We watch wrestling shows. We will talk about wrestling shows.
@JoeySplashwater here. Recently, I used the WWE Network to watch all of the WCW 1998 pay-per-views. One of the hottest periods in wrestling and all shows I watched as a kid, I’ll share some quick thoughts and tell you what matches you should go out of your way to see on each show.
This post will break down the first half of the year with a future post looking at the latter half including the rise of Goldberg and Dennis Rodman vs. Karl Malone main event.
Souled Out 1998
- Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo, Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Lizmark Jr v. Psychosis, La Parka, Silver King and El Dandy was excellent. Very fun showcase of the lucha style that had the crowd red hot. One of the best lucha showcases in WCW that didn’t feature guys who were bigger than the niche such as a Rey Mysterio or Ultimo Dragon.
- Raven vs. Chris Benoit was also outstanding. Their polar opposites of ring style and character helped give a great story. If I didn’t already know how great all combinations of Benoit, Raven and Diamond Dallas Page matches were, I’d have never guessed how wonderful a match Benoit and Raven would have had. Top tier opening two matches for a PPV.
- Scott Hall vs. Larry Zbyszko due to the ending is must see. Dusty Rhodes is legendary and a brilliant performer. However, in the late years of WCW, he was more hilarious than anything. Dusty was a WCW commentator like Larry but turned heel to join the nWo. The best part was he danced as he very slowly unbuttoned his dress shirt to reveal the nWo colors. It’s amazing comedy.
Overall show thoughts:
The opening hour of the show is near perfect. There’s a Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio match there but Rey was injured so they didn’t showcase their best work. Bret Hart vs. Ric Flair in Bret’s debut WCW match was lackluster as they never had chemistry and Flair’s last years in WCW were rough as was Hart’s entire WCW tenure. The double main event of Lex Luger vs. Randy Savage and Kevin Nash vs. The Giant were wastes of time.
- Juventud Guerrera vs. Chris Jericho. Jericho’s WCW 1998 character was some of the best heel work in wrestling history and it’s a shame he never got further with that specific character. This match was an example of it as two talented wrestlers having a good match but also the post-match storytelling of Jericho unmasking Guerrera.
- Diamond Dallas Page vs. Chris Benoit. Much like Raven vs. Benoit last month, this was a great match. In 1998, DDP was the hottest babyface aside from Bill Goldberg. His push was a little more organic as fans gradually fell in love with him between 1996 and 1998. All of his matches this year had hot crowd reactions. Benoit was damn near flawless in the ring at this time and they had a stellar match.
- Kevin Nash and Scott Hall vs. The Steiners. Scott Steiner turned heel here to join the nWo before becoming “Big Poppa Pump.” It’s a quick moment to check out and was huge at the time to me because I was a big Steiners mark.
Booker T did a good job wrestling two matches. Disco Inferno vs. La Parka was fun. Hulk Hogan vs. Sting was another less than stellar match with really confusing interference that would set the tone for the nWo split. Only two matches I’d say go out of your way to see and they were lesser than Souled Out’s top matches.
- Booker T vs. Eddie Guerrero. I absolutely loved this match. It wasn’t a “MOTY classic” but it was so fun and easy to watch. Both guys showcased their skill very well and the dynamic of Eddie’s amazing heel character and Booker’s hard working/honorable babyface role worked perfectly. One of my favorite openers of 1998.
- Dean Malenko vs. Chris Jericho. This wasn’t their best match but it was still very good. Despite the level of caliber of talent in this match, the highlight was post match. Mean Gene Okerlund tried to interview Malenko after the match flat out screaming at Dean about losing on the last four WCW PPVs. Never known for his character work, Malenko showed some great expressions before stating he was going home starting a great storyline that unfolded later.
- Diamond Dallas Page vs. Chris Benoit vs. Raven. After seeing this again, it may be my favorite match in WCW history. DDP and Raven are two of my favorites of all time and Benoit was great. The match was a hardcore bout (Raven’s Rules) with enough wrestling to make it a perfect mix. The finish of Dallas hitting a Diamond Cutter on Raven through a table was incredible. I didn’t want the match to end.
- Curt Hennig vs. Bret Hart. The match wasn’t so hot but the last 3 minutes or so were very good.
- Sting vs. Scott Hall. A short 8 minute semi main event for the WCW title never looked so good. The title match semi-main evented due to Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan and the nWo split storyline going on. They had very good chemistry and did a great job in what was an example of how sometimes you can maximize lesser minutes to do more.
As you can see, I liked a lot of things on this show. Nothing on this show was too bad except for the Hogan/Savage main event. It’s one of the most enjoyable 1998 WCW PPVs and an easy watch for a fun night.
Spring Stampede 1998
- Chris Benoit vs. Booker T. Not their best match but always worth a watch as they had great chemistry.
- Diamond Dallas Page vs. Raven. This was the one where Raven won the United States title from Page before he dropped it the next night to Goldberg. Raven and Dallas had tremendous chemistry in the ring and never failed when facing each other. Seeing Raven appear on MTV to DDT DDP through a coffee table as Carson Daly ran off set is one of my favorite moments. Look that up on YouTube.
An inconsistent show with some bright spots. Chavo Guerrero/Ultimo Dragon, Prince Iaukea/Chris Jericho and Psychosis/La Parka were fine but I can’t recommend going out of your way for those.
Hollywood Hogan and Kevin Nash defeated Roddy Piper and The Giant in a Baseball Bat on a Pole match was a disaster. Hogan turned on Nash despite winning the match. Later in the show, Randy Savage defeated Sting for the WCW title due to Nash helping Savage to stick it to Hogan.
Yes, Sting’s big title run already was over. Nash and Savage would soon form the Wolfpac due to this. And Sting would later join. Despite hating these guys for ruining his life. And them forming the Wolfpac at Sting’s title expense. Classic WCW main event booking.
- Chris Jericho vs. Dean Malenko/Cruiserweight Battle Royal. It starts off with a Cruiserweight battle royal with the winner getting a shot vs. champion Chris Jericho right after. Jericho does some hilarious ring intros pre-match. “Ciclope” won the match and unmasked to be Dean Malenko. After months of Jericho running down Malenko and his family, Dean finally returned to shock Jericho. The ovation is among the biggest in wrestling history and was one of the most well done angles I can ever recall in pro wrestling. Pure must watch for the emotion involved.
- Raven vs. Diamond Dallas Page. Flawless chemistry as discussed before. As a kid, I had WCW action figures of DDP and Raven with magnetic fists that placed them together if close enough and it’s a little fitting considering how tied together they were during this time in WCW. This was a Bowery Death Match which was basically a Last Man Standing Match inside a cage. Good stuff. There was a weird aftermath with Mortis unmasking as Chris Kanyon and Kanyon attacking Raven post-match. It runs very long so feel free to skip the post-match shenanigans.
- Eddie Guerrero vs. Ultimo Dragon. Another very good Eddie Guerrero match. Ultimo Dragon was really underrated when discussing the work horses of the WCW undercard. Dragon, Eddie and Chavo Guerrero had a few matches through the Spring/Summer PPV’s and this was definitely my favorite. I strongly prefer Eddie to Chavo and always have so his match was most impressive to me of the bunch here.
- Eric Bischoff vs. “Vince McMahon.” Just because Eric Bischoff was obsessed with WWE and a complete egomaniac. You can see that on full display here. McMahon obviously didn’t show up and Bischoff wasted TV time on himself.
Typical late 90’s WCW PPV. Great undercard. Awful main events. Bret Hart and Randy Savage had a really sloppy match with Roddy Piper as the ref and overbooking of the finish. The main event saw Sting and The Giant vs. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. The Giant was now in the nWo Hollywood despite getting kicked out by Hogan a few years ago. The finish here was Scott Hall swerving Kevin Nash and turning on the Wolfpac by joining nWo Hollywood leading to Sting and the Giant winning. Sting was unhappy about this all because he decided to team with The Giant before Giant turned heel (shocker). It was a mess.
That being said, the first half of the show is stellar and features one of the best WCW moments. A lot of good things to watch here.
Great American Bash 1998
- Chris Benoit vs. Booker T. Very good match between the two that was the final match in their classic Best of 7 series. Winner (Booker T) would go on to face Finlay later in another solid match. This was much better though. The finish saw Booker hit his Missile Dropkick. As a kid, I remember it being one of my favorite finishers.
That’s right. I only recommend watching one match from this show. Kanyon/Saturn, Malenko/Jericho, Booker/Finlay and Eddie/Chavo were all fine but nothing worth going out of your way to find.
The double (that became a triple) main event was bad. Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage and Roddy Piper, the impromptu Roddy Piper vs. Randy Savage bout and the main event for rights of the tag titles Sting vs. The Giant were bad. The Giant main eventing back to back PPVs while on arguably the most stacked wrestling roster of all time. Yikes.
I’ll be back in the near future with a breakdown of what to watch from the 2nd half of 1998 WCW shows.