Something to Wrestle – Unforgiven 1998
Release Date: April 27, 2018
Recap By: Pradeep Kachhala
- WWE show is now number two behind on the network only behind Wrestlemania.
On the show Conrad Thompson alluded to the rumors of Randy Savage and Stephanie (although without actually spelling it out) indicating that no topic is out of bounds.
- Hogan and DiBiase contacted BP commending him on the show.
- RVD enjoyed their show last week.
- The podcast remains their priority.
The WWEmnetwork allows them to add video to their content and they will continue to use old topics to bring the show to a new audience.
- They will cover HBK in 1995 on the network show next.
- Unforgiven 1998 did 325k buys on PPV. The PPV title was based around the Kane and UT feud with an old west feud style.
- Unforgiven was eventually moved to September after this April 1998 event.
- VKM thought that the “In Your House” title had run its course.
- The new scratch logo came about at this time – it was based on a Bruce Prichard scribble which VKM noticed during a meeting
- VKM didn’t want clean or neat and paint between the lines and dry it showed “attitude”.
- The underline under the scratch logo was a “scar” according to VKM – he added this on to his actual car!
- VKM wasn’t Mr McMahon just yet – the character was still developing and the WWE was realising how much the feud with SCSA was getting over.
- Business had jumped in 3 years. In comparing 95-98 attendance and gate revenue was up threefold. 1 in 2 shows was a sell-out.
- PPV revenue had nearly doubled versus 2 year earlier the cable viewing figures were a full point up
- BP believed the reasons for a better product was competition from WCW.
- WWE went after the Hispanic market and signed a deal with Univision to do a Sunday morning show
- Univision wanted an actual Latino product specific to that show only.
- “Los Superstaros” was the title of the show and ratings for this show was up tenfold vs. the show it replaced.
- Univision canned it because it wasn’t Latino enough.
Post WM14 Raw
- It was out with the old and in with the new, BP saw it as a fresh start and everyone was excited for the future.
- Vince came out with the new title, losing the winged eagle title was part of the plan for a new start.
- Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon segment to kick off the show – This was the point that they realized this was the feud to go with. Originally this segment was a device to get Mick Foley and SCSA match over.
- BP refuted Dave Meltzer’s (DM) claim that VKM was spoofing his backstage altercation in Montreal with Bret when he told the crowd that he felt they deserved an explanation.
- Changes in the Nation of Domination – Ron was happy to move out the NOD as a face and get the Rock ready for his next chapter as he felt the Rock could be the next big star. Ron only originally wanted a 2 year run in the WWE anyway!
- X-Pac’s return to DX – Waltman wanted to be called Syx Pac originally but the possibility of legal issue with WCW prevented this. WWE were just going to called him “The Kid”. XPac became formed via mixture of “DX” and Syx Pac”
- X-Pac’s famous promo – BP said that Russo wrote a lot of this and wanted it to be edgy and unexpected.
- Jim Ross made the deal to bring X-Pac back. X-Pac used Barry Bloom as his representative, sometimes Bloom used to work on both sides of the table which resulted in a conflict of interests. Bloom also represented Bischoff so his tenuous relationship with WCW made his working with WWE very strained.
- Many of those on the WCW downside guarantees didn’t understand the WWE structure where if you worked you made a lot more money. SCSA and the Rock made 6-7 times their downsides.
- HBK wanted the Outlaws as part of DX months earlier; VKM didn’t want to do anything until after WM14 so that DX could be reborn.
- BP feels that this version of DX with HHH, X-Pac, Chyna and the Outlaws is the version that most people remember.
- Losing the ratings battle for this episode on Raw wasn’t a big deal even though it was the night after WM14. Business was good and it was just a matter of time until they started wining.
WWE Raw in Syracuse
- Before this there was a PPV in Manchester, England – Undertaker fought in street clothes due to his outfit being lost in transit. BP refutes the claim from DM that Undertaker’s match with Kane was terrible.
- Vince was very particular that the “working urine” DX used to pee on the Disciples of Apocalypse’s actually looked like real urine!
- Segment with VKM and SCSA in a suit – BP said it was iconic as it laid out the next 3 years of the feud. BP also liked how negatively the crowd reacted when he came out in a suit.
- Promo with Paul Bearer and Kane at the grave of Undertaker’s mum and dad – Paul made allusions to “doing Undertaker’s mum from behind and a young Undertaker walked in with Paul winking at him” which had to be edited out.
- BP said this was based on an actual wrestler story of having a child walk in on him while he was with the mother. BP confessed it was Brian Pillman. It was before Pillman was married.
WWE Raw on April 13th
- This was covered in a separate podcast
WWE Raw April 28th in Nassau
- The Love Shack segment kicked off the show and was Russo’s idea.
- Dude Love character was based on a conversation between HBK and Foley. Foley wanted to be like HBK when he was coming up in the business. As a youngster, Foley wore a blond wig and cut a promo which BP loved when he saw it many years later.
- SCSA and Dude Love feud – Dude Love was the antithesis of the SCSA character.
- The DX peeing o the crowd was a Russo idea. VKM didn’t know what a supersoaker was and wanted urine flavoured water!
- Owen had no issues with allusions to the Montreal screwjob and the possibility that Vince in storylines could take the title from Austin at Backlash.
- There were times Owen would suggest doing a screwjob storyline in his matches.
- BP thinks that Bret made the Montreal screwjob as significant as it was.
- BP didn’t see Montreal as significant at the time but now he sees it as a turning point in the business.
- It was in Greensborough which was a WCW stronghold. It was the first PPV in Greensborough and fit with the touring schedule.
- It was a 21,000 sell-out with broke the arena record. The gate was just short of the $386k Staarcade 1986 record. $165k was the merchandise number. BP though that these superb numbers were a sign of the times.
- Farooq, Shamrock and Steve Blackman vs. The Rock, D’Lo and Mark Henry – Shamrock was injured so didn’t play a huge part in the match. BP felt that it had to tell the story of the Rock and Farooq and didn’t agree with DM that it was a poor match.
- SCSA promo – warns the timekeeper Mark Yeaton not to ring the bell like he did in Montreal. BP said that Yeaton worked his way up and was in charge of the ring crew as well as being the timekeeper and a referee. BP thought he was a wonderful guy; he was part of the Joey Morella and Mike Chioda crew. Mark was very reliable and could get things done.
- Owen Hart vs HHH – BP said the story was here to show that Owen was continually frustrated but HHH still got the victory with help from DX and Hunter couldn’t beat Owen on his own. CT argued with BP argued at how ridiculous it was that HHH continually beat Owen Hart.
- Rock and Roll Express vs. Midnight Express (NWA tag title match) – This was the 4th incarnation of the Midnights. Morton and Gibson were over the hill by now. BP didn’t think the match was good and it was a tough sell even in Greensborough. No one was interested in the angle or the Rock and Roll Express or the NWA angle.
- Luna vs Sable – DM called this “the stripper match”, Sable was injured so Luna carried the match. DM called Sable an “ageing low rent stripper”. BP said that this match “was what it was”, the majority male audience wanted to see a “bra and panties match” and that is what they gave them. CT pointed out how badly DM’s critique comes off i.e. “Sable has a good body for her age”.
- JR mentioned Ric Flair during commentary – The plan was to have Ric and Reid Flair in the audience but only have Reid interviewed as a “world champion amateur wrestler”. They didn’t do it due to the legal potential issues with WCW that could have arisen.
- VKM came out and said that the very idea of him screwing a wrestler is beneath his dignity, and that he hoped “Stone Cold wouldn’t screw Stone Cold”. Promos within the PPV were there to create a similar atmosphere to Raw. BP thinks this was the 1st time this was rolled out.
- New Age Outlaws vs LOD 2000 (WWE tag titles) – The bloom was off the rose on LOD 2000. BP thought it was sad and the worst match on the card. The 2 teams didn’t gel and Hawk vs. Billy Gunn was a train wreck, BP thought the finish was awful.
- Jeff Jarrett sang with a country music group called Sawyer Brown – While Sawyer Brown were performing for the wrestlers earlier in the day, JBL came and took Briscoe down while he was unaware. JBL ran away and Briscoe got his revenge later letting JBL to “Tap out like he meant it”. Steve Blackman attacked JJ, but JJ eventually put Blackman in a figure four leg lock, to “we want Flair” chants from the crowd.
The Undertaker vs. Kane (inferno match)
- BP felt DM comments were condescending especially when comparing this match to outdoor inferno matches that occurred in Mexico and Japan which BP thought were awful.
- BP said the story was about 2 brothers, with Kane being disfigured by the fire and how he wanted Undertake to feel the heat that he felt as a child.
- BP thought there was a story that made sense and the match was good considering you couldn’t work a normal match and to set your opponent on fire.
- BP agreed the fire stipulation was absurd but thought it was best not to apply logic to an illogical situation.
- There wasn’t a lot of thought to the finish until a few days before when they spoke to stunt experts in the field, especially given they couldn’t swap Kane for a trained stuntman and hide him from the crowd to prepare him for the spot.
- BP felt the match was safe and controlled and not like the mid-90s matches from Japan with fireballs etc. The match was approved by a fire marshal.
- BP denies his previous claims that you could just pay off the fire marshal and get these types of matches done.
- BP said that to make it look dangerous was part of the illusion but hidden throughout the arena and under the ring were people with fire extinguishers. BP compared this to something Copperfield would do.
- The original idea may have come from BP which Russo then went and ran with. BP said sometimes you have to be careful what you suggest to VKM because he then goes and runs with the idea.
- BP said years later when Kane set JR on fire they brought in the same fire guy but a different stunt coordinator.
- The fire guy allowed the stunt coordinator to be in charge of some of the safety aspects.
- The stunt coordinator wanted to show how long he could stay on fire so to indicate how long they had to film the spot. The coordinator caught fire and was subsequently put out.
- The fire safety guy was too busy pandering to Vince for approval to notice that the coordinator had caught fire again despite the stunt coordinator repeatedly trying to get his attention! The flames were 4 feet high!
- The match was short by design and it was very hot inside the ring.
- Jerry Briscoe was nearby to tell the stunt coordinator when to raise the flames. Jerry wanted the flames on the big bumps.
- They had to run a pipe of gas to the ring to feed the fire and all planning was done the night before.
- VKM loved the match
- As a gimmick match BP wouldn’t really book it again.
Main Event – Dude Love vs SCSA
- BP thought the match was excellent.
- Foley convinced VKM that the crazy bumps he was taking were ok; VKM was never a fan of his bumps initially.
- Audience was into the match and the angle.
- SCSA hitting VKM with the chair – VKM told SCSA to bring it and make it look good.
- HHH was not considered for this position because he wanted a fresh start and start new angles and rivalries.
- Foley thought that the office and reservations of this matchup but BP doesn’t know where he got this idea from, they felt that Steve and Mick could get the best out of each other.
Highlights – Answers to questions
- It was a sell-out at the monitor in the back to watch the Sable vs Luna evening gown match.
- No confirmation that Ric Flair was circling the arena and considering turning up at the show.
- BP was in favour of the change in direction of the company to a more adult oriented presentation.
- BP’s favourite version of Mick Foley was Dude Love, although he also liked the Mick Foley character itself.
- Fans in the front row did not have to sign waivers for the inferno match.
- No one backstage ever tried to fight Shamrock for real.
- Underrated talents in 1998 – Steve Blackman – BP thought this was unique.
- BP thought in 1998 Briscoe would beat SCSA in a shoot fight.
- Not one of the more memorable podcasts – it was really saved by the analysis of the inferno match but beyond this there wasn’t much new that we hadn’t heard of before. Even the Ric Flair story was repeated from a few weeks ago.
- BP seemed to be going through the motions in reviewing some of the PPV matches.
- Seems like there has been an overconcentration of the WM14 period on this podcast and the network, not sure whether this was planned or intended but it does effect the momentum of the show overall.
- I would give the show a C+ rating overall, they have done better and I look forward to the Bossman show next week.