'WWE Vintage Collection’ TV Report #270 – August 4th, 2013
Shown on Sky Sports in the U.K.
By Stephen Lyon.
This week's theme: Celebrating the 15th anniversary of the start of WWF Sunday Night Heat, which first aired on August 2nd, 1998. All the matches were from the early years of Heat this week. Main event was Mankind vs The Rock vs Big Bossman vs Ken Shamrock in a Fatal Four Way match (December 1998). Other matches saw: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs D-Lo Brown (October 1998); Edge vs Jeff Jarrett (First ever match on Heat, August 1998); Undertaker & Kane vs Skull & Eight Ball (September 1998); Gillberg vs Essa Rios for the WWF Light Heavyweight title (Debut of Lita, February 2000); and Val Venis & Stevie Richards vs The Head Bangers (April 2000).
Very fun show this week, bringing back great memories for Attitude era fans, and focusing on an often overlooked part of how WWF won the Monday Night Wars.
In its' early days, Sunday Night Heat was incredibly useful for WWE, in being able to hype the following nights' Raw, in the big Monday Night Wars battle with WCW, plus once a month airing live immediately before a pay-per-view event and acting as a high profile one hour pre-game show. The show drew very high ratings during its' 1998-1999 peak years, with its highest rating being a 5.1 rating (incredible when you think about it) for the March 7th, 1999 show, which - coupled with a 6.46 rating for the following night's Raw - prompted Dave Meltzer to declare in the following week's March 15, 1999 Wrestling Observer Newsletter lead story that '....The Monday Night Wars can officially be declared as over... due to the WWF's incredible success.....'.
Show was hosted by Gene Okerlund & Renee Young.
1) Edge defeated Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee in his corner). This match aired on the inaugural edition of 'WWF Sunday Night Heat' aired on August 2nd, 1998, taped in Anaheim, California on July 27th, 1998. Announcers for this match were Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler & Shane McMahon. This was the initial push of Shane on WWF tv, as a lively, motormouth, kind-of-babyface announcer. He was accompanied at the broadcast table by two lingerie models, who were said to be 'friends of his'. Jarrett jumped Edge before the match and pulled his trenchcoat over his head before pummelling him. Jarrett dominated Edge during this short tv match, connecting with a crossbody block off the top and a DDT for near falls. Edge made a comeback, connecting with several suplexes and an atomic drop. Finish saw Tennessee Lee (former Colonel Robert Parker in WCW - Robert Fuller), trip Jarrett by accident, leading to Edge scoring the pin. They were in the process of breaking up the Jarrett/Lee pairing, and Jarrett would lose a hair vs hair match vs X-Pac a few weeks later, leading to his repackaging.
2) The Undertaker & Kane defeated Skull & Eight-Ball (w/Paul Ellering in their corner). This match aired on the September 20th, 1998 edition of 'WWF Sunday Night Heat', taped in Sacramento, California on September 15th, 1998. Rather bizarrely, the announce team for this match was Vince & Shane McMahon, and Jim Cornette, with Cornette handling the play-by-play role. Shane welcomed Vince, who had walked Taker & Kane to the ring, to the announce booth and said it great it was for him to be out here with him, and the first line Cornette said was, "The wait it's going for me lately, it's nice for me to be out here with anyone". This was a battle of the big buys, as Vince hyped the Austin vs Taker vs Kane ppv main event taking place the following week. Kane used a top rope clothesline on Eight Ball. Taker brawled with Skull on the outside. Eight Ball gave Kane a piledriver, but Kane completely no-sold it and instead gave Eight Ball a tombstone piledriver for the pinfall win.
3) Val Venis & Stevie Richards defeated The Head Bangers. This match aired on the April 9th, 2000 edition of 'WWF Sunday Night Heat', taped in San Jose, California on April 4th, 2000. Announcers for this match were Kevin Kelly & Michael Hayes. In the WWE Studios before the match, Gene Okerlund noted that Val Venis holds the record as the wrestler who made the most appearances during the show's 513 episode run. Stevie Richards had a goofy role here where he was mimicking a different wrestler each week, and here is mimicked his tag team partner Val Venis. Richards had his own towel around his waste and did a gyration in the ring before the match. As he went to remove the towel, he realised he'd 'forgot to put his trunks on', so Val sent him to the back to get fully dressed. Val started the match, with Richards returning quickly, wearing Venis style trunks with a big V on the front and back of them. Head Bangers built heat on Richards (whom the announcers, particularly Hayes, buried on commentary as a goof), with Val making the hot tag. Bangers had Venis pinned after a double flapjack spot, only for Richards to make the save. Finish saw Venis pin Mosh with the Moneyshot. Richards celebrated wildly afterwards, whilst Venis wanted nothing to do with him.
4) Essa Rios (w/Lita in his corner) defeated Gillberg to win the WWF Light Heavyweight title. This match aired on the February 13th, 2000 edition of 'WWF Sunday Night Heat', taped in Austin, Texas on February 8th, 2000. Announcers for this match were Kevin Kelly & Michael Cole. Gillberg did mic work before the match, saying that he'd been the Light Heavyweight Champion for 15 months and challenging anyone in the back to a title match. Out came Essa Rios and Lita. The announcers noted Rios was formerly known as Papi Chulo, but had no idea who Lita was. Rios won the match and title in 46 seconds, after using a top rope moonsault. After the match, Lita climbed the ropes and delivered an identical moonsault, which wowed everyone. Rios & Lita as a pairing didn't last long, as Lita was soon moved to a much higher profile role, linking her with the Hardy Boys.
5) Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated D-Lo Brown (w/Mark Henry in his corner). This match aired on the October 11th, 1998 edition of 'WWF Sunday Night Heat', taped in East Lansing, Michigan on September 29th, 1998. Announcers for this match were Shane McMahon & Jim Cornette. This was a short match, with Austin jumped D-Lo before the match and engaged in a quick brawl with him. After several suplexes, Austin soon hit the stunner to score the pinfall win. After the match, Mark Henry hit the ring, only for Austin to stun him too. Austin teased going after Shane at ringside, with Shane shying away from any confrontation.
Next came a Rock interview, from the July 11th, 1999 live edition of WWF Sunday Night Heat, in which he delivered one of his more famous promos, the 'Billy Gunn prayer to God' promo. Classic Rock.
6) WWF Champion, The Rock (w/WWF Commissioner, Shawn Michaels in his corner) defeated Mankind, Big Boss Man and Ken Shamrock in a Fatal Four Way match. This aired on the December 20th, 1998 edition of 'WWF Sunday Night Heat', taped in Tacoma, Washington on December 14th, 1998. Announcers for this match were Kevin Kelly & Shane McMahon. This was billed as a fatal four way match, but was essentially as handicap match, as Rock, Shamrock, Bossman and Michaels all came out together as part of the Corporation. Each took turns beating up Mankind, as Vince McMahon & Test were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Mankind applied the mandible claw on Boss Man and was about to win, only for Rock to crotch Mankind on the post. Vince and Test came out. The referee was distracted, allowing Boss Man to slide a chair into the ring, for Rock to give Mankind a Rock Bottom on to a chair, then deliver the Corporate Elbow to score the win. After the match, with all of the Corporation in the ring, Vince pulled out a black sock with a white face drawn on it, and rammed it down Mankind's throat, as Shane on commentary yelled about it being the Corporate Socko. Triple H, X-Pac, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn all ran out for the save for Mankind, clearing the ring.
Closing thoughts: Whilst featuring no top drawer matches, this brought back a lot of memories. Austin vs Brown was probably best match on this show, whilst Taker & Kane vs Skull & Eight Ball was entertaining solely due to the surrealness of Cornette & the McMahons providing commentary together.
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1) Edge defeated Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee in his corner) ('WWF Sunday Night Heat' - Anaheim, California: taped on 27/07/98, aired on 02/08/98).
2) The Undertaker & Kane defeated Skull & Eight-Ball (w/Paul Ellering in their corner) ('WWF Sunday Night Heat' - Sacramento, California: taped on 15/09/98, aired on 20/09/98).
3) Val Venis & Stevie Richards defeated The Head Bangers ('WWF Sunday Night Heat' - San Jose, California: taped on 04/04/00, aired on 09/04/00).
4) Essa Rios (w/Lita in his corner) defeated Gillberg to win the WWF Light Heavyweight title ('WWF Sunday Night Heat' - Austin, Texas: taped on 08/02/00, aired on 13/02/00).
5) Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated D-Lo Brown (w/Mark Henry in his corner) ('WWF Sunday Night Heat' - East Lansing, Michigan: taped on 29/09/98, aired on 11/10/98).
6) WWF Champion, The Rock (w/WWF Commissioner, Shawn Michaels in his corner) defeated Mankind, Big Boss Man and Ken Shamrock in a Fatal Four Way match ('WWF Sunday Night Heat' - Tacoma, Washington: taped on 14/12/98, aired on 20/12/98).
Please note: I DO NOT sell DVDs or tapes of any of these shows. Sorry!
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Until next week, have a good week.
St Helens, England, U.K.