What the World Was Watching: Survivor Series 1998

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from St. Louis,
Missouri.  As a side note, this is the
first Survivor Series pay-per-view not to feature an elimination match of any kind.
Vince McMahon is
at ringside with the WWF title and does introductions for the first match.

WWF Championship
Tournament First Round:  Mankind beats
Duane Gill with a double arm DDT in 30 seconds:
Mankind was booked to face a mystery opponent here, who
some thought could be Randy Savage or Shawn Michaels.  Instead, it is just lowly jobber Duane Gill,
who Mankind – wearing a tuxedo – dispatches. 
At least Gill, the “man, the myth, and the legend,” gets a specialized
introduction, saying he had one loss in his prior WWF tenure and then jumped to
WCW.  Ross cracks me up by saying that
Gill “has spent more time on the canvas than Rembrandt.”  Gill also freaks out when pyro goes off around
him, which is a nice touch.  Crowd hated
this mystery opponent, but it fits the storyline.
Footage of
Jacqueline attacking Sable on Sunday Night Heat is shown.  Kevin Kelly interviews Sable, who says she is
pissed off and more determined than ever to become WWF Women’s champion.
WWF Championship
Tournament First Round:  Al Snow (w/Head)
defeats “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra McMichael) when he nails Jarrett with Head
at 3:31:
The small feud between these two has been built as Head
vs. Jarrett’s guitar and we get a small showdown between the two with Head
coming out on top.  Nothing more than a
rushed match to squeeze everything in on tonight’s card.  Rating:  *¾
WWF Championship
Tournament First Round:  “Stone Cold”
Steve Austin beats The Big Bossman via disqualification when the Bossman hits
Austin with his night stick at 3:17:
This is actually Bossman’s first match since he debuted
more than a month ago in the company as Vince McMahon’s bodyguard.  The match is a battle of wills between Austin’s
trademark offense and the Bossman’s rest holds. 
The Bossman blasts Austin with the night stick outside of the ring,
thereby blowing Tony Schiavone’s theory of how you cannot get disqualified out
there.  The Bossman completes a
thorough beating of Austin with the night stick before heading to the locker
room.  These tournament matches have been
pretty bad so far.  Rating:  ¼*
Michael Cole
interviews Vince McMahon, who is not concerned about Austin winning.  He reminds the audience that the night is
still young.
WWF Championship
Tournament First Round:  X-Pac wrestles
Stephen Regal to a double count out at 8:09:
X-Pac has flawlessly recovered from getting a fireball to
the eyes on RAW.  Clearly, a Z-Pak did the trick!  WWF tournaments usually have a draw of some sort – the 1990 Intercontinental title tournament featured two of them – and it is fitting that one of them takes place in a Regal bout.  Both
men initially fight to a double count out before McMahon orders a five minute
overtime period, but that does not happen as X-Pac seemingly has a serious
injury so Austin gets a bye to the semi-finals. 
That was all sorts of confusing.  This
was Regal’s only WWF pay-per-view appearance under this gimmick, as he would
head to rehab in early 1999 and be released. 
Rating:  **¼
WWF Championship
Tournament First Round:  Ken Shamrock
beats Goldust via submission to the ankle lock at 5:55:
Ross calls Shamrock’s Intercontinental title run dominant, but it is hard to see that when he has lost the majority of his bouts
since becoming champion.  The crowd is
clearly becoming restless by all these matches that have featured tons of
restholds thus far.  Shamrock came into
this as the clear favorite and he does prevail in a RAW-type match after the
referee blocks Shattered Dreams.  We even
get Lucha Shamrock as he pulls out a flying hurricanrana off the
second rope.  Rating:  **
Cole tells us that
Steve Austin is refusing medical attention. 
He says he knows Austin will keep competing!
The next
tournament bout is scheduled to be the Rock against Triple H, who has not been
seen since September.  Well, Triple H is
not here as he is still nursing a knee injury. 
Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco do make a funny walk out to the
D-Generation X theme music and do the crotch chops.  Ross takes another jab at Patterson’s sexual orientation
by saying that he is “still circulating Uranus.”  They announce that the Rock has a new
opponent:  The Big Bossman.  This leads to…
WWF Championship
Tournament First Round:  The Rock pins
The Big Bossman with a small package in four seconds:
The description of the match above says it all.  The Rock navigates himself into the
quarter-finals.  Initially, this came off
as stupid, but it made more sense by the end of the show.
Ross and Lawler
discuss the bracket, but Lawler still cannot figure it out.
WWF Championship
Tournament Quarter-Finals:  The
Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) defeats Kane with a Tombstone at 7:16:
This is the sixth time that the Undertaker and Kane are
squaring off in some capacity on pay-per-view in 1998 and if you do not think
that is enough, well they had a lot more bouts in subsequent years!  The Undertaker wears Kane down with some dull
offense and a Paul Bearer distraction cuts off a Kane comeback, enabling the
Dead Man to advance to the semi-finals.  Just awful.  Rating: 
½*
WWF Championship
Tournament Quarter-Finals:  Mankind beats
Al Snow (w/Head) with the Mandible Claw at 3:57:
Seeing Snow this deep in the tournament is just
weird.  However, we had to have this
match in the quarter-finals because Socko has been missing and is around Head.  McMahon and the stooges joke during the match
that they stole Socko from Mankind and put it there.  Mankind eventually finds Socko and in a part
of the match that is humorous and sad, he beats up the Head.  Seriously, he puts it in a headlock and just pounds away on it.  Another quick tournament match, nothing more
or less.  Rating:  **
WWF Championship
Tournament Quarter-Finals:  The Rock pins
Ken Shamrock after hitting him with the Big Bossman’s night stick at 8:22:
There is some nice symmetry with this match as Shamrock
forced the Rock to tap out at last year’s Survivor Series in Montreal.  This is also the final major battle between
the two, at least on pay-per-view, as they have squared off at four of the five
big pay-per-views of 1998:  the Royal Rumble,
WrestleMania, King of the Ring, and here. 
Shamrock got the King of the Ring nod, but now is just the Rock’s
time.  Shamrock’s look of despair when
the Rock reaches the ropes to break the ankle lock is a nice touch,
communicating that he has given the Rock his best shot and cannot finish
him.  This is the match of the night thus
far and it ends when the Bossman’s night stick toss to Shamrock is intercepted.  Rating:  ***
Cole interviews
Paul Bearer, who promises that the Undertaker will win the WWF title.
WWF Women’s
Championship Match:  Sable beats
Jacqueline (Champion w/Marc Mero) with a Sablebomb to win the title at 3:15:
Jacqueline won the title two months prior to this, but had
never defended it because these two women were the only two competitors in the
division.  They continue booking Sable as
the female version of Hulk Hogan, as she hits Jacqueline with a TKO less than a
minute in and then low blows Mero and powerbombs him on the floor.  Jacqueline never really lands any offense of
significance as Sable wins the title, but now she needs a new rival, so who
will that be?  Rating:  *½
WWF Championship
Tournament Semi-Finals:  Mankind pins “Stone
Cold” Steve Austin after Gerald Brisco hits Austin with a chair at 10:27:
So this semi-final gives us McMahon’s choice versus his
biggest foe and he makes sure to come down to ringside to see it.  These two put on a sloppy brawl for much of
the match, likely due to the tournament conditions, but things pick up when a
chair is introduced into the match for spots. 
Somehow doing a Stone Cold Stunner on a chair hurts your opponent more
than you, though.  The conspiracy really
unfolds after the stooges pull the referee out of the ring and McMahon rises
out of his wheelchair perfectly fine and decks him.  Shane McMahon then runs in and does his
famous two count turned into flipping Austin off and Brisco gives Austin a weak
chair shot to send Mankind into the finals. 
Evidently, the Big Bossman was supposed to do that, but pulled a Papa
Shango.  The crowd is just SHOCKED at the
finish.  In kayfabe terms, this was
probably Mankind’s biggest win since defeating the Undertaker at the 1996 King
of the Ring.  Rating:  **½
After the match,
McMahon and the stooges run to a waiting limo and it speeds away before Austin
can catch up to them.  Austin carjacks a
poor soul to pursue them, though.
WWF Championship
Tournament Semi-Finals:  The Rock defeats
The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) via disqualification when Kane interferes at
8:24:
With Austin out, the Rock now becomes the crowd favorite to
go all the way.  You can tell, though,
that a sizable number of fans are incredibly disappointed that Austin is
out.  These two do not have good
chemistry and the Rock plays the Randy Savage role here.  By the way, why is “playing Ricky Morton” a thing and not “playing Randy Savage”?  The Big Bossman comes out for
another Rock match, but proves ineffective. 
The bigger interference is run by Kane, who storms in and chokeslams the
Rock, thereby sending the Rock to the finals via disqualification.  The Undertaker and Kane brawl into the crowd
after the match because this feud MUST go on! 
Rating:  DUD
Cole interviews
Mankind, who is clearly exhausted.  He
says he only has one more hill to climb to be the WWF champion.
Triple Threat
Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: 
The New Age Outlaws (Champions) defeat The Headbangers & D-Lo Brown
& Mark Henry when Billy Gunn pins Mosh at 10:10:
To the WWF’s credit, they did a lot of work the last two
months to give the Headbangers a push, but they just never caught on as
evidenced by the fact that they have no heat in this match.  The rules for this bout allow for three men
to be in the ring at one time, an innovation that I prefer over a standard
triangle match where only two teams have men in the ring and a third team is
completely left out.  Of course, what is
good in theory does not always work in practice as this match devolves into a
big mess of miscommunication spots and Tim White mistakes.  You can tell on Billy Gunn’s face that he was
not happy with the quality of this match. 
Rating:  *½
Before the title
match, the McMahons wish the Bossman a goodnight and say that they will take
care of the finals personally.  This
means that the limo that sped away just had the stooges and was meant as a
distraction to get Austin out of the building. 
That is a pretty brilliant piece of writing.
WWF Championship
Tournament Finals:  The Rock defeats
Mankind via submission to the Sharpshooter to win the title at 17:18:
If you had told someone at the beginning of 1998 that
Survivor Series would be headlined by Mankind and the Rock they probably would
have laughed at you.  Maybe not on the Rock,
but definitely on Mankind, who was in between three gimmicks and wrestling with
Chainsaw Charlie.  The crowd really does
not know what to make of these guys in the finals, both of whom are noticeably
exhausted, and they only come alive when the McMahons walk out.  It takes a while for this to get going, but
Mankind sacrifices his body to finally draw the crowd in, diving through the
Spanish announce table and taking some vicious chair shots.  I remember many months prior to this that “The
Informer” section of WWF Magazine predicted another Survivor Series screwjob and guess what?  That is exactly what we get as the Rock
cannot finish Mankind off, so he locks in a Sharpshooter and Vince gets the
bell to ring, making the Rock the new champion. 
I probably overrated this a bit, but Jim Ross did a great job keeping
you engaged in the match.  Without him,
this thing is probably less than two stars. 
Rating:  ***¼
Initially, the
crowd pops for the Rock’s win, but as they realize he is the true “chosen one”
by the McMahons, their positive reactions fizzle.  Vince gets on the mic and gloats about
screwing Austin and the fans, who were as gullible as Mankind.  Poor Mankind does not quite understand what
is happening and Ross does a great job getting him some sympathy.  The Rock runs down the fans and then smashes
Mankind in the back of the head with the title belt, thereby solidifying the
double turn.  At the end of the show,
Steve Austin walks out and runs to the ring, brawling with the new champion as
the McMahons flee.  Austin gives the Rock
a Stunner and tosses him out of the ring, something that I think was best saved
for when the show went off the air.  He
also gives Mankind a Stunner for good measure.
The Final Report Card:  This has been deemed as Vince Russo’s best
work, but honestly, this show has not aged well at all.  If you lived through 1998, you can still feel
some excitement from this show because you remember all of the storylines that
led up to it.  However, if you are a relatively
new fan and just randomly plug this show in, you miss a great deal of the
context.  It is like if you missed all of
the episodes of a certain television series but then watched the series
finale.  The bright spot of this show is
obviously the Rock’s first WWF title win, making him the first wrestler of
African American descent to win the championship (and yes, I know he is really half black), but even
that is not enough for me to give this show a thumbs up.
Attendance: 
21,779
Buyrate: 
1.3 (+0.41 from previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down