October 27, 2009
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero

Survivor Series 1998
November 15, 1998
Kiel Center
St. Louis, Missouri
Attendance: 19,322
Buy Rate: 1.30
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler

Sunday Night Heat Matches:

1) Too Much defeats the Hardy Boyz
2) Bob Holly & Scorpio defeat Animal & Droz when Scorpio pins Droz
3) Val Venis defeats Tiger Ali Singh
4) Gangrel defeats Steve Blackman

WORLD TITLE TOURNAMENT:

First Round:

1) Mankind (Mick Foley) defeats Duane Gill with a cradle at :33

Fun Fact: On the 11/2 Raw, Vince, who was still wheelchair-bound, was locked backstage hiding from Austin, when Mankind appeared to guard him. Well, Vince wanted to keep ol’ Mick from interfering in Shamrock’s match with the Rock that night, so he told him if he did so, he would get a very nice present. Mick agreed and Vince kept up his end of the bargain by handing Mankind a broken down, taped-up World Title belt that he dubbed the brand new “Hardcore Title.” Mick was eager to begin defending his title as Hardcore Champion and thanked Vince. Vince made sure to tell Mick that he “may have lost a son tonight, but he thinks he gained another one…” After that great line, Mick caps it off by saying “Gee…really? Thanks….DAD.” Vince’s double take of disgust is priceless as he wheels off.

Scott: Now, if this PPV isn’t the crčme de la crčme of Vince Russo PPVs, I don’t know what is. Let’s start the express line! Mankind is Mr. McMahon’s personal pick to win the tournament and the title, so his first opponent is a mystery. Two choices I remember that were prevalent on the internet were Shawn Michaels and Randy Savage. Alas, it’s Duane Gill and we see a squash in less than a minute. Not the last time we’d see that today. Just to let you know right off the bat, these match grades will be quite low, and this is one of them. Grade: 0

Justin: As Scott said, rumors were swirling on who the mystery opponent would be. Savage was the outside chance, but I think everyone, especially those in the arena, were banking on it being Shawn Michaels, as rumors were flying that he was on his way back in a full time manner. At this point, it wasn’t yet obvious or known that Michaels would be forced into retirement. It seemed like he was just rehabbing for a while until he was ready. Well, I can tell you that Duane Gill’s announcement did nothing to rally the crowd, but, alas, this was 1998 and nothing could kill a crowd, so they got over it quickly. This was obviously Vince’s way to rig the tournament so his “son” could win the vacant title. Also, Mick is clean shaven and wrestling in a tuxedo which is his “corporate attire.” Grade: .5

2) Al Snow (Al Sarven) defeats Jeff Jarrett after a “head shot” at 3:32

Fun Fact: Debra McMichael was the wife of former Chicago Bears and Horseman Steve “Mongo” McMichael. She was a member of the 4 Horsemen with Woman and Elizabeth. Debra debuted in WCW on Nitro in the spring of 1996, where she was often in the crowd to support her husband who was doing color commentary at the time. She quickly drew the attention of Ric Flair, who would often stop by her seat on the way to the ring to woo her and talk smack on Mongo. Of course, in true Horsemen style, it was all a ruse to help set up Mongo’s heel turn. Debra hung around for a couple years, getting involved in various Horsemen storylines and eventually wound up managing Jeff Jarrett before he jumped shipped in late 1997. She then began managing Alex Wright, but after divorcing Mongo she was taken off TV. She defected to the WWF and debuted with Jarrett on Raw the night after Judgment Day.

Scott: Get used to these match durations, because they don’t get much higher for the next hour of matches. This is Debra McMichael’s PPV debut, and she’s wearing a normal business suit, before the puppies come busting out. This was also the first subtle change in Jarrett’s character that really starts to work. This is a throwaway match for Al to win and move on in the tourney, but subtly, Jarrett would become more interesting than Snow. Al’s still big with the crowd. Grade: 2

Justin: Another quickie match in the express line here tonight. Jarrett was finally gaining some momentum, but he lies down for the rising Al Snow here. Snow was pretty over, but many analysts were starting to worry that the gimmick was over, but not the wrestler himself. Snow would help quell those notions by redefining his style in 1999 and continuing to gain momentum. Grade: 2

3) Steve Austin (Williams) defeats Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor) by disqualification at 3:17

Fun Fact: The Boss Man made a nice surprise return to the WWF in October, and was immediately thrust into the major role of Mr. McMahon’s personal security guard. Boss Man gets a solid push that starts here and lasts until mid-2000, which he deserved very much. This is his first PPV match since losing to Bam Bam Bigelow at the 1993 Royal Rumble.

Scott: This was another 3-minute throwaway. Boss Man’s not in this tournament to win the title. He’s simply there to lay some beatdown on the Rattlesnake, to soften him up for later in the tournament. These finishes are quite annoying, but they serve their purpose. Mr. McMahon is rigging the tourney for Mankind. Austin dodges another bullet, and moves on. Big Boss Man’s role right now is awesome, and it just gets better. Grade: 1.5

Justin: Nothing much here, as Austin is given a quick encounter so he can stay rested for later in the night. As Scott mentioned, Boss Man is just there to lie the beat down on Stone Cold, to ensure he is banged up for later in the night. The master plan continues to unfold as the night goes on. Grade: 2

4) X-Pac (Sean Waltman) and Steven Regal (Darren Matthews) wrestle to a double-countout at 8:10

Fun Fact: Well, seems like we have an interesting debut at this here PPV: one Mister Stephen Regal. Lord Stephen Regal was a WCW mainstay who always worked the noble Englishman gimmick, but when he arrived in Vinnie MacLand, it was decided to mix things up a bit. Playing off of his legitimate tough guy status, the Vinces decided to make Regal into a “Real Man’s Man.” Apparently, Real Men’s Men liked to chop wood, make fresh squeezed Orange Juice with his bare hands and just wander around the forest. They even enter to the ring to very special entrance music: a Trojan Man rip off song that shows the world Regal’s manhood. Justin actually liked the gimmick (big surprise) and thought it had some potential, but, sadly, Regal was having some serious personal issues and wasn’t in the best shape of his career. He would last a few months, and his name was always bounced around when it came to the hinted “Shooter Group” idea that was always bandied around, but more on that later. Within a few weeks of his debut, it was clear that Regal was hitting rock bottom. Vince forced him off TV and into rehab to get his life turned around. He eventually would clean himself up and would head back South for WCW for a bit before we see him again.

Scott: This match actually eclipsed 5 minutes, and the ending was expected. No one really would have believed that Austin would have lost to either of these guys. So, get them both out of the way. Austin gets the bye, which doesn’t make Mr. McMahon very happy. This tournament, unlike the title tourney at Wrestlemania IV, is going at break-neck speed. Considering half of these guys had no chance at all of winning it, I’m not complaining. Grade: 3

Justin: The end of this match is a little confusing, as they cut to Vince following the double countout and he orders Pat Patterson to run to ringside and have the match continue so there would be a winner to fight Austin as he didn’t want him getting a bye. It was weird because Patterson comes out and makes the announcement, but Regal and X-Pac just sort of stand around and then everyone leaves, and they just show Vince all pissed off. I have no idea what happened, but it just seemed kind of goofy. Anyway, a decent, yet swift match like many others on this night. Grade: 2.5

5) Ken Shamrock defeats Goldust (Dustin Runnels) by submission with the Anklelock at 5:58

Fun Fact: As usual with tournaments, the commentators were really pushing Shamrock’s chances by calling him “tournament tested,” as he had won many tourneys in UFC and had just won the King of the Ring in June as well.

Scott: I think I liked Shamrock as a heel. His promos are still unintelligible, but now he’s even more ruthless than before. Now he’s Intercontinental champ, and he’s systematically dissecting opponents. Here, he pulverizes a floating Goldust, and finishes him with the Ankle Lock. Imagine a Shamrock/Angle ankle lock match circa 2002? That would have been very intense. In any event, Shamrock moves on to the next round, and Goldust continues to float. Grade: 2

Justin: A quickie match here as Shamrock dismantles Goldust in less than 6 minutes. As Scott said, Kenny was really rolling at this point, as his matches were solid, made sense and it was just fun to watch him dissect people. This is the role he should have always had: a hired thug and psychotic wrestler who just murders people in the ring. Goldust would stay around till mid-1999, but he has gotten very, very stale by this point, as the pops for his big Goldust return had dried up very quickly. Grade: 2

6) The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) defeats the Big Boss Man with a cradle at :04

Fun Fact: It was odd that Triple H’s appearance was plugged for this tournament even though it was clear his knee was far from 100%. However this does advance the bigger storyline, so we ask no questions as Boss Man returns as a substitute to take Hunter’s place in the match.

Scott: What the fuck was this? Well, Triple H, Rock’s original opponent, is still nursing a major knee injury, so Boss Man came back to administer some “hard time” to the other fan favorite in the tourney. Rock finishes him off in record time. Whew! This tournament is going faster than Bam Bam Bigelow’s main event window in 1995. I’m not even rating this match, but the storyline quality continues to be a 5, because it is leading to something. Grade: N/A

Justin: Nothing to see here folks, so let us just move on. All I will say about this is: remember the finish. Grade: N/A

Quarterfinals:

Steve Austin gets a bye to the semifinals

7) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Kane (Glen Jacobs) with a Tombstone at 7:17

Fun Fact: Undertaker is heel here, with Paul Bearer in his corner. Both men were solidly against Vince, which leads to some intriguing heel-heel stuff as 1999 looms. Kane is now a face, but is with Vince’s corporation, as they are threatening him with being sent to the insane asylum if he doesn’t follow their orders, which ended up making him very over as a sympathetic face that was screwed by his brother and father and is now being held captive by Vince. Got it? Ok, good.

Scott: Ugh. That’s all I have to say. This is the fourth time this year that these guys have fought on PPV. They’re just getting worse and worse. Taker is hurt, with an injured groin and general nagging things here and there. So, that means the workrate levels are Mabel-esque, which means it pretty much sucks donkey dick. Those 7 minutes are gone forever, never to return. Kane jobs here, like he does every time he fights Taker, and now Taker will face the Rock/Shamrock winner in the semifinals. Grade: 1.5

Justin: A boring match as is usual between these two. I think they should release a Kane vs. Undertaker DVD with all of their matches and bizarre storyline developments, just to see how convoluted the whole thing gets between 1997 and 2007. Anyway, they are back against each other here after a short run as teammates, and, as is usual, Taker gets the best of his little brother on PPV and advances in his quest to regain the World Title. I did enjoy seeing Paul Bearer and Taker back together as merciless heels though, I must admit. Taker had a great face run since 1992, but it was time for him to turn back to the dark side for a while. Grade: 1.5

8) Mankind defeats Al Snow with the Mandible Claw at 3:56

Scott: This was a pretty rudimentary match, with Mankind taking it with a Mandible Claw. This is absolutely the closest Al Snow would get to a World Title shot. These two have good chemistry in the ring, and it was easy 4 minute filler. Is Mankind really the guy for Vinnie Mac? You didn’t really question anything yet, but Mankind moves on to the semis to face Steve Austin. Thanks for your World Title cup of coffee, Al. Grade: 2

Justin: Another quickie match on the express train, as Mr. McMahon’s chosen one moves on in the tournament and Snow is shunted back down to his JOB Squad for a while, before things pick up for him again in 1999. Grade: 2

9) The Rock defeats Ken Shamrock after hitting him with the night stick at 8:19

Fun Fact: Over the past 12 months, from November 1997 to November 98, out of 12 PPVs these two men met in the ring 8 times.

Scott: These guys got a few extra minutes because they know each other so well. This is the seventh PPV this year that these two are in the same ring together, whether it is singles or tag matches. Their chemistry and workrate against each other is very good, and this match is no different. The two guys’ roles are different, as now Shamrock is the heel and Rock is the tweener-face. Boss Man throws his night stick into the ring when the ref isn’t looking, but Rock intercepts the pass, and whacks Shammy for the win. Grade: 2

Justin: The first really solid match of the tournament comes 9 encounters in. As Scott said, these guys had fought quite a bit since late 1997, so they knew each other very well and usually work quite stiff with each other. Boss Man seems to be on quite the roll tonight, as he has already lost two matches and now costs a fellow Corporation member his shot at the title. The Rock advances by winning, much to the chagrin of Mr. McMahon, who is starting to get nervous that Rock and Austin have made the final four. Grade: 2.5

10) Sable (Rena Mero) defeats Jacqueline to win WWF Women’s Title with a Sable-Bomb at 5:10

Fun Fact: Jackie beat Sable on the 9/15 Raw to win the newly resurrected Women’s Title. The Title had been dormant since Alundra Blayze walked out with the title and threw it in the trash on Nitro in late 1995.

Scott: We take a breather from the tournament to see Sable reach the pinnacle for the women’s division. No one really cared about the match. What the big deal going on here is that Shane McMahon, demoted by his father for re-signing Steve Austin, is refereeing the match, showing he is low on the McMahon totem pole. That plays a role in our next match. Grade: 2

Justin: This was a nice chance to take a break from the tournament, and a chance to finally put an end to the Mero/Sable feud that had pretty much began one year earlier. Sable polishes Jackie off with her finisher and takes home the Women’s belt. These three would go in very different directions over the next 6 months. Mero would lose to Dwayne Gill and retire on the 11/30 Raw, Jackie would go on to float around aimlessly for the next 6 years and Sable, well, we will save Sable for later. Grade: 2

Semifinals:

11) Mankind defeats Steve Austin after a chair shot at 10:26

Fun Fact: On the 11/2 Raw, Steve Austin revealed that Shane McMahon had re-hired him and signed him to a brand new 5-year contract, which sent Vinnie Mac into fits of rage. Vince then flipped out, disowning Shane as a son and busting him down to a referee position (“a lowly referee” as Vince would say) and decided that Austin should face Boss Man in the tournament. To set the story up and show some legitimacy, Shane refereed a few matches here and there, including the Women’s title match earlier in the show.

Fun Fact II: Boss Man was originally supposed to interfere and hit Austin with the chair, but he missed his cue and wasn’t ready when the time came, so Brisco hits the ring and delivers a very weak chair shot to polish Austin off.

Scott: If you’re a Steve Austin mark, this match really pissed you off. If you were a smartened up fan, it was picture perfect sports entertainment. Without really thinking about it, you thought this was a shoo-in for Austin. He was destined to win the title back. However, for the first of two times in this story arc we get a perfect swerve. With the referee out, Austin drops a Stunner on Foley, and there’s no ref. Alas, here’s Shane-O-Mac, displaced McMahon, and defiant son who brought Stone Cold back. No-brainer that Steve moves on, right? 1…….2…….the double ups! Shane turns on Austin, thus leading to the beatdown, and Mankind pin. Austin is out, and the world is stunned. Alas, the swerves don’t stop, but this one was maybe unexpected, but definitely the right choice for now. The match itself is ok, as Austin was selling the nightstick shots from Boss Man earlier in the night. Foley moves on and still alive as Mr. McMahon’s “chosen one.” Grade: 2.5

Justin: A really good brawl, and probably the best overall match of the whole show. The story here is top of the line, and is probably the best booking intelligence Vince Russo ever exhibited. The last thing running through peoples minds was Shane turning on Austin…and even if you did know that, there is no way you expected the swerve to come in the semi-finals. It was widely expected that Austin would at least make the finals, and be screwed there. It was quite the angle, and threw the whole title picture into disarray with more show still to come. Another great moment was Vince jumping out of his wheel chair as he “miraculously recovered” from his near-fatal injuries to take out the ref counting Mankind out. Grade: 3

12) The Rock defeats the Undertaker by disqualification at 8:29

Scott: Of all the combinations of matches between the big superstars of the Attitude run, this combo was the one with the least chemistry. For some reason, these two legends never were on the same page in the ring. This being their first meeting, it was definitely a little disjointed. Kane comes in to hit Rock for no reason, it seemed. But that reason turned out to be that it got Taker disqualified, and Rock is in the final. The Taker/Kane feud flares up again, but then fizzles out as Taker leaves in a month. Grade: 1.5

Justin: These two men just never clicked, and that un-chemistry rears its ugly head again here, as these two just can’t get it together for some reason. Even after the swerve of the previous match, no one was really onto the jig just yet, so it seemed now as is Rock was on track to win the title from Mr. McMahon’s chosen one and send the fans home happy. The Kane/Taker feud takes another step in a different direction, as Kane finally shows some brains and outsmarts his brother for the first time in a while. Grade: 2

13) New Age Outlaws defeat Headbangers and Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Billy Gunn (Monte Sop) pins Mosh (Chaz Warrington) with a Piledriver at 10:09

Scott: What a fuckfest. This was not one of the NAO’s highest moments, even though they retained their titles. None of the three teams were on the same page, and the referee had to slow counts because the people that were supposed to break the count at that point were horribly out of position. It was thrown together to put them on the card, but honestly with the abnormal number of matches in this show, this could have been skipped. Grade: 1.5

Justin: Just a nothing match here to give Rock and Mankind a quick breather before the Finals. The Headbangers were getting their rematch from the previous month’s PPV debacle, and Henry and D-Lo were shoehorned in at the last minute to add a little mystery to the outcome. The Outlaws were still on fire character-wise, but their in-ring work has suffered quite a bit since the spring. However, this was another solid win for the champs in this holdover show for them. Grade: 2

Final:

14) The Rock defeats Mankind to win vacant WWF World Title with the Sharpshooter at 16:51

Scott: Well, this was unexpected, wasn’t it? The final of this very long tournament is a screw job for the second year in a row. Well, this one was planned, so those Mick Foley marks didn’t need to stop watching, or change the channel to WCW. The Rock was the corporate choice all along, and when his haphazard sharpshooter is enough to call for the bell, the Rock is the champ. The match wasn’t bad for two guys who wrestled for the third time that night. Then Vince McMahon comes in, says Rock was the “chosen one”, and to watch RAW the next night for the explanation. Well, Mankind wanted an explanation right now, so Rock answers by beating him down. Austin comes down to clean house and stun Mick, probably for being a sucker. Now, the story arc for Wrestlemania officially gets underway. Austin continues to battle for his spot, and now we have a mini-feud for the World Title to hold things over. Grade: 2.5

Justin: A pretty big shocker here, but not in the way you would think. I’d believe that heading into the finals, the majority of the people watching knew Rock would win, but sure none of them expected him to be the heel, backed by Vince and that Mankind would end up the sucker. All in all the story was unbelievable here, and the situation that the major players were left in were tailor-made: Austin as the anti-authority rebel who was screwed again, Rock as the arrogant Corporate heel, Mankind as the loveable, gullible sucker who was used by the machine and Shane as the heir to the throne, who is now just as sick and evil as his sadistic father. This was just a well done show that set the next 4 months up beautifully, with everyone playing their roles to perfection. Grade: 2.5

Final Analysis:

Scott: Just like Wrestlemania IV, this was a great tournament, but painfully long and not very well wrestled. It started to get tedious after a while, but once Austin was screwed, the intrigue really kicked in. Rock is champ for the first time, and re-heels out, which A) Infuriated the fans, and did nothing but help his character even more. Mick Foley is a full-fledged face, and from here on out it never changes. Austin is chasing, chasing, chasing, which is exactly what he does best. This was a very long show, and not a good one workrate-wise but one that got its point across, and a great way to start the Road to Wrestlemania. Final Grade: C

Justin: A pretty good show story-wise, but wrestling wise, this one sucked pretty hard. The historical significance is high, but as time passes, even that has started to dissipate a little bit do to the many face/heel turns and title swerves since. At the time, the finish was a unique parody of Montreal, but that too has been beaten to death since, so it is hard to truly judge the importance once you know the swerve outcomes. Overall, if you have never seen the show, it is worth a watch, but I’m not sure if it is one worth watching again once you’ve seen it all. Final Grade: B

MVP: Rock & Mankind
Runner Up: Vince and Shane McMahon
Non MVP: The Tag Title match
Runner Up: Boss Man (for missing his cue) and Brisco (for delivering a weak chair shot)

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