And a forgotten main event.

King of the Ring 1998
Date: June 28, 1998
Location: Pittsburgh Civic Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 17,087
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

You might have heard of this one before as it’s a pretty famous double main event.  In the alleged main event, WWF World Champion Steve Austin is defending against the unstoppable Kane in a first blood match.  The real main event is the final blowoff of Undertaker vs. Mankind in one of the most famous moments in wrestling history.  To cap it off we have the King of the Ring with a final four of Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn (another MMA fighter), Jeff Jarrett and The Rock. Let’s get to it.

The opening video, narrated by Hall of Famer Freddie Blassie, talks about how no one can escape their destiny, meaning Austin, Mankind and Undertaker.

The Cell is hanging over the ring.

The Headbangers Are Confirmed For "Smackdown Live"
(Photo Courtesy of


Headbangers/Taka Michinoku vs. Kaientai

This is a bonus match. Taka, still Light Heavyweight Champion at this point, is in Headbangers attire, meaning he’s wearing a skirt. Thrasher and Teioh get things going with Thrasher planting him with a big tilt-a-whirl slam. A powerslam does the same and Mosh adds a middle rope dropkick. It’s off to Funaki who quickly walks into a big powerbomb to keep the advantage going.

Taka comes in and jumps on Funaki’s back as this is entirely one sided so far. A running dropkick followed by a missile dropkick sends Funaki to the floor, setting up a HUGE plancha. Togo finally acts like a heel by cheating, allowing Kaientai to get in their first bit of offense. They head outside with Togo baseball sliding into a headscissor takeover before it’s back to Teioh for a running boot and tornado DDT.

Funaki is back on his feet pretty quickly and mocks the Headbangers’ dancing, allowing for some failed double team attempts. Kaientai collides on the apron and Taka makes a double tag to bring in both partners at the same time. Everything breaks down and the Headbangers throw Taka into the air for a splash on Funaki. The Michinoku Driver is enough for the pin.

Rating: C. This wasn’t a great match but it’s hard to complain about a bonus match. The Headbangers were fine for a lower card tag team and Taka finding whatever help he could get against Kaientai was a good enough story, especially for opening matches. It got the fans into the show and that’s exactly the point of an opening match. Good enough stuff here.

The announcers preview Too Much vs. Al Snow/Head. As in the mannequin head.

Here’s the recently fired and rehired Sable to introduce Mr. McMahon, flanked by the Stooges. Vince has brought her back but she wouldn’t say the nature of their relationship. Nothing was implied and the story was eventually dropped. Vince wisely has Sable leave but Patterson gives her a little spank, earning him a slap to the face. The boss asks the fans what they want to see in the main event. It shouldn’t be a surprise when they’re disappointed, but they’ll just blame everyone else like they have their entire lives. Vince promises Kane wins tonight and that’s it. Total filler segment here.

We look at the King of the Ring brackets.

Ken Shamrock
Jeff Jarrett

Dan Severn

For the quarterfinals, Shamrock defeated Mark Henry, Jarrett defeated Marc Mero, Rock defeated HHH and Severn defeated Owen Hart.

(Photo Courtesy of
(Photo Courtesy of


King of the Ring Semifinals: Jeff Jarrett vs. Ken Shamrock

Jarrett still has Tennessee Lee with him here. Jeff jumps Shamrock at the entrance but eats an elbow to the jaw. A snap suplex gets two but Shamrock ducks his head and gets caught in a swinging neckbreaker. That makes sense for a guy just past his rookie year in the company. They head outside with Shamrock dropping Jeff throat first across the barricade and sending him hard into the steps.

Back in and Jeff goes for Shamrock’s banged up ankle to set up the figure four. The referee doesn’t let Jarrett used the ropes to work on the injury but Tennessee Lee slams the ankle into the post. Shamrock pops back up and no sells the whole thing by hitting a spinwheel kick and powerslam for two. A standing hurricanrana sets up Ken’s ankle lock to make Jarrett tap.

Rating: D+. No selling gets on my nerves and this was as bad of a case of it as I’ve seen in a long time. They went from Shamrock barely being able to stand to jumping around all over the place and winning with ease. The lack of time didn’t help this either and the match never had the chance to really get going.

Shamrock promises to give his best in the final.

The Rock Makes Appearance at WWE Live Event in Boston Saturday Night

King of the Ring Semifinals: The Rock vs. Dan Severn

Rock is Intercontinental Champion and has the Nation with him. You can hear the fans reacting to him very strongly as well. Severn is a legitimate MMA champion and one of the few guys to beat Ken Shamrock in that sport. He also had a big career in the National Wrestling Alliance but it certainly wasn’t due to having a strong personality. Severn takes him down with ease to start and goes after the leg but Rock makes the ropes.

Rock misses a charge in the corner and gets taken right back down in an armbar. That’s fine with Rock who pops up and scores with a running clothesline, causing Severn to surprisingly start brawling. Some knees to Rock’s ribs have him in trouble but both guys collide. The Nation gets up on the apron for a distraction, allowing D’Lo Brown to hit a frog splash on Severn (complete with a chest protector after Severn injured him earlier in the tournament. The chest protector would last for months.), giving Rock the pin.

Rating: D. Again, not much to see here as the time and Severn not being the most interesting guy in the world really hurt things. It was nice to have both guys be potential opponents for Shamrock given their histories with him. Not a good match but the ending made sense and the match didn’t even last five minutes so it’s hard to really complain about this.

Rock says one down and one to go.

We recap Al Snow vs. Too Much. The insane Snow kept invading shows in an attempt to get a job but got shut down every time. Eventually he got on Jerry Lawler’s nerves, so Lawler set up the following match. If Snow wins, he gets to meet with Vince McMahon.

(Courtesy of

Too Much vs. Al Snow/Head

Officially this is a tag match. Snow gets in an argument with Head in the back but Lawler talks to him, saying he doesn’t want to see any headlocks, headbutts or headscissors. They come into the arena but there’s no referee, so Lawler himself will fill in. Remember that Lawler is Brian Christopher (partner of Scott Taylor), though that hasn’t been officially announced yet.

Snow easily takes Taylor down to start but gets in an argument with Head. Taylor dances a bit as JR realizes how insane he is for trying to talk about Snow and Head getting along. Off to Christopher who gets in a cheap shot out of the corner with Lawler yelling at Head. Taylor crotches Snow on top but Al easily counters a superplex attempt with a sunset bomb for the slowest count in the history of slow counts.

Snow clotheslines both guys to the floor but walks up the aisle, allowing Taylor to dive off the top rope, but he leaves the dive short and mostly hits the floor. Back in and Christopher scores with a missile dropkick before biting Al’s hand when he reaches for a tag. You can’t say they’re not sticking with the joke.

Taylor comes back in with a chinlock followed by a pumphandle suplex. Snow pops right back up and scores with a wheelbarrow suplex of his own as the fans are starting to die. A double DDT puts Too Much down…..and Snow tags Head. JR: “The Head is the legal man! What am I saying???”

The tag is smart though as it allows Snow to knock everyone silly with Head but Lawler goes outside and gets something from the announcers’ table. It’s a bottle of shampoo and Christopher uses it to cover Head for the pin. It was Head and Shoulders shampoo and Christopher attached the bottle to head, so the shoulders could be pinned down. GET IT?

Rating: F. Oh this was bad. The joke at the end only works if you have someone to explain the idea to you, because I doubt most of the fans could see what was going on. Even the TV cameras barely picked up what the bottle said so you can imagine what it looked like to someone in the upper deck. Nothing to see here and a really bad idea, especially with the Memphis style ending.

We recap Owen Hart vs. X-Pac. There isn’t much here other than both guys cost each other a match in recent weeks so this is a showdown.

Backstage Thoughts on WWE Possibly Inducting Owen Hart into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016

Owen Hart vs. X-Pac

X-Pac has Chyna with him but Owen, the villain, comes out alone. Lawler is back on commentary and Ross is just burying the previous match. X-Pac dives on Owen and hammers away before taking him inside for some hard chops in the corner. The Bronco Buster misses though and Owen whips him across the ring. A belly to belly and spinwheel kick get for Owen as Ross tells us X-Pac’s life story.

Owen stays on him with some suplexes and a small package before they head outside with X-Pac being whipped into various steel objects. Back in and a missile dropkick gets two as they’re just going through moves here. Not bad moves mind you but just moves with no particular reason.

We hit a sleeper on X-Pac but he reverses into one of his own, only to be suplexed down. Some kicks set up the Bronco Buster but both guys head up top with both guys winding up getting crotched. Cue Mark Henry to splash X-Pac on the floor but Vader runs out to fight Henry. Owen puts X-Pac in the Sharpshooter for a tap out, but the referee is distracted, allowing Chyna to DDT Owen and give X-Pac the pin.

Rating: C. Acceptable match here as the DX vs. Nation feud continues. These are two guys that didn’t need the overbooking to have a good match but the story makes more sense with all the interference. Vader and Henry had a match recently on Raw so there was a bit of a backstory to Vader coming out for the save. Not great here but it picked things up a bit after the previous mess.

Here’s Paul Bearer with something to say. Undertaker recently attacked Bearer but Paul didn’t go after him, which makes Vince think there’s collusion between the two of them. Paul says he’s been cursing Undertaker for weeks now, but his son Kane (Undertaker and Kane are only half brothers) has been waiting for twenty years to get his hands on Undertaker and wants to be just like his brother.

This is going to be the happiest night of Bearer’s life because he’ll manager the WWF World Champion tonight and he’ll laugh all the way to the bank. It’s another time wasting segment which gets annoying as we’re already watching the show and don’t need to build up the main event by filling in time.

New Age Outlaws

Tag Team Titles: New Age Outlaws vs. New Midnight Express

The Outlaws are defending in the second bonus match of the night. Chyna and Jim Cornette are the respective seconds. The Express hold the NWA World Tag Team Titles but their belts aren’t on the line. Bob and Dogg get things going as Lawler talks about how the Outlaws are young and hip with the kids.

Dogg gets dropped with a clothesline so it’s off to Billy vs. Bart. I’m kind of surprised that Ross brings up their history in the Smoking Gunns and the fact that they’re brothers. Billy backslides him for two as the announcers start talking about the Cell match. A big dropkick puts Bart down and Billy slaps him in the face. Bob sneaks in a cheap shot on Dogg and the challengers take over again. Bombastic hits a top rope elbow for two as the announcers get confused about which Midnight has which nickname.

Bart comes in off the top for another cheap shot as the referee is keeping Billy out of the ring. Bob tells Road Dogg to suck if and drops an F bomb, earning him a rollup for two. We hit the chinlock for a bit before Bob dives onto a raised foot. The hot tag brings in Billy as everything breaks down. Cornette nails Billy with his tennis racket for two but he tries to interfere again and gets hit low by Chyna. A double hot shot to Bob is enough to retain the titles.

Rating: D. This was another long and not very good match. The Midnights and the NWA invasion never worked and the Outlaws were in need of some better opponents. That being said, they were one of the most over acts in the company and there was no reason to not keep pushing the heck out of them. However, they never were at their best in the ring and it showed against a team like the Midnights.

King of the Ring: Ken Shamrock vs. The Rock

Last year’s King and European Champion HHH, flanked by Chyna, comes out to do commentary. Why he rips off his shirt isn’t clear. HHH says this is the WWF and not a bunch of old men stumbling around the ring for a nice shot at WCW. Rock ducks a swinging kick and punches Shamrock in the face, only to take a kick to the chest. Back in as Chyna has joined the Spanish commentary team.

Ken throws Rock over the top again and we hit the stall button. HHH spits water in Rock’s face and almost gets in a fight with him, but instead it’s Shamrock sending Rock into the Spanish announce table. Things settle down and HHH gets back on commentary. “Testes. One, two…..three?” Shamrock is sent back to the floor and seems to have re-injured the ankle. A swinging neckbreaker and DDT get two each for Rock and we hit the chinlock.

The People’s Elbow (still minus the name) gets two and we’re right back to the chinlock. Ken’s comeback is stopped with the Maivia Hurricane (floatover DDT) but he comes back with a belly to belly to put both guys down. A fisherman’s suplex gets two for Ken, only to have Rock grab a powerslam for the same. They trade clotheslines for two before trips Rock down and puts on the ankle lock for the submission and the crown.

Rating: B. This took some time to get going but this really got going once they stopped heading outside. I love that Shamrock got his revenge for Wrestlemania and kept his cool this time to beat Rock again, meaning he’s slowly evolving as a character. That’s some good storytelling, especially for this era. Shamrock may not have been the best wrestler ever in this era, but he was really getting into a groove at this point.


(Courtesy of
(Courtesy of


The Cell is lowered. JR calls this the second Cell match in WWF history, meaning even he’s ignoring the one from two weeks earlier on Raw.

Mankind vs. Undertaker

The feud is so well known at this point that they don’t even bother with a recap. In short, they hate each other and there is nothing left for them to do but try to kill one another. Following the advice of known crazy man Terry Funk, Mankind decides to start the match on top of the Cell. Lawler: “Of all the things he’s lost, I think he misses his mind the most.” Undertaker goes up top with him and the fight is on. Mankind uses a chair to put Undertaker down on the roof and part of the roof breaks.

Undertaker comes back with right hands and in perhaps the most famous visual in WWF history (save for Hogan vs. Andre at Wrestlemania III), throws Mankind off the Cell and through the Spanish announce table. That crash cut Foley’s career short as he was never the same after that spot. If he missed that table or screwed up the landing even slightly, he would have been anywhere between paralyzed and dead. It’s still absolutely terrifying to see and will never (and probably can never) be topped in the company’s future.

The match stops cold as officials check to make sure Mankind is still alive. They take Mankind’s mask off but it’s clear that there’s no one home in his head. The cage is raised a bit so Mankind can be stretchered out but Undertaker starts climbing down while the cage is hanging in the air. With Undertaker halfway off the cage, Mankind stands up and starts climbing the Cell again, despite a separated shoulder. Undertaker is fine with that and the match keeps going on top of the Cell.

To continue the freak show, Undertaker immediately grabs Mankind by the throat and chokeslams him through the Cell to the mat, in a spot which wasn’t planned. The Cell legitimately broke and Mankind went flying, sending the chair through the roof and onto his face. To make things even worse (though on a lower scale by comparison), Undertaker climbs through the hole in the Cell and breaks his foot on the landing. Mankind is somehow crawling around so Undertaker beats up Terry Funk to give Mankind a few more seconds to get something resembling composed.

And now, over ten minutes into this carnage, it’s time to really start the match. A single right hand crumples Mankind again as Ross and Lawler are begging the match to end. Undertaker gets crotched going for Old School and Mankind gives a famous smile to the camera with a hole in his mouth and a tooth in his nose. Undertaker gets up and nails the separated shoulder with the steps to knock Mankind into the Cell again. Some loud uppercuts have Mankind in even more trouble but Undertaker misses a charge into the steel.

The miss busts Undertaker open so Mankind rakes the bleeding face against the cage wall. Back in and a piledriver on the chair gets two as they try to make this resemble a match. A legdrop onto the chair onto Undertaker’s face gets two more and Mankind busts out a bag of thumbtacks. This is almost too much for Ross to stand as Mankind puts on the Mandible Claw. Undertaker starts to fade but he powers up and gets Mankind on his back, dropping him onto the tacks because Mankind hasn’t suffered enough yet. A chokeslam onto the tacks sets up a tombstone to FINALLY end Mankind.

Rating: A. This is one of those matches where you have to consider what they’re trying to do. Look at the name of the match: Hell in a Cell. That’s exactly what happened here. Undertaker and Mankind spent seventeen minutes torturing each other with some of the biggest spots and most violent carnage that has ever been seen. The fact that Foley lived through this is remarkable in its own right and it’s still the highest level of violence the company has ever seen nearly seventeen years later. It’s something every fan has seen at some point and the violence still more than holds up.

A bunch of medics and officials come in to help Mankind. Somehow he walks off instead of getting on a stretcher, earning a round of applause. Foley has said he doesn’t remember most of the match and that’s really easy to understand. As the doctors were look at both guys, he asked Undertaker if he had gotten to use the thumbtacks. Undertaker’s response: “Look at your arm.”

We recap Kane beating Undertaker to earn the title shot. To really crank up the odds against Austin again, Vince has made it a first blood match. That’s not easy to win against a masked man. If Kane loses, he’s agreed to light himself on fire. Austin has promised to be ready with extra logs to keep the fire going.


WWF World Title: Steve Austin vs. Kane

First blood. There are cans of gasoline around the ring just in case. Kane’s attire covers his arm for a change, leaving, only his left hand exposed. Austin has a heavily bandaged elbow due to a bad staph infection. It’s a brawl to start as you would expect and Austin goes right to the head with the title belt. The turnbuckle pad is exposed but Kane knocks Austin down in the corner to take over.

The chokeslam is countered and Kane is sent out to the floor. Austin rams him into the steps and the Cell is lowered again. Kane reverses a whip into the cage and tries to hold Austin under the cage to crush him. Thankfully the attempted murder doesn’t work and the Cell hits the ground with both guys inside. They quickly head back through the door with Kane being hung on the bottom of the door frame, allowing Austin to get in some free shots.

Kane crashes down to the floor and Austin is bleeding from the back, but the referee says that’s not significant enough. That’s a good decision as Austin could have come out with a needle and pricked Kane’s hand to win otherwise. They fight to the entrance and Kane suplexes him on the floor. Kane throws a piece of barricade at Austin but he blocks most of it.

Vince and Sable are shown watching in a sky box with only Vince seeming interested. Back to ringside now with Austin using a fan (electrical, not human) to the face but the referee gets bumped a few seconds later. Kane’s top rope clothesline connects but a second attempt misses and Austin stomps a mudhole in the corner.

Cue Mankind with a chair, much to the shock and amazement of Ross and Lawler. The Cell is lowered again as Austin Stuns both guys. Now Undertaker limps out with a chair of his own but he misses Mankind and knocks the chair into Austin, busting him open by mistake. Undertaker pours gas on the referee to wake him up. Austin cracks Kane in the head with the chair but the referee sees the blood and Kane is the champion.

Rating: B+. More than anything else, this match is smart. There comes a point where you stack the odds so highly against someone that you can’t have them keep winning without the whole thing being silly. If nothing else, it makes it almost impossible to believe that Austin is ever going to lose a match in the future. Instead, Austin loses the title here, only to win it back the next night. In other words, they trade the title and make Austin look human but keep things from getting too ridiculous and over the top. That’s a very smart move and the right call at the end of the day.

The match itself was another fun main event style brawl without as much interference as last time. Yeah Mankind and Undertaker interfered, but it made sense as Mankind had been helping Kane fight Austin since the match was announced in the first place. Really solid main event here and a good surprise to end the show, even it wound up being little more than a one off idea than anything else.

Vince smiles to end the show.

Overall Rating: B+. This show worked very well with the main event matches all more than delivering. It also gave me a reason to watch Raw the next night to see where Austin vs. Vince went from here, which isn’t something that’s happened in the last few months. People remember this for the Cell match and occasionally the main event but this is a far more well rounded show than people give it credit for. Good show here and one of the best of the year so far.

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