Before I start, this e-mail trickled in just seconds before my update.
Sorry, but I'm a stickler for these things.
Taker had pinned Mankind clean at Survivor series 96, on RAW a few weeks later, and on RAW again in a tag match from Skydome.
"Meanwhile, Steve Austin was still pissed off at Bret Hart about their submission match at Mania, and a rematch was signed."
Actually, the match was originally Sid vs. Bret Hart for what happened from WresleMania, but Sid was out with an injury I believe,or it was an argument with management, so Austin was put in his place.
'know I say it every time I see Ahmed, but HOW did this guy fuck it all up?'
By injuring many opponents and himself, and being a drug addict.
Jesse James vs. Rockabilly
How could you give it -** ? The match was heatless, the wrong man went over, and the gimmicks were horrible. But they didn't actually mess up anything. I'd give it a DUD, but -** ?
Mankind vs. Taker
***1/4 ??????? Are you kidding? What do you expect from these guys? What did you give Hell in the cell I ? ****? THere's no way that match could be any less than ****... ***3/4 MAYBE... but ***1/4 ? You also have to consider the time and place of the match. It was very brutal at that time, and a well done match. THe only thing that messed up was the fireball at the end, but that was after the match. FOley nearly killed himself, and still had the werewithal to put forth a cohesive match. Plus Taker was at his best in 97- clean finish, entertaining, sick bumps, awesome effort, good story, good heat-- can't be *** 1/4.
Final match was fine... I think **** 1/4 is slightly high considering it was a DQ.. **** is about what it got across the board. That's really minor though
I don't want to come across harsh, but I feel it necessary to point out certain things to you before you lose credibility among viewers. Pretty much ALL hardcore fans on the internet know the year 1996-97 years very well, as they were the foundation years for the Attitude era. And pretty much the only people WATCHING WWF at the time were the hardcore internet fans of today, so if you misquote facts in your review right off the bat, people won't take your article very seriously.
Now I know match ratings are subjective, but the two really low ratings you gave give an air of harshness on your part, and not much of a consideration of the era. The Taker-Foley match is good/great/really awesome depending on which era you are in. In that time, that was the best title match in the WWF since Mind Games. It was also Taker's best match probably up to that point in his career, and led him to other great matches. The bumping was sick, but it wasn't a spotfest. That's really important to point out. If you contrast that with their Hell In A Cell II match, which was basically a spotfest and didn't receive *****, there's a reason for that-- the bumps broke the illusion of 'wrestling' since the injuries caused were so real that there couldn't possibly be a coherent story to tell within the match. The bumps Foley took here contributed to the story in a very compelling way. But it wasn't the ONLY thing that was good about the match.
All the best, and looking foward to Unforgiven.
Alright, in response:
- Yes, I totally forgot about Survivor Series 1996, and a few people were quick to point that out. I didn’t double check anything, simply remembering that Executioner debuted at Buried Alive, and thinking they’d gone on to fight at the next PPV. Of course, that didn’t actually happen until It’s Time.
- Sid may have been Bret’s original opponent, but I’m talking from within a storyline context here. Austin was pissed at Bret, end of story.
- I’m the first person to agree that negative stars are harsh and generally uncalled for...but the match was basically Billy Gunn trying to unsuccessfully channel the spirit of Rick Rude and Honky Tonk Man in one shot, while ignoring the fact that there was wrestling to be done. And if your end of the bargain isn’t being held up against 1997 Road Dogg...well, we’re in trouble.
- I’ve seen Undertaker and Mankind do far better, but if you enjoyed the match that much more than me, kudos! Judging it on a table of knowing what the pair is capable of, I can’t in good conscience go higher. (As for the first HIAC, I gave it *****, and you’re welcome to read all about it.)
- I HAD credibility??? And no one TOLD ME?!?
April 1998! Believe it or not, there was a time when the idea of Kane vs. The Undertaker was still a fresh matchup, having not been driven into the ground over a period of say ... 8 years? And thus, after it took THREE tombstone piledrivers to put Kane away at Wrestlemania, a rematch was in the cards - and in a time where gimmicks ruled supreme, the inferno match was born!
Meanwhile, Steve Austin was just starting his first run as WWF champion, and since he was a total pain in the ass, Vince McMahon was determined to make it a short deal. So after hiring Mick Foley as the heel turned Corporate Puppet Dude Love, the deal was set, and the deck stacked seriously in his favor... More on that when we get to the main event.
We are LIVE from Greensboro, North Carolina for the first WWF pay-per-view in a post-83 week Nitro winning streak world! JIM ROSS and JERRY LAWLER are on hand for the usual banter.
THE ROCK, D’LO BROWN, and MARK HENRY (with Kama Mustafa) vs. FAAROOQ, KEN SHAMROCK, and STEVE BLACKMAN
Faarooq was newly tossed from the Nation, but considering the ideals he tried to bring to the group when he formed the damn thing, I can’t see ANYONE feeling sorry for him. If I’m Shamrock, I break his leg for even trying to buddy up to me, but that goes against WWF logic that says “all faces like all other faces, no matter WHAT their past.” The “ROCKY SUCKS” chants could drown a small village. D’Lo and Blackman start. D’Lo nails a shoulder block and shakes his head a whole lot. A snap suplex connects, but the follow up elbow drop does not, and Blackman nails a dropkick. Pair of hiptosses, and D’Lo finds himself locked in an armbar. Shamrock tags in to a loud pop, and has his eyes raked. Shamrock comes back with a leg grapevine, but D’Lo makes the ropes. Faarooq gets a tag, and gives D’Lo a spinebuster he won’t forget anytime soon! The belt comes off, and Faarooq starts whipping D’Lo like crazy. The referee lets it go, because he sucks. They trade off, with Mark Henry and Blackman coming in. Henry hits Blackman with a series of backbreakers and drops an elbow. D’Lo comes back in, and nails a Sky High for 2! Faarooq tags in, and takes a bulldog. Rock finally tags in, and slams Faarooq face first to the buckle! A clothesline takes down Faarooq, and Mark Henry comes in to drop elbows for 2. Faarooq fights him off, and tags in Blackman. He eats a powerslam from Henry, and we turn back to D’Lo. An axehandle from off the middle turnbuckle gets 2. Rocky gives Blackman a big boot from the apron, and tags himself in. Blackman is stomped down in the corner. Steve tries to fight back, but a short arm clothesline stops that flurry. The Rock gets cocky though, and a small package from Blackman gets 2. Rock comes back with the People’s Elbow, and puts on a chinlock. D’Lo comes in and declares this is it. The moonsault misses - and Faarooq gets the hot tag. He takes out the entire NOD, and all 6 guys wind up in the ring! Rock DDTs Faarooq for 2! He misses a clothesline, Faarooq immediately hits the Dominator, and Rock jobs again at 13:38. **1/4 I should note that I’m not whining about Rock losing all the time, because it was one of the rare times that it actually helped a wrestler, due to his amazing charisma being able to play up the chicken shit heel.
STEVE AUSTIN heads to the ring for No Apparent Reason. He orders MARK YEATON, the timekeeper into the ring. Austin warns him that if he even THINKS about screwing him tonight on orders from Vince McMahon, he’ll make sure he never walks again.
TRIPLE H vs. OWEN HART (for the WWF European title)
CHYNA is locked in a shark cage over the ring, due to her incessant interference where Owen (or anyone for that matter) is involved. It’s *really* weird seeing Owen as a smiling, hand slapping babyface. The second Chyna’s locked in the cage, Owen attacks Hunter on the floor. Since the opening bell hasn’t rung, it’s all legal. Owen beats Triple H up and down the aisle, including whipping him into the shark cage and suplexing him on the concrete. They head back in, and Owen clotheslines Triple H right back to the floor. Chyna gets elevated above the ring, and Owen gives Hunter snake eyes on the guardrail. Back in, Owen hits a backbreaker. The 10-punch count-a-long is blocked with Triple H’s version of snake eyes, and Owen’s wobbly. A running kneelift takes Owen down. Helmsley hits a vertical suplex, drops a knee, and gets 2. Chyna desperately tries to bend the bars from the cage to escape, to no avail. Meanwhile, Triple H hits a clothesline for 2. Dragon sleeper is applied, and Owen falls down where Hunter gets 2. Chyna slips a file out of her tights, and starts to unlock her handcuffs. Owen hits a sunset flip for 2. Triple H comes back with a swinging neckbreaker for 2. Back to the dragon sleeper, but Owen claws his way out of that. A blind shoulderblock misses, and Owen’s shoulder meets the ringpost! Triple H quickly hits a facebuster for 2. JR starts yammering on about Montreal, but I’ll let it go since we were only 5 months removed from the incident at the time. Owen nails a German suplex with a bridge for 2. Chyna finally bends the bars of the cage while Owen hits the enzuigiri for 2!! An atomic drop is followed by a spinning heel kick for another 2! Stuff piledriver, and Owen goes up. An elbowdrop is good - but Chyna’s escaped the cage, and is dangling on the edge of it. Owen’s distracted by the display, and Triple H clotheslines him to the outside. Owen recovers, and nails a DDT back in. The Sharpshooter is locked on, but the cage is suddenly lowered - and Chyna’s back down. ROAD DOGG is spotted near the cage control area, so SERGEANT SLAUGHTER comes down to restrain Chyna. Owen nails a picture perfect Pedigree, but the ref is tied up with Chyna, so there’s no count. X-PAC now hits the ring, clocks Owen in the head with a fire extinguisher, and Triple H retains his belt at 13:25. ***
MICHAEL COLE asks Owen if DX has their number. His response? “Enough is enough. I’ve had enough. This bullshit is going to have to stop. Something is going to have to change around here.” By the next month, Triple H would somehow be a face while Owen a heel... I don’t get it either.
21,427 are in attendance, a Greensboro record.
JAMES E. CORNETTE is welcomed as “Mr. NWA”. He wonders if these very ugly fans still believe the Rock And Roll Express are STILL the greatest tag-team in the world, because they’re about to get a rude awakening...
THE NEW MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (with James E. Cornette) vs. THE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL EXPRESS (for the NWA world tag-team titles)
Gibson starts with Bob Holly, and Gibson hits a shoulderblock. Holly hits the floor, where Cornette gives him a big hug. Back in, Gibson nails a hiptoss, while JR continually reminds us how much slower the RNR Express are than they were during their prime. Eaton tags in and gets caught by Bart Gunn in the corner - but heel miscommunication causes a pair of collisions. The Midnights get into a shoving match, but Cornette quickly breaks that up. Gunn puts Eaton in an abdominal stretch which JR calls “an atomic drop!”, which nearly surpasses Schiavone levels of ineptness. Gunn uses Holly for leverage, but the referee catches them and breaks it up. Cornette hops in the ring and demands a fight with the referee over that call, so Tim White throws up his dukes, and calls him out. Cornette cowers in the corner, while the ref POSES with the other team. THAT doesn’t look biased! Bart hits a running kneelift that sends Eaton to the floor, and Bob gets in a cheapshot. Back in, Gunn hits a pair of backbreakers for 2. A drop toe hold is followed by a kneedrop from Holly for 2. Gunn hits a powerslam for 2. Gunn goes to a running powerslam this time, to set up the Alabama Jam from Holly - but the move misses, and Gibson gets a “hot tag” to no reaction. They double dropkick Gunn, but the referee gets distracted by Holly, and Cornette causes shenanigans. A flying bulldog from Holly gets the pin at 7:21. 1/4* Total carwreck. JR calls this a piece of nostalgia, and on behalf of the WWF, we “hope you enjoyed that”.
THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS GOLDUST and LUNA VACHON are in the back with DOK HENDRIX. Luna says she’s in this match for one reason only, and that’s to strip the clothes from Sable’s grotesque body, leaving her there as naked as a newborn baby.
LUNA VACHON (with The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust) vs. SABLE (in an evening gown match)
This was billed as the first ever evening gown match, which is almost hard to believe... The girls run around the ring, ripping bits and pieces of the gown as they go. Luna tries to throw some wrestling moves in, with a boot to the midsection and some shoulderblocks, but that doesn’t last. They go back to the clothe ripping, and MARC MERO heads down to ringside. He and Sable get into it, allowing Luna to rip of her top for the win at 2:36. DUD Post-match, Sable hits the Sablebomb, and strips Luna’s clothes off. Both girls crawl under the ring for some reason, and Sable re-emerges with Luna’s bra and panties. Goldust gives Luna his robe to cover her up, and carries her to the back.
VINCE MCMAHON and THE STOOGES arrive, and walk to the ring. “Something catastrophic is going to occur here tonight!” That’s an interesting way to start. Vince addresses the conspiracy theory that he’s here to screw Steve Austin out of the WWF title. He says the actual reason he’s here is because he was born here in North Carolina many moons ago - making him a native, and he’s happy to be back home. You can imagine how much the fans appreciate THAT thought. Vince says screwing Steve Austin is beneath his dignity, but won’t be held responsible for anything that happens in the ring if Stone Cold screws Stone Cold.
THE NEW AGE OUTLAWS vs. LOD2000 (with Sunny) (for the WWF world tag-team titles)
Road Dogg welcomes “Dean Smith” to help coach the NAO to a victory, and Billy emerges with a blow up doll. Billy starts with Animal, and gets knocked on his ass. Gunn misses a crossbody, and gets nailed with a clothesline for 1. Road Dogg comes in, and gets armdragged around. Hawk comes in and hits a powerslam, while the fans start an “LOD” chant. A fistdrop causes Road Dogg to rush to the corner to seek solace from Billy. Hawk drags Gunn into the ring, and takes a nasty backdrop where Hawk’s head connects with Billy’s groin, causing an “oooh, shit!” noise to emerge from Gunn. Hawk blows a slam, but on the second try he gets a shoulderbreaker for 2. Animal tags in and hits a double elbow for 2. Animal works a headlock, and Lawler starts requesting replays of the evening gown match. A powerslam gets 2. Pier 6 brawl erupts, and the Outlaws are whipped into eachother. LOD goes for the Doomsday Device, but a chop block from Gunn saves the day. The knee of Animal is weakened, and Road Dogg is ALL over it. Gunn whips the knee into the ringpost several times. Road Dogg grapevines the leg, and tries to get a tapout. Unfortunately, he’s no submission artist, so he turns it back over to Billy. Unfortunately, he’s no wrestler, and can only put on a shitty leg submission. Gunn hits the Fameasser for 2. Animal tries to kick away with his good leg, but Billy rakes the eyes, and kicks away at the bad leg some more. Road Dogg kicks the ribs, and hits a butt splash for 2! Billy gets hit with a dragon screw, and Hawk finally gets the tag. Road Dogg gets a boot to the face, and both guys get a bunch of clotheslines. Hawk hits a big splash off the top - but Billy sneaks in with a belt shot...for 2! They go for a second one, but miscommunication sees Billy get decked, and Hawk hits Road Dogg with a German with a bridge for the win at 12:21! BUT WAIT - the referee announces the NAO are still the champions, because Hawk had pinned himself with the German suplex, and a tie goes to the champions. *3/4 LOD gives the referee the Doomsday Device after the match, and he has to be stretchered out from the impact.
TENNESSEE LEE welcomes SAWYER BROWN to the pay-per-view - and has TRIPLE J singing backup tonight. Jarrett clearly lip synch’s his way through the whole thing. After the concert, STEVE BLACKMAN attacks Jarrett on the stage. Tennessee Lee breaks a guitar over Blackman’s head, and Jarrett puts him in the figure four. I don’t understand how this was supposed to draw heat for anyone.
Jerry Lawler whips out a hot dog and some marshmallows for our next match.
KANE (with Paul Bearer) vs. THE UNDERTAKER (in an inferno match)
Lawler: “How do you like your Undertaker? Regular, or extra crispy?” The brothers trade punches to start, and Taker hits an avalanche. Old School is hit early, and the flames explode upon impact. Kane hits a snake eyes, and follows with a clothesline. Kane tries to shove Taker face first to the fire, but Taker escapes with THE CLAW! Kane hits a powerslam, and drops a fist. Bearer throws a chair into the ring, and Kane nails Taker in the face! Taker tries to fight back with some kicks, but Kane kicks him right back down to the mat. They stall with some rest holds. Taker hits a big boot, and a side Russian legsweep! A legdrop connects, but Kane sits right back up. Both guys go for chokeslams at the same time, but Kane wins that fight and hits the move. Undertaker comes right back with one of his own. Kane does a zombie situp, and both guys hit eachother with simultaneous big boots! They both stand, and Taker misses a dive...nearly hitting the fire! Kane hits a side slam and goes up, but Taker crotches him! Taker hits the superplex - but it’s Kane who stands first! Getting annoyed, Taker dumps Kane towards the fire...but Kane misses, and falls to the floor. He’s got no way back in, and Taker can’t escape the ring. Kane decides to call it a night, but VADER attacks him on top of the ramp, and sends him back to ringside. Taker then hits a tope suicida on BOTH guys!!!! Paul Bearer slams Taker in the head with a chair - but it’s no sold! Taker chases him off, grabs the chair, and starts beating down Kane with it!!! Bearer gets involved again, so Taker chases the waddling fat man up the ramp, and onto Sawyer Brown’s stage! Bearer gets a drum slammed over his head, which busts him open. Back to Kane, Taker gives Kane a big boot into the fire, and Kane’s arm catches on fire at 16:01. *1/4 REALLY shitty match covered up by cute special effects.
DUDE LOVE vs. STEVE AUSTIN (for the WWF world heavyweight title)
Before the match, Dude Love tries the cupping his ear routine, but doesn’t quite get the Hogan ovation he’s seeking. Austin’s entrance on the other hand blows any Hogan ovation out of the water. Dude attacks Austin from behind before the bell - but Austin comes right back with a back elbow. Dude falls to the floor, and Austin’s right on his ass. Back in, the Thesz press connects, followed by the FU elbow. Dude gets his face thrown to the buckle repeatedly, and follows with a spinebuster. Another FU elbow, and Austin chokes Foley out in the ropes. The announcers wonder where Vince is. Dude decides to head up the aisle to safety, but Austin clotheslines him. They head back up to Sawyer Brown’s stage, and Austin slams Foley on it. If that’s not bad enough, Dude is then hiptossed OFF the stage, and he lands right on his side! Austin starts kicking Dude Love down the aisle, right back to ringside. Dude whips Austin to the apron, but Austin pops right off with a clothesline. They head back in, where Austin chokes Foley out again. Bossman straddle misses the mark - and finally Dude sees a chance to take over. Dude nails a running bulldog, and drops an elbow. Austin comes back with a clothesline, but Dude drives his knee to Steve’s midsection. Dude slaps on a rear naked choke, and the fans start booing viciously because here comes VINCE MCMAHON and THE STOOGES! Vince takes a seat, and gives a look in the direction of the timekeeper. Austin escapes the hold, and goes to scream at Vince...but Dude’s on him with a small package for 2! Austin takes out Foley’s legs, and starts wrapping them around the ringpost, over and over, while Vince glares in Austin’s direction. Austin goes for a piledriver on the floor, but Dude winds up backdropping him onto the cement instead. Dude starts whipping Austin into the guardrail, and Vince wanders over, dangerously close to Austin. He starts telling Austin to get back in the ring - and the distraction allows Foley to clothesline Austin from behind! Back to the ring, Dude hits Austin with a neckbreaker, knocking him back to the floor. Vince: “Be a man, get back to the ring!” The referee starts to count 10, but Vince does NOT want a count out. Austin beats the count...and is caught in an abdominal stretch. Vince tells the timekeeper to ring the damn bell, but Austin reverses the hold - and Vince gets on his knees to plead that he NOT ring the bell!!! Dude hiptosses his way out of the hold, and they brawl to the floor. Austin suplexes Foley ONTO the ringsteps, and I can’t even imagine how much that hurts! Austin hits Dude with a Cactus clothesline into the front row, and pounds away! Back in, Dude hits a swinging neckbreaker! Foley warms up the band for Sweet Shin Music, but Austin blocks. Dude tries a clothesline, but Austin ducks, and the referee is hit. Austin goes for the Stunner, but it’s reversed into the Mandible Claw...but we have no referee! Dude goes low while Vince desperately tries to revive the referee. The Claw is re-applied, Austin’s out...but the referee will not wake up. Austin gets up, and backdrops Dude to the floor, and goes to get a chair. Vince tries to rip it out of his hands, and after a struggle, Dude hits Austin with the chair. Austin elbows the chair into Dude’s face a number of times, and when he crumbles, Austin then smacks VINCE in the face with the chair!!! Back in, Austin hits the Stunner, and counts the pinfall for himself at 18:45! ***1/2 An announcement is made after the match that Austin was disqualified for striking a WWF official. Vince has to be stretchered out from the blow, and the show ends.
Main event aside, this show was SO typical of 1998, and I absolutely hate it. The characters, the attitude, the whole mess of it is everything I never want to see in pro-wrestling again. I was deeply into WCW at this point, and even though the wrestlers and angles may have been stale, at least you’d have been guaranteed an amazing undercard, which this show certainly did not have.
Next up, Backlash 1999 - where Shamrock and Undertaker actually have a GOOD match?!? No, this really happens! See you then.
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