Retro Review: WWE Judgment Day 1998

Judgment Day 1998 - Kane vs Steve Austin vs Undertaker

I really enjoy the booking of this era in the WWF when it comes to major storyline stuff. The Undertaker/Kane story gets intertwined into the story of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon rather well.

At last month’s PPV, Kane and Undertaker double pinned Austin. Vince held the belt up the next night. This of course leads to the scene of Austin driving out the zamboni and jumping on McMahon. Taker and Kane then break the ankle of Vince in the storyline as well. This also leads us to Austin in the hospital as well. Just great scenes throughout.

Vince told Austin that he has to raise the hand of the winner of the WWF title match or he would be fired. I’m pretty sure this is my favorite time frame of the Austin/McMahon story.

Al Snow vs Marvelous Marc Mero w/Jacqueline

Al Snow is still kind of the Al Snow we saw at this point in ECW. They haven’t ruined it yet. Marc Mero is no longer with Sable, so that means his days in the WWF are numbered. Jeff Jarrett’s music hits. Just what I needed. He tries to get his way into the match because Snow cost Jarrett a match on Sunday Night Heat, exactly where Jarrett belongs. Mero lands a cheap shot and the match starts.

JR asks Lawler “What you don’t like head?” and somehow Lawler did not come back with a smart response. He only says he doesn’t like anything that involves Al Snow. Mero walks over to the head and goes to kick it but Snow stops him with a rollup for two. I liked the Al Snow/Head gimmick but other wrestlers acting like it had some mythical powers was weird.

Snow hits a moonsault but because he is a babyface, gets distracted by Jacqueline on the apron. Mero hits a low blow and DDT for two. In the upper deck I noticed a giant “D-Lo Sux” banner. How were those fans not ejected from the building for such an offensive sign?

Mero catches the leg of Snow but Snow hits an enziguri. Mero misses a shooting star press then goes for the TKO, but Snow escapes and hits the Snowplow for the win. The crowd liked Snow, that’s the best I got for you on this one.

We get a replay of Stone Cold arriving on Heat and being forced to go into the referee’s locker rrom.

The Disciples of Apocalypse and Paul Ellering vs The Legion of Doom and Droz

There are so many things wrong with this match before the bell even rings. Ellering with the DOA. Animal and Hawk with full heads of hair. Droz in the LOD. An awful version of the LOD theme playing. Not the traditional red spike pads. The fact that we are talking about Hawk admitting he has a problem and how it is the start of using his real life alcoholism as part of a storyline.

The heels get Droz trapped in their corner and start working him over. They keep talking about Hawk being an alternate on LOD now. Hawk gets the hot tag and goes to work. All hell breaks loose. Hawk hits the Doomsday Device but Droz comes in and makes the pin for the win. How is that legal if Hawk was the legal man?

Light Heavyweight Championship: Taka Michinoku (c) w/Yamiguchi Son vs Christian w/Gangrel

Christian is a vampire. Or possessed by the vampire Gangrel. I don’t know. If he is a vampire shouldn’t he still be one to this day? Someone ask Christian about it. At least we get that banging Gangrel theme. Taka is in Kaientai at this point so he is a joke. Christian also wrestling in a big puffy white shirt. That has to suck. We cut to Edge in the crowd watching the match as we found out a few weeks ago that Edge and Christian are brothers.

JR talks about the athleticism of the light heavyweights and how he would like to see more of them. Too bad your boss doesn’t want that. Taka charges at Christian but Christian ducks and Taka FLIES over the top. Like calm down buddy don’t kill yourself.

The problem here is that this match is a WWF style match, not a cruiserweight match. That is why the cruiserweight/light heavyweight/205 Live stuff never gets over in the company. Taka finally hits a nice springboard moonsault to the outside. Taka hits a tornado DDT and goes for the Michinoku Driver but Christian awkwardly reverses it and gets the pin for the win. Crowd was dead for most of it.

Val Venis w/Terri vs Goldust

So this is after the whole angle where Goldust became a crazy Marilyn Manson type gimmick and started pretending to be a preacher and said “He is coming back” and what not. Val started sleeping with Terri. And Dustin came back as the regular Goldust which people loved. Goldust interrupts Val’s usual schtick and gets a good pop coming to the ring.

Val hits a nice crossbody to the floor on Goldust. But the crowd completely loses interest after that. Mostly because the match is slowed down to a mat match in the ring. The video package before this hyped this up as a grudge match with heat but they aren’t wrestling like that. A match should really be dictated by how much the two wrestlers hate each other.

After Goldust goes into the post Val starts to work over the arm FOREVER. This kills the crowd after an early Goldust chant to try and get him back in it. Goldust eventually gets out of it. He hits a superplex for two but then Val applies a sleeper and kills the crowd again.

Goldust’s left glove casually flies off and we see he is wearing his wedding ring still. Terri gets on the apron and starts yelling at Goldust. Val charges but Goldust moves, then Goldust low blows Val and pins him for the win. They killed the crowd with way too many rest holds in that match.

We see Triple H getting attacked by Ken Shamrock on Heat. Triple H had to give up the title to Shamrock because of a knee injury, which was legit. Michael Cole says he was taken to the local hospital. So we still said that in 1998.

WWF European Championship: D-Lo Brown (c) vs X-Pac w/Chyna

The greatest European Champion of all time, D-Lo Brown, now resides in Milan, Italy. What a true Champion of his continent. This might be the most lively I have heard the crowd all night so far. JR says the WWF has high hopes for both of these men in the future.

The Nation is pretty much done at this point. That is evident later tonight when Rock and Mark Henry fight. X-Pac goes for the Bronco Buster but D-Lo gets his foot up and X-Pac goes right into it which causes Lawler to lose it. D-Lo hits a nice powerbomb and the pro D-Lo contingent starts to be heard. They realize what a truly great Champion he is.

D-Lo misses a leg drop off the top. X-Pac starts a comeback and this time connects on the Bronco Buster. Chyna decks D-Lo but then accidentally runs into the ref. Mark Henry comes out and distracts Chyna, allowing D-Lo to hit X-Pac with he European title but he only gets two. D-Lo hits a powerbomb for two. He goes to the top but X-Pac catches him coming off the top with the facebuster for the win. New European Champion. Match was the most heated the crowd was all night.

WWF Tag Team Championship: New Age Outlaws (c) vs The Headbangers

Okay now the crowd is fully alive as the Outlaws come out. Before the match the Headbangers cut a promo about the Outlaws doing the J.O.B. on PPV. The Headbangers interrupt the Outlaws during their intro.

Headbangers beat down Road Dogg until we get the classic Billy Gunn hot tag. That is until Thrasher pulls the rope down on Billy Gunn and he tumbles to the outside. This now allows the Headbangers to work over Billy Gunn. I am never a fan of two straight heat spots in a tag team match. At some point you have to give the faces some offense. Though to be fair the crowd is into the comeback hope.

Road Dogg finally ends the match by getting a boombox (look it up kids) and smashes Thrasher with it. The Headbangers win via DQ. What the hell was that? The Headbangers, the heels, are in control all match then the Outlaws, the faces, take the cheap way out.

WWF Intercontinental Championship: Ken Shamrock (c) vs Mankind

I don’t know why but I always find it weird looking back and seeing the Mankind character challenge for the IC title. I can’t explain it. Shamrock keeps things grounded early on. They go to the outside and Shamrock just cranes Mankind with two chair shots to the head. Man the fact that he is in store for more of those in the coming months is scary.

By the way for some reason those are not DQs. And I find it hilarious that Shamrock goes to a WRIST LOCK after two awful chair shots to the head. Mankind eventually gets out of it with a DDT. Mankind gets Shamrock in the tree of woe and hits a running axe handle then clotheslines Shamrock over the top.

Mankind hits a running elbow off the apron. He waits for Shamrock to get up and charges, but Shamrock catches him and powerslams Mankind, with Mankind’s left ankle landing right on the steps. I am not sure if that was planned, but it looked painful. I think it might have as Shamrock goes right to the ankle lock inside the ring. Mankind starts pulling out his hair then applies the Mandible Claw to himself. This causes Mankind to pass out and lose.

So Shamrock is pissed. Who cares? He lost. And why did they announce what move cost Mankind the match? Shamrock hits a belly-to-belly on Mike Chioda. These booking decisions are hurting my brain. As Shamrock scares off the refs, Mankind is able to apply Socko.

Michael Cole is looking to interview Vince, but Big Boss Man threatens to shove his big black nightstick up Cole’s ass.

The Rock vs Mark Henry

Mark Henry has a sexual harassment suit currently against Chyna. He then gives this awful promo trying to win over the affections of Chyna and he says it with zero conviction. Rock comes out to a pop and was slowly getting over at this point. He finally found his confidence in his promo work and the crowd responded.

Henry gets some early offense but Rock quickly catches Henry with a DDT then bodyslams Henry. Rock hits the People’s Elbow then goes for the Rock Bottom but D-Lo comes out. D-Lo escapes then Henry clotheslines Rock and hits a big splash for the win as D-Lo holds down Rock’s feet. Short match, weird to have Rock lose even with interference there.

WWF Championship: Kane vs The Undertaker w/Stone Cold Steve Austin as Special Referee

I love Taker’s entrance here. JR hyping up the title gives the match a big fight feel as well. Austin comes out to the biggest pop of the night and flips off both men before calling for the bell. Taker hits Old School within the first two minutes of the match which has to be some kind of record.

You can tell it is tough for Taker to move around in this match. He was dealing with some nagging injuries at the time. Taker goes for a pin on Kane but Austin doesn’t count. Kane then goes for a pin and Austin does a quick count. Kane and Taker pretty much blow the same up and over spot twice and try to cover it up. Taker starts to chop down Kane and work over his legs. Yawwwnnnn. The crowd chants for Austin during all of this.

What they should have done during these spots is have Austin sit on the corner and drink beer the entire time. That would make this snooze fest entertaining. Taker keeps going from rest hold to rest hold and it is sleep inducing. Maybe they should have had Austin fall asleep in the corner too. Taker charges at Kane in the corner and Kane catches him and hits a spinebuster. Finally this dull period is over.

Kane Irish whips Taker into Austin in the corner, then chokeslams Austin. Taker and Kane work over Austin until he is out. Kane takes out Taker as Paul Bearer comes to the ring. Bearer tells Kane, who we now know is Bearer’s son, he will take care of Taker. But Bearer hits Kane. Kane backs Bearer into the corner, but then turns right around into a Taker chair shot to the head.

Austin refuses to count the cover for Taker. Austin then hits a Stunner on Taker and a chair shot. He counts both men down and declares himself the winner. Austin calls Vince out to come and fire him but Vince does not come out, so Austin decided to go look for Vince himself. Austin can’t find Vince anywhere backstage.

Austin comes back to the ring and we see Vince is in a little suite behind some plexiglass. Vince says he does have the balls to fire Austin, and then goes ahead and fires him. He doesn’t have the same tone in his voice when he would fire people later in life. Of course, Austin is back the next night.

Very forgettable show. It was all built up to a storyline at the end of the night. The wrestling was terrible and the booking of the finishes left a lot of head scratching.