What the World Was Watching: King of the Ring 1998

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Pittsburgh,

Opening Bonus Contest:  The Headbangers & Taka Michinoku defeat
Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) when Michinoku pins Funaki with the Michinoku Driver
at 6:44:
This is one of two bonus matches taking place this
evening.  The action is fast and furious
here, with Michinoku carrying the match for his team.  He manages to get the winning pin after all
hell breaks loose to avenge a loss to Kaientai at the last pay-per-view, and I
imagine it helped that this time he evened the odds with the Headbangers.  Rating:  **½
Sable walks out and
welcomes out Vince McMahon, who comes out with the stooges.  As Sable leaves the ring, Pat Patterson,
smacks her on the rear end and gets slapped. 
Ross says that Patterson got in trouble because he got involved “in an
area that he’s not familiar with.”  With
the crowd riled up, McMahon says that tonight’s main event outcome will
disappoint them, but that is okay because the crowd is full of people experienced
with disappointments.  Not one of McMahon’s
better promos and this was just filler.
King of the Ring
Semi-Final:  Ken Shamrock beats “Double J”
Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) via submission to the ankle lock at 5:30:
When Jarrett does his “Aint I great!” spiel before the
match, the crowd shouts back “Aint I gay!” 
Add that to the list of things you may not hear on the WWE Network.  Jarrett isn’t wearing his usual entrance
jacket, which makes for a weird visual. 
Shamrock lets Jarrett get in some token offense on his leg before
deciding to stop selling and win the bout. 
After the match, Shamrock gives Lee a belly-to-belly suplex and
hilariously remembers that he needs to sell the leg.  Rating:  **
Michael Cole
interviews Shamrock and Shamrock says that he did not come to the pay-per-view
to finish in second place
King of the Ring
Semi-Final:  The Rock pins Dan Severn
after D-Lo Brown hits Severn with the Lo Down at 4:25:
Kama Mustafa, who accompanies the Rock to the ring with Mark
Henry before being evicted by the referee, is starting to look more like his
future Godfather persona with the hat and tinted glasses.  Finkel even announces him as such.  This match was a bummer when I initially saw
the show because I wanted a Shamrock-Severn final, but the WWF made the right
call here for two reasons.  First, if you
are going to have Shamrock-Severn, you might as well promote that match to make
money.  And second, the Rock is way more
over than Severn.  This match is an
awkward styles clash, as the Rock is not a technical wrestler, so he cannot adequately
chain wrestle Severn, and Severn does not know how to sell the Rock’s usual
offense.  For example, he looks
completely lost selling the Rock’s flurry of punches in the corner.  I should add that D-Lo Brown debuts his chest
protector, which he needed to recover from a “torn pectoral muscle” suffered at
the hands of Severn in the qualifying round, when he interferes to put the Rock
into the finals. This is Severn’s first singles loss since arriving in the WWF.  Rating:  ½*
Cole interviews
the Rock, who delivers a great impromptu promo against Shamrock by saying that Shamrock
is going to eat “rock bottom” as he tries to climb the mountain to the King of
the Ring title.
A video package
recaps what has been going on with Al Snow for the last two months.
Jerry Lawler tells
Al Snow, who is backstage, that he is going down tonight, but Snow says he is
not laying down for anyone and that Too Much is going to get some Head like
they have never had before.
-Too Much beats Al
Snow & Head when Brian Christopher pins the Head at 8:26:
Does anyone remember when the Head was a playable
character in WWF Attitude?  Just before
the match, it is announced that Lawler is the guest referee and that goes about
as well for Snow as you can expect.  The
difference between Too Much and Too Cool is as much as night and day as Brian
Christopher and Scott Taylor were devoid of credible victories or a great deal
of charisma heading into this match, so the crowd just cares about the
Head.  Snow gives Taylor a Snow Plow, but
Lawler tosses Christopher a bottle of Head and Shoulders, thereby giving the
Head shoulders and enabling Christopher to pin it for the win.  Some people hate that finish, but I found it humorous.  I have no idea why Snow did not go
over here since it wasn’t like he wasn’t going to be part of the WWF after this.  Having him lose and enter the company anyway
makes the original stipulation of Snow needing to win to get a meeting with
Vince McMahon and get a contract a joke, but you know, Vince Russo.  Rating:  ¾*
X-Pac (w/Chyna)
defeats Owen Hart when Chyna gives Owen a DDT at 8:32:
This a rematch of the 1994 King of the Ring semi-finals
and also has a backstory due to each man costing the other their King of the
Ring tournament match.  We get a good
technical match, but the real highlight is when Mark Henry runs out to give
X-Pac a splash behind the referee’s back. 
That cues a Vader run-in and Chyna interfering when Owen puts X-Pac in
the Sharpshooter.  This match continues Owen’s winless streak in singles matches on
pay-per-view this year.  In fact, each of those losses are due to Chyna.  Rating: 
Paul Bearer
waddles out and gives us the sad story of Kane’s history, and how Kane watched
WWF programming and wanted to be like his older brother.  Bearer nailed this promo.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws
(Champions w/Chyna) beat The New Midnight Express (NWA Tag Team Champions w/Jim
Cornette) when Billy Gunn pins Bombastic Bob after a double hot shot at 9:57:
This is the second bonus match of the show, which is a
clue that a title change is highly unlikely. 
The WWF could not get the old Midnight Express theme, but the one that
they use for the New Midnights isn’t that bad. 
After wrestling the lugs of the tag division for the last six
months, the Outlaws finally get to wrestle a team they can have a good match
with.  Ross has a great comment about
Cornette during this bout concerning Cornette’s self-centered personality:  “Cornette’s dream is to die in his own arms.”  When all hell breaks loose, we get a nice
series of false finishes, coupled with a required Chyna-Cornette confrontation
where Cornette eats a low blow (with Chyna missing her initial cue), and the
Outlaws barely retain the titles.  This
should have led to the Midnights getting a higher place in the tag team
division, but Russo’s emphasis on “super teams” at the expense of established
teams did not do them any favors.  Rating: 
Triple H and Chyna
come out to do color commentary for the King of the Ring final.  Triple H was last year’s winner, but why did
Commissioner Slaughter allow this?  The
Nation doesn’t get to accompany the Rock to ringside for the final bout, so why
does his enemy and the guy he put out of the tournament get to sit so close to
the ring?  Clarence Mason never would have
allow this had he stayed in the company!
1998 King of the
Ring Finals:  Ken Shamrock defeats The
Rock via submission to the ankle lock at 14:11:
If this was a UFC tournament, Shamrock would’ve bowed out
by now due to injury.  It does not take
long for Triple H to get involved in this bout, as he spits water in the Rock’s
face, but thankfully that’s the scope of his interference.  It takes ten minutes for the match to get a
good rhythm going, as prior to that you have a few mindless brawling sequences
and Shamrock being unsure of whether he should sell the leg injury he suffered
in the semi-finals.  In the end, Shamrock surprises
the Rock with the ankle lock and wins the King of the Ring, which was the right
booking choice because it gave Shamrock the win in his feud with the Rock
without taking the Intercontinental title, which the Rock needed for his feud
with Triple H.  Shamrock does not get the
crown and other royal properties, but that does not really fit his gimmick
anyway.  Rating:  ***¼
Hell in a
Cell:  The Undertaker pins Mankind after
a Tombstone at 17:00:
Going into this pay-per-view, many were not enthused
about this match and people (correctly) predicted that it would not be as good
as the Shawn Michaels-Undertaker HIAC match at Badd Blood.  However, it ended up being memorable for a
different reason as Foley took a series of sick bumps to mask the shortcomings
of the Undertaker wrestling on an injured foot. 
The brutality of the match fits the feud between both men, as their
first in-ring encounter took place at the King of the Ring two years ago and
all of their encounters have been increasingly violent.  This was rated as Match of the Year for 1998
and while I disagree with that, one has to take into consideration that this
was before people became desensitized to wrestlers jumping off ladders and
doing other crazy stunts.  Jim Ross
deserves an honorable mention for his commentary as well, since without it I
doubt that the match would have received as much acclaim as it did.  It is very difficult to rate this match,
since it does not fit within a conventional wrestling paradigm, and the match
loses a good deal of its effect after you have seen it.  Still, you cannot help but be amazed at what
Foley put himself through in this bout (which is really what the whole story of
the match is about after you view it multiple times), and this match put him
over for good.  Rating:  ***½
A video package
recaps the Steve Austin-Kane feud and the Undertaker’s role in all of it.
First Blood Match
for the WWF Championship:  Kane (w/Paul
Bearer) beats “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) to win the title at 14:52:
In a nice attention to detail, cans of gasoline surround
the ring so Kane can set himself on fire if he fails to win the title.  After three months of feuding with McMahon as
WWF champion, Austin finally runs into a challenge that he cannot overcome as
he fails to make Kane, who is wearing a mask and an outfit that has both (instead
of one) arms covered, bleed.  However,
his title loss is not without controversy as the Hell in a Cell lowers randomly
during the match, and Austin is busted wide open when the Undertaker inadvertently
(or intentionally?) hits Austin with a chair when he is aiming for Mankind.  The crowd goes DEAD quiet when the bell is
rung and the pay-per-view goes off the air shortly thereafter.  Decent brawl, but the stipulation really hurt
the drama of the match, and I never felt that either guy really put the other in a position to get busted open.  Rating: 
After the show
goes off the air, several WWF officials and Mankind get Stone Cold Stunners
from Austin.
The Final Report Card:  All things considered, this was a very
successful show for the company and a thumbs up effort.  It drew the largest buyrate for the event since
1993, which was the first year that it was available on pay-per-view, and the
Hell in a Cell match created a lot of buzz in wrestling circles and gave people
another reason to watch the WWF over WCW. 
The show also set the stage for the hot feuds of the summer as the
Austin-Kane-Undertaker triangle continued and the Rock moved away from Shamrock
to go against Triple H.
1.1 (+0.6 from the previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up