Normally I don't jump around in the timeline like this, but occurred to me that no one has reviewed KotR 1998 here which is a cardinal sin. Trumpeted as one of the most noteworthy shows of the Attitude Era, let's see if it holds up today.
Opening video package: AWESOME! Attitude Era lunacy at its finest.
Taka is in Headbangers gear. I kinda wanted Togo to turn face and join the Headbangers on account of his Iron Maiden t-shirt. Anyway, this was the "fun opener because M-Pro guys are there" match . Taka and the heels have great exchanges obviously, and the Headbangers get into some fun triple teams for the finish.
Vince McMahon, The Stooges, and Sable segment: Sable has been brought back in kayfabe to be Vince's eye candy. The interaction between Patterson and Sable, as well as Vince shitting on the crowd in his corporate "quite frankly" voice were hilarious, but you could argue this was a waste of time.
Ken Shamrock vs Jeff Jarrett (with Tennessee Lee)
This match was very Memphis in the best way possible. The heel bumps for the babyface forever, the heel gets the heat very briefly, and then Shamrock kills him.
Post match: Very good. Shamrock belly-to-belly suplexes Tennessee Lee and cuts a quick, all business post match promo.
Dan Severn vs The Rock
We get a lot of pre-match hype on Dan, and a replay of how he qualified for the KotR, eviscerating D'Lo Brown. Dan gets some takedowns and submissions in, but this is a showcase for The Rock. D'Lo runs in and frog splashes Dan with the chest protector for the cheap win.
Post match promo with The Rock: Excellent. Even winded The Rock oozes charisma
Al Snow and Head video package: Silly package with sillier music. Al is fighting for a contract,
Too Much (Brian Christopher and Scott Taylor) vs Al Snow
We get a pun laden backstage promo between Al and Jerry pre match. I like how Al is so crazy he's doing all the spinny flourishes to his entrance despite no music. We find out Jerry is special guest referee. What follows is a comedy match between four good workers (I'm including Jerry in here because he's an excellent heel ref) that it isn't even offensive. Even with the goofiest finish in the world (attaching Head to a bottle of Head and Shoulders Shampoo) doesn't make this match a dud.
We get a brief video package of Owen and X-Pac hitting each other with brutal chair shots for....
You get the vibe that these two guys are out to hurt each other and have a great match, brought to a wet fart by some goofy interference and a transparently fake interference spot by Chyna.
Paul Bearer promo: Paul comes out and gives us some background on Kane as a child, and how he will manage the WWF Champion, Kane, at the end of the night. This was a GREAT cocky heel promo, and a must see for all Kane fans
The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Road Dogg) (c) (with Chyna) defeated The New Midnight Express (Bodacious Bart and Bombastic Bob) (with Jim Cornette)
The New Midnights are the NWA Tag champs and nobody cares. What transpires is an above average tag match, especially when Billy and Bart are sharing the ring. Cornette gets a racket shot in, his finish, and it's a long 2 1/2 count. No excuse for Road Dogg to be kicking out of a weapon shot. Chyna is late to her spot, so Cornette has to stand there and wait. That, and some other botches, plus an anti-climatic Double Hot Shot finish knock this down several pegs.
Ken Shamrock vs The Rock
This was very much a modern WWE Pay Per View main event, a big brawl, heat, and kicking out of big moves. Also it sold the ankle lock as a dangerous weapon, and was the absolute right way to cap off the Rock/Shamrock feud. Hunter says leaves with the ominous warning that Ken didn't beat him for his title, which sets up Shamrock's path for the rest of 1998. This was a great match.
Mankind vs Undertaker
What can I possibly say about this match that hasn't already been said? If you're a fan of professional wrestling, you've likely seen this match, or at minimum the important clips. And if you haven't somehow I urge you to.
My only real beat of contention is that I've seen this rated by other reviewers as a segment, on the ground that not a lot of wrestling went on. And they're correct, but a segment? Give me a break! Mick Foley put himself through hell to get over Taker's emerging Lord of Darkness character and the Hell in a Cell concept, and so it would be an injustice if I didn't regard it how it should be regarded.
Kane vs Austin video package: Awesome for the time, but you can see beats of Russo stuff that he tried again later not understanding how it worked (IE: covering Austin in fake blood from the ceiling)
Steve Austin (c) vs Kane (w/ Paul Bearer
Often in the Attitude Era, you'll find that the not all the parts are in tandem. The production team will put together a great video package, but the match won't deliver, or the story beats won't play into the match, or any combination therein. This is not one of those matches.
Kane is the horror movie monster, and Austin is the brawler that has to knock him down. Kane is covered head to toe in gear, so how can he bleed? You really get the vibe Austin is fighting with all he's got. Everything has a ferocity to it that makes sense, even in the backstage brawl things feel organic and unplanned as opposed to choreographed. I think in terms of the in ring work you could chalk this up as one of the highlights of either guys catalog. Mankind shows up to help Kane (which, honestly is so insane given his match tonight it doesn't subtract from the match, and an Undertaker interference where you're meant to think he accidentally hit Austin to make him bleed, but his actions afterword, beating up on Kane and reviving the ref, don't really indicate it was on purpose either, it was just something that was done. I like the idea that the match doesn't conclude right away, Austin gets some stuff in before the ref calls for it.
Unfortunately, this is a great match between two great workers marred by interference. I would still recommend it, because it's one of Austin's best matches while he was on top.
Post-match: Unacceptable. We don't even see Kane pose with the belt. What we do see however is Vince in an owner's box with the Stooges and Sable, quietly gloating about what's happened.
Despite the fact that this show has a bit of an underwhelming midcard, and is carried by three matches, I would still highly recommend it. The pacing of this show, with minimal additional segments, makes it a pretty easy watch. Plus, with THAT Hell in a Cell match on the card, how could you not.