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WWF Royal Rumble 1998 1/18/1998

January 18, 1998
San Jose Arena (Shark Tank)
San Jose, California
Attendance: 18,542
Buy Rate: .97
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler

1) Vader (Leon White) defeats The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (Dustin Runnels) with a Vader Bomb at 7:51

Fun Fact: Vader was still pissed at Goldust from Survivor Series, when he refused to tag into the match and then walked out on Team USA. Following the show, Goldust went through a weird change of attitude and started calling himself the Artist Formerly Known as Goldust. He started painting his hair different colors and wearing weird outfits (such as a Christmas tree and Baby New Year) and just acting flat out bizarre. He started claming that Vader seriously crippled him with a slap and that he was now an invalid. On one particular Raw, he was pushed to the ring in a wheelchair by a mysterious nurse. When Vader confronted him, the nurse handed him a pipe and he proceeded to beat down Vader. The nurse unmasked to reveal the returning Luna Vachon. TAFKAG claimed Luna provided him with the freedom to be himself, unlike his wife Terri, who was now written out of the storylines for the time being. This was Luna’s first appearance on WWF TV since managing Bam Bam Bigelow in 1994.

Scott: The first PPV of 1998 begins with a pretty solid match between two men who are at a crossroads. Goldust is back to being a heel; a weird, lingerie-wearing heel. Luna is at his side. Vader, who was fading very quickly as a heel, is getting unbelievable face pops. Since Brian Pillman’s death, creative turned Goldust from a sympathetic husband to a selfish, perverted heel. I liked the match, and the ending visual was awesome: Vader with a double bomb on TAFKA and Luna. Unfortunately, Vader was not in the future plans of the renaissance, but for now he’s keeping the crowd hot in this opener. Grade: 3

Justin: A decent match that has some good crowd heat. Vader was regaining some of his bad-assery that was stripped from him in the end of his heel run, which is proven when he basically murders Goldust in this match. As Scott said, the visual of Luna riding Vader during the Vader Bomb is cool and something new. In retrospect it seems that Vader was built up here just so he could be fed to Kane next month, which is a shame. The Mastodon never got his due in the WWF but it is cool seeing him get a big pop on the major PPV stage. Goldust will continue to be completely weirded out as he is playing the role of mid-card comedy heel fodder. Grade: 3

2) Max Mini, Mosaic & Nova defeat Battalion, El Torito & Tarantula when Max Mini (Mascarita Sagrada Jr.) pins El Torito (Mario Meija Jimenez) with a cradle at 7:46

Scott: Another non-descript midget match. At least they were entertaining and it got Sunny on camera. Grade: 2

Justin: Wow…Vince made sure to get his money’s worth out of this Mexican midget deal, as these guys showed up on a solid string of PPVs here. On the plus side, they always put on an entertaining show and were a good way to spell the crowd, so I guess it all works out. Not much else going down here, so lets roll on. Grade: 2

3) Rocky Maivia (Dwayne Johnson) defeats Ken Shamrock to retain WWF Intercontinental Title by disqualification at 12:03

Fun Fact: The war that started at Badd Blood raged on between Shamrock and the Nation and led to Kenny’s first PPV I-C title shot. On the January 13th edition of Raw, Shamrock brought in a mystery partner to face off with Rocky and D-Lo Brown: the returning Mark Henry, who had been out for over a year with various injuries. Henry returned in his home state of Texas, so this move actually elicited a sizeable pop. Well, after a solid beating at the hands of the Nation, Shamrock tagged in Henry, and Henry in turn attacked Shamrock and revealed that he was the newest member of the Nation.

Scott: Goldust/Undertaker 1996; Mankind/Triple H 1997; now Rocky Maivia and Ken Shamrock will be 1998’s running feud. This is the first of many PPV matches (singles and tag) that these two will be involved in this year. This first match goes fairly well, as Rock is fitting nicely into his heel role, and his wrestling is slowly getting better also. Shamrock is fitting nicely into the mid-card face role, and by June they have impeccable chemistry. The end of this match truly blows, however. Rocky takes out brass knuckles, whacks Shamrock with them, then puts them in Kenny’s tights. Eventually, Shamrock hits the champ with a belly-to-belly, and pins him for the win. But, Rock coerces referee Mike Chioda to check Shammy’s tights, the knucks are discovered, and Chioda reverses the decision. This would be the first of many times Shamrock could sniff the I-C Title, only to have it snatched away. Grade: 3

Justin: Another battle in the long waging Shamrock/Rocky wars and as usual with these feuds between up and coming stars, each match gets better as time goes on. Rock was really starting to find his niche and was getting over with his heel shtick, while Shamrock was finally starting to “get it” in the ring and once he meshed that with his great intensity he really became one of the best performers on the card. As mentioned above, Mark Henry made his big return on Raw and hooked up with the Nation, making them a solid unit of five. It was implied that Faarooq wasn’t involved in Henry joining the Nation, but rather that it was the work of Rocky. It was another hint at the oncoming changes that will hit the Nation in the spring. This was a decent brawl that features a screwy ending to help continue this growing epic. Grade: 2.5

4) Legion of Doom defeat New Age Outlaws by disqualification at 7:54; Outlaws retain WWF Tag Team Titles

Fun Fact: A few weeks before this show, the Outlaws, with help from Shawn Michaels and Triple H, beat the crap out of the LOD. That beating ended with all four men powerbombing Animal through the announcers’ table and then the Outlaws shaving off Hawk’s trademark hair. The move impressed DX who said the Outlaws had some “potential.”

Scott: This feud was getting very stale at this point and the Road Warriors, usually a treat for me to watch, were really tough on the eyes. These guys were looking like big time jackasses, getting jobbed and outsmarted over and over again. The NAO were still just another mildly talented tag team with dreads and no cool entrance. They would slowly gain some pops throughout the year, and of course being in DX doesn’t hurt either. This match would have another nutty ending, as Billy Gunn was about to be pinned after Animal Powerslammed him off the top rope, but Road Dogg whacks him with the chair to get the DQ. This needs to stop soon; I can’t bear to watch the greatest tag team in wrestling history degenerate (no pun intended) into jobbers. Grade: 1.5

Justin: A second straight DQ in a title match was not a recipe for PPV success. It is true that Hawk and Animal are legends and they should not have been buried over and over; but did we really need another DQ ending? Why even bother with the match? I know they were trying to make the Outlaws into chickennuts champions, but do we need consistent non finishes to end terrible matches? The LOD were just done at this point and there was really no way to make them the legit badasses they once were without killing off younger talent. They had their last title run at the end of 1997 and probably should have called it quits or really put new guys over clean. All of these cheap wins also compromised the Outlaws’ credibility as champions, and they would never officially gain that credibility until they step up a level in March. For now, they roll on as weak tag champions who keep barely picking up wins in title defenses. Grade: 1.5

5) Steve Austin (Williams) wins the Royal Rumble (55:23)

1) Cactus Jack (Mick Foley): Chainsaw Charlie
2) Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk): Mankind
3) Tom Brandi: Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie
4) Rocky Maivia (Dwayne Johnson): Steve Austin
5) Mosh (Chaz Warrington): Kurrgan
6) Phineas Godwinn (Dennis Knight): Mark Henry
7) 8-Ball (Don Harris): Steve Austin
8) Bradshaw (John Layfield): Dude Love
9) Owen Hart: Triple H & Chyna
10) Steve Blackman: Kurrgan
11) D-Lo Brown (A.C. Conner): Faarooq
12) Kurrgan (Robert Maillet): 8-Ball, Shamrock, Bradshaw & Phineas
13) Marc Mero: Steve Austin
14) Ken Shamrock: Rocky Maivia
15) Thrasher (Glen Ruth): Steve Austin
16) Mankind (Mick Foley): Goldust
17) Goldust (Dustin Runnells): Chainz
18) Jeff Jarrett: Owen Hart
19) Honky Tonk Man (Wayne Ferris): Vader
20) Ahmed Johnson (Tony Norris): Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown
21) Mark Henry: Faarooq
22) Skull (Ron Harris): Never Entered Match
23) Kama Mustafa (Charles Wright): Steve Austin
24) Steve Austin (Steve Williams): Winner
25) Henry Godwinn (Mark Canterbury): Himself
26) Savio Vega (Juan Rivera): Steve Austin
27) Faarooq (Ron Simmons): Rocky Maivia
28) Dude Love (Mick Foley): Faarooq
29) Chainz (Brian Harris): Steve Austin
30) Vader (Leon White): Goldust

Longest Time: Rocky Maivia (55:32)
Shortest Time: Tom Brandi (:12)
Most eliminated: Steve Austin (7)

Scott: This was one of the most predictable Rumbles in recent memory. Not since Shawn Michaels in 1996, and before that Yokozuna in 1993, has a rumble been so anti-climactic. Everyone and their grandmother knew Stone Cold was going to win this thing, with all the hype over beepers going off, and continuous hunting by opponents in between matches during this show. One of the greatest Raws I ever went to was two weeks before in New Haven, when Austin stunned seven guys in two hours, including Shamrock, Jeff Jarrett, and Marc Mero. As for the rumble itself, it wasn’t that great. The problem this time was that there were too many guys in the ring at one time, and until Austin came in at #24, it seemed like everyone was in a holding pattern, waiting for him to get there. Once he did (as he snuck through the crowd while everyone else was looking up the ramp), the crowd went bananas, and he would battle for a little over 16 minutes, before tossing Rocky and win the title shot at Wrestlemania. Who would Austin face March 29 at the Fleet Center? At that moment, no one cared. Fans had what they wanted. Their guy was in the big dance. However, as a rumble, it was below average.

Justin: A decent Rumble that is definitely marred by the predictable ending. However, this predictable ending is a lot different than 1991, 1993 and 1996 as everyone and their mother wanted to see Austin just kick the shit out of everyone and move on to the big dance. WWF ratings were climbing, their fanbase was growing and it was all because of the phenomenon known as Stone Cold Steve Austin. If anyone but Austin goes over here, it would have been an epic mistake, thus for once; the obvious choice was the right one. I thought Foley entering three times under three names was a little hokey, but I guess it was a good chance to continue his push to the Main Events that was forthcoming. It was also nice to see Rocky get the good ole’ Rumble Jesus push (Bret ’91, Yoko ’93, and Diesel ’94) as you could tell Vince had huge plans for the future Scorpion King. All in all a solid, if unspectacular Rumble that served its purpose: give Austin the big win.

*** Michael Cole interviews Mike Tyson in the McMahon skybox, and says “Cold Stone” is his favorite wrestler. We didn’t know Iron Mike liked ice cream. ***

6) Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) defeats Undertaker (Mark Callaway) in a casket match to retain WWF World Title when Michaels puts Taker in the casket at 20:32

Fun Fact: A cool moment occurred on the Raw before this show. Taker was in the ring getting beaten down by DX and out of nowhere Kane came charging to the ring and tossed HBK and Triple H out, saving his estranged brother. Kane left the ring and was out on the top of the ramp when he decided turn around and offer his hand to big brother. Taker in return got on his knee and did his old Paul Bearer pose, as Kane’s pyro went off. It was a great and original moment which sent JR into near epilepsy.

Scott: The final encounter in one of the most violent feuds in WWF history ends here, as Shawn Michaels, 2 months removed from one of wrestling most notorious moments, defends the World Title against the Deadman. The match itself was pretty good, not Hell in the Cell, but pretty good. However, there are two things that happen in this match that have a lasting impact on the future, one obvious, one not so obvious. The obvious moment, was the turning point in the match. Kane, who supposedly re-united with his brother the week before, came out, presumably to help defeat Shawn and give Taker the title. Then, in wrestling’s worst kept secret, Kane re-heels out, chokeslams Taker into the casket, and Shawn shuts the door on the match. That feud is re-energized. The subtle moment that changes history is early in the match. There’s a point early on in the match where Taker backdrops HBK over the top rope. Shawn doesn’t clear the casket, and his lower back whacks the hinge of the casket door as he falls over. It doesn’t look that serious to the naked eye. Well I had been hinting in previous reviews that “What goes around comes around”. Bingo! Whacking the hinge severely herniated two discs and completely crushes another in HBK’s back. He doesn’t feel it immediately, but within a few days he can’t get out of bed, and within 2 months, he is “retired” for over 4 years. More on that as we get towards Wrestlemania XIV. For now DX is still on top, Shawn’s still the champ and Taker, whose body was then burned when Kane set the locked casket on fire, is a little pissed. At least the Wrestlemania card is starting to take shape. Grade: 3

Justin: A really fun and fast paced match in the 3rd and final battle between Taker and HBK. For two guys who never fought before, they put on 3 awesome matches in this 5 month stretch. If the Mankind feud rejuvenated Taker, then this feud solidified his Main Event standing and someone who could produce great matches when need be. Going into the match, Michaels was at his best as far as in-ring action goes, but his attitude was still miserable. Twenty minutes later and his career and life are shunted into an unknown abyss, as a backdrop gone wrong would force Michaels into retirement. Taker, however, was as hot as he had been in years, and the wrestling world was ready for him to finally throw down with his brother, who betrayed him here. The visual of the burning casket was a great one and an intriguing way to end the show. Grade: 3

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Scott: A pretty good show to get 1998 started. The undercard was solid match-wise, but too many screwy finishes to bump the grade up more. The Rumble was solid, if predictable and unspectacular. Steve Austin is on the verge of superstardom, as the fans in the arenas and on the burgeoning internet are solidly behind him. WCW still has a good product, but as we see 1998 dawn their product starts to get stale, even as they have their own growing star (Goldberg) who ironically looks just like Steve Austin. Funny, huh? We have one more holdover show, and then the official beginning of Vince McMahon’s renaissance is upon us. This Rumble is solid from top to bottom, and a good pre-cursor to the “Attitude Era”. Final Grade: B-

Justin: A good show with a lot of ups and downs. The undercard was a little shaky and featured one too many screwjobs and the Rumble itself was predictable, yet exciting, if that makes sense and, as would be the trademark of 1998, the Main Event carries the show on its back. Another major change takes place as the New Year dawns: from here until the end of the year, JR and the King start to establish themselves as the voices of the WWF. Times were finally a changing, and there is definitely a feeling of excitement in the air during this show as you could almost feel the new era being ushered in. Just the fact that Mike Tyson was on hand and the media was providing as much coverage as they were was a great sign of progression. Tyson brought the mainstream and Austin hooked ‘em. That was the main formula for Vince’s resurgence. An exciting start to a new year: the year that would finally see the WWF rise back to the top of the mountain. Final Grade: B-

MVP: Steve Austin
Runner Up: Shawn Michaels/Undertaker
Non MVP: Legion of Doom
Runner Up: Mick Foley (For not needing to come into Rumble 3 times)

All Time PPV Active-Wrestler Roster

Tito Santana
Buddy Rose
“Special Delivery” Jones
King Kong Bundy
Ricky Steamboat
Matt Borne
Brutus Beefcake
David Sammartino
Greg Valentine
Junkyard Dog
Barry Windham
Mike Rotundo
Iron Sheik
Nikolai Volkoff
Andre the Giant
Big John Studd
Leilani Kai
Wendi Richter
Paul Orndorff
Roddy Piper
Mr. T
Hulk Hogan
Corporal Kirschner
Adrian Adonis
Dynamite Kid
Randy Savage
Ivan Putski
Davey Boy Smith
Moondog Spot
Terry Funk
Don Muraco
Bob Orton
George Steele
George Wells
Jake Roberts
Fabulous Moolah
Velvet McIntyre
Ted Arcidi
Tony Atlas
Brian Blair
Jim Brunzell
Bret Hart
Jim Neidhart
Hillbilly Jim
King Tonga (Haku)
Pedro Morales
Bruno Sammartino
Danny Spivey
Jim Covert
Russ Francis
Bill Fralic
Ernie Holmes
Harvey Martin
William Perry
Hercules
Uncle Elmer
Dory Funk, Jr.
Rick Martel
Tom Zenk
Billy Jack Haynes
Hillbilly Jim
Haiti Kid
Little Beaver
Lord Littlebrook
Little Tokyo
Harley Race
Jacques Rougeau
Raymond Rougeau
Danny Davis
Butch Reed
Koko B. Ware
Honky Tonk Man
Jim Duggan
Ron Bass
Judy Martin
Dawn Marie
Donna Christanello
Sherri Martel
Noriyoi Tateno
Itsuki Yamazaki
Rockin’ Robin
Ax
Smash
Tama
Boris Zhukov
Jim Powers
Paul Roma
One Man Gang
Rick Rude
Ken Patera
Bam Bam Bigelow
Ultimate Warrior
Sam Houston
Sika
Bobby Heenan
Barbarian
Warlord
Big Boss Man
Marty Jannetty
Shawn Michaels
Arn Anderson
Tully Blanchard
Conquistador Uno
Conquistador Dos
Blue Blazer
Mr. Perfect
Scott Casey
Akeem
Red Rooster
Ronnie Garvin
Bushwhacker Butch
Bushwhacker Luke
Mr. Fuji
Dusty Rhodes
Jimmy Snuka
Zeus
Earthquake
The Genius
Sapphire
Sato
Tanaka
Kerry Von Erich
Crush
Hawk
Animal
Undertaker
Tugboat/Typhoon
Sgt. Slaughter
Kato
Mountie
Virgil
Dustin Rhodes
Shane Douglas
Brian Knobbs
Jerry Sags
Genichiro Tenryu
Koji Kitao
General Adnan
Irwin R. Schyster
Ric Flair
Berzerker
Skinner
Blake Beverly
Beau Beverly
Repo-Man
Owen Hart
Tatanka
Nailz
Kamala
Samu
Fatu
Razor Ramon
Yokozuna
Rick Steiner
Scott Steiner
Bob Backlund
Papa Shango
Jerry Lawler
Max Moon
Carlos Colon
Doink
Lex Luger
Giant Gonzalez
Mr. Hughes
Billy Gunn
Bart Gunn
Jimmy Del Ray
Tom Pritchard
1-2-3 Kid
Ludvig Borga
Diesel
Adam Bomb
Keith Hart
Bruce Hart
Black Knight
Blue Knight
Red Knight
Robert Gibson
Ricky Morton
Mabel
Mo
Bastion Booger
Pierre
Kwang
Great Kabuki
Bob Holly
Luna Vachon
Dink
Alundra Blayze
Bull Nakano
Ted DiBiase’s Undertaker
Wink
Pink
Queasy
Sleazy
Cheesy
Eli Blu
Jacob Blu
Duke Droese
Timothy Well
Stephen Dunn
Mantaur
Aldo Montoya
Henry Godwin
Dick Murdoch
Lawrence Taylor
Hakushi
Roadie Jesse Jammes
Savio Vega
Kama
Hunter Hearst-Helmsley
Barry Horowitz
Skip
Bertha Faye
Isaac Yankem
Waylon Mercy
Dean Douglas
Goldust
Rad Radford
Aja Kong
Tomoko Watanabe
Lioness Azuka
Sakie Hasegawa
Kyoko Inoue
Chaparrita Asari
Ahmed Johnson
Buddy Landel
Takao Omori
Doug Gilbert
Squat Team #1
Squat Team #2
Vader
Steve Austin
Phineas Godwinn
Marc Mero
Mankind
Leif Cassidy
Bradshaw
Jose Lothario
Jim Cornette
Mark Henry
Doug Furnas
Phil Lafon
Rocky Maivia
“Diesel”
“Razor Ramon”
Flash Funk
Executioner
Perro Aguayo
Canek
Hector Garza
Jerry Estrada
Fuerza Guererra
Heavy Metal
Pierroth
Sultan
Mil Mascaras
Cybernetico
Latin Lover
Mosh
Thrasher
Ken Shamrock
Great Sasuke
Taka Michinoku
Chainz
Miguel Perez
Jose Estrada
Jesus Castillo
Brian Christopher
Scott Putski
Max Mini
El Torito
Patriot
D-Lo Brown
Nova
Mosaic
Tarantula
Kurrgan
Sniper
Recon
Jackyl
Steve Blackman
Kane
Butterbean
Battalion
Tom Brandi

PPV Rest in Peace List

“Playboy” Buddy Rose (Wrestlemania I)
“Special Delivery” Jones (Wrestlemania I)
Uncle Elmer (Wrestlemania II)
Adrian Adonis (Wrestlemania III)
Haiti Kid (Wrestlemania III)
Little Beaver (Wrestlemania III)
Junkyard Dog (Summerslam 1988)
Big John Studd (Wrestlemania V)
Sapphire (Summerslam 1990)
Bad News Brown (Summerslam 1990)
Dino Bravo (Wrestlemania VII)
Andre the Giant (Summerslam 1991)
Texas Tornado (Royal Rumble 1992)
Hercules (Royal Rumble 1992)
Elizabeth (Wrestlemania VIII)
Sensational Sherri (Wrestlemania IX)
Ludvig Borga (Survivor Series 1993)
Captain Lou Albano (Royal Rumble 1995)
Dick Murdoch (Royal Rumble 1995)
Rad Radford (Survivor Series 1995)
Bertha Faye (Survivor Series 1995)
Bam Bam Bigelow (Survivor Series 1995)
Chris “Skip” Candido (Summerslam 1996)
Yokozuna (Survivor Series 1996)
Terry “Executioner” Gordy (IYH: It’s Time)
Brian Pillman (IYH: Ground Zero)
Rick Rude (IYH: Bad Blood)


Next Review: No Way Out 1998

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