Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Thursday, 9 August 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Superbrawl VIII (1998)

WCW SuperBrawl VIII (1998) review - Event poster
February 22, 1998
Cow Palace, San Francisco, California.

Throughout 1997, WCW had set the wrestling world on fire and claimed their throne as the undisputed kings of the industry with a year-long build-up to Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. Sting. 

Billed as The Match of the Century, the battle -which took place at Starrcade 1997- had been so brilliantly promoted that there was seemingly no way it could fail.

Yet fail it did, at least creatively.

Whilst the show had been a rousing financial success for World Championship Wrestling, the awkward and confusing finish to Hogan vs. Sting, coupled with poor matches and bizarre booking decisions on the undercard made Starrcade 97 a creative disaster the likes of which they would never truly recover from.

Not that they wouldn't try.

Tonight, as WCW presented us with Hogan vs. Sting II, the company would try to correct course and convince us that yes - they still deserved their place at the head of the wrestling mountain.

Here's what happened when WCW went into damage-repair mode at Superbrawl VIII.

The Battle Continues 

WCW SuperBrawl VIII (1998) - Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
Our intro tonight recapped the story of Hogan and Sting's rivalry, and how the whole thing was more about the bigger picture - the epic war between World Championship Wrestling and the New World Order.

That took us to our commentators for the evening, Tony Schiavone, Iron Mike Tenay, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, who all told us just how vital tonight's main event, one of five title matches on the show, actually was.

Speaking of title matches, we had one coming up next.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW World Television Champion Rick Martel vs. Booker T

WCW SuperBrawl VIII (1998) - Booker T beat Rick Martel for the TV title
This was originally supposed to be Booker T defending the TV title against Saturn, but after Rick Martel had gotten the better of Booker on Nitro, we'd had a little switch around.

Instead, the two would meet one-on-one in a rematch of their earlier meeting at Souled Out 1998, with the winner then going on to face Saturn later on in the show.

Though not on par with some of the all-out classics that WCW had used to kick off their show in the past, it's probably not very fair to go comparing this one to anything else.

Instead, let's  just let it be what it was, which is a very solid opener.

After a good battle, Booker T reclaimed his title.
Your Winner and New WCW Television Champion: Booker  T

Immediately afterwards, Saturn rushed the ring and it looked like our second TV title match was going to happen immediately.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW World Television Champion Booker T vs. Saturn  

WCW SuperBrawl VIII (1998) - Booker T defended the TV title against Saturn and Rick Martel in two matches
Wearing street clothes and sporting more hair than I ever remember him having, Saturn beat Booker black and blue.

The resulting match didn't really have any heat but was perfectly fine until it began to drag on and on.

Seriously, this one felt like it went on forever and actually became a chore to watch at times.

After a long, long fight in which he mostly got his ass kicked, Booker T hit his Big Kick Thing that I've forgotten the name of to retain the title.
Your Winner and Still WCW TV Champion: Booker T

Backstage, Chris Jericho spoke to Mark Madden and Jeff Katz about his Cruiserweight Championship  Title vs. Mask match later on in the show.

La Parka vs. Disco Inferno 

WCW SuperBrawl VIII (1998) - La Parka vs. Disco Inferno
As Disco Inferno made his way to the ring, Tony Schiavone commented on how ridiculous it was that, with a full-scale WCW/NWO war going on, Disco and La Parka would be feuding over dance moves.

Alas, they were, but I'm not saying that was a bad thing.

Whatever reason they used to get in the ring together, Disco Inferno vs. La Parka was actually far more entertaining than you'd expect.

A good, see-saw battle with plenty to enjoy, this one ended with La Parka bringing a chair into the ring but getting thrown off the top rope onto it.

A Chart Buster later and this one was over.
Your Winner: Disco Inferno 

WCW SuperBrawl VIII (1998) - Mean Gene Okerlund with JJ Dillon and Nick Patrick
Out in the entrance way, we got the obligatory 'Mean Gene Okerlund interviews JJ Dillon' segment.

This time, Dillon told us that Nick Patrick had been reinstated following his suspension in the wake of Montreal II at Starrcade 97.

To be fair, he should never have been suspended in the first place given that any idiot could watch that show and realise that Patrick never actually delivered the fast count he was so accused of.

Anyway, Nick, who has to be my favourite referee ever, came out and was thrilled about being reinstated, even going so far as to thank his friends, fans, and loved ones for their support.

He was, however, less thrilled to learn that he wouldn't be the referee for Hogan vs. Sting II later on in the show, a piece of news which upset him so much he started ranting about his missed back pay.

Patrick was golden here, with far more natural charisma than even some of the men he refereed for over the years.

WCW SuperBrawl VIII (1998) - Bill Goldberg squashed Brad Armstrong

Brad Armstrong vs. Bill Goldberg

Bill came. Bill saw. Bill conquered.

This was your typical Bill Goldberg Super Squash Special, albeit with the added bonus that Brad Armstrong was reasonably entertaining in his few minutes as cannon fodder.
Your Winner: Bill Goldberg 

Moving on...

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship Mask vs. Title Match
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho vs. Juventud Guerrera 

At his heelish best, Chris Jericho was the ultimate brat here, even refusing to take the title belt off and trying to wrestle whilst wearing it until Juventud Guerrera kicked him in the midsection and the belt winded him.

After that, we got a fantastic Cruiserweight match that proved to be the best thing on the show so far.

For what it's worth, this was the second Cruiserweight title vs. Mask bout in the last six months, with the first one being Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. at Halloween Havoc 1997.

This match may not have been as good as that all-time classic but it was still great in its own right.

At one point, it looked to have ended with a win for Juvi when he did get the three count but Jericho had his hand on the rope.

Afterwards a few more minutes of exhilarating action, Jericho slapped on the Lion Tamer and Juvi lost both the match and his mask.
Your Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho 

Afterwards, Juvi teased the big reveal that, under his mask, he was actually a handsome pretty boy.

All the while, Jericho acted like a complete prick, goading both Juvi and the crowd and proving why he was one of the most entertaining acts of the late 1990s.

Steve 'Mongo' McMichael vs. The British Bulldog

WCW SuperBrawl VIII (1998) - British Bulldog beat Steve 'Mongo' McMichael
In 1993, The British Bulldog had enjoyed a brief run as one of WCW's biggest main event stars.

Five years later and he was back in the company, this time as a mid-card act that would struggle to find anything meaningful to do for the duration of his run.

At least he had something of a feud going on here with Steve 'Mongo' McMichael, as the two had a rivalry which led us to a mediocre match.

After several minutes of so-so action which saw Mongo hurt his arm, Davey Boy slapped on an armbar and won the match.
Your Winner: The British Bulldog

Afterwards, an irate Mongo McMichael shoved the referee over and stormed off backstage, complaining that he never actually gave up.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Diamond Dallas Page vs. Chris Benoit

WCW SuperBrawl VIII (1998) - Chris Benoit challenged DDP for the US title
Making his first US title defence since beating Curt Hennig for the title on Nitro, Diamond Dallas Page put the belt on the line in a very good face vs. face match.

After a truly tremendous effort from both champ and challenger, a dramatic finish saw Page get the three count to retain.
Your Winner and Still WCW US Champion: Diamond Dallas Page

Heading back to the announcers, Tony Schiavone told us that despite earlier promising us that The Giant would be here, problems with his flight meant that he wouldn't.

He also told us that, after Kevin Nash had dropped Giant on his head like a sack of shit at Souled Out 1998, The Jackknife Powerbomb had been banned.

A brief video then showed us that happening at Souled about just in case we'd missed it.

No Disqualification Match
Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Lex Luger 

WCW SuperBrawl VIII (1998) - Randy Savage met Lex Luger in a No DQ match
I don't want to say that WCW were running out of ideas at this point, but Lex Luger came out doing the bandaged-ribs gimmick that Diamond Dallas Page had only just finished doing.

Of course, the bandages -required after Luger had been beaten up by the nWo - were a natural target for Macho Man Randy Savage, who lay into his opponent despite the announcers suggesting that the two may have called a truce because they'd been spotted 'having a conversation' backstage.

Tonight, there was no truce - just a passable though immediately forgettable no DQ match in which nothing interesting happened until the finish.

Luger got Savage up for
 the torture rack, but Miss Elizabeth interfered to save her man, at which point the nWo B-Team (Scott Norton, Buff Bagwell, Virgil, and Brian Adams) all ran in.

Both Luger and Savage then sent the nWo packing, at which point Hogan came down and told his men to leave Savage because he wasn't family and that he (Hogan) was glad Savage had been beaten.

Because he had been beaten by Luger's torture rack, but we were too focussed on Hogan to notice.
Your Winner: Lex Luger

Time for one more match before our main event.

World Championship Wrestling Unified World Tag Team Championship
World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Champions The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner w/ Ted Dibiase) vs. The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash w/ Dusty Rhodes)

The 'unified' here was a bit of a stretch here as the titles being unified were the real WCW tag titles held by The Steiners and the fake ones The Outsiders had introduced after they lost the real ones.

It didn't really matter anyway, because about a minute into the match Scott Steiner turned on Rick Steiner and joined the nWo.

Ladies and gentlemen, Big Poppa Pump was born.

A minute later, Hall hit the Outsiders Edge, and this one was over.
Your Winners and New WCW Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders

Afterwards, Steiner handed The Outsiders their titles and celebrated becoming the newest member of the New World Order.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
Match for the Vacant Title
Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. Sting

WCW SuperBrawl VIII (1998) - Sting beat Hulk Hogan for the vacant WCW title
It was once The Match of the Century, now it was The Rematch to Make Up For How Horrible the Match of the Century Had Been.

As Hogan matches go, this one was on the more entertaining end of the scale, but still, don't expect Malenko/Guerrero flashes of technical Wrestling brilliance.

What you did get was a weird match that was basically all Hogan. Until the finish happened, Sting was just a body that was there in the same way that Brad Armstrong had been for Bill Goldberg earlier.

At one point, Charles Robinson got squashed by Sting, prompting Nick Patrick to run in and shock Hulk by refusing to make a fast count.

Hogan continued to dominate anyway and cut off every bit of offence Sting made.

Eventually, Sting made the big no-sell comeback and hit Hogan with the Scorpion Death Drop, but Hogan kicked Nick on the way down.

An NWO run in ensured but Sting cleaned house and made the pin anyway.

A three count later and we had a new, undisputed  World Heavyweight Champion.
Your Winner and NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Sting 

Afterwards, Sting took a can of spray paint left by Savage in the NWO run-in and sprayed WCW on Hogan's body.
Ladies and gentlemen, that's the finish we should have got at Starrcade.

Had the company done that in the first place, things might have worked out very differently for them, but only time would tell whether the damage-repair job carried out tonight had been enough.

As for the rest of the card, there was a lot to enjoy, particularly Page/Benoit and the Mask vs. Title bout, though this wasn't a bad show overall and is certainly worth a casual viewing.

More SuperBrawl Reviews

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 
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Event poster
February 15th, 1998,
Compaq Center, Houston, Texas

Back in the day, the 20th instalment of the In Your House franchise was always called No Way Out until somebody pointed out that those initials spelt NWO, and that the NWO was, of course, the reason why WCW were kicking the World Wrestling Federation's ass every which way but west. 

Not wishing to promote the competition, the WWF braintrust quickly scrambled for a name change.

The  event became No Way Out of Texas, and was the last major stop on the road to Wrestlemania 14.

Here's what went down as the company began shaping the storylines that would deliver our marquee matches for the biggest event of the year.

The Renegades Are in Charge 

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
Our show tonight began with the usual video package, this one telling us that whilst the road to glory often meant  making sacrifices and generally being a good guy fighting for what's right, renegades like Stone Cold Steve Austin, the New Age Outlaws, Cactus Jack, and Chainsaw Charlie had managed to make it to the top by being defiant, crazy, and a bunch of badasses.

Tonight, we'd see all those men, and more, at No Way Out of Texas.

That took us to the opening pyro, shots of a truly rabid crowd, and a welcome from Jim Ross.

Ross informed us that Shawn Michaels wouldn't be competing in tonight's big eight Man main event (he was recuperating from the injury he suffered when he landed awkwardly on the casket in a match with The Undertaker at Royal Rumble 98) and that because that match was likely to be so intense, it had also been turned into an anything-goes, no holds barred affair.

JR's broadcast colleague, Jerry 'The King' Lawler added that D-Generation-X would have a hard time finding any replacement on the same level of HBK (and man, would they ever!), and with that, it was onto our opening match.

Marvellous Marc Mero & The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/ Luna Vachon) vs. The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher)

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Goldust and Luna Vachon
The ever-stunning Sable had accompanied Marc Mero to the ring but, playing up the heel gimmick in which he was supposedly jealous of his wife's popularity, Mero had sent her to the back, claiming that there was only room for one beautiful woman at ringside, and Luna Vachon was it.

Meanwhile, Luna's man The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust was supposed to be imitating Marilyn Manson, but actually bore an uncanny resemblance to Manson's on-again-off-again bassist, Twiggy Ramirez.

Together, Mero and MansonDust teamed up to take on Mosh and Thrasher in a match which, fun though it was, existed solely to serve as a backdrop to the rivalry between Sable and Luna.

After an enjoyable opener which saw Thrasher get busted open (Attitude Era = Blood), Sable returned to the ring to resume the argument she'd been having with Luna before the match (and on that week's episode of Raw).

This distracted Mero and MansonDust, who had actually been getting on quite well in some kind of Odd Couple double act.

The distraction allowed the Headbangers to do the old-switcharoo and win the match, not that anybody cared, or even noticed.
Your Winners: The Headbangers 

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Sable challenges Luna to a fight
They didn't notice because all eyes were firmly on Sable, and just Sable, not even Luna who she was mad at, just Sable.

We got ample shots of the irate beauty yelling at someone off camera, as if having the two in the same shot would somehow diminish Sable's sex appeal (which is dumb anyway, Luna was weirdly hot in her time).

Eventually, she got her hands on Vachon, only for a gaggle of officials to break it up.

Finally, Mero got in Sable's face, but she shoved him flat on his ass and sent him packing to end a fun first 20 minutes of the show.

Owen Hart Answers A Different Question 

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Owen Hart threatened to bust HHH's leg
Backstage, Michael Cole asked European Champion Owen Hart how he was going to co-exist with Stone Cold Steve Austin after the two had endured a bitter rivalry the previous year, complete with Owen breaking Austin's neck at Summerslam 1997 and then losing the Intercontinental Championship to him at Survivor Series 1997.

Owen responded by answering a different question entirely and telling Cole that he didn't give a damn who D-Generation-X picked as their partner tonight.

Finally getting to the question at hand, Hart tole Austin that as long as they stayed out of each other's way, they'd be fine.

To finish, he then turned his attention back to Hunter Hearst Helmsley, telling the DX member that when the two met in the ring, he was going to 'bust [his] legs,' which I suppose is a step up from kicking his leg out of his leg.

Sunny is Here 

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Sunny was the guest ring announcer
Looking pretty in pink, the ever-delightful Sunny came down to the ring to provide guest commentary for our next match.

I care not what you say, nobody was hotter than Sunny back in the day.

World Wrestling Federation Light Heavyweight Championship
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku vs. Pantera 

With nary a Cowboy From Hell in sight, Pantera wore his best dollar store leggings and cheap zebra print leotard to challenge Taka Michinoku for the Light Heavyweight Championship.

Despite almost nobody in the entire audience caring, both champ and challenger did their best to entertain, though sadly all their efforts were overshadowed by guest commentator Brian Christopher. 

At first stopping by to claim that Michinoku had cheated when he beat him for the title at In Your House 19: D-Generation-X, Christopher was obnoxious in a way that I'm sure wasn't part of his heel persona, and was so distracting that it was hard o pay attention to what was going on in the ring.

Then he started breaking out the casual racism, making random references to tacos when talking about Mexican Pantera (who was actually supposed to be his ally), and then -I kid you not- calling Taka 'slant-eyed.'

The match went on with hardly anyone paying attention until Taka hit the Michinoku Driver to retain the title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Taka Michinoku

Post-match, Brian wanted to attack the champ, but when his daddy tried to stop him, Taka flew off the top rope to the outside and levelled them both.

The Lawler boys then tried to attack, but Michinoku ran off thro. CNN know

Cactus & Funk Are Ready For a Fight

Out in the back, Cactus Jack and Terry Funk were talking to Kevin Kelly for America Online.

In a fumbling non-promo, the two repeated each other's claims that they didn't care who the eighth man was going to be in the main event, they were going to beat up everybody anyway.

Right on.

The Quebecers (Jacques Rougeau & Pierre Laffite) vs. The Godwins (Henry & Phineas Godwin)

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - The Godwins beat The Quebecers in a horrible match
Having recently returned to the World Wrestling Federation The Quebecers looked far worse than the last time they'd appeared together on a WWF PPV, which was several years ago at Wrestlemania 10.

They even looked worse than the last time they'd appeared on a WCW PPV, a little more recently at World War 3 1996, when they were known as The Amazing French Canadians.

Sadly, there was nothing amazing about them in this match.

Sure, they could still pull off some nice looking moves, but their contest with The Godwins, born of a recent rivalry played out on Shotgun Saturday Night, just sucked the life out of the arena.

After a whole bunch of blandness, Henry Godwin clotheslined Pierre from the outside and Phineas got the win.
Your Winners: The Godwins

Afterwards, The Godwins hit The Quebecers over their heads with buckets for good measure.

The New Age Outlaws Aren't Getting Any Respect

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - The New Age Outlaws interviewed by Doc Hendrix
The running story throughout tonight's show was the mystery of who would be replacing Shawn Michaels in tonight's big eight-man main event.

Would it be somebody returning like Sycho Sid? A brand new superstar?

Nobody knew, and that was part of the excitement.

Next, Doc Hendrix tried to solve that mystery once and for all by asking The New Age Outlaws who the mystery man was.

To Doc's dismay, and the Outlaws' frustration, they didn't know either, and had actually assumed that Hendrix had called them out to tell them who the eighth man was.

Pissed off that they'd been left out of the decision-making process, the tag team Champions went off to get some respect, presumably from Triple H.

I know what you're thinking...

I'm not a real athlete, I'm just a wrestler...

Remember those PSAs? I do, my friend and I used to quote it to each other all the time.

Anyway, we got one next, so that was a fun trip down memory lane.

National Wrestling Alliance North American Championship
NWA North American Champion Jeff Jarrett (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Bradshaw

Jeff Jarrett had originally come to the ring not only with Jim Cornette (making his first PPV appearance as a manager since Survivor Series 96) but also fellow NWA stablemates Barry Windham and The Rock 'n' Roll Express.

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Jeff Jarrett defended the NWA North American title against Bradshaw
The referee had ordered those three backstage, leaving us with a reasonably good one-on-one match.

Like a lot of undercard matches in the history of pro wrestling, this one wasn't going to set the world on fire, but it was decent outing that was probably the best match Bradshaw had been involved in since he joined the WWF.

In the end, Jarrett waffled the challenger with Cornette's tennis racket to lose the match but keep the title.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Bradshaw (Jeff Jarrett retains the title)

Post-match, Bradshaw took out Jarrett and The Rock and Roll Roll Express with the tennis racket, but Barry Windham tripped him up and the numbers game got too much for Bradshaw.

That's when long-time NWA mainstays The Legion of Doom ran in to make the save and bring this fun part of the show to a close.

Triple H Makes it a Handicap Match

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Michael Cole interviews Triple H (w/ Chyna)
Proving that he could indeed take the reigns as head of DX in the absence of Shawn Michaels, Hunter Hearst Helmsley cut a compelling promo in which he claimed that, because nobody was capable of filling Shawn Michaels' shoes, he wasn't picking a partner and had decided that tonight's main event would be a handicap match.

Michael Cole then informed Hunter that WWF officials were probably going to put someone in the match anyway, which was a good way to defer the blame for the eventual pick away from HHH.

The Rock Over Shadows Farooq

Backstage, Doc Hendrix interviewed The Nation of Domination about their upcoming 'War of Attrition' with Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, and the Disciples of Apocalypse.

Whilst Nation leader Farooq took the microphone to yell at Doc, The Rock gurned and posed for the camera and was genuinely hilarious.

If for nothing else, this show is worth tracking down for this segment - Rock was hysterical.

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - The Rock poses during a Nation of Domination interviewWar 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

When they called it a 'War of Attrition' that didn't mean there was any kind of special stipulation going on; it was just a way to sell a big ass tag match in the same way that WCW used to sell matches by calling them 'Super Special Grudge Match' or the like.

Still, as matches go, this was at least an exciting one, with exactly the right combination of star power, heated rivalries, and solid action.

After an explosive contest that proved to be a surprise highlight of the evening, Shamrock slapped Rocky in the ankle lock to win the match.
Your Winners: Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, and the DOA

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - The Rock yells at Farooq after their match
Afterwards, Rock yelled at Farooq and Farooq took out his frustrations by hitting D'Lo Brown. D'Lo then wanted to get at Farooq but the whole thing was diffused by Kama and Henry - clearly interesting times were ahead for The Nation of Domination.

Austin is a Babyface 

Out in the back, Michael Cole interviewed Stone Cold Steve Austin who, like all three of his teammates, claimed he didn't care if there was an eighth man.

He then cut the closest thing he'd come to a proper babyface promo so far when he said that even though it was 'fun to whip someone's ass anywhere in the world,' it was even better in his home state of Texas.

That took us back to Ross and Lawler, who claimed to have one of Steve Austin's kindergarten report cards.

Even though it was clearly just a blank piece of card, the two claimed that it said Austin didn't play well with others, even as a child.

Next, we got a special video package looking at the rivalry between Vader and Kane.

That match was next.

Vader vs. Kane (w/ Paul Bearer)

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Kane vs. Undertaker
After making his debut by attacking brother The Undertaker at Badd Blood: In Your House 18, Kane had been on the warpath, destroying everyone in his path and even locking The Undertaker in a casket which he set on fire at the 1998 Royal Rumble,

With The Dead Man presumed gone, Kane had next turned his attention to Paul Bearer's former charge, Vader.

The match was mostly dull with flashes of excitement, especially at the finish.

Kane popped up from a Vader moonsault, got blasted with a fire extinguisher and powerbombed, but popped up again and landed a big tombstone piledriver for the win.
Your Winner: Kane

In the aftermath, Kane pulled a wrench from under the ring and smashed Vader in the face with it.

The attack was so bad that Vader had to be wheeled out on a stretcher.

After quickly telling us about Wrestlemania 14, Jim Ross told us that Vader's face had been caved in.

He and Lawler also confirmed Michael Cole's earlier suggestion that the WWF would indeed select a partner for Team DX

Non-Sanctioned, Anything Goes Eight-Man Tag Team Match
Stone Cold Steve Austin, Cactus Jack, Chainsaw Charlie, and WWF European Champion Owen Hart vs. Triple H, Savio Vega, and WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (Bad Ass Billy Gunn and Road Dogg Jesse James) w/ Chyna

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Eight Man main event (the mystery man was Savio Vega)
And so after all the hype, all the mystery and suspense, the mystery eighth man was revealed to be Savio Vega.

I remember at the time what an enormous feeling of disappointment we all felt with what has to be the most underwhelming selection of a replacement, and you cave still tell what a let down it was watching it even years later.

You know what I don't get?

How come the World Wrestling Federation were able to decide that this was an unsanctioned match - meaning they had nothing to do with it, yet could still force an eighth man in there and have one of their referees officiate it?

Explain that to me, oh Mighty Lords of Kayfabe.

Anyway, with the bad guys all in the ring, Owen Hart came down followed by Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack, all three of whom littered the ring with weapons before Austin blew the roof off the place with his entrance.

With that, the match was on.

Things started with a wild, weapon-filled brawl that was out of control in the worst sense of the word.

Sure it had some fun spots, but trying to watch eight men have four different fights at once gets to be confusing.

Thankfully, things did 'settle down' into your standard tag match (albeit one filled with weapons and barbed wire) and turned out to be a hugely enjoyable main event.

The heels dominated proceedings, with Owen Hart constantly trying to come to his teammate's rescue and Austin launching a trash can at Billy Gunn in a truly beautiful spot. Then, after getting wrapped up in barbed wire, Cactus Jack made the tag to Stone Cold, who cleaned house and stunned Road Dogg to win the match.
Your Winners: Steve Austin, Cactus Jack, Chainsaw Charlie, and Owen Hart

Afterwards, Chyna confronted Austin and goaded him into giving her a Stone Cold Stunner to send the crowd home even happier than they already were.

And so the Road to Wrestlemania turned it io a gear with what proved to be a hot main event which capped off a truly mixed bag of a show.
Next stop, Wrestlemania 14.

Apart from that big eight-man match, there was nothing here that really stood out as being anything remarkable, but enough reasonably entertaining stuff (the opening tag match and the Nation/Team Shamrock stuff) that stopped it from being a one match show.

1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Souled Out 1998

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Event poster
January 24, 1998
Hara Arena, Trotwood, Ohio

In January 1997, World Championship Wrestling looked to capitalise on the runaway success of their New World Order angle by experimenting with a brand new concept: 

An entire nWo Pay Per View.

As you'll read in my WCW/NWO Souled Out '97 review, the event may have been a novel idea, but in reality turned out to be an absolute disaster.

In 1998 then, the company decided to do away with everything but the name as they launched their first PPV offering of the new year.

Here's what went down at Souled Out 1998.

Eric Bischoff is Building an Empire 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Eric Bischoff featured in the opening video
Our show tonight began with a reminder that Kevin Nash had been forced to put up a $1.5 million dollar bond to guarantee he'd show up at tonight's event for a match with The Giant, with the added clause that The Giant couldn't touch Nash in the meantime.

This was edited in between clips of Eric Bischoff stood rubbing his hands together and making vague statements about building an empire which didn't seem to make much sense.

From there, we went to the classic announce team of Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, and The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, who told us that not only was Nash definitely here, but that we'd also get a dream match between 13-time World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair and Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

From there, it was on with show.

Eight Man Lucha Libre Match
Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo, Lizmark Jr., and Chaco Guerrero Jr., vs. La Parka, Silver King, Psicosis, and El Dandy 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Super Calo, Lizmark Jr., Chavo Guerrero and Juventud Guerrera won an 8 man lucha mach
Throughout 1997 -and even a bit before- the likes of Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio Jr. had done a great job in making the company's Cruiserweight mean something important by forgoing the spot-orientated lucha style in favour of something that really mattered.

The result was a series of incredible pro wrestling matches such as Eddie vs. Rey at Halloween Havoc 1997 - matches that meant something, matches that had drama and emotion on top of just a bunch of cool flippy-spots.

But hey, sometimes a bunch of cool flippy-spots could be fun too, and tonight's opening contest proved that.

Ok, so there was nothing here that was groundbreaking, or that even mattered outside the confines of the match itself, but it was great fun and included some terrific spots, including Silver King hitting a suicide dive onto nobody and splatting himself to death.

After almost everyone else threw themselves to the outside with a bunch of dives, Chavo Guerrero and Psicosis were left in the ring.

Chavo hit a tornado DDT from the top rope, and this fun little match was over.
Your Winners: Chavo Guerrero Jr., Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo, and Lizmark Jr. 

Afterwards, the batshit crazy La Parka went batshit crazy and took out everybody -including his own teammates- with a chair.

Mean Gene Okerlund then shilled the hotline for a bit and then it was on to our next contest.

Anything Goes Match
Raven vs. Chris Benoit 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Chris Benoit beat Raven
Raven came to the ring with The Flock but, unlike at Starrcade 1997, when he had Saturn substitute for him, officials had ordered that Raven had to compete and The Flock were banned from ringside.

Raven, proving that he was enough before emo was cool, took to the microphone to claim that he didn't care about being alone because he had no friends in school.

He then went to war with Chris Benoit in a solid effort that brought a whole new level of brutality to WCW.

Though both men would have better matches with other people, they worked well together to deliver a good, no-holds-barred match which ended when Raven passed out in the Crippler crossface.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit 

Afterwards, The Flock attacked Benoit but Dean Malenko made the save as the announcers wondered aloud why he'd come to Benoit's aid.

The two shared a nod of mutual respect, and then it was on to our next match.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Chris Jericho 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Chris Jericho beat Rey Mysterio for the Cruiserweight title
Lion Heat Chris Jericho was still in the early stages of the heel persona that made him one of the most entertaining things about WCW in the late 90a, but already he was infinitely more enjoyable than he'd been in his cheesy-babyface days.

Here, he challenged Rey Mysterio Jr. for the Cruiserweight Championship in what would be the first of many incredible matches the two would have over the years.

After a very good effort, Jericho slapped on the Lion Tamer to win his third Cruiserweight title.
Your Winner and New WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho 

Afterwards, Jericho was so upset that the crowd were booing him that he took it out on Mysterio and destroyed the now-ex champion's knee using the ring steps before sauntering backstage muttering that he was sorry.

An Update on the Vacant World Heavyweight Championship 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - JJ Dillon and Rowdy Roddy Piper announced Hogan vs. Sting II for Superbrawl
After the shenanigans that went down at the end of Hogan vs. Sting at Starrcade 1997, J.J. Dillon had declared the World Heavyweight Championship vacant.

Tonight, Dillon, standing in the ring with Mean Gene, asked the man who had originally booked Hollywood Hogan vs. Sting, Rowdy Roddy Piper, to come to the ring.

Piper, who hadn't been seen since he beat Hogan at Halloween Havoc 97, announced that it was up to him to decide what happened to the title.

Piper called out Sting, Hollywood Hulk Hogan, and Scott Hall, then announced that even though Hall had earned a championship match at Superbrawl as a result of winning World War 3 1997, Hall's title shot had been postponed and instead, the Superbrawl main event would be a rematch of Hogan vs. Sting for the vacant title.

Hogan urged Hall to help him beat up Sting, but instead the Outsider merely walked off, disgusted.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW World TV Champion Booker T vs. Rick Martel 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Rick Martel challenged Booker T for the TV title
The last time we saw Rick Martel on a PPV, it was at 1995 Royal Rumble, when he made a cameo in the Rumble match.

The last time we saw him in a singles match on PPV, it was at the 1992 Survivor Series in a match with Tatanka.

Here, he proved that he hadn't missed a step in his years away by challenging Booker T - making his first singles championship match on PPV- in another good outing.

After a very enjoyable bout, Booker retained the title thanks to the Harlem Hangover.
Your Winner and Still TV Champion: Booker T 

Afterwards, Martel gave Booker his title belt and the two shook hands. Perry Saturn then ran out and attacked Martel, prompting Booker to come back for the save.

Scott Hall (w/ Louis Spicolli) vs. Larry Zybysko (w/ Dusty Rhodes)

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Dusty Rhodes turned heel and joined the NWO
As an announcer, Living Legend Larry Zybysko had been more than a little vocal about his hatred of the New World Order, leading to an eventual war of words with nWo founder, Scott Hall.

Things had escalated Fall Brawl 1997, when Zybysko had counted the fall in Hall's match with Lex Luger, and then even further at Starrcade, when Larry beat Eric Bischoff for control of Nitro and Hall got involved.

Tonight, the two would finally meet in a 'hotly anticipated' one-on-one match that saw Hall seconded by his lackey, Louis Spicolli, and Zybysko getting a big pop for revealing that Dusty Rhodes would be his corner man.

The match itself was better than it should have been given that one of the participants had been retired for a few years, but took an awkward turn when the fans decided to blow the roof off with a loud 'Larry Sucks!' chant.

I'm the end, Zybysko 'played possum' and lured Hall into a submission hold.

Louis Spicolli ran in and hit Larry, and this one was over.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Larry Zybysko 

Afterwards, Dusty came in and once again got the biggest pop of the night for destroying Spicolli with a series of bionic elbows, but then also hit Larry with an elbow.

That was the cue to reveal that he was actually part of the New World Order, and that he'd, I don't know, been faking it with Spicolli because the two embraced just as much as Dusty and Hall did.

The fans were upset, but not as upset as Tony Schiavone, who was so heartbroken at his friend's betrayal that he refused to speak for a few minutes, leaving Bobby Heenan to hold the fort by himself.

Six Man Tag Team Match
Team nWo - Konnan, Buff Bagwell, and Scott Norton (w/ Vincent) vs. Ray Traylor and The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner w/ Ted Dibiase) 

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Rick Steiner face mauls Buff Bagwell
There were two stories here that took centre stage above all the action.

One was the dissension between Rick and Scott Steiner, with the latter becoming a roid-raging glory hog in recent weeks, and this being ignored by his teammates, and the other being Schiavone's disbelief over Dusty Rhodes' betrayal.

Tony was so messed up that he got Mike Tenay to come out and pick up the slack.

When he did speak, Tony told us that the reason the crowds were so quiet was because they were also in shock about the American Dream joining the nWo, and not because the match was boring, which it was.

After brother Rick played babyface in peril for about a thousand years, Scott got the tag and took out Scott Norton for the win.
Your Winners: Ray Traylor and The Steiners 

Afterwards, Scotty seemed to want to get into a posedown with Buff Bagwell, but Buff merely gave him a knowing look and walked off, smiling.

Kevin Nash (w/ Eric Bischoff & Hollywood Hogan) vs. The Giant 

I'm sure that this match has its fans, but I'm also sure I'm not one of them.

After a dull and sloppy effort, Eric Bischoff tried to get involved in the action and got chokeslammed for his trouble.

The distraction allowed Kevin Nash to throw steaming hot coffee in his opponent's face, and then pick him up and drop him like a sack of shit in a poor imitation of a jackknife powerbomb for the win.
Your Winner: Kevin Nash 

After medical staff bandaged The Giant's eyes and helped him to the back, we got a weird commercial for Superbrawl VIII featuring Diamond Dallas Page in a tattoo parlour and some goofy dude in a suit getting the world title belt tattooed on his forearm.

Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Bret Hart beat Ric Fair in his debut WCW match
Wrestling in his first PPV match since Survivor Series 1997 and his first WCW match ever, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart went one-on-one with the man he beat to capture his first WWF Championship back in 1992, Nature Boy Ric Flair.

Despite the lack of an on-screen rivalry, the match was billed an as a battle to see which of the two top stars really was 'the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.'

What they ultimately proved, was that both men were capable of great matches, even though this one was perhaps not quite as good as it could have been.

Don't get me wrong, it was still a highly enjoyable effort, and by far the best match on the show, but there were still moments when it seemed to lack a little something.

The end came with a solid win for The Hitman courtesy of The Sharpshooter.
Your Winner: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

Moving quickly on, it was down to our main event of the evening.

Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Lex Luger

WCW Souled Out 1998 - Randy Savage faced Lex Luger in the main event
Well, I say it's the main event, and so did Michael Buffer, but Macho Man Randy Savage and Lex Luger felt like an afterthought, especially since the announcers hadn't mentioned it, not once, not even briefly, all evening.

Honestly, I had no idea this match was happening until it happened, and when it did, it was better than expected.

Ok, so the crowd were pretty dead, and if anything this one felt like a Nitro main vent rather than a PPV outing, but it was still pretty fun.

Most of that fun came from Miss Elizabeth running interference on behalf of her man, and Luger having to keep her at bay whilst still fighting off Savage.

In the end, Scott Hall came down with a chair to, I assume, help Savage, but Hogan came down and stopped Hall from getting involved.

Luger then sent Savage hurtling into Hall, who fell off the apron.

A torture rack later and this one was over.
Your Winner: Lex Luger

Except it wasn't really.

Hogan and the nWo (minus Hall) attacked Luger, then Sting came down to clean house as Souled Out came to an end.

So, was Souled Out any better when it wasn't an nWo-only PPV?

In short, yes, yes it was.

OK, so Souled Out 1998 wasn't the greatest show of all time, but it was a good start to the year for World Championship Wrestling and did contain some genuinely enjoyable matches.

The opening luchadore outing plus Jericho/Mysterio and Hart/Flair are all worth your time, whilst the stuff in between didn't suck so hard as to take the shine off those matches.

Not must-see viewing by any stretch, but a decent show overall.

1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF Royal Rumble 1998 
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Thursday, 19 July 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 1998

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - Event poster
January 18, 1998
San Jose Arena, San Jose, California.

It was the dawning of a brand new year, and in many respects, the dawning of a brand new era in the World Wrestling Federation.

Despite spending most of 1997 slowly transforming their product into one with an edgier, more adult-orientated feel,it wasn't until the wake of the 1997 Survivor Series that the Attitude Era officially began.

A few months later, we found ourselves here, at the first Royal Rumble of that Attitude Era and the first World Wrestling Federation pay per view to feature the 'scratch' logo that was so synonymous with that time period.

With that in mind, this was the one show that was about to set the tone for the rest of 1998, the first full calendar year of the Attitude Era.

Here's what went down when the 1998 Royal Rumble came live from San Jose, California.

Everyone Wants to Be Champion

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler announced the showOur show tonight began with a dramatic video package highlighting someone the superstars in tonight's Royal Rumble match and telling us how important t it was to each of them that they won the annual 30-man battle royal.

From there, Jim Ross welcomed us to the 11th Royal Rumble and reminded us that we'd have three title matches on tonight's show. Ross' broadcast colleague, Jerry 'The King' Lawler informed us that none other than Iron Mike Tyson was in attendance.

Just to prove it, a shot of Tyson (referred to as 'huge WWF fan' by Ross) enjoying the show from a skybox was shown.

The crowd booed loudly for the boxer, but were then more happy about our opening match.

The Artist Fomerly Known as Goldust (w/ Luna Vachon) vs. Vader 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - Luna Vachon supports Goldust in his match with Vader
These two had been at war since Survivor Series 1997, when The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust -then just Goldust- had refused to tag In when he teamed with Vader, Steve Blackman, and The Patriot as Team USA to take on Team Canada.

So after a series of incidents on various episodes of Raw, they finally got together for a match tonight that was decent for what it was but hardly worth much of anyone's time.

Saying that, I did enjoy Goldust's T.A.F.K.A gimmick, mainly because it was so different from what everyone else was doing, but even that couldn't stop this match from being anything more than average.

In the end, Vader went to Vader Bomb Goldust but Luna Vachon jumped on his back.

Undeterred, The Mastadon hit the move anyway with Luna on his back in what was a pretty cool way to end things.
Your Winner: Vader 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - The Godwins demand Michael Cole tell them where Steve Austin is
Out in the back, Stone Cold Steve Austin arrived and Michael Cole tried to get a word with him.

Austin had nothing to say other than to tell Cole to park his pick up truck for him and be careful with it lest he get his ass kicked.

As Austin stormed off, Cole began reminding us about the story of tonight's show -that Stone Cold was a marked man and everyone was after him- until he was interrupted by The Godwins, who proved that point by demanding to know which way Austin went.

Sunny is Your Guest Referee 

Be still my beating heart, the love of my life during the 1990s was here, and as a way to get her on the show, she was the special referee for our upcoming minis match.

Six-Man Minis Match
Battalion, Tarantula, and El Torito vs. Nova, Mosaic, and Max Mini 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - Tarantula and Max Mini met in a six man mini match
Normally these mini matches were pretty fun, but this one was kinda bland and disjointed and did a good job of exposing why the little luchadores weren't kept around long term: they basically did the same thing over and over.

The match got repetitive pretty quickly and became uninteresting.

At one point, they did that spot -so popular on indie shows across the world- when they each took turns to do suicide dives on one another, but even that was rubbish because the three or four guys on the outside waiting to catch the one doing the dive did nothing to disguise the fact that they were just stood there waiting.

In the end, Mini scored the inevitable win, and this one was done.
Your Winners: Max Mini, Nova, and Mosaic 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - Iron Mike Tyson hangs with Shane and Vince McMahon
Out in the back, The Nation of Domination charged into Steve Austin's locker room but only found an Austin foam finger instead.

We then returned to the arena, where we were shown Vince and Shane McMahon talking to Mike Tyson.

The Rock is Ready For Shamrock 

Prior to our next match, we were shown clips that recapped The Nation of Domination's rivalry with Ken Shamrock, including the episode of Raw in which Mark Henry turned on Shamrock and joined The Nation of Domination.

That took us backstage, where Rocky Maivia referred to himself constantly as The Rock whilst practicing becoming one of the most entertaining promos in the industry.

He wasn't there yet, but this was light years ahead of the awkward babyface promos he was cutting a year earlier.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Rocky Maivia vs. Ken Shamrock

After a slow start, this one evolved into an exciting match with a fun finish.

After a see-saw battle, challenger Ken Shamrock looked to have the title won, only for a Nation of Domination run in distract the referee.

That allowed The Rock to drill Shamrock with a pair of brass knuckles and make the cover, though not before stuffing the foreign object into his opponent's trunks.

To the champ's surprise, The  World's Most Dangerous Man kicked out, and planted Mavia with a belly to belly suplex.

A three count later and we had a new Intercontinental Champion...

...or did we?

No, we didn't, because Rocky told the ref to check Shamrock's trunks.

He did, and the decision was reversed.
Your Winner via Disqualification and Still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Rocky Maivia 

Out in the back, Los Boricuas beat up either Skull or 8-Ball (did anyone ever know which one was which?) thinking that he was Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Oh You Didn't Know the LOD Were Legends? 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - The Legion of Doom promise to destroy the New Age Outlaws
Up next, Michael Cole voiced a video package which reminded us what utter legends The Legion of Doom were, and also how horrible The New Age Outlaws had been in attacking them and even shaving Hawk's trademark do.

That took us to Road Dogg Jesse James and Bad Ass Billy Gunn's entrance for the upcoming tag team title match, and the first PPV appearance of Road Dogg's famous 'Oh you didn't know?' catch phrase.

From there, we got the ever-present Michael Cole informing Hawk and Animal that doctors didn't want Animal competing due to a back injury he received when the New Age Outlaws and D-Generation-X powerbombed him off the apron through the announce table.

Animal ranted and raved that doctors didn't know what they were talking about, whilst Hawk made a thinly-veiled threat to murder the Tag Team Champions.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg Jesse James & Bad Ass Billy Gunn) vs. The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) 

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - The Legion of Doom challenged the New Age Outlaws for the tag titlesAnd so it was that we finally got down to the action.

Though not the greatest tag team title match in the world, this one was at least pretty entertaining for the most part.

Towards the finish, Road Dogg handcuffed Hawk to the ring post on the outside, leaving Animal to fend for himself.

The big man did a good job too, and almost had Bad Ass Billy Gunn best until Roadie came in with a chair to cause the Disqualification.
Your Winners via DQ (The Legion of Doom)

Afterwards, the Outlaws continued their assault until Hawk broke free and cleaned house.

Mildred Bowers Wins Stone Cold Steve Austin's Pickup Truck 

The truck that Austin had earlier asked Michael Cole to park was apparently being given away in some kind of sweepstakes, and it was won by an old lady called Mildred Bowers.

Years later, in true Stone Cold fashion, Mildred would hit the news for claiming that the secret to living to 103 was drinking beer.

With that, ladies and gentlemen, it was almost time for the 1998 Royal Rumble.

Steve Austin Was A Marked Man

As the dubious winner of the 1997 Royal Rumble, Steve Austin was a favourite for this year's event.

It that didn't make him a marked man, the fact that he'd spent recent weeks dropping the Stone Cold Stunner in everyone from The Rock to The Godwins to Marvellous Marc Mero did.

1998 Royal Rumble Match
30-Man Battle Royal featuring The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Cactus Jack, Dude Love, Mankind, The Headbangers, Owen Hart, Honky Tonk Man, 

Like the time Demolition started the match against each other at Royal Rumble 1989, tag team partners Cactus Jack and Terry 'Chainsaw Charlie' Funk started this year's event against each other.

Unlike Ax and Smash, however, Cactus and Charlie invited each other to hit the other one with chair shots and generally demolished each other with chairs and trash cans.

At one point, Tom Brandi came in as the number three entrant but got the Bushwhacker treatment and was immediately eliminated.

The Rock arrived as number four, and the match was on, with the likes of Headbanger Mosh, Steve Blackman, and Blackjack Bradshaw making up the numbers.

At one point, Owen Hart came out as the number nine entrant, but was attacked by NWA North American Champion and his future tag team partner Jeff Jarrett as Jim Cornette cheered on.

In other highlights of this year's event:
  • Rocky and D'Lo Brown turning on each other
  • Chainsaw Charlie eliminating Cactus Jack, but Foley returning as Mankind and eliminating Charlie, then -after getting eliminated again- returning as Dude Love
  • Owen Hart returning to take out Jeff Jarrett but being eliminated by Chyna and an injured Triple H, neither of whom were in the match.
  • A random cameo from the Honky Tonk Man (Lawler yelled 'my cousin! I mean, the Honky Tonk Man!')
  • Austin and Rock having an exciting brawl on the outside after both went through the middle ropes.
All of this for us down to our final four - Nation of Domination team mates Farooq and The Rock, and former tag team Champions Steve Austin and Dude Love.

Farooq dumped the Dude, Rocky sent Farooq out, then we got an intense brawl between Austin and The Rock which ended with the predictable win for Stone Cold.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Up in the VIP section, Mike Tyson told Michael Cole that he was glad 'Cold Stone,' had won, and that he was looking forward to a match between The Undertaker, who he'd been a fan of for years and 'the young, up and coming hungry tiger,' Shawn Michaels.


World Wrestling Federation Championship Casket Match
WWF Champion Shawn Michaels (w/ Triple H & Chyna) vs. The Undertaker

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 1998 - Shawn Michaels defended the WWF title against The Undertaker
After costing him the Championship in a match against Bret 'The Hitman' Hart at Summerslam 1997, Shawn Michaels had been in The Undertaker's bad books.

The two had met in a fantastic match at Ground Zero: In Your House 17 before going on to have an even better rematch in the first Hell in a Cell match in history at Badd Blood: In Your House 18, a match that became an all-time classic.

So, needless to say, expectations were pretty high for this one.

Sadly, it failed to meet those expectations, but that says more about the high standards set by the Heat two matches than it does about this match itself, because it was still very good, and ultimately saved the entire show from mediocrity.

After taking a good deal of punishment from the champion, The Undertaker made the big miracle comeback and destroyed Michaels.

HBK fought back and we got a cool spot which saw both men fighting in the coffin, but a chokeslam and a tombstone off the apron into the coffin looked to have Michaels beat.

Before we could get a new champion, however, Undertaker sighed a big 'oh no, not this again, as we got The Royal Rumble 1994 ending all over again.

This time, it was the New Age Outlaws and Los Boricuas who made the attack.

Kane then came down, and Jim Ross told us he was here to help Undertaker (apparently the two had formed some short-lived alliance that I'd totally forgotten about) but instead he turned on him and slammed him the casket.

The lid was closed and the match was over.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels

Afterwards, Kane and Paul Bearer locked the casket then rolled it up to the entrance, where Kane attacked with an axe before setting it on fire and kicking off the first full year of the Attitude Era in dramatic, memorable style.

And so, that was the 1998 Royal Rumble, a show that didn't even begin to matter until the main event.

Don't get me wrong, the actual Rumble match was pretty fun, but with the entire build up focussing on Austin, the winner was never in doubt.

The main event was also good stuff, though again, it lacked a certain something compared to Shawn and The Undertaker's first two matches in late 1997.

Still, as the first Royal Rumble of the Attitude Era, this one is actually worth a look.

For more Royal Rumble reviews see:
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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.