Fully Loaded: In Your House
July 26, 1998
Selland Arena, Fresno, CA
Continuing along through the summer of 1998 after the eventful King of the Ring PPV in June, the build to Summerslam was already underway in the WWF. Despite Kane defeating Stone Cold Steve Austin at the aforementioned event, the reign of the big red monster would last a mere 24 hours as he would drop the title back to the rattlesnake the next night on Raw is War. The seeds were now being planted for a championship showdown between the two most popular stars in the company - Austin and the Undertaker. A match like that deserved to take place on a big stage like Summerslam next month, and so instead of a championship match tonight our main event pits newly crowned WWF Tag Team Champions Kane & Mankind against unwilling partners Austin & Taker. Will these two men set on a collision path be able to coexist? Tonight we find out! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter at @Mpmcc91
We kick this show off backstage where Jerry Lawler attempts to get a word with Sable, who is getting changed for her bikini contest later tonight. Our opening video package then is pretty much all about Stone Cold's ability to take on all comers since winning his first WWF title back at Wrestlemania, before highlighting our tag team main event tonight. We then head into our arena where the commentary team of Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler welcomes us to the show.
Val Venis vs Jeff Jarrett w/Tennessee Lee
A few things to talk about before our first match. This is the PPV debut of one Val Venis. The porn star character made his debut back in May on Raw is War, and despite being intended to be a heel, the Attitude era crowd quickly embraced his sexual overtones, and as a result he was pretty much instantly turned face. Since arriving on the scene, Venis had gotten into trouble with the Kai En Tai faction when he made claims of having slept with Yamaguchi-San's wife. Disgraced, Yamaguchi-San vowed to get revenge on Venis - of course this would lead to the infamous choppy choppy pee pee incident shortly after this show. As far as Jarrett goes, he's still doing the country music thing but had recently recruited the former Godwinns, now known as Southern Justice to act as his bodyguards. They come out with him along with Tennessee Lee here, but get ejected by the referee before the match gets under way. Kai En Tai also makes their way out to ringside but get ejected as well, however Yamaguchi-San is allowed to stay and he joins the commentary team for this one, continuing the feud with Val. The match is really just designed as a PPV showcase for the WWF's porn star, but this is actually a pretty solid match to get the show started. He starts out in control of the floundering country music star, but the tables turn as Jarrett throws Val out of the ring. Whilst on the outside, Tennessee Lee takes some cheap shots at Venis as Jarrett distracts the official. Meanwhile Lawler is interrogating Yamaguchi-San about his wife's activities in typical Attitude era Lawler fashion. Val recovers and the action returns to the ring. In the end, Val rolls Jarrett up to score the win at 7:45. This was a solid opener and showed Venis had the goods in the ring. After the match he gets on the mic and makes derogatory remarks about the size of Yamaguchi's penis. As I alluded to earlier, this would lead to Val teaming with Taka Michinoku on Raw is War against Kai En Tai. During that match, Taka would turn heel, joining up with the Japanese faction and assisting in the abduction of Val Venis. One thing would lead to another and Yamaguchi-San would attempt to cut Val's penis off with a sword at the end of the show, only for the lights to go out and the porn star to be rescued by John Wayne Bobbitt who was in the building.
Before our next match we get a show of the Hart Family Mansion in Calgary. This is to hype the match later on between Shamrock and Owen that will take place inside the famous Hart Dungeon. Remember that this is less than a year after Montreal, so I wonder how they managed to score this.
X-Pac w/Chyna vs D'Lo Brown w/The Godfather
The battles between DX and the Nation continue with our next match of the night. The already heated rivalry produced a very memorable moment on Raw is War earlier in the month when DX did a now famous impersonation of the Nation. Triple H portrayed 'The Crock', Billy Gunn was the Godfather, Road Dogg 'B-lo Brown', X-Pac 'Mizark Henry' and a young indie star Jason Sensation portrayed Owen Hart. The whole segment was hilarious and words just cannot do it justice. Check it out if you haven't seen it. The Nation got some revenge the following week as Owen Hart destroyed Sensation for impersonating him. I should also mention here that the Godfather is the former Kama Mustafa, who had now adopted a Pimp like persona to fit in with the now edgy ways of the company. Continuing the rivalry between the two factions, D'Lo Brown actually defeated Triple H to win the European Championship in a major upset the week before this show. The title isn't on the line here though as D'Lo argued that since the match was signed before he won the belt he was not obligated to put his newly won belt up for grabs. Anyway, this was another very good match. We've always known that X-Pac was capable of going in the ring, but it was around this time that D'Lo was really starting to come into his own as a solid worker and has lost a fair bit of weight as well. D'Lo starts this one out in control for the early going, and hits his patented Lo Down splash, however X-Pac manages to kick out. X-Pac regains control of the match and gets in some of his offence, but in the end the Godfather makes his presence felt by taking a shot at X-Pac behind the official's back. D'Lo capitalises and hits the Sky High for the win at 8:26. I would have thought it would make sense for X-Pac to go over here to continue the feud since this was a non-title match, but this was pretty solid for a short match.
Backstage Kevin Kelly tries to find the Undertaker to talk about the main event. He finds Tom Pritchard who was an agent behind the scenes. He tells Kevin that the Undertaker has not arrived at the arena. Before our next match we go to Terry Funk & Bradshaw. Funk says that after this match he intends to take some time off, whilst Bradshaw doesn't seem to be happy with the news. We also see a mysterious young man in the crowd who we'll be seeing a lot more of in the future. Of course I'm talking about the man we know as Edge.
Faarooq & Scorpio vs Terry Funk & Bradshaw
There's really not much to this match, in fact I'm not quite sure why its happening. Aren't all four guys faces? Scorpio is the former Flash Funk, now going by the name he used in ECW prior to coming to the company after being told by Terry Funk to embrace his past. Scorpio and Terry shake hands prior to the match here in a display of mutual respect. The match here is pretty basic, and the crowd really could not care less, and the announcers are instead talking about the main event. Bradshaw and Faarooq end up going at it on the outside. which I guess is noteworthy since they would become partners soon enough down the line. Anyway, Scorpio manages to pick up the win via pinfall after sending Funk on his way with the Scorpio Splash at 6:49. Pure filler here. After the match, Bradshaw is pissed and he attacks Terry and his opponents, turning heel in the process. That's pretty much all this was meant to accomplish. Should have just done this on Raw and had Bradshaw destroy Funk in a singles match here.
Vader vs Mark Henry
This battle of the behemoths stems from Vader getting into a brawl with Mark Henry last month at the King of the Ring PPV. Since then they have also gotten into various other altercations including a tug of war on Shotgun Saturday Night heading into this show. The match is really just here to put the young big guy over the old big guy since Vader is sadly on his way out at this point. He still gets a pretty sizeable pop though so that's good to see. Henry is of course still with the Nation. The match is actually better than I remember it being, but then again this is two of my favourite big guys facing off (although Henry was far from reaching that category at this early stage of his career). Its still nothing special having said that. In fact the best way to describe it is just a basic power match. Both men get their chance to go on the offence and Henry even kicks out of the Vader Bomb. He follows up with a powerslam and splash on Vader to pick up the win at 5:03.
At this point in the show, its time for our customary PPV in-ring promo as Paul Bearer leads the new WWF Tag Team Champions, Kane & Mankind to the ring. Bearer alleges that the reason that Undertaker has not arrived is that he is scared of Kane. He then tells us that his team will totally annihilate Stone Cold in our main event. The former champions, the New Age Outlaws interrupt and challenge the winners of the tag title match tomorrow on Raw is War. This leads to a brawl between the two teams. Pretty much a way of getting the Outlaws on the show and keeping them in the tag title picture.
LOD 2000 vs Disciples of Apocalypse w/Paul Ellering
Our next match continues the rivalry between these two teams. Sunny is now gone, although in recent weeks the LOD brought back their old manager Paul Ellering. This wouldn't turn out well for the legendary team however, as Ellering would turn on his long time team during a Raw is War match with the DOA, turning heel in the process and becoming their new manager. Chainz is completely gone at this point by the way so its just Skull & 8-Ball hanging around for DOA. LOD has also begun to spiral downhill with the storyline starting up in which Puke (now known as Droz) had begun to supply drugs to Hawk to push him out of the LOD and attempt to take his place. Only in the Attitude era. Of course the whole storyline was somewhat distasteful due to Hawk's documented personal issues. Anyway this is a pretty basic match as you would expect from this combination of teams. Ellering constantly interferes to help DOA take the advantage throughout this one, but the LOD fight back to dominate, with Hawk not yet showing the signs of Droz's antics. They look to put their biker gang rivals away with a Doomsday Device on Skull, but 8-Ball comes in and breaks up the fall, to then do the illegal switch. Animal is unaware of the change and 8-Ball hits him with the DDT to score the pinfall at 8:50. Nothing special here at all.
Mr McMahon now makes his way to the ring, flanked by his stooges Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco. Commissioner Slaughter is also with them and he's pretty much just another stooge at this point with McMahon being the company's main authority figure now. He tells the fans not to blame him for Undertaker not showing up, but to instead blame Austin due to an altercation that took place on Raw is War. McMahon then says that if Taker does not show up, he has appointed a replacement partner for Austin. And out comes the Brooklyn Brawler, longtime WWF jobber. Fun segment here to put across McMahon continuing to screw with Austin.
Ken Shamrock vs Owen Hart
Special Guest Referee: Dan Severn
We now head out of the arena and all the way to the Hart Family Dungeon where our next match is taking place from. This is stemming from Owen's heel turn back in May when he broke Shamrock's ankle and joined the Nation in the process. Shamrock looks for revenge here, but Owen Hart said that he would only face Owen in the Hart Family Dungeon, where he had the advantage. Dan Severn is the special guest referee for this one. This was actually taped earlier in the day, and again its surprising that Vince got access to the Hart house so soon after Montreal. Its submission only rules here, playing into the legend of submission wrestling in the Dungeon. This really can't be rated like a regular match, since its pretty much both guys just beating on each other, throwing one another into the walls and such with some submission moves mixed in. Shamrock starts to build some momentum but he accidentally nails Severn with a kick which allows Owen to grab a nearby dumbbell and smash Shamrock in the head with it. Shamrock is out cold, so Owen locks in a crossface and grabs Shamrock's hand, making him tap out by his own doing at 4:46. It was kept short and it was a unique concept so I suppose it worked in that regard. This rivalry would continue down the line.
We now get a recap of the feud between the Rock and Triple H to hype our upcoming I.C title match.
WWF Intercontinental Championship - 2 out of 3 Falls Match:
The Rock (c) vs Triple H w/Chyna
Obviously this is stemming from the ongoing rivalry between D-Generation X and the Nation which I touched on earlier. This specific confrontation was teased at the King of the Ring last month when Triple H was on commentary for the KOTR finals which Rock lost, and got into an altercation with the I.C champ during the contest. From there we had the brawls between the two factions and of course the already mentioned classic impersonation segment where DX dressed up as their rival stable. The tension between these two men escalated when the Rock assisted D'Lo Brown in defeating Triple H on Raw is War the week before this show to win the European Championship. Anyway, Rock and Triple H come out with the rest of their factions for this one, but Commissioner Slaughter comes out and orders everyone to the back, except for Chyna who is allowed to stay as she has a manager's licence. We are told that this match has a thirty minute time limit. Considering that was rarely mentioned at this point that may be a clue as to how this one is going. The match here is pretty solid, although not as good as the future encounters between these men would be. Despite Slaughter's ruling there is plenty of run ins through the match by both DX and Nation members, but I don't have a problem with it since it fit the storyline between the two factions here always getting involved with one another. The first fall ends when D'Lo comes in and distracts Triple H, only to be nailed with the I.C title belt, but this allows Rock to capitalise and hit the Rock Bottom to score the pinfall and the lead in this one. The match continues with more interference and chair shots, with the referee getting taken out among it all. With the official down, Chyna comes in and hits a DDT on Rock. The referee recovers as Hunter makes the cover, allowing the DX leader to even the score up with the pin. The final fall sees Hunter continue to build momentum as he looks to close in on the title. He ends up hitting the Pedigree on the champion, however before he can make the cover, the time limit expires, ending the match at 30:00. And with that said the match is declared a draw and Rock retains his I.C Championship. After the match we get another multi-man braw between DX and the Nation, with DX sending their adversaries retreating. This was a solid match that gave us a taste of things to come for these guys. The result obviously sets the stage for future encounters as Triple H had Rock beat, only to be cost the title by the time limit. Good storytelling there.
We now cut to Kevin Kelly in the back. He tells us that the Undertaker had arrived at the arena during the last match. Sorry Brawler, looks like you miss a payday. We then go to the Rock elsewhere who says that he beat Triple H tonight and he'll do it again. We now get a video package highlighting the issues between Sable and Jacqueline.
Heading back into the arena, prior to our upcoming bikini contest, Dustin Rhodes makes his way out to the ring. He is of course the former Goldust, having now dumped his bizarre Artist character and adopted that of a religious preacher. He leads the crowd in prayer, asking for forgiveness for what is about to take place. Of course he is booed loudly. He also promises that the messiah is on his way. No it would be many more years before God finally made his way into the WWE, he's talking about someone else.
Sable vs Jacqueline w/Marc Mero
Jerry Lawler now gets in the ring to host the bikini contest between Sable and Jacqueline. The idea here is that after dumping Sable, former jealous boyfriend Marc Mero brought in his new girl Jacqueline, who has been attempting to outdo Sable at every chance possible since her debut. Jacqueline gets undressed first and she's wearing a very revealing suspender like outfit and gets a nip slip in as she dances to Mero's music. Up next its Sable's turn and she says that Mr McMahon told her to wear something conservative for this. Her outfit however turns out to be anything but that, as she takes off her top to reveal her exposed breasts simply covered with black paint in the shape of hands over her nipples. The crowd goes insane, and Lawler absolutely loses it as expected. Mero gets on the mic and accuses Sable of cheating by not wearing a bikini and Mr McMahon comes out and covers Sable up with his jacket. Sable wins by the crowd reaction but in the end she is disqualified for not wearing a bikini. Pretty much a segment just to continue to put Sable over as the definition of sexy at the time.
After what we just witnessed, Jacqueline confronts Sable backstage and the two women yell at each other. They'll continue to have unfinished business with each other for quite some time. Our main event is coming up next so we get a video package highlighting the build to this one.
WWF Tag Team Championship:
Kane & Mankind (c) w/Paul Bearer vs Steve Austin & Undertaker
So at the King of the Ring, after defeating Mankind is a truly shocking Hell in a Cell match, the Undertaker inadvertently busted Austin open with a chair, costing the Rattlesnake his First Blood match with Kane. As a result, Kane was the new WWF Champion when we last went off the air. However the next night on Raw is War, Kane accepted Austin's challenge to a rematch for the title. That very night Austin defeated Kane, ending the big red monster's 24 hour reign as WWF Champion. The next week, Undertaker challenged the new champion to a title match, however Mr McMahon announced that Austin would instead team with the Undertaker to take on Kane & Mankind at this PPV, as the seeds of a conspiracy between the two brothers had been planted following the events of the King of the Ring. One week later Kane & Mankind teamed up and defeated the New Age Outlaws to win the WWF Tag Team Championship, and as a result this match became a title match. Heading into this show, Austin and Taker would get into a few altercations leading to the question as to whether the two mega-stars could coexist to battle the demonic tag team champions here. Kane and Mankind make their way out together here along with the evil Paul Bearer, and they get some pretty decent heat. Undertaker is out next to a huge pop as he comes out with lots of pyro and a cool new remix of his theme music. I loved this entrance theme for the Deadman. Austin is out last to a huge ovation, carrying his WWF Championship. He and Undertaker tease a confrontation in the aisle, but they are jumped by Kane & Mankind and we get a brawl to start. Anyway, the match certainly has a lot of star power so its noteworthy in that regard, although as a match its really quite basic. That's okay though as its pretty much a vehicle to set things up down the line. Having said that I don't see why they had to take the belts off the Outlaws to do this, but then again its not like they were doing much with them at this point. All four men play their role in the match well though and the crowd are into anything these guys do. The challengers have an early advantage, but Kane counters a stunner which leads to the champions dominating the match. Undertaker shows signs of a heel turn in this one, but for the most part he and Austin manage to coexist. The champions work over Austin with a chair brought into play by Mankind, but the tide turns once again as Austin hits a stunner on both of his opponents. This gives him the opportunity to tag Taker in who delivers a chokeslam on both Kane and Mankind. The Phenom follows up with a Tombstone Piledriver on Kane which scores the three at 17:32. Fairly average match, but Austin and Taker are now the unlikely WWF Tag Team Champions. Post-match however we see problems resurface as Taker grabs both title belts and leaves with them, much to the anger of the WWF Champion. With that we go off the air as the inevitable showdown between these two mega-stars is highly anticipated.
The main event of this show alone should tell you that this PPV was designed simply as a vehicle to set up next month's Summerslam event. As it would turn out, that show would be quite awesome from memory, although this one here is really just an average event. The crowd was still hot for most of it, and there are some fairly solid matches on here such as the European and I.C title matches. The main event alone is pretty average, but as I said before it was there to set things up for arguably the biggest match of the year the next month. There's really nothing major that is incredibly bad on this show, and the poor matches that are in are quite short, but there's just nothing that is really necessary to go out of the way to see either. Overall that means its a run in the middle PPV, which is a bit of a step down from the past few events. Its the weakest one of the year so far (not including Mayhem in Manchester, but who does?), but its still a fun watch if you want to kill a few hours.
Three Stars of the Night:
1. The Rock/Triple H (tie) - both men proved themselves capable of having a solid long match here. It was far from the greatest of their battles but the match was no doubt a test for them in the big match setting and they passed with flying colours. Their chemistry would only improve down the line
2. D'Lo Brown - I'm impressed with how quickly this guy improved over a few months in 1998. He got himself into good shape and put on a solid match for the European title. He would be a great champion treating the belt with some needed prestige.
3. X-Pac - speaking of undercard guys who were having a solid run at this point, X-Pac did a solid job as the challenger in the European title match. He and D'Lo would go on to give the belt importance going forward.
Weird not mentioning the main event players on this show, but the tag title match just wasn't that great from a quality standpoint. The storyline being told at the top of the card however was excellent. Can I give Sable an honorary mention for her 'bikini'? Haha.
FINAL GRADE: 5 out of 10
What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1. The list is put together from all the shows I have reviewed thus far.
Bret Hart = 83
Shawn Michaels = 64
Steve Austin = 56
Randy Savage = 28
Undertaker = 22
Hulk Hogan = 18
Mick Foley = 18
Owen Hart = 17
Triple H = 15
Diesel = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 11
Razor Ramon = 10
Ted DiBiase = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
The Rock = 7
X-Pac = 7
Jerry Lawler = 6
Bob Backlund = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
Savio Vega = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Hakushi = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Tanaka = 3
Kato = 3
Vince McMahon = 3
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Crush = 2
Ken Shamrock = 2
D’Lo Brown = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Flash Funk = 1
Hawk = 1
Animal = 1
Taka Michinoku = 1
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