TJR Retro: WWE Unforgiven: In Your House 1998 Review (Steve Austin vs. Dude Love, Undertaker vs. Kane)

TJR Retro: WWE Unforgiven: In Your House 1998 Review (Steve Austin vs. Dude Love, Undertaker vs. Kane)

The first WWE Championship reign of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and that meant that Vince McMahon wasn’t happy that he had a defiant champion. These were the early days of the classic Austin/McMahon rivalry with the fans rallying behind Austin while McMahon was doing anything he could to take the title from Stone Cold. With Shawn Michaels on the shelf for over four years with a back injury, Vince needed a new rival for Austin. That led us to the once lovable Mankind/Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) turning into a heel version of Dude Love to challenge Austin for the WWE Title. This was also around the time where Raw started to beat WCW Nitro in the Monday night TV battle, which would eventually lead to WWE buying WCW about three years after this.

In addition to the Austin/Love feud for the WWE Title, The Undertaker’s rivalry continued with his “brother” Kane. After The Undertaker beat Kane at WrestleMania, Kane attacked Undertaker, which meant the feud must continue. That led to this event where WWE presented the first-ever Inferno Match with fire surrounding the ring.

Those two matches were really the main attractions on the card although Sable had two main attractions of her own, which we’ll get to later.

The first-ever Unforgiven PPV did a reported 309,000 buys on pay-per-view, which was a solid number in 1998 although there were other PPVs that did better. I think what hurts a show like this is that the fans likely spent money on WrestleMania 14 to watch Steve Austin win the WWE Title, so you don’t really go into Unforgiven expecting Austin to lose. That predictability hurts a bit.

This show followed WrestleMania 14.

Here is the synopsis on WWE Network:

“The temperature is rising as Kane faces the Undertaker in the first ever Inferno Match. Dude Love takes on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin for the WWE Championship. The New Age Outlaws face LOD 2000 and much more.”  14+ (D,L,V)

The VHS looks like this:

Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Let’s get to the show.

WWE Unforgiven: In Your House
From Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina
April 26, 1998

There was an opening video package focusing on the two main matches on the show: The Undertaker vs. Kane in an Inferno Match and Steve Austin vs. Dude Love with Vince McMahon.

It was a packed house in Greensboro with over 20,000 fans in attendance. There was a pyro display to start the show and a shot of the crowd with a lot of signs. Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler were at ringside to call the action.

The Nation of Domination were up first with the Intercontinental Champion The Rock leading the way along with D-Lo Brown, Mark Henry and Kama Mustafa, who was not wrestling in this match. There were “Rocky sucks” chants from the crowd. The babyface team of Ken Shamrock, Steve Blackman and Faarooq entered to Shamrock’s music.

Nation of Domination: The Rock, D-Lo Brown & Mark Henry (w/Kama Mustafa) vs. Ken Shamrock, Faarooq & Steve Blackman

Pre-match notes: The Nation of Domination were the heels. Rock and Nation kicked Faarooq out of the group, so that meant Faarooq was a face. The Rock was the Intercontinental Champion that was feuding with Shamrock for the early part of the year. Blackman was a midcard face as well.

Brown with a shoulder tackle on Blackman. Blackman came back with punches, kicks, a shoulder tackle and Brown was able to hit a suplex. Blackman avoided an elbow drop leading into Blackman grabbing an armbar. Shamrock tagged in with a takedown into a kneebar, but Brown got to the ropes. Faarooq faced off with Brown with Faarooq hitting a spinebuster. Faarooq whipped Brown with a belt that the referee never saw because he was looking at the heels. Blackman went for an elbow drop, Brown moved and Blackman grabbed an armbar. Henry tagged in with punches, then two backbreakers and an elbow drop. Henry with a sloppy looking clothesline. Brown hit a sitout Powerbomb for two. Faarooq was back in with Brown sending him face first into the mat and Rock tagged in for the first time leading to a big reaction. Rock worked over Faarooq punches, kicks and a clothesline. Henry was back in with a body slam followed by three elbow drops. Faarooq fought back with punches, Blackman back in with punches, Rock hit a cheap shot to the back and Henry hit a powerslam. Brown with a body slam followed by jumping elbow drop off the middle ropes for a two count. Blackman charged at Brown, who dropped Steve with a back elbow to the face. Rock was back in with repeated kicks to the body of Blackman along with a big clothesline. Henry back in with forearms and Rock was back in for a two count. Blackman got an inside cradle on Rock for a two count. Rock with a body slam, then he ran the ropes and delivered the People’s Elbow to a big reaction. This was before the elbow pad toss was part of it. Rock grabbed a chinlock for about one minute. Brown was back in with a weak-looking backbreaker. Brown went up top and missed a moonsault by several feet since Blackman moved out of the way. Faarooq got the tag against Rock and he delivered a jumping shoulder tackle on Henry. The six guys were fighting all around the ring and left Rock/Faarooq in the ring. Rock came back with a DDT on Faarooq for a two count. Rock with a slap to the face Faarooq ducked a clothesline, kick to the gut and Faarooq hit The Dominator slam on Rock for the pinfall win at 13:32. The crowd liked the finish.

Winners by pinfall: Ken Shamrock, Faarooq & Steve Blackman

Analysis: ** A decent tag team match to give Faarooq a win over The Rock since Rock was the guy that kicked Faarooq out of the Nation of the Domination group. That was the right result because it set up Faarooq to go after The Rock for the Intercontinental Title. The match was definitely lacking excitement, but the crowd was into everything that Rock did while there was a nice ovation when Faarooq got the win. That Dominator finisher looked a bit shaky since Rock is a big dude, but it ended up being okay.

Post match, Faarooq was interviewed at ringside by Michael Cole. Faarooq thanked Ken and Steve. Faarooq said that this was just the beginning of kicking his ass (The Rock) and the rest of them.

Let’s Hear from Steve Austin

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin entered the ring with the WWF Title. Huge pop for the champion. Austin grabbed timekeeper Mark Yeaton from ringside and told him to get into the ring. Austin warned Mark that bad things happen when you piss him off. Austin let Mark know that if Vince screws Austin out of the title then Austin will beat his ass all around the building. Austin told Mark he’s going to beat his ass so bad that he’ll never work there again. Austin told Mark to get back in his chair. Austin said he didn’t mind if Dude Love was good enough to beat him, but if Vince tries to screw him then Vince and Mark are both going to get their ass whipped…cuz Stone Cold said so. Austin warned Yeaton again and even hit the ring bell.

Analysis: It was just a quick segment to get people more excited about the main event coming up later. The fans cared a lot because it involved Austin.

There was a replay shown from WrestleMania 14 when Triple H beat Owen Hart thanks to Chyna tossing some powder into Sgt. Slaughter’s face and then Chyna hit a low blow leading to Triple H hitting a Pedigree on Owen to win the match. Due to those actions by Chyna, she will be in a cage above the ring for this match.

Triple H and Chyna made their entrance to the Degeneration X theme song. Hunter was the European Champion and the crowd popped for the DX fireworks in the ring. Owen Hart entered as a face although there wasn’t much of a reaction for him. Chyna went into the cage at ringside with Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter there to lock her in. Owen attacked Hunter with punches on the floor before the match could begin.  Owen hit Hunter in the face with a beer can. Owen whipped Hunter into the cage that was on the floor. Owens delivered a suplex on the floor while doing some “suck it” gestures. The bell rang to start the match.

European Championship: Triple H aka Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) vs. Owen Hart

Pre-match notes: Triple H was the heel European Champion, but the crowd was also cheering him at times. Owen Hart was the babyface during this “Black Hart” run. Shortly after this, DX were faces although Hunter was still clearly the heel in this match.

Owen hit a clothesline to knock Hunter over the top to the floor. Chyna was lifted in the cage and she was placed about 20 feet in the air. Hart sent Hunter chest first against the barricade. Back in the ring, Owen hit a backbreaker. Hunter came back with a move where he sent Owen face first into the turnbuckle. Hunter connected with a running jumping knee to the face. Hunter stomped on Owen against the turnbuckle followed by a suplex and a knee drop to the head for two. Hunter with a clothesline leading into a dragon sleeper type of submission. The fans were not really into it at this point. While this was going on, Chyna took out some sort of tiny object that was in her boot and tried to tear apart the bars of the cage, but then she dropped it.  Hunter whipped Owen into the turnbuckle as Owen did a sternum first bump that brother Bret did so many times. Owen got a sunset flip for two, but Hunter came back with a neckbreaker. Owen charged a running attack, Hunter moved and Owen hit the turnbuckle. Hunter sent Owen into the turnbuckle again. Hunter with a slam into the knee for the facebuster for two. Hunter slapped on another dragon sleeper. After over one minute in that position, Owen got out of it and hit a German Suplex for two. Chyna managed to bend the steel bar in the cage while Owen hit a belly to belly suplex. Owen delivered an enziguri kick to the head for a two count. The fans were not reacting to these guys at all. Owen with a spinning heel kick to the face for two. Owen hit a piledriver to barely any reaction. Owen went up top and jumped off with an elbow drop. Owen saw that Chyna was climbing to the outside of the cage, Owen was looking at her and Hunter knocked Owen out of the ring. Owen hit Hunter with a forearm and then Hunter’s foot was tied up in the ropes. Chyna was hanging off the bottom of the cage. Owen was back in the ring and he hit a DDT on Hunter. Owen applied the Sharpshooter on Hunter, then the cage was lowering with Chyna on it and Chyna easily got to the floor. JR wondered who lowered that cage. It was Road Dogg, who was walking out of the technical area. Referees and Slaughter showed up to stop Chyna from interfering. Hunter went for a Pedigree, Owen wit ha catapult into the ring post and Owen hit a Pedigree. Owen went for a cover, but X-Pac came out of nowhere and hit Owen with a fire extinguisher. The referee Jack Doan, who was distracted by the Chyna situation, went back into the ring and Hunter covered Owen to win at 12:26.

Winner by pinfall: Triple H aka Hunter Hearst Helmsley

Analysis: *** This was a good match in the second half with Owen putting over Hunter again to further establish Hunter as the European Champion. The first half was really slow, so the fans weren’t into it much at all. Once Chyna got out of the cage, the fans cared more and they built well towards the finish of the match. I think if they worked a faster-paced match it would have been a lot better. Hunter was a better worker a few years after this.

Triple H celebrated the win with Chyna and X-Pac as Hunter retained the European Title. They replayed the finish.

Owen Hart was interviewed by Michael Cole with Owen delivering an angry promo. Owen: “Enough is enough. I’ve had it up to here. This bullshit has got to stop. Enough is enough and it’s got to stop. Things are going to have to change around here.” They did not bleep out the swear word.

Analysis: I think WWE realized these guys were in the wrong role because the next night on Raw, Owen turned heel and joined the Nation of Domination. Meanwhile, Hunter and Degeneration X turned babyface soon after this too.

The announced attendance was 21,427 fans with JR saying it was a Greensboro record for a wrestling event in that building.

Jim Cornette made his entrance to boos from the crowd. Cornette called them the ugliest bunch of people he’s ever seen in his life. Cornette said that they are going to spoil the Rock N Roll Express homecoming tonight. Cornette introduced Bombastic Bob (aka Bob Holly) and Bodacious Bart (aka Bart Gunn) as the New Midnight Express. They were the NWA Tag Team Champions. The Rock N Roll Express entered to a good pop from the crowd.

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

Pre-match notes: The New Midnight Express were the heel champions while The Rock N Roll Express were babyface legends. I’m sure Cornette hated this and he should have. There wasn’t much interest in this.

Gibson with a running shoulder tackle to knock Bob out of the ring. Gibson with an armdrag, Morton tagged in and they did a double team takedown of Bob while knocking Bart off the apron. Bob tried a punch, Morton moved and Bob accidentally knocked Bart down. Gibson went into the ring after Bart and he whipped Bob into Bart, so then Bart was mad at Bob. Cornette went into the ring to calm his guys down. Bart did an abdominal stretch, then Cornette got heat arguing with the referee and Corny claimed that he wanted to fight referee Tim White. Cornette backed away before White could touch him as RNR raised White’s hands as the winner. Bart with a knee that knocked Morton out of the ring after a Cornette distraction. Bart with two backbreakers for a two count. Bob tagged in with an elbow drop. Bart hit a powerbomb on Morton for a two count with the fans not reacting at all. Bob tagged in, he went for a leg drop off the top, but Morton moved. Gibson got the hot tag to no reaction and Gibson was delivering punches to his rivals. RNR tossed the heels into eachother and then RNR hit double dropkicks on Bart. Cornette went into the ring, Morton moved and Cornette elbowed Bart while the referee was distracted. Bob hit a bulldog on Gibson and Bart pinned Gibson to get the win at 7:12.

Winners by pinfall: The New Midnight Express (Bombastic Bob & Bodacious Bart)

Analysis: *1/4 A boring tag team match that was kept short because I think WWE realized it was not interesting to the fans. At least the White/Cornette confrontation popped the crowd a bit. The wrestling did not. They used the more established Rock N Roll Express to put over the newer team, but this didn’t work at all.

Luna Vachon and Goldust were interviewed backstage by Michael Hayes. Luna said she was going to strip Playboy of her clothes (that drew cheers even though Luna was a heel) and Luna said she’ll leave Sable in the ring like a newborn, which means naked.

Luna made her entrance with Goldust, whose name was just “The Artist” at this point according to the graphic on the screen. Sable entered to a HUGE pop from the crowd. JR said that was a heck of an ovation and you would think Ric Flair walked out there. At this point, Ric was in WCW, but he wrestled in this building a lot.

Evening Gown Match: Sable vs. Luna (w/Goldust)

Pre-match notes: Sable was the very popular babyface while Luna was the heel. Luna was paired with Goldust as a heel duo while Sable had issues with Marc Mero, who was her husband at the time although WWE never said that. Marc was jealous of Sable’s growing popularity.

This was the first Evening Gown Match in WWE history. To win the match, you had to strip the evening gown off both women. They were wrestling with dresses on and black boots.

The women were hesitant to lock up with Lawler being very excited about it. Each woman ripped off a sleeve of their dresses. Luna with a kick to the ribs followed by some choking. Luna ripped off the bottom half of Sable’s dress, so you could see a lot of Sable’s ass and she was in a thong. Luna did some choking with the dress. Sable came back with two boots to the chest and a tackle followed by some bad punches. Sable tossed Luna across the ring. Marc Mero was at ringside, so Sable yelled at him and that led to Luna ripping off the top half of Sable’s dress…to a HUGE pop! The fans loved that! The match was over at 2:50.

Winner: Luna

Analysis: 1/2* The rating didn’t matter. Listen to the crowd. They loved it. Can’t say I blame them either. It wasn’t a surprise that Mero would show up to cost Sable the match and Luna was right there to get the win.

After the match, Sable was furious about what happened with JR pointing out that Marc Mero cost Sable that match. Sable delivered a Sable Bomb to Luna while wearing bra and panties. Sable ripped off Luna’s dress, so Luna crawled under the ring. Sable crawled under the ring after Luna while Goldust and referee Jimmy Korderas wondered what was going on. Sable emerged from under the ring with the rest of Luna’s outfit, so the deal was that Sable stripped Luna naked under the ring. JR on Sable: “She lost the match, but she don’t look like no loser to me.” That was a great line by JR. Goldust put his golden robe on Luna and carried her to the back. Sable: “Come and get it.” As the camera got in close on Sable’s incredible body in bra and panties in the ring, JR had another good line: “Right around here is where they’ll start hitting the pause button on the tape.” Lawler wanted some replays as Sable left the ring.

Analysis: The crowd reaction to this showed how popular Sable was. They loved her and the popularity was growing thanks to how amazing she looked in the ring. Does she look fake? Sure. I understand if people didn’t like her. I remember it well because I was in my late teens at the time and seeing a woman as attractive as Sable in the ring with bra and panties was a sight that you don’t really forget. JR’s line about the pause button was pretty funny, but also likely very true for a lot of fans. She would end up topping it at Fully Loaded in July 1998 too and then she was in Playboy multiple times in 1999 too. Sable wasn’t shy in this era. I’ll give her that. Anyway, Sable “lost” the match, but then she humiliated Luna after the match was over, so you can say Sable won the war, so to speak. Anyway, Sable would end up facing Marc Mero at the next PPV.

Let’s Hear from Vince McMahon

Vince McMahon walked down to the ring with his associates Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson by his side. Vince got into the ring for a promo. Vince said that something “catastrophic” is going to occur here tonight. Vince said that could mean anything because “anything can happen” in the WWF. Vince said there’s a conspiracy theory that exists that claims that Vince is there to screw Steve Austin out of the WWF Championship. Vince said that not that many years ago, his mother had the pleasure of giving birth to him in North Carolina, so it was good to be back home. The fans booed. There were “Austin” chants to try to shut him up. Vince said he will not dignify the conspiracy claims with a response. Vince said he will not be held responsible for what happens in this very ring here tonight. Vince said he won’t be responsible if “Stone Cold screws Stone Cold.” Vince left the ring with his associates. That was it.

Analysis: It was another promo to get the fans even more ready for the main event.

They showed Sable getting interviewed on the WWF Superstar Line.

The New Age Outlaws representing Degeneration X made their entrance as the WWE Tag Team Champions. Road Dogg said that they had a special treat saying a personal friend has come out of retirement to coach them to victory. Road Dogg said that they had Dean Smith and then Billy Gunn had a blow up doll. Dean Smith was a college basketball coaching legend in North Carolina. Dogg did the usual pre-match promo and it was still early in the run, so the fans weren’t saying the lines with them. Gunn did his “Suck It” line to end it.

The Legion of Doom made their entrance with Sunny as their manager. This trio didn’t last that long, but the fans liked them and they looked impressive. They were called LOD 2000 at this point.

WWE Tag Team Championships: New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & Billy Gunn) vs. L.O.D. 2000 aka Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) w/Sunny

Pre-match notes: New Age Outlaws were the heel champions while Legion of Doom were the faces. Hawk’s mohawk was shaved off by the Outlaws.

Animal with a shoulder tackle, Gunn with punches and Animal ducked a cross body block. Animal with another shoulder tackle along with a clothesline. Dogg went into the ring, Animal slammed both of them face first into the mat. Animal wrenched on the left arm of Dogg and Hawk tagged in with a powerslam. Hawk with a fist drop on Dogg. Hawk with a back body drop on Gunn followed by a shoulder block. Hawk picked up Gunn for a body slam, lost his grip and Hawk hit a shoulderbreaker into the knee for two. Animal back in for a double team elbow leading to a chinlock, which led to a close up of Sunny at ringside and that’s not a bad thing. Lawler wanted replays of the Evening Gown Match with JR making no comment to reply to that. Animal hit a powerslam for two as Dogg made the save. LOD whipped the Outlaws into eachother. Gunn with a chop block to Animal’s knee to prevent a double team move. Dogg with a spinning toe hold submission on the left knee of Animal, who was the face in peril. Gunn rammed Animal’s left knee into the ring post. Dogg and Gunn kept working over Animal’s knee. Dogg with some punches to the gut that looked so weak. Gunn tagged in with a Fameasser that JR called a Rocker Dropper (the name when Marty Jannetty did it) and that got a two count. The crowd didn’t even react to that. Dogg with a kick to the ribs followed by a running splash onto Animal’s back while Animal was against the ropes. Animal with a back drop to get out of a move by Gunn and Animal did a leg whip.

Hawk got the hot tag as the crowd came alive with Hawk punching both Outlaws and knocking Gunn out of the ring. Hawk with a body slam on Dogg. Hawk hit a splash off the top, the referee was looking at Animal and Gunn hit Hawk with a title belt to the head. The referee never saw it. Dogg got a two count on Hawk there. Hawk was back up, Dogg tried to hit him with the title belt, Hawk moved and Dogg knocked Gunn out of the ring. Hawk with a German Suplex on Dogg for the pinfall win at 12:13.

Legion of Doom were celebrating as if they won the match, but then it was announced that the New Age Outlaws won the match. They went with the call that Hawk’s shoulders were down at the same time as Dogg, so that’s why the Outlaws kept the titles.

Winners by pinfall: New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & Billy Gunn)

Analysis: ** A decent tag match at times, but also a bit boring too. They spent all that time working over Animal’s knee while applying very few submissions. It was just done to kill some time. The finish was controversial in order to have the Outlaws keep the titles and frustrate the fans since they wanted LOD to win. That kind of ending to a tag match was done once in a while to make it look like the faces were going to win the titles, but in the end, it was the heel team that found a way to keep the titles. Classic booking teasing a title change, but then keeping the titles on the champions.

Post match, the Outlaws celebrated with their DX allies. Meanwhile, Hawk clotheslined referee Jack Doan. Animal put Doan on his shoulders and then Hawk jumped off the top with a clothesline for the Doomsday Device double team move. The fans popped for that. A replay was shown of the finish where the referee was looking at Hawk’s left shoulder that was on the mat, but the right shoulder of Hawk was up on the other side. Another replay was shown with the referee looking right at Hawk’s left shoulder. They had a stretcher for referee Jack Doan, who was wheeled to the back.

Zack Ryder's Iced 3 PT 2 - July 2013 - New Age Outlaws vs LOD 2000 - Unforgiven 1998 - FULL MATCH

Analysis: This was a way to make the fans happy since LOD should have won the match and the titles, but they felt screwed by the referee. At least when they did the Doomsday Device, it was a safe landing for Doan because sometimes wrestlers take that move and they land in an awkward way. Just ask Henry Godwinn, who broke his neck taking that move.

Jeff Jarrett was on a stage by the entrance area with country music singer Sawyer Brown. I don’t listen to country music, so I have no idea who Sawyer Brown was. Jeff ended it saying: “Ain’t I great?” Anyway, they did a song and then Steve Blackman showed up to attack Jarrett. Blackman did a spin kick to the head and then put Jarrett in a submission grabbing the left arm. That’s when Tennessee Lee hit Blackman with a guitar shot to the head. Jarrett put Blackman on the Figure Four Leglock submission. The fans chanted “we want Flair” but he was not a WWE guy at this point.

Analysis: They had to set up the ringside area for the Inferno Match, so this was a way to kill some time. I hit fast forward through the singing.

A video package aired to set up the Inferno Match between “brothers” The Undertaker and Kane. The Undertaker beat Kane at WrestleMania 14 and then Kane beat up Undertaker after the match, so the rivalry continued. Kane burned the grave of The Undertaker’s parents, so that pissed off The Undertaker so much that he wanted to get revenge.

Kane made his entrance with Paul Bearer with the crowd booing them. Kane was in the original Kane look with the red/black mask on his face. The Undertaker got a big pop for his entrance. It was the typical slow walking entrance with Undertaker raising the lights as he got to ringside and Paul Bearer wasn’t happy about that.

Inferno Match: The Undertaker vs. Kane (w/Paul Bearer)

The rules were that the ring was surrounded by fire and the match will continue until one of the participants is set on fire. There was no referee in the ring.

The ring was surrounded by fire that was up against the ring apron. They were able to wrestle in the ring and go up against the turnbuckles. They exchanged punches against the turnbuckle with JR and Lawler talking about how hot it was. Undertaker hit a running splash against the turnbuckle. Undertaker did his rope walking routine off the top, so as he did that jump with a punch to the arm, the flames went up several feet. Kane caught a charging Undertaker and sent him face first into the turnbuckle. Kane knocked down Taker with clotheslines. Kane tried to put Undertaker into the fire, but Taker fought it off and kicked Kane. When Kane slammed Taker back into the mat, the flames went up again and Taker had to fight back against Kane to avoid the fire. Taker gouged Kane’s eye and Kane was able to hit a powerslam are the flames went up. Bearer threw a chair to Kane in the ring, so Kane hit Undertaker in the head and that was a hard chair shot! Bearer was wiping his face with a towel because of how hot it was. Kane kept Taker down with a kick to the ribs. Kane kept trying to put Taker into the fire, but Taker kept on fighting back. The announcers kept talking about how hot it was while Kane continued to work over Taker with punches. Kane with a hard whip that sent Taker into the turnbuckle. Kane charged, Taker got a boot up and Taker kicked Kane in the ribs followed by a Russian legsweep. Taker hit a running leg drop. They each went for a Chokeslam, then Kane was able to get a hold of Taker and Kane connected with a Chokeslam. That was impressive with Kane lifting his “brother” up pretty high to deliver that move. Taker avoided a Tombstone, Taker sent Kane into the turnbuckle and Taker hit a Chokeslam to a big pop. The flames got higher again. Taker ran the ropes leading to the double boots to the face spot. They were both down selling for about ten seconds, Taker back up and he missed a jumping clothesline when Kane moved while Taker nearly rolled into the flames. Kane hit a sidewalk slam. Kane climbed to the top rope by getting up on the front side of the ropes. Taker knocked Kane down to crotch him on the turnbuckle. Taker delivered a superplex off the middle rope and that led to the flames shooting up again! Kane managed to get up first as Taker hit him with a clothesline. Undertaker threw Kane over the top to the floor with Kane going over the flames and landing on the floor. Bearer was talking to Gerald Brisco at ringside along with a guy that was controlling the flames going higher. Kane was leaving up the aisle, so Vader showed up to start brawling with Kane. Vader fought Kane down to ringside and then Undertaker hit an impressive dive over the top and over the fire onto Kane/Vader at ringside! That was impressive while drawing a HUGE pop from the crowd.

The fans chanted for Undertaker. Bearer hit Taker with a chair to the back, but that was a mistake because Taker got the chair and hit Kane hard in the head with it. Taker hit Kane in the back as well. That was some payback for the chair shot to the head earlier in the match. Taker walked towards Bearer, who walked up to the staging area where Jeff Jarrett’s concert was. Taker put a drum over Bearer’s head and hit Bearer with a mic stand to the ribs. The fans loved that. Bearer even did a blade job after the drum set on the head, so he had blood all over his head. Taker went back down to ringside with Kane hitting Taker in the ribs with the chair. Taker kicked Kane in the head and Kane bumped backward with Kane’s right arm (with the glove on it) going into the fire. That was the end of the match at 15:54. JR: “Kane is on fire! Kane is on fire! He’s burning!” Kane quickly walked to the back with his burning right arm, so that was the end of the match.

Winner: The Undertaker

Analysis: ***1/4 This was such a unique match. The star rating doesn’t matter that much here. I was impressed by it in 1998 and I’m still impressed now. You can’t compare it to a regular match when there are no nearfalls or near submissions since it’s about putting your opponent into the fire. It was about the spectacle of a first-ever Inferno Match and the danger involved with competing when you’re surrounded by a ring of fire. I think it looked incredible. It also shows how talented Undertaker/Kane were to make it work because it’s not an easy match to do. I liked the story they told, they used Vader to bring Kane back to the ring and that led to Undertaker doing the memorable spot with the dive over the top onto Kane/Vader on the floor. The ending was fine because they delivered what they promised by putting Kane’s arm on fire to give Undertaker the win.

The Undertaker and Kane take part in the first ever Inferno

The Undertaker went back into the ring to do some posing while the flames shot up higher as he continued the celebration. The fans popped for that.

The announcers put over how hot it was at ringside.

The video package aired showing Steve Austin’s WWE Title win at WrestleMania 14. That led to a classic segment on Raw with Austin dressing all corporate and then let Vince McMahon know he won’t change for anybody. There was also the Austin vs. McMahon “match” on Raw with Austin’s hand tied around his back. Dude Love got involved to try to “bring peace and leave” so then Dude attacked Austin. It was all a swerve to trick Austin because Dude was working with Vince.  They also teased the idea that Vince was sitting at ringside, so he might screw Austin like he screwed Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1997 with Austin telling Vince he’ll get his ass whipped if he tries to do that.

Analysis: The match was Austin vs. Love, but it sure felt like it was all about Austin vs. Vince. The big tease was that we had to watch to see if Vince was going to screw Austin the way he was threatening to do.

Dude Love made his entrance as one of Mick Foley’s three personas. There were some boos for Dude, but it wasn’t like he was getting major heel heat from the crowd. The entrance of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin drew a huge ovation from the crowd as Austin made his way into the ring for his first PPV title defense. What a pop! Austin did his traditional entrance of posing on all four turnbuckles much to the delight of the crowd.

WWE Championship: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Dude Love

Pre-match notes: Austin was the babyface WWE Champion while Dude was the heel.

Dude started the match with punches, but Austin came back to knock him out of the ring. Austin chased Dude back into the ring where Austin hit a Thesz Press followed by punches. Austin hit a spinebuster leading into an elbow to the chest. Austin choked Dude over the middle rope followed by Austin jumping onto Dude’s back against the ropes. Austin with an elbow drop to knock Dude out of the ring to the floor. Austin sent Dude into the barricade at ringside and brought Dude back in the ring, but then Dude tried to run away. Austin with a running clothesline to the back of Dude to knock him down in the aisle. They went brawling onto the stage that was beside the stage where Jeff Jarrett sang earlier. Austin with a body slam on Dude. The referee Mike Chioda was with them, so there was no countout. Austin with a hiptoss off the bandstand onto the floor about four feet below. Dude always took crazy bumps like that. Back to ringside, Dude sent Austin into the ring apron and Austin came back with a clothesline. Austin sent Dude throat first into the barricade followed by a double axehandle off the apron. Austin set up Dude against the ropes again, Dude moved and Austin landed against the ropes. Dude sent Austin into the turnbuckle followed by a bulldog. Dude worked over Austin a bit against the turnbuckle, Austin came back with a clothesline and Dude hit a knee to the ribs. Dude took down Austin with a chinlock, which was the cue for WWE Chairman to walk down to ringside with Vince McMahon along with Vince’s associates Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco. Patterson had a chair for Vince, so Vince sat down at ringside, told Pat and Gerald to leave and Vince stared at timekeeper Mark Yeaton. Austin fought back against Dude and kicked him in the ribs. Austin with the middle fingers to Vince, so Dude got a rollup for two. Austin with a clothesline. Austin pulled Dude towards the turnbuckle where Austin rammed Dude’s knees into the ring post. Austin kicked Dude off the apron to the floor. Austin teased a move on the floor, which led to Dude giving Austin a back body drop on the floor. Austin took that bump on the lower back rather than the upper back to protect his neck. Dude rammed Austin face first into the barricade with Vince standing up to walk over to Austin on the floor. Austin got back up to walk towards Vince in the aisle, so then Dude hit Austin with a forearm to the back. They were back to the ringside area with Dude hitting a neckbreaker off the top rope. When referee Mike Chioda decided to start counting, Vince wanted Chioda to stop counting.

The match was back into the ring with Dude applying an abdominal stretch to Austin. That led to Vince telling the timekeeper to ring the bell, but that didn’t happen and Austin turned it around. Dude sent Austin into the steel steps. Austin countered a suplex with a suplex of his own where Austin suplexed Dude into the steel steps, so Dude’s legs hit the steps hard. That was brutal as JR yelled about it. Dude tried to leave over the barricade, so Austin brought Dude back to ringside and into the ring. Dude came back with a neckbreaker. They did a ref bump stop with Austin ducking a clothesline and Dude clotheslined Chioda. Dude applied the Mandible Claw, but Austin fought out of it with punches and did a low blow kick to the groin. Dude applied the Mandible Claw on Austin on the mat. Vince tried to wake up referee Chioda, who was still out in the ring. Austin dumped a charging Dude over the top to the floor. Austin grabbed the chair at ringside, Vince tried to take it from him and Dude managed to punch the chair into Austin’s face. Dude charged with the chair, Austin elbowed the chair into Dude and Austin hit another elbow into the chair to Dude. Vince was trying to lift Dude up, so Austin grabbed the chair and hit Vince in the head! It was a vicious chair shot right to the head. They shot it from the back angle so you could see Austin’s swing. JR freaked out about it: “OH MY GOD! OH NO! McMahon is down! McMahon is out!” The crowd popped HUGE for it. Back in the ring, Austin hit a Stone Cold Stunner and pinned Dude. Austin counted his own pinfall, the fans popped and Austin’s music played. The match went 18:49.

Winner by disqualification: Dude Love (Steve Austin remained WWE Champion)

Austin left with the WWE Title to a huge ovation. JR said that he thought Austin stepped over the line. There was a stretcher at ringside for Vince.

It was announced by Howard Finkel “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was disqualified for hitting a WWE Official. It was Gerald Brisco, who instructed Finkel to say that. Austin hit a clothesline on Chioda earlier in the match, so that’s where the disqualification was. They showed replays of Austin’s chair shot to the head of McMahon with the announcers wondering if it was on purpose from Austin or if it was an accident. Lawler thought it was on purpose while Ross thought it might have been an accident.

Analysis: **** This was a great match that was wrestled at a fast pace. The only rest hold in the match was because they needed a moment for Vince McMahon to walk down to ringside. I think they should have made it a Street Fight style match because there were moments where there should have been a countout early in the match. I understand not wanting to end a match by countout, but rules are part of the story in pro wrestling. They also couldn’t do a Street Fight because they went with the DQ ending. Anyway, I liked the drama in the match with Vince out there teasing to call for the bell early, Austin having overcome that and deal with Dude Love at the same time. The biggest part of the match was when Austin hit Vince in the head with the steel chair. It was something we had never seen before and it showed that Vince was willing to do anything that his wrestlers were willing to do.

Vince McMahon was placed on a board on the mat while Patterson, Brisco and Sgt. Slaughter were at ringside checking on Vince. Dude Love was also there to support Vince, who didn’t open his eyes at all. The EMTs lifted Vince on the board and put him on a stretcher. There was another replay of Austin’s chair shot on Vince. JR thanked us for watching and that was the end of the show.

Analysis: They went for a controversial ending because it built up anticipation for Raw the next night to see what they’re going to do next. Plus, Dude beat Austin by disqualification, which meant it made sense to do a rematch and that’s what happened at Over The Edge 1998. That was a great main event too.

This event had a runtime of 2:41:44 on WWE Network.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Show rating (out of 10): 6

It was a show built around the two big matches and they delivered in some ways, but the rest of the card was just average or worse in some cases. The Austin/Dude Love match was one of the better WWE Title matches of this era even with a finish that wasn’t clean. I’ll always remember that Austin chair shot to Vince McMahon because of how brutal it looked. The feud would continue after this at the Over the Edge 1998 PPV as the Austin/McMahon rivalry grew, much to the delight of the fans.

As for Undertaker/Kane, I thought they did a tremendous job in the Inferno Match. They had several memorable spots in the first Inferno Match in WWE history. It’s not easy to do that kind of match and I’ll always remember stuff like The Undertaker’s leap out of the ing as well as when he set Kane on fire to win. The fans were happy to see it. Triple H/Owen Hart was okay in terms of setting up Owen Hart turning heel the next night on Raw, so at least it served a purpose. The rest of the show was mostly forgettable unless you were a big Sable fan because of how much of her we got to see after she “lost” to Luna in the first Evening Gown Match in WWE history. Shoutout to Bombastic Bob and Bodacious Bart for doing the best they could with a shitty gimmick, at least.

In a lot of ways, this show was a perfect example of what the Attitude Era was all about with the memorable ending to the main event proving that “anything can happen” like Austin hitting McMahon with a chair to the head. The Sable/Luna match provided the sex appeal that the audience loved (Sable got one of the biggest ovations of the night) and then the Undertaker/Kane Inferno Match showed that WWE was willing to try something new to win over the fans with a match type we had never seen before. Overall, it’s a fun show that was fitting for the period when it took place.

 

FIVE STARS

  1. Steve Austin
  2. Dude Love
  3. The Undertaker
  4. Kane
  5. Triple H/Owen Hart

 

OPINIONS

Best Match: Steve Austin vs. Dude Love (**** out of 5)

Worst Match: Luna vs. Sable (1/2*) – It sucked as a match, but most people watching probably enjoyed it for other reasons.

Most Memorable Moment: Steve Austin’s chair shot to Vince McMahon. Nasty.

That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.

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John Canton

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