Fleet Center – Boston, MA – Sunday, March 29, 1998
Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler are on commentary.
MATCH #1: Fifteen Tag Team Battle Royal – Bradshaw & Chainz, Flash Funk & Steve Blackman, LOD 2000, Savio Vega & Miguel Perez, Jesus Castillo & Jose Estrada, Skull & 8-Ball, The Godwinns, The Head Bangers, D-Lo Brown & Mark Henry, Faarooq & Kama Mustafa, The New Midnight Express, The Quebecers, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, Recon & Sniper, and Too Much
This is a tag team battle royal, which means when your partner is eliminated, so are you. It’s a massive brawl from the get-go, and it’s a little hard to tell what’s going on. I love how many actual teams WWE had at the time, but they did have to throw together a few that didn’t exactly make sense. Savio & Miguel are the first team to go, and then Kurrgan illegally enters the ring and eliminates Sniper & Recon. Funk & Blackman are gone. Barry Windham also comes in without being part of the match, and he eliminates Chainz. That screws over Bradshaw, whom Windham was feuding with at the time. The Quebecers go next, followed by D-Lo Brown & Mark Henry, but Henry stays in the ring. Kama and Faarooq are eliminated next, so no teams from the Nation are officially in the match. The legendary Rock ‘n’ Roll Express are unceremoniously eliminated next. The other Boricuas team, Jose & Jesus, are eliminated. The Head Bangers get tossed. Scott Taylor gets dumped out, so Too Much is done. We’re down to four teams – LOD, DOA, Godwinns, and the New Midnight Express. Henry eliminates either Skull or 8-Ball, but the DOA don’t want to go quietly, and they come back in to eliminate the Godwinns. That leaves us with the LOD and Midnight Express. Henry and Phineas get back in the ring and hit Hawk and Animal with their slop buckets. Even after that disadvantage, the LOD comes back to simultaneously eliminate Bombastic Bob and Bodacious Bart to win the battle royal and earn the title shot at 8:21. It was fun to see the re-packaged LOD get the win and all, but this was a bit of a cluster and not very memorable aside from who won.
MATCH #2: Light Heavyweight Title Match – Taka Michinoku vs. Aguila
Taka has been the Champion since 12.7.97, and this is his fourth defense. This is the only time the Light Heavyweight Title was defended at a WrestleMania, for the trivia buffs out there. They start off at a rapid pace, with both men out to impress. Aguila sends Taka to the floor and hits a baseball slide dropkick. He follows with a beautiful moonsault from the top rope. Aguila tries to suplex Taka back in, but Taka slips out and dumps Aguila back to the floor. Taka then hits a springboard flying body press to wipe Aguila out. Back in the ring Taka charges and Aguila backdrops him to the floor again. Back in the ring Aguila throws Taka around some more, and then dumps him to the floor. Aguila takes him out with a corkscrew press. Taka tries a corkscrew press in the ring but misses, and Aguila hits a moonsault press for two. An awkward spot leads to Taka knocking Aguila off the top rope. Taka tries a splash but Aguila gets his knees up. Aguila hits a nice hurricanrana off the ropes, but Taka fights right back with a missile dropkick. Taka goes for the Michinoku Driver but Aguila escapes. Aguila tries a rana but Taka catches him in a powerbomb. Taka misses a moonsault and Aguila rolls him up for two. Aguila goes up top and Taka slices him out of the air with a dropkick. One Michinoku Driver later and Taka gets the pin at 5:59. There was no real selling or story, but this was a fun collection of spots. It’s not a great match or anything, but I miss this kind of variety on WWE cards.
MATCH #3: European Title Match – Triple H vs. Owen Hart
Triple H won the European Title back from Owen on 3.16.98, and this is his first defense. Chyna is handcuffed to Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter at ringside. Owen attacks right away and hits an Irish whip to the corner and a back body drop and he has Helmsley reeling. He goes to the mounted punches in the corner. He follows that up with a rana for a near fall. Helmsley reverses a whip and hits a back elbow and kicks Owen to the floor. Chyna takes a swing at him, but Slaughter holds her back. Helmsley tries to take advantage of the distraction but winds up getting tossed into the guardrail. Back in the ring Helmsley tries a Thesz Press but Owen catches him and tries a Sharpshooter. Owen lowers his head and Helmsley hits the knee to the face. He backs Owen into the corner and chops, punches, and kicks him down. He hits the Harley Race knee for two. He hits a boot in the corner and a DDT for two. He goes to work on the ankle, as JR tells us that Owen just got his cast off today. Owen comes back and charges in the corner and avoids the boot to the face and pulls Helmsley crotch-first back into the ring post. A missile dropkick gets two. A belly-to-belly suplex also gets two. A leg lariat gets another near fall. Owen hits an enziguiri and hurts his own ankle. Chyna wants to interfere, but Slaughter pulls her back. Owen tries another rana, but Helmsley blocks it and hits a powerbomb. Helmsley puts Owen up top and Owen knocks him down and hits a high cross body for two. Helmsley comes back and tries the Pedigree, which Owen counters to a Sharpshooter attempt. Helmsley kicks him off, and Owen falls, landing his head right on HHH’s nuts. Owen counters another Pedigree attempt into the Sharpshooter. Chyna helps HHH reach the ropes, even with Slaughter trying to hold her back. Owen is pissed about that. Chyna throws powder into Slaughter’s eyes and Owen goes after her. HHH distracts the referee and Chyna hits a low blow and HHH finally hits the Pedigree to get the pin at 11:29. The wrestling was good and the addition of Slaughter and Chyna at ringside was fun. After the match Chyna beats up Slaughter just for fun.
MATCH #4: Mixed Tag Team Match – Marc Mero & Sable vs. TAFKA Goldust & Luna
Mero and Goldust start the match, and Mero takes the early advantage so Goldust scurries over and tags Luna. Sable tags in and Luna runs away. The men tag back in before any contact is made. Man, Sable was crazy over. The men tag back in, but Mero tags Sable and she drills Goldust with a savate kick. Mero tags back in and unleashes some right hands, but Goldust pops out of the corner with a clothesline to take control. Goldust wears Mero down and Luna takes some shots at Mero from the apron. Mero responds with a cross body block for two. He then goes for a back body drop and gets punched in the face for it. The crowd chants for Sable as the men bonk heads. They get back up and make tags. Sable is all over Luna and the crowd goes nuts. Sable even knocks Goldust off the apron. She clotheslines Luna to the floor and screams for her to get back in. Luna sneaks back in and tags Goldust, who gets popped in the mouth by Sable. Mero tags back in and follows Goldust to the floor, where he whips him into the steps before throwing him back in the ring. He tries a slingshot splash but Goldust gets his knees up. Goldust then gets distracted with Sable, as does the referee, and Mero hits a low blow. Mero goes for the TKO but Goldust counters to a DDT for two. Goldust goes for the Curtain Call but Mero escapes and hits the Million Dollar Knee Lift. Mero hits a Merosault for two. He whips Goldust into the corner and then runs into an elbow. Goldust goes up top and Mero knocks him down. Mero hits a super hurricanrana for two. He gets distracted by Luna and goes after her. Goldust tries to come to the rescue but Mero moves and Goldust hits Luna! Mero rolls Goldust up for two. He hits the TKO and Luna breaks up the cover. Sable tags in and covers Goldust, but the referee is distracted with Luna and Mero. Luna tries to break up that cover too, but Sable moves and Luna splashes Goldust. Sable hits a powerbomb on Luna for two. Luna comes back and works Sable over for a bit, but it doesn’t last. Sable catches Luna with the TKO to get the pin at 9:11. That match had no right to be that good as a mixed tag match with three heels and one babyface, but they booked it extremely well and the crowd was super into it, so kudos to all.
MATCH #5: Intercontinental Title Match – The Rock vs. Ken Shamrock
Rock has been the Champion since 12.8.97, and this is his fourth defense. If he gets disqualified tonight, he will lose the title. Shamrock charges the ring and tears into the Intercontinental Champion. He sends Rock to the floor. Rock tries to get counted out, but Shamrock follows him to continue the abuse. Rock gets a little bit of offense in, but when they get back to the ring Shamrock resumes his dominance. Rock rolls toward the ropes and grabs Shamrock’s tights to throw him to the floor. He throws Shamrock into the steel steps. Back in the ring Rock slams Shamrock down and hits the People’s Elbow (which was just starting to get a reaction) for a two-count. Shamrock fights back and hurls Rock over the top rope to the floor. He follows and hits a clothesline before throwing Rock back in. Shamrock brings in a steel chair, and when the referee tries to stop him Shamrock shoves him down. Rock grabs the chair and clobbers Shamrock with it but only gets a two-count. That was sick. Shamrock brushes off the brutal chair shot and unleashes a flurry, including a powerslam for two. He locks on the Ankle Lock and Rock taps out at 4:50! I’m surprised that was so short, but they packed a ton of action into it, and it felt like these two really disliked each other, whereas today Shamrock would have won a meaningless four-way match two RAW‘s before and would want to win the title to get a WrestleMania moment and cement his legacy or something.
After the match, fellow Nation members Kama Mustafa, Mark Henry, and D-Lo Brown try to attack Shamrock, but he fights them all off. Shamrock puts Rock back in the Ankle Lock, so Faarooq comes out but he tells Rock he’s on his own! Officials try to pull Shamrock off, but they all get beaten up as well. That causes the referee to reverse his initial decision and disqualify Shamrock, meaning Rock retains the title! Shamrock gets pissed off all over again and attacks Rock on the stretcher, beating him ferociously. Shamrock was kind of awesome.
MATCH #6: Dumpster Rules Match for the World Tag Team Title – The New Age Outlaws vs. Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie
Road Dogg and Billy Gunn have been the Champions since 11.24.97, and this is their ninth defense. They start off on the floor, as Charlie and Gunn pair off on one side of the ring, while Jack and Dogg are on the other. Gunn and Charlie make their way to the ring, leaving Jack and Dogg by the dumpster. Jack goes to the apron for the cannonball, but Dogg moves, and Jack hits the dumpster. Dogg whips Charlie into Gunn, who backdrops him into the dumpster! The Champs are halfway there. They take the opportunity to double-team Jack. Gunn is bleeding from the nose, but that doesn’t stop the Outlaws from dominating. Multiple weapons get involved as the violence continues. Charlie and Jack take control and show the young Outlaws what it means to be Hardcore. For some reason Jack climbs a ladder and Gunn joins him. Dogg hits Charlie with a cookie sheet, and Charlie falls into the ladder, knocking Jack and Gunn into the dumpster! Dogg helps Gunn out of the dumpster, and they powerbomb Charlie off the apron and into the dumpster. Ouch. The fight spills to the back and the Outlaws are throwing Jack around. Jack finds a chair and fights back with it. Charlie makes his way back and commandeers a fork lift. Jack puts both Champions on the forklift, and Funk drives it over to a dumpster and puts both Champions inside! Jack slams the lid and we have new Tag Team Champions at 9:59! That was entertaining crap, and a nice win for the Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie team. It wouldn’t last, but that doesn’t take away from the moment. That is the one and only title Terry Funk ever held in WWE.
MATCH #7: Undertaker vs. Kane
They’re moving quickly in the early going, with Kane initiating most of the offense and Undertaker being forced to counter him. Kane works Undertaker over, sending him to the floor and using the ring steps as a weapon. Bearer gets some cheap shots in too. Kane gets an early Choke Slam and pulls Undertaker up at two. He continues the punishment for a while, until Undertaker dumps him to the floor. He tries a big dive and Kane sidesteps him, and the announce table takes the brunt of the impact. Back in the ring Kane hits a clothesline off the top rope for two. Kane hits a Tombstone for another two-count. Undertaker recovers and hits a Choke Slam. He follows with a Tombstone, but Kane kicks out! He hits another one and Kane kicks out again! Undertaker goes to the top rope and hits a flying clothesline. A third Tombstone is enough to get the pin at 16:58. The match was slow and plodding, and the crowd only popped for the big spots. Bearer and Kane beat Undertaker down after the match, with Kane hitting a Tombstone on a steel chair.
MATCH #8: WWF Championship Match – Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Michaels has been the Champion since 11.9.97, and this is his fourth defense. He has Triple H and Chyna with him. The Champ outmaneuvers Austin in the early going until Austin catches him with a big clothesline. Austin unloads with a flurry of offense and we see Michaels’ ass about two minutes into the match. The crowd is going nuts as Austin backdrops Michaels over the top rope and onto HHH at ringside. HHH attacks Austin and throws him into the barricade. Referee Mike Chioda ejects HHH and Chyna from ringside. For some reason the Fink’s voice is overdubbed making that announcement. Austin chases HHH to the back just to teach him a lesson. Michaels takes advantage and hits Austin with a clothesline and then a cymbal from the D-X Band’s drum set. He reverses a whip and sends Austin crashing into the side of the dumpster used in the Tag Team Title match. Back in the ring Michaels comes off the top rope and jumps right into a fist. Austin goes to work now and focuses on the back, an obvious weak point. He knocks Michaels to the floor and right into the announce table. Back in the ring Austin continues the abuse. Michaels comes back with a jaw jacker. Michaels tries to wrap Austin’s leg around the ring post, but Austin pulls Michaels back into said post. Austin has been dominant here. He charges and Michaels backdrops him into the crowd. Back in the ring Michaels pounds away. Michaels focuses on Austin’s leg, even using the Figure-Four Leglock. Austin turns it over to reverse the pressure and Michaels quickly gets to the ropes. The challenger unleashes right hands and catapults Michaels into the top turnbuckle. Michaels comes back with a Sleeper to slow Austin down. Austin backs Michaels into the referee in the corner and Chioda is down. Now Austin takes control, unloading with a fury. Michaels hits the flying forearm and nips up. He goes up and hits Hail to the King. Michaels tunes up the band, but a series of reversals ends with Austin hitting the Stone-Cold Stunner and Tyson makes the fastest fast count in history to give Austin the win at 20:02. That was well worked and overall a good match, but I think the obvious (but very, very right) ending of Austin taking the title did rob the match of some drama. Still, these are two of the best and Michaels put on a hell of a performance being as injured as he was. This helped usher in the style of main event matches Austin would ride on top for years.
After the match, Michaels argues with Tyson, who punches Michaels out and then drapes an Austin 3:16 shirt over his fallen body, revealing his allegiance was with Austin all along.
This is an amazing and influential show, and one that’s still fun to watch today. The main event was a huge moment for the business and WWE specifically, and is one of the shining examples of the right guy winning the title at the exact right time. The undercard is a nice variety of matches and styles, with the dumpster match, light heavyweight title, mixed tag, battle royal, and Undertaker/Kane providing a well-rounded card.
Tags: Mike Tyson, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, wrestlemania, WWE