- Originally broadcasted live, on Pay-Per-View, on January 18th, 1998, from the San Jose Arena in San Jose, CA. Here's a show where my original review was so all over the place (and bad, and lazy looking) that I'm not even going to bother borrowing from it and going with a completely fresh recap. If there was ever a show when every important match had an obvious finish, this would be it.
- Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler are calling all the action for us American viewers, while a tap of the SAP button on your remote control allowed you to listen to Tito Santana and Carlos Cabrera. Ray Rougeau and Jean Brassard are at the less popular French Broadcast Position, so you know it's a big deal... oh, and some boxer is there, too. Mark Tyler or something.
Outlaws with a sneak attack, with little luck. Animal plants Road Dogg with a powerbomb, but Gunn breaks the count. Outlaws try taking a walk, but the LOD bring them back. Hawk with a diving shoulder tackle, clothesline, and jumping fist drop. Jim Ross actually acknowledged Road Dogg being one of Bob Armstrong's sons. Animal with a chinlock, as we see the Road Dogg has a busted mouth. Hawk with a neck breaker. Gunn comes in, gets taken over with a hip toss, and Hawk pounds away. Animal with a back suplex, but an elbow drop misses. He has enough in him to take both Outlaws over with powerslams, then slaps a chinlock on Gunn. Hawk with a snapmare, and locks on an STF?! It's not quite as bad as John Cena's. Animal tags in, gets tripped up, and clotheslined to the floor. Road Dogg sends him into the steps, as J.R. keeps reminding us that Animal almost wasn't medically cleared to compete.Back in the ring, Hawk lays out the Outlaws with clotheslines. I guess Animal is having a hard time getting back in the ring, I don't know. Hawk posts himself on a charge, and finally Animal, the legal man, gets back in the ring, and should've been counted out 10 times over by now. Road Dogg has handcuffs with him, and 'cuffs Hawk to the ringpost, away from his corner. Animal slugs it out with both men and comes off the ropes with a double clothesline. He hits Gunn with a diving shoulder tackle and covers for two. Gunn with a slam, but a trip to the top rope is countered with a fucked up powerslam. Way to drop Billy on his head. Road Dogg runs in and blasts Animal with a chair for the Disqualification at 7:55. Hawk with his super-human strength to rip the handcuffs off the post, and clears the ring. Wow, TWO lame finishes to two Championship matches on a $30 PPV. Really getting our money's worth. Match sucked. I'm saying that a lot, today.
#11 is D'Lo Brown, Nation member #2 of the night. Other than the Rock, there's a lack of star power in there. Just tag team wrestlers and Blackman. Rock and D'Lo work together briefly, then start slugging it out with each other. #12 is Kurrgan, and hopefully he cleans house. Mosh mounts him in the corner and gets dumped at 18:39. #13 is "Marvelous" Marc Mero, with Sable. He goes after Blackman with rights and lefts as we get a loud Sable chant. Kurrgan tosses Blackman at 20:18, then has a staredown with Bradshaw. Rock gives it to D'Lo, because the Rock using his Nation buddies to help him last throughout the match ISN'T a good idea? Whatever. #14 is Ken Shamrock, also pulling double duty. He goes after Kurrgan and knocks him down with a heel kick. Everyone gangs up to toss him out at 21:48. Surprisingly, Shamrock DOESN'T go for the Rock. Rock with the People's Elbow on Funk, without any hype or reaction. #15 is Headbanger Thrasher. Too bad Mosh is already gone, meaning he's more filler without something interesting to do. Predictably, he goes after Phineas. What was the hard on for Godwinns/Headbangers?! #16 is... MANKIND!? Well, I guess it's not against the rules to enter twice, as long as it's as two different personas. He goes right after Funk and throws him out at 25:24. He goes after Rock, again before it meant anything. There's 9 bodies in the ring, which is becoming to be too much to make for anything interesting. #17 is TAFKA Goldust, complete with no attire and new hair color (formerly green, now blue). He tosses Mankind with little effort at 27:50. That was a short stay. #18 is NWA North American Champion Jeff Jarrett, with zero reaction. Owen makes his return and pounds away on Jarrett while Mero stands there watching. I guess he's pulling a '93 Tenryu. Owen skins the cat and tosses Jarrett at 30:09 to the best pop of the night. #19 is the Honkytonk Man, for no good god damn fucking reason. The Rock tosses Shamrock at 30:38. Triple H and Chyna come out too, and help eliminate Owen at 31:12 with a well placed crutch shot across the back.
#20 is Ahmed Johnson. He's long past stopped caring at this point, and Jim Ross and Lawler makes fun of him the whole time for wearing ear rings. I just thought of a good idea for a tag team... Honkytonk Man and Brian Christopher. Lawler could pretend there's no relation to either of them the whole time. #21 is Mark Henry, Nation Member #3. "Mark Henry is handling the big Johnson with those tree like arms" is your dirty, out of context line of the night. #22 is No One. Henry and D'Lo toss Ahmed at 36:05. Phineas goes next, at 36:16. #23 is Kama Mustafa, Nation Member #4. All four in the ring, and STILL not working together to clear the ring. How are Bradshaw and 8-Ball still in this?! #24 is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and might as well call the match now. He sneaks in to toss out Mero at 39:33. 8-Ball goes next at 39:46. Seems like everyone gave up on ganging on Austin pretty damn fast. Even Lawler points it out. #25 is Henry Godwinn. He goes right after Austin... thank goodness he didn't target Thrasher. Sadly, THRASHER makes the save. #26 is Savio Vega, joined by the entire Los Boricuas. Austin fights all of them off, leaving just Savio. There's 11 in there, making it hard to pay attention to anything, if there was anything worth watching that is. #27 is Faarooq, the final Nation member, and pointless because the Nation did nothing all match. Rock tosses Austin through the ropes for a brief little ringside brawl. #28 is Dude Love, and why not, we've already seen Cactus Jack and Mankind. He tosses Bradshaw at 46:41, and no one cares. Rock with another People's Elbow, and it's amazing how that suddenly got over. #29 is Chainz, and no one cares. Faarooq dumps someone out at 48:39. I think it was D'Lo. #30 is the Man They Call Vader, rounding out the field.
Time to clean house! Honkytonk Man is tossed by Vader at 50:31. Austin back drops Thrasher out at 51:32, then dumps out Kama at 51:39. Savio goes for a piledriver on Austin, but it's countered, and Austin throws him out at 52:22. Goldust clotheslines Vader out at 52:30. Probably redemption for the loss earlier in the night. Henry Godwinn misses a clothesline and is gone at 52:41. Chainz tosses Goldust at 52:52. Austin backs Chainz over the turnbuckle and out at 53:14. Mark Henry is tossed to the apron and knocked out at 52:24. Way to blow your own elimination spot, Mark. Final Four: Austin, Dude Love, Rock, and Faarooq. Austin/Rock and Dude/Faarooq pair up. Dude with sweet Shin Music and a double-arm DDT on the Rock. Austin turns on Dude, goes low on him, and Faarooq clotheslines Dude out at 54:29. Rock lays back, letting Faarooq do all the work on Austin, then tosses him out at 54:55. Rock and Austin trade rights. Whip to the ropes, Austin tosses Rock over, but he lands on the apron. Austin with the Stunner, and Rock is gone at 55:25, giving it to Austin for the second year in a row. One of the worst Rumble's, just for the boredom. There wasn't a technical problem with it like in 1999, with terrible booking. This was just lazy booking: Nothing of excitement other than the start, Foley making three appearances, and Austin's entrance. The very definition of paint by numbers formula when it comes to the Rumble match.
Back in the ring, Michaels with a series of rights and lefts. Undertaker decides to no-sell and goes for a chokeslam, but Michaels rakes the eyes and comes off the top with a standing moonsault. Michaels with a clothesline, sending Undertaker to the floor. He pulls Shawn right out and rams him into the security rail. Jim Ross references Undertaker's only previous loss in a casket match (I guess we'll ignore the multiple others) at a previous Royal Rumble. Michaels sends him into the steps, then slams them across the back. Michaels with a piledriver across the steps to really add insult to injury. Helmsley gets a few shots in with his crutch, in plain view of the referee. No Disqualifications! Shawn with a chair across the back. Back in the ring, Michaels with a diving elbow as Jim Ross mentions names like Diesel and Sid as previous big men that Michaels defeated. He rolls Undertaker in to the casket, but that just wakes him up. Michaels with a swinging neck breaker, then slaps on a sleeper hold. 'Taker counters with a back suplex to break the hold. Shawn comes off the ropes with a diving forearm, nips up, and comes off the top rope with his signature elbow. Sweet Chin Music connects, and it's time to roll him into the casket. To the surprise of no one, 'Taker mounts the comeback. Whip to the corner, and Undertaker connects with a clothesline. He misses a lariat, rolls into the casket, and Michaels follows in with an elbow. They close the lid, but it can't end this way. Suddenly Shawn tries to claw his way out, but Undertaker drags him back by the ankle. Back in, the ring, Undertaker with the chokeslam. He Tombstones Shawn into the casket, and it's run in time: The New Age Outlaws and Boricuas go after 'Taker, but Kane shows up to clean house. Then the pyro fails to go off, he turns on his brother, and chokeslams him into the casket, giving the victory to Michaels at the 20-minute mark. Excluding the finish, It's really hard to make a casket match something worth watching. This wasn't a classic, but it was probably the best casket match ever, and while that sounds like a backhanded compliment, it's not. I hate the gimmick, and anything above watchable deserves some recognition.
Post-match, Paul Bearer comes out, puts a padlock on the casket, and Kane sets it on fire to end the PPV. Don't worry, the next night we found out that once the fires were extinguished, the lid was opened and the Undertaker was no longer in there. What does he do, turn himself into gas, or something? We all know the trap-door trick, but logically explaining it within the context of the match as a mark, what does he do? Why doesn't he use these magic powers when it would benefit him at other times, like winning matches? I don't know why I'm complaining, I really liked this feud, up until WrestleMania, when it should've come to an end.
Final Thoughts: I don't know what WCW was doing at the time, but it couldn't have been much worse than this. We get a Royal Rumble Match that had absolutely zero mystery to who was going to win, that was also lacking in any creative ideas and booking spots other than making Mick Foley dress up as all three of his personas. The three championship matches all had bullshit and/or overbooked nonsense, and two of them were poor matches, quality wise, when taking the finishes out of the discussion. The opener stunk, and we had 10-minutes of filler, on a Royal Rumble PPV, with luchadore midgets. Honestly, if not for a pretty good match between the Undertaker and Shawn, this might've went down as one of the worst PPV's ever.