Royal Rumble 1998

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By 1998 the WWF’s identity crisis was over. They were all-in on the Atittude Era, and Steve Austin was the star of the future. This is probably the most predictable Rumble ever. There was no chance that anyone other than Steve Austin was winning it.

The Rest of the Card

-Vader defeated The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust

-Max Mini, Mosaic, and Nova defeated Batallion, El Torito, and Tarantula

-The Rock defeated Ken Shamrock by disqualification to retain the Intercontinental Championship

-The Legion of Doom defeated The New Age Outlaws by disqualification (New Age Outlaws retained the World Tag Team Championship)

-Shawn Michaels defeated The Undertaker in a Casket Match to retain the WWF Championship

The Match

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are on commentary.

Cactus Jack is #1. Chainsaw Charlie is #2. They immediately fill the ring with weapons and take turns hitting each other with chairs. And these are some stiff chair shots. This is the dumb stuff of this era of wrestling, guys blasting each other with unprotected chair shots for no reason at all. #3 is Tom Brandi. He’s out in ten seconds. Cactus Suplexes Funk through two chairs. The Rock is #4 and he gets a lot of heat. Rock gets double-teamed by Cactus and Funk and beaten down with a trashcan. #5 is Mosh of The Headbangers.

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Funk goes for an ugly Moonsault and misses. Phineas Godwinn is #6. #7 is Eight Ball of the Disciples of Apocalypse. Cactus charges Funk, but he pulls the rope down and Cactus tumbles to the floor. #8 is Blackjack Justin Hawk John Bradshaw Layfield. He had a lot of bad gimmicks. Owen Hart is #9, but he gets jumped in the aisle by Jeff Jarrett and Jim Cornette. That’s part of the NWA invasion storyline, but I don’t really remember their issue with Owen. Steve Blackman is out #10, which means Owen is eliminated.

D’Lo Brown is #11. There’s been a definite improvement in the roster since last year. At least here almost everyone is either over or part of a faction that people care about. Rock and D’Lo end up squaring off but nothing really comes of it. #12 is Kurrgan of the Truth Commission. Well, that’s the end of people who are over or in a faction people care about. Mosh makes a run but gets tossed by Kurrgan. Marc Mero is #13. He’s no longer Wildman, now “Marvelous” with a heel persona and a boxing gimmick.

Kurrgan tosses Blackman. #14 is Ken Shamrock. He levels Kurrgan with a kick. Everybody gangs up on Kurrgan and he’s gone. They actually did a decent job pushing Kurrgan as a monster here. Nothing ever came of it. Guy had a great look. Never really got to see him wrestle anything more than a squash match.

#15 is Thrasher of the Headbangers. #16 is Mankind. Yes, this is the time Mick Foley got to enter as all three of his personas. Definitely better than random dudes from AAA. Mankind tosses Chainsaw Charlie, who was in there for a solid 20+ minutes. They probably should have had Chainsaw come back in as Terry Funk to eliminate Mankind, then have Dude Love eliminate Funk.

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#17 is the Artist Formerly Known As Goldust. He’s in a really weird outfit here. Goldust quickly eliminates Mankind. #18 is Jeff Jarrett, the reigning NWA North American Champion. This NWA invasion storyline was definitely a rib on Jim Cornette. Owen Hart returns and beats up Jarrett. It’s not clear if he’s actually part of the match or not. Owen tosses Jarrett. Big pop for that, Owen was over here.

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Honky Tonk Man is a surprise entrant at #19. Triple H limps to the ring on crutches along with Chyna. Rock eliminates Shamrock with a sneak attack from behind. Triple H smashes his crutch on Owen. Owen is gone and Triple H takes some extra shots on him. #20 is Ahmed Johnson. I always forget he was around into 1998. Not for long, I think he got injured about a month after this and then released.

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Mark Henry is #21. #22 is no one. This is Skull’s spot, he got jumped backstage because he was mistaken for Steve Austin. Henry and D’Lo eliminate Ahmed and Henry follows by eliminating Phineas. Phineas and Ahmed fight on the floor for some reason. #23 is Kama Mustafa of The Nation.

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#24 is Steve Austin! The entire match stops as everyone turns to face the entrance. Austin sneaks in through the crowd and goes to town on everyone in the ring. He eliminates Mero, then Eight Ball. #25 is Henry Godwinn. #26 is Savio Vega along with all of Los Boriquas. Austin tosses all of them but Savio.

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#27 is Faarooq. He goes right after The Rock, his Nation stablemate. Austin and Rock brawl on the floor where Rock wears him out. #28 is Dude Love. He immediately eliminates Bradshaw, who lasted 40+ minutes. Rock hits the People’s Elbow on D’Lo and then gets tuned up by Austin. #29 is Chainz from DOA. #30 is Vader. He tosses Honky immediately. Austin eliminates Kama. Eliminations start picking up as Dude Love dumps Henry Godwinn and Chainz eliminates Goldust. Austin eliminates Chainz and Faarooq tosses Mark Henry.

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Final four: Austin, Dude Love, Rock, and Faarooq. Dude Love gets the Mandible Claw on Austin but gets a low blow and then is tossed by Faarooq. Rock sneaks up on Faarooq and eliminates him. It’s down to Austin and Rock. Austin hits the Stone Cold Stunners and then tosses Rock to win the Rumble.

Rating: ***. They made the best of it that they could. It was incredibly obvious who was going to win and there weren’t a ton of big stars in the match. But the shenanigans with Foley were fun. Austin’s performance was strong. Rock had an incredibly performance, lasting over 50 minutes. This is far from a classic, but it probably couldn’t have been a ton better than it was.

Michael Cole interviews Mike Tyson, who says he’s a big fan of “Cold Stone.”

The Aftermath

Mike Tyson would be named Special Enforcer for the Austin vs. Shawn Michaels title match at Wrestlemania. Austin would defeat Michaels to become WWF Champion and go on to become the biggest box office attraction in wrestling history.

 

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