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Attitude Era Classics: WWF Unforgiven 1998

Unforgiven_1998[1]

WWF Unforgiven

April 26th 1998

Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina

Attendance: 21,427

Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

After winning the WWF Championship at WrestleMania XIV, Stone Cold Steve Austin entered the feud which catapulted the WWF to new heights against the evil chairman, Mr. McMahon. Vince made it clear that having Austin as champion was a public relations nightmare, it appeared that Austin was willing to become the ‘corporate champ’ that Vince was looking for but it turned out be a set up with Austin ripping off his suit and hitting McMahon with a Stunner. McMahon turned to Dude Love as the man to take the title away from Austin and promised to be at ringside to make sure a “catastrophic event will occur”. The Undertaker would face his brother Kane once again but this time it would take place in the first ever inferno match! It’s worth noting that Raw finally defeated Nitro in the ratings on April 13th, this was largely due to the Austin vs. McMahon match which main evented the show.

Our opening video package strangely focuses on the inferno match whereas the WWF Championship match hardly gets a mention. As usual, we are welcomed to the show by our announce team and we kick it off with the six man tag.

The Rock, Mark Henry & D’Lo Brown /w/ Kama Mustafa vs. Faarooq, Ken Shamrock & Steve Blackman

Rock is still the Intercontinental Champion, with the belt now supporting a new redesigned. He’s still feuding with Shamrock over the belt after they faced off at Wrestlemania, but the real story here is the recent face turn of the former leader of the Nation, Faarooq. After months of dissension and then walking out on Rock at Wrestlemania, the ongoing power struggle in the Nation came to a head on the Raw is War following WrestleMania. On that episode Rock and Faarooq were set to team against Shamrock & Steve Blackman. During the match, Rock and Faarooq got into an argument which saw Rocky walk out on his partner. Faarooq lost the match shortly after and commanded Rock return to the ring. Rock would do just that, but when he did so, the rest of the Nation members attacked their leader in an act of mutiny. Faarooq was out, and the Rock was now the official leader of what was now simply The Nation. D’Lo began the match with a snap suplex on Steve Blackman but a reversal allowed Blackman to take control and soon things heated up when ex-Nation member Faarooq was tagged in, scoop slamming Brown and then untying his belt to whip Brown with, whiles The Rock’s comical protests to the referee prevented him from seeing the illegal weapon. The Nation varied between the slow, heavy style of Mark Henry, the quick pace of The Rock and Brown’s flying manoeuvres to dominate Blackman with The Rock eventually landing the People’s Elbow. The match would turn after Brown missed a moonsault, allowing for Blackman to tag in Faarooq, taking down the newly tagged Rock and an interfering Henry when all six men came in the ring. The non-legal men soon brawled out of the ring leaving the legal men to complete the match after Faarooq reversed a DDT attempt into his Dominator to win the match.

Winners: Faarooq, Ken Shamrock & Steve Blackman via pinfall

Rating: **

Nothing spectacular but it was an adequate opener. The good guys winning was the right call as they are legit tough guys. Outside of The Rock, the Nation members weren’t that great at this point in time. I guess this was because D’Lo & Mark were rushed to the main roster during the dark days of 97/98. Rock interaction with the ref and the crowd was fantastic. He knew how to rally a crowd! Disappointed with the lack of Shamrock involvement. Was he injured or something? Answers on a postcard.

Steve Austin comes down to ringside to harass the timekeeper. He lets him know that if he screws him over during his title defence, he’d better be calling for an ambulance. The timekeeper seems to get the message loud and clear. Short but sweet and the crowd hung onto Austin’s every word.

Up next is a rematch from WrestleMania between Owen Hart and the European Champion, Triple H. After interfering in that match, Chyna was ordered by Commissioner Slaughter to be locked in a cage which would be suspended above the ring to prevent any further interference.

WWF European Championship

Triple H © /w/ Chyna vs. Owen Hart

Noticed a sign in the crowd which reads “Chyna for Playboy”, looks like we found who we need to blame, lads! Owen and HHH brawl down the aisle while they raise Chyna. Owen makes sure to ram HHH into the cage before she leaves. They head in and Owen clotheslines him right out again. Back in, Owen hits a backbreaker and dishes some CANADIAN VIOLENCE. Hunter hotshots him to break the momentum, then uses the knee. A Suplex and kneedrop get two. Atomic drop and lariat get two. HHH does sort of a dragon sleeper as Chyna attempts to bend the bars. Owen’s sunset flip gets two, but HHH comes back with a neckbreaker for two. He goes to the sleeper, as Chyna keeps working on the bars. Owen comes back, but takes a facebuster for two. Back to the sleeper. Owen reverses out with a german suplex for two. Belly to belly hits as Chyna bends the bars. Got some strength that kid! The Enzuigiri attempt gets two. Leg lariat gets two. Piledriver and flying elbow, but Chyna escapes the cage to distract everyone. Owen dumps Hunter as Chyna hangs from the cage. The announcers talking about how she’s hanging for her life from the ceiling is really uncomfortable to listen to. It shouldn’t be, given that this took place a year before, but just having Owen there with this angle going on is pretty creepy. Owen gets a DDT and hooks the Sharpshooter as the cage lowers (via Road Dogg, according to JR), and Owen gets distracted. HHH nails him, but Owen reverses a Pedigree and hits one of his own! X-Pac sneaks in, nails him with a fire extinguisher allowing Hunter to get the pin to retain.

Winner and STILL WWF European Champion: Triple H via pinfall

Rating: ***

A solid match between two guys who know each other well. Owen would turn heel not long after whiles D-Generation X become the hottest stable in the WWF throughout this period. Never really been that big of a Chyna fan but her escape from the cage was impressive yet uncomfortable knowing what would happen to Owen a year later.

Jim Cornette rips on the Rock N Roll Express and presents the “2nd coming” of the New Midnight Express, Bombastic Bob and Bodacious Bart (a/k/a Bob Holly & Bart Gunn)! Here’s a random fact for you, this team was originally going to be Edge & Val Venis going under the names of Adorable Adam and Sweet Sean. Imagine that!!

NWA Tag Team Championship

The New Midnight Express (Bombastic Bob & Bodacious Bart) ©/w/ Jim Cornette vs. The Rock N’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)

Bombastic Bob and Robert Gibson start, and Bob bails quickly. Back in, Robert works the arm and the RnR double-team. The entire crowd leaves for nachos. I mean, you can LITERALLY see the side of the arena facing the camera EMPTY in a two-minute span. The Midnights squabble, then Bart gets an abdominal stretch on Ricky as Cornette does a 80’s comedy routine with the ref in a desperate attempt to make the fans care. Morton gets nailed by Cornette and plays himself. Bob misses an Alabama Jam and it’s a hot tag for Robert. Double DropKick but there’s no ref. Robert rolls up Bart Gunn, but Bob bulldogs him for the victory.

Winners and STILL NWA Tag Team Champions: The New Midnight Express via pinfall

Rating: * ½

The fans couldn’t give a shit and seconds after the bell rang large sections of the crowd departed to the restroom or the concession stands. Much like the way people treat Diva matches nowadays. Shame considering that the Rock N Roll Express are legends! As for the match, it was decent but felt out of place in 1998.

In the back Luna is preparing for her upcoming evening gown match. She screams that she is going to rip off all Sable’s clothes.

Evening Gown Match

Luna /w/ The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust vs. Sable

Sable is out alone to start since Mero is embarrassed to be in his partner’s corner, furthering the tension between the couple that has again reared its head since Mania, but he makes his way out during the match. It’s basically them just trying to rip each other’s clothes off. Mero ends up arguing with Sable during the match, which causes the beautiful blonde to be distracted from her opponent. The distraction allows Luna to rip Sable’s top off to a big pop, winning the match. After the match, Sable gets some retribution by ripping of Luna’s gown and the two end up brawling under the ring. Sable emerges holding Luna’s underwear as Goldust covers Luna up and escorts her to the back. The Artist character would come to an end with Dustin taking on a Preacher gimmick and the Mero/ Sable feud begins.

Winner: Luna

Rating: N/R

Most Attitude era Divas matches would be like this. Be warned!

Before our next match, the owner of WWF, Mr McMahon himself makes his way out to the ring, along with his new stooges: Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco. McMahon mentions that he was born in North Carolina, “My Mother had the pleasure of giving birth to me” ha ha! He illustrates that he does not intend to screw Austin out of the title tonight despite the champion’s concerns. On that same note however, he will not be held responsible for what may happen if “Stone Cold screws Stone Cold”. JR: “Time honoured tradition or something” that was pretty funny! Yet another effective segment really putting over the Austin/McMahon rivalry which was still in its early stages.

WWF Tag Team Championship

New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & Billy Gunn) © vs. LOD 2000 (Hawk & Animal) /w/ Sunny

This was the WWF’s absolute last-ditch attempt to get the LOD over as something meaningful, but even with Sunny at ringside in her skimpy costumes, it was still the same LOD. WCW would do well to remember that lesson. Road Dogg makes fun of the LOD in his pre-match promo, complaining about having to face the same dinosaurs yet again. Billy Gunn debuts the “Mr. Ass” tights here. What a fucking stupid name/ gimmick. I would like to have been a fly on the wall when they pitched that idea! Gunn misses a bodypress on Animal, and gets clotheslined for two. Gunn bails and Animal works on Dogg’s arm. Hawk runs through the usual as the Outlaws beg off. Gunn comes in and Hawk actually messes up a bodyslam. Just a plain old bodyslam. Animal hits the chinlock. Pier-six erupts, but the Doomsday Device is stopped with a well-timed clip, and Animal is face-in-peril. NAO work the knee for a long time. Jerry & JR get so bored that they start riffing on Wild Kingdom to pass the time, despite it having nothing to do with the match. Gunn hits a fameasser for two. Hot tag Hawk, and he comes in with the babyface fire. Billy nails Hawk with the belt for two, but Animal suplexes Dogg for the pin. However, since both guys’ shoulders were down, the ref gave the champs the benefit of the doubt and counted ANIMAL out, so the titles stayed with the Outlaws. What a screwy finish that was! After the match, the LOD are pissed and they hit the Doomsday Device on the referee. This brings out Commissioner Slaughter who yells at Hawk as the referee is stretchered out.

Winners and STILL WWF Tag Team Champions: New Age Outlaws via pinfall

Rating: ½*

Why couldn’t the Outlaws just get a clean victory over LOD instead of that screwy finish? LOD jobbed so many times to the Outlaws that they weren’t intimidating anymore and that’s what pretty much made them a box office draw. Boring match!

Tennessee Lee, who we saw back at WrestleMania is now out to bring Jeff Jarrett out to the ring to perform for us. He’s not alone though as he comes along with Sawyer Brown, a country music group. Never heard of them. They perform their song ‘Some Girls Do With’. After the performance, Steve Blackman makes his second appearance of the night attacking Jarrett and knocking him off the performance stage. Pretty random having Steve Blackman of all people attack Double J. He must hate country music! Tennessee Lee saves his star by whacking Blackman over the head with a guitar and Jarrett follows up by locking in the figure four on his attacker as the crowd chants for Flair. We are in Greensboro after all! This set up a little midcard feud going forward between these two.

It’s now time for the Inferno match! We get a brief video package showcasing Undertaker’s feud with Kane so far.

Inferno Match

Kane /w/ Paul Bearer vs. The Undertaker

The ring is of course surrounded by “fire” here, in reality a pipe spewing butane-powered flames under the control of a pyro expert at ringside. To win, you have to set your opponent on fire. They hammer on each other and Undertaker hits an avalanche. Ropewalk and flames puff up, as they do with all the highspots in this match. Blind charge and Kane backdrops him over the top, but Taker seems to land awkwardly on the ropes and falls back into the ring. Kane stomps away to take over. Taker goes to the eyes to counter. Thrilling stuff! Kane keeps stomping. Chairshot puts Taker down. He comes back with more kicks, as does Kane. I’m having trouble keeping up with the rapid-fire pace of complex moves here. Oh, and choking, sorry, almost forgot that. Taker gets a russian legsweep and elbow, which is no-sold by Kane. Chokeslam follows, but Undertaker blocks the tombstone and chokeslams Kane back. Kane no-sells. At one point Taker clotheslines Kane to the outside without setting him on fire, and the demonic big red machine attempts to leave. He’s stopped in his tracks by the returning Vader, the man he took out at No Way Out in February. Vader brawls with Kane when in a very impressive spot, Taker dives over the top rope and the flames onto both men on the outside. Bearer tries to get involved with a chair, but Taker takes him out, busting his former manager open up at the band performance area. Taker returns to ringside and hits Kane with a big boot, which sends him backwards into the flames surrounding the ring. Kane’s right arm catches ablaze and he retreats to the back, as the Undertaker gets a second victory over his younger brother.

Winner: The Undertaker

Rating: ***

The stipulation truly added to the match and the flames were a sight to be seen. Undertaker’s suicide dive over the flames was awesome! Cool match which separated the two brothers for now.

Our main event is coming up, so we get a video package highlighting the build.

WWF Championship

Dude Love vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin ©

This is round one, as Vince withheld the identity of Austin’s opponent until a week before the show and then declared his intention to make Mick Foley into his corporate champion. Dude jumps Austin, but gets his ass kicked, and bails. Back in, Thesz Press and elbow as Ross takes a shot at Bischoff for declaring that a guy in black boots and tights could never get over. Spinebuster and elbow, and Dude bails again. They brawl as Dude tries to run, only to get viciously clotheslined from behind by Austin. They head to the stage, and Austin casually tosses him off, onto the bare concrete 6 feet below. The sound of flesh hitting concrete was sickening to hear. Back to ringside, the slaughter continues. Austin drops an elbow off the apron, and back in we go. Austin misses the rope straddle and Dude bulldogs him. Elbowdrop and Dude punishes him in the corner. Dude works the neck with a body scissors as Vinnie Mac joins us at ringside. Austin breaks the move and yells at Vince, but Dude rolls him up for two. Austin posts Dude as Vince “observes” from ringside, near the timekeeper. Dude bails and Austin tries a piledriver, but as usual he gets backdropped. He hurts his knee and Dude leaves for the ring as Vince taunts Austin. Austin stalks him, but Dude returns the favor on that clothesline from behind. Dude tries a suplex in, but Austin blocks, so Dude necksnaps him to the floor. The ref counts, but Vince tells Austin to “be a man and get back in”, and that the ref is fired if he reaches 10, so Austin beats the count. Dude hooks the Abdominal Stretch and Vince goes crazy, telling the timekeeper to ring the bell. Austin reverses the move, and Vince goes equally crazy, telling him to ignore everything he just said. That was funny. Brawl outside, and Austin suplexes Dude onto the stairs. They fight into the crowd and Austin dumps him back in, and into the ring. Dude comes back with a neckbreaker. Sweet Shin Music is blocked, and the ref gets bumped. Stunner is blocked with the Mandible Claw, and Vince revives the ref…unsuccessfully. This would actually become a storyline point, as Vince declared the refs unfit and took the job himself at the next PPV. Austin dumps Foley, but scuffles with Vince. Foley charges with a chair, but gets it back in his face. Austin chairshots Vince out cold, and heads back in finish off Dude with a Stone Cold Stunner, and counts the pin himself. It was later decided to be a DQ win for Dude Love, justifying the rematch at Over the Edge 98.

Winner: Dude Love via Disqualification

Rating: ****

Solid stuff right here. The ending may be criticised by some but it set up the rematch at Over the Edge. Awesome main event.

The show ends whiles EMTs are laying Vince out on a stretcher.

*Random Thoughts*

  • The Inferno match was a pure spectacular. I remember watching it for the first time and thinking it was a pretty awesome sight. The match was fair and acceptable, an exceptional debut for the inferno match stipulation.
  • I loved Mick Foley’s heel run from this period. He’s a smart heel who knew how to get heat without it being forced. I see shades of his ECW heel run here where he was pretty much a WCW cheer lady. It worked then and it worked here too. His heel run would be cut short in 2 months’ time after what occurred at King of the Ring.
  • The undercard left a lot to be desired. Aside from the European title match, everything else was pretty forgettable. The undercard would improve throughout the year with the introduction of guys like Edge, Christian, The Hardy Boys and many more.
  • The Austin/ McMahon feud was still in its infant stages but it got everyone hooked from the word go. I guess people loved it so much in view of the fact that it was unique storyline in which people could relate to. The feud was the hottest thing going in the WWF at the time and would continue to grow rapidly.

Top 5 Superstars

  1. Undertaker – The dive over the flames pretty much cemented it for me.
  2. Dude Love (Mick Foley) – Excellent job after returning to the main event scene.
  3. Stone Cold Steve Austin – Incredibly over and that’s what you want to see in a champion.
  4. Vince McMahon – His promo during the show was pretty good and his presence in the main event was a welcomed addition.
  5. Owen Hart – Strong showing against Hunter. Would return to his heel roots not long after this show.

Best Match: Dude Love vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin – Awesome main event which set up the rematch at OTE perfectly.

Worst Match: New Age Outlaws vs. LOD 2000 – Terrible finish to a boring match.

Attitude Era Moment: Undertaker diving over the flames – Incredible sight.

Superstar Rankings

Stone Cold – 37pts

Shawn Michaels – 28pts

Undertaker – 19pts

Bret Hart – 18pts

Mick Foley – 16pts

The Rock – 14pts

Triple H – 10pts

Owen Hart – 6pts

D’Lo Brown – 4pts

Taka Michinoku/ Ken Shamrock – 3pts

Vader/ Mr McMahon– 2pts

British Bulldog/ Kane/ Terry Funk – 1pt

Overall Show Rating (Out of 10): 6

The main event was awesome but the undercard was lacking. Taker and Kane in the inferno match wasn’t the greatest match in the world or anything, but it’s certainly a fun match to watch, so I won’t criticise that too heavily. However, other than the European title match, the other matches were really nothing special.

Pay Per View Rankings

WrestleMania 14 – 8.5

One Night Only – 7.5

Royal Rumble ’98 – 7

Summerslam ’97 – 6

Unforgiven ’98 – 6

No Way Out of Texas’ 98 – 5.5

Ground Zero – 4

Survivor Series ’97 – 4

Bad Blood – 3

D-Generation X – 2.5

Mayhem in Manchester ’98 – 2

Up Next: McMahon stacks the cards against Stone Cold in yet another title rematch against Dude Love at Over the Edge.

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