We are back in The Garden and the Main Event is set to begin as JR tell us “The Highway to Hell ends here”. The Garden goes dark and The Undertaker’s theme begins to play. Taker appears behind a fireball on the entrance ramp and this is one of my favorite Undertaker looks. He’s wearing the sleeveless black trench coat with the high cowl on the back. He hits the ring steps and raises his arms as the smoke also rises. The only thing I don’t like about this version is the change in the theme music. It’s like the old-school theme ate some X and went to a rave. Not a fan. After Taker is in the ring we are shown a special piece of glass blocking the entrance. It’s a dancing skeleton wearing an Austin shirt with a beer in hand. We all know what’s coming next. The glass breaks and The Rattlesnake, Stone Cold Steve Austin enter The Garden. The place just explodes as The WWF Heavyweight Champion makes his way to the ring and hits the turnbuckles. He is eyeing The Deadman the entire time in his traditional fashion. He then gets in the face of Taker to talk some trash. It’s stuff like this that show why Austin catapulted the business the way he did. Just the look of intensity in his eyes is so believable.
Both men return to their corners before the bells sounds and the WWF Title match is underway. After Taker misses a clothesline both men take turns giving each other shots in the corner. Taker reverses an Irish whip to the corner and when Austin comes off the turnbuckle., Taker levels him with a clothesline. These leads to a cover and a two count for Taker. Austin is quick to his feet and gives Undertaker the double bird. There is some collar and elbow work followed by some arm wrenches that really slow the pace down. Austin comes out on top after he ducks under a clothesline and hooks a handful of trunks for a two count. Stone Cold uses a drop toe hold into a rest hold armbar. This match is pretty slow paced and boring so far and Austin has said on his podcast that him and Taker just didn’t have the chemistry that they each had with other competitors, and it shows early in the match.
When they are both on their feet again Taker goes for an Irish whip and when he stands back up, after a kick to the midsection, the top of his head catches Austin on the jaw. Stone Cold has said that this knocked him out cold and you can tell watching it back he isn’t quite right for a few seconds. Austin has also said he don’t really remember the match from this point forward. It’s amazing the lack of medical support at ringside back then. Stone Cold eventually makes it to his feet and takes a few offensive moves from Taker. Mainly a suplex and an elbow drop. Austin would go for the Lou Thesz press when Taker whips him into the ropes but this countered into a hot shot into the top rope. This leads to a “two and a half count” for the Deadman. JR mentions here that Austin hasn’t looked right since the two butted heads and he isn’t wrong. You can tell something isn’t clicking upstairs for Steve Austin. But after Taker kicks him around the ring and delivers a “whiplash effect” Irish whip to the turnbuckle Austin leaves the ring. He uses this to his advantage by pulling the feet out from under Taker. He then would work the knee with the ring post. The first real pop comes when Undertaker, after ducking a clothesline, gets airborne for a flying lariat. The Undertaker goes to attempt his patented tightrope chop but it is countered when Austin takes him off the top rope with an arm drag. He then continues to work the knees of Taker with some stomps. This is when we see The Big Red Machine Kane enters the arena via the entrance ramp as the crowd is imploring “3:16” chants.
Kane makes his way to the ring and Austin takes notice. The official, The legendary Earl Hebner, is trying to keep Kane out as Stone Cold looks on in disbelief. What comes next is well done. The Undertaker sends Kane to the back bye telling him this is between him and Austin. Kane listens to his brother and the two resume exchanging punches. Austin gets the advantage and leaves the ring to make sure that Kane has in fact left. When he returns to the apron, though, The Undertaker is there to great him with a chokeslam back into the ring that puts both men on the mat. Austin sends Taker over the top rope with a clothesline over the top rope but Undertaker manages to land on his feet. Austin then delivers an ax handle of the apron to the back of Taker. He then beats him off of the Spanish announcing table. Those guys can never catch a break. They fight their way down the entrance ramp and down a path through the crowd next. We cant really see much for a solid thirty seconds or so as they get lost in, what JR says is, a “sea of humanity”. The first spot we can really see is Austin’s legs going through the air when he gets back body dropped. They eventually make their way back to ringside and Take clotheslines Austin over the guardrail. When the two finally return to the ring Austin is the first to his feet. He maintains the advantage with some kicks and he soon attempts the Stone Cold Stunner. Undertaker pushes him away though and escapes the ring with his signature flip over the top rope. Austin attempts to ambush him from the apron but Taker catches him and rams him into the ring post “spine first”. They return to the ring and go back and forth exchanging punches. Taker sends Austin sailing over the top rope and outside when comes bouncing off the ropes. Austin hits his lower back on the edge of the apron on his way out and this looks like it really hurt. Taker joins him on the outside and slams him into the ring steps before ripping apart the Spanish announcing table. He puts Stone Cold onto the table and proceeds to choke him. What comes next is the highlight of the match. The seven foot tall 325 pound Undertaker climbs to the top turnbuckle and delivers a leg drop onto Austin, who is still on the table. This is a crazy spot and what is even crazier is the table didn’t break and they just slid off the table. This leaves the pair in a pile with some chairs under the table. After a moment to recover Undertaker returns Austin to the ring and goes for the lazy cover. This is the closest fall of the match so far but Steve Austin manages to kick out and the crowd is popping. When they return to their feet you can see Austin spit up some blood to which JR replies “Austin is the toughest son of a bitch I know”. Soon after saying it we hear JR say “Sorry about that” and I assume this is for cussing on the air. Stone Cold counters a splash in the corner with a big boot but Undertaker absorbs it and continues to deliver punches to the head of Austin. Stone Cold ducks under a clothesline of an Irish whip and this leads to a double clothesline that leaves both men flat on the mat. When they return to their feet Taker attempts another Irish whip and Stone Cold again ducks under it but this time it leads to the Lou Thesz press and the crowd is going bonkers. Austin goes for the Stunner again, but it looks as if the back of Steve’s head connected with the face of Taker because he collapses before the move is pulled off. This results in a two count for Austin. Taker reverses the Irish whip and once again a clothesline is ducked under. This time it results in The Undertaker chokeslamming Steve Austin. He follows the slam with his signature throat slit in anticipation of the Tombstone. But Austin Manages to backslide out of it and shove Taker into the turnbuckle. After an atomic drop on the top rope it looks as The Undertaker is poised for victory.
After a Russian leg sweep The Undertaker sits up in his familiar way. The exhausted Undertaker is standing over Austin and is looking to finish him off. He leads Austin to the corner to again attempt his tightrope maneuver but when he comes off the top rope Austin catches him with a low blow. When Austin hits him with the Stone Cold Stunner next the place is shaking as Earl slow counts the three, and Stone Cold Steve Austin attains the WWF Heavyweight Title. The official brings the Title into the ring but The Undertaker grabs it and it looks as if he is going to hit Austin with it. He instead hands it over respectfully and Austin’s music begins to play. Kane meets Taker on the entrance ramp and they both watch on as Stone Cold Steve Austin hits the turnbuckles to celebrate. This match started of a little slow, and didn’t really pick up the pace throughout, but I will say they made up for it with some amazing spots. The match isn’t some great spectacle of technical wrestling, but isn’t a flop either. The chemistry wasn’t quite there for these legends, but it’s still something worth watching. Match Time: 20:50
This was definitely an enjoyable PPV, and is the best one I have reviewed thus far. The ladder match between The Rock and Triple H stole the show, but the Main Event didn’t disappoint. We even got a decent gimmick match with The Lions Den. This event took place in what some say is the greatest year in wrestling, 1998. I would recommend checking this one out. And as I always like to do after re-watching and digging deeper into them is see what Dave Meltzer, of Pro Wrestling Observer fame, has to say of the matches. As always I gather these star ratings from www.profightdb.com Dave thought pretty highly of the event as well, with the ladder match receiving 4.25 stars. Three other matches also were highly rated. X-Pac Vs. Jarrett for the hair received a 3 and The Lion’s Den match and the Main Event both receiving 3.5 stars. The only really bad rating was for the Tag Titles and that got 1 star. No matches received a “DUD” rating from Dave. I enjoyed this, and it appears as though Meltzer did as well.
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