Chavo Guerrero was all excited about his special assignment interviewing the divas.

Before Chavo could speak to any of the women, however, he was interrupted by Hugh Morrus who claimed that he too had been sent to do interview duties.

After a brief argument, the former Misfits in Action teammates stormed into the divas' locker room where Trish Stratus was busy getting changed.

The two turned into a couple of childish school children and giggled a lot before Trish sent the boys packing, promising to set them up an interview with her buddy Lita.

Scotty 2 Hotty vs. The Hurricane

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Scotty 2 Hotty faced The Hurricane
Honestly, I think anybody who has anything bad to say about it this match either has no soul or is too far up their own arse to appreciate the fun that wrestling is supposed to be.

Both The Hurricane and Scotty 2 Hotty were competent light heavyweight wrestlers with entertaining gimmicks that were over with the crowd.

Combined, this made for a very enjoyable match that was a lot of fun to watch.

Although it wasn’t going to be a Match of the Night contender, that was never its purpose.

Scotty and Shane had one job: go out and be entertaining.

They succeeded tremendously in that job and when Scotty 2 Hotty picked up the win thanks to his worm, it was a victory well earned.
Your Winner: Scotty 2 Hotty

Out in the back, Chavo and Hugh perved on Lita putting her pants on before Diamond Dallas Page told us that English people being depressed wasn’t a bad thing it...was a good thing.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. The Big Show

Thankfully, this was short and painless.

The two battles back and forth for what couldn’t have been more than three minutes. It wasn’t very interesting, but it wasn’t offensively bad or anything either.

After taking a Diamond Cutter from Page, The Big Show clambered to his feet, chokeslammed his opponent into oblivion, and won the match.
Your Winner: The Big Show

Afterward, DDP took to the microphone to claim that his loss was a good thing because now he’d get to leave the awful country of England.

Kurt Angle and the Knights of the Round Table

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Debra, Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, and Shane McMahon talk strategy
Out in the back, Guerrero and Morrus had given up pretending to want to interview anybody and were now openly admitting that they just wanted to barge into different locker rooms hoping to find women in various states of undress.

Alas, they had no such luck this time as Mighty Molly Holly was fully attired, though she was appalled that the two former WCW stars had seen her without her cape.

Speaking of WCW, Alliance members Shane McMahon, US Champion Kurt Angle, WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, and his wife Debra were sat around a table in a darkened room with a spotlight of them.

They were there to talk strategy for tonight’s show but everything went awry when Kurt realized that they were sat at a round table in England. Thus, he began comparing himself and his colleagues to the Knights of the Round Table.

“And of course, if we’re the good knights, there’s gotta be bad nights,” said Kurt.
“I’m having a bad night right now,” replied Austin, who got so fed up with Angle that he yelled at him and stormed off.

Ok, so that was pretty funny.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship Three-Team Elimination Match
WCW Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley) vs. The A.P.A (Bradshaw & Farooq) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy)

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Matt Hardy waits t
Though it was fairly obvious that Farooq and Bradshaw would be eliminated first to give us another standard Dudleyz/Hardyz encounter, that didn’t stop this one from being a pretty good match.

For the most part, it was no different to any of the countless other matches you’ve seen between these teams so if you enjoyed those you’ll enjoy this one and if you hated every match you’ve ever seen between them then this one will do little to change your mind about them.

This fan quite enjoyed it, and even though The Dudleyz got the predictable win thanks to the 3D, it was still a good outing.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: The Dudleyz

Out in the back, Vince McMahon urged bitter rivals The Rock and Chris Jericho to shake hands and bury the hatchet so that Team WWF would have a better chance of winning at Survivor Series.

The two did as their boss requested, but as soon as Vince was gone they started brawling until a gaggle of referees and Arn Anderson broke them up.

William Regal vs. WCW Cruiserweight Champion Tajiri

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - William Regal cuts a pre-match promo before facing Tajiri
Before the match, William Regal took to the microphone to address his hometown audience, thanking them for spending their unemployment allowance on coming to see him wrestle and insisting that he was a better role model than David Beckham and any one of the Manchester United football team.

Having firmly established himself as the heel, Regal locked up with his former sidekick Tajiri in a really good wrestling match.

The two took it to the mat, pounded the shit out of each other, and occasionally bust out a few fancy moves to create one of the better matches on what had already been a decent show.

Unsurprisingly, Regal picked up the victory with his Regal Stretch, but his celebration was short-lived when Tajiri recovered and blew the Green Mist of Doom in the Alliance Commissioner's face.
Your Winner: William Regal

01.15.52 - Angle

Backstage, Michael Cole interviewed US champion Kurt Angle who made fun of Chris Jericho’s Y2J nickname and promised to take his WCW title from him.

WCW Championship
WCW Champion Chris Jericho vs. WCW US Champion Kurt Angle

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Kurt Angle challenged Chris Jericho for the WCW title
As was often the case with most wrestlers on these UK shows, it really felt as though Angle and Jericho weren’t giving it their all here, but let’s be honest:

Angle and Jericho at even 50% are still better than many people at 100% and so this was still a very good see-saw battle in which both champ and challenger traded the advantage several times.

They worked at a decent pace that was enough to keep the crowd entertained and deliver a captivating dual of submissions, suplexes, and more all without overexerting themselves.

After a good effort, Y2J rolled up his opponent to retain the WCW title.
Your Winner and Still WCW Champion: Chris Jericho

Unhappy with the decision, Angle attacked Jericho after the bell and destroyed him with a few Angle Slams.

Finally, The Rock Has Come Back to Manchester

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Michael Cole interviews The Rock
Out in the back, Michael Cole asked The Rock how he could concentrate on his title match with Stone Cole with all that he had going on with Jericho.

The Great One clearly couldn’t concentrate because all that he seemed to care about was whether Cole liked pie or strudel.

Which one was it? Did Cole like pie...or strudel.

IT DOESN’T MATTER...

Obviously.

Divas Tag Team Match
Mighty Molly & Stacy Kiebler vs. Lita & Torrie Wilson

Special Guest Referee: Trish Stratus
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I think this was the first instance of the company sandwiching a women’s match between the two high profile PPV main events to give the crowd a breather.

Of course, the “divas bathroom break” would be a running joke for years until the women started to be taken more seriously, and I’m pretty sure it all started here.

The match was...well, it was a divas bathroom break which was a shame given that Molly Holly and Lita were talented performers and Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler at least looked like they were putting the effort in despite their limited experience.

Ultimately though, this was a whole lot of nothing leading up to an admittedly cool finish which saw Lita pick up the win for her team.
Your Winners: Lita and Torrie Wilson

Much like Kurt Angle in the previous match, Stacy Kiebler was unhappy with the result and confronted special referee Trish Stratus, only to get slapped and bulldogged.

Finally, after a look back at the long rivalry between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, it was time for the two to meet in our main event.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock

WWE / WWF Rebellion 2001 - Steve Austin puts The Rock in a Boston crab
Much as Angle and Jericho had done, Austin and The Rock failed to bring their A-game here, but their B-game was still good enough to provide a quality main event.

The two superstars took the obligatory walk up to the entrance in the early going and battled around ringside for a while before returning to the ring for an enjoyable back and forth brawl.

At every opportunity, Austin would throw his middle fingers in the air, mostly at the crowd but also towards referee Earl Hebner.

Finally having had enough of such behavior, Earl flipped Austin off in response and very loudly yelled ‘F**K YOU!’

Hebner’s potty mouth would later be punished when both champ and challenger accidentally bumped into him in quick succession, forcing the head zebra to lie out on the canvas for half a year.

Seriously, I’ve heard of referees ‘taking a nap’ when they get bumped in a match, but I’m pretty sure Earl got his full eight hours in here.

While he was doing that, Rock put the sharpshooter on his opponent only for Stone Cold to break free and apply a sharpshooter of his own.

“That’s not one of Austin’s specialty moves,” said Jim Ross apologetically, covering for the fact that the champion had applied possibly the worst version of the hold you’d ever seen.

Honestly, if you’re of the opinion that The Rock’s sharpshooter was awful, you need to see this match just to see how much worse Austin’s was.

Anyway, with the referee still out cold, we got run-ins from both Angle and Jericho before finally, Austin hit a stunner to retain his title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Steve Austin

Afterwards, Austin and Angle hugged and made their way backstage, presumedly to celebrate a triumph that few fans in the United States would ever actually hear about.






It’s fair to say that not a single one of the WWF’s UK-only PPVs were ‘must-see’ TV, and I say that as a Brit who was there love for some of the earlier shows.

Still, while WWF Rebellion 2001 wasn’t exactly essential viewing, it was at least one of the better UK shows, with a decent double main event in the form of Rock/Austin and Angle/Jericho, a decent opening cage match and a surprisingly fun match between Scotty 2 Hotty and The Hurricane.

Don’t go out of your way to watch this, but if you’re bored and looking for something to watch, Rebellion should at least keep you relatively entertained for two hours and 15 minutes.

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.