Torch Flashbacks RUMBLE FLASHBACK - 15 yrs. ago (01-18-98): Austin wins Rumble, HBK vs. Taker title match goes on last, Rock-Shamrock
Jan 18, 2013 - 11:34:12 AM
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WWE Royal Rumble Flashback - 15 years ago today
WWF ROYAL RUMBLE '98
When: January 18, 1998
Where: San Jose, Calif.
Attendance: 16,661 sellout ($414,373)
Report by Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
Originally Published in PWTorch Newsletter #476 available in the 1998 Torch Back-Issues for VIP members. Not VIP? Find out how to become a VIP member today and get access to over 1,000 Torch Newsletters right now. Click here - PWTorch.com/GoVIP.
(1) Vader pinned Goldust (w/Luna) at 7:51. Goldust was relatively conservative in his outfit, sporting blue hair, a body suit, and a gold g-string on the outside. Vader attacked Goldust at the start. Goldust retreated to ringside. Vader went after him and rammed him into the stairs. Goldust actually stopped short of the stairs and then noticeably propelled himself into the stairs to finish the bump. At 2:00 Luna distracted Vader giving Vader a chance to take over offense. At 2:22 Vader missed a sunset flip attempt. Action spilled to ringside where Goldust rammed Vader into the stairs. Luna choked Vader on the floor while Goldust distracted the referee. At 6:15 Goldust low-blowed Vader as he set up the Vaderbomb. Vader gave Goldust some legsweeps, but Goldust bumped too early making the moves look especially phony. Goldust went for a sunset flip, but Vader splashed down on him. Vader then set up the Vaderbomb to finish off Goldust. Luna jumped into the ring and onto the back of Vader. That didn't stop Vader who splashed Goldust with Luna on his back for the three count. Inventive finish, but sloppy, plodding, poorly timed action. Not either man's night. (3/4*)
Michael Cole tried to interview Steve Austin outside the arena as Austin arrived in his pick-up truck. Austin said he had nothing to say to Cole other than to park his truck and if he scratched it, he would get his ass whipped. No sooner did Austin disappear than the Godwinns showed up, demanding Cole tell them which direction Austin went. The storyline played throughout the rest of the PPV that various wrestlers whom Austin had given the Stunner to were looking to get revenge on him, but he kept avoiding them.
(2) Mosaic & Max Mini & Nova beat Battalion & Tarantula & El Torito at 7:44. The match consisted of largely good to spectacular spots by the minis, but the lack of crowd heat really hurt the match. There were a few ooohs and ahhs. It turned into a showcase for Jerry Lawler cracking one-liners about the size of the minis. Sunny was special referee and filled the match with her usual patronizing overacting, but doing her job of looking good doing it. She was supposed to do a leapfrog spot, but ended up not jumping high enough. Jim Ross's commentary was interesting in that he took two shots at Chris Candido, of all people. First he said Sunny likes to control the men in her life and second he said Sunny and Max may be an item because he's always heard she likes short guys. (**)
They showed NOD members at Austin's locker room door. Faarooq told Mark Henry that to prove he belonged in the NOD, he had to go beat up Austin. They entered the locker room, but found a foam 3:16 finger setting on a chair, but no Austin.
(3) Rocky Maivia beat Ken Shamrock via reversed decision at 10:36 so Rocky retained the Intercontinental Title. In a pre-match interview, Rocky talked about the Bill Clinton, Paula Jones situation. He said that when you lay down with a dog, you're gonna wake up with fleas. He added, "You gotta cover it up, Willie." A slow opening few minutes of wrestling. Ross talked about the WWF not being the "senior's tour" and that Rocky and Shamrock were the future of wrestling. Shamrock scored a near fall at 9:30. When Rocky kicked out, Shamrock gave a barbaric yelp. He hit a huracanrana at which point the NOD charged the ring. As the ref tried to get rid of the NOD, Rocky KO'd Shamrock with brass knuckles. When the ref turned around and began to count down Shamrock, Shamrock kicked out before three which popped the crowd. Shamrock then hit a belly-to-belly on Rocky and scored a three count to apparently win the IC belt. As Shamrock celebrated, Rocky told the ref to check tights. The ref checked and indeed found brass knuckles in Shamrock's trunks. Rocky had put them there without Shamrock's knowledge. Shamrock pleaded his innocence, and when that didn't get him anywhere, he gave the ref a suplex and anklelock. Three refs ran into the ring, then quickly bailed out when Shamrock looked their direction. Shamrock and Rocky showed that neither of them are at a point where they can carry a green opponent. Not especially good, although the finishing sequence was well executed. (**1/4)
They showed Mike Tyson and Shane McMahon chatting in a luxury suite watching the action in the ring below. A commercial aired for a three t-shirt deal with each of Mick Foley's three personas. It was cleverly placed during the PPV since it would be a storyline in the Royal Rumble later. They went backstage where Los Boricuas were looking for Austin. They went into a locker room and attacked a bald guy sitting on a chair. It turned out to be Skull or 8-Ball, so a brawl broke out between the DOA and Boricuas. Then a recap aired of the LOD vs. Outlaws feuds.
(4) The Legion of Doom beat The New Age Outlaws at 7:53 via DQ so the Outlaws retained the WWF Tag Team Titles. Outlaws came to the ring wearing Green Bay Packers jerseys taunting the Bay Area fans for the 49ers loss a week earlier. Road Dog has his extensions back, finally, looking like he did as Roadie. The LOD gave the same old, same old interview before the match. Speaking of hair, Hawk had yet to grow back the horn of hair on the side of his head that the Outlaws shaved. Bizarre. LOD went on early offense. At 4:45 the Outlaws took over offense and threw the LOD into the ringside stairs. At 5:45 Hawk double clotheslined the Outlaws. A minute later Road Dog handcuffed Hawk to the ringpost. The Outlaws then doubled on Animal, who managed to drop both Outlaws with a double clothesline. When Animal powerslammed Billy Gunn and covered him for a pin, Road Dog ran in with a chair for the DQ. The Outlaws double-teamed Animal, so Hawk got so frustrated that he ripped apart the handcuffs, broke free, and cleaned house. (*3/4)
(5) Steve Austin eliminated Rocky Maivia at 55:13 to win the Royal Rumble and earn a title shot at WrestleMania. Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk) were the first two entrants, so the partners ended up brawling with each other for the first "two minutes" (the time between draws throughout the match was usually between 1:30 and 1:45, actually). Funk pulled his mask back to reveal his face and told Cactus to give him his best shot with a chair. Cactus did. Then Cactus made the same offer to Funk, and Funk took him up on it. Tom Brandi came out third, but was quickly eliminated (1), so Cactus and Funk continued to fight each other. Rocky Maivia came out fourth and went after Funk. Cactus saved Funk with a trash can. Funk and Cactus put the trash can over Rocky's head and bashed him with a chair. They sent Rocky out of the ring through the ropes, not over. As Cactus celebrated, Funk came up from behind him and gave him a low-blow. Mosh came out fifth at 5:16, followed by Phinneous at 7:07 and 8-Ball at 8:50. At 9:20 Cactus flew at Funk, but Funk ducked and Cactus went over the top rope to be eliminated (2). Blackjack Bradshaw came out eighth, followed by Owen Hart. Jeff Jarrett and Jim Cornette attacked Owen from behind. They showed Tyson up in arms in the luxury box. Steve Blackman came out tenth.
D-Lo came out eleventh at 16:00. D-Lo and Rocky began to fight each other. Kurrgan then came out and quickly eliminated Mosh (3) at 18:40. Marc Mero (w/Sable) came out next as Kurrgan eliminated Blackman (4). Ken Shamrock came out fourteenth. He gave Kurrgan roundkicks to the leg and floored him with a jump reverse sidekick. Then several wrestlers ganged up on Kurrgan (5) and eliminated him at 21:48. Thrasher came out followed by Mankind (i.e. Cactus Jack in a new outfit, giving Foley two chances to win the Rumble). Mankind eliminated Charlie (6) at 25:20. Goldust (w/Luna) came out seventeenth and eliminated Mankind (7) at 27:46. Jeff Jarrett (w/Jim Cornette) then officially came out. Owen Hart then charged the ring, after having been missing since he was attacked from behind by Jarrett. Jarrett threw Owen over the top rope, but Owen skinned the cat back into the ring and eliminated Jarrett (8) at 30:05. Honky Tonk Man came out next, accompanied by Hunter and Chyna (HTM replaced the injured Hunter in the Rumble). Rocky eliminated Shamrock at 30:42. Chyna tried to hit Owen, but Owen grabbed her. Hunter then broke a crutch over Owen's back. Owen chased Hunter to the back, but the camera just caught him slipping and falling hard just as he entered the entranceway. A pretty funny blooper, assuming he wasn't hurt, of course. Ahmed Johnson came out as twentieth at 32:10.
Mark Henry came out next at 33:47 and went right after Ahmed. Ross, in a classic unintentional double-entendre, said as Mark Henry beat on Ahmed, "Mark Henry is handling the big Johnson." The twenty-second slot came up, but nobody came out. Henry and D-Lo eliminated Ahmed (11) at 36:01. Phinneous eliminated Henry (12) at 36:10. Ahmed and Phinneous fought to the back. Kama came out next, followed by Steve Austin. When Austin's music played, everyone in the Rumble looked his direction waiting for him to come out. He came at them from behind and quickly eliminated Mero (13) and 8-Ball (14). Henry Godwinn came out twenty-fifth at 41:00. Savio Vega was next, but was joined by the other three Los Boricuas. They attacked Austin four-on-one. Austin survived the attack. Faarooq came out next. Rocky and Austin brawled at ringside, including Rocky whipping Austin into the stairs and dropping him over the railing. Dude Love then came out, giving all three of Foley's personas a chance to win. Dude eliminated Bradshaw (15) at 46:32. The final two entrants were Chainz and Vader. Vader eliminated Honky Tonk Man. Austin then threw out three in a row -- Thrasher (16), Kane (17), and Savio Vega (18) within one minute. The ring cleared quickly as Goldust eliminated Vader (19), Dude eliminated Henry (20), Chainz eliminated Goldust (21), and Austin eliminated Chainz (22). That left Austin, Henry, Faarooq, and Dude Love as the final four. Henry (23) went out, then Faarooq eliminated Dude (24) at 54:18 and Rocky eliminated Faarooq (25) at 54:44. Austin and Rocky bad a brief exchange including one nice false finish that Rocky came back from, but Austin finished off Rocky (26) with the stunner at 55:13. They showed Tyson and Shane McMahon celebrating in the luxury suite.
Cole interviewed Tyson, who said he was thrilled "Cole Stone" won the Rumble because "nobody thought he could do it." He then predicted Michaels might beat Undertaker because he's a "young, up-and-coming tiger." At ringside Lawler buried his head in his hands after the interview.
(6) Shawn Michaels beat Undertaker in a casket match to retain the WWF Title at 20:40. Ross said that Michaels has held more different WWF Titles than anyone, including Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. As Michaels made his ring entrance, they showed Mike Tyson doing the crotch chop in the luxury box. The match began with fast action. Undertaker backdropped Michaels over the top rope and over the casket to the floor. Undertaker press slammed Michaels at ringside, and then dropped him into the casket. Michaels quickly escaped, since the match rules dictated the loser was the first to be knocked into the coffin and to have the lid closed on him. At 3:00 Undertaker missed an elbowdrop, but came back to walk the top rope and come off with a forearm. At 4:15 Michaels took a good flip bump into the corner turnbuckle, flying to the floor. Inside the ring Undertaker powerslammed Michaels, but there was no ref to count a pin since pinfalls didn't count. At 5:15 Undertaker dropped Michaels into the casket and almost closed it, but Michaels got his hand in the way of the lid closing on him. Michaels then threw powder at Undertaker. At 6:15 Michaels hit a moonsault bodyblock on Undertaker, clotheslined him over the top rope, and then brawled with him on the floor, ramming him into the post and whipping him into the stairs. Michaels then bashed Undertaker over the back with the top half of the ringside stairs. At 8:20 Michaels piledrove Undertaker on the bottom half of the stairs and fans applauded. Hunter hit Undertaker with a crutch. Ross said, "If Kane were here, this wouldn't be happening." At 11:00 Michaels put Undertaker in a casket, but Undertaker escaped. Michaels went to a sleeper at 11:45, but Undertaker backdropped out of it at 13:00. At 13:50 Michaels hit an elbowdrop. Ross said, "Nobody in the industry does it better than Michaels does." (Is Ross foreshadowing a Michaels-Randy Savage feud or just bragging up Michaels?) Michaels followed up with Chin Music and then rolled Undertaker into the casket. Rather than close the lid on Undertaker, Michaels stood over him and crotch chopped and taunted him. Undertaker reached up and grabbed Michaels in the crotch. Undertaker gave Michaels a boot to the face at 15:45, but missed a clothesline and his momentum caused him to roll into the casket (it looked forced, actually). Michaels dove off the top rope onto Undertaker in the casket in the move of the match. The lid closed with both men inside. Seconds later Michaels crawled out of the casket, and Undertaker reached out and grabbed Michaels's ankle. At 17:15 Undertaker chokeslammed Michaels and tombstoned him literally into the casket. Chyna then ran the referee into the stairs. Los Boricuas and the New Age Outlaws ran to the ring to attack Undertaker, preventing him from closing the lid. The lights in the arena went out and Kane came out. He cleared the ring of the Outlaws and Boricuas. Chyna and Hunter, meanwhile, dragged Michaels out of the casket. Kane paused in front of Undertaker, then attacked his "brother," turning heel after being a sorta babyface for a week or two. Kane chokeslammed Undertaker into the casket and Michaels closed the lid. Kane and Paul Bearer locked the lid. They rolled the casket toward the entranceway. Kane then took an axe to the lid of the casket and then poured gasoline on it and set it on fire. The PPV ended with the casket ablaze. Undertaker, in reality, slipped through the trap door on the floor (notice the ring was off-center in the arena) which was covered by a board and some tape underneath the casket). It was tough to live up to the Hell in the Cell standards. The match probably sounds better on paper than it was in reality. Not nearly a match of the year candidate, but good action and storyline. (***1/4)
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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
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He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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