Friday, July 10, 2015

WWF Mayhem In Manchester 1998 - The VHS Tape

This isn't going to take very long.

Mayhem In Manchester was a 1998 WWF event held in Manchester, England about a week after Wrestlemania XIV, featuring Steve Austin defending his newly-won World Wrestling Federation Championship against HHH as well as another encounter between the Undertaker (in street clothes) and Kane. It was apparently a UK-only PPV event, but comes off looking like a house show event with lower production values and overdubbed commentary from Michael Cole and Kevin Kelly.

Beyond this, I know little of the actual event itself. In all honest, typing in Mayhem In Manchester in the search bar brings up a couple reviews of the edited VHS tape and perhaps one review on the full show, but not much else. And, as far as I could tell, this isn't even part of the WWE Network's On-Demand service. A strange omission, considering it could've been a decent selling point for the Network to have these obscure overseas-only PPVs on hand, but perhaps one that won't be missed if you didn't already know about it... or even cared to.

For reasons that I can't seem to find online - since details on the event are rather scarce to begin with - WWF Home Video would release the event on VHS in a severely edited 60-minute clip show. Some might recall the prior year's One Night Only UK-exclusive PPV been released to VHS in edited form, but that version only omitted a couple matches here and there, where this video is obstensibly a clip show for all intents and purposes. I suppose it's a cool idea that the WWF would film one of their overseas house show and turn it into a PPV event (or VHS release, for that matter), but in watching this video tape, I'm left wondering why they would even bother with this.

1997's One Night Only event was a proper PPV of sorts with at least one significant event in the WWF narrative; Shawn Michaels defeating the British Bulldog for his European championship and attaining Grand Slam status. And while the overall production seems like a lesser deal compared to the typical WWF or WCW Pay-Per-View taking place at the time, at the very least, it felt like a proper event for Sky Box Office or whatever the UK's equivalent of PPV was and it felt like stuff was happening on the show.

To go with a more recent example, WWE just recently held their Tokyo Dome house show in Japan that was subsequently aired as a WWE Network special called The Beast In The East. It had a totally different air to it compared to a typical WWE production, but was made to look like a top-notch quality production that was worth checking out. It certainly helped matters when the card featured an awesome NXT championship match as well as a rare appearance from former WWE World champion Brock Lesnar, who was booked to be the monster he's supposed to be and not a bumbling idiot tossing suplexes for five years before finally getting to the point... or the win, for that matter.

Mayhem In Manchester, on the other hand, was just a glorified house show that just so happened to have a bunch on cameras on hand to film the event. Nothing of note really happened here beyond Steve Austin defending his WWF title against HHH (or as the tape calls him, Triple HHH - wow) in what felt like a logical progression in the storyline if Austin vs. McMahon wasn't a thing, but even then, it just felt like a random wrestling match and, for what little of it was shown, it's pretty clear that these two would have better days ahead of them. The rest of the show seem like matches thrown together for the sake of having a show on the card and as such, you generally miss nothing by skipping this.

Unless you really need your fix of Undertaker vs. Kane, that is.

With only the clipped VHS tape on hand and no means of tracking down the entire three-hour event, I can't exactly pass judgment on a whole event when I only have a handful of clips nor is it my intention to do so. As a novelty tape showcasing highlights from an overseas event, it's an interesting relic of the era, but that's about all it really is. I suppose curiosity is the only reason anyone would want to track down the full event.

For the sake of "completion" or whatever, here are the results of the full card taking from a pro wrestling wiki;

Jeff Jarrett (w/ Tennessee Lee) defeated Brakkus (7:38)

Henry & Phineas Godwinn defeated Skull & Eight Ball in a "strap" match (13:45)

Justin Bradshaw defeated Marc Mero (w/ Sable) (10:17)

Ken Shamrock & Owen Hart defeated Rocky Maivia & D-Lo Brown (6:19)

The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/ Luna) defeated Cactus Jack (13:23)

LOD 2000 (Hawk & Animal) (w/ Sunny) defeated The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & Billy Gunn) (c) via DQ in a WWE Tag Team Championship Match (12:51)

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin (c) defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna) to retain the WWE Championship (29:13)

The Undertaker defeated Kane (w/ Paul Bearer) (21:32)

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