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Kevin’s Random Reviews: WWF Survivor Series 1998

December 20, 2018 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
WWF Survivor Series 1998
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Kevin’s Random Reviews: WWF Survivor Series 1998  

WWF Survivor Series 1998
November 15th, 1998 | Kiel Center in St. Louis, Missouri | Attendance: 19,332

During one of its hottest times in history, the WWE hit us with the “Deadly Game” Tournament. After shenanigans involving Steve Austin, The Undertaker, and Kane over the previous two months left the WWF Title vacant, a one night tournament was announced for this event. Could Austin win back his coveted title? Would Undertaker or Kane prevail? Or would someone from left field do the unthinkable? This was the 12th Survivor Series event in history.

The opening video package focused on the 14-man tournament. Parts of it sounded like it was narrated by Mark Henry. In the arena, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were on commentary.

To start the show, Mr. McMahon, surrounded by his stooges and Big Bossman, cut a promo guaranteeing a new WWF Champion tonight. He introduced Mankind, who he had a strange association with at the time.

WWF Championship Tournament First Round: Duane Gill vs. WWF Hardcore Champion Mankind
Mankind came out dressed in a cheap looking suit. Vince brought out a mystery opponent, hyping him as a legend. He gave him a super over the top intro, only to reveal it as Duane Gill. Gill was happy to see he had a Titantron video, but also startled at his pyro. Mankind beat him with the Double Arm DDT in 0:30. [NR]

Backstage, Sable got interviewed about being attacked on Heat by Jacqueline. She just shouted a bunch about becoming the Women’s Champion.

WWF Championship Tournament First Round: Al Snow vs. Jeff Jarrett w/ Debra
The Debra/Jarrett pairing was still relatively fresh. She distracted Snow early. They both went for quick pins, which I liked since it helped sell how important a quick win is in a tournament like this. Debra took Head, leading Snow to steal Jarrett’s guitar. He whiffed on it and got hit with Head. However, as the referee got rid of the guitar, Snow whacked him with Head and advanced in 3:31. Quick and to the point. There wasn’t much structure as it felt like they just did stuff until the weapons spot. I did like the quick pins, though. [*½]

WWF Championship Tournament First Round: Big Bossman vs. Steve Austin
Mr. McMahon’s gun for hire against his biggest enemy. Bossman played that role here, beating on Austin from the opening bell. Vince and his stooges watched with joy from the back as Bossman choked Austin. Homebody busted out a rest hold in a sub-five minute match like his name was IRS. As soon as Austin made his rally, Bossman got the nightstick and beat him with it for a DQ at 3:17. More of an angle than a match. It was just here to get a beating on Austin so the odds were stacked against him. [¼*]

Backstage, Michael Cole asked Vince if he was concerned that Austin advanced. Obviously, he wasn’t.

WWF Championship Tournament First Round: Steven Regal vs. WWF European Champion X-Pac
HE’S A MAN! SUCH A MAN! There was a small bit of history here, as Regal took offense to a non-European holding the European Title. Regal spent most of the match showing off some of his arsenal. He busted out a few suplexes before grounding the quicker X-Pac. I appreciated commentary questioning if that’s a smart strategy with only a ten minute time limit. It wasn’t a long segment, but compared to everything else so far, it was an eternity. X-Pac came back with his “educated feet.” The match fell outside, where they got counted out at 8:08 to give Austin a bye. If it went this long, why not just do the time limit draw? It would’ve sold the time limit gimmick. Anyway, this was wildly average. [**]

Vince sent out Slaughter to call for overtime. Does he not get that it was a countout and not a time limit issue? They rang the bell to start the match, but a hurt X-Pac just walked to the back with no explanation. None of this made any sense. Classic Russo.

WWF Championship Tournament First Round: Goldust vs. WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock
These guys were a few months away from a clusterfuck of an IC Title program at Mania. Man, that show was a wreck. For the first time all night, and that includes the Snow/Jarrett match, the crowd was dead. They barely reacted to anything these guys did. To be fair, none of it was that interesting. Shamrock countered a powerbomb for a relatively big spot. The referee stopped Goldust from hitting Shattered Dreams, setting up a Shamrock run that was capped with the Ankle Lock and win at 5:56. This happened. It wasn’t flat out bad, but it was boring and had no heat. [*¼]

WWF Championship Tournament First Round: Big Bossman vs. The Rock
Bossman got a second chance because Rock’s scheduled opponent, Triple H, was injured. As great as their SummerSlam match was, we didn’t need to see it again so soon. Instead, we got the Stooges coming out to DX’s theme, complete with crotch chops. Rock instantly rolled up Bossman to steal it in 0:04. That would mean much more in the grand scheme of things later. [NR]

WWF Championship Tournament Quarterfinals: Kane vs. The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
It’s because of these guys that the title is vacant. They both pinned Austin at Breakdown and then Austin counted them both out at Judgment Day. For that reason, they got byes to this round. This wasn’t nearly as long or as bad as their Judgment Day match, but still seemed to drag on forever. Surprisingly, the crowd was subdued again. They’re in the Attitude Era and there’s two big stars wrestling. It’s odd. Kane hit the Chokeslam, but Bearer got on the apron to distract him. Undertaker hit the Tombstone and won, with an assist from Bearer holding Kane’s legs down, at 7:16. Lame. Do you think we’ll get one good match on this show? [½*]

WWF Championship Tournament Quarterfinals: Al Snow vs. WWF Hardcore Champion Mankind
Al Snow wants revenge for all the jokes Foley made about him. Granted, they wouldn’t be released in his book until next year, but whatever. Mick worked in a tuxedo to impress Mr. McMahon. You could tell this wasn’t going long. They did a lot of brawling outside until Snow missed a shot with Head. Mick came back with a Double Arm DDT and Mr. Socko to advance in 3:55. Not much here, but it wasn’t offensive. [*]

WWF Championship Tournament Quarterfinals: WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock vs. The Rock
It’s a rematch from the Royal Rumble. And WrestleMania. And the King of the Ring Finals. That should mean they have better chemistry than most guys in the tournament. As the heel, Shamrock controlled a lot of this. Rock was very popular, so the fans were ready to give him that sympathy. Ken got a few near falls the crowd bit on and some submission spots they really bit on. Rock survived and hit the People’s Elbow for a great near fall. The fans believed it was over and so did I. Bossman came down and threw the nightstick to Shamrock, but Rock intercepted it and clocked Shamrock with it. Somehow, the ref missed it all. A Rock Bottom later and Rock advanced after 8:20. Hey, that was a good match. It had some good drama and got time to breathe. [***]

Backstage, Paul Bearer was interviewed about how the Undertaker will walk out as WWF Champion.

WWF Women’s Championship: Jacqueline [c] w/ Marc Mero vs. Sable
Jacqueline surprised many by winning the resurrected title instead of the wildly popular Sable. The challenger started hot and even powerbombed, excuse me, Sable Bombed Marc Mero outside. That was a trademark spot for them. Jacqueline attacked her outside for a short advantage before a Sable Bomb gave us a new champion at 3:14. They didn’t botch or embarrass themselves and it was kept short. That’s the best thing I can say about it. [½*]

WWF Championship Tournament Semi-Finals: WWF Hardcore Champion Mankind vs. Steve Austin
Obviously, both men are popular, but with Austin being Austin and Mankind’s association with Vince, the crowd was clearly pro-Austin. Within minutes, some of the Stooges strolled out for a closer look. This was more even than I expected it to be. Mankind looked like Austin’s equal at points. That was probably because it was booked to be a brawl and these two had two great brawls in PPV main events earlier in the year. Mankind got a great near fall on the Double Arm DDT onto a chair. I can’t believe that was used on a close call spot. When Austin hit the Stunner, Vince got up from his wheelchair and pulled the referee out. He beat on him, magically healed. Referee Shane McMahon rushed out, fresh off signing Austin to a new contract. He counted and then stopped to FLIP AUSTIN THE BIRD! None of it makes sense and it makes less sense when you consider the Greater Power angle. Brisco hit Austin with a chair shot and Mankind covered to win in 10:27. Yea, Austin jobbed to a Brisco chair shot. While not on par with their Unforgiven and Over the Edge matches, this was a good brawl. The ending was kind of flat, but the action was strong. [***¼]

Vince and his buddies bailed to the parking lot and left before Austin could get them. He got a car to chase them.

WWF Championship Tournament Semi-Finals: The Rock vs. The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
These two never had good chemistry. They slugged it out to start. Lots of slow Undertaker offense, so you know he was asked to work more than five minutes. He beat on Rock in and out of the ring, with Bearer getting in some cheap shots. Rock started a comeback, which triggered a Big Bossman run-in. Not surprising considering this show. Taker leveled him since he had issues with Vince (though they were secretly working together). He went to Chokeslam Rock until Kane ran in and hit Rock with one of his own. That got Taker disqualified in 8:23. About as boring as I expected. It was slow and felt like all filler until the finish. [*]

Backstage, Mankind said Rock would taste Socko.

WWF Tag Team Championship: The New Age Outlaws [c] vs. D-Lo Brown and Mark Henry vs. The Headbangers
What the hell is this? Just get the tournament over with. I don’t wanna see three mediocre tag teams go at it. And yes, I say that fully aware of how successful the Outlaws were. This dragged on for a long time with nothing of note happening. I can’t even comment much on it because that little bit happened. Dogg played the face in peril to make the hot tag to future failed singles star Billy Gunn. He hit the Fameasser, yet it wasn’t the finish. The guys kept running in for unexpected saves as this just kept going. It was all so poorly timed that the referee stopped counting at one point to wait for the spot. Billy used a piledriver to beat Mosh in 10:10. This felt way longer and I couldn’t stand it. Needlessly long. [DUD]

WWF Championship Tournament Finals: WWF Hardcore Champion Mankind vs. The Rock
The beginning of a historic rivalry. Clearly, this was going to be the longest match on the show. They worked it at a methodical pace to start. As Mankind worn Rock down on the mat, Vince and his boys came out. Interesting note: Mankind talked about this match in his book, saying they called it on the fly from a long chinlock they worked. The pace picked up following a suplex outside. They brawled in the crowd and at ringside. Rock showed an aggressive side, cracking Mankind with a steel chair and beating him with the steel steps laid on him. We also got an announce table where Mankind hit a leg drop on the Rock. They let a lot go in terms of not disqualifying anyone. After surviving the People’s Elbow, Mankind applied Socko. Rock faded but fought and hit the Rock Bottom. Rock then went for the Sharpshooter for no reason and Vince signaled for the bell at 17:10. SURVIVOR SERIES SCREWJOB 2.0! SWERVE, BRO! The match was better and more heated than expected. The crowd was into it and we got some hardcore spots thrown in. [***¼]

This was one of Russo’s best swerves. It wasn’t a swerve for the sake of it. It made sense and helped push the Rock further into superstardom.

Vince cut a promo putting over the partnership with the Rock, their new Corporate Champion. Poor Mick Foley didn’t understand why this happened. He was even calling Vince, “Dad” at the time. Vince set him up to get attacked by the Rock, getting planted with the Rock Bottom. The Corporate celebration was cut short by the return of Stone Cold. Austin and Rock brawled, with Austin dropping him via Stunner. He gave one to Mankind for good measure.

The final score: review Bad
The 411
This show is remembered for the tournament, but it’s not good. There are only two matches that I’d consider enjoyable (Mankind/Austin and Mankind/Rock). Everything else is either flat out bad, like the Tag Team or Women’s Title matches, or was just used to further advance angles. It was kind of exactly what you’d expect from the Attitude Era. The in-ring stuff mostly lacked, but the storylines were advanced and there was a swerve.