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

Showing posts with label Jerry Lawler. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jerry Lawler. Show all posts

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 stake, 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 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!


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.


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, 10 September 2020

PPV REVIEW: WWF No Way Out 2001

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2001 - Event Poster
February 25, 2001
Thomas & Mack Center, Paradise, Nevada

I'm not sure if this is the first time I've said this, but it certainly won't be the last:

Until the Invasion came along and made a big mess of everything, the World Wrestling Federation were enjoying one of the best periods in their history, at least from a creative standpoint if not a commercial one.

By the time No Way Out 2001 came around, they were just weeks away from hammering the final nail in World Championship Wrestling's coffin and winning the Monday Night Wars once and for all.

Meanwhile, their stacked roster was churning top quality show after top quality show, all leading up to what would eventually become the show widely regarded as one of the greatest Wrestlemanias of all time, Wrestlemania XVII.

Before that, however, there was this, another in a long series of awesome events from the WWF.

Don't believe me? Lets head down to the wonderfully named Paradise, Nevada and see what went down at No Way Out 2001.

Two Men, Three Stages of Hell

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2001 - Jerry Lawler called his last PPV with Jim Ross before leaving the company for a few months
Tonight's opening video was nothing particularly special. It focussed on the show's two marquee matchups:
  • The Rock challenging Kurt Angle for the WWF title
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin taking on sworn enemy Triple H in the first-ever Three Stages of Hell match.
After the usual fireworks and hoopla, we got a greeting from our announcers Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler, then headed down to ringside for our opening match.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore ChampionshipWWF Hardcore Champion Raven vs. The Big Show

Two years ago to the month, Big Show had debuted WWF St. Valentine's Day Massacre and went straight into the main event scene. Now he was floundering in the hardcore division which nobody ever really took seriously.
WWE / WWF No Way Out 2001 - The Big Show beat Raven for the WWF Hardcore Championship
As he made his way to the ring, Show was attacked by a mysterious masked ninja woman who would later be revealed to be Tori.
Show disposed of her and then marched straight into a decent though uninspired garbage brawl with Raven.
Things got better towards the end when Crash Holly (disguised as a popcorn vendor), Bob Holly, Steve Blackman and Billy Gunn all ran in to get them some.
Gunn was temporarily our hardcore champion but then Raven won it back and lost it to Big Show. Though the first part of the match wasn’t all that brilliant, the final few chaotic minutes were enjoyable. Your Winner and NEW Hardcore Champion: The Big Show

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2001 - Kevin Kelly interviews The Rock
Earlier in the day, WWF Champion Kurt Angle arrived in a limousine and was interviewed by Kevin Kelly. Responding to Kelly’s question about how he was feeling, The Olympic Gold Medalist insisted he wasn’t at all worried about facing The Rock later on tonight.
Back live in the arena, Lillian Garcia interviewed Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero.
The two Radicalz would be competing in a fatal-four-way along with X-Pac and Chris Jericho for Y2J’s Intercontinental Championship. In a solid promo both men insisted that although they knew it was every man for himself, it would be one of the two of them taking home the gold tonight.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship WWF Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho vs. X-Pac vs. Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2001 - Chris Jericho puts Chris Benoit in the Walls of Jericho
Although we might have had a better match had Jericho defended the title in a straight singles match against any one of these challengers, it was still a solid and compelling match.

Everyone got their chance to shine and everyone looked impressive. Yes, that includes X-Pac.
Speaking of Pac, he was helped out towards the end by his buddy Justin Credible, who was last seen on WWF PPV as Aldo Montoya back at the 1996 Royal Rumble.
After a very good match, Y2J rolled up X-Pac to escape with his title intact. Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho
Backstage, Triple H was busy getting his wrists taped while his father in law tried hinting to Commissioner William Regal that he should prevent the match between Stephanie McMahon and Trish Stratus.
Regal, of course, didn’t get the hint and had no idea what to do.

Who’s The Biggest Trash Bag Ho?

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2001 - William Regal confronts Trish Stratus backstage
Cutting to WWF New York, Test was on stage and was the perfect person to ask for their thoughts on a match between his ex-fiancé and former manager.
Test was looking forward to seeing both women beat the hell out of each other to determine who was -in his words- the biggest trash bag ho.
Back in the arena, William Regal tried to stop Trish and her boobs from going to the ring but had no luck.
Killing time, we got adverts for Raw is War and the new WWF The Music Volume 5 CD.
Finally, it was back to the ring.

Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley vs. Trish Stratus

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2001 -  Trish Stratus ready for her match with Stephanie McMahon
This was surprisingly pretty good.
Ok, so it was never going to be a great match, but Trish was improving as a wrestler and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley was... ...Well, she put a lot of effort into it let’s put it that way.
Though the whole thing felt like it was building up to the spot where Steph pulled down Trish’s pants and gave her a spanking (to the obvious delight of the crowd), it was still pretty fun.
The end came when William Regal got involved and, after umming and ahhing about who to help, dropped Trish so that Steph could get the fall. Your Winner: Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley After a sentimental commercial for Wrestlemania X-Seven, a furious Vince McMahon scolded William Regal backstage and booked the two of them in a tag match. The following night on Raw it would Vince & Trish vs. Regal & Steph. A video package aired next to promote the HHH vs. Austin match. Michael Cole then asked Stone Cold if he was ready to enter hell, but Austin just looked at Cole as if he’d asked him if he liked beer.
He then walked off, ready for battle.

Three Stages of Hell Two-out-of-Three Falls Match Triple H vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2001 -  Steve Austin battled HHH in a Three-Stages of Hell Match
This was billed as two-out-of-three falls with each fall having a different stipulation, but it was also presented as if we would definitely see a cage match for the third stage of hell, so that pretty much spoiled the fact that we would see Austin and HHH score one fall apiece in the first two stages.

Fall 1: Standard Wrestling Match

The first fall was your usual one-on-one encounter. For Austin, that would typically mean a brawl through the crowd and all kinds of outside-the-ring shenanigans, but since they had to make this feel different from the upcoming street fight, it was kept mostly in the ring. The fact that it proved to be a solid chunk of pro wrestling proved that Austin was still capable of having a very good wrestling match without resorting to all of his usual tricks.
Speaking of Stone Cold, he capped off the first fall by destroying HHH with a stunner for the three count.
First Fall Winner: Steve Austin

Fall 2: Street Fight

The second fall was even better.
A brutal, bloody and violent war of a match, this may have been a carbon copy of just about every main event from around this time period, but it was still exceptional stuff.
Predictably, The Game scored the three count thanks to the pedigree after a thoroughly gripping battle.
Second fall winner: Triple H

Fall 3: Steel cage match

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2001 -  A Bloody Triple H prepares to drill Steve Austin with Sledgehammer
Though the street fight was arguably the best chapter of this story, the cage match was still an engrossing affair with a heck of a lot to enjoy.
After beating each other to within an inch of their lives, both men struck each other at the same time, HHH using his sledgehammer and Austin with a Foley-inspired barbed-wire-wrapped board. They collapsed to the mat, with a dead Triple H collapsing like a sack of crap onto Austin. One three count later, and I’m pretty sure Austin became the first Royal Rumble winner to lose at the February PPV before still headlining Wrestlemania. Please correct me if I’m wrong on that one.
Your Winner: Triple H
Afterwards, both men did an excellent job of selling the war they’d been through by playing dead for a really long time. Austin still managed to get one last stunner in there for good measure.

The Kat Wants to be Naked

Up next, we were told that Jerry Lawler would be facing Steven Richards. This all started because Ivory was feuding with The Kat, who hadn’t been seen on PPV since she faced Terri in a Thong Stinkface Match at Summerslam 2000.
According to JR, The Kat just wanted to be naked and was fighting for her right to do so against Right to Censor. This got Lawler involved and here we were.
Backstage, Richards led Right to Censor in prayer.

Be the Ultimate Fanatic

A commercial then aired for a competition in which you could fly to New York and appear with Mick Foley on something called Ultimate Fanatic. I’ve never heard of that and obviously trying to Google it just brings up Ultimate Warrior stuff, so who knows what that was. With that done, Tazz came down to join JR on commentary. Neither man mentioned the fact that they were feuding six months earlier.

Steven Richards (w/ WWF Women’s Champion Ivory) vs. Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler (w/ The Kat)

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2001 -  The Kat wanted to get nekkidIf King wins, Kat gets naked. If Richards wins, Kat joins RTC.

This was an Ok match but there really went much to it. It was obviously just there to cool down the crowd after the incredible Three Stages of Hell and to that end it was at least highly effective. After a few short minutes of inoffensive action, Kat accidentally blasted King with Ivory’s title belt.
Richards got the three count, denying the world of the Kat nekidness.
Your Winner: Steven Richards
Post-match, RTC kidnapped Kat. She would be forced to join the group the following night on Raw but would then be fired for real the next day, with Jerry Lawler also quitting the company in protest.

We’re Going to Put Those Boys Through Hell

Up next, a video package aired which showed Edge & Christian stirring things to get The Dudleyz beaten up by The Undertaker so that E&C could isolate Kane and destroy him with chairs.
Back live in the arena, The Undertaker told Michael Cole that tonight’s tag team title triple threat tables match wasn’t about the gold but about pain.
“We’re not just going to put those boys through tables,” said Kane. “We’re going to put them through hell.”

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Tables Match WWF Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley) vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Undertaker & Kane

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2001 -  Kane wore a rare all-black attire for his tag team match with The Undertaker versus Edge & Christian
Showing solidarity with his brother, Kane wore a rare all-black version of usual attire with only a hint of red on the mask. It looked pretty awesome, but wasn’t enough to help the Brothers of Destruction win the match even though they came pretty close.
Though it was messy in parts, it was also a lot of fun. Edge and Christian bumped like crazy, the champs got all of their spots in to the delight of the crowd, and Kane & ‘Taker did almost everything in unison, creating a kind of synchronised pro wrestling that worked for them.
Just when they looked to have the match won, however, the recently formed team of Rikishi and Haku came down to attack them.
That left The Dudleyz to put Christian through a table and retain their titles.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: The Dudley Boyz
Afterward, Undertaker dropped a very obvious F-Bomb and was clearly upset about losing the match despite claiming that he didn’t care about the titles just ten minutes earlier. Before the main event we saw the exact same Wrestlemania commercial aired that we’d seen earlier.
Out in the back, Kurt Angle walked, ready to defend his title.

Finally, The Rock Has Come Back... To Las Vegas

Backstage, The Rock warned Kurt Angle that his time as WWF champion was over. The Great One gave us none of his usual catchphrases, but was still as charismatic as ever.

World Wrestling Federation Championship WWF Champion Kurt Angle vs. The Rock

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2001 -  Kurt Angle threatens to break The Rock's f'n Ankle
Damn, this was so insanely good. It had a completely different vibe to it than the HHH/Austin match but it was still an absolutely riveting match with non-stop excitement from bell to bell.
At one point, The Big Show inexplicably came out and killed both competitors and the referee with chokeslams but that achieved nothing more than Mike Chioda being replaced with Earl Hebner.
Hebner and Tim White were carrying Chioda out of the ring when The Rock made a cover. Deciding that was more important than helping his colleague, Hebner hilariously dropped Chioda like a sack of crap. In the midst of all the drama it was a hysterically funny moment.
A little while later, Angle recovered from his chokeslam and cranked the ankle lock on his opponent.
“Come on, tap you son of a bitch!” Yelled Angle. “I’ll break your f**king ankle!”
Even more so than any of the actual wrestling moves, it was this intensity, this passion and emotion that match that made the match so amazing.
Eventually, the challenger made a comeback and hit two rock bottoms to regain the WWF Championship.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: The Rock Post-match, Angle ran off crying while The Rock celebrated, his third straight Wrestlemania main event now secure.

All in all, No Way Out 2001 was an awesome show from beginning to end. The IC title match, the outstanding HHH/Austin match and that incredible main event all make this a must-see show. In between those matches, everything else served a purpose and was entertaining in its own right. After a wonderful start to the year with a very entertaining Royal Rumble, the WWF were on a roll in early 2001.

Other reviews of 2001 pro wrestling events: 
    More WWF No Way Out Reviews
    Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

    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.