RECAP AND REVIEW: Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard on Survivor Series ’98 – who wrote Rock’s heel turn storyline, The Big Boss Man’s major screw up, the tag teams who didn’t have chemistry together, why Vince McMahon wrote a letter of apology to Steve Austin

Something To Wrestle

Release Date: November 16, 2018

Running time: 2:26:59

Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo



Skip to 8:35 as the first 8:34 was commercial reads, talk about upcoming tours and a quick recap of the Regal podcast.

  • Topic for this podcast is Survivor Series 1998 – Deadly Games in the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri which was a tournament based format
  • It did a 1.3 buy rate for roughly a $5.8 million gross. Bruce said the PPV numbers were what they were during that time. As long as they were making money it was business as usual.
  • Vince most likely came up with the ‘Deadly Games’ name but creative services came up with the look and the logo.
  • Bruce didn’t like the music for Deadly Games which was written by Jim Johnston.

Kiel Auditorium and St Louis

  • Sam Muchnick was the promoter and head of the NWA for many years.
  • House shows were done at the Kiel and TV was done in the Chase Hotel.
  • Gerry and Bruce used to visit the Kiel whenever they went to St Louise prior to it being torn down in 1992. Gerry would tell Bruce stories from the past.

The Tournament Concept for Survivor Series

  • Coming out of the Judgement Day PPV, there is no WWF champion. They decided to have a tournament format which is something Vince wasn’t a fan of especially since WrestleMania 4
  • Bruce says Vince Russo influenced Vince McMahon to go with the format and there was also the allure of being able to guarantee they were going to crown a new champion.
  • At the time, not having a champion didn’t have any impact on business. Steve Austin (and other talent) were really hot and it didn’t matter if they had a belt or not.

Quick Thought On Brock Lesnar

  • Bruce says they should keep the belt on Lesnar and whoever beats him will be hotter than anything they’ve seen
  • Bruce also says it doesn’t matter if Brock doesn’t show up at house shows because the WWE is in the business of selling the network and special events. Brock helps do that.

State of the Business ’97 vs. 98

  • Average attendance was up 65.9%
  • Average gate was up 98.4%
  • Ratings were up 60%
  • Bruce says this was similar to the Hulk Hogan era but surpassed it from the the dollar amounts. It was the hottest Bruce had seen in the business.

Vince on The Cover Of New York Magazine

  • New York Magazine ran a cover feature about Vince McMahon. The cover of the magazine was McMahon with The Undertaker.
  • The magazine wanted Vince with Steve Austin but McMahon said it would be unrealistic for them to co-exist on a magazine cover. McMahon wanted Rocky Maivia but the magazine didn’t think Rock was a big enough star.
  • Vince wanted Rock on the magazine because he knew where the story was going. Vince didn’t want to do the cover with Steve because he was building other people at the time, specifically The Rock.

Debra McMichael

  • Debra McMichael came to the WWE in November 1998 to be partnered up with Jeff Jarrett
  • Debra would call Bruce every single week looking to see if there was anything available for her.
  • One Friday, Bruce contacted Debra to let her know there was nothing for her however, Vince called Bruce and told him to get her to TV. He called her back and asked her to make the next TV.

Austin’s Star Power

  • At the beginning of November, Austin was involved in a number of non-wrestling activities such as being on People Magazine and appearing at an awards show.
  • Bruce said Steve and Rock were so popular, it was almost like the Beatles. They were red hot and were everywhere. You couldn’t go out anywhere without seeing an Austin 3:16 shirt or a Rock shirt.
  • Bruce says Austin had bigger years dollar-wise than Hogan. It was a good time to be in the business.

The Secrets Of Pro Wrestling

  • On November 1st, NBC aired the Secrets of Pro Wrestling Show that revealed how wrestling matches were staged and how bookers planned out storylines.  
  • Bruce thought it was a joke. The only name that might have participated was Harley Race but if he was in it, they should have promoted that.
  • There weren’t really any real revelations and it wasn’t that spectacular.

Raw – November 2nd, 1998

  • Show opened with Shane who announced Austin is going to get a title match the night after survivor series
  • Vince showed up and fired Shane but rehired him as a referee. If Shane didn’t do that job well, he would be back to being on the ring crew.
  • Knowing how what we know is going to happen at Survivor Series, this Raw is brilliant. There were things going on the whole time during the show.
  • Bruce gives Vince Russo credit for writing a great story and they stuck to the plan all the way through.
  • Bruce knew Shane was going to be a performer from the first day they met. He was already a performer and had it. Also when Shane was on the road as ref and on the ring crew, he would get to the towns early, set up the ring and would ask Bruce and Randy Savage to show him some stuff.
  • Bruce said Shaquille O’Neal showed up unexpectedly at the show and Bruce asked him they could use him for one of the segments. Shaq said yes.
  • William Regal goes to a no-contest with Goldust when Kane shows up and chokeslams them both. There was a spot where Kane was going to chokeslam a pregnant Marlena but the agents stopped it and Kane ended up chokeslamming (Tony) Garea.
  • Vince McMahon presents Mankind with the Hardcore Title which was covered in the STW with Daniel Puder/Hardcore Title and recapped on (yes…shameless plug).
  • Rock beat Shamrock by DQ and Vince said if Rock didn’t win the (IC) title, he would not be in Survivor Series. Because Rock didn’t win by pinfall or submission, he was out of the Survivor Series. Rock goes ballistic and Vince gets him arrested.
  • Val Venis beats Jeff Jarrett by DQ when the Blue Blazer attacked Venis. Bruce was not a huge fan of the Blue Blazer gimmick. He thought Owen had personality but Vince Russo thought Owen’s personality wasn’t enough and needed the Blazer gimmick.
  • The Headbangers went to a no-contest with DX.
  • Owen confronted Dan Severn and attacked him. Steve Blackman came out and attacked Owen who gets saved by the Blue Blazer.
  • A cage lowered and Vince McMahon lured in Pat Patterson, Gerry Brisco and Sargent Slaughter to get beat by Big Bossman which was payback for them not coming back after leaving to get coffee on the October 19th Raw.
  • They begged McMahon to stop the beating which McMahon agreed to if they swore undying loyalty to him. Austin made the save but they all attacked Austin. Shane savesd Austin and just as Bossman was going to attack Shane, Vince called Bossman off. Taker attacked Austin, then Kane made the save. RAW went off the air with Kane and Austin beating up Taker
  • Bruce said there was a lot of stuff happening on this RAW but this was normal for this time. You had to hold on during every show and wait til next week to see what happened next.

Universal Soldier 2

  • Meltzer reported there were some problems between Austin and the WWF. It stemmed from a movie role in Universal Soldier 2. The producers originally wanted Austin for the role but it went to Goldberg.
  • The issue was that Austin’s agent brought the movie up but Austin knew nothing about it and that Goldberg got $250K for the role
  • Austin went to Vince but Vince told him the original offer was $55K and Vince wrote a letter of apology to Austin.
  • Bruce says this was a mountain made out of a molehill and there were whisperings that Barry Bloom may have been trying to ruffle Steve’s feathers.
  • Bruce also says the WWE was trying to work a deal with Univision to create stars they could utilize in other programming.

Raw – November 9th, 1998 – The Go Home Show

  • It was another good house at Reunion Arena.
  • Val Venis beat Steve Blackman after Terri hit Blackman with a low blow.
  • There was a three way match with Jesse James, Mosh and D-Lo Brown.
  • Mankind got a makeover.
  • Goldust beat Jarrett by DQ.
  • Mankind beat Shamrock for the Hardcore Title.
  • Tiger Ali Singh beats Al Snow after a distraction from Deborah.
  • Kane and Edge wrestled to a DQ.
  • Vince did an interview and Shane came out. Vince ordered Bossman to beat up Shane but Austin made the save.
  • The Rock wrestled Mark Henry and after the match, Rock rock bottomed Vince and hit the People’s Elbow.
  • This episode is a home run and gets a big rating leading into the Survivor Series PPV,

Survivor Series 1998

  • Sold out – $470K at the gate $140K merch.
  • Dark Match – Brian Christopher and Scott Taylor beat the Hardy Boys.
  • Sunday Night Heat had matches – Bob Holly and 2 Cold Scorpio beat Animal and Droz, Val Venis beat Tiger Ali Singh. The show ended with most of the guys in the Survivor Series tournament battling as the show went off the air.
  • PPV opens with Vince and his goons and introduced Duane Gill who got beat by Mankind.
  • Al Snow beats Jeff Jarrett.
  • Steve Austin beat Big Bossman but got beat down to further the storyline for the PPV.
  • X-Pac wrestled Steve Regal to a double countout. Vince was upset because this meant Steve Austin got a bye for the next round.
  • Ken Shamrock beat Goldust. Bruce didn’t feel these guys had chemistry and the match wasn’t good
  • Rock beat the Big Bossman in a quick match.

  • Undertaker beat Kane. Bruce says it wasn’t one of their best outings.
  • Mankind beat Al Snow.
  • The Rock defeated Ken Shamrock. This was the best match of the card up to this point.
  • Sable pinned Jacqueline to win the Women’s title.
  • Mankind beat Austin. During the match, Austin was pinning Mankind with Shane as ref however Shane double crossed him and flipped him the bird.
  • Big Bossman was supposed to come in and attack Austin from behind but he missed his cue so they called an audible and Gerry Brisco hit Austin with a weak chairshot. Bossman was in the back talking to Undertaker about their upcoming match. Vince and Austin were livid by the ending.
  • Rock beat Undertaker by DQ.
  • New Age Outlaws beat The Headbangers and Mark Henry/D-Lo Brown to regain the tag team belts. Bruce said this match was filler and is not a fan of triple threat tag matches. Also New Age Outlaws and the Headbangers did not have chemistry.
  • Rock vs. Mankind. At the end of the match, Rock had Mankind in the Sharpshooter and Vince called for the bell and gave Rock the belt. We find out Vince and the Rock are in cahoots. Austin eventually showed up and gave stunners to the Rock and Foley. The finish was a play on the Montreal Screwjob which was a year prior to this event.

  • Bruce thought it was a tremendous match but wasn’t a fan of the sharpshooter finish. People were genuinely stunned but he thought the Montreal Screwjob thing was ‘too insider’. Vince was unable to strap the belt on Rock because it was a new belt.
  • Bruce says it was a fun show to watch and had great storytelling. He gives Russo credit for his writing.

Austin and Rock

  • At this point, the WWE knew Rock vs Steve Austin were going to be in Wrestlemania 15. Bruce thinks it was around Summerslam when they knew.
  • Both Rock and Steve were red hot. Bruce says even though the Rock was young, they were willing to run with him because he was reliable and brought it every night
  • Vince Russo has said this is his favorite angle he’s been part of. He and Ed (Ferrara) knew where they were going for weeks and told a subtle story of what was going to happen. Leaving hints and breadcrumbs for the fans to see was a crucial part of the story.
  • Russo was in the building and when the finish happened, you could hear a pin drop. Bruce says it was a great reaction and the reaction everyone was going for. The storytelling was well done.

The Raw After Survivor Series

  • Next night on Raw, Vince, Shane and the Rock open the show talking about the swerve.
  • There was lots of stuff on the show but the main event was Rock vs Austin for the title.
  • Show drew 5.7 million viewers and a 5.5 rating.

Final Thoughts

  • Bruce thought this was one of the best Survivor Series because it didn’t have a traditional Survivor Series match

Rating – 7.5/10

Not a bad show. Conrad and Bruce have been covering a lot of 1998 lately so a lot of the information above was covered in recent podcasts. That said, it was interesting to see how all this stuff intersected but will also admit, I’m 1998’d out. After listening to this podcast, I went back to watch the Raws leading up to the show and the PPV and agree with Bruce, this was some really good writing from Vince Russo (see, Bruce can be nice to Russo sometimes). Overall this was a solid podcast and definitely better than the last few weeks.

About Joe:

Joe is a long time wrestling fan from Toronto. He is a co-host on the Pull Apart Podcast with Jeff Rush and Caitlin Lavelle as well as a contributor to One of his life goals is to be a guest host on one of Wade Keller’s post-show podcasts. He doesn’t consider himself any sort of expert, he just likes wrestling. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram @ja113.


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