Went to WrestleCon and Met over 120 Wrestlers (List/Details/Photos)

For those of you who aren’t familiar, WrestleCon is kind of like Axxess on a budget with everyone running their own booth. The key differences though are you have a TON of indy wrestlers, plus dozens of legends. You pay a flat rate to get in ($33) and then each autograph and picture you want is an additional charge. For the sake of finances, I only paid for a handful of pictures.

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WCW Wednesday: Part XVII – Only Partially Uncensored Edition!

 

Back on March 19, 1995, WCW held their first March PPV and called it Uncensored.  While within the same timeframe as WrestleMania, WCW wanted a piece of the PPV pie in March so they created something unique to generate PPV grabs.

What tricks did WCW pull for their initial Uncensored card:

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WCW Wednesday: Part XII – The Roma/Vader Edition!

 

I apologize for my hiatus last week as Jonas obliterated not only my area with tons of snow but also my schedule. Regardless, my review of SNME IX is up, so please check it out. In addition, since the calendar changed to February, that means it’s SuperBrawl month. Let’s tackle an unforgettable one- SuperBrawl V!

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WCW Worldwide: January 16, 1993

I’ve finally managed to get Worldwide back in the rotation – and not a moment too soon! Z-Man! Johnny Gunn! Nothing but the biggest names on the planet!

TONY SCHIAVONE and JESSE VENTURA welcome us to an actual arena in Alabama. Tony’s displaying a quality part on the mid-right side of his head, with the kind of precision that lets you know, yes, this is the 90’s. PAUL ORNDORFF saunters on camera, and he starts screaming about Rick Rude’s injury. He apparently knows exactly what needs to be done. And what needs doing? Whether it’s Milwaukee, or Philadelphia, he’s going to have a match with Steeng. What of Atlanta? St. Louis? Murfreesboro? Does “Steeng” not work those territories?

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What the World Was Reading: RAW Magazine – May/June 1996

by Logan Scisco

After having covered an alternative to WWF Magazine last week, we continue that
idea in this week’s column, reviewing the very first issue of RAW Magazine from May/June 1996 (I
wonder if this is worth anything to collectors today).  RAW
Magazine
was the brainchild of Vince Russo, who wished to have a magazine
that would cater to more mature and knowledgeable fans.  This followed Russo’s failed attempt to
launch a newsletter under his magazine personality Vic Venom.  RAW
Magazine
was bi-monthly in its circulation until 1998 and when the WWF
launched its brand split, RAW Magazine
became exclusive to the RAW brand in 2004. 
That was an incredibly stupid decision and was one of the reasons I
finally cancelled WWF Magazine.  Why should you have to buy two magazines to
keep up with one company?  RAW Magazine continued until the summer
of 2006, when it and the newly christened Smackdown!
Magazine merged into a new WWE Magazine that ceased publication in
the fall of last year.

Vader is the cover man of the first issue of RAW Magazine, but the big selling point
was lots of photographs of Sunny, which you can see in the insert in the top
right corner of the page.  The picture of
Vader is taken from his assault on WWF President Gorilla Monsoon the night
after the Royal Rumble, which caused Vader to be indefinitely suspended until In
Your House 6.
You can purchase some Coliseum Video releases of WrestleMania
for $19.95 each, but if you want the greatest WrestleMania of the them all –
WrestleMania XII – it will run you $39.95. 
If you want to buy WrestleMania III or WrestleMania IV, though, you are
out of luck.  That is not the first time
that I remember those tapes not being for sale either so I am not sure what was
going on there.  You can also purchase
“Spring Explosion ’96,” which are the matches from In Your House 6.  I never understood why the WWF felt the need
to brand those shows after the fact
for tapes.  “Spring Explosion” is such a
generic name anyway, but the company has gone back to it with “Fast Lane.”  Parallels to the Dark Ages continue!
Vince Russo’s “From the Editor” piece discusses how he is
happy to launch RAW Magazine so that
he can “can the fluff and get down to the stuff!”  In what could be written about the product
today, he rips the company for catering too much to kids because of
demographics, although he admits that catering WWF Magazine to kids in the mid-1990s paid dividends with improved
sales.  He says that hardcore fans ripped
him for doing so, though, which is why he has launched this new product.
And what will a subscription to RAW Magazine set you back in 1996? 
If you wanted two years you had to pay $19.97.  One year cost $11.97.  What really irked me, though, is that they
make the cutout portion to get your subscription run into the column on the
next page.  That is a bad layout
decision.
Our first piece of RAW
Magazine
is an extended “Informer” column, which is loaded with new rumors.
The Smoking Gunns are unhappy that they were stripped of
the tag team titles in February. 
Evidently, they see nothing wrong with not having defended the titles in
thirty days due to Billy’s neck injury. 
Unfortunately, they did not have the precedent of Brock Lesnar to fall
back on.  The Informer proceeds to rip
the Gunns for dominating a weak tag team division, but it says that they can
earn more respect if they listen to Ted DiBiase, who is looking for a new
team.  It suggests they could be called
the “Hired Gunns,” which would not have been the worse idea in the world I
suppose, but the Gunns would not have saved the awful Corporation stable, which
was going bankrupt by early 1996.
The Informer also lets us know that Hunter
Hearst-Helmsley has eyes for Marlena, laying the foundation for an eventual
feud with Goldust that would kick off in the fall of 1996.  Similarly, we get another piece of
foreshadowing as the piece says Owen Hart and the British Bulldog will team up
more, thereby adding “some life back into the tag team division,” although they
never coined themselves as “The New British Bulldogs,” as the piece suggests.  We also hear that all those “parental
discretion” spots Sunny filmed for RAW made her seven figures.  Like Vince had that money to throw around in
1996!  The Informer says that Sunny is
making overtures toward Shawn Michaels, but if that fails she might buy Vader’s
contract from Jim Cornette.  A
Vader-Sunny pairing would have been such a train wreck and Vince may have been
tempted to make Vader a new Bodydonna, providing us with lots of workout
vignettes from the Mastodon!
Vic Venom then pens an extended “Venom RAW” column, where
he talks openly about World Championship Wrestling.  Of course, since the WWF cannot use WCW
photographs, we get the Huckster and the Nacho Man:
Venom says that WCW is an embarrassment to wrestling, but
he does take some digs at the WWF for insulting his intelligence with the Red
Rooster and Outback Jack.  He rips the
company for having nostalgia for the 1980s by employing old WWF talent,
although he exempts Sting and Ric Flair from that list.  This is probably the first time that Sting
was actually mentioned in a WWF publication. 
For fans watching both companies, there is some fun humor here, with
Venom saying Elizabeth has a “shoe fetish” – a dig at WCW running lots of finishes
involving women’s shoes at this time – and that WCW never told us how “that
Giant [fell] off the roof of the Cobo Arena and [came] back to wrestle 15
minutes later.”  Some of the humor is
juvenile, with Venom calling Eric Bischoff “Eric Ripoff.”  The highlight of the article is that it criticizes
WCW booking, citing how they squandered Razor Ramon and Diesel.  However, by the time that this issue hit
newsstands Ramon and Diesel were on their way to WCW and would help it overtake
the WWF in the ratings by forming the New World Order.
Keith Elliot Greenberg, who typically did the
pay-per-view recaps for WWF Magazine,
handles a cool column in this issue entitled “The Night the Belt Changed
Hands,” that talks about an important title change in WWF history.  The subject for this month is the Ultimate
Warrior-Rick Rude Intercontinental title match at WrestleMania V.  As you can tell by the picture, albeit
obscured by the crease in the middle of the pages, Donald Trump was a fan of
the match.
The article provides a blow-by-blow summary of the match,
as well as its context, which includes the Warrior beating the Honky Tonk Man
at SummerSlam 1988 and Rude picking a fight with the Warrior at the Royal
Rumble.  For such a “smart” magazine, the
recap still portrays wrestling as a real competition, with the Warrior’s loss
pegged to him being too “preoccupied with memories of the attack [at the
Rumble] to concentrate on protecting his championship.”  As a history buff, I did enjoy this feature,
which would reappear in subsequent issues as it provided the context for the
match, what happened, and then summarized what happened after, namely the
Warrior going on to win the WWF title at the next WrestleMania.
Speaking of the Ultimate Warrior, we get a full page ad
about all of the items you can get from him. 
It hypes Warrior University, Warrior’s World, Warrior Workout #1, and
Warrior…The Comic Book.  I remember that WWF Magazine sent subscribers a copy of
the comic book with an issue of the magazine. 
As a kid, who dabbled a little into older comics, I was excited to get
something free, but had no idea what I was looking at when I opened the
pages.  I should have known the quality
would be poor, after all, the ad lets me know that “It’s B…A…D…D.”
A career retrospective piece is provided about the
Dynamite Kid, who it says most fans have probably forgotten.
The article chronicles Dynamite’s British origins, his
Canadian battles with Bret Hart, and his run with Davey Boy Smith in the
WWF.  It is a sanitized view of his
career and his reputation has taken a hit over the years due to revelations in
Bret Hart’s book about his family life and other shoot interviews that talk
about how he was a locker room bully. 
Matthew Randazzo’s Ring of Hell even
blamed him for the Chris Benoit murders, as Benoit emulated Dynamite’s
style.  On a happier note, though, I
still cannot get over how young Davey Boy looks in this picture
Vince Russo then provides his top ten list of best WWF
champions.  If there were any marks
reading this magazine, they had to weep when they saw #10, who Russo says did
not have the “whole package” because they were not a “complete wrestler.”  Not mentioned is the fact that he is working
for the rival company
And Pedro Morales? 
He may not be able to beat the Mountie in the Scott Keith Blog of Doom
Intercontinental title tournament, but he did enough with the WWF title to rank
#4 on this list.  Rankings for the others
were as follows:  9-Ric Flair, 8-Randy
Savage, 7-Ultimate Warrior, 6-Yokozuna, 5-Diesel, 4-Pedro, 3-Bob Backlund, and
2-Bruno Sammartino.  Sorry, but any list
that puts Diesel’s title run, which sank the company’s financials, over Randy
Savage, Hulk Hogan, and the Ultimate Warrior loses all credibility.  Is there any surprise over who #1 happened to
be?  This person probably made sure to
shed a tear.
Our main story is about “A Man Called Vader” or in Vince
McMahon’s case “A Man Called the Mastodon.” 
Thank god Jim Cornette talked McMahon out of that idea.
The article, written by Greenberg, says Vader has never
achieved his full potential because he is out of control, wrecking promotions
and hotel rooms along the way.  It says
that one of the reasons Vader attacked Gorilla Monsoon is that Vader looked up
to Monsoon as a kid, but did not react well when Monsoon told him that he ran a
“law and order administration” and that he would be fired if he got out of
line.  Vader also did not appreciate
Monsoon getting into the ring after he blew a gasket following his elimination
from the Rumble match.  It warns that
Vader will plunge the WWF into a state of lawlessness, but really, all of the
momentum came out of Vader’s push when he failed to win the WWF title at
SummerSlam.
And then we get the real reason people bought this
magazine:

You can pay to see even more today on Skype, but you
cannot invent a time machine and get these types of “Sunny days” back.  Leave the memories alone!
A brief recap piece follows all of that to document Razor
Ramon’s attack on Goldust on a January RAW episode before the Royal Rumble.
A similar feature comes next and it gives play-by-play of
the Bret Hart-Diesel cage match at In Your House 6.  The booking of that match did little to help
Bret, as Diesel was primed to win the title before the Undertaker interfered.
The only real highlight of the article is the last
line:  “While the Hit Man experienced a
victory as his boots hit the arena floor, Big Daddy Cool was experiencing a
much different place…a place that he would never forget…a place some people
would call…HELL.”  Or in the case of
D-Generation X in the 2000s, Little People’s Court.
Keith Elliot Greenberg then questions the WWF’s decision
to install “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as the interim WWF President following the
injuries Vader inflicted on Gorilla Monsoon.
You see, Piper is out of control.  He gave Vince McMahon an airplane spin upon
being introduced as commissioner and, in a nice tribute to the past, it brings
up that “the last time Piper was given a special forum, he transformed into his
personal asylum,” using it to attack WWF superstars such as Jimmy “Superfly”
Snuka.
There is yet another recap of a Bret Hart title match,
this time his In Your House 5 title defense against the British Bulldog.  This was Bret’s only clean victory on
pay-per-view during this title run and it is an underrated bout.  The blade job is one of Bret’s best.
The last time we saw a “Fantasy Warfare” article, it
concerned the 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly. 
On this occasion, we get two WWF superstars that the fans would really
like to see matched up:
There were rumors in 1996 that the company wanted to run
Shawn Michaels-Ultimate Warrior for the title, but all we got was the Warrior
feuding with Goldust and Jerry “the King” Lawler.  Talk about disappointing.  The match is framed as Warrior’s power versus
Michaels’ speed.  Both men’s egos are
deemed to be their biggest detriment for a possible encounter.  Unlike Vince Russo, Greenberg refuses to
commit to a winner, saying that it is “too close to call.”  There was nowhere to write my own winner, so
there will be no analysis given from ten-year-old me on this issue, but as a
fan I would have cheered for Michaels.
We the get some exclusive photographs of Ahmed Johnson
being taken to a hospital after wrestling Jeff Jarrett at the Royal
Rumble.  Ahmed received a severe
concussion from the match, but he only missed two days of television tapings,
so he was okay!
And are you SURE you do not want any Warrior gear?

This was a decent first issue.  It had some good content at the beginning,
but after the Sunny photos we just got a lot of mark-type pieces that you would
expect to find in WWF Magazine.  Next week, we will go back to the pages of WWF Magazine and look at its August 2000
issue, which promises to discuss “Chyna’s secret.”

October Classics: Cactus Jack vs. Vader – Halloween Havoc ’93

Spin the Wheel! Make the Deal! It didn’t land on Coal Miner’s Glove Match this time, and it gave Foley and Vader the chance to beat the crap out of each other. The ending holds this back a little, but each guy had their working boots on for this. Sick bump from Foley when Vader falls back on him. Just an amazing brawl.


WCW Halloween Havoc 1993 – Cactus Jack Vs. Vader by Bluthor

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – July 13, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps the Undertaker becoming the number one contender to the WWF championship
on last week’s show.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from East Rutherford,
New Jersey.

Shawn Michaels
comes out, making his first WWF appearance since WrestleMania XIV.  Michaels sits down to do commentary for the
show and tells Ross that he is not sure when he will return to the ring.
Opening
Contest:  The Undertaker pins Vader with
a Tombstone at 4:35:
Looking back, I wish Vader had entered the Brawl for
All.  It was already littered with lower
midcard talent and guys looking to reboot their careers or get them going, so
it would have been well suited for 1998 Vader. 
After the entrances, Kane, Mankind, and Paul Bearer come out, but they
let the match proceed as scheduled.  As
another “what if,” imagine what a stable of Vader, Kane, and Mankind would have
been like in 1998.  Vader gives this the
old college try, but the Undertaker unceremoniously finishes him with Tombstone
and Earl Hebner does his slow three count to add insult to injury.  Really Earl? 
Rating:  ** (1 for 1)
After the match,
Mankind prepares to hit the Undertaker with a chair, but Kane takes it from
Mankind and then whacks Vader with it. 
Does this mean Kane and the Undertaker are in cahoots?
-Brawl for All
First Round:  Bart Gunn beats Bob Holly
via decision
This match constituted the breakup of the New Midnight
Express as Ross tells us that Jim Cornette resigned as their manager as a
result of them deciding to face each other. 
That, for all intents and purposes, ends the last vestiges of the NWA
angle for good.  This is the first Brawl
for All to feature a regular WWF referee as Danny Hodge is no longer doing the
honors.  Bart just dominates Holly in
this bout and easily makes it to the next round.  There was nothing about this that made it
exciting, so it does not get a point from me. 
After the match, Bob gives Bart a cheap shot and there is a small fight
between the two before WWF officials break it up.  1 for
2
The D-Generation X
skit mocking the Nation of Domination on last week’s show is recapped.
Jason Sensation
joins the broadcast team and he imitates other WWF superstars at Lawler’s
urging.  When he imitates Bret Hart,
Michaels asks whether that is a midcarder (a shot at Bret’s status in the WCW
upper midcard at the time because – say it with me – WCW).  Ross interviews the Nation, who are
backstage, and they are not happy with last week’s skit.  The Godfather debuts his “pimpin’ ain’t easy”
line during this segment.  Owen gets mad
at Sensation continuing to imitate him at Lawler’s urging and runs out and
attacks him before DX intervenes.
Triple H &
X-Pac (w/Chyna) defeat The Rock & Owen Hart when X-Pac pins The Rock after
an X-Factor at 6:28:
Shawn Michaels starts talking about the Kliq on
commentary and is actually censored for doing so.  The match does not follow the normal tag
formula, as X-Pac gets in peril, absorbs a People’s Elbow and other Nation
offense, and then surprises the Rock out of nowhere with the X-Factor to
win.  The expected solid match between
these guys and they could have done much more if given another five minutes.  Rating:  **¾ (2 for 3)
Sable comes out to
do commentary for the next match.  Sable
promises that her bikini at Fully Loaded will make her bikini at the 1997
Slammy Awards look like an evening gown.
Steve Blackman
beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a pump kick at 2:14:
This is a rematch from the Brawl for All, but it is
overwhelmed by Sable and Jacqueline fighting near the announce table and
Michaels and Lawler fawning over Sable. 
Mero appears to have the match won with a low blow, but when Jacqueline
tries to do something off the top rope to Blackman, Sable stops her and
Blackman suddenly recovers and wins. 
Mero was never able to reinvent himself after the Sable feud, which was
quite sad considering his in-ring and mic talents.  The feud also made it impossible to go back
to WCW as Johnny B. Badd because he would have been showered with “Sable”
chants.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  Kane & Mankind
(w/Paul Bearer) defeat The New Age Outlaws (Champions w/Chyna) when Kane pins
The Road Dogg with a Tombstone to win the titles at 5:34:
Before the bell, the Undertaker comes out to watch this
match.  Of all the teams left in the tag
division, Kane and Mankind are the only credible challengers for the
titles.  Think about it:  LOD 2000 is irrelevant, the DOA are being
somewhat repackaged with Ellering but that isn’t enough, the New Midnight
Express broke up, and 2 Cold Scorpio and Terry Funk are enhancement
talent.  After all hell breaks loose in
the ring, all hell breaks loose outside it as the Nation and the remaining
members of DX brawl and in the chaos, D-Lo Brown interferes with a Lo Down on
the Road Dogg and the Outlaws seven month reign as tag team champions is
over.  Theoretically, this makes the
Fully Loaded main event tag match for the WWF tag team titles.  Rating:  ** (3 for 4)
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin 3:16 baseball jersey $39.99 (plus $9 shipping &
handling)!  This was a great piece of
merchandise, but that price is outrageous.
Triple H yells at
Vince McMahon over the lack of control referees have in recent matches.  Having the Outlaws add to the complaints is
pretty funny considering how much cheating they engaged in to keep the titles
during their reign.
Kaientai
(w/Yamiguchi-San) beats Taka Michinoku & Too Much when Dick Togo pins Scott
Taylor after a Senton Bomb at 3:38:
Evidently, the Michinoku-Too Much pairing was forced by
the office in storyline terms as opposed to a genuine alliance.  Unsurprisingly, tempers flare between Scott
Taylor and Michinoku and Michinoku dropkicks Taylor into the hands of Kaientai,
who finishes him off.  After the bout,
Christopher beats up Michinoku and Val Venis comes out and reveals that he has
been having an affair with Yamiguchi-San’s wife.  The match was good, but I am not giving this
a point because the idea that Taka would ever agree to pair with Too Much under
any circumstances is ridiculous.  Rating: 
**¼ (3 for 5)
The Undertaker
chokeslamming The Godfather, D-Lo Brown, and Terry Funk on last week’s Raw is
the Skittles Slam of the Week.
Vince McMahon
comes out and talks with the Undertaker. 
McMahon commends the Undertaker on his deception last week, but raises
the question of whether the Undertaker is getting help from Kane.  The Undertaker refuses to answer McMahon’s
question and Steve Austin comes out. 
Austin asks the Undertaker whether he will have his back at Fully Loaded
and the Undertaker remains non-committal. 
That brings out D-Generation X and Triple H demands the Outlaws get an
immediate rematch against Kane and Mankind with three referees: a  regular official in the ring and the
Undertaker and Austin on the outside of the ring.  This will reveal whether the Undertaker and
Kane are working together.  Triple
H:  COO before we even knew it!  4 for
6
Brawl for All
First Round:  Dan Severn beats The
Godfather via decision:
As someone who did not see a lot of UFC growing up, I was
really excited to see what Severn could do in this format.  Severn is not used to releasing a takedown
after performing one, which the rules require, so the referee has to constantly
yell for him to break.  Severn also keeps
going for submissions, which are not allowed. 
The crowd is not happy about the lack of punches thrown and Severn
advances due to his takedown skills in a very boring bout.  After this, Severn would withdraw from the
Brawl for All because he did not care for the format and this bout shows
why.  We have had six Brawl for All
matches and all of them have gone to a decision, which is not very
exciting.  4 for 7
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match with The Undertaker and Steve Austin as Special
Enforcers:  Kane & Mankind (Champions
w/Paul Bearer) wrestle The New Age Outlaws to a no-contest at 8:09:
I am not often a fan of having the same match happen
again on the same show, but this was a very creative way to book around that
problem.  The main referee gets bumped
when Billy Gunn inserts himself into the match without a tag, but when Austin
tries to count the Road Dogg’s small package on Kane, the Undertaker pulls him
out of the ring.  The Undertaker tries to
count a pin when Kane chokeslams Road Dogg and Austin interrupts that.  The Undertaker and Austin then get into
separate fights with Mankind and Kane, respectively, and the Nation of
Domination hits the ring to brawl with the Outlaws, which brings out
D-Generation X.  Austin and the
Undertaker delivering Stunners and chokeslams plays us out and no one ends up
winning the match.  I’ll give this one a
point for the crazy post-match brawl.  Rating: 
** (5 for 8)
The Final Report Card:  This show gave us more storyline development
for the Undertaker-Kane relationship and whether they were in cahoots with each
other, although that issue is becoming very, very complicated.  Why would Kane want the Undertaker to face
Austin for the WWF title instead of himself? 
If he did decide to work with his brother, was it his idea?  When was such an agreement made?  Why would Kane or the Undertaker not tell
McMahon about it, since McMahon also wants to get the title off of Austin?  Does McMahon know and is he just playing dumb
to lure in Austin?  All this aside, this
RAW had a really hot first hour and then the second hour was death.  If not for the post-match brawl at the end,
this RAW would have ended up in neutral territory.  A slight thumbs up for this episode, which
saw RAW regain its Nielsen ratings lead only a week after WCW showed its big
Goldberg-Hogan match.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.7 (vs. 4.5 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Over the Edge 1998 – In Your House

by Logan Scisco


The show starts
with the “Mr. McMahon’s Utopia” video package, which is one of the best WWF
video packages of all-time.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are on commentary and they are live from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
(otherwise known as the town that R-Truth can’t remember).

Opening
Contest:  LOD 2000 (w/Sunny & Darren
Drozdov) defeat The Disciples of Apocalypse (w/Chainz) when Animal pins Skull
after a powerslam at 9:48:
I mentioned in the Unforgiven review that that show was
Sunny’s last WWF pay-per-view appearance, but this one actually is (I somehow
forgot this show and jumped in my mind from Unforgiven to King of the Ring).  She definitely looks worse for wear and her
firing shortly after this was not surprising. 
Ross hypes the LOD’s AWA background on commentary since Milwaukee was a
former AWA stop and some AWA legends are being honored later in the show.  This has a hot start, but the DOA choke the
life of it (literally).  The DOA tries an
illegal switch late in the match, but Droz nails Skull in the head when he runs
the ropes and the LOD wins.  This match
isn’t putting either team anywhere near the title picture, though.  Rating:  *
Intercontinental
Champion The Rock comes out and runs down the Milwaukee beer industry and their
women.  Faarooq runs out and gives the
Rock a piledriver on a chair (sort of) and then beats up some of the Nation
before he leaves the ring.  The Rock does
a stretcher job and Ross and Lawler speculate on whether we will have an
Intercontinental championship match tonight or not.  The most ridiculous part of the stretcher job
is they do not have EMTs come out to the ring and Owen is the one who has to
put a neck collar on the Rock.
Michael Cole talks
to WWF Champion Steve Austin in the locker room.  Austin says he doesn’t care about the odds he
faces tonight and says that no one has volunteered to watch his back in the
title match.
“Double J” Jeff
Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) beats Steve Blackman after Lee hits Blackman with a
karate stick at 10:19:
Blackman is like one of those non-credible challengers
that Jarrett used to face in 1995 when he was Intercontinental champion.  During the bout, Al Snow is shown doing
commentary with the Spanish announce team dressed in stereotypical Mexican
attire (he’s eventually removed by security and gets a bigger reaction than the
match).  The real
highlight of this match is Lawler reading off country song lyrics to narrate
big moments.  This is a serviceable match,
but it has very little heat, and Jarrett picks up the cheap win via Lee’s
interference.  You can hear the crickets
as he makes his way to the back.  Rating: 
**
Marc Mero giving
Sable the conditions for the match between him and someone of Sable’s choosing
on last week’s RAW is shown.
Sable’s Freedom
vs. Sable’s Career Match:  “Marvelous”
Marc Mero pins Sable with an inside cradle at 29 seconds:
Ross makes an allusion to Mero’s Johnny B. Badd gimmick
by telling Lawler “You know, Mero looks a lot like Little Richard.”  Back in 1998, I thought Sable would pick the
Undertaker as the superstar to face Mero. 
However, Sable opts to choose herself for this match and Mero feigns
sadness at having to wrestle her.  He
decides to lay down for her, but when Sable covers him, he reverses it and
sends her packing.  A guy in the front
row yells “NO!  NO!” when Mero reverses
the pin and that is pretty funny.  Mero
actually gets a decent pop for the pin, but sadly he wouldn’t be done with
Sable yet.  This was actually Mero’s last
victory on a WWF pay-per-view.
Cole recaps what
we have just seen, as if we are idiots, and Sable thanks her fans for their
support and tries to cry and can’t.
Dok Hendrix is in
the locker room with the Nation of Domination, but they refuse to talk with
him.  Commissioner Slaughter has forced
the Rock to defend the Intercontinental title regardless of what Faarooq did to
him earlier.  There’s something that
doesn’t seem quite fair about that to me, especially since Faarooq was
unprovoked.
Bonus Handicap Match:  Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) beat Taka
Michinoku & Bradshaw after Dick Togo pins Michinoku with a Senton Bomb at 9:53:
This is back when a bonus match actually made sense
within existing storylines.  The Kaientai
feud was the WWF’s attempt to give Bradshaw something to do after the New
Blackjacks split up and the NWA angle was a bust, but it never really took off.  Seeing Bradshaw face Kaientai is like
watching a real world version of Gulliver’s
Travels
.  It leads to some
entertaining spots, though, with Bradshaw viciously slamming members of
Kaientai on the arena floor and having all of the members of Kaientai try to
take him down simultaneously.  Everything
devolves into some really fun spots for the finish, which sees Kainetai’s
numbers overwhelm their opponents and continue to build momentum with a
win.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot
for Kaientai to do after the Michinoku feud because their size created a
credibility problem.  Rating: 
**½
Sable is shown
slowly walking out of the arena with her bags.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion)
defeats Faarooq with the Flair pin at 5:09:
This is the big blowoff for the Rock-Faarooq feud that
has been simmering throughout 1998, but Ross prefers to talk about it as an
extension of the Florida State-Miami football feud.  The Rock initially refuses to come out for
the bout, so Commissioner Slaughter walks out and orders him to come to the
ring in ten seconds or forfeit the title. 
So, we are supposed to buy Slaughter as a face in this situation after
he beat up Steve Austin a few weeks ago on RAW? 
The Rock does come out and we get a whimper of a match to settle this
long-term feud.  Faarooq was not
well-suited to playing a face and he would dabble around in the lower midcard
before the Acolyte tag team revived his career. After the match, Faarooq
piledrives the Rock and the Nation runs in to do a beatdown before D-Generation
X makes the save.  THAT finally wakes up
the crowd.  Rating:  *½
 -Mask vs. Mask Match:  Kane (w/Paul Bearer) pins Vader with a
Tombstone at 7:22:
This is really the last pay-per-view where Vader had a
great deal of credibility, but the WWF really spoiled the outcome by making
this a mask vs. mask match.  I never
understood why that stipulation held up in kayfabe anyway since WWF viewers had
already seen Vader without his mask on several occasions, so who cares if he
loses it?  Vader also did not get as much
airtime relative to Kane’s ongoing feud with the Undertaker, so that was
another clue that he was going to be cannon fodder here.  The only real interesting event of this match
is when Vader hits Kane with a wrench that he acquires from underneath the
ring, but that isn’t enough to stop the Big Red Machine, who remains undefeated
against anyone not named the Undertaker. 
Rating:  ½*
After the match,
Vader is unmasked and Lawler acts like this is an unheard of event.  In a funny moment, Kane puts the mask on Paul Bearer, who dances around like Vader and proclaims it “Paul Bearer time.”  Cole interviews Vader, who announces that he’s
a “big, fat piece of shit.”  One would
think this would create a small redemption angle for Vader that would see him
return to his roots and vault back up the card, but it was not meant to be.
The Crusher and
Mad Dog Vachon are recognized in a small ceremony for AWA superstars.  The crowd is very appreciative of both men
and I would guess that Jim Cornette played a role in putting this together,
probably over Kevin Dunn’s objections. 
Lawler takes objection to the ceremony, makes fun of Mad Dog Vachon, and
the Crusher beats him up.
Owen Hart, Kama
Mustafa & D-Lo Brown (w/Mark Henry) defeat Triple H & The New Age
Outlaws (w/X-Pac & Chyna) when Owen pins Triple H with a Pedigree on a tag
team title belt at 18:34:
For the first time tonight, the crowd is really buzzing
about a match.  Owen is the most over
participant, getting an “Owen sucks” and being loudly booed when he enters the
match.  Momentum swings back and forth
and when all hell breaks loose things really step up a notch as Chyna decks Mark
Henry and Billy Gunn and Triple H give D-Lo a spike piledriver on a tag team
title belt.  However, Owen breaks that up
and gets a measure of revenge against Triple H by finally pinning him on
pay-per-view.  Of course, by the time
that Owen has gotten this revenge he’s a heel and we’re supposed to be mad
about it.  The match was just average,
but it put Kama and D-Lo on the same level as the more recognized members of
D-Generation X and thereby gave the Nation some credibility in their feud with
DX.  Rating:  **
A video package
hypes the upcoming WWF championship match between Steve Austin and Dude Love
.
Hendrix interviews
Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson, and Gerald Brisco and McMahon mockingly says that
he will be an impartial referee tonight. 
He says that if Austin touches him, he will stop the match and strip him
of the title and makes it very clear that the match will end “by his hand only.”
-WWF Championship
Match with Vince McMahon as Guest Referee, Pat Patterson as Guest Ring Announcer,
and Gerald Brisco as Guest Timekeeper:  “Stone
Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) pins Dude Love with a Stone Cold Stunner at 22:28:
This is one of my all-time favorite matches and there are
so many things to love about it.  First, Howard
Finkel gives a pre-written introduction for Patterson that compares him to
Wayne Gretzky, discusses Patterson surviving a “grueling” tournament in Rio de
Janeiro to win the Intercontinental title, and applauds him as a role model for
children.  Second, Patterson gives the
most hilarious ring introductions ever by saying Brisco is the reincarnation of
Jim Thorpe and emphasizing that he’s a real Native American unlike Chief Jay
Strongbow, arguing that Vince makes “life worth living” and has a “yes I can”
attitude (too bad Linda didn’t run for Senate earlier and change the “I” in
that to “we”), arguing that Dude Love is an inspiration, and that Austin is a “foul
mouthed punk” and a “bum.”  Third, as the
match proceeds, McMahon changes the rules to a no disqualification and falls
count anywhere match (which were hilariously dubbed as “reminders”), which
causes the Ross rage-o-meter to reach a 1.0. 
And fourth, it has one of the wildest and craziest finishes to a WWF
title match, as McMahon is inadvertently laid out by a Love chair shot; the
Undertaker, who comes out before the match to watch Austin’s back, chokeslams
Patterson and Brisco through the ringside announce tables to prevent them from
counting a Love pin on Austin; and Austin takes an unconscious McMahon’s hand
to register the three count after he gives Love a Stunner.  Ross sums the match up beautifully:  “Steve Austin is the toughest son of a bitch
I ever saw!”  This was my Match of the
Year for 1998 (I think it ended up finishing third in the PWI voting that year)
due to the great build up, the ability of the booking to draw a loud crowd
reaction, and a very witty ending.  Rating: 
*****
The Final Report Card:  The WWF was still working toward “red hot”
status, so this show is still in the transition period where they were
reinforcing their gains against WCW.  The
entire card aside from the main event is lackluster and is RAW fare, but the
main event is the only thing that needed to deliver at the time and it
did.  Surprisingly, this show drew fewer
buys than Unforgiven and drew the fewest buys of any show in the Austin era.  The only thing that I think could account for that is that the fans felt Austin winning was a foregone conclusion.  I won’t give this show a thumbs up, since it is just a one match show, but if you have never
seen Austin-Love, then you need to check it out.
Attendance: 
9,822
Buyrate: 
0.58 (+0.01 from the previous year)


Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Unforgiven 1998 – In Your House

by Logan Scisco

With some of my graduate work behind me, I finally had
time to devote three hours to this show and continue my reviews of the World
Wrestling Federation in 1998.  Before
academic responsibilities got in the way, Steve Austin and Vince McMahon’s feud
started moving to another level and ended WCW Monday Nitro’s 82-week winning
streak.  Dude Love, Austin’s former tag
team partner, was inserted into the angle as McMahon’s alleged representative.  However, that match on this show is
overshadowed by the Inferno match booked between the Undertaker and Kane.  Meanwhile, Ken Shamrock and Faarooq have
joined forces because they hate the Rock and Triple H has dominated his feud
with Owen Hart.  The Legion of Doom have
been rechristened “LOD 2000” and given Sunny as a manager, but it’s sort of
like putting lipstick on a pig and their best days are behind them.  Still, their victory in the WrestleMania XIV
tag team battle royal gives them a title shot on this show against their rivals
the New Age Outlaws.  Finally, Sable is
becoming the top diva in the company and Luna Vachon has threatened to rip her
clothes off in the first Evening Gown match in WWF history.  Got all that?
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are broadcasting from Greensboro,
North Carolina.  They speculate on what
Vince McMahon means when he says something “catastrophic” is going to happen
tonight.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock, Faarooq &
Steve Blackman beat The Rock, Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown (w/Kama Mustafa) when
Faarooq pins the Rock with a Dominator at 13:35:
Faarooq is wearing his usual ring gear here, which does
not quite fit his face turn.  He does get
a big pop for whipping D-Lo with a belt in the early going, though.  Amazingly, Ross is able to restrain himself
and not discuss the football credentials of some of the participants until nine
minutes in.  A pretty dull opener that
quiets a hot crowd, but its booking follows logical wrestling principles as
Faarooq pins the Rock to make him seem like a credible challenger for the Rock’s
Intercontinental title and set up a one-on-one match between the two in the
near future.  Rating:  **
Michael Cole
interviews the winning team and Faarooq says this was the opening shot of a
long war that he is going to wage against the Nation.
WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and throws the timekeeper into the ring.  Austin interrogates him over why he rang the
bell to prematurely end the Dude Love-Steve Blackman match on the previous RAW
and makes it clear that if Vince McMahon tries to screw him out of the title
that he is going to give the timekeeper the beating of a lifetime.  Nice thread of storyline continuity here.
The announce team
recaps the Triple H-Owen Hart feud.
European
Championship Match with Chyna Suspended in a Cage Above the Ring:  Triple H (Champion) pins Owen Hart after
X-Pac hits Owen with a fire extinguisher at 12:27:
One fan has the ability to predict the future in the
audience tonight, carrying a sign that reads “Playboy needs Chyna.”  Commissioner Slaughter being an antagonist
for D-Generation X has lost much of its luster, as the arrival of Vince McMahon
as the owner of the company makes him look very weak on the totem pole, but it
is still a lot clearer than the five or six authority figures roaming around
the “WWE Universe” today.  Owen has lost
a lot of heat since starting this feud in January, illustrating why wins and
losses matter.  This is a good match, but
it lacks the atmosphere of their WrestleMania encounter and the focus is more
on Chyna bending the bars of the cage she is in, dangerously hanging onto it
while she is trying to escape, and then having the Road Dogg lower the cage so
she can get to the ground.  The ensuing
chaos allows Triple H to get another controversial win over Owen when logic
dictated that Owen goes over here.  This
did have a somewhat logical payoff, although that would require an Owen turn
and we’ll get to that in future reviews. 
Rating:  ***
Cole interviews
Owen Hart, who lets us know that “enough is enough and it’s time for things to
change around here.”
NWA Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Midnight
Express (Champions w/Jim Cornette) defeated The Rock N’ Roll Express when
Bodacious Bart pinned Robert Gibson after a Bombastic Bob bulldog at 7:22:
This is a bonus match, which illustrates the lack of
depth in the company at the time, but we are in NWA country so the Rock N’ Roll
Express get a decent pop while the Express are greeted with silence.  God bless Ross as he tries to hype put over
the Rock N’ Roll and this match, but his historical references go over the head
of most of the audience since the WWF rarely emphasized wrestling history at
this time.  Referee Tim White and
Cornette have a funny showdown where Cornette dares White to fight him and
White scares him off.  You might assume
this would be decent, but there is more stalling than action and the match
moves very slowly.  The Express hit their
double dropkick on Bart, but shenanigans ensue and the Express retain the
titles, which no one cares about.  Rating: 
Dok Hendrix
interviews Goldust and Luna Vachon and Luna emphasizes that she wants to strip
Sable of all her clothes.
Evening Gown
Match:  Luna Vachon (w/Goldust) beats
Sable at 2:34:
Marc Mero does not come down to the ring with Sable
because he is allegedly humiliated by Sable’s recent antics.  Maybe he meant her promos.  The crowd chants for Sable, which makes sense
if you consider her the face, but little sense in terms of the match since they
want to see her without her clothes. 
Since we’re getting more Russo booking around this time it is not
surprising that this ends with a screwjob, as Mero shows up, distracts Sable,
and allows Luna strips Sable of the top of her dress.  After the match. Sable strips off Luna’s
dress and then takes off the rest of her clothing underneath the ring.
Vince McMahon, Pat
Patterson, and Gerald Brisco walk to the ring and McMahon reiterates that “anything
can happen in the World Wrestling Federation.” 
McMahon debunks that a conspiracy is in the works tonight and that he is
just going to be at ringside because he was born in North Carolina.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear from the winners and losers of tonight’s matches!
WWF Tag Team Championship
Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) defeat
LOD 2000 (w/Sunny) when Road Dogg pins Hawk at 12:21:
LOD 2000 did not get a lot of airtime before this match,
which is as close to a vote of no confidence from WWF management as you can
get.  Sunny’s dress is nowhere near as
eye catching as her WrestleMania XIV attire. 
The LOD get a nice nostalgia pop, but after that there’s not much to see
except some token power moves.  Animal does
a good job staying in peril, which was appropriate because Hawk botches several
moves throughout.  The finish makes
little sense, as the referee says Hawk does not lift his shoulders on a German
suplex, but Road Dogg never lifts his shoulders to earn a victory.  After the match, the LOD give the referee a
Doomsday Device and the referee does a stretcher job.  Thankfully, this is the end of the
Outlaws-LOD issue.  This was also Sunny’s
last WWF pay-per-view appearance.  Rating: 
¾*
Jeff Jarrett “sings”
with Sawyer Brown, a country music group. 
The crowd is so enamored with this performance that they chant “We want
Flair!”  It always baffles me that the
WWF brass thought this stuff was going to get Jarrett over.  At the end of the performance, Steve Blackman
attacks Jarrett, but after he puts Jarrett in a submission move, Tennessee Lee
blasts Blackman with a guitar.
A video package
hypes the Inferno match between the Undertaker and Kane.  Lawler has a hot dog ready to roast at
ringside.
Inferno Match:  The Undertaker beats Kane (w/Paul Bearer) at
16:02:
I’m really surprised that they did not make this the main
event of the pay-per-view considering how low key the Steve Austin-Dude Love
title match was, but maybe they were afraid of these two putting on a
less-than-stellar match like WrestleMania. 
This match is one of those that sounds good in theory, but is terrible
in execution because it is very difficult to build drama and this quickly
becomes a kick-and-punch affair.  Things
pick up after the Undertaker throws Kane over the top rope and Kane goes to
leave, which does not make a lot of sense for Kane’s character, but Vader makes
a surprise return to a big pop and fights Kane back to ringside, where the
Undertaker hits a plancha.  The
Undertaker destroys Bearer on the Sawyer Brown stage and knocks Kane’s arm into
the fire to win.  Things really didn’t
look good for Kane at the time, as he lost his second consecutive match, this
one definitively, to the Undertaker.  It’s
quite amazing that he maintained his upper midcard standing as a character
after this.  Rating:  *½
A video package
recaps the Steve Austin-Vince McMahon/Dude Love feud.
WWF Championship
Match with Vince McMahon at Ringside: 
Dude Love defeats “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) via
disqualification at 18:48:
The big story of this match is whether Love and McMahon
are working together and if McMahon is going to screw Austin out of the title
by intimidating the timekeeper.  McMahon
waits to come out until eight minutes into the match and Pat Patterson
hilariously carries the folding chair for McMahon to sit in.  I always wondered during this feud why
McMahon favored Love.  Was he that much
better of an alternative?  Would you want
your company led by a man who’s stuck in the 1960s/1970s?  McMahon tries to get the timekeeper to ring
the bell when Love applies an abdominal stretch, but the timekeeper doesn’t
budge and the match continues.  The
referee eventually gets bumped, which causes him to miss Love applying the
Mandible Claw (or Love Handle if you prefer) and the battle spills to the floor
where Austin knocks McMahon out with a chair to a HUGE pop.  Austin counts his own fall and his music
plays, but we eventually hear from Howard Finkel that Love is the winner by
disqualification since Austin hit a WWF official.  McMahon does a stretcher job as well.  Love took some nasty spills in this match as
per usual and the brawling was technically proficient.  I’m not really a fan of the ending, but in
storyline terms it worked out for the best since McMahon wanted to make it
certain that Austin would lose the title at the next pay-per-view by stacking
the deck against him.  Rating: 
***½
The Final Report Card:  This show illustrates that most of 1998 was
Steve Austin and not much else.  His match
was the most exciting on the show and the midcard had lots of weird things
happening like the LOD getting another push, the Rock N’ Roll Express getting a
WWF pay-per-view match in 1998, and Jeff Jarrett feuding with Steve Blackman
for lack of something better to do.  The
main event is exciting and Triple H-Owen is their usual solid outing, but
compared with WrestleMania XIV this show did not blow you away or even make you
feel satisfied.  Owen loses again, the
Outlaws kept the belts in a match finish that made no sense, the Inferno match
was nothing special, and the main event had an inconclusive finish.  Some of these things, like the Owen loss and
the inconclusive main event finish, led to greater things down the road and those
shows will be the ones that will get a thumbs up rating, not this outing.
Attendance: 
21,427
Buyrate: 
0.85 (+0.35 over previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down