WWE PPV Flashbacks: Survivor Series 1998 - November 15, 1998

Survivor Series
November 15, 1998
Kiel Center, St Louis, MO

With the WWF Championship having been vacant the past two months following Austin's controversial loss of the title at Breakdown, the 1998 instalment of the Survivor Series guaranteed that a new champion would be crowned. Enter the Deadly Game tournament. By the decree of Mr McMahon, for only the second (and to date, final) time in history, the WWF Championship would be crowned via a single elimination tournament. The first time this occurred was of course all the way back at Wrestlemania IV when Randy Savage won his first WWF title. Also, Austin is back after being fired last month, leading to the memorable Bang:316 segment on a recent Raw is War. We have a hell of a show ahead of us, so lets get right into it. Don’t forget to leave me all feedback on Twitter at @Mpmcc91

Our opening video package is centred around the various participants in tonight's tournament. Instead of listing them all now, I'll just cover them as they crop up. I should mention however that being the last two men to square off for the title, Undertaker and Kane have been given a bye to the quarterfinals. Anyway we enter the arena and are welcomed by our broadcast team of the always great Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler. Before we kick off our first match however, Mr McMahon makes his way to the ring, accompanied by his stooges and still in a wheelchair as a result of the attack by the Brothers of Destruction that I mentioned last month. He is announcing the competitors in our first match since he is putting Mankind against a mystery opponent. As a kid at the time I remember hoping it was the returning Vader. Alas it was not. Its none other than perennial jobber Duane Gill.

Deadly Game Tournament First Round Match:
Mankind vs Duane Gill

Mankind is still loosely aligned with, or rather being manipulated by, Mr McMahon at this point, hence his easy opponent. He's very much a face though as he has been the past few months, but is wearing a suit and all. He's also the newly crowned first ever WWF Hardcore Champion at this point, having given been given the belt by Vince on a recent episode of Raw is War for doing his bidding and interfering in a match between the Rock and Ken Shamrock. As far as Gill is concerned, there is not much to say. He's more famous for a gimmick we will see soon enough. Anyway, Gill gets scared by his own pyro before entering the ring and literally being hit by Mankind's double arm DDT allowing Vince's Corporate Champion to advance at a mere 0:30. Obviously not a proper match, just something to give Mankind an easy win to set things up for later.
Grade: N/A

Before our next match we see footage of Jacqueline assaulting Sable on Sunday Night Heat and throw things to Michael Cole who is standing by with Sable. She says she will get her revenge tonight by winning the Women's Championship.

Deadly Game Tournament First Round Match:
Al Snow vs Jeff Jarrett w/Debra McMichael

We saw Jarrett get involved in Snow's match last month at Judgment Day, and these two have continued to feud since, but there's really not much to talk about. This is the PPV debut of Jarrett's new valet, the lovely Debra McMichael, who arrived by the side of the former country music star on Raw is War the night after Judgment Day. Snow gets another good pop for his entrance and we get under way. Snow starts out mostly in control with some back and forth, but Debra gets involved, distracting the referee and allowing Jarrett to grab Head. At the same point in time, Snow goes for Jarrett's guitar and attempts to hit his opponent, only to miss and get hit by Head in the process. With the referee still distracted, Jarrett looks to follow up with another Head shot, but Snow takes Head off him and instead whacks Jarrett with it. The referee returns his attention to the match and counts the three at 3:31, allowing Snow to advance to the quarterfinals against Mankind. Another short match here. Get used to it.
Grade: 1/2*

Deadly Game Tournament First Round Match:
Steve Austin vs Big Bossman

As I mentioned at our last show, the Big Bossman returned last month as Mr McMahon's head of security, and as a result is in this match with the sole intention of keeping Austin from winning the tournament. Speaking of Austin, he was fired last month at Judgment Day, however he was eventually reinstated by Shane McMahon for unknown reasons, this really being our introduction to the boss's son on screen. The pop for the former WWF Champion is of course off the charts as you would expect. Anyway the fight starts out in the aisle in this one, with Bossman blindsiding the Rattlesnake, only for Austin to come out unscathed, tossing his opponent into the ring steps. Both men get into the ring and the match officially begins. Bossman starts pounding on Austin, but Austin fights back and builds some momentum, stomping a mud hole in his opponent. Bossman takes the beating before fleeing the ring and grabbing his nightstick. He whacks Austin with it, triggering the DQ at 3:20. After the bell rings, Bossman continues to destroy Austin with the nightstick, making it clear that his spot in the tournament was simply to take Austin out. Anyway, the Rattlesnake advances, but his condition is now in doubt.
Grade: 1/4*

We now go to Michael Cole, who is standing by with Mr McMahon. The boss confirms what I just wrote, as he is pleased with what he just saw and is not concerned about Austin advancing to the next round.

Deadly Game Tournament First Round Match:
X-Pac vs Steven Regal

This is the PPV debut of the Man's Man, Steven Regal. He's only here for a brief stint for now as he'll soon be dealing with his personal demons, but you know him better as William. This is the gimmick that gave rise to his infamous Man's Man theme that is still busted out every now and then for a laugh. Anyway, he made his first appearance on Raw is War a few weeks before this show attacking X-Pac, so it makes sense that he takes on the DX member here. X-Pac is still the reigning European Champion by the way, although the title is of course not on the line here. X-Pac starts out with his fast paced offence, building momentum before Regal takes over with an abdominal stretch after X-Pac failed to connect with a Bronco Buster. Regal then begins to target his opponent's neck but X-Pac fights back and goes to ascend the top rope. Regal shakes the ropes, sending Pac crashing to the floor however, and the action spills to the outside. The two men go at it and are both counted out at 8:10. Mr McMahon sends Commissioner Slaughter out to ringside to restart the match, not wanting Austin to have a bye in the next round, although for some reason that doesn't take place. The whole ending is a bit of a mess and judging by X-Pac holding his neck as he heads up the aisle, he was injured in the fall and an audible was called. I don't recall him missing any time though, so I really am not sure what was going on there. Anyway, neither man advances, Regal is pretty much done with the company for now, and Austin is going to the semifinals. Vince is pissed looking on.
Grade: *

Deadly Game Tournament First Round Match:
Goldust vs Ken Shamrock

Really just a match to fill out the tournament brackets here. Shamrock had recently joined up with the Corporation shortly after turning heel and is pretty much Vince's assassin at this point. Goldust has moved on from the feud with Val and is back to being a popular face midcarder. Shamrock is also the reigning Intercontinental Champion and the announcers talk about him being a favourite to win the thing due to his tournament experience and King in the Ring victory. Wow that feels so long ago for him. He starts this one out taking the fight to Goldust, but we get some back and forth between both men before the action goes to the outside. Goldust now builds momentum, taking control of the match as they return to the ring. He goes for the Shattered Dreams on Shamrock, but the referee stops him (its essentially a low blow after all). This allows Shamrock to regain control, taking the Bizarre one down with a hurricana and locking in the ankle lock, which causes Goldust to tap out at 5:56. Again, a short match which served its purpose.
Grade: *

Backstage, Michael Cole informs us that despite Austin's condition, he will compete in his match later on.

Deadly Game Tournament First Round Match:
The Rock vs Big Bossman

Nope, that's not a typo, Bossman is out here again. This is our last first round match and it was supposed to be Rock vs Triple H. Since the DX leader is still out with an injury here, Patterson and Brisco come out and replace Trips with the Bossman in to take out another man Vince has had issues with in recent weeks. The issues between Rock and Vince started a few weeks before this show on Raw is War when McMahon took issue with the Rock calling himself the People's Champion due to his own hatred of the people. As a result, the boss threw a series of hurdles in Rock's path on Raw attempting to get him out of the tournament, including a Judgment Day rematch against Mark Henry which saw Shane McMahon once again thwart his father by counting the pin for the Rock, keeping his tournament status in tact. Now, if you thought our opener was going to be the shortest match of the night, you are wrong. Bossman enters the ring but gets rolled up by Rock, leading to the pinfall victory to the People's Champion at a record 0:04. Rock advances and faces Shamrock in the quarterfinals.
Grade: N/A

Deadly Game Tournament Quarterfinal Match:
Kane vs Undertaker w/Paul Bearer

Our second round of the tournament kicks off with the two men who faced off for the title last month at Judgment Day. At that event, Paul Bearer betrayed Kane and reunited with the Undertaker, effectively turning Kane face. Taker is full on heel, yet not at all aligned with the boss. We'll see more on that front as the months progress, but its essentially the start of what would become the Ministry of Darkness. Great response to both men's entrances, but the match is another slow and plodding affair between the Brothers of Destruction. They both start out going toe to toe with one another before the action heads to the floor with Kane being thrown into the ring steps. The match returns to the ring and Kane gets in some brief offence before Taker targets his brother's knee and utilises heel choking tactics to stay in control. Kane comes back after building some momentum and hits Taker with a chokeslam, but Paul Bearer gets up on the apron to distract his son. The distraction allows Taker to sit up and hit the Tombstone on Kane, and Bearer holds down Kane's legs as Taker makes the cover to score the victory at 7:16. Undertaker advances in a relatively unspectacular match. After the match, Kane takes out his frustrations on the referee. This would lead to a storyline in which Mr McMahon would have him committed to the mental asylum.
Grade: *1/2

Deadly Game Tournament Quarterfinal Match:
Mankind vs Al Snow

There's actually a little history between the two men involved in our next quarterfinal match. Mankind and Al Snow had started teaming together on recent episodes of Raw is War headed into this show with the two often mocking Head and Mr Socko respectively. Things seemed to be going well until Mr Socko went missing and was found wrapped around Head, making it appear as though Snow had stolen Mankind's companion. It would later be revealed that Mr McMahon was just screwing with everyone, stealing the sock to seemingly unleash Mankind's anger. Anyway, another pretty basic short match here as is the theme for the night thus far. Mankind is still wearing his suit attire by the way. Snow starts out in control, sending Mankind out of the ring, which results in the Hardcore Champion grabbing a chair. Snow gets a hold of it and whacks Mankind with it, but Mankind comes back after a missed shot. Snow goes for Head who still has Socko wrapped around it, but Mankind sees and takes out his frustrations on Head, stomping at it. He turns his attention back to his opponent shortly after and puts him away with the double arm DDT followed by the Mandible Claw for the submission win at 3:55. Mankind advances to the semifinals and gets his sock back.
Grade: *1/2

Deadly Game Tournament Quarterfinal Match:
The Rock vs Ken Shamrock

The tournament continues as we once again renew this rivalry from earlier in the year, although the roles are quite different now. These two actually faced off on Raw is War a few weeks prior to this show in a match that would see Rock lose his spot in the tournament if he was not victorious. During the match however, Shamrock snapped and assaulted the People's Champion with a chair, resulting in the Rock winning the match via DQ. Anyway, the winner of this match faces Taker in the semifinals. This is also our last quarterfinal match as Austin has a bye, meaning he will face Mankind in the next round. Another great pop for Rock here. Rock starts this one out on fire, despite some brief Shamrock offence, chasing the submission specialist to the outside and spitting water into his face. Shamrock responds to the insult by throwing Rock into the steps however and retakes control as the Big Bossman makes his way down to the ring. Meanwhile Rock mounts a comeback which culminates in a People's Elbow to his opponent, however Shamrock manages to kick out. Rock goes for the Rock Bottom, but Shamrock counters and Bossman attempts to throw him his nightstick. Rock intercepts it however and nails Shamrock as the referee is distracted, and follows up to score the pinfall at 8:20. Another short match here, but I enjoyed this for what it was. Rock advances to battle Taker in the next round.
Grade: *3/4

Speaking of Taker, we now throw it to Michael Cole standing by with Paul Bearer backstage. Bearer warns Rock that the only rocks his opponent likes are those that he carves tombstones out of.

WWF Women's Championship:
Jacqueline (c) w/Marc Mero vs Sable

The rivalry between these two women continues, although this time we have the return to PPV of the Women's Championship for the first time since 1995. As I mentioned in a previous review, Jacqueline won the belt on its reactivation, defeating Sable with the assistance of Mero on an episode of Raw is War back in September. Jacqueline would continue to torment Sable over the weeks that followed, even cutting a strand of her hair, which led to Sable issuing the challenge for a rematch here. Jacqueline actually has the strand of Sable's hair that I just mentioned wrapped around her own hair here. Big pop for Sable of course. I should also mention that Shane McMahon is the referee for this match after being demoted to referee duties by his father in retribution for bringing Austin back. Anyway, Sable hits her TKO on Jackie in the early going, but Mero pulls his former lover out of the ring to stop the pin. This leads to an altercation on the outside that sees Mero take a Sable Bomb for his efforts. The distraction allows Jackie to capitalise however, and goes on the offence. Sable eventually reverses a tornado DDT attempt and follows up with the Sable Bomb however, scoring the pin at 3:14. Sable is the new Women's Champion, which was pretty much a foregone conclusion. This was alright for what it was I guess. Sable gets her revenge and moves on from this storyline. Jackie will stick around, but Mero is on his way out.
Grade: *1/2

Deadly Game Tournament Semifinal Match:
Steve Austin vs Mankind

Alright time to kick off the next round of this tournament. Huge pop for Austin as he makes his way out still selling the attack from Bossman earlier. Mankind is still suited up, but Austin rips off his jacket as we get going. These two have had some great matches earlier in the year together, but on a night like this with so many matches to get through, don't expect another classic. Austin starts out fire, sending Mankind retreating up the aisle, only for Mankind to be met by Mr McMahon and his stooges, attempting to convince him to return. Austin jumps Mankind from behind and we get a brawl in the aisle before the action returns to the ring. Mankind goes for a chair shot soon after, but Austin blocks it, building momentum and eventually hitting his opponent with a stunner onto the chair. Austin goes for the cover, but just as the referee goes to count three, Mr McMahon gets out of his wheelchair and pulls the ref out, knocking him out. Having been screwed by the boss yet again, Austin is pissed, but the distraction allows Mankind to lock in the Mandible Claw. Austin fights out and hits another stunner. Just as it seems there is no referee, Shane McMahon runs out, still in ref gear to a huge pop. And then it happens - he counts to two, then stops and gives Austin the middle finger. It was a set up all along (and JR is of course livid on commentary). The stooges come in and lay out Austin with a chair, and then Mankind crawls on top for the pin, which Shane counts at 10:27. Mankind is going to the finals! This was a huge upset at the time and I remember thinking Austin was set to win the tournament until this happened. Obviously the match wasn't anywhere near the level of their previous encounters, but the storyline was excellent.
Grade: **1/2

We now cut to the back and see Vince and co fleeing the arena in a limo. Austin gives chase and steals a car from the parking lot to go after them. We recap what we just saw, and the announcers question why Shane brought Austin back only to screw him out of the title here. Great stuff.

Deadly Game Tournament Semifinal Match:
The Rock vs Undertaker w/Paul Bearer

Alright, the winner of this match obviously meets Mankind in our main event for the title. With Austin out, Rock is the most popular guy in the tournament, which makes what is still to come all the greater. Both men start out at a slow pace, brawling around ringside before the action returns to the ring. They eventually end up fighting in the crowd, but its really just a whole lot of back and forth once the action returns to the ring again as the announcers continue to talk about what happened with Austin. Rock delivers a Samoan Drop on Taker and the Bossman makes his way down to the ring, having not left with the rest of the Corporation. Rock goes for a People's Elbow on Taker, but Bossman intervenes allowing Taker to regain control. Despite the assistance, Taker attacks Bossman, proving he is not aligned with Vince any more, before setting Rock up for a chokeslam. Before he delivers it however, Kane comes back out looking for revenge on his brother. Taker ends up throwing Rock at Kane, but the Big Red Monster chokeslams him, resulting in Taker being DQed at 8:23. Nothing special here, but I always enjoy endings like that where the person interfering attacks the opponent, costing the guy they dislike the match. Rock advances, and Taker and Kane brawl into the crowd afterwards.
Grade: **

Backstage, Michael Cole is standing by with Mankind. When asked about the finals, Mankind says that he is going to win the title, if you smell what the sock is cooking. Who said he waited for the Rock n Sock Connection to steal the Great One's catchphrases?

WWF Tag Team Championship:
New Age Outlaws (c) vs The Headbangers vs D'Lo Brown & Mark Henry

Before we get to our main event, we have our second championship match of evening. The New Age Outlaws are still the champs here, continuing their rivalry with the Headbangers, after losing by DQ to the challengers last month at Judgment Day. D'Lo and Henry have also been thrown into the mix to give them something to do now that the other Nation members have gone their separate ways. There's a little continuity I suppose, since they had indirectly been feuding with the Outlaws for a while due to D'Lo's battles with X-Pac over the European title. The Outlaws get a good pop as usual and do their thing on the mic before the match. There's actually a huge sign in the crowd held up by a whole bunch of fans containing the entire catchphrase. Wow, that's dedication. Billy Gunn and D'Lo start this one out, with Headbanger Mosh getting involved in the mix as well in the early going. The Outlaws take control and take down both challenger teams. The whole thing is a bit of a mess as the referee seems to keep changing his mind on whether its two men or three allowed in the ring at once. Very basic match overall that sees lots of back and forth and pin break ups before Billy pins Mosh following a Fameasser and piledriver at 10:10. The Outlaws continue their reign as tag champs. After the match, Billy randomly moons the crowd and Road Dogg trash talks the Headbangers. This was really all just filler before our main event.
Grade: *

We now get a recap of earlier in the night when Shane screwed Austin out of the tournament. We still don't know why. As the competitors in the finals make their way to the ring however we see Vince and Shane backstage with the Bossman. They never left! Vince gives Bossman the rest of the night off, saying they are going to handle things personally now.

WWF Championship - Deadly Game Tournament Finals:
The Rock vs Mankind

Good pop for Rock here. Just to tease last year's events, JR notes that Earl Hebner is the referee for this one, and hopes that we aren't going to have a repeat of Montreal. Lawler is talking up Mankind since he's McMahon's pick and all. The two men go back and forth to start, with Mankind taking the upper hand with a sleeper hold before Rock fights back. Around this time, Vince and Shane make their way down to ringside to some major heat. The competitors brawl to the outside for a bit and Mankind whacks Rock with a stiff chair shot, before picking up the ring steps. Before being able to use them however, he gets hit by a chair from the Rock, resulting in the steps falling onto Mankind himself. Rock takes advantage by destroying Mankind with chair shot after chair shot to the steps until the downed Mankind hits Rock with a low blow. Meanwhile JR mentions that the referee is being lenient on the rules due to all that is at stake here. Both men continue to brawl on the outside, and Mankind ends up going through the Spanish announce table when Rock moves out of the way of an elbow drop from the turnbuckle. The action eventually returns to the ring and Rock connects with the People's Elbow, only for Mankind to kick out. Mankind follows up with a Mandible Claw, but Rock comes back with the Rock Bottom. And then we get our allusion to Montreal as instead of pinning his opponent, Rock gives Vince the People's Eyebrow and locks in the Sharpshooter on Mankind. Vince calls for the bell at 17:10 despite Mankind not tapping out and the crowd is pissed. The Rock is the new WWF Champion for the first time, but he had everyone fooled as he was McMahon's pick all along. As far as the match goes, this was decent enough, but these two men would have much better matches down the line. The ending served its purpose however, turning the Rock from a fan favourite to the most hated man in the company in an instant. Great heel turn that would be the focus of the company headed into the new year.
Grade: **3/4

After the match, Vince presents Rock with the championship belt and they celebrate together. Vince gets on the mic and says the people screwed the people, calling them all just as stupid as Mankind is. He rips on the crowd as Rock and Shane do the same, whilst Mankind acts confused. Mankind says that he never submitted, but Rock cheap shots him with the title belt and lays him out with a Rock Bottom. Shane calls Rock the Corporate Champion, but at that moment Austin makes his way out to a huge pop. He stares down Rock and the two men brawl as the McMahons flee. We end the show with Austin stunning both Rock and Mankind before leaving the ring angry.

This is perhaps one of the most difficult PPVs to give a rating to. On the one hand, out of 14 matches, I only have two matches breaking the **1/2 star range. A lot of the matches were very short, even by 1998 standards and part of that has to do with the massive tournament. In hindsight they probably could have rectified that by having an eight man tournament instead, as the first round did have a bunch of guys that had no chance of winning. At the same time though, the whole show is perfect from a storyline perspective. Vince screws Austin out of the title and just when it looks like the next fan favourite is going to win the title, we get the swerve and it turns out he was the chosen one all along. The Rock is the new WWF Champion with Mr McMahon by his side, but its clear he has unresolved issues with both Mankind and Austin as a result of the shenanigans. Its one of those shows that is a lot of fun to watch just for the way everything comes together. Its also a lot easier to watch than the far too long Wrestlemania IV.

Three Stars of the Night:
1. The Rock - the moment he officially became a top guy and the most hated man in the company (besides Vince himself of course). Did a great job starting the night out as a face and ending it as the Corporate Champion.
2. Mankind - similarly, played a key role in the show long storyline. His performance in the main event and the post-match set him up for a run as a top face over the next few months.
3. Steve Austin - not that he needed it, but being screwed out of the title tonight only increased Austin's popularity even more. The ongoing battle with the boss continues after Austin ends the night standing tall in defeat.

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 = 68
Steve Austin = 56
Randy Savage = 28
Undertaker = 25
Mick Foley = 22
Hulk Hogan = 18
Owen Hart = 17
Triple H = 16
The Rock = 15
Diesel = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 11
Razor Ramon = 10
Ted DiBiase = 10
X-Pac = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 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
D’Lo Brown = 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
Ken Shamrock = 3
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Crush = 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
Christian = 1

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