‘Sup, Lords of Pain? Sorry we are late again! This week we are putting it down to an artistic move. You see, the WWF moved their St. Valentine’s Day Massacre go home Raw from the Monday to the Saturday (just one night before the PPV). If Vince and Co can turn up five days late, we can get a couple of days grace!!! With the World Cup slowing down a bit though, hopefully we will back to Thursdays next week (but no promises!) but for now let’s get on with it.
ATTITUDE! St. Valentine's Day Massacre (CPR Productions)
By Maz & Mav
Jun 28, 2014 - 10:16:42 AM
Mazza: So here we are ladies and gents at the final stop before WrestleMania XV. There is still plenty of time for swerves before we arrive at the Showcase of the Immortals and Maverick and I will throw our own twist in this week. In honour of the WWF Championship hot-potatoing between The Rock and Mankind, we have decided to swap our own roles over on this week’s edition.
Maverick: Yep, in true Attitude Era style, we’re pulling a swerve and I’ll be taking a look at an undercard with some throwaway nonsense but also some quality action from the top midcarders of the time period and yet another classic Rock vs. Mankind title match. I suppose we should stop waiting around so Maz can talk you all through the booking of...
The Event: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
The Date: 14 February 1999
The Place: The Pyramid, Memphis, Tennessee
BACKGROUND AND BOOKING
With there only being three episodes of Raw between the Rumble and St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the company wasted no time in building towards their February PPV. The Corporation open the post-Rumble show with Vince giving the $100,000 bounty for eliminating Stone Cold to the Rock for his assist. He then announces that he has waived his right to a title match at WrestleMania and will name his replacement. This is interrupted by Steve Austin who is at home and looking rather smug. It is soon revealed that this is because Commissioner Michaels is with him and Shawn soon makes it clear that McMahon is in no position to name the challenger. The rule book states that if the Rumble winner is injured or chooses not to wrestle, the shot goes to the runner up. As Vince had already signed the papers to waive his shot, that was that. Stone Cold makes it clear he wants the boss more than the Mania shot however and offers McMahon a deal - A cage match at the PPV with the winner going onto face the champ at the granddaddy of them all. Vince accepts and the next week heads to Texas with the Stooges to try and find the Rattlesnake. The plan is to coax him into attacking Vince so they can call the match off. The segments run all night long as they try to find Austin but Stone Cold doesn’t bite when they do catch up, instead leaving it to the locals Vince had been insulting all night. The go home edition would see Vince say he was so confident of victory at the PPV that he guarantees no help from the Corporation or his family (threatening to fire them all if anyone interferes). He then attempts to have his enemies destroy each other by booking Austin against Mick Foley. He also says he is making himself ref but they refuse to play ball and he eats a Mandible Claw. Incensed, he books the Rattlesnake in a gauntlet match against the entire Corporation. The match simply becomes a case of Austin hitting a Stunner and the next member jumping in for a DQ. This sees him get by all the Corporation’s hitters before the Bossman gets himself disqualified using the nightstick. A major beatdown ensues before Vince comes in and pins him, standing tall the night before their cage match.
The other side of the WrestleMania main event saw The Rock and Mick Foley continue their ongoing feud. The Rock brags about his Rumble victory the next night but is interrupted by Foley stealing the 100k Vince gave him from a security van and handing it out at ringside. He shows the footage which indicates the end of the match was a recording of him saying he will not say “I Quit” on Sunday Night Heat. He then challenges The Brahma Bull for a rematch in an empty arena during the Superbowl halftime show in six nights. The match is another that goes down in legend with Foley winning his second WWF title courtesy of pinning Rocky to the floor with a forklift and a pallet. It came off like a cheesy horror flick but it got the job done. Raw the next night saw a happy Foley continuing to spend Rock’s money on all kinds of crap (including a sweater for Debra so she doesn’t catch a potentially deadly chest cold). The former champ says he wants his money back. Mick refuses but does offer him a rematch for St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Rock accepts and asks for a Last Man Standing that Mankind is more than happy to oblige.
Meanwhile the DX vs Corporation feud continued to run strong. After a strong night at the Rumble, Team Vince solidified things the next evening. The Rock accepted Triple H’s challenge to an I Quit title match and in the main event, it was looking like we’d get a new champion. Hunter hit a Pedigree in the ring, on the floor but as he went for a killer one on the announce table, The Corporation hit the ring and threatened to let Kane loose on Chyna if he didn’t give up. The Degenerate said “I quit” but Chyna immediately turned on him, joining Vince’s ranks. Earlier in the night X-Pac had attempted to get Kane to break free of Shane manipulating him but was thanked with a chokeslam. The next week the chairman’s son would be in charge. He’d book Kane vs HHH in a cage match and trash talked Waltman as he brought the cage down, not knowing that Pac was on it. Chyna saved her new stablemate from a beating but in the main event she failed to help Kane as Hunter kicked her off and escaped the cage for the win. She makes a challenge before the show goes off the air which we find out next week is her and Kane vs Trips and Pac for the PPV. The go-home sees some typical DX trash talking in addition to a dodgy finish as the Big Red Machine takes on Waltman.
The Outlaws also kept themselves busy whilst doing their own thing. Road Dogg found himself in a loose partnership with Al Snow which went south quickly. A Hardcore title match between the two was booked but James was taken out on the go-home show, just twenty four hours before the PPV. A smug Snow came out to wrestle himself afterwards (under hardcore rules) but got into it with JOB Squad stablemate Bob Holly when he tried to stop the stupidity. Billy still found himself all up in Ken Shamrock’s business whilst Val Venis continued to stick it to the Intercontinental Champion’s sister. In fact we get a sample of Val’s new movie with Ryan (how is that a girl’s name?) and “Sister Act” has a shower scene. This sends Shamrock over the edge but when Mr Ass makes the save, The Big Valbowski thinks Gunn attacked him. They have a match the next week with The World’s Most Dangerous Man on commentary. Once again he attacks Val, who thinks it was Billy. Venis comes out with Ryan on the go-home show and Shamrock goes over the edge, taking out the refs who try to calm him down. Earl Hebner announces than he won’t let any of his team officiate their match at the PPV but luckily Billy agrees to do the job and starts later that evening by breaking up a backstage fight between the two by fighting them himself.
Debra’s feminine wiles has been paying dividends for the team of Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart in the build the Rumble and they snagged themselves a title shot the next night on Raw. Debra released the puppies in attempt to distract Ken Shamrock and The Bossman but it was actually the Blue Blazer whose interference with a guitar helped ensure new champs. Jarrett and Hart turned their attentions to a team that were already having serious woman trouble. D’Lo Brown was trying to make up for apparently causing Terri to lose her baby whilst Mark Henry was trying to get over Chyna by failing in hitting on anything with a pulse. Debra was, of course, front and centre but Sexual Chocolate’s flirting led to him getting beaten down by the champs. When Brown eventually found out Terri was never pregnant in the first place, he could finally switch focus back to his friend and gaining gold at the PPV. On the go home Raw he presents Henry with a “gift” to do what he wants to, when he wants. That gift is Ivory and she makes her presence felt immediately in counteracting Debra as he interference helps D’Lo defeat Double J.
Finally we had a rather disturbing feud following Goldust stealing Al Snow’s Head. Snow’s JOB Squad stablemate The Blue Meanie would steal it back using his alter ego, Bluedust. Goldust getting “blued” and Meanie posing looking like a naked Smurf were the “lowlights” of this one. Fortunately it was balanced out by the continued growth of The Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness. The latest recruiting session saw the Brood apparently sacrifice themselves to join. But would the group show up in Memphis? Here’s Mav to find out...
We open up the show with a 1920s style black and white montage of all the things Stone Cold and McMahon have done to each other.
Michael Cole is still on commentary, with JR at home recovering from his first attack of Bell’s Palsy. Cole lets us know that this is the first time a WWF pay-per-view has taken place from Memphis, Tennessee. A huge “JERRY!” chant breaks out in the arena.
Goldust defeated Bluedust in 3:04
Both men are out to the classic Goldust music. Bluedust’s parody is pretty funny for what it is. You have to give credit to low card guys like the meanie, who didn’t mind being humiliated in the name of entertainment. Goldust hits a nice spinebuster and Cole breaks out a “What a manoeuvre!” perhaps in honour of the great Vince McMahon’s announcing! Bluedust goes for a walk and is caught by Dustin and thrown back into the ring, but the Meanie tries to work over the leg of the Bizarre One. However, Goldust puts a wedgie on Bluedust (!) and sets up shattered dreams, but the Meanie gets out a boot to stop it. Despite that brief setback, Goldust manages to hit the Curtain Call for the win. Quite an ugly Curtain Call to be fair. After the match, Goldie hits Shattered Dreams to complete his revenge on the ECW alumnus (or reject, as Lawler puts it). A crap match, to be honest, but this kind of thing was habitual on Attitude Era undercards, and you kind of get used to it.
ATTITUDE! Rating: *¼
Bob Holly defeated Al Snow in 9:58 to win the Hardcore Championship
With Roadie out injured following Al Snow’s assault on the Saturday Night Raw go home show, the two JOB Squad members go at it for the vacant Hardcore Title, and Snow quickly uses a chair, but Holly is undeterred and the two brawl into the crowd. The former Sparky Plugg uses a fire extinguisher, and so does Al. There’s not a great deal of logic or psychology. In the backstage area, floor tiles and beer coolers are used as the competitors battle outside the arena. Snow uses a mop and goes for the pin, but can’t get the job done. The match is now largely taking place in the street next to a police car, and you have to pity the cameraman having to follow them around! Snow uses barbed wire to choke Hardcore Holly, who manages to make a comeback and use a STOP sign as they fight onto the banks of the Mississippi river! Holly is tossed into the water, but Al soon follows him, as the announcers sell the freezing cold nature of the water in mid-February. Snow goes to use the fence, but he turns his back on Bob Holly, who assaults him with a tree branch. It’s now Hardcore who tries to prepare the chain link, but Al comes back to hit a bunch of brutal looking kidney shots. Finally though, it’s Holly who wraps up Snow in the chain link so he can’t escape the pin, and we have a new Hardcore Champion. The new champ and the ref jog into the arena to pick up the title belt and Holly poses with the belt. This was typical of the hardcore genre; entertaining in places, but just a bit too silly and lacking in structure in others.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **¼
Big Bossman defeated Mideon in 6:19
Strange heel vs. heel dynamic here, as the man formerly known as Dennis Knight and Phineas Godwinn takes on the Corporation’s enforcer in the first of many battles between the Ministry and the Corporation. The two feel each other out in the early going, before exchanging low blows and spilling to the outside, where Bossman tries to use a chair, but strikes the steps instead. Mideon goes all Luis Suarez and bites the Corporation member’s arm before using the chair himself. However, Mideon’s advantage doesn’t last long, as Bossman puts on something of a chinlock of doom. When Mideon comes back at Bossman with corner charges and clotheslines, Bossman comes back with the same. As with many short matches, no-one has the advantage for long. A “boring” chant breaks out, which is a shame, because I’m quite enjoying this...Mideon hits a slam on his opponent, who kicks out. Both men run into each other and the ref starts a count, but the two men get to their knees and exchange right hands. Mideon gets the advantage, and celebrates, but then runs straight into a Bossman Slam for the 1-2-3. He doesn’t get to enjoy his victory as the rest of the Ministry come out and surround the ring. The Undertaker’s music hits and the foot soldiers of the Ministry beat the Bossman down as their leader looks on menacingly. The Corporation man is taken backstage by the Ministry in familiar fashion. Decent big man match with some fun shenanigans at its conclusion that set up well for ‘Mania.
ATTITUDE! Rating: **¼
Sexual Chocolate and D’Lo are backstage with Ivory for an interview with Kevin Kelly. Henry is perving all over his new valet. Kind of disturbing. D’Lo gives a 1980s style promo guaranteeing that Ivory will help them win the belts by counteracting Debra. Ivory had a weird face, didn’t she?
Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett (With Debra) defeated D’Lo Brown & Mark Henry (With Ivory) in 9:33 to retain the Tag Team Championship
Mizark comes out and presents Ivory with Valentine’s Day chocolate. In the ring, Henry starts things off before tagging in D’Lo, who goes at it with Owen, who gets the advantage with his quickness and makes an efficient tag to Jeff, who hits a dropkick on D’Lo and runs the ropes, only to be met with a fantastic powerslam that would make Orton’s version look veritably sloppy! Owen breaks up the pin and Henry tags in to hit a double clothesline, but once Brown is back in, a blind knee to the back from the Rocket allows Jarrett to hit a Del Rio style armbar takedown. Having isolated the former Nation member, the tag champs work him over with uppercuts and strikes, as well as some crisp double team moves. The chemistry displayed by the two men is enviable. Jeff misses on a middle rope charge, but Owen clotheslines D’Lo from the apron. Once Hart is legal again, he smashes D’Lo with the trademark enziguri. Jarrett comes in with a chinlock of doom, but Brown’s arm only drops twice and he escapes. D’Lo is isolated yet again though as Owen outsmarts Henry by drawing him in so the referee has to take him back to his corner, but Sexual Chocolate’s partner is resilient and rallies with a crossbody and Sky High. The hot tag (of sorts, as both teams are kind of tweener) is made and the big man takes on both the tag champs by himself, who bump like crazy for Henry’s offense. Things break down, with all four men in the ring, and Owen narrowly saves the titles when Jarrett gets a spinebuster. Debra distracts D’Lo as he goes for the Lo-Down, and Ivory is across to remonstrate with her, just as the pre-match publicity promised and the official has to go across. Owen takes advantage of the distraction by taking out Sexual Chocolate’s legs with Jarrett’s guitar and Jarrett slaps on the figure four for the tap out victory. A very, very good tag match, though D’Lo had to play “tweener in peril” for a bit too long in the middle there. After the match,, Ivory tries to strip Debra, but the tag champs prevent her and the three leave triumphantly.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***¼
Mankind is with Kevin Kelly as they play footage from Heat of Rock assaulting Mankind with a fire extinguisher and a wooden pallet. Foley’s sarcastic commentary about the cheap shots is hilarious!
We then get a recap of Val Venis’ “Sister Act” movie. I love the fact he changes “Hellooooo ladies!” to “Hellooooo Kenny!” The only problem with this feud was the way it necessitated so many Ken Shamrock promos.
Val Venis (With Ryan Shamrock) defeated Ken Shamrock in 15:53 to win the Intercontinental Championship (with Billy Gunn as Special Referee)
Billy is out and does the “Your ass better call somebody” routine usually performed by Road Dogg, and does it pretty well! Good for Billy. He cuts a promo, also in Road Dogg style, about being the Peacekeeper in the match (the UN was in the news a lot at the time). He says that if Shamrock and Venis aren’t down with him as guest ref, he’s got two words for them. Val comes out with Ryan Shamrock, dressed in a tiny white dress. Val cuts a promo about St.VALentine’s Day and says he has a “heart on” (hur hur). Shamrock veritably charges to the ring and the two men go at it as the bell rings. Surprisingly, it’s Venis who gets the early advantage, chopping away and corner charging with authority, but the World’s Most Dangerous Man turns things around and begins to wear down the Big Valbowski. Billy asserts himself when Ken tries to get to his sister to remonstrate with her, demanding he return to the ring. After that brief interlude, the former MMA man returns to his methodical dismantling of Val. Momentum only shifts when Venis reverses a suplex into an impressive one of his own, and then proceeds to use inverted atomic drops and backbreakers to constitute wear down tactics of his own. The pace is slow, as if both men are fighting a lengthy war of attrition. Val continues to work over the back of the champion by ramming his back into the ring post three times and by putting on a camel clutch. Shamrock is enraged by Billy asking him if he wants to quit and breaks out of the hold, but his rally is stopped short, until a DDT conclusively turns things around for Ken, but Billy refuses to count to three despite Val’s shoulders being down! The World’s Most Dangerous Man remonstrates with Gunn, and the Big Valbowski puts a sleeper on, but it gets turned into a back suplex, for another slow two count. Val hits a fisherman’s suplex and Billy is slow getting down for the count. It’s interesting watching the Bad Ass’s poor officiating begin to develop, with the implication of course being that he wants that title himself. Shamrock cinches in the ankle lock, but Ryan pulls Val to the rope to break the hold, causing Ken to snap at his kayfabe sister, who slaps him around the chops. Billy is out to moderate, and the champ attacks him causing Gunn to throw hands of his own and toss the ultimate fighter straight into Venis’ small package for the fast three count, after which Shamrock goes after the Bad Ass, before leaving, but then Billy returns to the ring to take down Val and deliver a crotch chop to his prone form, setting up the three way feud for Wrestlemania XV. A very solid bout with a good story. A pity the pace was so methodical as I’m sure they could have worked a hot classic with the amount of time they got.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***
A video package recaps Chyna’s storyline tension with Hunter and “Benedict Arnold” style defection to the Corporation.
Kane & Chyna defeated Triple H & X-Pac in 14:46
Hunter and X Pac are out and the DX leader calls Chyna a jacked up bitch who’s getting her ass kicked tonight. Kane his out to his usual music, but the Ninth Wonder of the World comes out to Vince’s ‘No Chance’ theme, adding to her Corporate links. Shane O Mac is on commentary as Kane and Trips start things off. The Big Red Monster is off the pace at the outset, missing a big elbow, but he takes X Pac apart after he tags in, and brings in Chyna, with Waltman bumping heroically to make her look good. A Bronco Buster is countered, much to the crowd’s disappointment, but the Kid takes advantage of tension between the Corporate team after a Kane blind tag by martial arts kicking the Big Red Machine and tagging in Helmsley. A cheap shot from Chyna allows Kane to begin dissecting the degenerate, going to the top and hitting that insanely athletic flying clothesline. The hot pace continues, with Chyna getting a suplex in on Hunter, but then DX turn things around by double suplexing Kane, throwing Chyna off the apron and double DDT-ing Kane. The Kid’s quickness allows him to avoid a big charge by the Big Red Monster outside the ring and then take out Shane at the booth! Shane notes that “X Punk” will pay for his transgression! In the ring, Kane catches a martial arts kick and turns it into a sidewalk slam. Pac proceeds to play face in peril, being beaten down by Kane and then placed in a sleeper by Chyna, much to McMahon Jr’s delight. The Kid, however, hits a beautiful looking back suplex to finally make the hot tag! Trips and Chyna face off and Hunter smashes his former squeeze half way across the ring with a hard right hand. Kane and Pac brawl outside the ring as Trips hits a knee to the face on Chyna and sets up the Pedigree, but the Big Red Monster drags him over the top as things break down. In the ring, X Pac gets a Bronco Buster on Chyna, but Shane is in to clothesline him. The Kid goes after Shane as Trips rids himself on Kane and prepares to Pedigree his former lover, but he forgets about Kane, who chokeslams Hunter straight to hell and rolls Chyna onto him for the win. A fantastic tag match with a notably hot crowd reaction throughout. Waltman was superb and Chyna did well in her first true feature bout. Shane really added to proceedings too, and set up his ‘Mania feud with X Pac to boot.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***¾
A great video package recaps the entirety of the absolutely epic Rock vs. Mankind feud.
Mankind and The Rock wrestled to a draw in 22:00 in a Last Man Standing Match for the WWF Championship (Mankind retains)
As he has throughout the feud, Rocky is out in a tracksuit to indicate that this isn’t a normal match but a brawl. Mankind begins the match by turning his back to The Rock to emphasise how the Corporation man is a coward and only wins through underhand means like handcuffs and tape recordings. The Great One takes the invitation and attacks the champ with right hands but Mankind is undeterred and begins to work over Rock, who takes a walk, causing Foley to pursue him and toss him into the stage set and the lights several times, before Rocky finally reverses and sends the champion into the lighting structure. These two are fantastic brawlers with great chemistry and they hammer at each other on the fringes of the arena as the crowd goes crazy for a DDT through a gimmicked table. The challenger manages to get up before the count of ten, so the two antagonists battle briefly into the backstage area before coming back to the arena, where Rock hits a back suplex on the concrete. Both men are down and the referee counts, but both are up by the count of five and they brawl towards the ring, with the Corporation golden boy sent flying into the steel steps shoulder first, but again, it’s not enough for the ten count. In the ring, we get a Mankind parody of the Corporate Elbow (“Mr Elbow”), which he misses. Rock finally gets a breather and punches Foley out of the ring, where a trio of snap suplexes put the champ in trouble. The pace is hot as you like as Rocky spits towards the crowd for heat and gets in the commentary booth to run down Mankind in hilarious fashion. He taunts Mankind, who leaps at him from across the table and rains blows down upon him before climbing to the apron to administer the elbow onto the announce table, which doesn’t break! Mankind busts out the 1996 squealing pig noises as he twists the challenger’s face, then tosses some steps into the ring. Rock counters a steps shot by kicking them into Foley’s masked face. A chair is thrown into the ring and the Great One swiftly goes after the knee. Rock almost knocks himself out with the chair coming off the top rope and outside the ring, Mankind hits a swinging neckbreaker outside the ring. Mankind sets up The Rock for a double arm DDT on the announce desk, but he ends up getting backdropped all the way off and onto the ring bell! The challenger drops the steel stairs on him from the ring and Cole goes crazy as Foley somehow staggers to his feet. Back in the ring, the Corporate Elbow is delivered, and the official counts, but Mankind is up. The Brahma Bull gets on the mic and tells the ref to count quicker, before singing ‘Smackdown Hotel’ in his best Elvis voice, suitable of course for Memphis, but Mankind stops him with the Mandible Claw. Rocky is out, but so is Earl Hebner and Foley desperately gets him into the ring to help him count. The challenger is up at eight, and hits a low blow and DDT, but Foley gets one of his own, a double arm variety, onto a steel chair. Mr Socko comes out and the challenger only gets out with a knee to the gut and a Rock Bottom. Both men are down and Hebner administers the double count. They’re up at seven but hit a double chair shot! Earl counts to ten and Foley retains his title on a draw. This is very much the forgotten little brother of the feud, but in many ways it’s less time specific than any of the others, and right up there with the likes of Y2J vs Triple H in the annals of great LMS matches. The pace was very fast, and the relatively sparse use of the count meant that the action wasn’t disrupted too much. Recommended.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ****
THE MAIN EVENT
Steve Austin defeated Vince McMahon in 7:56 in a Steel Cage Match
We get a very cool video package of the build to this match which really ups the anticipation. The King is losing his voice as they construct a black steel cage which is reminiscent of the classic blue one (albeit not overly high). The Rattlesnake comes out first and sits on top of the cage as Mr McMahon makes his entrance. He looks ridiculously buff and oozes confidence as he climbs the outside of the cage. It’s all a ploy however and the boss is soon stalling anyway he can. Eventually Austin leaves the ring and gives chase. Vince enters the steel but kicks out as his opponent tries to join him through the door. Stone Cold then tries to climb in and McMahon kicks him off. The Rattlesnake pretends to tweak his knee which brings the Chairman out but he shows he is playing possum and we are on. He proceeds to whoop his arch rival’s butt all across ringside, using cables, tables, steps, beer cans and pretty much anything he can. Vince rather impressively has the presence of mind to rake Austin’s eyes before we get a chase through the crowd. It doesn’t take Stone Cold long to catch up and he stomps a mudhole in the boss all the way back to ringside. McMahon sees the only place to escape to is in the cage and he begins to climb. Austin joins him on top and the fight ensues, ending with Vince taking a bump off the steel and through the Spanish announce table.
The paramedics and officials come down to check on Vince. They put him on a collar and board whilst the ring announcer starts to declare Stone Cold the winner. Austin cuts him off however, saying he has some guarantees he has yet to deliver on. He also states that seeing as the bell hadn’t even rung to start the match, it is not ready to end. The Rattlesnake climbs out of the cage and catches up with the officials who are trying to push the Chairman away on a gurney. Austin drags him back into the ring and rips off his neck brace as the match officially gets underway. He delivers a couple of elbows and calls for the door to open. He is halfway down the stairs as Vince defiantly flips his nemesis the bird. This brings Stone Cold back in and he whoops on McMahon some more before being on the receiving end of a low blow. The boss tries to climb but Austin has it in hand and busts him open on the cage before throwing him to the mat. Stone Cold climbs out of the cage and once more is nearly to the floor when McMahon throws up double middle fingers complete with his crimson mask. He tries to escape as Austin climbs back in but once again it’s to no avail. We finally get our Stunner to send the crowd insane but as he throws some trash talk in the boss’ direction, a man who we’d recognise as WCW’s The Giant tears through the ring canvas. This huge man is identified as Paul Wight by Michael Cole and he immediately attacks Austin. He helps McMahon to his feet before throwing Stone Cold into the cage. Problem is that the side of the cage flies open allowing The Rattlesnake to simply drop to the floor.
Austin looks baffled as his hand is raised by the ref but as the announcement is made that he is going to the main event of WrestleMania a smile comes to his face. Vince looks shocked as Wight just looks like dumb muscle with Bon Jovi hair. Poor old Show pretty much had a kayfabe version of the Shockmaster debut here as his menace was quickly outshone by his doofusness (is that a word?). It’s something that pretty much sums up his career in the WWE but I digress. The outcome to this one was pretty obvious but they did one hell of a job getting there. Vince was tremendous in the ass whooping he took and his character work and that was even before the bell rang to start the match. His bump through the announce table may pale in comparison to what Foley did at King of the Ring and what Shane would go on to do, but it still has to be admired. We’ve taken the McMahons dedication to their craft for granted over the years but when you think about what these multi-millionaire owners put themselves through on TV, you have to give them credit. The fact is, Vince has such a good mind for the business meant that Austin really didn’t need to do much in terms of babysitting. In fact, it was as good a main event as Stone Cold had had in a while. Sure it was overbooked, but that had got the best out of Austin post-neck break. Essentially what we can take from this main event is that although you have a long way from the Rumble to WrestleMania, there is so much you can do with your number one contender rather than just putting them in a throwaway feud for a couple of months.
ATTITUDE! Rating: ***¾
I thoroughly enjoyed St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. It didn’t get out to a great start but once you got past the filler, business really begun to pick up. The midcard title bouts were given a good amount of time and that helped them bring out very solid performances. The top midcard bout between DX and The Corporation was extremely entertaining with the three men doing a great job in making Chyna look like she belonged. The WWF title match wasn’t my favourite in the Rock-Mankind series but on their worst day together they are still not going to be far off four stars. The main event was just another of those Attitude defining matches with Austin and McMahon selling their rivalry to the max in addition to the debut of The Big Show. A really well balanced event for me that just got better and better from bottom to top.
This is a pay-per-view that’s only really remembered for the cage match and the spectacular and unexpected debut of Paul Wight mentioned by Maz. WWF could certainly still surprise in those days! I have to say that it was a fantastic pay-per-view and the short run time of the main event allowed the two top midcard matches fifteen minutes each and gave Rock and Mankind the chance to put together another classic, one that really needs to be celebrated more than it is. As for that main event, it was storytelling at its very, very best.
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Overall ATTITUDE! Rating: ***½
MVP - MR MCMAHON
This one has been a long time coming. The boss was so integral to the era that I was anxious that he get at least one of these awards. He was close at the Rumble, and also at Over The Edge and Unforgiven the year before, but on this occasion, his performance in the cage match does indeed net him the award rather than honourable mention status. Non-wrestlers like Vince and Shane have to make up for their lack of training and ring skills with personality and storytelling ability, and in that area, the Chairman of the Board has very few rivals for GOAT. Having taken an almighty ass whuppin, his reaction to the Big Show cage destruction was priceless. Great stuff.
If we were dishing out MVP’s for Raw episodes during this time, Vince could well be leading the way at this point. Despite taking to life between the ropes like a duck to water, he had pretty much left the wrestling to the wrestlers. The feud with Stone Cold really called for him to step up to the plate however and boy did McMahon bring it. This and the Rumble probably gave him a taste for matches it would be a long while still before you could accuse him of limelight hogging. Vince was simply on point and it will be interesting to see how he handles taking a little bit of a step back as the build to Austin vs The Rock begins.
END OF SEASON AWARDS
So here we are at the end of our second WWF Attitude Era “season”. On the No Way Out of Texas edition we looked at the best of WrestleMania 13 to 14 so we are going to take the opportunity to do the same for 14 to 15 here. The first award will see just who replaces the classic Austin vs Hart match from Mania 13 as the Undercard Match of the Season. We had a great bunch of traditional midcard matches from a host of different names that really pushed the four star mark but two men dominated the nominations with higher profile matches. The Rock vs Mankind at Rock Bottom, Royal Rumble and St Valentine’s Day Massacre were excellent WWF title matches despite not going on last. The infamous Undertaker vs Mankind HiaC from King of the Ring is a very strong runner up but I am glad to say that the winner did have a traditional midcard feel to it.
As wrestling fans, we love to talk about star making performances, and in truth it’s often a lot more complicated than one particular match being the turning point. For Dwayne Johnson though, The Rock vs HHH at SummerSlam was incredibly significant. The crowd effectively turned him face as he put over Hunter in an undisputed classic that won match of the night honours at an excellent pay-per-view. If it weren’t for an untimely knee injury, we might have seen Triple H also make his way to the main event scene quicker than he ultimately did. The very definition of making the most of your chance to shine!
Our next gong to hand out is Feud of the Season In the middle months of 1998 Nation vs DX carried TV and pay-per-view with one hot ten minute match after another until the classic ladder match previously discussed provided the blow off. Steve Austin vs Mr McMahon dominated the year in storyline terms and fed into so many other wrestlers’ character arcs, including Foley, Kane and Shamrock but most of all into Stone Cold vs The Undertaker which built slowly through a tweener turn for the Deadman into his full on Ministry heel turn complete with attempted embalming and burial. Back in the midcard, Val Venis vs Goldust put together a textbook rivalry which saw The Bizarre One find his mojo again. But there can be only one winner!
This was definitely a tough category to call but a four month run at the end of the year with great match after great match sees The Rock vs Mankind pick up the victory here. It’s a great feud to watch evolve from both men essentially being pawns in Vince’s vendetta against Stone Cold to one of the most personal rivalries in company history.
Our next category wasn’t very tough at all. When it came to following LOD as Tag Team of the Season there was only one real choice. But we have to have a look at a couple of nominations I guess and where better to start than that shortlived, random but awesome Bradshaw & Taka Michinoku partnership. Towards the end of the season we got a couple of promising pairings in the form of former Nation members Mark Henry & D’Lo Brown as well as the Corporation team of Ken Shamrock & The Bossman but they were never going to get close to the winners.
At the time of the last End of Season awards these guys were just beginning to break out. And in 1998, they cemented their legacy as one of the greatest tag teams of all time. I’m speaking of course of The New Age Outlawswho found themselves anchoring a division, being part of an all time great faction in DX and taking part in all manner of multi-man tags as well as defending the belts they held for most of the year. You won’t find many “great” matches in their run, but you will find brilliant character work in spades.
Next we have Faction of the Season an award which, unlike the last one, is hotly contested. The Corporation seemed to form over the course of the whole year, with McMahon’s character really gaining traction in the post-Wrestlemania XIV landscape, but finally became formal after Survivor Series. The Ministry of Darkness, meanwhile, gained members towards the end of this period but wouldn’t be a major factor until the next awards period., while The Brood didn’t have long together until they were subsumed by The Undertaker and co. The Nation of Domination had a brilliant three year run in various guises, but The Rock led version was the best of all, and they were damned entertaining whenever they were on TV.
Longevity was the key however and it is Degeneration-X and the DX Army who ruled the roost throughout the year. Hunter, X-Pac, Billy and Roadie were the cornerstone of the midcard all year long and between them held every title at some point bar the big one and delivered great moment after great moment. Talking of great moments, we had plenty on PPV throughout the year. The big four definitely lived up to their top billing with in the quest for PPV of the Season with Fully Loaded the only one that came anywhere near touching them. WrestleMania 14 was probably the weakest of the lot and whilst Royal Rumble and Survivor Series both delivered in their ways, but taking over the mantle from Canadian Stampede is...
The PPV which everyone forgets about when they talk about all-time great big four events, SummerSlam 1998. With a terrific main event between Stone Cold and The Undertaker, the undercard match of the year in Triple H vs. The Rock, and a cornucopia of entertaining midcard bouts, which brings us neatly into Midcarder of the Season. X-Pac had a huge year after coming back during a fantastic post-Mania Raw, and was the TV match MVP for sure, and had plenty of good bouts on pay-per-view too Triple H was on fire from January to August but fell away after an unfortunately timed injury. His time would come though. D’Lo Brown carried the workload of the Nation alongside the always impressive Owen Hart while Val Venis debuted in the post-Mania landscape and hit the ground running with his porn star gimmick.
Possibly a bit of a shock here considering I am not a fan but the winner is Ken Shamrock. The World’s Most Dangerous Man actually had a really strong year. Starting things out feuding with The Rock certainly helped. Mixing it up with talent like Owen Hart and Mick Foley helped bring out the best in him and his heel turn to join the Corporation suited him very well indeed. Whilst still limited, he really learnt to play to his strengths throughout the year. He didn’t get that main event spot however and now it is time to see who follows the original Hell in a Cell match as the Main Event of the Season. Aside from The Rock vs Mankind at Deadly Game this was essentially the Stone Cold Steve Austin Show. Of course The Rattlesnake was still nursing his neck injury and not performing to the top of his ability. That seemed to make him fall just short of four stars time and time again. He did it vs Michaels at Mania, vs Dude Love at Unforgiven, vs Taker at SummerSlam, vs Both Brothers of Destruction at Breakdown and vs McMahon at St Valentine’s Day Massacre. He did however manage to break that four star barrier once in the season.
The second of the two bouts with Foley Dude Love vs Steve Austin at Over The Edge had absolutely everything you could wish for in an Attitude Era main event contest. Brawling, backdrops onto car bonnets, flying elbows onto the concrete floor, Pat Patterson and Jerry Brisco stooging it up at ringside. Just terrific stuff and easily Austin’s best pure wrestling performance of that year. And so we come to our final award, Main Eventer of the Season Bidding to follow Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart, we have The Rock who jumped from the upper midcard to headline status after his breakout performance at Summerslam to take the WWF title, Steve Austin, who was the undisputed number one guy in the company after Wrestlemania, The Undertaker, who showed he could adapt his character to suit a more modern product and Kane, who played his supporting role in the headline scene to perfection. But there can only be one winner in 1998...
And that winner is Mick Foley. He picked up the nod for best midcarder in the previous season and really was good value for taking the title at the very top this time around. Mick was hardly out of the main event during the season. He stepped in admirably when Shawn Michaels retired and solidified The Rock’s status as a megastar as 1998 became 1999. When he wasn’t in the main event scene he was throwing himself off cells and winning tag straps. An absolutely brilliant year for Foley where he proved that he was worth every last bit of the push he got and then some.
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre brought in a buyrate of 1.2 which is just insane for a non “Big Four” event. Back in 1996 and 1997, the company weren’t often pulling in those kind of buys for marquee pay-per-views, so it’s easy to see just how far they had come since those darker days for them financially speaking. And now they had Wrestlemania on the horizon. But Vince and co. could not afford to be complacent!
WCW would respond to that huge success for St. Valentine’s Day Massacre by bringing out the big (old?) guns. Superbrawl IX would be headlined by Hollywood Hogan defending his world title against Ric Flair. It seemed to pay some dividends as the PPV drew a strong 1.15 buyrate. But Vince and Co were really going from strength to strength and they would take their huge momentum into their biggest night of the year. But just how many twists would we see on the final leg of the road to WrestleMania XV? Find out next week on ATTITUDE!
You can hear more from Mazza and Maverick on The Right Side of the Pond, part of LoP Radio. New episodes every are out every Friday at 9pm UK time/4pm EST.
On this week’s show Maz and Mav were joined by Randall to preview Money in the Bank. In addition they also have a little look at the World Cup and name their team of the first round.
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