When the Undertaker failed to beat Steve Austin for the title at Summerslam, Vince McMahon became incensed and decided that, instead of merely pushing wrestlers to do his dirty work, he'd actively start stacking an insurmountable deck against Austin.
September 27, 1998
Live from Hamilton, Ontario.
Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.
Opening Match: Owen Hart vs. Edge.
Edge is making his singles PPV debut, and he's still in his Raven-lite phase, although Edge was already a better wrestler. Edge and Owen trade a few wrestling moves, and Edge lands on his feet off a monkey flip. They head to the floor where Edge jumps right into a powerslam on the floor! Ouch! Back in, Owen hits a sloppy (for him) belly-to-belly suplex for two. Owen hits a few moves but can't put Edge away. The deadly enzuigiri puts Edge down, but Edge recovers and hits an Electric Chair facebuster. Nice reversal sequence as Edge backflips out of a backdrop and goes for a German, but Owen blocks, only to have Edge get two off a Northern Lights. Edge goes for a superplex, but Owen blocks. Edge gets his foot up to block something off the top, but Owen catches his feet and turns him over for the Sharpshooter. Edge kicks him away and rolls him up for two. Suddenly, a blond guy jumps the railing and stares at Edge. Edge is so shocked that Owen is able to pick up the win with a flying leg rollup at (9:18). That mysterious man would eventually be revealed as Edge's brother "Christian." If you didn't know…now you know. Edge's first PPV match, Edge's first good match. ***
Too Much vs. Al Snow & Scorpio.
Al and Scorpio were in ECW together, so they're buddy-buddy. They work in a few ECW spots, including Al doing Poetry in Motion off a chair. Scorpio tries the same thing, and the chair collapses. Everyone looks like an idiot there because Scorpio barely made contact, and Too Much still had to sell it. Scorpio hits a flying splash but picks Christopher up. Zuh? He pays for it by getting suplexed on the floor. Scorpio briefly plays face-in-peril before Al comes in and gives everyone Head. Al even gives Scorpio Head. The ref starts counting everyone's pinfalls without any tags, forcing even Lawler to call him on his stupidity. Snow finishes Christopher with the Snow Plow (Northern Lights Bomb) at 7:56. Scorpio isn't happy with Snow giving him Head. **
The Undertaker and Kane promise the destruction of Steve Austin.
Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) vs. The Droz.
The Droz is kind of like The Miz only good. Droz was in between his Puke and Pusher phases here, where he was an honorary member of LOD 2000. Mero, whose style has calmed down quite a bit since he debuted in the WWF in 1996, cheats a lot. Droz hits a powerslam, but Mero chokes him out with wrist tape. That allows Jackie to come off the top and hit Droz in the face with a high heel. Marvelocity (the Shooting Star Press) finishes at 5:13. Okay. I'm not a big fan of heel Mero, but this was solid enough. *3/4
Falls Count Anywhere: Vader vs. Bradshaw.
Well, this didn't exactly recapture the magic of Vader versus Stan Hansen, but I still like it. Bradshaw has shaved and looks just like today's JBL with a dye job. The crowd doesn't care about either guy at this point. Vader had been jobbed out throughout the year only a year after being called the MVP in the Final Four match. These two started out in another one of those Russo staples: the tag team that breaks up immediately after forming. This goes back and forth for a while as they brawl around the ring rather than in it. Vader goes low and tosses Bradshaw back into the ring. A second-rope splash "makes Bradshaw's liver quiver." He follows it up with a Vader Bomb. Bradshaw hits the Clothesline From Hell, but it only gets two. Bradshaw hits another one and finishes with a Regal Neckbreaker at 7:56. I wish Vader would have given this one more effort, but he was on his way out. Still, it was a style that no one was really doing in the WWF at the time. **1/4
Jason Sensation does some pretty good impressions on WWE.com.
D-Lo Brown vs. Gangrel.
Both guys have big followings despite being heels. I liked both of them at the time, but Gangrel got lost in the shuffle of all the Corporate Ministry mess. Both guys give it a good effort here. D-Lo hits the running powerbomb but stops to soak up the adulation and only gets two. Things get boring after that as they don't seem to have any idea what to do to build the match. D-Lo gets a jackknife rollup for two. He hits a weird version of an Angleslam. Gangrel botches a hot shot as Mark Henry comes out. Henry yanks down the ropes, letting Gangrel fall to the floor. He rams Gangrel into the post and tosses him back in. D-Lo finishes with the Sky High at 7:51. Gangrel mists D-Lo and Henry after the match. *3/4
Recap of the buildup to the cage match and the bizarre heel-face match-ups that entered into the whole thing. It breaks down (no pun intended) like this. Undertaker cost Steve Austin the title to Kane back at King of the Ring. He swore it was unintentional, but in a match to determine the #1 contender for Summerslam, the Undertaker dressed up as Kane and defeated Mankind, furthering speculation that Taker and Kane must be "in cahoots" as Vince would say. Taker failed to wrest the title away from Austin at Summerslam, but it was revealed that Kane and the Undertaker were allied with one another. Meanwhile, Mankind took exception to being betrayed by Kane like that, and he tried to take them both on. The Rock, whose Nation of Domination had pissed off Kane and the Undertaker, also had issues with the "Brothers of Destruction" and inadvertently came to the aid of Mankind, turning face in the process. Vince wanted Austin dead, so he put Austin a match against both Undertaker and Kane, and told him he could have a partner if he wanted, but he told Rock, Shamrock and Mankind he'd offer them a chance to earn a title shot if they didn't accept Austin's offer. Billy Gunn, of all people, actually did accept and wound up taking the loss anyway. So, we get this Triple Threat cage match to determine the #1 contender.
#1 Contender Cage Match: The Rock vs. Ken Shamrock vs. Mankind.
We get promos from all three guys, and they show you just why Rock and Mankind went on to title wins late in the year while Shamrock was gone a year later. Pinfall, submission or escape rules apply. Rock and Shamrock immediately renew acquaintances, although the roles are reversed from earlier in the year. Mankind just lets them go at it and tries to sneak out the door. Rocky catches him. Shamrock applies an abdominal stretch to Mankind, so Rock sneaks up and puts Shamrock in one too. Rock offers Mankind a deal and then turns on him. Shammy goes for the door, but Rock yanks him back in. Rock and Mankind team up against him for a while. Shamrock comes back and applies the Anklelock on Mankind and looks like a total idiot for it because Rock is standing right behind him. Mankind and Shamrock team up on the Rock, drawing HUGE heel heat. Rock fights his way back and hits a DOUBLE PEOPLE'S ELBOW! The fans were on fire for that one. Rock goes up, but Mankind crotches him. Mankind charges right into a Rock Bottom, though. Shamrock locks in the Anklelock on the Rock, but Mankind saves him to a big pop. Rock and Mankind brawl on the top. Mankind wins that one, but he tries to do the elbow off the top and misses. Mick still has the wherewithal to stop Shamrock from going out of the cage. Shamrock grabs a chair on his way back in, but it backfires, and Kenny takes a chairshot to the face. Of course, Mankind isn't very bright, so he climbs over the top. The Rock simply crawls over and covers Shamrock for the win at 18:56 as Mankind is climbing down the cage. This was the match that showed that the Rock was going to be accepted as *the* guy, although the fans didn't exactly know how it was going down. ***3/4
Val Venis (w/Terri Runnels) vs. Dustin Runnels.
Over the summer, Dustin renounced the Goldust gimmick and started a pretentious preacher gimmick. One of his targets was Val, who had been debuting his porno movies all summer. Val retaliated by making a move with Dustin's wife, Terri, so we have this feud. This is where Russo does his best work. Dustin is your babyface (sort of) but he's getting booed because he's so self-righteous. Val, on the other hand, is screwing another man's wife, but at least he's not a whiner. Anyway, the match is a trainwreck thanks to bad timing and being overshadowed by Terri's skimpy outfit. Val botches a kickout but finishes with the Money Shot (Superfly Splash). My disc has some issues, but it's around nine minutes total time. *1/2
X-Pac & the New Age Outlaws (w/Chyna) vs. Jeff Jarrett & Southern Justice.
The Outlaws come through the crowd to attack. Jarrett does some good stuff with X-Pac and Roadie before Mark Canterbury (formerly PIG) rakes Road Dogg's eyes. X-Pac gets the semi-hot tag only to wind up playing face-in-peril after Dennis Knight catches him with a powerbomb to block a spinning kick. Oddly enough, Southern Justice keeps me entertained while Jarrett bores me with a sleeper. The Pac elbows out of it and reverses to his own, a spot that finds its way into EVERY X-Pac versus Jarrett match. Billy Gunn gets the hot tag but gets backdropped over. X-Pac works in the Broncobuster on Jarrett but gets clotheslined out of his boots. To the floor they go, and Jarrett hits X-Pac over the head with a guitar shot – one that would wind up scratching X-Pac's eye and blurring his vision for the next few weeks. Back in the ring, Gunn takes out one of SJ with the Fameasser (unnamed at this point). That gets the pin at 11:14. The WWF was already thinking about breaking up DX here, so this was mostly a vehicle to let Billy, who was slated for a big singles push at the end of the year, show his stuff. Southern Justice would disappear just after this, and Dennis Knight would find new life as Mideon. **1/4
WWF Heavyweight Title, Triple Threat: Steve Austin vs. Undertaker vs. Kane.
This is closer to a handicap match because Undertaker can't pin Kane and Kane can't pin the Undertaker. Not only that, but if any of Austin's friends try to help, he will be stripped of the title. Austin attacks Undertaker in the aisle with a chair. Kane tries to get him some, and Austin crotches him on the post. Ross wonders if the Undertaker will ever become an uncle after that. Yeah, *that* was what was holding Kane back from spawning. Oddly enough, Undertaker would nearly become an uncle a few years later after Kane raped Lita. Taker and Kane try to team up against Austin, and Undertaker accidentally hits Kane. Oooh, dissension! They make nice long enough to beat Austin all the way up to the entrance. Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson and Commissioner Slaughter come out to observe, so Austin sprints over and attacks Brisco. Brisco's "dear in the headlights" expression just before Austin hits him is hilarious. Everyone jumps Austin, allowing Kane and Taker to drag him back to the ring. Neither man wants to let the other get the pin, though, so they get into it over who's going to win the title. They brawl while Austin recovers and readjusts his knee brace. Kane and Taker clothesline one another for a double KO spot, allowing Austin to pop up and stomp mudholes in their asses. They go for a Spiked Tombstone, but Austin shoves Kane into Taker, crotching the Dead Man. Kane and Taker stay on top, though, hitting a double chokeslam. They *both* get the pin, though, Vince runs off with the title raised over his head. (22:05) Austin chases Vince to the back, but Vince escapes in his limo. The match was about as bad as you'd expect, considering it's a handicap brawl. The "we'll have to find out on Raw" ending is a cheap copout too, considering people paid $29.99 (at the time) for these PPVs. *
The 411: The seeds for Rockamania were planted here, and it launched Edge as a singles star -- before they decided to de-push him. Like a lot of 1998 stuff that was heavy on the Russo, it worked at the time but had a short shelf life. It might be worth a look for nostalgia, and for some historical reasons, but the wrestling leaves a lot to be desired. I'll be generous, and call it a mild thumbs up. Don't take it as a ringing endorsement or anything, though.