And one of the best matches of all time.
Bad Blood: In Your House #18
Date: October 5, 1998
Location: Kiel Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Vince McMahon, Jim Ross
The featured attraction here is the first ever Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and Undertaker, which I think sums up the entire show. Other than the main event, the other big match was a tag team flag match between Vader/Patriot vs. British Bulldog/Bret Hart. The title wasn’t a factor in the feud, but the night was about Shawn and Undertaker, not the WWF Title. Having a match about patriotism is fine as always with all four guys being solid in the ring, meaning we should get a good match. Let’s get to it.
Before we get to the show, there is one more thing that has to be addressed. On the day of the show, Brian Pillman was found dead in his hotel room due to heart disease. He had been scheduled to face Dude Love on the show and Love wasn’t given a replacement opponent after Pillman was found. It wasn’t known that he had the condition and the death came as a complete surprise. Pillman was 35 years old.
Nation of Domination vs. Legion of Doom
This is a handicap match with Rocky Maivia, Kama Mustafa (a martial artist/street fighter) and D’Lo Brown (a large guy who could move faster than most people his size) representing the Nation. Ken Shamrock was supposed to team up with the Legion of Doom but was injured, leaving them without a partner. Hawk and Brown get us going with D’Lo actually staggering him off a shoulder block.
Back up and a boot to the face sends Brown into the Nation corner for the tag off to Rocky. Animal comes in as well and the Rocky Sucks chants immediately begin. The Nation has a meeting on the floor until Rocky comes back in, only to be taken down by a dropkick. Animal cranks on the arm a bit before tagging out to Hawk for a headlock. Rocky drives him into the corner for the tag off to Kama. The power guys slug it out until a double clothesline is no sold all around.
Hawk actually busts out an enziguri to take Kama down and we hit a chinlock. Back to Animal for a powerslam but Rocky sneaks in with a DDT to put him down. The distraction lets the Nation take Animal to the floor for a triple team before it’s off to D’Lo to pound away at the ribs. Animal comes back with a clothesline out of the corner but Brown breaks up another tag attempt. The Nation breaks up another hot tag attempt though and it’s off to Rocky for a chinlock.
Maivia draws Hawk in again due to Hawk not being the brightest guy in the world, allowing for a low blow to Animal for two. Back to Kama for a spinning kick to the ribs but Animal avoids a charge into the corner. The hot tag brings in Hawk but the referee didn’t see it, allowing Brown to hit a frog splash on Animal for two.
Animal gets up again and forearms Rocky down, allowing for the seen hot tag to Hawk. Everything breaks down with the LOD taking over. A pair of running clotheslines look to set Rocky up for the Doomsday Device but Faarooq comes out for a distraction, allowing Kama to kick Hawk into the still yet to be named Rock Bottom for the pin.
Rating: C+. I liked this much better than I expected to. The LOD was rapidly approaching their expiration date at this point but they looked good enough out there. Rocky clearly had something special, but the character joining the Nation was the best possible option for him, as he got to show some character instead of boring everyone to death as the happy go lucky guy.
Next up was supposed to be Brian Pillman vs. Dude Love, but Vince tells us of his death. They’ve come up with the following replacement match though.
Mosaic/Tarantula vs. Max Mini/Nova
The Minis are back and Max gets a nice reception this time. Tarantula, the biggest guy in the match by far, kicks Max to the floor before side stepping a dive by Nova. Nova avoids a charge from both heels and makes them hit each other via some quick dodging. Everyone heads to the floor for a no real action until we get back to Mosaic being armdragged down by Max. A backdrop puts Mosaic down as everything breaks down again.
Max gets two on Tarantula via a hurricanrana but a double big boot drops Max for no cover. Back to Nova who gets slammed down by Tarantula and a top rope splash gets two. Tarantula distracts Max so Mosaic can get in a cheap shot and a slam down onto the announce table.
After five minutes of the match, the announcers tell us this is under lucha libre rules, meaning a wrestler going to the floor allows his partner to come in legally. That clears up a lot of issues so far, but couldn’t they remember to tell us that earlier? Nova screws up an armdrag on Mosaic but dropkicks him out to the floor instead. Tarantula runs over Max with a clothesline but Max goes up top for a high cross body. There’s no cover, so Max hooks a spinning crucifix for the pin, even though Mosaic broke it up at two.
Rating: D+. The idea of the match was fine but the execution didn’t work for the most part. There were way too many botches out there and the crowd didn’t care for the Mexican rules. This wasn’t a good choice for an old school city like St. Louis where tradition means a lot more than in some other towns. Not a terrible match but not a great idea.
Sunny comes out to be guest announcer.
Tag Titles: Godwinns vs. Headbangers
The Headbangers are still champions after winning them last month. The Godwinns now have their Uncle Cletus (wrestler Tony Anthony, most famous as the Dirty White Boy) as a manager. It’s a brawl to start with the champions sending the hog farmers out to the floor. We start with Mosh vs. Phineas after a quick spitting contest. Phineas gets sent back to the floor very quickly, allowing Thrasher to hit something the camera doesn’t find important enough to show us. Apparently it was a springboard clothesline to the apron. Good to know.
Back in and we get some miscommunication, as the Headbangers try a double flapjack but Phineas drops his head down like a backdrop, nearly breaking his neck in the process. Things slow down again until we get Thrasher vs. Henry and a rollup gets two for the champion. Henry bails to the floor as the match stalls even more. Back to Phineas who is taken down, allowing Mosh to suplex Thrasher down onto Phineas for two. A middle rope clothesline from Thrasher puts Phineas down again, but Henry scores with a clothesline of his own to give the Godwinns control.
Thrasher gets crotched on the top rope and clotheslined to the floor again with Phineas coming in for more stomping. Lawler tries some lame redneck jokes to save this boring match but even his corny one liners have no effect. A bunch of knee drops get two for Phineas but Thrasher comes back with a sunset flip, only to have Henry distract the referee.
Phineas hits a wheelbarrow slam for another near fall on Thrasher but a splash in the corner only hits buckle. The hot tag brings in Mosh to clean house, including powerbombing Thrasher onto Phineas for two. Everything breaks down and Mosh’s top rope seated senton is caught in a sloppy powerbomb by Phineas for the pin and the titles.
Rating: D-. Not only was this sloppy, but it was really dull stuff. The tag team division is just horrific at this point with nothing interesting and random title changes like this one that don’t help anything. Really boring match here with WAY too much stalling and nothing special in the ring at all.
Post match the Godwinns destroy the Headbangers and are threatened with losing the titles if they don’t leave. Therefore, they leave.
We get a video on Austin’s path of destruction through the corporate structure via Stunning every authority figure in sight. After that, Austin was given the option of either getting doctor’s clearance (almost impossible to get), come back after waving the WWF of all responsibilities in case he’s injured, or leave the WWF. The decision would come tomorrow night on Raw.
Owen Hart doesn’t want to hear about Austin other than when he hands over the Intercontinental Title. He also threatens Austin with a lawsuit if he tries anything tonight.
JR is in the ring to introduce some of the legends of St. Louis wrestling in a very cool moment. First up is Canada’s Greatest Athlete, Gene Kiniski. We get a bio on everyone, with Kiniski’s focusing on winning the NWA World Title in St. Louis. Everyone will also be getting a plaque and a framed letter.
Next up is Jack Brisco, who is one of the most underrated wrestlers of all time. He’s often listed as an all time great, but he’s even better than he’s talked about being. Jack was a two time world champion.
Dory Funk Jr., who was in the 1995 Royal Rumble, is next. He held the NWA World Title for over four years, the second longest reign ever.
Fourth is Harley Race, who was a seven (or eight depending on how many reigns you count) time NWA World Champion and perhaps the greatest of all time.
Terry Funk is next and never quite looks right in a suit. Seeing photos of him all professional looking after being famous for his insanity is bizarre. Terry first retired in 1983 and he was active in a match in November of 2013. Let that sink in for a minute.
The final two come out at the same time: Lou Thesz (the longest reigning NWA World Champion ever and one of the absolute best in ring technical wrestlers of all time) and Sam Muchnick who ran both the St. Louis Wrestling Club and the NWA for years. It was speculated that if Muchnick had stuck around, the NWA could have survived the WWF and even won the war. Muchnick is also considered one of the only fair promoters ever and almost everyone worked for him at one point.
This was a really classy ceremony and didn’t come off as stupid or pointless at all. Very nice moment.
Faarooq says he doesn’t need Austin’s help to win the Intercontinental Title tonight.
Intercontinental Title: Owen Hart vs. Faarooq
This is a tournament final to crown a new champion since Austin has to forfeit the title. Owen has an Owen 3:16 shirt, with “I Just Broke Your Neck” on the back. Before the match, here’s Austin to do commentary. This might not be the best idea given that he and Pillman were best friends. Austin rings the bell as Vince freaks out, so Austin takes his headset.
JR and Jerry can barely get a word in as Austin rants about Owen using the 3:16 shirt for cheap heat. Austin steals Lawler’s headset as Faarooq grabs a headlock. The boring match drags on as Austin has a walkie-talkie to mess with security. He knocks JR’s hat off as Owen spinwheel kicks Faarooq down and goes after the knee. Austin jumps on Spanish commentary and doesn’t like the trash he thinks the commentators are saying about him.
Owen stomps away in the corner and Austin has switched to French. Faarooq kicks Owen shoulder first into the post and gets two off a backbreaker. He misses a middle rope legdrop though and Owen goes after the leg. The Sharpshooter is broken up again and Faarooq gets another near fall off a powerslam. Jim Neidhart comes to ringside but Austin uses the distraction to knock Faarooq out with the title, giving Owen the title.
Rating: D. The match was just a backdrop for Austin’s antics and the ending would make more sense after the explanation. The idea was simple: Austin wanted the Intercontinental Title back, but he only wanted to beat Owen for it to prove he was the better man once and for all. Owen and Faarooq weren’t great out there, but there was only so much they could do in these circumstances.
We recap the Hart Foundation attacking Vader and the Patriot on Raw before draping Canadian flags over their fallen bodies.
Los Boricuas vs. Disciples of Apocalypse
Los Boricuas are Miguel Perez, Jose Estrada, Jesus Castillo and Savio Vega while the Disciples are Crush, Chainz, Skull and 8-Ball. Skull starts with Jose with the much bigger Disciple taking over to start. 8-Ball and Skull (identical twins) hit a double big boot to take Jose down and it’s off to Miguel who walks into a powerslam for two.
Chainz and Savio come in with the biker scoring with a quick belly to belly for two before it’s off to Jesus who is slammed down just as easily. Everything nearly breaks down on the floor before Jesus takes over on Crush back inside. All four of the Boricuas come in for three running clotheslines and a spinwheel kick from Savio to Crush before Miguel hooks a chinlock.
The referee goes to the floor to stop another brawl, allowing the remaining Boricuas to triple team Crush again. A missile dropkick gets two for Jesus and we hit ANOTHER chinlock. Crush finally fights up and everything breaks down with Crush hitting a quick big boot but there’s no referee. Jesus gets a close two off a DDT but Chainz pins Miguel off a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker.
Rating: F+. This show is really getting bad about having dull matches. As has been the case since the beginning of this feud, no one cares about these teams or anyone on them. None of the guys on the team save for arguably their leaders do anything that sets them apart. I was having trouble remembering which Boricua was which. That’s a bad sign in an eight minute match.
Bret says the Hart Foundation will win the flag match.
Bret Hart/British Bulldog vs. Vader/The Patriot
This is a flag match and you can win by pinfall, submission, or capturing your country’s flag from the poles in the corners. It’s a big brawl on the floor to start with everyone fighting on the floor. Vader pounds on Bret with a Canadian flag pole but Bret sends him into the steps. Now it’s Bret hitting Vader with the pole as Bulldog does the same to Patriot in the aisle. We’re still waiting for an opening bell. They change positions and the Foundation members are both down.
We finally get a bell as the Americans are alone in the ring. Why they don’t go up for the flag is anyone’s guess but everyone stands around instead of doing anything. Patriot finally goes up for it but gets pulled down by Bulldog. A snap suplex puts Bulldog down but Bret distracts Patriot from climbing. Vader comes in and runs Bulldog over before it’s off to Bret for the first time. Hart tries to slug it out and is easily punched down into the corner for his efforts.
Bret avoids a charge into the corner and takes Vader down with a Russian legsweep. Vader easily breaks up an attempt at climbing with a low blow before sitting on Bret’s chest for two. Back to Patriot vs. Bulldog with the masked man mostly missing a dropkick for two on Davey. Patriot goes for the flag very slowly and Bret breaks it up again. Vader does the same to the Bulldog as things slow down. Bret sends Patriot’s shoulder into the post and puts on the Figure Four around the same post for good measure.
Back in and Bret drops a headbutt to the abdomen before putting on the Sharpshooter, but Patriot easily reverses into one of his own. That’s broken up just as easily until all four go into the same corner. Bulldog throws Patriot off and the match slows back down again. Patriot kicks Smith away and finally makes the tag off to Vader to almost no reaction. Bulldog scores with a quick belly to back suplex but Vader runs him over and drops a splash for two.
Vader can’t get to the flag either as Bulldog pulls him back down and we hit the chinlock. Back to Bret for a Sharpshooter but Vader is right next to the ropes. Patriot comes in without a tag to break up the hold anyway and Vader takes over. Now it’s a Sharpshooter from Vader to Bret as the fans are trying to get into the match. Bulldog breaks up the Sharpshooter so it’s Patriot in again with a Figure Four. Smith breaks it up again and comes in for the delayed vertical suplex. Patriot is knocked down again while trying to climb so it’s back to Bret.
Hart drops some knees and elbows but Vader easily stops him from getting the flag. Now it’s back to Vader vs. Bulldog but the masked man misses his moonsault, only to LAND ON HIS FEET. That’s INSANE. Anyway he pounds Bulldog down into the corner but Bret stops an attempt at the flag. Instead Vader clotheslines Bulldog to the floor but gets nailed in the head with the bell.
They head inside again where Bret easily slams Vader and drops a few legs. Vader fights up and clotheslines both Foundation members down, allowing for a lukewarm at best tag to Patriot. House is cleaned and the Uncle Slam gets two on Bret. A fan comes in and is easily taken out by security. The Vader Bomb crushes Bret but Vader isn’t legal, so Bret gets a quick rollup on Patriot for the pin.
Rating: D+. This wasn’t a horrible match but again it just went on WAY too long. This was nearly half an hour long and could have easily been done in about twelve minutes. The flags weren’t a factor at all as none of the attempts to get them even came close. It would also be the last major appearance of Patriot who tore his triceps a few weeks later and retired as a result.
Post match Patriot gets all mad and kicks Bret to the floor.
Shawn says the good news is the Cell match isn’t for the European Title, but the bad news is Undertaker is locked inside with him.
We recap the main event, which has pretty much been covered already. Shawn claims that he’s doing this because everyone blames him for Undertaker’s problems instead of taking responsibilities for their own problems. On the other hand, Undertaker wants to kill him.
Slaughter and a referee check underneath the ring to make sure no one can interfere.
Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
Inside the Hell in a Cell and the winner gets a shot at Bret next month at Survivor Series. The thunder starts to rumble and the gong goes off, bringing the crowd back to life for the first time in a long while. The entrance takes it sweet time as Shawn is forced to think about what’s coming. Undertaker turns the lights back on and Shawn is terrified as reality sets in.
The slow stalking around the cage floor begins before they head back inside, only to have Shawn launched across the ring. A ram into the buckle sends Shawn flying again so he tries some punches, only to be whipped HARD across the ring again. Undertaker rams his shoulder into Shawn’s before hitting Old School for no cover. A slam and legdrop get two on Shawn and some big right hands send Shawn down again. Michaels is thrown over the top and out to the floor as the pain is about to begin.
Undertaker continues to walk very slowly around the ring, hitting a single right hand after another. He tries a powerbomb on the floor but Michaels fires off right hands, only to be rammed back first into the cage wall. Now Undertaker picks him up and rams Shawn back first into the post, then the wall, then back to the post and back to the wall again. Shawn manages to escape being rammed in again and sends Undertaker into the wall, but Undertaker shrugs it off and punches Shawn down.
Shawn is sent face first into the steps and choked a bit but he FINALLY sends Undertaker into the post to get a breather. Since the outside doesn’t work at all for Shawn, he heads back inside, only to have his neck snapped across the top rope. A dive over the top takes out Undertaker and an elbow off the apron keeps Undertaker down. Michaels slams the steps down onto Undertaker’s back a few times before piledriving him down onto said steps.
A top rope ax handle sends Undertaker into the cage again and we head back inside. Shawn finds a chair under the ring and the fans are very pleased. Some chair shots to the back put Undertaker down for two so Shawn ties his arms up in the ropes. He doesn’t tie up the feet though and Undertaker kicks him down before backdropping Shawn onto the cameraman. Shawn beats up the cameraman, which becomes important later.
Michaels gets in a cheap shot on Undertaker to knock him to the floor before taking a breather. Back inside and the flying forearm and nip up make Shawn a little more cocky. The top rope elbow gets two as Slaughter has the door unlocked to get the cameraman some medical attention. Sweet Chin Music lays Undertaker out but he sits up. Shawn tries to run through the open door but Undertaker grabs him almost immediately. Michaels is catapulted into the cage wall (on the outside), cutting him open. Now the fun begins.
In one of the iconic shots of the match, Undertaker puts Shawn on his shoulder and rams him into the cage wall again. Shawn collapses next to the cage but Undertaker is just warming up. A quick low blow puts Undertaker down and with nowhere else to go, Shawn climbs up the side of the cage. He makes it all the way to the roof but Undertaker follows him. Undertaker counters a piledriver with a backdrop as we go to a wide shot to show how awesome this looks.
A gorilla press slam puts Shawn down on the roof again and a kick to the ribs sends Shawn to the edge. He tries to climb down, but in the really famous shot of the match, Undertaker stomps on his hands, sending Shawn flying off the cage and through the announce table. Undertaker still isn’t done and throws Shawn onto the other announce table as Shawn’s face is just covered in blood.
The stalking continues as the announcers are losing their minds at all this. Michaels crawls back into the Cell but can barely see through the blood. A running clothesline puts Shawn down on the mat before taking him to the top for a SUPER CHOKESLAM. Now we get to the poetic justice portion with Undertaker grabbing the chair. A big chair shot to the head puts Shawn down and Undertaker signals for the tombstone…..and the lights go out.
Organ music begins to play and Paul Bearer walks a huge man in red down to ringside. Vince: “THAT’S GOT TO BE KANE!” He rips the door off the Cell and climbs into the ring to stare down Undertaker. Undertaker is STUNNED as Kane raises his arms up and pulls them down, causing fire to shoot up from the ring posts. Kane tombstones Undertaker down and walks out, allowing Shawn to drape an arm over Undertaker for the shocking upset.
Rating: A+. This is one of the best matches of all time and the culmination of one of the best put together stories ever. While the brawling is incredible and the violence is off the charts, the storytelling carries this. Undertaker stalking Shawn to start and getting every single bit of punishment in that he could until Shawn used his speed and intelligence to get some control was brilliant. The torment Undertaker put Shawn through was perfect with Michaels being completely destroyed throughout the match and being dead to rites until the ending.
Kane making his debut here was perfect as well, with the story being just far enough in the past that people weren’t thinking about it but not far enough that everyone knew who Kane was as soon as he walked out. This set up a feud that went on and off for thirteen years between the brothers, but we’ll get to that later. By the way, I told you Fake Diesel would be worth something someday. He’s the guy playing Kane.
Overall Rating: C-. The main event saves it, but there’s no reason to sit through the whole show just to get to the Cell. It’s available on several DVDs and is the only worthwhile thing on the entire show. The midcard is a disaster at this point with almost nothing of interest at all. Austin is doing what he can but the fact that he can’t get in the ring is really holding him back. His day would come, but it would be a little bit longer.
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