Hell in a Cell is a week from tomorrow. There will be three Hell in a Cell matches on the same show (one of them featuring women for the first time—kind of a big deal), something that hasn’t been done in seven years. Will any of them be good? Odds are one of them will hit the mark, but they’ll pale in comparison to the match’s glory days. You know, the days when the Cell was the “in case of fire, break glass” option?
For example, this week’s Live Retro Blog. If the picture hasn’t spoiled it for you, I of course am referring to the King of the Ring 1998, taking place on June 28, 1998 from the Pittsburgh Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Simply put, it remains to this day one of the most memorable nights in WWE history. In addition to the aforementioned Hell in a Cell match between longtime rivals Undertaker and Mankind, there is (as the title implies) the conclusion of King of the Ring tournament. WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock will face NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dan Severn in one semifinal, while Ken Shamrock will face three-time Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett in the other semifinal. The two winners will face off later in the show for the right to be called King of the Ring.
But wait, kids! There’s more. We might see someone get burned alive tonight. No, seriously. In a WWF first, Stone Cold Steve Austin will face Kane in a first blood match with the WWF Championship on the line. If Kane is the first man to bleed, he will set himself on fire. Oh dear.
Showtime for the Live Retro Blog is 7pm ET Saturday. That’s 6pm CT, 4pm PT, 1pm Hawaiian, 12 midnight in Britain. Everywhere else, figure it out. All you need’s a working broadband Internet connection (you’re on this site, so I assume you have one) and an active WWE Network subscription (you can get one here if you don’t have one. First month’s on the house if you’re new. Or if you haven’t subscribed in a while, probably). Or you can get a WWE Network subscription card at Gamestop or 7-11 or Wal-Mart or Best Buy if you don’t feel like giving out your credit card number.
Note: as a word of caution, I can tell you that KOTR ’98 is one of the more gruesome shows in WWE history, so this might not be suitable for all members of the family.
As with other live blogs, we’re treating this deal as it is live. Unlike other live blogs, pics and GIFs are ok, but only in moderation. Don’t abuse it, as this post will have to be refreshed frequently.
Howzit? I’m Eddie Mac. Let’s watch some live retro wrestling.
- FIRST BLOOD MATCH FOR THE WWF CHAMPIONSHIP: Stone Cold Steve Austin [c] vs Kane (If Kane loses, he will set himself on fire.)
- KING OF THE RING SEMIFINAL: The Rock vs. Dan Severn
- KING OF THE RING SEMIFINAL: Jeff Jarrett vs. Ken Shamrock
- KING OF THE RING FINAL: Rock/Severn winner vs. Jarrett/Shamrock winner
- HELL IN A CELL MATCH: The Undertaker vs. Mankind
- Too Much (Scott Taylor & Brian Christopher) vs. Al Snow & Head (Jerry Lawler as special referee)
- X-Pac vs. Owen Hart
WWF Attitude intro thing.
Premonition and prophecy meets Austin 3:16 and Revelation. The WWF Championship first blood match. The Black Angel and the Descent of Mankind meet in Hell on Earth. Dear God, have mercy on their souls. Freddie Blassie's the best, ya'lls.
Super Soaker presents King of the Ring.
PYRO AND BALLYHOO! King of the Ring, June 28, 1998 from the Pittsburgh Civic Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 17,087 strong with 310,000 homes watching on PPV.
FUTURE EDDIE ALERT! In an indication of just how hot WWF was at the time, that is over 130,000 more buys than the 1997 edition, and more home buys than Wrestlemanias XI and XII. It's also about 100,000 more homes than the previous month's Over the Edge.
On the mic are Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler. And gas cans. Of course, the big stories are the Hell in a Cell match and the WWF title first blood match. Makes the King of the Ring, you know, the name of this here PPV, almost irrelevant. Onward!
Match 1: Taka Michinoku and the Headbangers defeat Kaientai in 6:44. First of two late additions to the card. Taka Michinoku Drivers Funaki to give the good guys the win. Make Taka look really, really strong, even if the division in which he is the champion of isn't. Hey, at least the crowd's awake, which is all you can ask.
Sable's back, everyone. She was fired, but then unfired. Yeah, not gonna try and hurt my head over it. Crowd loves them some Sable though. Anyway, she introduces Vince McMahon and the Stooges. Pat Patterson tries to feel Sable up for some reason and rightfully gets five across the face from her. McMahon disrespects the crowd (many of whom wanna see Kane get set on fire--including former heavyweight boxing champion Michael Moorer), even accusing them of lousy DNA syndrome. And it's their fault their life sucks. Time filler to fill time.
We get a look at the final four for the King of the Ring. The Rock (who defeated Vader and Triple H) will take on Dan Severn (who beat D-Lo Brown and Owen Hart, both by submission). On the opposite side, Ken Shamrock (who beat Kama Mustafa and Mark Henry) will face Jeff Jarrett (who beat Faarooq and Marc Mero). Semifinals now, winners meet later.
Match 2: Ken Shamrock defeated Jeff Jarrett by submission in 5:29 to advance to the King of the Ring final.Shamrock taps out Jeff Jarrett despite Ken coming into the bout with a bum ankle thanks to the Nation of Domination.
Live shot of outside the Pittsburgh Civic Center. Overcast skies and a wacky waving inflatable Undertaker. King of the Ring's sold out, by the way.
Match 3: The Rock defeated Dan Severn in 4:24 to advance to the King of the Ring final. In the first round, it was Severn that injured D-Lo's pectoral muscles, prompting Brown to wear a chest protector for a lot longer than necessary. Godfather distracts the referee, D-Lo frog splashes Severn with the chest protector, and The Rock by hook or crook defeats the NWA world champion. Granted that belt didn't mean much, but still, he beat an NWA world champion on PPV.
A recap of Al Snow trying to get re-hired in the WWF after an excursion over in ECW. Oh, and Al's companion Head. Anyway, Jerry Lawler said he'll hook up Al with a meeting with Vince if he could beat Too Much in a match. Oh, two things: Al Snow's partner is Head, and Lawler's the referee.
Match 4: Too Much defeat Al Snow and Head in 8:24. Snow hit the Snowplow on Taylor, but Lawler refuses to count, as Head is somehow legal. Lawler grabs a bottle of Head and Shoulders and Christopher covers Head with the bottle of Head and Shoulders. Because the Shoulders were down, you see.
Also, this match was eight and a half minutes. It's the longest on the show to this point.
Where's my slug?
A recap of X-Pac vs. Owen Hart as a part of the on-going war between the two surviving factions of the GANG RULZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ era: D-Generation X and The Nation.
Match 5: X-Pac defeated Owen Hart in 8:30. Good match. I mean, good outside of Mark Henry and Vader for some reason interfering. And Chyna. Small nugget: these two met at King of the Ring back in 1994, and even though it's only three and a half minutes, it's worth looking up if you got the time. But still, good match.
Here's Paul Bearer. He got beat up at his home by Undertaker last week. Paul talks about life at home, and it damn near contradicts the whole Undertaker-Kane storyline history (though that has been contradicted so many times, you'd think it was running for office or something). Anyway, Bearer's rooting for Kane.
Also, Paul Bearer is a bad father.
Match 6: The New Age Outlaws defeated The New Midnight Express in 9:34 to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship. The second of two bonus matches on the show. A match that happened. Also. Chyna nuts Jim Cornette. Probably would have been better served as following a later match on the card as a cooldown.
Hey, everyone, it's Triple H on commentary!
Match 7: Ken Shamrock defeated The Rock by submission in 14:09 to win the King of the Ring tournament. This essentially served as the blowoff match for a feud that lasted about nine or ten months. Shamrock could never get over the hump that was The Rock due to interference or his own issues. A cathartic victory for "The World's Most Dangerous Man".
Match 8: Undertaker vs. Mankind in a Hell in a Cell match. Gonna give a play-by-play of this one.
If this one is anything like the first Hell in a Cell on PPV (Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at Badd Blood the previous October), then Mankind is in for a long evening. Mankind out first, and he's got a chair with him... and he's throwing it on top of the cell for some reason. Oh, he's climbing it. Oh... ok. Undertaker out next and now we see the plan come to action. Mankind's not coming down. He wants the Undertaker up there with him.
"The pain that these two men are preparing to endure is inhuman," says JR.
Undertaker is happy to oblige, but it's a trap! Mankind tries to punch Taker off. It didn't work. So Mankind goes to Plan B: take out Taker with the chair.
As the two make their way to the other side of the cell, part of the ceiling gives way. Oh dear. This is a bad idea. Mind you, the two together weigh over 600 pounds. Mankind tries to suplex Undertaker, but the Deadman quickly counters and staggers Mankind. Then Undertaker grabs Mankind and just throws him off the cell. No, seriously. No big setup. Just grab and go.
"GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! THAT KILLED HIM!"
"Oh my God!"
"AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, HE IS BROKEN IN HALF!"
Mankind is down, and it is bad. He was just thrown some sixteen feet from the top of the cell all the way to the floor with only the Spanish announce table to break his fall. Lawler is declaring this thing over. Three replays show just how devastating that fall is. Mankind is somehow moving, but he is hurting something terrible right now. Terry Funk rushes to Mankind's aid, as does Francois Petit, the WWE's resident doctor.
Undertaker looks on from the edge of the cell. Another replay, this time in slow motion. Hundreds of hours of "learning how to fall" can't prepare you for a fall like that. Don't try that at home or anyone else's home or anywhere. Seriously. Don't do it. Just... don't. Some clown yells "finish the match", but it appears the match is done as the stretcher has come out. Even McMahon's despondent. I mean, we may have just witness the end of a career on PPV. Crowd chants for Undertaker. It appears the match has been stopped, and I'm guessing Undertaker is the winner. Undertaker climbs down as Mankind is being wheeled out...
Mankind is to his feet. Just stay on the stretcher, dude and let the doctors do their job. Mankind is... Mankind is going back. MANKIND IS GOING BACK... OH SHIT, MANKIND IS GOING BACK UP THE CELL! UNDERTAKER IS GOING BACK UP! I guess we're doing this.
Undertaker with a headbutt. Right hand. Undertaker has Mankind by the throat and chokeslam... THROUGH THE CELL.
"GOOD GOD! GOOD GOD!"
"That's it, he's dead."
"WILL SOMEBODY STOP THE DAMN MATCH? ENOUGH'S ENOUGH! THE POOR SON OF A... HE'S BROKEN IN HALF!"
Francois rushes back in with about a dozen officials. Undertaker comes down and the ring quickly clears out. Terry Funk tries to protect Mankind, but he gets chokeslammed too. Out of his shoes. Replay shows the chair came down on Mankind's face as he got chokeslammed. Undertaker going for his rope walk, but Mankind crotches Undertaker. Mankind smiles for a camera with a bloody mouth and... is that... is that a tooth up his nose? Eww.
Mankind forearms Taker from the apron to the cell. Both men are in excruciating pain at this point. Mankind can't even lift the steps; his left shoulder may be dislocated. Bad news for him as Undertaker can lift the steps and he batters Mankind on the bum arm. It's a matter of time before Undertaker puts this away as Mankind can barely defend himself...until Undertaker nearly necks himself with a suicide dive. Mankind somehow's able to dodge it, and the deranged one his going after the open wound of the Deadman. They're in hell, and they seem to like it in hell. Mankind with a spike piledriver to Undertaker on the steel chair. It gets a near fall. That was the first attempt by either man to win the match.
Mankind with a leg drop onto the chair on Undertaker's face, which by the way, is a bloody mess. Only two. Double arm DDT. Seriously, what is up Mankind's nose? How did it get there? Mankind retrieves a bag from under the ring. And there's thumbtacks in the bag. LOTS OF THUMBTACKS. Are you even serious right now? Mankind tries to knock Undertaker into the tacks, but Undertaker goozles Mankind. Guess what happens? Go on, guess.
No, actually Mankind counters. Taker with a boot, looking for a Tombstone, but it's countered into a Mandible Claw. Undertaker in trouble. Arm goes down twice, but not a third time. And Undertaker's carrying Mankind on his back... oh dear. Oh dear. OH SHITOHSHITOHSHIT... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Mankind is backdropped onto the thumbtacks! And Mankind rolls into the thumbtacks! And Undertaker chokeslams Mankind on the thumbtacks. Of course he does. Undertaker with a tombstone piledriver, and Undertaker wins it in 17:08. Get some help for these men right now. They once again get the stretcher for Mankind, but he insists on walking to the back.
A recap of how we got to the WWF title match, plus a pending conspiracy involving the Undertaker, Kane, and Mankind.
Match 9: Kane defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin in a first blood match at 14:52 to win the WWF Championship. Mankind and the Undertaker came out during the match (I have no idea how considering the hell they went through not even a half hour earlier). Austin fights off Mankind and Kane. Undertaker looks to nail Mankind, but hits Austin. The chairshot busts Austin open. It took a moment for referee Earl Hebner to realize it before he calls it. And when the announcement’s made, people are about ready to riot and start fires.
EDDIE MAC’S QUICK REVIEW
So… this was a show and a half, yeah? The King of the Ring final four was almost a complete afterthought coming into the show, and very much a footnote afterwards. The Hell in a Cell match set the bar for the stipulation’s matches that will never be surpassed. That match alone makes this show worth a watch. The only blatant filler on the show are the two promos and the bonus matches, but even they have their place, even if the latter one was better served as a cooldown between the two main events. But seriously, watch this show. 8 out of 10 from yours truly.
Also, Austin wins the title literally 24 hours later.
And who was screwing with the cell’s controls during the title match? Seriously. SERIOUSLY.
NOTE: No Live Retro Blog next week. Hell in a Cell weekend. Back in two weeks.