Monday, February 20, 2017

WWF Over The Edge 1998

So, for no reason whatsoever... and because I've had this write-up on my hard drive just sitting there, I'll be musing on an old WWF Pay-Per-View event from 1998, when the Attitude Era was in full swing. Here's a fun fact: this was the first full WWF PPC that I ever saw back in the day and was probably the show that sold me on getting the PPVs on a regular basis. It was a fun ride and that's all I've got for an intro.

Sad digression note before the break: there are two WWF PPVs that bares the Over The Edge moniker; today's subject matter that took place in 98 and the following year's PPV. The second OTE PPV is the one where Owen Hart lost his life in that accident. Before anyone asks, I will NOT be talking about that show anytime soon for the simple reason that I don't have the show. So... I thought I'd get that out of the way.

Anyway, digression over. Let's get on with some musings of an ancient show.

The show opens with a match between LOD 2000 (a repackaging of the Road Warriors that included being paired up with future quadralep Darren Drozdov and future crack whore Sunny) and the Disciples of Apocalypse (one of many aliases for twins Ron and Don Harris). What a first impression from back in the day...

You know, it's kinda hard to watch these again because, as much as people like to cherish the Attitude Era, a lot of the stuff from those days don't hold up one bit and this is a good example.  The bald twin biker dudes were just kinda there and nothing special, while the LOD feature here are being sold as being an improved version, but is really just the LOD of old... but older. But I guess you needed something to open the show and this was it.

So Rock comes out to cut a promo, but Faarooq (Ron "DAMN!" Simmons for you younguns) piledrives the poor guy who needs to get stretchered out... and these boys have a match later on! Well, it got your attention, I suppose.

Following that "awesomeness", we have a match between Jeff Jarrett and Steve Blackman... Jeff Jarrett doing the same country singer gimmick he did in 1995 (and thus a few months away from getting that "coolness" factor where he'd hit women with guitars... no gender discrimination to be found here) and Steve Blackman coming out to bland stock music they once used for a PPV. In an effort to be different, Jarrett beats Blackman with the aid of a foreign object that is NOT his guitar... remember, we're still a few months away from Slap Nuts before we called it Slap Nuts, where Jarrett would get a haircut and a mean streak.

I should probably mention that during the Jarrett/Blackman bout, we have Al Snow mucking it up with the Spanish Announcers. See, the gimmick was that Al was trying to get a job with the WWF, but kept getting ignored or rejected or whatever. The culmination of this would be a match at the following month's King of the Ring PPV, which involved a bottle of Head & Shoulders... if only I were making this up, but that's another story (that has been told before.)

Marvelous Marc Mero defeated Sable with a quick roll after "letting" her pin him. According to pre-match stipulations, Sable was to leave the WWF forever if she lost... but then two weeks later, she was back on TV and working for Vince McMahon... making this whole angle ENTIRELY POINTLESS.

Kaientai (comprising Sho Funaki, Dick Togo, and Men's Teioh) defeated Taka Michinoku and Bradshaw long before they meant anything. Naturally, the Japanese folks do all the hard work while Bradshaw stands in the corner and looks American... I guess. Kaientai would go on to feud with Val Venis (which includes the memorable "CHOPPY CHOPPY YOUR PEE PEE!!" thing) and following Togo and Teioh's departure, Taka and Funaki would form another Kaientai where they would be dubbed over with bad Engrish... don't remember what happened to that Bradshaw fellow... but he does look kinda familiar...

The Rock defeats FaarrrroooooqqqqqwqwferhnDAMN! to retain the Intercontinental title... I guess I'm supposed to care, but I really don't. Simmons wouldn't get interesting until he got pared up with JBL to form the APA... I think.

Kane beats Vader in a mask vs. mask match, causing Vader to lose his BDSM-esque mask that barely covered his face... the only notable thing was the following interview where he calls himself a fat piece of shit and then promptly fucks off to Japan afterwards. And, look, the match was typical big match schlock - slow and plodding - but I find it funny that the worst Vader had to suffer by losing would be losing a mask that BARELY covered his face. An almost absurdity for someone who has willingly removed his mask on more than several occasions.

The Nation (Owen Hart, D-Lo Brown, and The Godfather) defeated D-X (HHH, Road Dogg, and Mr. Ass) when Owen pinned HHH with a Pedigree of all things... I wonder if ol' Seth will have the same honor when he eventually meets with McSon-In-Law. The match itself was nothing special.

And finally, WWF Champion Stone cold Steve Austin defeated Dude Love to retain the title. This is a textbook definition of a sports-entertainment main event. We open with Pat Patterson doing overexaggerated introductions for time keeper Gerald Brisco, guest referee Vince McMahon, and challenger Dude Love. We have Undertaker showing up as the enforcer to keep Vince in line. We have occasional rule changes that changes the match from a straight-up wrestling match to a no-holds-barred match to a falls-count-anywhere match.

There's lots of brawling, lots of garbage, but it's so well done and tells the story it needed to tell; that despite corporate interference and the odds stacked against him, Stone Cold comes out on top. And he didn't need to be booked like a Superman to get the job done. And the finish of the match - with Austin using Vince's own hand to make the count, referring to a comment Vince made about the match only ending by his hand only - was pure genius and fairly original.

I remember actually enjoying this show for the most part, getting sucked into the action and being sold on a lot of the craziness that was evident here. Watching this years later, however, paints the show in a different light, as a lot of the stuff featured here does not hold up. It was pretty clear that in the quest to get eyeballs on the product, the wrestling was going to take a backseat to everything else. And while good wrestling isn't what brought WWF back into the forefront, good wrestling will often age better than something that was merely a product of the times, as this show clearly was.

However, the main event more than delivered its fair share in drama and action. It told a straightforward story in spectacular (and sometimes hilarious) fashion, everyone played their roles to perfection, and the whole thing was just fun to watch. Out of everything that took place on this show, the Austin/Dude Love match holds up the best some fifteen plus years later and a fine example of the sports-entertainment Crash TV mentality at its best.

All in all, not a great show by any means... but it has its moments.

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