WWE cancels shows; Edge's TV debut; WCW starts to kill Goldberg aura; 10 years ago in Observer



10 Years Ago This Week…. In the Wrestling Observer Newsletter

(June 16th – 22nd, 1998) #105

Dated: June 29th, 1998

By Stephen Lyon.

The Sneak Peek: Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker sidelined with injuries - WWF cancels house shows as a result….. New Japan announces creation of new tag team titles…… Jerry Lawler vs Kane (managed by Jim Cornette) headlines a Mid-South Coliseum show in Memphis…… WCW Monday Nitro features the first ever Bret Hart vs Chris Benoit singles match, plus Kevin Greene vs The Giant, and Steve McMichael vs Stevie Ray in an abysmal -*** match…… WWF Raw features Kane talking on tv for the first time (using an electronic voice box), Edge makes his WWF tv debut in his first match, Rock beats HHH clean in a KOTR quarter final match, and Kane gives Steve Austin a blood bath in final KOTR ppv hype. Plus much more.

The Big News: This issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter opened with the immortal paragraph: ‘A thought for the day. It took Steve McMichael 15 years of pro-football to play in something like 220 consecutive games. It took him less than ten minutes this past Monday night on Nitro in a match with Stevie Ray to mistime 220 consecutive moves’……..

With both Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker injured, and being just one week before the King of the Ring ppv, the WWF postponed weekend events scheduled for June 20th in Oklahoma City, June 21st in Tulsa, as well as June 27th in Boston. Austin was hospitalised on Friday night (June 19th) in Houston after his house show match against Mankind, due to a staph infection in his right elbow, which resulted in a high fever, peaking at 104 degrees, and he was hooked up to an IV and was hospitalised until Monday. Undertaker suffered an ankle injury, believed to be a cracked ankle with bone chips, doing an angle with Paul Bearer that was taped on June 16th and aired on the June 22nd Raw. Paul Bearer also suffered an ankle injury in the same angle, where Undertaker was destroying Bearer in what was supposed to be Bearer’s home, throwing furniture around. It was a ballsy move to postpone the shows, given that Oklahoma City had a $100,000 advance, and Tulsa was a sellout, because the top two stars were unavailable to appear. In the past, promotions would simply have gone ahead with the show with a new main event and weakened line up. However, WWF realised business was on fire, and didn’t want to hurt its future in several markets by presenting weaker cards. Both shows were rescheduled for September……...

In other news, New Japan announced the creation of a new IWGP junior heavyweight tag team championship at a press conference in Tokyo on June 19th. The press conference also hyped four major shows, three August shows on consecutive nights in Sumo Hall, headlined by the G-1 tournament, and an Osaka Dome show on August 8th………

MONDAY NIGHT RATINGS: WWF Raw Is War on June 22nd won the ratings battle once again this week, its fourth straight win, and fifth over the past five weeks. Raw drew a 4.27 rating, based on hours of 4.08 and 4.46. WCW Monday Nitro live drew a 4.10 rating, based on hours of 4.10, 3.98 and 4.23. Nitro won 2 of the 8 head-to-head quarter hour ratings periods this week, which were for a Bret Hart interview and Goldberg squash match, and a Hogan & company interview and Bret Hart vs Chris Benoit match. In a bad sign for WCW, the second lowest Nitro quarter hour rating of the night was for the heavily hyped Dennis Rodman & Karl Malone press conference footage, which was beaten by a Jeff Jarrett match…. It’s also worth noting that WCW Saturday Night this past week on June 20th did what was, at that point, its lowest rating in history – a 1.5. This also marked the first weekend in history where both WWF weekend shows, Live Wire (1.6) and Superstars (1.7) drew a higher rating than WCW Saturday Night.

HERE AND THERE: Randy Hales’ Memphis Power Pro Wrestling promotion drew an estimated 3,500 fans to the Mid-South Coliseum on June 23rd, in a show considered a major success. The show had lots of help from the WWF, who sent Kane, Jeff Jarrett, Road Dogg, Rock & Roll Express, New Midnight Express and Jim Cornette. It was expected that the WWF would start sending some wrestlers on developmental contracts to work as regulars in this territory. The main event was Jerry Lawler vs Kane. Kane was managed by Jim Cornette, as Paul Bearer was injured. Cornette cut a promo explaining that he’d rather be in Lawler’s corner, but that Bearer was his friend and asked him to manage Kane as a favour. The match ended when Kane was pounding on Lawler, and Stacy Carter (Lawler’s girlfriend) hit the ring and attacked Kane with her shoe. Kane barely sold the blow, and went to chokeslam Stacy, only for Lawler to throw a fireball at him. Kane then went crazy, chokeslamming both Cornette and the referee Bill Rush for the D.Q….. Also on the show, Jeff Jarrett pinned Billy Travis, and blasted Travis’ manager, Brandon Baxter with a guitar shot afterwards. Buddy Landell ran in, and Landell & Travis left Jarrett laying……. Brian Christopher pinned Road Dogg after a superkick…… Bill Dundee & Moondog Spot & King Mabel & Ashley Hudson (later known as ‘Ozzie Rooles’, Daffney’s boyfriend in WCW in mid-2000) & Jimmy Valiant beat Tracy Smothers & Tony Falk & Koko B. Ware & Master B & B.J. Awesome, when Spot pinned Falk…… Rock & Roll Express beat the New Midnight Express; and Jacqueline beat Derrick King in a match where, if King had won, Jacqueline would have had to have married him.

ECW: Both weekend shows were said to be pretty hot, with June 19th in York, P.A. drawing 1,000 fans, and June 20th in Northeastern Philadelphia drawing 1,800 fans. The latter show was a tv taping, where they filmed a few angles. Tommy Dreamer was mad about what happened to Beulah previously, and challenged one of the Dudleys to face him. All the Dudleys came out and attacked Dreamer, with the faces making the save. Later, Dreamer did an angle backstage where he slammed Sign Guy Dudley’s leg in a locker and slammed it on him. They also did something during a Sandman vs Bubba Ray Dudley match, when a plant posing as Beulah’s brother heckled Bubba, leading to Bubba attacking him.

WCW: Thunder live on June 18th was from the Core States Spectrum, Philadelphia, drawing a near sellout crowd of 14,436 fans, paying $216,265. Dave Meltzer wrote, ‘It was almost mind-boggling how bad the show was considering it was in Philadelphia, which has a certain brand of fans that want to see action and this show had almost nothing…’…. Show opened with Steve McMichael pinning Mike Enos with a tombstone piledriver in 3:31, most notable for ‘We want Flair’ chants and signs for Flair…….. Raven and Perry Saturn had another confrontation, with the Flock jumping Saturn and Kanyon making the save for him…… Fit Finlay pinned Brad Armstrong with a tombstone piledriver in 5:44 of a disappointing match....... The Giant (who came to the ring smoking a cigarette) pinned Disco Inferno in 57 seconds after a chokeslam…… Davey Boy Smith & Jim Neidhart defeated IWGP Tag Team Champions, Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan via D.Q. in 4:20, when Chono nailed Smith with a belt shot, after Smith had powerslammed Tenzan. This became something of an issue in Japan, as titles could change hands on a disqualification in Japan……. Rick Rude did an interview, regarding Goldberg facing Curt Hennig. The production was horrible, as they piped in fake ‘Goldberg’ chants, then stopped the tape mid-chant and the whole place went quiet……. Konnan pinned Alex Wright in 4:17……. Chris Benoit defeated Eddie Guerrero in 3:43 with the crossface. This was the best thing on the show, but was too short. Eddie was doing a losing streak gimmick, where he was despondent about being terrorised by his crazy nephew, Chavo Guerrero Jr. Another winner from the WCW bookers….. In a cartoonish streetfight, Public Enemy defeated Scotty Riggs & Sick Boy in 6:21, when Rocco Rock pinned Sick Boy. Yes, these guys had nearly double the length of time that Benoit and Guerrero had……. In the main event, Bill Goldberg pinned Ron ‘Reece’ Reis in 1:13 after a jackhammer. Most of the show had been built around the question as to whether Goldberg could jackhammer such a huge guy. It would have been an effective hook, except for the fact that Goldberg had already given the guy the jackhammer on at least two previous occasions on tv………

WCW Monday Nitro live on June 22nd was from Jacksonville, Florida, and drew a sellout crowd of 8,749 fans, paying $141,190. It was an overall weak show, with one very good match, and a lot of really bad wrestling. Show opened with Diamond Dallas Page doing a strong babyface interview…… Disco Inferno pinned Len Denton in 3:27 after a piledriver….. Kevin Greene cut a promo, trying to get over as a face in Jacksonville, which was hard as he played for the Carolina Panthers, who were rivals of the Jaguars. He mentioned he used to be a roommate of Bill Goldberg, during a Los Angeles Rams training camp in 1990. Curt Hennig & Rick Rude came out, distracting Greene by insulting him, whilst the Giant crept up behind Greene and attacked him. This set up Greene vs the Giant as the tv main event….. Yuji Nagata defeated Tokyo Magnum in 4:24 with the Nagata lock in a decent match….. Backstage, Stevie Ray jumped Chris Benoit……. Public Enemy beat Sick Boy & Horace in 8:17 of an unbelievably bad, -*1/2 match…….. They aired footage from an angle on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’, where DDP & Karl Malone had a confrontation with Hulk Hogan & Dennis Rodman, to build up their ppv match together……

WCW U.S. Champion, Bill Goldberg pinned Rick Fuller in 1:30. Meltzer wrote, ‘Someone desperately on this show needed to instruct the directors that when they are piping in fake Goldberg chants, not to show close ups of the crowd because when you hear all the loud chants and see that NOBODY in camera range is chanting, in this day and age people are going to pick up on it fast and the one thing they can’t afford now is for people to see Goldberg as this paper fraud. They already killed the winning streak gimmick as if you noticed, nobody in the stands cared about the number anymore because everyone knows it’s a work…’……. The NWO Wolfpac came out for a promo and said nothing. Sting challenged anyone in the back to face him and Nash in a tag team title match that night, and nobody came out to answer the challenge…… Alex Wright pinned Eddie Guerrero in 4:57, when Chavo Guerrero Jr distracted Eddie. Chavo then did what may have been the best interview on the show, regarding his feud with Eddie……. Konnan defeated Scotty Riggs in 4:47 with the Tequila Sunrise…….

In what Dave Meltzer described as possibly ‘the worst match of the year’, Steve McMichael defeated Stevie Ray via count out in 9:29 of a -*** match. Yes, negative three stars. Just mind-bogglingly awful. One missed spot after another. Finish came when Stevie Ray grabbed a chair from Dave Penzer. Chris Benoit ran in and grabbed the chair from Ray, before he could use it. Booker T ran out and took the chair off Benoit. Booker told Ray to leave, and Ray was counted out…….. NWO Hollywood came out for an interview, with Bischoff bragging that he put Savage on the shelf with a broken leg……. In their first ever singles match together, Bret Hart defeated Chris Benoit in 15:05 of a very good match. Finish was a little weak, as Stevie Ray came out and distracted Benoit, allowing Bret to K.O. him from behind with a foreign object. Hart placed Benoit on top of himself, then kicked out at two, before putting Benoit in the sharpshooter to win the match……… In the main event, Kevin Greene defeated The Giant via D.Q. in 1:14, when the entire NWO Hollywood faction ran in. Goldberg came out for the save and cleared the ring as the show ended………..

In other news, in a crazy story, someone played a sick practical joke on Bret Hart at the Great American Bash ppv show the previous week. Somebody called an unlisted number at the Baltimore Arena box office, and left a message, claiming to be Bruce Hart, and saying that Stu Hart, Bret’s father, had passed away. The person who pretended to be Bruce Hart used very specific details that only a real insider would know. Eric Bischoff and J.J. Dillon believed the caller, and as Hart was going over the plans for the tag team match with Hogan, Savage and Piper, Bischoff & Dillon pulled Bret away and gave him the ‘bad news’. Bischoff told Hart he didn’t have to do the match, that he’d charter him a flight home immediately, and that any wrestler on the card who was close with Hart could leave with him as well. A few minutes later, Dillon called the Hart family home and discovered that Stu Hart was alive and well. Bischoff felt horrible about telling Hart the ‘bad news’ before checking it, and he again told Hart that he didn’t have to wrestle if he didn’t want to. Hart forgave Bischoff straight away, as he saw from the wording of the message left for him that it was a very convincing hoax. Police were called in to investigate the incident…….

WCW jobber, ‘Hardwork’ Bobby Walker filed a $5million racial discrimination lawsuit against WCW in Fulton County Superior Court in Georgia. In the lawsuit, Walker (nephew of former wrestling star and Atlanta racial activist, Thunderbolt Patterson) claimed that he was hired by WCW as a token black, and was scripted to lose all of his matches. He claimed that his white opponents were all told to make him look bad in the ring, said that he was told he’d never be scripted to win a championship, and that if he complained about it that he’d be fired. He claimed that he was paid far less than other white performers (citing Ric Flair, of all people, as an example). It was thought that ‘rarely-seen WCW manager’, Teddy Long might become a key ally of Walker in the lawsuit, if Long’s WCW contract wasn’t renewed when it expired in mid-August. Dave Meltzer commented that in his opinion, the only racial discrimination in this case would have been if Walker had been pushed to the top…….. Latest on the Ric Flair situation was that his legal team were still trying to get him out of his WCW contract, so that he could sign with the WWF. The belief was that there would be a court hearing in August in Charlotte, regarding whether Flair’s WCW deal was valid or not. It was noted that the wording in the lawsuit stated that Flair’s role in WCW was downplayed to ‘satisfy demands by, and commitments to, other wrestlers, including Terry Bollea’……… Bryan Clark (Wrath) was expected back soon, with a new gimmick….. In an interview with a Jewish weekly magazine in New York, Goldberg claimed that all of his matches were ‘real’.

WWF: Raw Is War on June 22nd (taped on June 16th) was from Austin, Texas, and drew 10,891 fans paying $200,005. Maybe HHH contributed the five bucks. Show opened with Vince McMahon interviewing Kane. Yes, Kane finally spoke for the first ever on WWF tv. Kane used an electronic voice box, which he pressed against the side of his throat to speak. The end result was a Stephen Hawking-esque sounding voice. The Russo back story was that the dreaded family fire that had burnt Kane had also damaged his voicebox beyond repair. Vince announced that Kane’s match with Austin at the King of the Ring ppv would be a ‘First Blood’ match, and that if Kane lost, he ‘guaran-damn-teed’ that Kane would ‘set himself on fire and breathe his last’. Now that’s what you call pressure. Couldn’t Vince just fire him for losing, like he did to Foley after the last ppv (sort of), rather than encouraging Kane to commit suicide?…… In the first of four King of the Ring quarter final matches on this show, Ken Shamrock pinned Mark Henry after a belly-to-belly suplex, largely because Vader ran to ringside and clobbered Henry outside the ring. Match was bad, due to Henry’s limitations…… X-Pac beat Dustin Runnels in 5:31, pinning him after Chyna had distracted the referee. Runnels sold the entire match for X-Pac. As per Runnels new religious gimmick, he prayed on his knees in the ring before and after the match…….

Al Snow came out dressed as an old lady, with Head wearing Jerry Lawler’s stolen crown, for a confrontation with Lawler. Dave Meltzer commented that Lawler, facially, was really starting to show his age (which at this point was 48). Nothing really happened here, this was just setting up Snow & Head vs Too Much, with Lawler as special referee, at the KOTR ppv…… In the second King of the Ring quarter final match, Jeff Jarrett defeated Marc Mero in 4:31, when Sable came out and distracted Mero…….. Kane destroyed Road Dogg in 4:09 with the tombstone piledriver. Road Dogg used a low blow on Kane, which Kane no-sold, prompting Lawler to comment that Kane had ‘titanium testicles’……. Paul Bearer did an interview ‘via satellite from his home’, where he was recuperating from his recent injuries. Undertaker broke into his home and attacked him, as the satellite feed cut out. Both Taker and Bearer ended up sustaining legitimate ankle injuries during the taping of this angle, such was the realistic nature of the violence……. In his WWF tv debut match, Edge defeated Jose Estrada Jr via count out in 1:07. About 45 seconds into the match, Edge did a running flip dive on to Estrada and legitimately landed on him wrong, and Estrada’s neck went out. Estrada ended up being stretchered out and was hospitalised overnight with a pinched nerve in his neck…….

In the third King of the Ring quarter final match, Dan Severn beat Owen Hart in 2:59, when X-Pac whacked Hart in the back of the head with a stiff chairshot, so stiff that it busted him wide open. This was quite the show for guys suffering real injuries, as Hart was added to that list with a wound in the back of his head that needed seven staples to be closed……. In the final King of the Ring quarter final match, The Rock pinned HHH shockingly clean in 8:07 of an average match. Chyna interfered, giving Rock a DDT at one point, but he still kicked out of a pinfall attempt. HHH tried to use a pedigree, but Rock gave him a low blow, before pinning him after a fisherman suplex…….. Mankind did a very good interview, saying that he’d never forgive Undertaker for costing him the WWF title and attacking Paul Bearer, and he promised ‘a big surprise’ at the KOTR ppv…….. Mankind then beat Billy Gunn in 5:39 with the mandible claw in an average match……. Show ended with Stone Cold Steve Austin cutting a promo and challenging Kane to come out, with Kane eventually coming out, but Austin receiving a ‘blood bath’, in which a ton of red liquid fell on Austin from the ceiling, signifying that Austin would lose the ‘first blood’ match at the KOTR ppv this weekend.

In other news, WWF were all set to start taping the new ‘WWF SuperAstros’ tv show for Univision. It would be a 30 minute weekly show, hosted by Spanish-speaking announcers, Hugo Savinovich and Carlos Cabrera, with matches featuring Latino wrestlers, taped before Raw at the tv tapings. The shows were set to be built around Papi Chulo, Pantera and the minis already under contract…… On the injury list were Pierre Oulette (knee injury), Phinneus Godwinn (intestinal infection) and Luna Vachon (food poisoning)……. Shawn Michaels was at a WWF tv taping for the first since Wrestlemania 14, when he attended the June 15th tv taping in San Antonio. It was said that he mentally appeared to be in a better shape than in a long time. He had cut his hair. He was able to sit down and stand upright for extended periods of time without pain, which was a big improvement. Michaels didn’t want to have any back surgery to fuse discs in his back, instead wanting to rest and rehab. There was no idea at this point as to when he would return to action, although WWF were hopeful he’d be back by the Royal Rumble ppv. He left before the tv taping started………… Steven Regal was slated to start on Raw next week…… Steve ‘Dr Death’ Williams would be starting soon, but they were hoping to tape vignettes with people like Bill Watts and Barry Switzer to build up his debut as a big deal….. Pressure was being placed on Vader, Jose Estrada Jr, Faarooq, Dustin Runnels and Mark Henry to all lose weight…….. Dave Meltzer wrote the following:

“There have been some reports going around… about the WWF being interested in buying the Minnesota Vikings. There has been, to the best of my knowledge, no mainstream media reports on this…. What we do know is that at a company meeting on June 12th, McMahon told some of the higher-ups he was interested. One would think the Vikings, since they’d go for a few hundred million, would be way out of McMahon’s league, although McMahon could head a group of investors. Officially, the word from Titan is only to the extent that there has been dialogue…..’

On the weekend tv, WWF Shotgun Saturday Night on June 27th (taped on June 16th at the Raw taping) saw Darren Drozdov defeat Shawn Summers….. Val Venis beat Trench Phillips….. LOD 2000 beat the New Midnight Express….. In the main event, Terry Funk & Bradshaw & Dustin Runnels defeated Jerry Lawler & Too Much, when Bradshaw pinned Christopher.

TV Ratings for the week:

WWF Raw Is War did a 4.27 rating (4.08 first hour, 4.46 second hour) (USA, 9pm to 11pm).

WCW Monday Nitro live did a 4.10 rating (4.10 first hour, 3.98 second hour, 4.23 third hour) (TNT, 8pm to 11pm).

WCW Saturday Night did a 1.5 rating (TBS, 6pm to 8pm).

WCW Thunder did a 3.58 rating on Thursday, June 18th on TBS, 8pm to 10pm. WWF Superstars did a 1.7 (Sundays on USA, 11am to 12noon).

WWF Live Wire did a 1.6 (Saturdays on USA, 10am to 11am).

Upcoming Ten Years Ago Issues:

- Mick Foley’s career match: takes big bumps off and through the Hell in a Cell cage versus the Undertaker; Full WWF King of the Ring ppv coverage (gets 97% thumbs up from Observer readers in post show poll); Two WWF world title changes; Raw draws massive ratings and annihilates Nitro; A terrible Nitro features the disastrous, shortlived ‘Eric Bischoff chatshow’ (‘Tonight Show’ spoof), complete with purpose-built $70,000 set; Raw features Steven Regal’s in-ring debut, the start of the Brawl-For-All shoot tournament, and Paul Ellering returning, as DOA’s manager. Plus much more. (issue dated July 6th, 1998).

- Bill Goldberg wins the WCW World title, in front of more than 41,000 fans at the famous Nitro event at the Georgia Dome, beating Raw in the head-to-head ratings for the first time in five weeks; WWF’s Brawl-For-All shootfights on Raw are much talked about; On Raw, DX spoof the Nation in a hilarious skit. Plus much more. (issue dated July 13th, 1998).

- WCW pays Dennis Rodman $750,000 to fall asleep during a tag team match live on ppv – Full WCW Bash at the Beach ppv coverage, featuring Hogan & Rodman vs DDP & Karl Malone; WWF cancels a Boston outdoor stadium show due to a poor advance; More WWF Brawl-For-All craziness, including a suspicious looking Bart Gunn vs Bob Holly shootfight; On Nitro, the first week of Goldberg’s world title reign features the show being built around Hulk Hogan, plus Bret Hart vs Fit Finlay, Chavo Guerrero Jr debuting Pepe the hobby horse, and Hogan vs Scott Hall and Goldberg vs Curt Hennig; Raw features the return and debut of Shawn Michaels as a new color commentator with J.R. and Lawler (that was shortlived), Val Venis sleeps with Mr Yamaguchi-san’s wife, and Mankind & Kane win the tag team titles. Plus much more. (issue dated July 20th, 1998).

- WCW books Jay Leno to main event the Road Wild ppv in August; Akira Maeda retires (career retrospective article); Stone Cold Steve Austin powered WWF Raw to huge ratings win; The Rock & Giant Silva wrestled in Memphis; Jake Roberts was jailed; Riot takes place at an ECW show in Staten Island; WCW Nitro features Scott Hall & The Giant winning the tag team titles, and Bret Hart vs DDP; WWF Raw features D-Lo Brown beating HHH to win the European title, Steve Williams destroys Pierre Oulette in a Brawl-For-All fight, and Rock vs X-Pac. Plus much more. (issue dated July 27th, 1998).

Closing thoughts:

I hope you enjoyed this week’s column. As always your questions, comments and thoughts are always welcomed, and you can contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Until next week, have a good week. Viva la merger~!

Stephen Lyon,

St Helens, England, U.K. {plug}


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