‘Sup, Lords of Pain? No time to chat this week but I hope you all enjoy Payback… as well as this week’s…
ATTITUDE! Judgment Day: In Your House (CPR Productions)
By Maz & Mav
May 29, 2014 - 1:58:17 PM
Maverick: The genius of the summer and autumn WWF pay-per-views of 1998 was the way they kept the audience coming back for more by ending on tantalising cliffhangers. The abeyance of the top title kept everybody guessing as to its eventual destination, and all the key main event and upper midcard players were carefully positioned around them in such a way as to elevate everybody concerned and advance the carefully laid plot at the same time. Quite simply, Vince, his bookers and his writers made the product must see from week to week and they finally had the opposition conclusively on the run.
Mazza: Not that they were in a position where they could rest on their laurels. They had to remain on the front foot and keep the audience coming back for more. The Brothers of Destruction would go to war for the vacant title at Judgment Day but Austin and McMahon wouldn’t be far away from things. Of course the rest of the hungry locker room would also be looking to put themselves into a strong position with one of the Big Four PPVs on the horizon and the Road to WrestleMania XV about to start. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The Event: Judgment Day: In Your House
The Date: 18 October 1998
The Place: Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont, Illinois
BACKGROUND AND BOOKING
With Breakdown having ended with Kane and The Undertaker simultaneously pinning Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince running off with the belt, the post-PPV Raw began with McMahon coming out to Austin’s music surrounded by police and his stooges. He cut a fantastic promo in which he decried the Rattlesnake for always having to do things the hard way. He told Austin that unlike last time he lost the title, this time there would be no re-match. Instead, he would crown a new champion that very evening in a glittering ceremony, and that champion would receive a “real” belt, not the Smoking Skull belt especially commissioned by Stone Cold. That strap would be placed above the fireplace in “one of” McMahon’s homes. That ceremony had Kane and The Undertaker come out for one of them to be presented with the belt, but who that would have been remained a mystery as Austin interrupted by driving a Miller Lite zamboni down to the ring and leaping off it to assault McMahon in one of the most iconic moments of the Monday Night Wars. As usual, Stone Cold got arrested, but McMahon was incensed that the Rattlesnake had managed to once again get to him. Kane and ‘Taker had promised protection in return for their twin title shot at Breakdown but three times in three weeks, he had been beaten to a pulp by Austin. Therefore, no one would be awarded the title; instead, the brothers would have to fight for it at Judgment Day with Stone Cold as the guest referee. Furthermore, to teach them a lesson, they would be facing The Rock, Mankind and Ken Shamrock in a handicap match as they both acted like they were handicapped, Kane mentally and Undertaker physically. The Deadman warned his boss not to step out of line again, but moments later, McMahon was caught flipping them off and the brothers began to savagely beat down the chairman of the board. The Phenom placed Vince in a knee bar for a lengthy period, before the steel steps were used to “shatter” the leg. McMahon was stretchered off to hospital to set up yet more classic Raw moments in the weeks to follow, foreshadowed by Mankind trying to offer Vince a soda as he was placed in the ambulance screaming in pain!
Just as with the previous two months, the supporting players on the cusp of the main event got a lot of screen time to prove their worth and delivered massively. The modern day WWE could learn a lot from watching these Raws in terms of feud progression and how to book inter-rivalry matches to create interesting television. The handicap tag match was very different from the usual version of what we’d come in future years to call a Teddy tag. Mankind and Shamrock went off on each other before The Rock had even made his entrance, and once The People’s Champ made it to the ring, he joined in too. The previous night’s triple threat issues were clearly still at the forefront of their characters’ minds, particularly in terms of Mankind’s vicious baseball swing chairshot to The World’s Most Dangerous Man. Shamrock’s heel turn was cemented more and more as the month wore on, but it started here in earnest. Conversely, you could smell the Mankind face turn in the air, although it didn’t seem quite so obvious at the time. As the handicap match finally managed to begin, the dysfunctional team managed to gradually get on the same page, which finally allowed Rocky to pin Undertaker with a Rock Bottom for a huge rub. With his face turn official, the Nation began to disintegrate as D’Lo and Mark Henry showed dissent at Rocky’s solo success. At the same time, Owen Hart was booked in a fourth wall repeat of his botched piledriver on Austin but this time on Dan Severn. The Blackhart “quit” the business in the middle of the ring on the 10/05 edition of Raw by way of apology (in actuality he was due to be repackaged in his late 80s Blue Blazer gimmick and even appeared in it briefly on Raw just before Judgment Day, although the full “who is the Blue Blazer?” angle didn’t fully begin to play out until November).
This handicap match led to singles matches the next week between Kane and Shamrock (Undertaker “inadvertently” gave an assist to Ken that allowed him to defeat the Big Red Monster) and Rock and ‘Taker (despite D’Lo and Henry abandoning The People’s Champ, Kane gave Rock a huge assist with a chair shot into a Rock Bottom, but the referee was out, and the third generation star ended up getting a Tombstone on a chair for the loss). The rest of the main event portion of the card was involved in the justifiably lauded hospital skits. With McMahon bed-ridden with his broken leg, Mankind arrived at his bed side with a female clown and, in his first appearance, Mr Socko (an innovation Foley attributes to Al Snow). It remains absolutely hilarious to this day. Later, Austin, disguised in scrubs, attacked the injured Vince with a bedpan and a defibrillator, whereupon McMahon’s brilliantly over the top selling made for an all time great moment.
Vince was out of hospital by the go home show, and assisted by his stooges and an electronic wheelchair, he made his way to the backstage area to watch Raw unfold. Sadly for him, Stone Cold drove a cement truck into the arena and poured cement into McMahon’s prized Corvette, stating that Vince had “cemented his own downfall” (full marks for the pun there Steve). The chairman’s revenge was to remind Austin that if he didn’t count the three at the pay-per-view, he would be fired, and furthermore, he and The Rock would have to face the Brothers of Destruction that evening, a match that advanced two feuds for the price of one; Rock’s match with Mark Henry was cemented by he and D’Lo dragging him out of the ring for a beating, and Austin was knocked out by the knightstick of the returning Big Boss Man, who would take a place as McMahon’s head of security. Undertaker placed the knee bar on the Rattlesnake as the main event programme went off air. Also present was Paul Bearer and a mysterious briefcase, adding further intrigue to the match between the Brothers of Destruction.
Meanwhile, Mankind and Shamrock were booked to face each other based on the issues from Breakdown and the Raw that followed it, and both ended up in an impromptu tournament for the Intercontinental Title, which Triple H was forced to relinquish due to injury. Shamrock laid waste to Steve Blackman, Val Venis and X Pac to win the belt, having cost Mankind his semi-final bout against Pac in the process. The dominant booking of Ken heading into the PPV made for an interesting dynamic with the mega over Foley. You can see WWF actively positioning a whole host of guys for future title pushes at this time.
With the Nation disintegrating, the summer’s other huge faction were also being booked to have tension within their ranks. The 09/28 Raw featured a tag title contest between the New Age Outlaws and Southern Justice, which the former Godwinns won by DQ after Road Dogg used the guitar on Mark Canterbury. The Bad Ass, who had the match pretty much won with a Fameasser, took exception to Roadie’s reckless action and shoved him, then X Pac, who arrived to keep the peace, then Chyna who had pushed Triple H all the way out to ringside. JR speculated that Gunn was physically and mentally at the end of his rope from carrying the load while DX had so many injuries. Outside the DX locker room there were sounds of arguing and Billy was then seen leaving the arena alone. The next week, Road Dogg faced and beat Mark Henry, replacing Billy at ringside with a sex doll dressed in DX clothes. Meanwhile, Chyna was served with sexual harassment papers by Mark Henry and as mentioned previously, Hunter was stripped of his hard won Intercontinental Strap, whilst X Pac dropped the European Title to D’Lo after interference from Henry but did at least have his rematch clause for Judgment Day. By the go home show though, the tag champs had patched things up, with Billy giving a promo stating that the two weeks to think about things had led to him having two words for anyone who thought DX or the Outlaws were splitting up. Billy and Roadie would be facing the newly heel Headbangers, who had beaten up Insane Clown Posse earlier in the month and busted Road Dogg open with a boombox at the conclusion of a short match between the Outlaws and LOD 2000, who were ambushed by DOA and Paul Ellering to set up yet another match for what was looking like a good card on paper.
Adding further to the tranche of good workers on the card, Christian, who was unveiled officially as Edge’s kayfabe younger brother and a follower of Gangrel got himself a shot at Taka Michinoku’s Light Heavyweight Title while also tangling with Edge, who took exception to Christian being with the vampire prince. Furthermore, Val Venis was faced with the return of Goldust as the Bizarre One re-emerged from his preacher Dustin Runnels cocoon to seek revenge on the Big Valbowski, delivering first a gold invitation and then the next week, a kick in the family jewels. The final loose ends for the month involved Al Snow and Marc Mero, who both had successful months taking on different opponents. Snow was getting over with the crowd, mainly due to Head and the hardcore style he’d learned during his loan to Paul Heyman in ECW.
A nice looking show on the surface of things, so let’s see what Maz made of...
Al Snow defeated Marc Mero (With Jacqueline) in 7:12
We start the night out with some filler. Just to add to things, Jeff Jarrett crashes the party before we get underway. Double J had been having issues with Snow and wanted to convince Mero to take his place. The Marvelous One is not interested in playing ball and attacks a distracted Al to start the match. He is soon stalking Head but fails when he tries to punt it. Snow takes charge for a bit and nails a moonsault but Jackie soon makes her presence felt to put Mero back in control. Marc gets a host of near falls but can’t hit the three. He goes for Marvelocity but Snow moves. Al follows it up with the Snow Plow to get the win. An average opener here. Nothing bad but nothing that stood out. Maybe would have been served better in the middle of the card.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **¾
We get a replay of Austin arriving but getting redirected from the wrestlers’ locker room to the referees’ (a closet) by the Stooges.
LOD 2000 defeated Disciples of Apocalypse in 5:04
This is actually a six man with Droz and Hawk both tagging with Animal and Paul Ellering putting his boots on to team with Skull and 8-Ball. This one is going to be nothing but a fight and the start is rough and not very pretty. The DoA quickly use underhanded tactics to cut Droz off from the original Road Warriors. A DDT allows him to make the tag though and Animal and Hawk land a Doomsday Device on one of the Harris twins but Droz sneaks in to make the pin. Animal and Droz celebrate whilst Hawk, the legal man, looks pissed. Short but mildly entertaining for what it was. It did a good job of continuing the storyline with Hawk suddenly seeming like an outsider. The question is more should this story have actually taken place. But more on that later.
ATTITUDE! Rating: *¾
Christian (With Gangrel) defeated Taka Michinoku (With Yamaguchi San) in 8:34 to win the Light Heavyweight Championship
This is a bit of a Maz and Mav hipster choice match for the night. It’s a bit hard to take Christian seriously in the big puffy shirt but we quickly see his talent too. It’s Taka who brings us a first big moment as he flies off the top rope onto Christian on the floor whilst Edge looks on from the crowd. The challenger is soon on top of things however and he hits some very crisp moves. However it is the moves to the outside that are king in this encounter. Christian follows Michinoku’s lead from earlier but Taka one ups his opponent with a moonsault to the outside. The action remains fast paced with plenty of counters and near falls for both men. The champ eventually goes for the Michinoku Driver but Christian counters into a cradle to win gold on his debut. Really good stuff here. If they got another five minutes and popped in the curtain jerking spot, it may have gone down as an all time great debut match.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***½
Goldust defeated Val Venis (With Terri Runnels) in 12:05
I had actually thoroughly enjoyed the build up to this match and it almost justified their confusing match from Breakdown. Dustin was back with his money gimmick but it would be good to see if he could bring it in the ring. Val grabs a mic to do his “Hello Ladies” schtick but is cut off by Goldie saying “Hello Val, it’s showtime”. The mind games are in full effect and the encounter is intriguing before the starting bell. It’s Venis who takes charge early and is full of the aggression I felt was missing from the first match. Goldie gets the upper hand on the outside and throws Val head first into the steps which prompts JR to say “that will make your Valbowski wilt”. The tide turns once more however and Venis follows the the light heavyweights by coming off the top to the outside. When things finally settle, Goldust is in the driving seat and the pace slows. A shoulder to the ringpost however flips things once again and The Big Valbowski begins to pick the limb apart. They control the pace very well as the wearing down of the shoulder is frequently interrupted by explosive comeback attempts. When Goldie finally gets back into things, Terri gets up on the apron. Her husband taunts her before hitting Val with a huge kick to the ‘nads for the victory. This was a really fun match. It was slow at times but the storytelling was brilliant. Little touches all over the place that made not only this encounter, but made me reassess my critiques of the previous one.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***¾
We are backstage with Cole who shows footage from Heat where Ken Shamrock reinjured Triple H’s knee after a scuffle as the DX leader had to hand over the IC strap. X-Pac joins Cole and says he will deal with Shamrock tomorrow after he wins back his Euro title from D’Lo.
X-Pac (With Chyna) defeated D’Lo Brown in 13:50 to win the European Championship
The champ is currently residing in Milan and he gets a huge “D’Lo sucks” chant. This pair had developed some good chemistry during the Nation vs DX feud and that continues here. The story is a simple one. Brown is in control for most of the match with Waltman hanging in and getting the odd bit of offence in. It’s wrestling 101 but performed well and they have the crowd very much involved. They reach a crescendo of hatred for the champ as he goes for a cannonball off the top. X-Pac moves and he finally gets in some sustained offence. He hits a Broncobuster and we then get a ref bump which prompts Mark Henry to come to ringside. He stalks Chyna and in the confusion D’Lo uses the belt to nail the challenger. Mizark brings the ref round but he can only count to two. The champ gets another close fall with his running powerbomb before going to the top. He comes off but X-Pac counters into and X-Factor to pick up the win. Good match from two guys who had pretty much assumed the role as midcard anchors in the company.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***½
The Headbangers defeated The New Age Outlaws in 14:00 by disqualification in a match for the Tag Team Championship (Outlaws retain)
The Headbangers cut a horrible interview with Cole before the match. They then cut the Outlaws off mid-schtick at the start but fail to take the early advantage. They control things for a while before a blind tag turns the tide and has Roadie playing his usual face in peril routine. Billy has the crowd screaming “suck it” which helps bring on the hot tag. A bit of illegal action however sees the Headbanger regain control after an initial flurry from Mr Ass. The action is dull with Billy in trouble but the fans keep themselves amused by reciting the Outlaws schtick. The challengers use plenty of underhanded tactics which eventually causes Roadie to hit the ring and nail Mosh with their boombox. The ref calls for the bell and the Bangers win the match but not the belts. They seem rather happy despite that which I guess kind of sums up why I hate the team. The action wasn’t bad here, but it certainly wasn’t good either.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **½
Cole is backstage and talks about rumours Paul Bearer was seen going into Taker’s dressing room before he confirms that Paul is presently in Kane’s. Mankind shows up, has Mr Socko call Shamrock’s promos “brutal” in another promo that finds the perfect balance between comedy and intensity.
Ken Shamrock defeated Mankind in 14:35 to retain the Intercontinental Championship
Ken Shamrock takes the early advantage and keeps the pace slow as he works the arm. Mankind weathers the storm for a while and manages to get the champ in the Mandible Claw. Shamrock escapes but they are soon brawling on the outside. Foley throws him into the steps and tries to use a chair. The ref tries to wrestle it away from him and it is Shamrock who uses the steel. The champ reverts back to the rest holds before a low blow and double arm DDT give Mankind some time to recover. Things pick up with Foley on the attack and we see plenty of his unorthodox moves. The tide turns however on the outside when The World’s Most Dangerous Man powerslams the challenger leg first onto the steps. He puts on the ankle lock in the ring but Mankind makes the ropes. Shamrock goes back to the well however and Mankind, in all types of pain, locks the Mandible Claw on himself allowing the champ to retain by KO. It is announced that he won as a result of the Mandible Claw and Ken wigs out again. He takes out the ref and beats down on Mick. Foley comes round however and hooks in the Claw. Again, not an awful effort, but it was beginning to look like that Shamrock didn’t have a great deal of versatility.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **¾
Cole is backstage trying to get an interview with Vince but the new head of security, the Bossman, basically tells him to do one!
Mark Henry defeated The Rock in 5:06
Mark Henry dedicates a poem to Chyna before the match. It is very much like a mid 90s LL Cool J song, complete with lip licking. He finishes it off with an amusing “take a smell of that” which brings out his former stable leader and number one contender to the WWF title to a huge reaction. The action is explosive out the gate with Rocky getting the upper hand. A shot to the announce table gets the World’s Strongest Man back in things and he gets a near fall with a big elbow. A huge leg drop brings the same result before we see The Rock fight back. He gets his own two count with a DDT before a slam gets the crowd going nuts for the People’s Elbow. D’Lo comes down however and the distraction allows Henry to hit a clothesline. He follows up with a splash and he gets the pin thanks to Brown holding Rocky’s feet down on the pin. Not bad for a five minute match but still a rushed blow off to a hugely influential and important faction, although that is understandable with what was to come at the next PPV.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **½
THE MAIN EVENT
Kane (With Paul Bearer) and The Undertaker wrestled to a No Contest in 17:35 in a match for the WWF Championship
The match gets underway in entertaining fashion with Austin delivering a foul mouthed version of the referee’s customary instructions and then flipping the bird to the two wrestlers fighting over the vacant gold. The Undertaker shows his veteran smarts early, blindsiding Kane and delivering shots to the kidney area of his kayfabe younger brother and managing to bottle him up in the corner for more strikes. Old school swiftly follows and the elder of the two Brothers of Destruction is very much in control until he mistimes a corner charge and an inscensed Kane comes back with an elbow and powerslam. It’s very much generic big man fare, but the crowd are hot for it and Austin’s snarling presence as guest referee certainly adds to proceedings, with the Rattlesnake first refusing to count for ‘Taker and then trying to administer a fast count when Kane has his brother in a lateral press. The idea is that Stone Cold is going out of his way to get a rise out of McMahon and the storytelling concept largely works well.
As this is the Attitude Era, the battle soon spills out to the ringside area, where Kane is introduced to the steel steps and the Deadman narrowly misses with a heinous chair shot, after which he takes his younger “brother” back in the ring to punish the leg, to, in Jim Ross’ words, take down the vertical base. This is sound psychology but does perhaps cause this portion of the contest to drag somewhat, filled as it is with wear down holds and elbow drops to the knee. Indeed, aside from a brief Kane comeback flurry, The Phenom dominates the middle portion of the bout, applying more leg locks and tree of woe strikes with Austin acknowledging in the background that the Big Red Monster does not want to quit. The inevitable comeback, with Kane playing a de facto face, oddly enough, comes with a bear hug into a spinebuster, and following further offense on The Undertaker, the Big Red Machine targets the special guest referee, recognising that he will not count a three for either competitor; it’s therefore no surprise when The Phenom joins in. With Austin down, Kane hits the chokeslam on ‘Taker, at which point Paul Bearer arrives with a steel chair, but after making to strike the Deadman, he instead careens it off the back of Kane, who no sells in awesome fashion. Unfortunately for the Big Red Monster, his “brother” has a stronger arm and a head shot takes the demon down.
By now, the Rattlesnake is back on his feet and once again refuses to count, prompting an enraged Undertaker to confront him, but Stone Cold is ready and hits a Stunner and chair shot to send the heel to the canvas. With both contenders down, Austin counts three and rings the bell for the end of the match. He then gets on the mic, announces himself the winner, and thrillingly calls McMahon out to fire him. With no response from the chairman, Stone Cold goes to find him so he can keep his promise from the go home Raw, but Vince is nowhere to be seen, so Austin ends up back at ringside. McMahon then appears from behind the Titantron in his wheelchair and delivers, after a dramatic pause, the first of many “you’re fired” lines. Stone Cold has the last word though, telling Vince in no uncertain terms that he hasn’t seen the last of him.
As a match, we can perhaps see this as the vanguard of a new trend of privileging story ahead of mat action, something which would arguably become more and more of an issue through 1999 before being re-corrected during 2000. The entire thing focused around the title’s status and Stone Cold’s power to crown a new champion but also his complete unwillingness to do so. Although the match was plodding- as Kane/Taker matches tend to be as a matter of course- the outcome meant we got Deadly Game, so I’m more than prepared to accept a relatively poor match in return for an awesome tournament filled pay-per-view just a few weeks later.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **
Unlike the last pay-per-view we looked at, which was undone by its undercard, this one had a rock solid worker heavy first two hours which set a blistering pace, only for the three feature matches to be somewhat plodding. The story through the night was excellent, and there were three midcard gems on offer for the connoisseur, but I do find the so-so last hour of Judgment Day a crying shame.
It is funny that between Breakdown and Judgment Day there is an epic PPV. Just a shame we couldn’t paste them together. Still it is an improvement for me and that those three back-to-back-to-back hipster specials in the middle of the card were very entertaining indeed. It may not go down as a classic but it was the final step on the way to a huge night at the next event.
Judgment Day Overall ATTITUDE! Rating: **¾
MVP - GOLDUST
You know, I’m delighted we could finally give one of these awards to the Bizarre One; I feared he wouldn’t ever get nominated, and as we discussed in our prelude, his character did so much to shake up the New Generation and turn it towards the Attitude Era that it’s only appropriate that he gets an MVP gong to add to his mantelpiece. After the disaster of TAKFA Goldust and the false start of his preacher character (which actually ended up feeding into the later Right To Censor group which used the anti-Attitude thing much more effectively) the return of the gold ticker tape entrance alone was enough to cause this writer to mark out, but seeing him wrestle an aggressive, physical, beautifully constructed match with Val was a real treat. Dustin, we salute you.
For me this had been a long time coming. We’ve touted the fact that the Goldust character is a pioneer of Attitude but he had never totally clicked in this series until now. His work in the early part of this series was interesting and solid. His huge feud with Brian Pillman sadly didn’t hit the potential that was there. As Mav said, his TAFKAG stage was horrible and the preacher stuff seemed to be going in the same direction until the return of the Bizarre One. Dustin is clearly a great wrestler but Goldust is his destiny. And getting paired with the right man, in the right gimmick, with the right story finally allowed Rhodes to steal the show in the era he helped pioneer.
THE ONE TO WATCH
This week in The One To Watch we turn our attention to the downfall of the Legion of Doom. When we began this series, Maz and I were pleasantly surprised by how much better the veteran tag team’s nostalgia run was than either of us remembered. Through 1997, there was no more over team on the roster, and in terms of crowd reactions, only Bret, Austin, HBK and ‘Taker could beat them. Acting as the lynchpin of an underrated tag division, the bikers were in the ideal place to add value to the product, and did the New Age Outlaws an absolutely massive favour in January 1998 when they not only allowed themselves to be beaten down in a way I’m not sure LOD ever had been in their careers, they also put the young studs over in consecutive pay-per-views. Following that put over job though, WWF went wildly off the rails with how they used Hawk and Animal.
First came the brief break up angle, which was unconvincingly resolved by the agency of Sunny appearing as super manager to heal the divisions between the pair and lead them to battle royal victory in the Wrestlemania XIV curtain jerker. There was something awkward about the partnership between Sunny and the Warriors, but at least we got to see Miss Sytch in one of her most alluring outfits. Actually, by the time Sunny’s drug issues caused her to exit the company, the on screen chemistry was improving, but suddenly, the boys were back by themselves. Without Sunny, the new costumes began to look even sillier than before, and then Droz was gradually introduced.
This gradual integration of a third member echoed what happened with Demolition in the early 90s. And I think we all know how lame Smash and Crush were compared to Smash and Ax! Furthermore, the betrayal of the team by Paul Ellering seemed like an angle that was fifteen years too late, and several rough matches against DOA did nothing for the men from Chicago. Worse was to come though. Michael ‘Hawk’ Helgstrand’s drug and alcohol issues were well known amongst smart fans, and WWF chose to create a storyline out of it, in the spirit of Mick Foley’s Dude Love videos or Dustin Runnels’ marriage issues. However, the entire thing was handled in a crass, horrible, tawdry way, with Hawk being booked to fall off turnbuckles and slur his way through promos. By the time he came back, he found Droz now fully installed as an “alternate” with the face paint and pads. And that was where things got really bad...
When you compile a list of the most tasteless wrestlecrap in history, Katie Vick will top most people’s lists. However in my opinion, an angle where Hawk attempted to commit suicide by jumping off the Titantron runs it very very close. It may well have been the final straw for the Road Warriors and they voiced their disapproval of the whole storyline and it was dropped. Sadly it pretty much marked the end of their WWF career. They would wrestle a few more times before being released in 1999. They even had another try out in 2003 but it was unsuccessful and Hawk sadly passed away a few months later. It was far from a fitting end to the duo many would classify as the greatest tag team of all time.
I honestly believe that is the problem. They were a great team but they weren’t Vince created, so he desperately wanted to put and WWF mark on them. When they returned to the company after a five year absence in 1997, I don’t think there were huge plans for them. They essentially just got on with their standard stuff but it was soon clear their popularity was still through the roof. I’d even go a step further than Mav and say that their pops were second only to Stone Cold on most nights. It was way beyond nostalgia pops too. The Legion of Doom were simply the best in the business. The IWC often confuse talking ability with charisma. The LOD were the perfect team to help differentiate. In typical 80s style they would shout a whole lot of nonsense during promos. If someone said that same stuff today they would be crucified. But they delivered it with a charisma that was captivating. They brought that charisma to the ring and whilst you would never mistake them for super ring technicians, there was a magnetism to their wrestling. This package put them head and shoulders above the rest of the teams in the division at the time.
For whatever reason though, the company didn’t seem to want to build the division around them. Hawk’s demons may have had a hand in that but LOD were primarily used to enhance the team around them. The problem was that they were a world better than all of them once Owen Hart and The British Bulldog moved on to higher profile things. The birth of the New Age Outlaws was a Godsend for the division and the Road Warriors. It gave them a huge angle to beat part of and a duo worthy of being put over. As Mav said, the job they did with The Road Dogg and The Bad Ass was excellent and it placed the Outlaws on the road to superstardom. It would have been perfect if it was the last thing they did but they would soon be repackaged.
LOD 2000 simply just wasn’t a good idea. I can understand the logic. Take ridiculously over team and give them a new millennium makeover and add really over hot chick who has nothing to do. It just didn’t fit though. It took away some of what made LOD so popular and Sunny took focus away when her strength is bringing focus to people who struggle to get over on their own. And boy did they look wrong. Adding a new member was again, fine in principle. A young stud could get a huge rub being part of a legendary team. The problem is that when the young stud becomes part of a team, it is no longer the same team. The Road Warriors were more than the sum of their parts. Animal’s failed run as “The Road Warrior” in the mid-00s adds weight to that. Lot’s more teams over the years were split up prematurely for whatever reason without success. LOD proved more than any pairing in history that a tag team can be as big a deal as a singles competitors. It’s unfortunate that it seems the WWF never really bought into that argument.
Judgment Day bettered the buyrate of Breakdown with a 0.9, showing that WWE financials were hitting a very consistent place, rewarding them for months of patient booking, which would now lead them into the fourth “Big Four” event of the year, Survivor Series, which would feature a title tournament all fans of mine and Maz’s approximate age get misty eyed over to this day. Oh yes, I’m talking about Survivor Series: Deadly Game...
Judgment Day was another hit for WWF in the war with WCW too. Bischoff went back to basics for Halloween Havoc, giving a whole host of high profile one on ones. Rick Steiner vs Scott Steiner, Hall vs Nash, Hart vs Sting, Hogan vs Warrior accompanied a main event of Goldberg vs DDP. Despite having pretty much something for everyone, they only managed a buy rate of 0.78. Again, standing alone this was strong but in comparison to what was happening at Titan Towers, it wasn’t enough. The question for Vince however was just how much could he draw with a highly anticipated tournament on the cards?
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On tomorrow’s show we celebrate our one year anniversary by looking back at our most ridiculous suggestions and predictions in addition to previewing Payback.
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