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 Taka Michinoku. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taka Michinoku. Show all posts

Thursday, 2 May 2019

28 More WWF In Your House Matches You Should Definitely Check Out

WWE - 28 Great WWF In Your House Matches - In Your House Logo
Well, we did it. On the road to reviewing every WWE PPV between Wrestlemania 1 and Wrestlemania 30, we've finally covered all 28 In Your House events, starting with the premier show in 1995 and culminating four years later in the month after Wrestlemania 15.

In doing so, we've seen so many great matches that, even though I put together my list of the Top Ten Best In Your House Matches a few weeks ago, I felt that I could have easily have made that a top twenty, or even thirty.

Ultimately, I decided against doing that, but I still didn't want to close this chapter of the Retro Pro Wrestling journey without looking back at some of my other favourite matches from the 28-show series.

What I've done today then, is go through all 28 In Your House shows and pick out at least one match that's worth watching from every show, excluding those already featured on the top ten.

Many of these aren't the main event, or even the most memorable matches from the shows they were on but were simply bouts that I enjoyed watching, and wanted to relive again.

Ready? Let's get into it.

In Your House 1: Bret Hart vs. Hakushi 

The very first In Your House match ever got the series off to a fine start at In Your House 1 back in May 1995.

This is typical of The Hitman's weird position in 1995 in which he mainly battled midcarders but still managed -much as he did here- to have the very best match on the show.

In Your House 2: Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett vs. Shawn Michaels

WWE - 28 Great WWF In Your House Matches - Shawn Michaels vs. Jeff Jarrett

In Your House 2: The Lumberjacks is better known as being the night that Jeff Jarret 'sang' With My Baby Tonight, but immediately after that, he dropped the Intercontinental Championship to Shawn Michaels in a fantastic, 20-minute effort which unequivocally stole the show.

In Your House 3: Bret Hart vs. Jean Pierre Lafitte 

Hart and Lafitte had previously met at In Your House 2 and delivered a match which, though it wasn't terrible, wasn't much to write home about.

One month later, they regrouped at In Your House 3: Triple Header and put on the match of the night, a brilliant, 16-minute encounter that is still remembered fondly to this day.

In Your House 4: Goldust vs. Marty Jannetty

Making his WWF in-ring debut, Goldust locked up with Marty Jannetty at In Your House 4: Great White North in  a very solid effort that could easily contend to have been the best match on the show.

When said show featured the farce of Razor Ramon vs. Dean Douglas and Diesel vs. Bulldog (a match reported to be so bad it apparently made Vince Mcmahon throw his headset down in disgust) earning match of the night honours may not be such an achievement.

Still, Goldie and Jannetty entertained here, and deserve a place on the list.

In Your House 6: Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart

A month earlier, Shawn Michaels had won the 1996 Royal Rumble. Yet before he could make The Boyhood Dream Come True at Wrestlemania 12, he first agreed to put his title shot on the line against Owen Hart.

Duking it out at In Your House 6: Rage in the Cage, Hart and Michaels put on what I once called one of the best matches of 1996, a match that was every bit as good as you'd imagine it could be.

In Your House 7: WWF Tag Team Champions The Body Donnas (Skip & Zip, w/ Sunny) vs. The Godwins (Henry  & Phineas Godwin, w/ Hillbilly Jim)

WWE - 28 Great WWF In Your House Matches - Sunny and The Body Donnas

Of course, the best part of In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies, was the classic Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel match for the WWF title. 

That match was so good that it made into to the aforementioned In Your House Top 10, leaving me to find another match from that show to include here.

Sadly, there wasn't a lot to go on. Sure, Owen Hart and British Bulldog were pretty entertaining in their tag team match against Ahmed Johnson and Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, but I think an underrated highlight of the show had to be this one. 

We may crap all over the Body Donnas for their terrible gimmick, but the truth is that Chris Candido and Tom Pritchard were solid wrestlers capable of good things. Here, they dragged The Godwins to an enjoyable tag team match which I'm not ashamed to include on this list.

In Your House 8:  WWF Champion Shawn Michaels vs. British Bulldog

Having accused WWF Champion Shawn Michaels of hitting on his wife, Dianna, British Bulldog challenged Shawn Michaels for the WWF title in a very good main event which only just missed out on making it into the In Your House Top Ten.

It's worth pointing out that In Your House 8: Beware of Dog also featured a very enjoyable strap match between Steve Austin and Savio Vega (the one where Ted Dibiase left the WWF), but for my money, this one was just marginally better.

In Your House 9: Steve Austin vs. Marc Mero 

Back at King of the Ring 1996, Austin and Wildman Marc Mero had stolen the show with their King of the Ring final match.

One month later, at In Your House 9 - International Incident, they were at it again in a thrilling contest which gave that night's main event (Michaels, Sid & Ahmed vs. Owen, Bulldog & Yoko) a serious run for its money.

In Your House 10: WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn)  vs. Owen Hart & British Bulldog

WWE - 28 Great WWF In Your House Matches - Sunny and The Smoking Gunns

Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind was clearly the best match at In Your House 10: Mind Games, but the whole point of today's post is to pick one good match from each In Your House that I didn't already feature in the aforementioned Top 10.

So I went with this one. While it may not have been anywhere near as good as Michaels/Mankind, Owen and Bulldog taking the tag team titles from Billy and Bart was at least very entertaining and proved to be the best match on the card that wasn't the main event.

In Your House 11: Undertaker vs. Mankind  - Buried Alive 

A rare heel vs. heel match between Steve Austin and Hunter Hearst Helmsley would have been my pick for In Your house 11: Buried Alive had Undertaker and Mankind not gone on to wage an all-out war on each other.

Competing in the buried alive match which gave the show its name, the two did the one thing they always did best when they worked together: 

Giving us something we'd never seen before.

Like their Boiler Room brawl at Summerslam 1996 and their Hell in a Cell classic at King of the Ring 1998, this unique match was unlike anything else on WWF programming and was all the more entertaining for it.

In Your House 12: Leif Cassidy vs. Flash Funk

There wasn't a lot to like about In Your House 12: It's Time. Even the main event (WWF Champion Sid vs. Bret Hart) left a lot to be desired.

Still, the show did have at least one good match - an opening contest between the future Al Snow and the former Too cold Scorpio.

In my original review, I called this:

A very enjoyable bout with lots of high flying and submissions held together by the kind of solid psychology that this kind of wrestling sometimes lacked.

I stand by this. Cassidy vs. Funk was about as good a PPV opening as you were going to get in mainstream American pro wrestling in 1996.

In Your House 13: WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & British Bulldog vs. Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon

WWE - 28 Great WWF In Your House Matches - Owen Hart & British Bulldog

The fatal fourway match that gave the show its name was the real star of In Your House 13: Fatal Four Way, but this WWF tag team title match was pretty good in its own right. 

This was at the time when Owen and Bulldog were beginning to tease a breakup, but even when they were at odds with each other, the champs were still able to get the job done in a very good match which -along with the main event- stopped Fatal Four Way from being a total dud. 

In Your House 14: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin 

WWE - 28 Great WWF In Your House Matches - Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart

One month after their legendary battle at Wrestlemania 13, arch-rivals Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin met in a rematch at In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker

The show also featured Undertaker vs. Mankind for 'Taker's WWF title. Both matches had something in common - neither were the best match the participants would have with each other, but despite that, both were still really, really good. 

Austin/Hart III for example, didn't live up to the aforementioned 'Mania classic, but it was still a great bout in its own right. 

In Your House 15: WWF Champion The Undertaker vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

Almost a year before he'd cement his status as the company's biggest ever headline attraction, Stone Cold Steve Austin headlined his first ever WWF PPV against reigning champion The Undertaker.

At the time that I first reviewed this show, the match didn't really do it for me, but I'm willing to accept that I was probably just in an off mood that day. After all, I've read nothing but high praise for the match from just about everybody else.

Besides, everything else at In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell was mediocre at best.

In Your House 16: WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku vs. The Great Sasuke

There's a good reason I often refer to In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede as one of my favourite PPVs of all time:

Every single match offered a lot to enjoy.

Of course, it was the main event, a wild, 10-man tag pitting The Hart Foundation against Austin, Shamrock, Goldust and The LOD, that really stole the show. That's why it ranked so highly in the list of the Top Ten Best In Your House matches ever.

Having said that, the other three matches were solid. Undertaker and Vader had a good big-man match, while Mankind and Hunter Hearst Helmsley extended their wild, chaotic brawl throughout the show, spending most of the 'tween-match segments beating the life out each other.

But it was this, a crisp, light heavyweight masterpiece from Michinoku and Sasuke that really stood out.

Honestly, I'd add the whole show to this list, but if you only watch one match from it besides that incredible main event, watch Taka and The Great Sasuke trading stiff strikes, dazzling ariel moves and suplexes that were truly a thing of beauty.

This, my friends, was probably the best match Taka Michinoku would have in his WWF run.

In Your House 17: WWF Champion Bret Hart vs. The Patriot

Undertaker and Shawn Michaels stole the show at In Your House 17: Ground Zero, which is why they're on the top ten list.

Before those two kicked off the first chapter of one 1997's hottest rivalries, however, Bret put his title on the line against The Patriot in a match that was better than this sceptical fan anticipated.

In my original review, I wrote:

This wasn't the best Bret Hart match ever.
Then again, even the worst Bret Hart match is better than many other's best, and that was certainly the case here.
After a somewhat dull start, things quickly picked up, turning into a good match with a few exciting moments.
Sure, the ending was never in doubt - nobody ever expected The Hitman to lose, but that didn't stop he and Patriot from putting on a dramatic contest that would have been match of the night had HBK and Taker not delivered a masterpiece.

In Your House 18: Tarantula & Mosaic vs. Max Mini & Nova

WWE - 28 Great WWF In Your House Matches - Minis Match

In my original review, I called Badd Blood: In Your House 18 'the very definition of  one match show.'

I stand by that. The only really good match was the Undertaker/Michaels Hell in a Cell match, which  was so good it made it all the way to the number one spot in the Top Ten Greatest In Your House matches.

Still, with the death of Brian Pillman lingering over the show, the rest of Badd Blood was a relatively poor show. Even a tag team match pitting Vader and The Patriot against Bret Hart and British Bulldog failed to deliver.

Meaning that, since I've stubbornly committed to picking one good match that wasn't in the top ten from every In Your House card, the nod goes to this fun little minis match. 

In Your House 20: The Rock vs. WWF Intercontinental Stone Cold Steve Austin

Austin and Rock would face each other for the WWF title at the final ever In Your House, Backlash.

That match was so good it ranked highly in the top ten.

Two years earlier, however, the two men had met for the Intercontinental championship in a really good match at D-Generation-X: In Your House 19, a match that proved -if ever proof were needed- that these were two bonafide main event superstars on the very cusp of greatness.

In Your House 20: War of Attrition
The Nation of Domination (Farooq, D'Lo Brown, Mark Henry, Kama Mustafa, and WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock) vs. Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, Chainz, Skull, and 8-Ball

WWE - 28 Great WWF In Your House Matches - The Rock and The Nation of Domination

Yep, I'm recommending a match featuring The Disciples of Apocalypse. That's how slim the pickings were for quality matches at No Way Out of Texas: In Your House 20.

Sure, the main event (an eight-man pitting HHH, Savio Vega and the New Age Outlaws against Austin, Owen, Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie) was awesome, but that already made it into the top ten. 

That left us with this, a match which was better than its list of participants may suggest. Though while the match itself was fun, it's the hilarious pre-match promo in which Rock upstages Farooq without saying a word that makes this must-see viewing. 

In your house 21 - World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Dude Love

First of all, I'll make no apologies for including both Austin vs. Dude Love matches in this list. Both were tremendous fun and were very strong contenders for the top ten.

In fact, the biggest problem I had writing that top ten was debating whether or not to include at least one of these two matches.

In the end, I didn't, but that's to take nothing away from the quality of this one. Making his first PPV title defence, Austin laid out the blue print for how all of his main event matches would run for the best part of the Attitude Era

It was wild, it was chaotic, it contained a whole lot of brawling and was just about as good of a main event as you were ever going to see in 1998.

By far the best thing at Unforgiven: In Your House 21

In Your House 22: Austin vs. Dude Love 2

One month after Austin vs. Dude Love 1 ended in controversial fashion, the two went at it in a rematch with Vince McMahon as the special guest referee and The Undertaker stalking around the place to make sure McMahon didn't do anything shady.

The resulting match may seem overbooked by today's standards, but it was a hugely entertaining affair that more than made up for what was otherwise a disappointing show at Over the Edge: In Your House 22.

In Your House 23: Two out of Three Falls for the World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental ChampionshipWWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock vs. Triple H

WWE / 28 WWF In Your House Matches You Should Watch - The Rock vs. Triple H

The Rock and Triple H would absolutely steal the show at Summerslam 1998 later that year in what is easily one of your writer's top five all-time favourite matches.

Before that, however, the two clashed in a two-out-of-three-falls match at Fully Loaded: In Your House 23, a match which most people have probably forgotten about but is absolutely worth tracking down.

In Your House 24: Cage Match to Determine WWF Championship Number One Contender - Mankind vs. The Rock vs. Ken Shamrock 

WWE / 28 WWF In Your House Matches You Should Watch - The Rock vs. Ken Shamrock vs. Mankind

Speaking of things long since forgotten, Breakdown: In Your House 24 isn't exactly a show that people still talk about today, but it did feature a few pretty decent matches.

Austin vs. 'Taker vs. Kane for the title was a whole lot of fun, but the real star of the show was The Rock who, at this event, made it known that he wasn't just The Rock: Popular Wrestler but that he was in fact, The Rock: Major Main Event Superstar.

His triple threat cage match against Mankind and Ken Shamrock may not be the best match you've ever seen, but it was a highlight of this show.

In Your House 25: World Wrestling Federation Light Heavyweight Championship
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku (w/ Yamaguchi-San) vs. Christian (w/ Gangrel)

X-Pac and D'Lo Brown didn't just steal the show at Judgement Day: In Your House 25, they put on an underrated classic that was one of the best matches of that year. It was so good, in fact, that I put it in the In Your House top ten, meaning I had to pick something else for this spot.

Unforunately, pickings were slim.

Judgement Day 1998 was not a good show, but it did feature this decent effort in which Christian beat Taka to become Light Heavyweight Champion in his debut WWF match.

This was a good performance from both men that would have been even better had the crowd actually cared.

In Your House 26: World Wrestling Federation Championship: WWF Champion The Rock (W/ Vince & Shane McMahon) vs. Mankind

Despite the whole show being name after his finishing move, The Rock's first WWF title defence on PPV was not the main event of Rock Bottom: In Your House 26.

That honour went to Austin vs. The Undertaker in a Buried Alive match.

What Rock/Mankind was, however, was the best match on the card by a long shot.

That's not to say it was the best match the two would ever have. Their Royal Rumble 1999 encounter a month later would far top this one, but this was still a hell of a match to watch.

In Your House 27: Vince McMahon vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin in a Steel Cage 

Even if this match had sucked, it would still deserve a spot on the list thanks to the historical significance of Vince McMahon finally lacing up a pair of boots and going toe-to-toe with his arch-nemesis, Austin.

The fact that their steel cage match at St. Valentine's Day Massacre: In Your House 27 was an absolute riot was a very welcomed bonus.

In Your House 28: Triple H vs. X-Pac 

The main event of The Rock vs. Steve Austin in a Wrestlemania 15 rematch was by far and away the best thing at Backlash: In Your House 28.

It was so good in fact, that I put it on the Top Ten Greatest In Your House Matches Ever list, meaning I had to find something else for this one.

To be honest, there was a lot to choose from. 

Whether it was Hardcore Holly and Al Snow getting creative in their hardcore title match or The New Age Outlaws having one of their better outings against Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart, Backlash was a pretty fun show overall. 

Still, though this near-20 minute epic from former DX teammates Triple H and X-Pac had its down moments, it was still very, very good indeed.

Did I miss out your favourite WWF In Your House match? Come and let me know on the Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF Judgement Day 1998 - In Your House 25

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - Event poster
October 18, 1998, 
Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont, Illinois

Apart from a single year (1999), Judgement Day was one of the WWF/WWE's regular B-Level pay per views that the company ran every year for over a decade. 

Before it became an annual attraction, however, there was this:

The first ever Judgement Day pay per view.

The 25th instalment of the In Your House franchise (which would end in just a few months), tonight's show would see The Undertaker and Kane go at it in the latest chapter of an ongoing storyline that would last literally for years.

This time, however, the vacant World Wrestling Federation Championship would be on the line and none other than Stone Cold Steve Austin would be the special guest referee.

Would The Phenom win his third WWF Championship tonight? Would Kane pick up his second in the space of a single year?

Would Austin even bother to show up for his special referee role, a role he had been quite open about not wanting to take?

Let's head to the Rosemont Horizon to find out:

Austin Violated McMahon

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler
Our opening video package reminded us that Austin had lost the WWF title in a triple threat match against Kane and The Undertaker at Breakdown: In Your House 24.

Since both ‘Taker and Kane had pinned Austin at the same time, they would go at it in tonight’s main event to determine a new champion, with Austin as the referee.

McMahon had decreed that Austin would have to ‘humble’ himself and raise the hand of the winner or else be fired from the World Wrestling Federation.

This was all interspersed at random intervals with sound bites of McMahon claiming Austin had violated him.

I don’t care to go through all the episodes of Raw to find out what that’s about, but there you have it:

Austin violated McMahon and now he would have to referee tonight’s main event.

After the usual greeting from our announcers, Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, it was onto our opening contest.

Al Snow (w/ Head) vs. Marvellous Marc Mero (w/ WWF Women’s Champion Jacqueline)

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - Al Snow faced Marvelous Marc Mero
Earlier, on Heat, Al Snow had cost Jeff Jarrett a match against Scorpio, so Jeff tried to insert himself into this match and make it a triple threat.

Instead, he got sent packing by referee Tim White whilst Marc Mero launched an attack on the former Leif Cassidy.

After that, we got a pretty hot opener which the crowd were really into, mainly because of how over Al Snow (or at least his Head) was.

Mero used Jacqueline’s interference several times to gain control but it still wasn’t enough.

After some fun action, Snow reversed T.K.O into a Snow Plow to win the match.
Your Winner: Al Snow

Before the next match, we were shown a clip from Heat in which Stone Cold Steve Austin was met by Pat Patterson, Gerald Briscoe, and Sgt. Slaughter as he tried to go up to the wrestler’s locker room.

Austin was told that he wasn’t allowed in that locker room tonight and would have to change in the referee’s dressing room, which was basically a dingy stock room.

Six-Man Tag
The Disciples of the Apocalypse (Skull, 8-Ball, and Paul Ellering) vs. LOD 2000 (Hawk, Animal, and Droz)

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - LOD 2000 faced DOA & Paul Ellering
Yes, both teams were still hanging around this late into 1998, mainly so that LOD could have somebody to wrestle whilst doing that angle in which Hawk was an addict/alcoholic and Droz wanted to take his spot.

Despite being a six-man, this was more like a handicap match, with former LOD manager and current DOA man Paul Ellering tagging for all of 15 seconds to kick Droz in the gut and hit him with a drop toe-hold.

Other than that, absolutely nothing remarkable happened.

The match wasn’t terrible - I’ve seen far worse, trust me- but it felt more like card-filler than anything else.

Only the crowd’s love of their hometown heroes, Hawk and Animal, made it seem better than it was.

In the end, Hawk and Animal hit the Doomsday Device (JR once again called it the Devastation Device) but Droz snuck in and stole the three count.
Your Winners: LOD 2000

Afterwards, Hawk looked pissed at Droz stealing the glory, but Droz himself seemed more concerned with celebrating along with Animal.

Prior to the next match, JR told us that this was the biggest crowd the WWF has had in the Rosemont Horizon since Wrestlemania 13.

World Wrestling Federation Light Heavyweight Championship
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku (w/ Yamaguchi-San) vs. Christian (w/ Gangrel)

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - Christian (w/ Gangrel) beat Taka Michinoku
It would be easy to think the WWF had given up on their Light Heavyweight Championship.

Taka Michinoku hadn’t defended the title on PPV since February’s No Way Out of Texas: In Your House, when he beat Pantera.

Since then, the Japanese star had defected to the dark side by joining forces with former rivals Kai En Tai, and was now defending the title.

This time, his opponent was Christian, who was wrestling in his first PPV match after debuting during the Edge/Owen Hart match at the previous month’s Breakdown.

Christian had been revealed to be Edge’s brother, and had aligned himself with his brother’s vampiric nemesis, Gangrel.

Backstory aside, this was a decent match that was hurt by the crowd not giving a damn about either man nor about anything they did.

After an otherwise fun, seesaw battle, Christian reversed a Michinoku Driver to capture the title in his debut match for the company.
Your Winner and New WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Christian

And that was the end of Taka Michinoku being seen as any kind of a star in the World Wrestling Federation.

Val Venis (w/ Terri Runnels) vs. Goldust

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - Goldust faced Val VenisAfter failing to get the better of Val Venis as good ol’ Dustin Runnels, the second-generation star had returned to the Goldust gimmick that made him famous, and was now utterly adored by the live crowd.

Looking to avenge his loss the previous month (and seek some revenge for Val stealing his wife) Goldie went at it with the wrestling porn star in a good, entertaining contest that went down well more because of the characters and their rivalry than because of any of the actual wrestling moves.

Not that what they did wasn’t good. This was a good effort which ended when Terri Runnels distraction backfired, allowing Goldust to kick his rival in the goolies behind the referee’s back and score a three count.
Your Winner: Goldust

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - X-Pac battled D'Lo Brown in an awesome match
Prior to the next match, Michael Cole showed us clips of Ken Shamrock beating up Triple H backstage after an injured Hunter was forced to hand his Intercontinental Championship to The World’s Most Dangerous Man.

Cole was interrupted by X-Pac, who promised to take care of Shamrock the following night on Raw. Tonight, however, he was all about reclaiming the European Championship from D’Lo Brown.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship
WWF European Champion D’Lo Brown vs. X-Pac w/ Chyna

I’ll just go ahead and say it - this is one of the most amazing matches I’ve watched in a long time.

Proof that you don’t need to be a main event star to have the crowds eating out of the palm of your hand, both champ and challenger turned it up several notches to deliver the absolute best match of their fall ‘98 rivalry, and one of the best matches of 1998 period.

After a really good outing, X-Pac caught D’Lo coming off the top rope, hit him with the X-Factor, and became a two-time European Champion.
Your Winner and New European Champion: X-Pac

Out in the back, Michael Cole told us there was a rumour going around that Paul Bearer had just walked into The Undertaker’s locker room.

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - The Headbangers challenged the New Age Outlaws for the tag team championship
Once again, Cole was interrupted, this time by The Headbangers.

Mosh and Thrasher were now heels, and were set to challenge the New Age Outlaws for the tag team titles.

Before that, however,  they fumbled their way through a bunch of insider terms in a goofy, cringe-worthy promo.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Champions
WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg Jesse James & Bad Ass Billy Gunn) vs. The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher)

Looking right at home in their new roles as the brash and violent bad guys, Mosh and Thrasher dominated almost the entire length of this long, drawn-out tag team title contest.

Whilst some would argue that this was a bad thing (certain chinlock spots did seem to drag on), this writer would disagree strongly.

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - Billy Gunn waits for the tag from Road Dogg
Road Dogg and Billy Gunn did their best to make their opponents look like a serious threat to the titles, and the match itself did have some fun scattered here and there.

Besides, the crowd were hot for the New Age Outlaws from start to finish. At one point, Billy received what was legitimately one of the biggest pops of the night just for taking his shirt off.

The fans kept up this fever-pitch show of support throughout the contest, chanting the Outlaws' and DX's catchphrases as the champs took it in turns to get their asses handed to them by The Headbangers.

Fed up with the foul play from Mosh and Thrasher and unable to counter it with more above-board tactics, Road Dogg finally grabbed The Headbanger’s boom box and brought it across his opponents’ head, causing the DQ finish.
Your Winners by Disqualification: The Headbangers (New Age Outlaws retain the titles)

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - Michael Cole interviews Mankind about his match with Ken Shamrock
Out in the back, Michael Cole began telling us about Paul Bearer apparently going into The Undertaker’s locker room before he was interrupted by Mankind.

On his way to challenge Ken Shamrock for the Intercontinental Championship, Mankind first told Cole that Shamrock’s interviews were the second biggest cause of teenage suicide, which was harsh but hilarious.

He then began engaging in some bizarre puppetry in which he asked Mr Socko what kind of underwear he was wearing.

This of course, just gave Foley an excuse to rip off his sock and reveal a mandible claw.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock vs. Mankind

Though not the best match on the card, this was a solid outing that served its purpose well.

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - Ken Shamrock defended the Intercontinental Championship against Mankind
Early on, it seemed as though Mankind was trying to wrestle Shamrock’s style of match, trading holds and reversals with the champion until the whole thing broke down into the typical Foley-style brawl.

In a unique finish, Shamrock slapped the ankle lock on the challenger, but rather than submit to it, Mankind put the mandible claw on himself and passed out.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Ken Shamrock

Afterwards, Howard Finkle announced that Shamrock was the winner ‘via Mandible Claw’ which sent Shamrock into one of his trademark hissy-fits, attacking Mankind and suplexing the referee.

I know having Ken Shamrock ‘snap’ like this was supposed to make him look dangerous and unpredictable, but it always just made him look like a crybaby, which isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a babyface.

I also know that I say this every time we review a show where Shamrock does it, but honestly, it's one of the dumbest things ever and is worth repeating.

Bossman Blocks Cole

`WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - Big Boss Man stops Michael Cole getting a word with Vince McMahon
Backstage, Michael Cole’s hopes of getting an interview with Vince McMahon were shot down by Big Bossman.

Last seen on PPV teaming with The Steiner Brothers to face the nWo at WCW Souled Out 1998, the former Big Bubba Rogers had returned to the WWF just a few weeks prior and was now serving as McMahon’s security/bodyguard.

Bossman reminded us that he was the law, order, and justice of the World Wrestling Federation, and that meant there was no chance of Cole getting his interview.

It’s funny, I was never the biggest fan of Bossman’s matches, but he was always a compelling heel character and delivered some good work here.

For the record, the last time we saw him on a WWF PPV was at the 1993 Royal Rumble.

Mark Henry vs. The Rock

WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - Mark Henry beat The Rock
So, on the back of his many catchphrase and general bad-assness, The Rock was now a fully-fledged babyface and, to prove it, he recently got attacked on Raw by his former Nation of Domination cohort, Mark Henry.

Meanwhile, Henry also has a confusing thing going on with Chyna. He had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her but then dedicated a ‘poem’ to her before this match.

Once the bell rung the action was short if not necessarily sweet.

It wasn’t a bad match by any standards, but it was hardly the sort of thing anybody would be talking about even the next day.

In the end, Henry scored the upset with a big splash.
Your Winner: Mark Henry

Post-match, The Rock looked on, bemused.

Something tells me this loss wouldn't hurt his career very much.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match (title vacant)
Kane vs. The Undertaker

Special Guest Referee: Stone Cold Steve Austin
WWE / WWF Judgement Day 1998: In Your House 25 - Kane vs. Undertaker for vacant WWF title with Stone Cold as the guest referee
Kane and The Undertaker has a great match back at Wrestlemania 14, and their Inferno match at Unforgiven 1998, though not on a part with their initial outing, was a spectacle in its own right.

In this, their third PPV meeting of 1998, however, the two really failed to put on a good show.

Of course, it didn’t help that the crowd were initially more into Guest Referee Steve Austin than anything the Brothers of Destruction were doing, but even when the initial obsession with Stone Cold wore off, this match failed to capture the intensity and creativity that Austin’s own main event bouts had delivered throughout the year.

This slow, aimless match came grinding to its conclusion when both competitors decided to turn on Austin and beat him up.

Paul Bearer then came down with a chair and begged Kane to let him be the one to take out Undertaker.

Instead, Bearer turned on Kane, who barely flinched when struck with the chair.

As Kane questioned Bearer’s treachery, Undertaker picked up the chair and laid out his brother, only for Austin to recover and knock out The Phenom with a stunner.

Stone Cold then counted both men out and declared himself the winner.
No Contest

Afterwards, Austin dared McMahon to fire him just as the Chairman had promised to do.

When Vince no-showed, Austin took us on a brief tour of the backstage area to look for him, then came back out to call the boss out a second time.

This time Vince appeared and was greeted with a rapturous chant of ‘Asshole! Asshole!’ from the live crowd.

‘I can’t hear a word you’re saying because you got eighteen thousand people calling you an asshole!’ quipped Austin, showing a mastery of the mic that is truly lost in today’s product.

Asshole or not, Vince delivered his first ever ‘You’re Fired!’ line to Austin, effectively terminating him from the company.

Never one to let a mere thing like being fired rattle him, Austin vowed that Vince hadn’t seen the last of him, then celebrated with the crowd and a couple of beers.

Austin would indeed be back just 24 hours later, when he appeared on Raw, made Vince wet himself, and revealed that Shane McMahon had signed him to a five-year contract.

Since I first started reviewing these Attitude Era shows, I’ve said many times that they were characterised by a poor undercard followed by a hot main event.

This, however, was exactly the opposite.

With D’Lo Brown and X-Pac stealing the show, most of the other undercard matches were reasonably entertaining, all building up to an awful main event which really showed why they needed Austin back in the ring.

For storylines and a taste of the Attitude Era at its most chaotic, this one is worth a look, but as far as matches go, just watch the European Championship match and then skip on to something else.

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
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    Thursday, 4 October 2018

    PPV REVIEW: WWF King of the Ring 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    God, Have Mercy On Their Souls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Rock made the cover, and this one was over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Anyway, on with the show.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Two things made this particularly enjoyable.

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

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

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

    Moving on...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Instead, Shamrock just paced about a bit.

    Hell in a Cell
    Mankind vs. The Undertaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And it was captivating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1998 events reviewed so far
    1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
    2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
    3. WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas 
    4. WCW - Superbrawl 1998
    5. WCW - Uncensored 1998 
    6. WWF - Wrestlemania 14 
    7. WCW Spring Stampede 1998
    8. WWF - In Your House 21: Unforgiven
    9. WCW Slamboree 1998
    10. WWF - In Your House 22: Over The Edge
    11. WCW Great American Bash 1998 
    Other King of the Ring reviews
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      Retro Pro Wrestling

      New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.