May 31st 1998. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
“Welcome to Mr McMahon’s Utopia” says the breathless woman in the introduction video. You’d think that Vince’s perfect world would be an XFL that is now into its 16th season. Apparently though it’s a wrestling company in which everybody behaves. Stone Cold doesn’t exactly want to play the game. The camera does the traditional pan across the crowd, narrowly avoiding the fan holding up a Bret Hart sign.
The opening contest sees L.O.D 2000 walk to the ring alongside Sunny and their new friend Droz. “His good friends call him Puke” says Jim Ross because of course your friends would name you after the process of regurgitating. Sunny is also alongside them. The Disciples of Apocalypse have a very short journey to ringside on their motorbikes.
Crush has now long since left leaving Skulls, 8 Ball and Chains to defend themselves. Seeing as Crush was always the slightly more defined of the foursome then they might have a bit of trouble doing this. 8-Ball and Skulls are now said to be twin brothers (a fact which I don’t think was mentioned before) which gives J.R and excuse for not being able to tell them apart in the slightest. Nor can I to be fair, as you’re no doubt about to witness.
Despite being faces L.O.D jump both Disciples before the bell rings. Animal goes into a
crazy huge shoulder tackle on 8-Ball but then bends way too early in a backdrop attempt and fall victim to a neck breaker. Skulls and Hawk go at it a little later which does feature a very slow Piledriver from the DOA man. Hawk utterly no sells by getting straight back up again. In another fine example of faces acting like heels LOD get a double team in whilst the ref is distracted.
Hawk goes for a Top Rope Clothesline, Skulls dives out of the way leaving Hawk to sail out of the ring where Chains beats him up. Droz jumps in for the save. Not long after this a pinfall attempt on Animal has to be abandoned by the referee as he seems to not be bothered about actually kicking out. Hawk then fails to sell a barrage of punches meaning he can come back into the match.
Jerry Lawler goes full on sex pest as he talks about Sunny whilst Hawk gets worked over.
There’s a hot tag to Animal and he avoids a DOA Double Backbody Drop and lands a Double Clothesline on his own. The ending to this match is a wonderful list of miscommunication. Skulls is down, the ref goes outside to deal with Sunny, 8-Ball switches with Skulls whilst Animal stands on the apron unsure of what’s going on. As 8-Ball runs off the ropes he’s hit in the back by Droz and falls victim to a Powerslam from Animal for the three. It’s looks horribly mistimed.
L.O.D have been repackaged sure enough but they seem to have gone from being an arse
kicking tandem to a by the numbers tag team who need help from their friends outside the ring. The Disciples meanwhile are bland with very little to remember them by. Whilst it’s a functional match to kick off the night’s proceedings it’s hardly a good sign for the WWF’s tag division at the time that these two teams were considered title challengers.
The theme of heels behaving like faces seems to carry on into the next segment. The Rock comes out with the Intercontinental belt over his shoulder to cut a promo on all the overweight people in the crowd. He’s due to defend the belt later tonight against his former ally Faarooq. Not wishing to wait until later Faarooq comes out and attacks The Rock. As a parting shot Faarooq places a steel chair flat on the canvas and piledrives The Rock near it. I’d like to say ‘on it’ but, whether by accident or design, he manages to kick it out of the way before impact. J.R stills screams about The Rock’s skull hitting the metal.
Other members of The Nation (which now rather oddly features Owen Hart) storm the ring in a effort to get medical attention to their leader. The Rock is then bundled onto a stretcher and wheeled out of the arena. The crowd seem a bit quiet, mainly because they’re being asked to sympathise with a guy who called them all fat two minutes beforehand.
Michael Cole is backstage with Stone Cold Steve Austin. He asks The Rattlesnake if wrestling Dude Love, who has been picked by Mr McMahon as a title challenger, whilst having the boss himself referee the match will mean that Stone Cold has the odds stacked against him. “Of course it will you silly bastard” comes the brilliant reply. Austin is certainly enjoying the first matches of his top line run.
Tennessee Lee is back again and this can only mean that everybody’s favourite country song singing wrestler cannot be too far away. Double J walks to the ring not long afterwards complete with his initials in fireworks above the ring. The last time they were around it was for Sid. Steve Blackman is out next, twirling some small nunchuck style sticks which he places in the corner of the ring. Double J ends up almost walking back down the aisle as Blackman kicks and punches the air to warm up. Blackman goes after Double J, Gorilla pressing him over the top rope from the outside. Before long Double J is in the Tree Of Woe and being bent backwards by his head under the bottom rope.
Tennessee Lee grabs Blackman’s boot from outside the ring, Blackman gives chase only to be clotheslined by Jeff on the other side of the ring. For some strange reason the camera pans to Al Snow (no longer called Leif Cassidy then) who is sitting with the Spanish commentary team. He’s clutching Head and wearing a poncho. Both Lawler and J.R make loud notions for security to kick him out.
Steve Blackman rams Double J/s head into the canvas and then goes for a Top Rope Flying Headbutt which misses the mark. Jeff gets a Sleeper Hold on, Blackman reverses it into his own. Double J breaks out as both men are laid out in the ring. Both men return to a vertical basis only for a Blackman suplex to floor them both again.
Lee gets up on the apron to hold Blackman. Jeff runs towards them, Blackman moves but
Double J slows down in enough time not to clock his manager one. As he celebrates this he’s rolled up and nearly pinned. The ref goes to argue with Lee as Double J grabs the mini kendo sticks. Steve Blackman ends up using them instead, managing somehow to dispose of them right beside the referee who is still engaged in a shouting match with Lee. As Blackman goes for a pinfall Lee places Double J’s foot on the ropes. Blackman goes to the top rope only for Lee to grabthe sticks and attack Blackman before he can launch. A crumpled Steve Blackman is then pinned for three. Once again it seems like the face wrestler in this match had no trouble winning by foul means until it backfired on him.
One heel who certainly won’t be put in a position of asking the audience to sympathise with him is Marc Mero who has organised a match against anybody of Sable’s choosing so that she may earn ‘her freedom’. If Sable loses however she has to leave the WWF for good. Creepy notion of a man ‘owning’ a woman apart this is the latest step in keeping up the popularity of Sable when she cannot wrestle a jot but has moved well out of the scope of a manager. It must have presented the booking team with a definite dilemma. Sable marches down to the ring with her ring gear on as J.R and Lawler ponder who exactly she’s chosen to represent her in this match. “I saw the Undertaker in the locker room today and he’s not scheduled for a match tonight” utters J.R, somehow inferring that The Phenom will be using all of his undead powers to solve this domestic dispute. In the end Sable announces that she’s going to do this all by herself. Mero seems to start to doubt himself and offers to just let Sable pin him. He lies down in the middle of the ring and Sable covers him. As the ref gets to two Mero flips Sable over and pins her for three instead. He gloats and Sable walks back down the aisle.
Backstage Sable is interviewed by Michael Cole. She cannot believe that Mero would stoop so low and thanks the fans for all their support over the last few months. Something tells me this stipulation won’t stick.
The Rock is backstage still in pain with a neck support on. The other members of The Nation of Domination are gathered around to attend to their fallen leader. Doc Hendrix appears to inform them that, as per Commissioner Slaughter’s instructions, The Rock will still have to defend hisIntercontinental title tonight as originally scheduled.
Next up comes a bonus 3 versus 2 match in the shape of Kaientai members Funaki, Dick Togo and Mens Teioh fighting Taka Michinoku and (for some reason) Bradshaw. Yes, the WWF’s Lightheavyweight Champion has been lumped with a much larger tag partner in a match that wasn’t advertised in advance. As such it’s really hard to care about anything that goes on during this match. Bradshaw begins by throwing Taka full pelt over the top rope towards the three members of Kaientai. As the match starts proper the basic method for the heel team seems to be beating up Taka and running like hell if Bradshaw gets in.
Taka Moonsaults to the outside not long afterwards aiming for Funaki but nearly knocks
himself stupid on the guardrail. Taka’s victory over Brian Christopher is mentioned by J.R and it leads back to the usual joke that Lawler denies he’s his son. It’s noted that Kaientai all look like they’ve walked in off the street. Taka does the vast majority of the work here, absorbing a fantastic Togo Cannonball and Powerslam. Taka is then held in the Camel Clutch by Funaki as Togo Dropkicks him in the jaw. Taka comes back with a series of Spinning Heel Kicks.
“It’s like Gulliver’s Travels!” screams J.R as Bradshaw is tagged in. The Texan goes to
work with Big Boots to everybody but is cut off by Togo punching him with a low blow. Taka comes back in to give Togo the Michinoku Driver but it’s broken up at 2. Togo then delivers a Senton from the top rope to pin Taka for 3 whilst Bradshaw stands about doing nothing.
We get some footage of Sable walking through the parking lot carrying her bags. She’s still in her wrestling gear. You’d think she’d have got changed by now.
Here’s Faarooq again, you know the guy you’re supposed to cheer because he’s injured his opponent already tonight? Well nobody does as he walks down to the ring in near silence. The Rock is announced but fails to appear, he’s announced a second time but still nothing. Commissioner Slaughter has to come down to the ring and threaten The Rock with handing over the title if he doesn’t show. The Rock finally appears with the neck
brace still firmly in place. The match begins and Faarooq goes straight onto the attack by crotching him over the guardrail. Faarooq then takes off the neck brace and rams in into Rock’s skull whilst the referee pretends to ignore it. Faarooq gets two pretty stiff clotheslines in. The Rock then tries to escape down the aisle but is dragged back.
The Rock does manage to get a bodyslam in and a People’s Elbow for two. The neck doesn’t seem to be bothering him now. Faarooq answers with a really ugly looking Spinebuster (he just flops into it) and the ref counts a three. It’s revealed that The Rock had his foot on the ropes however so the referee is forced to restarts. Not long after this The Rock rolls up Faarooq, placed his own feet on the ropes for leverage and gets the winning 3 count. The Rock has retained his title but only before Farooq dishes out another two Piledrivers. The rest of The Nation come down a pile into Faarooq before DX show up to chase them off.
It’s a confusing match when The Rock is supposed to be selling an injury but doesn’t seem to bother as of halfway through. He, as a heel, seems to be set up to receive the audience’s sympathy. The only logical explanation for this is that the idea was to judge how the the reaction would be to a Rock face turn.
Back at No Way Out Kane attacked Vader with a wrench and the big man from Colorado is back for revenge tonight. Paul Bearer walks down to the ring with Kane as J.R says something about how ‘nobody can stop Kane’. This would be true if Undertaker hadn’t done it twice in a row on PPV this year. The loser of this match will have to remove their mask. Lawler makes a big thing about what each participant actually looks like. This is
a fair comment for Kane as his mask covers his entire face but Vader’s is essentially just straps. It doesn’t take much of a stretch to figure what Vader looks like. Both men begin the match with big punches until Kane pushes Vader into the corner to club him there.
Vader starts using his forearms, raining down on Kane’s head. As Vader tries a suplex it’s reversed by Kane into his own. Kane gets a Flying Clothesline followed by a choke.
Kane then engages in what must be one of the strangest rest holds ever. He just kneels behind a prone Vader and grips the top of his head. Kane soon gets another chokeslam and Vader rolls out of the ring. On the outside Vader manages to get hold of another wrench which he uses to batter Kane. Back in the ring Vader gets a Corner Splash in and then goes for a Moonsault which misses completely. Kane goes straight for a Tombstone with gets him the winning 3 count. Vader’s mask is removed and Paul Bearer, hilariously, wears it on his head and mimics Vader’s victory pose.
Vader is then interviewed ringside by Michael Cole. Smack bang in the middle of
this PPV show you have Vader uttering the immortal words “I made the biggest mistake of my life, I’m so big, I’m a big piece of shit”.
The WWF seem to have had a really big idea on wheeling out former wrestlers who performed years before in whatever city they’re in. Tonight is no different as Crusher Lisowski and Mad Dog Vachon are helped down the aisle to receive awards from Michael Cole. “Why are we wasting PPV time on these old timers?” says Lawler in another fine example of heels having a valid point. They’re allowed to make speeches and Mad Dog
says something about thanking Vince even though he ‘doesn’t agree with everything going on right now’. Having probably been yelled at in his headset Jerry Lawler gets up from commentary to give the two former wrestlers some of his razor sharp wit. There follows a painful segment when Mad Dog’s false leg is forcefully removed from him and
Lawler is beat up by The Crusher. We probably wouldn’t have wasted that much PPV time if Lawler had just remained in his seat.
DX are here with their usual entrance designed to trouble those who suffer from epilepsy. Triple H, Road Dog and Billy Gunn walk down to the ring alongside X-Pac and Chyna and do their usual mic work in the middle of the ring. The Nation members Kama, D’Lo Brown and Owen Hart come down with Mark Henry. The ringside area is going to be pretty crowded. “The rest of Owen’s family turned their backs on him” says Jerry Lawler. I think the main problem might be they’ve all gone off to WCW.
Road Dog and D’Lo start. As usual in these team matches D’Lo isn’t going to set the
world alight with his character but he’s a really dependable hand. They exchange arm bars and rope runs to open the match. Billy Gunn then tags in, followed by Owen who is immediately levelled with a brutal Clothesline. Gunn then gets a Gorilla Press Slam in but goes for a repeat which is answered with a Spinning Heel Kick by Owen. The main altercation we want to see is Triple H taking on the younger Hart and this happens next. Triple H gives Owen a Tilt The World Backbreaker for two.
Road Dog gets back in and J.R mentions something about how we’ll see X-Pac compete soon. Kama is tagged in finally and goes for Triple H. A little later it’s D’Lo being worked over as DX start to take control. Billy Gunn gets a suplex in for two, Triple H attacks with a Kneedrop for another two count. After being tagged in Kama Irish Whips Road Dog into the ropes. As he hits the edge of the ring Owen punches Road Dog in the back. Owen turns around to celebrate before Road Dog wallops him off the apron.
A small measure of revenge is gained as Owen gets a Piledriver in on Road Dog. He then
goes for the Sharpshooter but Triple H breaks it up. D’Lo Brown manages to get the Moonsault to connect but Triple H breaks up the pinfall again. A hot tag follows to Billy Gunn who cleans house until everybody pours in, including those on the outside as Chyna elbows Mark Henry. D’Lo is then Spike Piledriven onto the European title by
Billy Gunn and Triple H but the pinfall is broken up by Owen. After a few seconds of chaos Owen Pedigrees Triple H onto the title belt and pins him for 3. It’s unusual because the ref is far out of position so it feels more like a seven or eight count in the end. It’s a
fairly functional six an tag designed to extend Owen’s feud with DX.
Vince McMahon is the guest referee for tonight’s main event and he’s standing next to Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe being interviewed by Doc Hendrix. It’s probably the first appearance of Vince’s ref shirt which seems to have been sent to him two sizes too small. “By my hand only does this match end” says Vince. There’s a small question of somebody possibly coming down to ringside to make sure the chairman is calling it down the middle however.
The introductions to this match are absolutely brilliant. Howard Finkel announces Pat
Patterson as ‘a role model for children and a friend to us all’. Pat then takes up his role as guest ring announcer by introducing Gerald Briscoe as ‘a foundation of this industry’. He then tries to get the crowd to ‘stand up in honour’ of Vince McMahon. The crowd instead
start throwing garbage into the ring. Mick Foley’s corporate version of Dude Love is then brought in the ring with Pat saying ‘he’s an example of what can be done by following Mr McMahon’s example’. For a heel introduction, this is wonderfully over the top. It also builds nicely in contrast to what comes next.
The sound of glass shattering fills the arena and your WWF Heavyweight Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin enters. Patterson describes him as a ‘beer swilling fool’ before making a hasty exit from the ring. Steve Austin has a marvellous intensity in his body movements here, he is certainly the human version of a coiled rattlesnake. Before Vince can get the match underway the bell tolls and The Undertaker walks down to enforce matters. It’s poised in an excellent way.
Dude and Austin tie up to begin with, moving into side headlocks. Vince does a really fast
count when Dude covers Austin in the early going. Vince then counts when Austin’s shoulders are about a foot off the mat. The crowd start chanting ‘Vince is gay’ which J.R quickly refers to as ‘Vince is Dead’. At one moment Dude’s false teeth fall out and Austin stomps on them. Vince’s face of disgust during this act, asking Austin why he’s doing that, is amazing.
After a Lou Thesz Press Austin clotheslines Dude Love over the top rope. Austin is flung into the steps. It’s notable that Vince isn’t counting during this excursion outside. Back in the ring Dude Leg Sweeps Austin and then bites him. Austin then gets a Swinging Neckbreaker followed by some Mudhole Stomping in the corner. Dude’s Mandible Claw is thwarted by Austin hanging him by the neck in the ropes. The fight goes back to the outside and Austin is hiptossed over the Spanish announce table. It’s at this point that Pat Patterson is told by Vince to get back on the mic and ‘remind’ the crowd that this is a No DQ match even though this has never been mentioned beforehand.
Dude Love uses a cable to choke Austin but Stone Cold uses the momentum to fling him towards Briscoe who is sat by the time keeper’s bell. Dude is then Clotheslined over the barrier, nearly smacking his head on the concrete beyond. It’s not long before they’re both in the aisle and Dude Love floors Austin with a Neckbreaker. Vince then tells
Patterson to get on the mic and remind the crowd it’s a Fall Count Anywhere match, once again a decision out of the blue. A Dude Love Backslide attempt in the aisle gets a two count.
The top of the ramp is made up like a car scrap yard. Austin is soon Backdropped onto a car bonnet, cracking his leg through the windscreen of one vehicle. Whilst on top of another car Austin goes for a Stunner but is shoved off the roof before it can connect. After Dude attacks him with an exhaust pipe Austin begins to bleed. Austin is then backdropped onto the floor. Dude climbs a car and jumps off in an Elbow Drop attempt. Austin moves and Dude crashes to the concrete.
Back in the ring Austin is slammed into an exposed turnbuckle and then falls victim to a
Running Knee. “The end may be near for Austin’s title reign” says J.R. As it happens this PPV is taking place in the same building as the 1996 King of the Ring did, where Austin gave his famous ‘Austin 3:16 promo’. There’s an almost poetic quality to this maybe being the place where Austin loses the title. Pat Patterson hands Dude a steel chair which is used to crown Austin. A Double Arm DDT on the chair gets a two count. Austin moves to the corner, Dude runs towards him with the chair over his head but Austin gets a boot up meaning the chair flies straight back into Dude’s face. Austin uses the chair to beat Dude but Vince doesn’t count the following pinfall. Austin argues with Vince, Dude sneaks up behind him with the chair but Austin moves at the last moment meaning the chair crashes down onto Vince’s head.
Austin gets the Stunner in and goes for the pin. A second ref runs down the aisle, gets to a two count but is then dragged out of the ring by Pat Patterson. Dude then locks the Mandible on Austin and Patterson jumps in to count the pinfall. This time around The Undertaker drags Patterson out. So annoyed is The Phenom with the guest time keeper that he Chokeslams him through the nearest announce table. Gerald Briscoe then gets exactly the same treatment.
Austin gets another Stunner in on Dude Love and goes for the pinfall. It’s a good job that Vince is still floored next to all this because Austin lifts Vince’s arm and slaps in to the mat three times for the winning pinfall. Austin celebrates whilst Undertaker just glares at him. Vince is still totally out of it. Both ringside announce tables are in bits.
Over The Edge 98 is a middle of the road PPV show for the most part. It features matches
which are functional and do the job but nothing really out of this world until the main event. Stone Cold’s intensity, Dude Love being brilliant foil to this, Vince’s facial expression and J.R casting doubt on the continuation of Austin’s title reign see all the pieces of the best Attitude era matches join together to make a rather fantastic end to the evening. Miss the rest of the show if you need to but watch the main event. There’s a good reason it made it onto Mick Foley’s DVD box set a few years back.
Speaking of Mick Foley, next month we’re at the 1998 King of the Ring when he has a few
moments of testing gravity.