On the Marc Reviews: 1998 Royal Rumble
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San Jose Arena, San Jose, California; January 18, 1998
Commentators: Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler
Vader vs. Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon): Goldust had just broken up with Marlena on WWF television; that lead to this bizarre twist on his persona. Basically, He was trying to draw attention to himself one of which was attacking Vader with a coconut. I remember him dressing up like a baby for New Year’s and then Steve Austin abusing him and throwing him in a commode. Goldust attacks at the bell but Vader steamrolls him to a HUGE ovation. Goldust goes to the floor where Vader rams him and Luna together and rams him into the ring steps. Back in the ring, Goldust gets sent into orbit off a backdrop. Luna distracts, allowing Goldust to take over with a clothesline. Goldust avoids the sit-down splash counter to the sunset flip and basement clotheslines Vader. Goldust works the leg of Vader with a second-rope elbow drop. Goldust gives Vader a steel step receipt on the floor; Luna attacks with her shoe. Goldust pounds Vader in the corner but makes the mistake of kissing him; Vader turns Goldust inside out with a clothesline. Goldust cannot slam Vader so Vader suplexes him followed by a big splash for two. Vader sets up for the Vader Bomb; Luna distracts the referee, allowing Goldust a low blow. Vader counters a knee lift; this time Vader squashes Goldust on the sit-down sunset flip counter. Vader sets up for the Vader Bomb again, Luna jumps on his back to try to stop him, so he Vader Bombs Goldust with Luna on his back for three. 4.5/10 Average match deadly finish; Luna took a mean bump on her new implants there.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin arrives and gives his keys to Michael Cole (thinking he was the valet) trying to interview him. The Godwinns demand to know where Austin went. Austin rose so much hell in the months leading up to the Royal Rumble, EVERYONE in the WWF was gunning for him. “Iron” Mike Tyson is shown in his skybox.
Max Mini, Nova & Mosaic vs. Battalion, Tarantula & El Torrito: Sunny is the special guest referee for this match; these are mini-estrella, mini luchadores. Nova and Tarantula start off and run a series of lucha arm drags and hurracanranas. Max Mini and Battalion run a more complicated series of arm drags. El Torrito comes in and presses Mosaic and then presses him straight up and lets him splat on the mat. He tries again but Mosaic counters into an arm drag on the way down; Mosaic flings Torrito out of the ring via an arm drag. Tarantula clotheslines Mosaic and tags Battalion so Nova arrives and hiptosses and arm drags. Nova arm drags out of a powerbomb. Mosaic actually does an arm drag but uses his foot. Max Mini arrives and runs into a boot; Max comes off the top into a hurracanrana and backdrops Tarantula. El Torrito boots Max in the back of the head. Max uses Sunny to his advantage kicking people while in her arms. Mosaic arm drags out of a 360 backbreaker and sails through the ropes on a somersault topé on Battalion. El Torrito planchas onto everyone then Max one-ups him by nailing an Asai corkscrew moonsault. Tarantula topés on to the pile and Nova finishes it off with a traditional Asai moonsault. Max hits a top-rope head scissors takeover into an arm drag cradle for three. 3.5/10 This was an entertaining match proving you can arm drag someone fifty different ways.
The Nation of Domination storm Steve Austin’s locker room and find a foam middle finger.
Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon join Mike Tyson in his skybox to watch the Rumble action.
Ken Shamrock mowed through the entire Nation of Domination to get to IC Champion Rocky Maivia, now calling himself the Rock, including having tag partner Mark Henry turn on him in a tag match and join the Nation. This was also the beginning of the Rock and Faarooq battling for control of the Nation. The Rock says that the “People’s champion” will stand tall.
WWF Intercontinental Championship “The Rock” Rocky Maivia vs. Ken Shamrock: The Rock grabs the microphone and tells everyone to shut up because he’s the damn champ; Ken Shamrock is in his rare black trunks, tonight. They lock up and Rocky forces Shamrock into the corner; Shamrock avoids the cheap shot. The Rock runs one too many ropes and gets kicked in the chest. Shamrock sends the Rock, for the first, over the top spot of the Rumble. Rocky whips Shamrock into the corner and follows up with a clothesline. Shamrock comes back with a series of clotheslines; Rocky counters the hurracanrana nicely by clotheslining Shamrock off the top rope. Rocky stomps on Shamrock and rakes the eyes as the fans chant “Rocky sucks”. Shamrock battles back and hits a crossbody and a fisherman’s suplex for two. Rocky regains control via a clothesline to the floor they go where Shamrock meets the steel steps. The Rock drops Shamrock into the float-over DDT and then a reverse chinlock. Shamrock frees himself; Rocky goes for the float-over again but Shamrock counters into a Northern Lights release suplex. Shamrock begins to dominate with knuckles; he fires up and hits a big off-the-ropes powerslam, a hurracanrana follows. Shamrock begins to “snap”, here comes Kama Mustafa and D’Lo Brown to aid the Rock. Shamrock dispatches with them but hangs D’Lo in the ropes; while the referee is dealing with him Maivia blasts Shamrock with brass knuckles. He hides them in SHAMROCK’S trunks. Shamrock kicks out and clobbers the Rock with a belly-to-belly suplex for three. Shamrock wins the title! Post-match the Rock tell referee Mike Chioda to check Shamrock’s trunks; he finds the knuckles and reverses his decision giving the belt back to the Rock. After that Shamrock snaps and suplexes Chioda and applies the ankle lock. 6/10 Good match that had an entertaining bait-and-switch ending; this match is a snap-shot of the entire Shamrock/Rock feud.
A DVD exclusive shows The Rock in the back changing when Ken Shamrock barges in and attacks him. A gaggle of referees drag Shamrock off as the Rock tells them to “get that piece of shit outta here!” Elsewhere, Los Boricuas believe they have located Steve Austin, but they attack Skull (or 8-Ball); that triggers a huge brawl in the back between the Boricuas and the Disciples of Apocalypse.
Road Warrior Animal yells at Michael Cole that his back is okay; Road Warrior Hawk says the usual.
WWF Tag Team Championship New Age Outlaws vs. Legion of Doom: The Outlaws (with DX’s help) decimated Hawk and Animal; shaving one of Hawk’s mohawks and putting Animal through a table injuring his ribs. The Outlaws wear Green Bay Packers jerseys to the ring. Cheap sports heat! They all brawl to start; Animal gets a powerbomb on Road Dogg. Hawk clobbers Road Dogg and Animal tries to twist his head off. Hawk returns and hits a neckbreaker on Road Dogg; he attacks Billy Gunn, for some reason, allowing a tag, it does not matter though as Hawk rips through Billy as well. He face plants Billy by the hair and a backdrop suplex. Animal tags in but misses an elbow drop; he comes back and powerslams both Outlaws. Hawk applies an STF; Animal returns but Road Dogg trips him from the floor and then Billy Gunn sends him over the top rope. On the floor Road Dogg whips him into the steps furthering the damage to his bad back. Hawk comes in to take out Billy and double clotheslines both Outlaws. Hawk misses a charge posting his shoulder; now both Road Warriors are down and out. Road Dogg handcuffs Hawk to the ring post. Animal flips out of a double atomic drop and floors both of the Outlaws. The referee finally realizes Hawk is handcuffed to the post but elects to do nothing about it. Animal continues to dominate. Billy Gunn comes off the top but right into a powerslam. Road Dogg interrupts the three count with a chair to Animal’s back; drawing a DQ. Post-match the Outlaws destroy Animal’s back with a chair until Hawk breaks the handcuffs and clears the ring. 2/10 Not much of a match; it did feature the Outlaw’s abilities to cheat and willingness take the cheap way out to keep the titles.
Recap of how the WWF made “Stone Cold” Steve Austin the hottest star in wrestling. Attacking and stunning EVERYONE in sight; heels, babyfaces, referees, announcers, security guards, etc… it was totally fresh and different at the time. Now, EVERYONE in the company is gunning for Austin in the Rumble.
The Royal Rumble: #1 Cactus Jack and #2 Chainsaw Charlie starts us off. They take turns throwing chairs at each other; Jack and Terry Funk have a chair duel. A referee slides in the ring to remove the live chainsaw. Funk asks for a chairshot and then Jack gives him the chair and asks for one himself. Here is #3 Tom Brandi runs down and to quote Marc Mero, “you’re a jobber,” so Jack and Chainsaw ELIMINATE him quickly. Cactus sets up two chairs and suplexes Chainsaw onto them. Now #4 “The Rock” Rocky Maivia runs down. Funk and Cactus double shoulderblock each other. The Rock goes to work on Charlie then stomps on Cactus. Jack gets a trashcan and wallops Rocky with it; they drape it over his torso and punch it and hit it with a chair. I’m sure #5 Headbanger Mosh is looking forward to this; Chainsaw tosses a chair at him as he is on the way to the ring. No one can throw a chair quite like Terry Funk. Mosh works on Charlie while the Rock and Cactus go at it. Cactus knee in the corner on the Rock; Chainsaw misses the Funk U-sault. Here comes #6 Phineas I. Godwinn now a heel; Godwinns were better as nasty heels anyway. Hillbilly faces suck, sorry Jim. The future Mideon works on Cactus then Charlie. The Rock nails everyone from behind when he can. #7 8-Ball, only because the graphic tells me so, heads to the ring and attacks the Rock since DOA and the Nation hate each other. Terry Funk ducks a Cactus Jack charge and ELIMINATES him. 8-Ball works over Phineas as Jerry Lawler claims through his “sources” that someone has finally gotten to Steve Austin in the back. Jim Ross is dubious. Everyone brawls on the ropes trying to eliminate each other. Chainsaw hangs on by his foot; I have no idea how, it defies physics. #8 Blackjack Bradshaw heads out in one of his failed singles pushes. He clobbers everyone in his path then settles on working over Chainsaw. Bradshaw and 8-Ball brawl and gets him over the top. Chainsaw goes over again but not out. #9 “Black Hart” Owen Hart but Aztec Warrior NWA representative Jeff Jarrett and Jim Cornette attack him in the aisle to fire the opening salvo in the mini NWA/WWF invasion storyline. Everyone brawls on the ropes and Phineas knocks down the Rock.
#10 Steve Blackman jogs down and almost eliminates Chainsaw. 8-Ball adds a piledriver to Chainsaw’s list of head injuries; more rope brawling follows. Bradshaw clobbers Charlie. Blackman and Funk hang on the ropes on opposite sides as #11 D’Lo Brown comes out. He goes for 8-Ball as Chainsaw goes over again; Mosh and Bradshaw try to drop him to the floor. Running lariat from 8-Ball to D’Lo. Rocky and D’Lo go at it to a reasonable ovation. Here comes big #12 Kurrgan to the ring. Everyone stops brawling to keep an eye on him; he no-sells everything Mosh and Bradshaw can throw at him. Mosh stupidly climbs the buckles against Kurrgan so he just jerks Mosh off the top ELIMINATING him. Blackman spin kicks him; that pisses him off so he shouts at and destroys Blackman. #13 “Marvelous” Marc Mero heads out to the ring, all the fans care about is Sable though. Mero uses knuckles on Blackman; Kurrgan rams Bradshaw and Steve Blackman together and then ELIMINATES Blackman. Bradshaw clobbers him with a running elbow smash but Kurrgan no-sells it and makes mean faces at Bradshaw. The Rock and D’Lo continue their battle in the corner, as Mero and Chainsaw battle. Kurrgan destroys Phineas so Bradshaw reverse bearhugs him. Here’s #14 Ken Shamrock he heads for Kurrgan and finally floor him. Everyone now gets the hint and gangs up on Kurrgan ELIMINATING him. After he’s eliminated Kurrgan shouts “bagawabhbagbahwbahah!!!” at everyone in the ring. Everyone resumes on the rope brawling. Shamrock works over Godwinn while Bradshaw big boots D’Lo. #15 Headbanger Thrasher comes in. D’Lo chokes the Rock in the corner. Bradshaw hits the Clothesline from Hell on Thrasher; not sure if it was called that at this point. More rope brawling. Bradshaw and 8-Ball brawl; here comes #16 Mankind, LOL. Mankind goes for Chainsaw Charlie naturally and ELIMINATES him. Revenge (from earlier). Mankind now goes for the Rock so D’Lo now helps him. Shamrock finally notices the Rock is in there after about two or three numbers have gone by since he got there. #17 TAFKA Goldust runs with Kane-like facepaint on. Mankind works over him nodding their odd kinship back in 1996. Mero has been dancing around the ring and celebrating in lieu of fighting. Goldust ELIMINATES Mankind. Mero and Goldust battle on the ropes; they’d become chummy in the future weeks then wind up fighting at WrestleMania XIV (full review,click here). Here is #18 Jeff Jarrett representing the NWA. He goes for everyone until Owen Hart runs back in at attacks Jarrett and hits a spinning wheel kick. Jarrett sidesteps Owen who, unbeknownst to Jarrett, skins-the-cat back in and ELIMINATES Jeff Jarrett. #19 Honky Tonk Man comes in flanked by Triple H and Chyna, whom Owen was actually feuding with; they attack Owen with his crutch and ELIMINATE him. During the chaos the Rock ELIMINATED Ken Shamrock.
#20 Ahmed Johnson comes out as Owen chases HHH to the back and falls down the steps. There are a ton of guys in there, just to build to the inevitable Austin entrance. Ahmed slowly gets in the ring and meets Phineas. Ahmed attacks D’Lo because he still hates the Nation. 8-Ball and Honky Tonk Man roll around on the mat. #21 Mark Henry just after he turned heel and joined the Nation. He looks really weird with a shaved head. Henry works over Ahmed. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Jim Ross on commentary saying, “he [Henry] is handling the big Johnson with those clubbing tree-like arms”. Wow. D’Lo comes over and assists Henry with the big Johnson. Gross. Ahmed has about thirty kneepads on his legs. Mark Henry tosses powder at the big Johnson as #22 Skull, of DOA, does not appear; he was hurt by Los Boricuas on the earlier misunderstanding. Also it adds credence and suspense to Lawler’s claim someone got to Steve Austin in the back. The Nation members finally ELIMINATE Ahmed. Mark Henry then ELIMINATES Phineas Godwinn, taking out referee Jack Doan on the way to floor, resulting in a severe concussion. Ahmed and Phineas battle back to the locker room. D’Lo works over Mark Henry. #23 Kama Mustafa runs into Ahmed on they down; he avoids him and joins the other three Nation members in the ring. Kama works over D’Lo, as the Nation guys like to brawl with each other instead of ganging up on everyone else. Now there are a load of wrestlers in the ring. I just noticed Honky Tonk is wearing the same style tights his cousin Jerry Lawler wears. #24 “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s music hits; everyone in-ring stops brawling and watches the aisle awaiting Austin. He comes through the crowd and ELIMINATES Marc Mero from behind. Everyone gangs up on him but he avoids them all and ELIMINATES 8-Ball. Austin handles D’Lo and Thrasher in the corner. Boy, for everyone “gunning for Austin” in this Rumble, they sure left him alone and went back to rope brawling pretty quickly. Things have calmed down enough as #25 Henry O. Godwinn enters. He goes for Austin. Bradshaw has been in a long time; it took almost ten years for his “long lasing Rumble” singles push to begin. Kama and D’Lo work over each other again. Godwinn and Bradshaw dangle on the top rope. The Rock has also lasted a long time. Here is #26 Savio Vega, flanked by all of Los Boricuas, they all attack Austin. Stone Cold fends them all off and Savio, the actual legal entrant, remains. Austin tries to stun Savio Vega, lots of prior history there going back to WrestleMania XII (full review, click here). Austin beheads Goldust with a lariat as Jim Ross says “if you will”; Austin stomps Goldust’s balls. The leader of the Nation of Domination #27 Faarooq heads down. Faarooq attacks the Rock then D’Lo and Kama; Rock and Austin brawl on the floor. Rock launches Austin into the steps as the rest of the Nation gang up on Faarooq. The Nation finally works over other people as Rocky and Stone Cold continue their battle on the floor, neither eliminated. Here comes #28 Dude Love, pulling a triple header, and ELIMINATES Bradshaw. Austin drags Goldust to the floor and sends him into the steps. The Rock drops the (unnamed) People’s Elbow onto Kama. Austin attacks him before he can get up. #29 Chainz heads out. Savio and Goldust beat on Austin in the corner. The Rock has been in the ring for almost fifty minutes at this point, plus defending his IC title earlier in the night. Thrasher whips D’Lo into a Faarooq backdrop ELIMINATING D’Lo Brown. Henry Godwinn goes for Austin again and Henry picks the bones. The best draw goes to #30 Vader. Goldust goes for Vader and gets floored. Vader ELIMINATES the Honky Tonk Man. Chainz stands on Austin’s throat. There goes Headbanger Thrasher, he is ELIMINATED. Austin then ELIMINATES Kama Mustafa and stomps Henry Godwinn. Jim Ross, for some reason, thinks D’Lo is still in there. Austin ducks a Savio roundhouse kick and ELIMINATES Savio Vega. Goldust gets revenge ELIMINATING Vader then collapses. Dude Love ducks a Hank Godwinn clothesline and he sails over the top, ELIMINATED; Chainz then ELIMINATES Goldust. Guys are flying out right and left, now. Fatigue or the referees told them to speed it up. Austin ELIMINATES Chainz and Faarooq ELIMINATES Mark Henry. The final four for the WWF Title at the 1998 Royal Rumble are; Steve Austin, Rocky Maivia, Dude Love and Faarooq. Former tag champions Dude Love and Steve Austin each battle a Nation member. They whip them together. Austin clotheslines Faarooq and Dude Love hits Sweet Shin Music into the double-arm DDT on the Rock. Austin attacks Dude Love but the Dude gets the Love Handle (Mandible Claw) so Austin kicks him in the yam bags. Faarooq then ELIMINATES Dude Love. Faarooq beats on Austin as the Rock lies in the weeds. Rocky waits until Faarooq is busy with Austin and sneaks up and ELIMINATES Faarooq. It is down to Austin and the Rock. Austin gets the Rock over but not out; he adds a Stone Cold Stunner and ELIMINATES Rocky Maivia to win the 1998 Royal Rumble. Post-match Mike Tyson is shown cheering on Austin. 7/10 Fun Rumble that, Vince Russo assisted in booking, so it had a ton of storylines intermingling. Austin was the story of the Rumble and since the WWF hitched its wagon to him it made sense. It turned out to be a good plan too, as that Austin feller went on to WrestleMania XIV (full review, click here) and did pretty well for himself afterwards.
In one of the most famous flubs of all time Mike Tyson tells Michael Cole that “Cold Stone” is his favorite.
Recap of why Undertaker despises Shawn Michaels and DX and how Kane has had a change of heart regarding his brother. This goes back to Summerslam where Shawn accidently cost Undertaker the WWF title to Bret Hart (but they don’t mention that part). The first Hell in the Cell is highlighted including Kane’s debut. DX tried to involve Kane in the feud but it backfired and he helped the Undertaker.
WWF Heavyweight Championship Shawn Michaels (w/Triple H & Chyna) vs. Undertaker casket match: Jim Ross notes HBK is about as welcome here as a phone call during [Monday Night] Raw. HBK tries to avoid the Undertaker as often as possible. He keeps charging in the corner and getting tossed off. Shawn springboards out of the corner but gets caught in a double choke lift, literally. Impressive. Taker looks to press-slam Shawn into the casket but he counters. Undertaker backdrops HBK over the casket but he catches his lower back on the edge of it in the spot that altered WWF booking for years and took about five years off of Shawn’s career. Taker tosses HBK into the ringpost and press-slams him on the floor. Shawn is noticeably limping and catches a huge right hand back in the ring. Shawn tries an arm wringer; Undertaker reverses and goes Old School (which was probably middle school at this point). Undertaker pummels HBK in the corner and sends him upside down and out on the other, taking a cameraman out with him; Shawn did that an awful lot in his career. Michaels gets a desperation hangman off the top rope; he gets caught, however, in a powerslam coming off the top turnbuckle. Taker gets all of Shawn in the casket sans his hand; Shawn pops out of the casket with power in Undertaker’s eyes and it allows HBK to FINALLY take over on him. Shawn moonsault presses onto him; HBK clotheslines him to the floor, skins-the-cat back in but Taker drags him out anyway. Taker dominates out there until Shawn sends his knees through the steel steps. Shawn uses the ring steps, on Takers back, a few times then he PILEDRIVES Undertaker onto the steps. Ouch! Triple H hobbles over and gets a few licks in with his crutches. Shawn rolls the Undertaker into the casket but fights his way out and sends Shawn over the top back into the ring and nails Helmsley. HBK manages a swinging neckbreaker to stay on top. This match is unusually slow for an HBK match for obvious (injury) reasons; Shawn applies a sleeper. Taker comes back and backdrop suplexes himself free. Shawn hits the flying forearm, nip-up, top-rope elbow drop and tunes up the band. Sweet Chin Music! HBK rolls Taker into the casket but he counters with a testicular claw and punches him back into the ring, over the top, again. Undertaker hits a high-angle backdrop and sends Shawn upside down in the corner again. Big boot but Shawn avoids the 360 clothesline and Undertaker winds up in the casket. Shawn follows him in via a top rope elbow drop INTO the casket. For some reason, the referee closes the lid with BOTH of them inside. I guess it was so we could see Shawn escape but then gets dragged back into the casket by the Undertaker. Back on the floor Undertaker stalks Shawn and stalling chokeslams him. Undertaker positions HBK for the Tombstone, steps over the top rope and Tombstones him INTO THE CASKET! Death. Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, Savio Vega and the rest of Los Boricuas run down to beat the Undertaker down. Here comes Kane who clears the ring but TURNS ON THE UNDERTAKER! He chokeslams Undertaker into the casket and DX closes the lid to give Shawn Michaels the win. Post-match Paul Bearer wanders down and assists Kane in padlocking the casket. They wheel the casket up the ramp, where Kane whacks it a few times with an axe, and set it on fire. After they put the fire out and look inside the Undertaker is gone. Taker speaks over the PA system saying he will not rest in peace; just like the ’94 Rumble (full review, click here) casket match. 7/10 Good brutal match that Shawn amazingly completed after an early back injury that caused him to lose a significant chunk of his career. It also set the stage for two of the main events for WrestleMania XIV (full review, click here).
They finally pulled the trigger for real on Austin’s push and it worked. The Rumble was fun featuring the rattlesnake storyline throughout but there were many other angles involved as well; Nation/Shamrock, Goldust/Vader, Rocky/Faarooq, etc… The undercard was a mixed bag with the tag title match brutal and everything else (at least) entertaining. HBK injured his back in the main event and one has to wonder how Shawn would have fit into the WWF’s plans post WrestleMania XIV if he had not hurt himself. Good entertaining show that was the runway to the Attitude Era.
|Final Score: 5.5 [ Not So Good ] legend|