The SmarK Rant for WWF Judgment Day 1998 – 10.18.98
(Originally written 07.18.18)
Live from Chicago, IL, drawing 18,000 and a 0.89 buyrate. Not bad for an obvious B-PPV, actually, and it really shows the roll that they were on.
Your hosts are JR & King
I literally don’t remember a thing about this show outside of the terrible main event and Rock inexplicably doing the job, so as always, this will be an adventure.
Al Snow v. Marc Mero
Jeff Jarrett comes out and wants to settle things with Snow, which allows Mero to attack from behind while the ref sends JJ back to the dressing room. Well that feud is really burning up the midcard. Snow gets a powerslam and rebounds out of the corner with a lariat for two. Snow grabs a headlock and has a conversation with Head, which allows Mero to elbow him down to take over. Snow gets a rollup for two and he comes back with a moonsault, but stops to go after Jackie and Mero goes low and DDTs him for two. Merosault gets two and he blocks Snow’s headbutts with a clothesline, but Al comes back with an enzuigiri and a spinebuster. Snow goes up and misses a moonsault by a mile, and Mero rolls him up for two. Jackie pulled Mero out of the way but he missed by three feet anyway. Marc goes up for the shooting star press, but that misses and Snow gets two. Snow reverses the TKO into the Snow Plow to finish at 6:38. Nothing exciting, just a standard house show match. **1/4
The Legion of Doom & Droz v. DOA & Paul Ellering
Hawk and Animal with their hair grown in is a strange sight. Animal fights off both Harrissesseses and they regroup on the floor while Lawler plays up Ellering’s stock market prowess. Hopefully he bought WWE stock when it was at $10. Hawk comes in and hits Skull with a neckbreaker for two, and Droz gets a back elbow before he gets caught in the heel corner and double-teamed. 8-Ball with a sideslam as JR straight up admits that he can’t tell the difference between the brothers. Yeah, he has that problem a lot. Finally Ellering comes in and gets some shots in, but Droz gets a DDT on Skull and makes a hot tag to Hawk. It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and they hit the Doomsday Device, but Droz steals the pin at 5:55. Ooo, foreshadowing. Again, super basic house show stuff, but nothing wrong with it. **
Light Heavyweight title: Taka Michinoku v. Christian
This has gotta be the first time Taka has defended the title in months. I always enjoyed the later Christian challenge for the title when he was wearing the chicken suit to sweat out extra weight, but in this case he’s just announced at 213 pounds straight up. Maybe he gained weight later. Taka escapes a suplex and dropkicks Christian to the floor, then follows with a springboard dive while you can literally see dozens of people leaving for the concession stands during the match. Edge watches from the crowd, but some jerk holds up his sign and blocks the shot. Back in the ring, Christian misses a charge, but hits the inverted DDT and stomps away to take over. Christian with rolling verticals into a facebuster for two. So Gangrel kind of started out as a babyface character, but has morphed into a heel for no particular reason as we’ve proceeded, which is probably why no one cares about this match. Taka charges and misses completely, splatting on the floor in a nasty bump before Christian hits him with his own dive. But hey, even though Taka was killing himself here, he’s still working a full schedule AND acting as hype man for Minoru Suzuki 20 years later! Back in, Christian with a powerbomb for two. He slugs away with forearms while Taka sells to try and go babyface, and he comes back with a baseball slide and quebrada on the floor. Fans still aren’t buying into it, however. Back in, Taka throws the chops, but Christian backdrops him to the apron (THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING!) and Taka springboards back in with a cross body that Christian rolls through for two. Taka with a rollup for two. Christian tries his own and Taka blocks and gets a low dropkick for two. Taka whips him around the ring, but Christian gets a legsweep for two. Taka escapes a powerbomb and hits a tornado DDT to set up the Michinoku Driver, but Christian reverses it into a cradle for the pin and the title at 8:36. His reign would not be a particularly epic one, of course. Man, they were having a hell of a match out there with Taka flying all over the place to try and get over, but the crowd wasn’t buying at ALL. Really, there was no storyline and even back then I had no earthly idea if I was supposed to be cheering or booing Christian, so it was the fault of creative. ***1/2
Val Venis v. Goldust
Speaking of matches with confused motivations, Val is now a heel despite spending weeks as a babyface getting stalked by heel puritan Dustin Runnels. But now Goldust is a babyface because he’s a character that people know and like, and thus Val is a heel by default. This whole feud was really a disaster on a lot of levels. It totally flattened the hot Venis character out and he never got the “it factor” back again. Goldust attacks to start, but Val boots him down and follows with a back elbow before tossing Goldust. And like a lot of matches during this era, once the hot entrances have ended, the crowd dies off completely. They fight on the floor and Goldust drops him on the stairs. Back in, Goldust with a cross body and whips Val around the ring and clotheslines him for two. Goldust with a Perfect necksnap, but he misses a charge and runs into the post, as Val goes to work on the arm to get the “heat”. They slug it out and Val puts him down with a clothesline for two and goes to a wristlock as JR talks about how “emotionally supercharged” this feud is. EMOTIONALLY SUPERCHARGED WRISTLOCKS! JR gets bored immediately after and starts talking about the other matches on the card coming up which won’t suck, as Val gets a legsweep for two.
Val powerslams him and goes up, but Goldust slugs him down and follows with a superplex for two. He goes up and misses whatever, and Val gets a sleeper to really ramp up the EMOTIONAL SUPERCHARGING. And then Goldust reverses, so Val escapes with a backdrop suplex and we get the excitement of them laying around. Goldust makes the comeback with the bulldog, but stops to chastise Terri, then kicks Val in the nuts for the pin at 12:10. Lame finish, lamer match. ½*
European title: D-Lo Brown v. X-Pac
D-Lo works a headlock and slugs away, but X-Pac puts him down with a spinkick. D-Lo clotheslines him for two and pounds on the back, but he misses a blind charge and X-Pac goes for the broncobuster and lands ball-first on D-Lo’s foot. Ouch. D-Lo goes to the chinlock and gets a leg lariat for two, and the running powerbomb gets two. D-Lo with the chinlock, but X-Pac slugs out of it, and then misses another charge and lands headfirst in the corner. D-Lo goes up with an elbow for two off that and a backbreaker gets two. D-Lo goes with a Texas cloverleaf now and X-Pac powers out, so D-Lo goes up and misses a senton. Ref gets bumped during X-Pac’s comeback and now Mark Henry comes in and harasses Chyna while D-Lo hits X-Pac with the title. The ref revives and that gets two. D-Lo with another powerbomb for two, but he goes up to finish and lands in the X-Factor, and X-Pac regains the title at 14:38. Best match of the show and the only one with any significant heat. ***1/2
WWF tag team titles: The New Age Outlaws v. The Headbangers
The Bangers attack during the opening spiel so you KNOW they’re heels. This was originally supposed to be the Outlaws defending against Southern Justice, but Mark Canterbury’s career was ended by a neck injury and so the Headbangers get the shot instead with no buildup. The NAO double-teams Mosh in the corner and Thrasher comes in and walks into a hiptoss and dropkick from Road Dogg that gets two. Dogg gets caught in the corner and the Bangers work him over and Thrasher chokes him out on the ropes. Thrasher misses a blind charge and it’s hot tag Billy. He gets a press slam on Mosh, but Thrasher pulls him out to the floor and sends him into the stairs and I guess he’s face in peril. Back in, Mosh gets two. Thrasher suplexes Mosh onto Gunn for two. Bangers cut off the ring and Thrasher gets a jawbreaker for two and chokes him down as this drags on. Putting the Outlaws in a long match was always death because people were only invested in the sing-along at the beginning and the finishes. Mosh goes to an armbar on Billy while the crowd does the Outlaw singalong themselves to prove my point. Thrasher with a chinlock and then a sleeper on Gunn, but Billy reverses and Thrasher escapes with a backdrop suplex. The Bangers continue double-teaming Billy, and finally Road Dogg can take no more and he smashes the (off-brand, non-JVC) boom box onto Mosh for the DQ at 14:00. Total yawner. *
Meanwhile, Michael Cole reports that Paul Bearer is caucusing in Kane’s dressing room, but Mankind interrupts to let us know how boring Ken Shamrock’s promos are.
Intercontinental title: Ken Shamrock v. Mankind
Shamrock is fresh off winning the one night tournament for the title on RAW, and deep into ROBO-SHAMROCK mode as the evil killing machine. Jerry tells the story again of Pat Patterson “coming out on top” of 15 other wrestlers in Rio to win the title in 1979, but JR finds the story “hard to swallow.” Shamrock immediately SWEEPS THE LEG.
Ken goes to work on the arm, but Mick stomps him down and drops the leg for two. Shamrock shrugs him off and throws knees in the corner, then gets full mount on Mankind and pounds him out before going to a front facelock on the mat. Mick slugs out in the corner, but Ken’s programming does not allow for selling and he hits a rana before bailing to escape the Mandible Claw. Having reset his PRAM with command-shift-P-R, Ken heads back into the ring and has to immediately fight off another claw attempt by punching him in the face several times. Back to the floor and Shamrock continues pounding him like a $2 steak, as JR would say, but Mick whips him into the stairs, possibly dislodging Ken’s primary battery. Ken uses the chairshot subroutine to smash Mick in the face, and back into the ring where Ken takes over with a clothesline for 2.0. Ken works a wristlock and appears to be leaking lubricating fluid from his mouth, but Mick slugs out and then misses a charge. Ken with a belly to belly, but Mankind keeps fighting with a double-arm DDT to make the comeback. He pounds away on Ken’s primary CPU housing in the corner and guillotines Shamrock on the ropes. Cactus clothesline puts both guys on the floor, but Mick charges and Ken uses his V.A.T.S. counter-programming to powerslam him on the stairs and injure the ankle. Back in, Ken locks in the anklelock and Mankind won’t submit, so instead he chooses to give himself the Mandible Claw and puts himself out at 14:35 so he doesn’t have to submit. And then Finkel announces that “the winner of the match as a result of the Mandible Claw…” and Ken’s positronic brain is unable to process the inherent contradiction, causing him to viciously attack the referee due to a malfunctioning logic unit. And then Mick gives him the Mandible Sock afterwards, which seemed to set up a feud that was never paid off. ***1/4
Meanwhile, Michael Cole wants a word with Mr. McMahon, but Big Bossman tells him to get lost or have a nightstick shoved up his ass. Sadly, Cole chooses to leave.
Mark Henry v. The Rock
The reaction for the Rock is something else. The feeling among the circle of people I was hanging with was that whatever would happen in the title match, but Rock would walk out as the champion at the end of the night. Rock attacks and hits Henry with a clothesline, and a suplex for two. They fight to the floor and Mark runs him into the table, and takes over in the ring. Elbowdrop gets two. Rock fights back, but Mark clotheslines him and drops a leg for two. We hit the chinlock, but Rock fights out and slugs away in the corner, into a DDT for two. People’s Elbow, but D-Lo runs in for the distraction, and Mark splashes and pins Rock at 4:58. Obviously the goal was to create a challenger for Rock once he got the title, but that did not pan out at all. But the way they went worked better anyway. *
WWF World title: Kane v. The Undertaker
Austin is of course the specially appointed referee. Taker quickly gets the ropewalk, but Kane slugs on him in the corner and gets a powerslam. He charges and hits boot, but Austin won’t count the attempted pin from Taker. Kane then boots Taker down and Austin gives him a super-fast two count. They fight to the floor and Austin offers UT a cable to choke him out with, but Taker opts for a chair instead. The brothers continue slugging it out on the floor and Kane runs him into the post. Now, if it were me and not one of the idiots in the ring, I’d quickly come to the conclusion that the referee is just going to fuck both guys over, so why not take 10 seconds to talk about it and call a truce? Taker goes to work on the leg as we really enter into the portion of the match that sent it spiraling downwards. Like, Undertaker is lying there on Kane’s leg and that’s the bulk of the match. Kane fights out with a big boot, but Taker ducks it and SWEEPS THE LEG.
Back to the leg hold and this whole run is ridiculous considering the match HAS NO FUCKING FINISH anyway. It’d be one thing if it was leading to something later in the match, but it’s not. Taker hangs Kane in the Tree of Woe and the very bored crowd starts turning on the match. Taker slooooooooooooowly chokes Kane in the corner and Austin’s got nothing to work with here. Kane makes a comeback with a spinebuster and big boot out of the corner, but Austin gets caught between them and “accidentally” clotheslined by Undertaker and then chokeslammed by Kane. So the brothers suddenly team up and beat on Austin, but then Taker turns on Kane again and clips the knee. Kane chokeslams him, however, and this brings out Paul Bearer as the parade of nonsensical bullshit continues. Paul brings out a chair, but turns on his own son, and then Undertaker adds his own chairshot and then goes for the pin, as though Austin is actually going to count it. Finally Austin just gives him a stunner and counts both guys down at 17:35 before declaring himself the winner. A complete waste of a main event slot. -**
So having violated the terms of Vince’s deal, Austin decides to go find Vince and call his bluff. We follow Austin to the back and he’s unable to find Vince, which gives the techs time to put the feedback speakers in the ring for the closing interview. So indeed, Austin heads back to the ring, as Vince appears in a luxury box and someone hucks garbage at him from below. Vince informs us that he does indeed have the grapefruits, and Austin is FIRED.
Unfortunately for Vince, Austin didn’t take it very well, and we’ll get to that next time on RAW. JR does a whole bullshit “goodbye Steve Austin!” speech which is ridiculous considering he was back THE NEXT NIGHT!
Hey, two PPVs in a row where they literally promised a new WWF champion on TV leading up to it, and then finished with a no-contest instead. A totally worthless PPV with a shit main event and a bait-and-switch finish. Thumbs down.