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A Look Back At: PWI Awards 1998

How did the PWI readers vote for the 1998 Achievement Awards? Lets find out!

1998 Rookie Of The Year: Goldberg (40,954)
1st Runner-Up: Sable (15,744)
2nd Runner-Up: Darren Drozdov (6,031)
3rd Runner-Up: Mark Henry (4,449)

Goldberg is the obvious choice to win this award considering he went nearly the entire year of 1998 undefeated. Winning the WCW World Championship from Hogan in July on Nitro is a huge moment, too. He had an incredible impact on WCW programming and had one of the quickest rises to the main event scene in the history of professional wrestling. Sable being on this list is likely just because of her popularity and not because of her in-ring skill. I’m not really sure how Mark Henry can be considered a rookie since he did compete in 1996. Jay Leno and Karl Malone also got votes.

1998 Inspirational Wrestler Of The Year: Goldberg (22,854)
1st Runner-Up: Steve Austin (18,303)
2nd Runner-Up: Mankind (15,550)
3rd Runner-Up: Shane Douglas (11,409)

I’m not really sure how Goldberg can be seen as an inspirational wrestler. I suppose since he was new to the business that it was remarkable how quickly he won a world championship. This award seems more reasonable for a guy like Mankind who did some crazy spots during the year but continually got up for more. While it’s sickening, it’s inspirational that he never stayed down. Shane Douglas was inspiring since he shattered his elbow and kept defending the ECW World Championship. The popularity of Goldberg was probably just too overwhelming.

1998 Most Improved Wrestler Of The Year: Booker T (19,221)
1st Runner-Up: D’Lo Brown (16,838)
2nd Runner-Up: New Age Outlaws (13,306)
3rd Runner-Up: Juventud Guerrera (10,025)

All four acts had actually improved compared to their 1997 roles, honestly. Booker T had been a solid tag team wrestler, so his rise in 1998 wasn’t exactly a shock, I’d say. The bigger surprise was D’Lo Brown. I remember watching is SMW stuff in ’95 and by ’98 he had become a well rounded wrestler and had a good series of matches with X-Pac. The Outlaws had really became a top act in the WWF and found their groove by Mania. I think it should be a toss up between Booker and D’Lo.

1998 Comeback Wrestler Of The Year: X-Pac (22,667)
1st Runner-Up: Sting (20,498)
2nd Runner-Up: Dean Malenko (14,938)
3rd Runner-Up: The Warrior (8,230)

It’s kind of amazing that Sting didn’t win this award. The guy was out of the ring for a year and a half. He comes back and has a big feud with Hogan, and loses this award to X-Pac. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to say that Pac had a better in-ring return compared to Sting, for the most part. Sting had really good matches with DDP and Goldberg on Nitro during the year. Pac had a good undercard feud with D’Lo and Jarrett. So, probably when it comes to high profile matches, Sting should have won this award. The fact Warrior even made this joke is hilarious. His brief two month return to WCW television was horrendous and the match with Hogan at Havoc ’98 was even worse.

1998 Manager Of The Year: Paul Bearer (22,899)
1st Runner-Up: Bil Alfonso (15,467)
2nd Runner-Up: Tammy Lynn Sytch (14,859)
3rd Runner-Up: Paul Ellering (9,235)

It kind of feels like a weak year for managers. Alfonso probably had a stronger year since he was managing ECW Television Champion Rob Van Dam. Bearer led Kane to the WWF World Championship, which lasted less than a day. Thus, I guess from an accomplishment aspect, Bearer did for for his clients. Maybe an eight month reign as ECW TV Champion isn’t as important or impressive as a 23-hour WWF World Championship reign.

1998 Feud Of The Year: Vince McMahon Vs. Steve Austin (26,285)
1st Runner-Up: NWO Wolfpac vs. NWO Hollywood (19,664)
2nd Runner-Up: Ric Flair vs. Eric Bischoff (9,570)
3rd Runner-Up: Rocky Maivia vs. Ken Shamrock (5,119)

The clear cut winner was and should be McMahon vs. Austin. The Wolfpack/Hollywood feud wasn’t as intense as I remembered it, really. It was rather watered down and kind of boring. Flair vs. Bischoff was a good feud towards the end of the year and had some good emotion. Rocky/Shamrock was another feud that I enjoyed during this year. I’m kind of surprised that the feud between Jericho and Malenko didn’t get into the runner-up category. However, for the entire year McMahon vs. Austin was the most entertaining feud on television.

1998 Most Popular Wrestler Of The Year: Steve Austin (31,377)
1st Runner-Up: Goldberg (16,279)
2nd Runner-Up: Rocky Maivia (12,123)
3rd Runner-Up: Diamond Dallas Page (10,076)

It kind of blows my mind that Rocky Maivia got on this part of the awards considering Rocky was booed for the entire year. He was hated as a face, and sure he actually got some cheers following his heel turn but his face reaction wasn’t really a factor until 1999. Goldberg may have been undefeated and won the title from Hogan, but Austin was just on another level in 1998. I think it’s not even a question that Austin was more popular than Goldberg.

1998 Most Hated Wrestler Of The Year: Hollywood Hogan (25,548)
1st Runner-Up: Vince McMahon (21,582)
2nd Runner-Up: Eric Bischoff (14,902)
3rd Runner-Up: Bret Hart (7,249)

Aside from Hart, this could probably be a complete toss up. I’m kind of surprised that McMahon didn’t win it this year. Hogan must have just been absolutely despised. His heel run in WCW was some of the best heel work in recent memory up to that time. I thought for sure McMahon had a stronger ’98 in terms of what he did to get people to despise him. Hogan had ’97 and McMahon had ’98, in my eyes.

1998 Match Of The Year: The Undertaker Vs. Mankind (30,811)
1st Runner-Up: Shawn Michaels vs. Steve Austin (17,672)
2nd Runner-Up: Goldberg vs. Hollywood Hogan (10,592)
3rd Runner-Up: Taz vs. Bam-Bam Bigelow (7,055)

Every match listed has a purpose on this list as they all had major impacts on not only their wrestling companies, but wrestling in general. Taz/Bigelow was the first ECW match to have guys go through the ring canvas and ramp way. They built a strong rivalry in a short matter of time. Goldberg/Hogan brought in a new era for WCW and is one of the best WCW memories that I have. Michaels/Austin helped solidify Austin as the leader of the Attitude Era and the Tyson involvement was great. Taker/Mankind was a car crash but was entertaining. I think anytime a guy gets tossed off the top of a cell and choke slammed through a cage, that the guy taking the move should probably be rewarded with this honor.

1998 Tag Team Of The Year: New Age Outlaws (25,274)
1st Runner-Up: Sabu & Rob Van Dam (19,991)
2nd Runner-Up: Kane & Mankind (9,908)
3rd Runner-Up: Kane & The Undertaker (6,822)

New Age Outlaws deserve the award for 1998. Billy Gunn and Road Dogg became one of the hottest acts in the WWF. Sure, their matches weren’t necessarily great, but they were incredibly entertaining and when they joined DX they went to the next level. I think the Outlaws were a main event level act in 1998. Sabu and RVD had a strong ’98, but there matches weren’t all that strong. The matches that I’ve seen haven’t been all that impressive. Van Dam had a more memorable year in a singles role.

1998 Wrestler Of The Year: Steve Austin (27,033)
1st Runner-Up: Goldberg (17,784)
2nd Runner-Up: Diamond Dallas Page (10,735)
3rd Runner-Up: Rocky Maivia (7,909)

Austin and Goldberg both had impressive years, there’s no doubt about that. Austin winning the WWF World Championship and feuding with the likes of Dude Love, Undertaker, Kane and Rock to go along with his year long feud with McMahon. Compared to Goldberg, who was undefeated for nearly the entire year, won the US and World Championships. Austin had the better year since his competition was far superior to what Goldberg had to work against. 1998 was the year of Stone Cold.

Do you agree with how the votes played out for the Pro Wrestling Illustrated awards in 1998?

Thanks for reading.

Bob Colling Jr. View All

34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.

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