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Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Royal Rumble 1998

November 22, 2010 | Posted by Jack Bramma
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Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Royal Rumble 1998  

In honor of the Royal Rumble approaching in just a few short months, I’m going to attempt a rundown of every annual show randomly starting in 1998 and culminating in the 2009 to lead into the 2010. I should say at the outset that the RR is my favorite pay per view every year. Normally, midcarders and curtain-jerkers will never sniff a main event or a shot at the strap, but one time and only one time every year, you get the chance to see your guy shine. Speaking metaphorically (and slightly mockingly), it is the most democratic of all of the wrestling events. I’ve always loved the notion that if your favorite wrestler is Crash Holly or Steve Blackman or Simon Dean you finally get to see him in the main event and try to win a chance at the world title in the Wrestlemania main event. It doesn’t get much better than that.

DVD Packaging: This is the Royal Rumble Anthology edition so it comes in different packages with 5 discs in each one. The third volume box is black with gold trim.

DVD Presentation: The menu is simple but it’s the same for every disc in the set. It has this triumphant fanfare playing over a brief montage from that year’s RR on the right half of the screen. The left half is the same as the box design except it’s white with gold trim.

Relevant Storylines: Goldust is shitting on Prince’s gimmick. Ken Shamrock is (was) the greatest fighter in UFC history but unfortunately this is wrestling. El Torito is a mini asshole. The entire locker room is gunning for Austin. And Kane is giving Taker a second chance.

Scheduled Card:
1. Goldust vs. Vader.
2. Battallion, Tarantula, and El Torito vs. Max Mini, Nova, and Mosaic.
3. Intercontinental Championship: Ken Shamrock vs. The Rock (c).
4. WWE Tag Team Championship: The Legion of Doom vs. The New Age Outlaws (c).
5. Royal Rumble Match
6. Casket Match for the WWE Championship: The Undertaker vs. Sha.wn Michaels (c).

• We get a pre-montage promo clip that says the WWE is in over 100 countries, broadcast in over 7 languages to over 500 million viewers a week. This is highly reminiscent of the annoying WWE facts each week they do now.

• The lead-in is a black and white montage about what it means to be champion. High and low lights include Steve Blackman referred to as “a first year rookie with youthful aspirations” and Stone Cold as a “renegade with a cold-blooded identity.”

• As expected, the theme music is an in-house dub for money reasons. The SAT doesn’t include Hugo Sonofabitch. We also get the inclusion of a FAT but no tron.

Goldust vs. Vader. Goldust has Luna with him. He’s wearing some tights with vertical purple and green stripes and a green wig. JR mentions that it was 2 months ago that Goldust left Marlena. I remember that; good fucking promo by Goldust. Goldust jumps him to start. JR tells us this is good strategy because you don’t want Vader to get “untracked.” Goldust tries a whip but eats a Ho Train. Vader hits another and Goldust takes a breather. Vader jumps him from behind with a Mongolian chop and the crowd is into it early. Huge Vader chant. They botch a toss into the steel steps. How the fuck do you even do that? I figure it would be easier just to, ya know, keep running into the stairs. Vader picks up the steps and threatens carnage but Jack Doane is having none of that goddamn shit. Back in, Goldust begs off but Vader hits a back body drop. Luna distracts and Goldust hits a clothesline. He goes for a sunset flip but it goes nowhere so he hits another clothesline. Goldust hits an elbow drop/nut shot from the second rope. On the floor, Goldust barely pushes Vader and he compensates for the earlier botch by just plowing through the fucking steps. The steps had no chance in that collision. Back in, Goldust pounds away in the corner and threatens to “kick Vader’s ass.” He mounts and does his taunt and the crowd loves it. Vader steamrolls him with a clothesline and Goldust does the fucking Hennig flip bump. Awesome. 5 minutes in and Vader is blown up. Goldust stalls by trying a few body slams that go nowhere. Vader hits a vertical suplex and a splash for 2. Vader with a short arm clothesline as JR tells us that Vader is “thick.” He must have still been working on his tortured euphemisms such as “physically intense.” Vader goes up top. Luna distracts and Goldust goes low. They sell exhaustion. Both up and Vader trips Goldust and hits a clothesline. He sends him off and Goldust tries a sunset flip and in a call back to the earlier spot Vader hits the splash on the drop this time. Vader calls for the bomb and JR calls him “a big ole’ hungry Kodiak bear pulling his food into his cave for winter.” I miss this spastic, absurdly unpoetic JR. Luna jumps from behind and Vader hits the bomb with her on his back anyway for the 3 at 7:51. Hell yeah. Not a mat classic but very entertaining given the energy and nostalgia I have for this period. ***

• Michael Cole with a higher voice but the same shitty goatee is backstage as Austin arrives. Stone Cold whisks past him and tosses him the keys to his truck and tells him to park it and better not scratch it or he’ll get his ass kicked. The Godwinns show up and threaten Cole to tell them where Austin is. I like it.

Battallion, Tarantula, and El Torito vs. Max Mini, Nova, and Mosaic They are all “minis.” The insanely hot Sunny is the special guest ref. JR tells us that Max Mini was a great foot(fut?)ball player in Mexico and played in the “sawed off shotgun” formation. Tarantula hits a shoulderblock on Nova. Nova hits the wheelbarrow arm drag and a flying headscissors. Nova hits a dropkick and Tarantula takes a breather. This hyper lucha shit is going to get tired fast. Max Mini and Battalion in. Max hits a tilt a whirl arm drag and then another goddamn wheelbarrow arm drag. Mini hits a springboard arm drag. ENOUGH WITH THE GODDAMN REVERSALS INTO AN ARM DRAG. Torito and Mosaic in. Torito hits a press slam and a flap jack and the crowd lets him hear it. Mosaic counters two more moves into fucking arm drags and Torito comically oversells it to the floor. We’ve reached the no tags portion of the match as they go through a variety of line ups with drop kicks and clotheslines and yes arm drags as some hecklers chant boring and I agree. One of the minis whiffs on a dropkick and we cut to a split screen of Tyson going apeshit over this. He legitimately looks enthralled. They hit a variety of impressive counters and ranas and arm drags and no one cares because there’s no match; it’s just moves. Tarantula has something blurred out on his tights for some reason. Tarantula tries to take a walk but Max Mini smacks him down. Back in, El Torito fucking waffles him from behind with a savate kick and the crowd hates him. He’s the heel with personality. Meanwhile, Sunny helps Max clear the ring. Then they hit 5 fucking splashs in a row as JR breaks out his Spanish dictionary trying to name them all. Back in, Max hits a flying huracanrana, rolled into a tilt a whirl arm drag, rolled into La Magistral for the 3 at 7:49. This had very little flow and was just a random assortment of arm-drag infested counters unless you’re into that sort of thing. *

• Meanwhile, The Nation have found Austin’s lockeroom with the ever so slightly conspicuous “STONE COLD” sign on it. Before they barge in, Farooq puts Mark Henry on blast and says it wasn’t his idea for him to join so he has to prove himself by going in and kicking Stone Cold’s ass alone. Henry doesn’t back down and rushes in. But Austin is nowhere to be found. Instead, he left a foam middle finger for them. Where the hell have the days of heel stables that aren’t scared shitless of faces gone? Nexus is an aberration in a period of watered down factions. Also, I love the entire locker room ganging up on Austin.

• JR informs us of the “long history” between a seriously juiced up Ken Shamrock and The Nation which goes back all of a month with singles matches against D’lo and then Kama (The Godfather) and then Farooq. Then we get footage of Henry turning on Shamrock. Henry is noticeably lighter and more agile.

• Rock promo time. Rock plays down the dissension in The Nation. He makes some stilted political joke about Bill Clinton and “covering his willy.” Rock says he’s going it alone like a real man but someone will be standing by to carry Shamrock’s sorry ass out of the building. This was a much more traditional promo and less of a Rock catchphrase fest, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Intercontinental Championship: Ken Shamrock vs. The Rock (c). Rock is a full blown heel here. There is no undercurrent of smarts cheering him on. He had yet to turn that corner. Rocky sucks chant breaks out before Shamrock even gets in the ring. Rock gets on the stick and says he is the IC champ and the best damn one there ever was. JR informs us that when Shamrock snaps he’s “like trying to handle a bowling ball of butcher knives.” I wouldn’t trust Oklahoma’s public schools’ English departments.

• Another huge Rocky sucks chant at the bell. Shamrock tries a kick but Rock backs off and engages in some Flair-esque jawing with the fat guys in the front row. Lock up goes nowhere. Shamrock’s fighting stance is laughably inept as it’s a weird hybrid of a legit martial artist stance and an SVR default. Another lock up goes nowhere. JR tells us that Shamrock or Dan Severn are the greatest UFC fighter ever. After an Irish whip and about four reversals, Shamrock finally hits a kick. Shamrock hits a right and Rock bumps out of the ring and halfway up the fucking entraceway. Rock takes his time and jaws with more fans. Back in, Rock gets a few right hands and HOLY SHIT Shamrock can’t sell for shit. He stumbles around like he’s drunk until Rock whips him across and hits a running clothesline. Rock sends him back across and Shamrock comes out with his own running clothesline and then another. Shamrock goes for a fucking huracanrana too soon and Rock barely catches him and counters to a stungun. Rock boots away and another Rocky sucks chant pops up. Rock goes to the eyes and boots Shamrock down again. Chioda has had enough of this shit and wants a break but Rock just keeps choking him in the corner. Shamrock fights back with rights and Rock cuts him off again but going to the eyes. Shamrock comes back with a cross body for 2. Shamrock hits a Perfectflex for 2. Rock comes back with a clothesline and dumps Shamrock. Rock throws Shamrock into the stairs and he just fucking lays there. Back in, Shamrock tries some rights and sends Rock off who counters with the fucking mythic Maivia Hurricane for 2. Rock emphatically goes to the chinlock and Shamrock looks mildly disinterested in the whole thing. Shamrock fights back with rights… again. Rock tries the Maivia Hurricane again and nicely allows Shamrock the Northern Lights counter which JR calls a “modified fireman’s carry takeover.” JR then throws out a thinly veiled shot at WCW as he says, “This is not the Seniors’ Tour. These are young athletes in their prime.” Shamrock with some lefts and rights and Rock begs off. Shamrock hits a powerslam for 2. Shamrock mounts and slugs away as he has “snapped.” Rock tries fighting back but Shamrock hits the standing huracanrana this time and hits the troll yell. Out come Godfather and D’lo but Shamrock disposes of them but Rock has the brass knuckles and lays out Shamrock and then puts the knucks in Shamrock’s tights. I love it. But Shamrock surprisingly kicks out at 2. Shamrock snaps off a belly to belly and that’s enough for the 3 at 10:52. Outside of a few suplexes, this was a high energy punch-kick fest. Without Rock bumping his ass off and controlling the flow, Shamrock would have been lost. ***

• BUT WAIT! Rock tells Chioda about the brass knucks. He finds them and Shamrock pleads ignorance. Chioda is having none of it and reverses the decision. JUSTICE IS RESTORED! Shamrock snaps again and belly to bellys the ref and then hooks in the ankle lock. Big Shamrock chant. This was smart booking as Shamrock clearly wasn’t ready in terms of ability for the belt but the ending kept his momentum going and kept him strong.

• Next, we cut to a backstage clip of Shamrock jumping Rock only for Hebner and some others to break it up as Rock shouts to “get this piece of shit outta here because I’m the damn champ!”

• Los Boricuas think they have found Austin, but it turns out to be DOA member Skull and another brawl erupts.

WWE Tag Team Championship: The Legion of Doom vs. The New Age Outlaws (c). NAO attack at the bell from behind. The pair off as Animal counters a Road Dogg huracanrana attempt to a powerbomb but Gunn breaks up the pin. NAO threaten to take a walk after 20 seconds. LOD gives chase. Road Dogg begs off but Hawk hits him with a flying shoulderblock and a running clothesline. He follows that up with a big boot and tags in Animal. They hit a double back elbow and as Animal goes to the neck wrench we see Road Dogg cough up some legit blood. Hawk back in with a hangman’s neckbreaker. RD cuts him off by going to the eyes but he quickly no sells to hip toss the entering Billy Gunn. Hawk with a Thesz press and some rights. He tosses Gunn around by his hair. Animal in and hits a high angle back suplex but whiffs on an elbow drop. Animal comes back with a powerslam. RD tries attacking from behind and eats a powerslam. This is one-sided domination. Animal goes to a camel clutch and then tags in Hawk. Hawk clumsily applies an STF. A very tepid LOD chant breaks out. Animal in. He gets sent off and distracted by RD then clotheslined to the floor. On the floor, Road Dogg sends him into the stairs and boots away for a while. Hawk gets in as the illegal man and the NAO double team. The ref comes over to break it up but decides to instead go back to administering to a down Animal. Hawk hits a double clothesline. He tries to single out Gunn but whiffs on a charge and eats post and falls to the floor. Road Dogg tosses him into the stairs and gets some hand cuffs and locks Hawk to a turnbuckle. The NAO try a double back suplex on Animal but he flips out and hits a double clothesline. He then hits a flying shoulderblock for 2. Billy Gunn goes to the eyes to cut him off and goes up top but Animal catches him barely and almost breaks Gunn’s neck powerslamming him. He goes for the pin but Road Dogg has got a chair and waffles Animal for the DQ at 7:55. Totally one-sided until the booking kicked in and that wasn’t much better. *1/2 Post-match, NAO lay the boots to Animal until Hawk hulks up and breaks free of the handcuffs and clears the ring.

Royal Rumble Match: Cactus Jack drew number 1 and Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk) drew the equally shitty number 2. Funk comes out with an actual chainsaw and chases Foley out of the ring. Foley comes back with 4 chairs and knocks the chainsaw out of his hands. They trade chairshots to see who’s the bigger concussion addict and decide to let one give the other unprotected chair shots. Tom Brandi is out next as it looks like they are going with 105 second intervals this year. Funk and Foley quickly team up and dump Brandi in no time. Foley backdrops out of a powerbomb and suplexes Funk onto a couple of unfolded chairs. Rock is out next. Funk and Foley knock each other out and Rock just pounds away until Foley hits him with a trashcan and then puts it over his head. Foley waffles him with a chair and Rock tumbles through (not over) the ropes to the floor. Headbanger Mosh in next. Funk throws a chair at him from the ring but it misses. Funk hits a moonsault on Mosh and headbutts him some. Phineas Godwinn out next. Funk hits some Flair chops on Rock as the filler period has begun. 8-Ball out next. Foley tries to eliminate Funk with a Cactus clothesline but his own momentum takes him out instead. Blackjack Bradshaw (JBL) out next as Lawler tells us that he has the inside scoop that Austin was taken out backstage. Bradshaw and 8-ball battle over who’s the bigger hoss as Funk puts Rock in a fucking Anaconda Vice to prevent going over the top rope. At least, it looked like one. Owen Hart is next but he’s jumped from behind by NWA reps Jeff Jarrett and Jim Cornette to put over the invasion angle.

Steve Blackman out next at 10. 8-ball hits a piledriver on Funk. Lawler teases that it may have been Shamrock taking out Austin. Bradshaw almost eliminates Funk. It’s funny because normally it’s a smaller, quick cruiserweight like Mysterio or Shawn Michaels or Jericho but this year it’s Funk doing all the skin the cat spots. D’lo out next. The ring getting a little full at this point with only 2 people being eliminated so far. Rock and D’lo team up for about 10 seconds but that qoes nowhere as they both turn on each other. Kurrgan out next. He no sells a bunch of stuff and dumps Mosh. Marc Mero out next. Kurrgan dumps Blackman as the crowd is more interested in Sable at ringside. Shamrock out next. He chops down Kurrgan much to the crowd’s delight and then everyone teams up to dump Kurrgan and the crowd eats it up. It’s a simple spot but it always works. Rock hits the People’s Elbow on Funk to zero reaction. Headbanger Thrasher out next. A Sable chant breaks out. Mankind is out next for his second go at it and he goes straight at the Funker and dumps him. Rock and Shamrock go back at it to continue their feud. Goldust out next with a new outfit and facepaint that looks exactly like Kane. Goldust dumps Mankind with a simple clothesline. Jeff Jarrett and his strut and the Nixon taunt are out next. Owen Hart gives chase and jumps Jarrett from behind and the crowd eats it up. Jarrett tries to dump him but Owen skins the cat and then dumps Jarrett and now THAT’S a pop. Honky Tonk Man is out next and Triple H and Chyna are following him. After a low blow, Rock dumps Shamrock and then spits on him. Awesome. Rock then tells him to go to hell. Chyna and H team up and lay out Owen with a crutch and eliminate him.

Ahmed Johnson out next and he looks awful at 20. Barely mobile and not in nearly the shape he was a few years earlier. Mark Henry out next. JR says that Henry is one of 17 guys making their Rumble debut and holy shit that’s a lot for this match. They are obviously stocking the ring for Austin because there are 12 fucking guys in the ring. At this point, even the PS3 engine is lagging. Henry throws chalk in Ahmed’s eyes and still can’t eliminate him. The horn goes off but no one comes out and Lawler laughs because it was supposed to be Austin. D’lo and Henry finally dump Ahmed. Phineas is dumped and dropkicks a ref accidentally on his way out. Ahmed tries to boot him but his goddamn knee buckles because of how immobile he is. Kama is next and he shoves the exiting Ahmed but he’s too blown up to retaliate. Now, there’s 4 Nation members in the ring. Austin’s music plays next and everyone stops to watch. He comes from behind and quickly dumps Mero and then shitcans 8-ball. Austin has eliminated the most without even taking off his vest. As I type that, he uses the vest to choke D’lo. Henry Godwinn out next. Mark Henry and Goldust botch a hiptoss. Savio Vega is next but his entire stable come with him and jump Austin. There’s something funny about that kind of flagrant abuse of the rules. Savio tries a spinwheel kick but Austin dodges and then gets rid of the rest of the stable. Meanwhile, Rock shows concern for D’lo poked eye only to poke it himself. Farooq out next. Rock throws Austin to the floor through the ropes and Farooq decides to show the rest of the Nation who’s boss. Rock and Austin brawl on the floor and to think this would be one of the biggest money drawing feuds ever and it barely registers at this point. Rock throws him into the stairs and hotshots him. Dude Love is out next for Foley’s third try. He promptly dumps Bradshaw. Austin pulls Goldust to the floor and throws him into the stairs. Rock hits another People’s Elbow on D’lo. Austin and Rock pair up off again and Austin hits the Bossman Attack. Chainz is out second to last. There are still 12 guys in the ring as Vader is the last one out at 30. Vader dumps HTM. Austin eliminates Thrasher and then Kama. After a brief spell, he dumps Savio Vega. Goldust dumps Vader. Dude Love takes out Godwinn. Chainz takes out Goldust. Stone Cold eliminates Chainz off camera with a back body drop in the corner. Farooq and Rock eliminate Mark Henry.

Final Four: Austin, Rock, Farooq, and Dude Love. The faces whip Rock and Farooq into each other. Foley hits the double arm DDT on Rock and gets the Mandible Claw on Austin but he goes low and Farooq dumps Foley. Rock pretends to be tired only to come up from behind and dump Farooq who was working over Austin. Rock gives Austin the double middle finger and Austin fights back and the crowd erupts. Austin tries to shitcan him but Rock slides under the bottom rope onto the apron. Rock runs right into a Stunner and that’s the ball game at 55:22. Fairly average Rumble for the most part. A good amount of dead spots and too many just random eliminations. The mini subplots with The Nation, Foley, and everyone gunning for Austin elevate it slightly but there was little doubt here. ***1/4

• Post-match, Cole interviews Iron Mike who says he loves Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream and made a fortune betting on the match. I suspect he transposed the first phrase.

Casket Match for the WWE Championship: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (c). The video package focuses on the history between the two and the recent “bond” between Kane and Undertaker. HBK jabs away in the corner to start and taunts but UT no sells and goes for a right. Michaels dodges and goes back to the jabs but no dice. Michaels mounts in the corner and tries to pound away but UT kicks him off a few times. UT goes to the goozle but Michaels kicks the knee and is back on the offense. HBK tries a cross body off the second rope but UT goes to the two hand goozle. Michaels escapes and gets a head of steam but UT catches him for a press slam. HBK gets out again and runs toward Taker. UT backdrops him off the top rope and on the way down Michaels’s back lands on the edge of the casket and that’s the spot that gave Michaels his career ending back injury. UT follows to the floor and throws HBK around like a lawn dart. He tosses him into the ring post and then press slams him onto the floor. He big boots Michaels into the casket but he quickly exits. Back in, Michaels floats over and tries a roll up but runs into a right hand from UT. UT whiffs on an elbow drop and Michaels is noticeably favoring the back already. UT with some shoulder surges and then he hits Old School. HBK is sent across and does his version of the Flair bump over the turnbuckle. UT tries to grab him but Michaels stunguns him. HBK goes up top but jumps into a powerslam. UT rolls him into the casket but is unable to close the lid. HBK sorta botches the chalk spot into Taker’s eyes but onward and upward. UT sells partial blindness. Michaels goes back to the jabs. On the replay, it looks like he got him the first time but the chalk just didn’t provide the necessary visual. UT goes for the choke slam and I guess he’s done selling the eye. Michaels says fuck that shit and gouges the eye and hits a moonsault off the top. Michaels hits a Cactus clothesline but UT pulls him to the floor anyway and goes on the offense. HBK reverses and sends Taker into the stairs and he does the Foley knee first bump. Michaels rams them into Taker’s lower back a few times. Michaels piledrives him on the stairs and that look nasty and the crowd gasps. For good measuer, Triple H pounds Taker with a crutch and chokes him. Pretty funny. Michaels not hits him with a chair. Back in, Michaels hits a back elbow. He rolls UT into the casket but he fights back with uppercuts. UT headbutts Trips. Michaels comes back with a swinging neckbreaker. Michaels goes to the sleeper and UT drops to his knees. UT fights back with crowd support. He counters to a back suplex. HBK hits the flying burrito and kips up. He hits the elbow drop and calls for Sweet Chin Music and hits it. He rolls Taker into the casket and gloats with the crotch chop so Taker grabs him with the testicular claw and escapes. Michaels begs off but UT hits some rights and a back body drop. Another chop and whip and Flair-esque upside bump. UT hits a big boot but whiffs on a flying zombie hip check or some shit and lands in the casket. Michaels hits a splash from the top all the way down to the casket and Earl just fucking shuts the lid and stands there like an idiot. He lies to another ref and says the fall knocked it down. HBK tries to escape but UT pulls him back in. Both escape and back in UT hits a choke slam. UT hits a badass spike Tombstone off the apron into the casket but The NAO and Savio’s crew hit the ring. The lights go out and the fans go fucking crazy and Kane’s awesome old music hits and out he comes. Trips slides out of the way and Kane clears the ring. Kane hits his taunt and then turns on Taker. NO! NO! THAT NO GOOD BASTARD!!! Kane chokeslams UT into the casket and closes the lid and that’s enough for HBK to retain at 20:30. ***3/4 Solid match. Exact same booking at the 94 casket match but better execution. I liked the original beginning that was effective with lots of reversals without the usual wristlock, hammerlock, side headlock, criss cross, etc. Also, the heavily booked ending seemed to fit this better than the also awesome Ground Zero match.

• Post-match Kane and Paul Bearer take an ax to the casket and then set it on fire. “Moments later,” the road agents put out the fire and open up the casket but UT is nowhere to be seen. He gives some hokey voiceover narration about getting revenge on Kane and we’re outta time.

DVD Extras: None. It is the Anthology version, although it does incorporate the WWE Home Video exclusives into the program.

The 411: Worth a look for historical purposes if nothing else. Rocky was clearly on his way to being a star, Austin wasn't quite yet the biggest name in the industry but was close, and Michaels' (sort of) career-ending injury. And oh yeah four quality matches.
 
Final Score:  7.0   [ Good ]  legend

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