‘Sup, Lords of Pain? It’s that time of the week once more. We had a strange episode of Raw this week. The first hour was great whilst everything else just kind of sucked. I’m officially past caring about the Cena vs Wyatt feud and it doesn’t feel like a big deal to me at this stage which reflects poorly on both men in my opinion. I officially care a great deal about Daniel Bryan vs Kane. Yeah, really! It makes sense as a first feud for DB, particularly now with the disruptions (a veteran who Bryan has worked a lot with). Any worries about The Big Red Machine not being a threat in kayfabe were severely put to rest too and if that still bothers you, you need to take your smark hat off for a little bit. And don’t forget, WWE are coming off causing the biggest shock to smark logic in wrestling history at Mania. The only things left for sure in the Reality Era are death and taxes. I am not quite sure about all the concern over what main events Extreme Rules too. We’ve got a dream match and a title match built brilliantly with so little. I don’t care which one goes on last! What goes on next here though isn’t predicting the future, but rather analysing the past.
ATTITUDE! Over The Edge: In Your House (CPR Productions)
By Maz & Mav
Apr 24, 2014 - 2:30:23 PM
Maverick: Well Maz, here we are again, stepping out of the time machine in May 1998 for an In Your House pay-per-view which would see Austin’s struggles against McMahon and his hired gun Mick Foley continue, as well as the first of many battles between a now-babyface D-Generation X and the Nation of Domination.
Mazza: Yes. You could say that 1998 was in full swing right now with the year’s defining feuds both playing out. There were plenty of questions to answer on the night though. Would Mick be able to get the job done for Vince? Would The Rock be able to see off the one-on-one challenge of his former stable leader? Would Owen Hart’s big gamble finally see him get one over on Triple H? How would Kane rebound from back-to-back losses to his brother? I guess we better get on with answering them.
The Event: Over The Edge: In Your House
The Date: 31 May 1998
The Place: Wisconsin Center Arena, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
BACKGROUND AND BOOKING
With the Austin vs. Dude Love programme still having plenty of miles in the tank, and with the McMahon authority figure getting hugely over as a heel, WWF were in a strong place with their main event, which isn’t necessarily what one might have anticipated when Bret Hart’s contract expired and Shawn Michaels back got destroyed, but the fact was that the company had a huge draw in Stone Cold and were confident in making use of other moving parts to keep him motoring along at the top of the card. Following the Texas Rattlesnake’s disqualification for use of a chair at Unforgiven, a rematch was obviously going to take place, but the build to that second bout was actually very creative and an awful lot of fun. Austin taunted McMahon with the fact that his champion was a non-conformist, beer swilling, cuss word using wild card, and the chairman of the board countered by introducing a more corporate version of Dude Love, in a smart blazer and slacks, with his hair in a neat ponytail and his beard trimmed neatly. This fit in so brilliantly with Foley’s identity crisis wrestling character and would not be the first time that one of his “faces” would undergo a makeover. To ensure that his choice of champion would triumph at Over The Edge, Vince appointed Gerald Brisco as timekeeper, Pat Patterson as ring announcer and himself as special guest referee, all of which capitalised ingeniously on the real life heat on the owner of the company for his screwjob on Bret Hart a few months earlier. The storyline was all about “conspiracy” and the Rattlesnake’s attempts to escape said conspiracy. Vince certainly did not have things all his own way, with Austin having him arrested by police in a role reversal of what had happened the previous month. McMahon had to apologise to Stone Cold, making for some hilarious television. Dude Love vs. Austin, with the involvement of the prototype of the Corporation is a very underrated feud which is definitely worth sitting down and having a look at if you’re a newer fan. If nothing else, it shows you where the current Bryan title run is headed!
The all-new DX Army got over so quickly after its formation that they were quickly turned babyface. Their anti-authority gimmick made them a natural fit for a fan favourite role now that the sneering Heartbreak Kid had departed and Vince McMahon was hamming it up in the storylines trying to make the WWF more corporate. When the modern day WWE look back over the era, the segments involving the degenerates from this time often feature, and I don’t doubt that most of you either remember them from the time or have seen them in retrospect. The driving of the tank to a WCW event in Norfolk, Virginia to “declare war”, the visit to the WCW offices in Atlanta, the skywriting of “Suck It” above an event as it happened, all of these skits were filmed during the build to Over The Edge. Meanwhile, the second half of a double turn occurred when Triple H’s constant opponent since late December, Owen Hart, turned his back on Ken Shamrock and joined the Nation, the “something’s gotta change” promise from Unforgiven being fulfilled. Owen, plus his new stablemates, Kama and D-Lo, would face the DX team of Hunter and the New Age Outlaws. There were plenty of skirmishes between the two sides as the PPV loomed, and anticipation was high for the six man.
The leader of the Nation of Domination, The Rock, still held the Intercontinental Title and was due to defend it against the man he ousted from the group, Farooq. This was clearly a feud constructed to help get Rocky even further over as a heel champ, as the big man from Georgia was pretty much enhancement talent at this point, despite him gaining the pinfall on the future Great One at Unforgiven. Similarly, Vader was once again thrown in Kane’s path after the Big Red Monster had twice failed to take down his storyline brother, The Undertaker. The Mastodon had interfered at the conclusion of the Inferno Match, partially in revenge for Kane’s decimation of him at No Way Out Of Texas in February. The Man They Call Vader and Kane put their respective masks on the line in a trope lifted from lucha libre. Two massive hosses wrestling a mask vs. mask match was definitely an interesting idea.
Further midcard intrigue was added in the continuing Mero onscreen break up; after all the months of tension, staged misogyny and poisonous storyline jealousy, Marvellous Marc finally agreed to let Sable go if she could find a champion to defeat him...but if Mero were to win, Sable would have to “leave” the WWF. This was a hugely over story and with Sable’s undoubted popularity skyrocketing, it made Marc a pretty huge heel for its duration. The mystery man to take on the kayfabe boxer would be revealed at the PPV itself. You have to give it to WWF in those days, they really paid attention to the midcard and the reasons behind feuds. It’s one of the best things about Attitude. Take as another example Bradshaw befriending Taka Michinoku in a comedy little and large partnership, trying to teach the young cruiserweight from Japan some American ways. Debuting stable Kaientai, led by Yamaguchi San, objected to this and to Michinoku’s integration into American wrestling, and the team of Bradshaw and Taka were thus to face all three members of Kaientai in a handicap tag at Over The Edge.
Speaking of tag matches, LOD 2000, led by the delightful-as-ever Sunny, were set to take on the Disciples of Apocalypse team of Skull and 8-Ball, after the twin bikers turned on the veterans after being invited to be their partners in an eight man tag on Raw. The final feud to make the pay-per-view was that between Steve Blackman and Jeff Jarrett, who had existing beef from Blackman’s interruption of Jarrett’s country music concert at Unforgiven. The martial arts expert against the preening singer gimmick was an interesting contrast, and the still-green Blackman very much benefited from working with someone with Double J’s experience.
So, that’s what was going down in late-April and May 1998. So let’s see how it all went down on the night as Maz brings you...
LOD 2000 (With Sunny & Droz) defeated Skull & 8-Ball (With Chainz) in 9:57
The match begins with Droz and Chainz both getting involved in a brawl until it settles down to the Road Warriors and the Harris boys. The action in the ring isn’t pretty but is hard hitting and has a decent pace. Meanwhile Sunny looks positively babelicious on the outside in her LOD 2000 get up. Chainz and Droz get involved again on the outside as the crowd chant “LOD”. Things settle down and the Disciples of Apocalypse take control, cutting Hawk off from his partner. The face in peril stage isn’t overly lengthy and Animal soon gets the hot tag. Droz and Chainz both try to get involved again but it is LOD’s support system that pays dividends as a clothesline to the back allows Animal to hit a powerslam for the win. This was a decent opener. The Legion of Doom are always a good choice to get the crowd going and they seem to work better with rough and tough opponents. You won’t hear me say too many positive things about the Harris twins but they fit that mould well here.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **½
The Rock comes down to the ring and cuts a promo. It is standard ‘insult the town you are in’ stuff and by Rocky’s standard not particularly strong. Faarooq comes down with a chair but Rock gets hold of it. Unfortunately for the IC champ, he swings and hits nothing but rope and knocks himself silly with the rebound. The Nation come out and he is stretchered to the back.
Steve Austin is then interviewed by Michael Cole. Stone Cold calls him a stupid bastard. I have no idea what was said afterwards because I was too busy laughing.
Jeff Jarrett (With Tennessee Lee) defeated Steve Blackman in 10:15
We start out with some nice paced back and forth action with things settling with Blackman in charge. Experience sees the tide turn on the outside and Jarrett shows off his skills as Al Snow comes down to the Spanish announce table. The English announce team are more concerned with the news that Commissioner Slaughter has said the Rock will still defend his title against Faarooq as Jarrett hooks in a sleeper. Blackman counters into one of his own but cannot capitalise fully. The action continues to swing back and forth before Tennessee Lee gets involved. The Lethal Weapon doesn’t get caught out however and gets a two count following using a kendo stick. Lee gets Double J’s foot on the rope to break the fall and Blackman then goes to the top but Lee interferes again. He strikes him with the kendo stick and Jarrett picks up the win. Blackman was just not very good at this point of his career. Double J did a fair carrying job but it went on a bit too long. On top of that almost all the illegal action went down right in front of the ref but apparently he didn’t see anything. Jarrett hadn’t been used particularly well since his return and this was another example of wasting strong midcard talent.
ATTITUDE! Rating: *¾
Marc Mero defeated Sable in 0:20 in an Intergender Match
Marvelous Marc comes out first and Sable soon follows. She says she will wrestle the match herself. Mero shows remorse, upset at what the business has done for their relationship. He says he will give Sable her freedom and lays down. Sable covers him but he kicks out at two, roles her up for the three and celebrates like he has just become world champion. He tells her to “get the hell out of the WWF” before leading a rendition of Na na na na na na. Sable cuts a promo backstage where she says she can’t believe Marc stooped that low and says goodbye to her fans. I’ve honestly seen better acting in porn! Obviously as a match we can’t rate this much more than a dud but as a segment it was great. A fun swerve, hilarious and a big shock of one of the most popular stars in the company technically having to leave. Once again, Mero deserves a lot of credit for his work.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ¼*
Doc is backstage with the Nation. He tries to get an interview whilst D’Lo tries to get Rock to squeeze his hand to no avail and Owen rambles into the camera. It was rather amusing with ham galore in addition to building up Rocky’s injury.
Kaientai (With Yamaguchi San) defeated Taka Michinoku & Justin Bradshaw in 9:52 in a Handicap Match
This is a bonus match which gives us our first look at Kaientai and Funaki. Bradshaw comes out in chaps and he and Taka clear house before he press slams Michinoku into Kaientai on the outside. The early action is chaotic as Bradshaw uses his size, Taka his speed and Kaientai their numbers advantage. We get some good action as Michinoku becomes the face in peril and we get to see the talent of Dick Togo, Mens Teioh and Sho Funaki. Togo is particularly impressive as he shows off some explosive high flying for a chubster. Taka eventually makes the hot tag and Bradshaw destroys Kaientai for a while. Michinoku gets tagged back in and hits his Driver but the pin gets broken up. A chokeslam from Teioh and a top rope Senton from Togo get the win for Kaientai. That was a really nice addition to the card. Fun action from the Japanese contingent with Bradshaw a strange, but well placed big tough guy in the middle of it all. Kaientai make a claim to become the new Los Boricuas in the hearts of Mav and myself.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***
We get a shot of Sable leaving the arena. Thankfully she wasn’t given a mic again.
The Rock defeated Faarooq in 5:07 to retain the Intercontinental Championship
The challenger comes to the ring first. Rocky’s music plays but he doesn’t come through the curtain. Eventually Slaughter comes down to the ring and tells Maivia he is ordering him to come out or he will give the title to Faarooq. There is a ten second countdown and The Rock limps through the curtain, still wearing his collar, when we get down to two. The champ hams it up some more and Faarooq comes to meet him in the aisle. He takes off his brace and nails him with hit. Rock tries to walk but the challenger brings him back again. The champ finds a way back in and controls for a while. He hits a People’s Elbow complete with removing of the pad and taunt but only gets a two. He gets another two with a DDT before Faarooq hits a spinebuster. The ref counts to three but sees that Rocky had his foot on the rope. Faarooq argues with the ref which allows the champ to recover and he gets the victory thanks to a rope assisted double leg pick up. After the match Faarooq hits a piledriver which Rocky sells sublimely. The Nation make their way to the ring and beat down on their former leader before DX make the save to a huge pop. The shenanigans at the end were great but the match itself was rough, disjointed and short. Disappointed as the storyline of the leadership of the Nation deserved a better blow off.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **½
Kane (With Paul Bearer) defeated Vader in 7:20 in a Mask vs Mask Match
This is a hard hitting encounter from the get go. The pace is decent for two big guys but the action is not particularly smooth. Kane gets the better of things as the action slows until Vader gets hold of a wrench on the outside. Vader hits The Big Red Monster with the tool a few times before heading back to the ring. The crowd go bananas as he goes to the top rope. He goes for the moonsault but Kane moves out of the way and hits a Tombstone for the win. Kane takes off the Mastodon’s mask and Paul Bearer puts it on and dances around. Vader cuts a strange interview with Cole as he leaves the ring and calls himself a “big fat piece of shit”. Not as good as their match a few months previously. The last minute or so was exciting but it was another disjointed match before then.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **¼
We get an in-ring segment where Mad Dog Vachon and The Crusher are honoured. Lawler crashes the party and removes Vachon’s fake leg. The Crusher gets hold of it however and levels The King with it. It sounds horrible but the sick bastard inside me (Hi Uncle Joe) rather enjoyed it!
Owen Hart, Kama Mustafa & D’Lo Brown (With Mark Henry) defeated Triple H & The New Age Outlaws (With Chyna & X-Pac) in 18:33
We get our first taste of the DX Army as a unit and Hunter hypes the crowd with their “are you ready” “let’s get ready to suck it” schtick before Roadie and Billy do their usual routine. It’s our first glimpse of Owen as part of the Nation and he is already drawing great heat. It is interesting watching Trips and the Outlaws wrestle as faces for the first time and Helmsley in particular is getting plenty of love from the crowd. We get lots of early tags and DX work over Hart for a bit until a low blow allows him to make a tag to Kama (JR refers to the fact that he is known as “The Godfather” backstage). The quick tags continue until DX cut off D’Lo this time. Brown eventually makes the tag and it is the Nation’s turn to live up to their name and dominate. Road Dogg plays the face in peril as the match gets a little dull. Eventually Billy gets the hot tag and comes in like a house on fire. We have our obligatory breaking down of the match and Mr Ass hits D’Lo with a Fameasser (referred to still as a Rocker Dropper at this point). JR delivers our line of the night by stating that “Mark Henry just jerked Chyna off”. Billy and H hit a spike piledriver on Brown. Hunter goes for the cover but Owen interferes and lands a Pedigree on HHH onto the a title belt to pick up the win. A good start and finish to this one although the middle section prevented it from edging into the ‘great’ category. The mark in me loved seeing DX and the Nation getting into it again though, but more on that later.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***¼
THE MAIN EVENT
Steve Austin defeated Dude Love in 22:27 in a Falls Count Anywhere Match for the WWF Championship
The beginning of this main event is absolutely hilarious, and you have to give kudos to WWF for pulling off the corporate stooge theme so well. Fink reads a seemingly endless fawning introduction for Pat Patterson, including a “wink wink” reference to the non-existent kayfabe tournament during which Patterson became the first ever Intercontinental Champion (hi there fourth wall). Pat then reads similarly toadying introductions for Brisco and McMahon. The heat this generates is absolutely terrific and the writing is just top notch. Just fantastically executed comedy; you’d kill for anything that good nowadays, even more so when Patterson buries Austin by calling him a “punk” and a “bum”, refusing to actually say his name.
Further evidence of how well WWF understood their audience by this time is provided by The Undertaker arriving to ensure that McMahon plays fair, a nod to the Deadman’s real life status as arbiter of fairness backstage (he is widely known to have got McMahon to make his fateful visit to Bret Hart’s dressing room in the aftermath of Montreal). The pop the Phenom gets is thus enormous and the stage is set for what is perhaps the most “Attitude” main event we have yet seen in this series.
As the bell rings, a collar and elbow tie up is interrupted by Austin flipping McMahon the bird, to a massive pop. That’s character wrestling at its best, folks. The psychology of these early exchanges is absolutely fantastic, with Dude going for numerous pins and the crooked official looking for the fast count. The crowd, hilariously, begin to chant “VInce is gay”, as the chain wrestling between the two brawlers continues, and what do you know, they chain wrestle fantastically well, showing how much range they truly had as performers. In a spot that I’m not sure was planned or not, Foley’s false front teeth come out and Austin stamps on them, showing exactly what he thinks of the corporate makeover. The pace thereafter speeds up, selling Stone Cold picking up the intensity, with Dude clotheslined over the top to begin the obligatory outside brawling portion of the bout.
Just as we’d expect from two masters of the Attitude main event style, the brawl is huge amounts of fun, with the Rattlesnake sent into the steel steps, and McMahon admonishing him for being outside the ring in a manner ill-befitting an impartial official; ‘Taker’s menacing presence at ringside reminds the audience that integrity is close at hand should Vince be tempted to take his authority too far. A quick escape from the Mandible Claw stops the chairman from being able to utilise Brisco at the timekeeper’s desk, and the frustration is etched on his face as the action once again spills outside and the Dude chokes Austin with camera cable in a foretelling of violence to come, as the Rattlesnake manages to fling Love straight into Brisco, wiping out the first of Vince’s stooges; once again, the storytelling is just so spot on as it would be in so many of these main events. Thrillingly, they brawl into the crowd, with Stone Cold practically taking off Dude’s head with a mighty clothesline over the barrier.
Back in the ring, a mistake by Austin allows Foley to baseball slide his opponent to the outside, at which point Patterson ludicrously announces that the match has become falls count anywhere, as that’s where the bout has gone and that’s where the advantage for Dude lies; JR of course is not happy at all about this (as a side note, watching every Attitude PPV in sequence doesn’t half make you miss good commentary at wrestling events). In an absolutely bonkers spot considering the state of his neck, Stone Cold is backdropped onto the hood of the Brisco car, and minutes later, Foley is planted face first on another, after which McMahon makes certain to appear utterly fair in making the counts, particularly as the Phenom is once again hanging around with intent. The spots come thick and fast from this point, but not in such a way as to detract from the overall flow of the contest. Austin is flung off a car, and straight afterwards, Dude is sunset flipping from the bonnet to the concrete floor. You really do have to take your hat off to the Texan for being so sanguine about taking spots with potentially damaging consequences in the name of entertaining us. The Rattlesnake blades after an assault by Love with an exhaust pipe and the hoods of the cars arrayed on the aisle, but the sight of his own blood causes Austin to rally, until an attempted piledriver is countered into a backdrop and he again feels the unforgiving concrete.
However, Dude Love too feels that hard surface after missing an elbow drop off the top of the car; this truly is hardcore wrestling taken to a science. Back in the ring, with Austin bleeding all over his opponent, Jim Ross intones that he may be “marked for life” as the exposed turnbuckle comes into play. With the Rattlesnake placed in a chin lock, face bloody, we are forcibly reminded of Chicago 14 months or so before, but just as happened then, our man has no intention of quitting, even when rammed into the exposed steel, he finds a way to kick out, as McMahon has a tantrum on the canvas. Austin takes a chair shot to the back and a double arm DDT onto the chair, but still finds the will to continue. I suppose if this were to happen today, some might be saying “Super Austin” but 1998 was a more forgiving place and it doesn’t seem out of place to be honest, as the whole story of the match is based around Austin escaping with the title despite the obstacles placed in front of him.
Indeed, the Stone Cold comeback comes straight afterwards, with the chair being used on the Dude with sickening thuds, only for Vince to refuse to count the pin with a smug grin on his face. Shenanigans are clearly afoot as the match nears its conclusion; Foley accidentally takes out McMahon with a chair, Austin hits the stunner but the replacement ref is dragged out of the ring by Patterson,‘Taker chokeslams Patterson through the announce desk (kudos to Pat for taking that bump at his advanced age!) when he tries to count a pin on a Mandible Claw-ed Austin, and then when Brisco also tried, he gets a chokeslam through the Spanish announce table! It’s zany stuff of the best kind, and a final stunner from the Rattlesnake sees him grab the hand of the guest ref and count the three, taking advantage of the pre-match words of McMahon “it will end by my hand only”. The future direction of the main event scene is set post-match, too, with a stare down between Austin and ‘Taker.
This main event is certainly the most “Attitude” bout we’ve seen to date; the endless interference, screwy stipulations, violent outside of ring brawling and innovative use of the no-DQ atmosphere all point to it being something of a blueprint for what was to come. A bit of a lost classic this one. Recommended!
ATTITUDE! Rating: ****¼
Over the Edge was a real mixed bag. That served as both a positive and a negative. There was quite a lot in terms of filler matches on the show. Not so much that there wasn’t a reason for the matches but more lower card bouts with relatively new storylines. Some of that was quite refreshing, particularly Kaientai vs Bradshaw and Taka. The start of the Nation vs DX feud was fun as well. The supporting cast was stronger overall here than it was at Unforgiven but it was still a card that was strongest at the very top. Dude vs Austin was great. As Mav said, everything about it screamed Attitude and when that is being delivered by two of the “Four Pillars”, it will be a hit time after time.
Absolutely. The undercard here had its moments for sure; the two multi-man tags were a whole heap of fun, especially when you factor in the pre-match DX “let’s get ready to suck it” routine being seen on PPV for the first time. The finish with Owen stealing the Pedigree was all kinds of awesome too, and Billy Gunn pushed hard for MVP honours with some terrific wrestling. Kaientai also proved a revelation, meshing brilliantly with their countryman Michinoku and surprisingly, with a still green Bradshaw too. However, Jarrett’s match with Blackman was poor and Vader really should have got something better out of Kane. As Maz said though, this pay-per-view was all about that main event, a terrific example of why those of us entering our late teens at the time love the era so much.
Over the Edge: In Your House Overall ATTITUDE! Rating: **½
MVP - DUDE LOVE
Mick Foley already has an MVP award from us in his bag from King of the Ring in June ‘97, and he picks up his second one here for a bravura performance in the main event we have already raved about. Taking the fan-friendly Dude Love dancing hippy character and turning it into a vicious corporate stooge was a genius piece of character work from Foley, and it gave Austin a brilliant first feud to get his title reign off to a running start. Working in all of his hardcore tricks outside on the floor, Mick helped give us one of the great lost Attitude main events, one that should be talked about a whole lot more than it is.
Royal Rumble 1999. Royal Rumble 2000. Backlash 2004. WrestleMania 22. What these events all have in common is that Mick Foley went out there and made young champions or on the cusp main eventers look like legitimate badasses and bona fide top level guys. After watching this match with Austin, I have to believe that Over The Edge 1998 very much belongs to be mentioned in the same breath as these other amazing put-overs. Whilst Austin was a slightly different case to Rocky, Hunter, Orton and Edge, what Foley did was essentially the same - doing a job in a hectic hardcore match which makes his opponent look like a million dollars. Very deserving of this MVP award.
THE ONE TO WATCH
Today we take a look at what is, in our humble opinion, a criminally underrated pro wrestling stable. I speak, of course, of The Nation of Domination. Their existence spanned a full two years and several incarnations, all of which added a tremendous amount to the mid to late 90s midcard scene. We’ve actually seen three of the four main variants of the group already in this series. The initial group, led by Farooq and managed by Clarence Mason, used the mannerisms of the Nation of Islam and spent a great deal of time making Ahmed Johnson’s life difficult. The injuries the big man sustained basically prevented that storyline from really going where it should have, but the group were over enough that they essentially broke up in the main event portion of the product over Crush and Savio’s botched interference in their stable leader’s title match with The Undertaker at King of the Ring ‘97. The second incarnation, which kicked off the gang wars storyline after Savio and Crush found groups of their own to head, featured D-Lo Brown, Kama Mustafa and Ahmed Johnson, but the big man’s injury led to him being replaced by the struggling midcard babyface Rocky Maivia. The rest is history, as the heel turn allowed Rocky to finally show the charisma and swagger that had been waiting to emerge. Over the last couple of pay-per-views, we have seen the transition from Farooq’s leadership to The Rock’s, with the former WCW champion forced out by his young protegé. It was classic wrestling booking, and allowed the Nation’s programme with Shamrock and his allies to be characterised by internal strife and the marginalisation of Farooq. From the moment Farooq turned face, he was backed up by the DX Army, and this inevitably led to the summer long feud which would be the Nation’s greatest achievement.
That’s right. Last week we looked at the evolution of DX and it is interesting to see that the Nation of Domination actually followed a very similar pattern. Even more interesting is that both groups were at their greatest when feuding with each other in my opinion. The peak of the Nation ran slightly earlier than that of DX and we will see it catapult their leader to the main event during 1998. I will look at the role the group played in the rise of Dwayne Johnson in a little bit but it is best we start at the beginning with the man who initially headed up the faction. Ron Simmons was the first black world heavyweight champion but his WWF debut was rather embarrassing. Going by the name Faarooq Assad, he wore a bright blue costume, a ridiculous hat that resembled a cycling helmet and was managed by Sunny. I am not even sure what the gimmick was meant to be but it stunk of New Gen. Even as a guy that didn’t really follow WCW, I knew that it was not something that was fitting of a guy like Simmons. Fortunately it was extremely short lived and Faarooq dropped his new surname and joined up with Clarence Mason to start the Nation. His role as leader of the group during all the personnel changes until he was ousted was a strong one. He was the perfect man to play a hard hitting authoritarian and the fact that he wouldn’t hesitate to beat down on his own stablemates made for an interesting dynamic. Whilst he wouldn’t reach the dizzy heights he managed in Atlanta, he established himself as a strong midcard player and managed to get out of gimmick hell in no time at all. It’s a knack that would come in handy again over the next few PPVs in this series as he found a way to pull himself out of impending nothingness once more.
In the original Nation, the other main players were Crush and Savio Vega. Crush was a guy that you could just tell the WWF wanted to succeed. He had the look for sure. He’d even been paired with Randy Savage at WrestleMania X but essentially he could never make the gimmicks stick. The convict/biker role that he adopted in the Nation fit him really well and the popularity he garnered as the leader of spin-off group The Disciples of Apocalypse was extremely organic. We’d never see just how far he could take the group as leader however as he left the company in the aftermath of the Montreal Screwjob. He’d return after the end of the Attitude Era during the InVasion following an unremarkable stint in WCW where he had a couple of tag title reigns in their dying years. Savio was a solid midcarder through a good portion of the New Generation era as Vega and Kwang before that. Whilst a good hand, the only thing of note was his feud with Steve Austin in his early days in the company, and even that probably wouldn’t be remembered if it wasn’t for Stone Cold’s rise. Savio’s spin-off group, Los Boricuas got decent heat as a faction and were a wrestling hipster’s wet dream. The original Nation run and the resulting gang warfare storyline didn’t leave a great deal in the way of great wrestling but it left a whole lot in terms of memorable programming. In that sense, you’d have to call it the highlight in the careers of both Savio and Crush.
The one carryover from the original Nation to this current one was D’Lo Brown. He started out as “nameless guy in a suit and hat” but as the group evolved, so did D’Lo. He went from extra to key player and would be wearing championship gold by the time we get to the next PPV. He’d play a key role in the midcard for a great deal of the rest of the Attitude era. Charles Wright was a guy that had done the rounds. He entered the WWF with the ridiculous Papa Shango character but after that failed he returned for a second stint as Kama, The Supreme Fighting Machine. Here he was a tough guy who was part of Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation with his claim to fame being the melting down of Undertaker’s urn and making it into a chain. He soon faded out but it was third time lucky for Wright. He returned to the company to become part of the Nation and he was given the surname Mustafa as his Kama gimmick was toned down slightly. Whilst it seemed he would fit into the stable Black Panther-esque beginnings, Kama soon began shifting towards a gimmick that Vince seemed to love - a pimp. The stars seemed to align perfectly this time however. The Godfather worked better in Rock’s Nation as opposed to Faarooq’s and if the character was ever going to get over, this was the era for it. And boy did it get over. Whilst it never pushed Wright to a world title, it gave him one of the most loved characters in the history of wrestling. His time in the Nation gave him a gimmick he could sink his teeth into and the rest is history.
Whilst you won’t look back at the career of Mark Henry as one of the greatest ever, it is certainly one of the longest. The World’s Strongest Man didn’t always look the best fit for the company in his first decade with the WWF but you can’t help but wonder how bad it would have been if he didn’t have such a good group of workers to help him in the early days. Owen Hart’s run with the group was fun and served a purpose for both sides in the short term despite the strange fit. It’s an odd part of his career for sure but you’ll never forget his famous catchphrases from that time, mainly thanks to Jason Sensation. And finally we get back to The Rock. You don’t need a lesson on the Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment I am sure. I have no doubt Dwayne Johnson was going to succeed in whatever he did. He is just that charismatic, talented and motivated. The fact remains however that he entered the Nation as a rookie who had failed miserably to get over as a face and was showing signs of cracking. He left the group ready to be the industry’s second biggest star in an era where the biggest star was arguably the biggest ever.
Degeneration X is celebrated as one of the greatest factions of all time and the vehicle that brought Triple H to the main event. It is criminal not to think of the Nation of Domination in the same breath and the group that did for Rocky what DX did for Trips. It is one of my pet peeves that the group is hardly ever given the time of day on WWE programming today. With all the DX reunions, it also bugs me that we haven’t seen a Nation rehash since The Rock has returned “home”. With Henry still wrestling with the company, D’Lo still active, The Godfather a regular novelty act and Ron Simmons always hanging about, it wouldn’t be tough logistically. Having them come face-to-face with Hunter, Shawn, Waltman and The Outlaws would be one of the biggest mark-out moments I could have. I have yet to give up on my dream of seeing The Game go one-on-one with The Great One for a final time on a big stage and whilst that dream lives, so does the dream of seeing their Attitude Era factions backing them up. Come on WWE, give us one final chapter in this epic rivalry.
Over The Edge did not achieve the best buy rate by any means, but as the second PPV out of ‘Mania season, it was never likely to be the biggest draw anyway. Nevertheless, as close as dammit to a 0.6 was not a bad return by any means, and there were plenty of reasons for WWF to be pleased heading into the summer, not the least of which was their blossoming midcard.
WCW held steady from the previous month with a 0.72 buyrate for Slamboree. Whilst a tag team title main event of Sting and The Giant vs The Outsiders may not have been the biggest match in the world, a Hart vs Savage semi-main certainly sounded intriguing. Names from WWF’s past however wouldn’t be Vince’s concern. It was all about the future. In the coming weeks the Nation vs DX feud would gain momentum and Vince would need to find somebody who could get the job done against Austin. But just where would The Undertaker and Mick Foley fit into it all? Find out next Thursday!
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On tomorrow’s show Mazza, Maverick, Plan and Shinobi discuss Raw and ways to fix Cesaro’s stall since WrestleMania. We also see the return of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die with Jeff Hardy vs CM Punk in a cage.
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