May 17, 2009
Judgment Day 1998, October 18, 1998, Rosemont Horizon, Chicago, IL
Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry “The King” Lawler
With this year’s version coming up, here’s a look back at the first Judgment Day PPV. Originally it was a one off In Your House show that took place in October 1998. The name was brought back for the May PPV in 2000 and it’s held that position ever since. The setup for this show began last month at Breakdown when Steve Austin defended the WWF Title in a Triple Threat match against The Undertaker and Kane. They ended up pinning Austin simultaneously , but that was good enough for Vince McMahon who was just happy to have the belt off Austin. Vince declared that out of Undertaker and Kane, he didn’t care which one was champion, so they would wrestle each other here for the held up Title with Austin as the guest referee. Vince has also guaranteed that either Austin will raise the hand of a new WWF Champion, or he will be fired. Looking over the rest of the card, nothing stands out to me as being particularly memorable, so let’s see what we get from Judgment Day 1998.
Opening Match: Al Snow vs. Marvelous Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline)
I still laugh at the idea that back in 98 there were people who seriously thought that Al Snow would ride this gimmick right into being a main event player. It took all of five seconds of being in the WWF for this to be exposed as the bush league, cheap heat gimmick that it was. The crowd pops for the “Head” references, but couldn’t care less what the guy does in the ring. Snow had a confrontation with Jeff Jarrett on Heat earlier tonight, so Jarrett comes out and demands to get the match instead, but Mero attacks Snow and Jarrett just leaves. Slow paced back and forth match here. Mero controls, but stalks Head for some reason and gets rolled up for 2. Snow hits a moonsault, but gets distracted by Jackie on the apron which allows Mero the chance to hit a low blow and DDT for 2. Mero gets the Merosault, but that only gets 2. Snow comes back with an ensiguiri and spinebuster to setup another moonsault, but this time he misses. Mero cradles for 2 and then hits a Samoan drop. He goes up, but Marvelosity misses and Snow covers for 2. Mero recovers and tries the TKO, but Snow counters to the Snow Plow for 3 at 7:14. This was nothing special, although the crowd was reasonably into it. *
We get a recap of earlier tonight on Heat when Austin arrived at the building and headed for the locker room, only to be redirected by the Stooges to the referee’s locker room which is nothing more than a utility closet.
DOA & Paul Ellering vs. The Legion of Doom & Droz
Droz had recently joined LOD, as sort of a replacement for Hawk who had been having drug issues (in storyline terms, but that was also playing off of reality), but here they are all together in a six man. Paul Ellering had recently returned, but turned on LOD and was now managing DOA, so he’s their partner tonight. This was a period that really tarnished the legacy of the Legion of Doom, but they were pretty much done for by this point anyways. They also look odd with full heads of hair as opposed to their usual trademark haircuts. Animal and 8-Ball start things off. 8-Ball hits a big boot, but Animal comes back with a clothesline and dropkick. Tag to Hawk, who gets powerslammed. Hawk then gets a powerslam of his own, followed by a neckbreaker. Tag to Droz, who hits an elbow, but gets caught in the DOA corner. He takes a side slam, and a big boot. Ellering gets tagged in and briefly puts the boots to him as well. Eventually, Skull puts his head down on an Irish whip and takes a DDT. Droz makes the tag to Hawk, who cleans house and it breaks down into a brawl. LOD hits the Doomsday Device on Skull, but Droz, despite not being the legal man, quickly comes over, steals the pin, and gets the 3 count at 5:56. ½* DOA was boring at the best of times, while like I said earlier, this was a pretty bad period for LOD in all aspects.
Light Heavyweight Championship Match: Taka Michinoku (w/Yamaguchi San) vs. Christian (w/Gangrel)
They had been developing an issue between Gangrel and Edge in recent months, and Christian had just been introduced as Edge’s brother, but on Gangrel’s side. They hadn’t really explained much of the backstory at this point, but it became moot anyways when all three guys formed The Brood shortly after. Taka had been the Light Heavyweight Champions since December 1997, but Vince has long since lost interest in the division so he hasn’t been featured at all as of late. They trade shots for a bit, and then it gets going with Taka clotheslining Christian to the floor and hitting a springboard dive. We stop to note that Edge is watching the match from the crowd. Back in, Taka drops a knee for 2 and hits a crescent kick. Christian is back with a DDT and dropkick. He hits a version of what might today be called the Three Amigos, but the third one puts Taka down face first for 2. Taka gets sent out, and now it’s Christian’s turn to springboard onto him. In the ring, a powerbomb then gets 2. He misses a top rope splash however, so Taka comes back with a dropkick and baseball slide to the floor. He hits an Asai moonsault and some chops that get the “Whooo” reaction. Taka goes up and hits a cross body, but Christian rolls through for 2. Taka gets his own rollup for 2, and then a seated dropkick for another 2. Christian hits a Russian legsweep for 2. Taka hits a tornado DDT and sets up the Michinoku Driver, but Christian small packages him off of that and gets the 3 count to win the Title at 8:36. This was some decent stuff, but by this point no one took any of this Light Heavyweight stuff seriously in the WWF so it means nothing. Christian went on to lose the Title to Gillberg if you don’t believe me. **1/2
Val Venis (w/Terri Runnels) vs. Goldust
In the buildup here, Dustin Runnels had been going on a religious crusade against Val’s lifestyle. Naturally, Val’s response was to have sex with Dustin’s wife Terri, so Dustin reverted back into the Goldust gimmick in order to deal with the situation, and so here we have this match. They go to the floor early on with Val getting whipped to the barrier and dropped on the stairs. They get back in, but Val tosses him right back out and hits a dive off the top rope. Back in again, Val goes up, but gets nailed coming down. Inverted atomic drop by Goldust, followed by a back suplex and clothesline get 2. He misses a charge in the corner though and goes out to the floor. Val posts him, and then goes to work on the shoulder. He gets a couple of nearfalls along the way. He goes up after a powerslam, but Goldust meets him there and takes him down with a superplex for 2. 2nd rope elbow misses and Val goes to a sleeper. Goldust reverses, and then Val slips out, but Goldust takes him down with a clothesline. He then gets a backdrop and bulldog before Terri gets on the apron to distract him. Doesn’t work too well though as Goldust ducks Val’s attack, and then while the ref gets Terri down, he nails Val with a low blow. That gets the 3 count at 12:09, but it appears the issue is far from resolved. It was another pretty decent match though. **
Another recap from Heat shows us that after HHH officially handed over the IC Title to new champion Ken Shamrock, Shamrock took exception to some of his comments and slammed a car door on the injured leg. HHH has been taken to the hospital and is apparently in serious condition according to Michael Cole
European Championship Match: D-Lo Brown vs. X-Pac (w/Chyna)
D-Lo won the Title from X-Pac a few weeks back on Raw thanks to the interference of Mark Henry, so now we get the rematch here. He also gets a big “D-Lo sucks” chant. He controls with a shoulderblock, and then demands that the people recognize. X-Pac comes back with some kicks, but D-Lo nails a clothesline for 2. Splash in the corner misses and sets up the Bronco Buster, but D-Lo gets the boot up to the groin. He gets 2 from that. X-Pac escapes a rear chinlock, but runs into a spin kick for 2. Sitdown powerbomb gets another 2. He sets X-Pac on top but gets shoved down and hit with a bodypress, which he then rolls through for 2. X-Pac knocks D-Lo to the corner, but misses a charge. D-Lo slams him and drops a forearm for 2. Backbreaker also gets 2 and then he hooks a Texas cloverleaf. X-Pac gets out of it, but D-Lo still controls. He goes for a cannonball, but misses, allowing X-Pac to get a spinkick and clothesline. Dropkick sets up the Bronco Buster again, which hits this time. Chyna gets a cheapshot in and X-Pac covers for 2. The ref then gets bumped, which leads to Mark Henry coming out, but all he does at first is hit on Chyna. D-Lo nails X-Pac with the belt as Henry helps the ref recover, but it only gets 2. Powerbomb gets another 2. D-Lo then goes up and leaps off right into an X-Factor, and that gets the 3 count at 14:35. X-Pac regains the European Championship in what was actually a pretty good match. ***
Michael Cole is backstage to report on rumours that Paul Bearer was seen going into The Undertaker’s locker room earlier today. The Headbangers then crash the scene and trash talk the New Age Outlaws to setup the next match.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match: The New Age Outlaws vs. The Headbangers
The Bangers jump them during the catchphrase, but that doesn’t last long as we end up with Gunn and Mosh starting. Gunn gets a neckbreaker for 2. The Outlaws control him in the corner, but then he rakes Dogg’s eyes and makes the tag to Thrasher. Road Dogg still manages to control until a blind tag gets made to Mosh and he nails Dogg coming off the ropes. Now Road Dogg gets worked over in the Banger’s half of the ring. Gunn gets the crowd chanting “Suck It”, but with only two syllables and all it’s not very chantable and doesn’t sound too good. Dogg gets a suplex on Thrasher leading to both guys tagging and Gunn is the house afire. He tosses Thrasher and hits a press slam on Mosh, but when he comes off the ropes, Thrasher pulls them down and he goes falling to the floor. Now Gunn is the face in peril. He manages a couple of comebacks with a rana and a slam off a corner splash attempt, but the Bangers are always there to cut the tag off. They hit a double flapjack and setup the stage dive, but Road Dogg has had enough of the Bangers’ tactics, so he grabs their boom box and nails Mosh with it for the DQ at 14:00. The issue is not over between these teams with that finish. The Outlaws then finish the catchphrase that was rudely interrupted prior to the match. *1/2
Back to Michael Cole who now lets us know that Paul Bearer is in Kane’s locker room to add some more subplot to out main event. He then interviews Mankind about his match coming up next. He promises to have Mr. Socko with him and that he will never submit to the ankle lock.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Ken Shamrock vs. Mankind
Shamrock won the Title last Monday on Raw, defeating X-Pac in the finals of a one night tournament and so this is his first defense of it. He starts by working the legs with some kicks, but then goes to a wristlock. Mankind gets out, slams him and drops a leg for 2. Shamrock goes back to the holds, first a hammerlock and then a front facelock, but Mankind comes back with a clothesline in the corner. Shamrock sends him off and hits a rana, but Mankind hooks the Mandible Claw. Shamrock goes to the floor to escape. Back in the ring, he starts pounding away and knocks Mankind to the floor. He rams Mankind to the table, but his whip to the stairs is reversed. The ref stops Mankind from using a chair, but that lets Shamrock kick it back in his face. Shamrock then gives him a good shot with it. Back in, a clothesline gets 2 and he follows with a belly to belly suplex. Mankind comes back with a low blow and double arm DDT. He pounds Shamrock into the corner and hits the running knee and then an elbow in the Tree of Woe. Cactus Clothesline takes them to the floor where Mankind then drops the elbow from the apron. He charges at Shamrock on the floor, only to get powerslammed. In the ring, Shamrock hooks the ankle lock, but Mankind makes the ropes. Shamrock drags him back and hooks it again, and this time there’s nowhere for Mankind to go. But then, in one of the stupidest finishes I’ve ever seen, remembering his promise not to submit to the ankle lock, Mankind puts the Mandible Claw on himself until he passes out and the ref stops it at 14:37. The Fink even makes sure to specifically announce that Shamrock is the winner as the result of the Claw as opposed to the ankle lock. In spite of retaining his Title, Shamrock is still pissed off as a result so he beats up Mankind some more and then suplexes the ref. But Mankind comes back with Mr. Socko and is able to leave with a moral victory. They were kinda all over the place here, and again, what a dumb finish. ½*
Mark Henry vs. The Rock
This was during the period where the fans basically just decided that they were going to start cheering Rock and so they went with it. There was no actual face turn, they just quickly and quietly disbanded The Nation and started booking Rock like a babyface. Here he takes on one of his former allies, and already he’s getting a pretty big pop coming out, although not nearly to level it would eventually become. Rock starts with a clothesline and even hits a suplex for 2. They brawl a bit on the floor, and then get back in the ring where the brawling continues. Henry drops an elbow for 2. He then hits a couple of clotheslines and a legdrop for 2. Rock fights out of a rear chinlock and hits a DDT for 2. Slam sets up the People’s Elbow, which he hits to a big reaction. D-Lo runs in, but Rock nails him. Henry then gets him from behind with a clothesline and nails a splash. He covers, and with D-Lo holding the legs down, he gets the 3 count at 5:04. Kind of an odd decision considering how big Rock was becoming and the fact that they had already established him as #1 contender to face the winner of our main event tonight. Match was short, but decent for what it was. *
Main Event, WWF Championship Match: Kane vs. The Undertaker
After all the drama throughout the show with Paul Bearer, he’s nowhere to be seen yet. Steve Austin is the special guest referee and the match was mainly sold around the idea that Austin would either humble himself and follow Mr. McMahon’s order to raise the hand of the new WWF Champion, or he would be fired. Kane and Taker shake hands before the match as at this point they had seemingly become allies. Taker then jumps him and hammers away. Ropewalk hits, but Kane then comes back with a powerslam. Taker gets the boot up on a charge and covers, but Austin won’t count. Kane then nails Taker and covers, but now Austin gives a fast count of 2 just to confuse the issue. Kane clotheslines Taker to the floor and they brawl out there for a bit. Austin picks up a cable and offers it to Taker as a weapon, but Taker opts for a chair instead. He misses the shot though and ends up getting posted. In the ring, they go back and forth some more until Taker settles things down and goes to work on the leg. And then he does some more work on the leg. And then a little more work on the leg. The crowd is getting restless and even starts up a “boring” chant. After what seems like forever, Kane finally gets Taker with a spinebuster to break things up. Corner whip reversal leads to Taker being whipped into Austin. Kane then chokeslams Austin and a double team beatdown is on. Paul Bearer finally makes his way out with a chair. He gains Kane’s confidence, and then nails him with the chair from behind, which just gets no sold. Taker then grabs the chair and nails Kane with it which does put him down. Apparently this represents an Undertaker heel turn and realignment with Paul Bearer, but the crowd’s not really interpreting it that way as they’re still cheering him. He covers, but the now recovered Austin won’t count. Instead, he gives Taker the Stunner, and counts both guys down for a no contest at what was a very long 17:39. This was a long and boring match as it was, hurt even more by the fact that there was no real drama to it. You knew that this couldn’t have anything other than a screwjob ending, so they were just kinda killing time until the overbooking kicked in. -*
We are not done of course as Austin now has to answer to Vince for failing to humble himself. He searches everywhere for him, daring Vince to fire him the whole time. Finally Austin makes his way back to the ring with Vince making an appearance above the entranceway. A towel thrown with perfect accuracy by someone in the crowd briefly delays the announcement, but Vince sure enough follows through on his guarantee and tells Austin “Screw you, you’re fired”. Austin asks for his music to be played one last time and drinks a few beers. Jim Ross trying to sell this as if he will actually be gone from the company is kinda ridiculous since no one with an IQ higher than 2 would have believed that we wouldn’t see him the next night on Raw. Indeed that show featured Austin holding Vince hostage leading to the “Bang 3:16” conclusion. Austin would then be resigned to a brand new ironclad contract by Shane McMahon in what was his first involvement in WWF storylines.
Well, 1998 was definitely a red hot period for the WWF, but this show really is a miss. A pretty solid, yet completely unremarkable undercard, capped off by an awful main event leaves me with nothing to give it but a thumbs down. This was a great year with lots of great memories, but don’t bother pulling this one back out.