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Opinion

Matt’s Retro Review: WWF Championship 1998

Matt takes a look back at the WWF Championship in 1998, including the first reigns for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock!

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WWF Championship 1998 Steve Austin Shawn Michaels

Matt takes a look back at the WWF Championship in 1998, including the first reigns for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock!

Welcome to the 12th edition of the Retro Review on The Chairshot! This will be a biweekly article here on The Chairshot because we have a lot to discuss! In starting, my question for you is; have you ever had a discussion with a friend or in a group online about who is the greatest champion of all time? What is your defense of your claim? Wins? Quality of matches? Length of reign? In this weekly article, I will be looking back one year at a time and evaluating one specific championship in each article, with a yearly grade ranking and overall grade ranking and as we progress through the years, I will reveal who I believe is the best champion of all time.

To start us off, I am going to discuss the most recognizable championship in the history of wrestling, the WWE Heavyweight Championship. These articles will not discuss the “Big Gold” World Championship, Universal Championship, or any other recognized heavyweight championship in WWE, those will be discussed in other articles. During these reviews, I will count matches aired on weekly television, PPV, and matches also released on VHS and later on home media.

Shawn Michaels (November 9th, 1997 – March 29th, 1998)

  • Record: 4-4
  • Clean Losses: 2
  • Successful Defenses: 2

Recommended Matches to Watch

  • Shawn Michaels d. Bret Hart, November 9th, 1997, Survivor Series
  • Undertaker & Steve Austin vs Degeneration X, November 15th, 1997, WWE Network: Hidden Gems
  • Legion of Doom d. Degeneration X (DQ), December 15th, 1997, Monday Night RAW
  • Shawn Michaels d. Undertaker, January 18th, 1998, Royal Rumble
  • Steve Austin d. Shawn Michaels, March 29th, 1998, Wrestlemania XIV

Thoughts: Truth being told, this was a good reign. The WWF was closing the gap between WCW and themselves, and it was because of Shawn Michaels and his Degeneration X faction at the head of the company and the chase by Stone Cold Steve Austin that was captivating audiences. WrestleMania XIV in Boston is arguably one of the biggest pre-football arena WrestleMania’s of all time, capped off by the involvement of Mike Tyson in the event. I remember how big that match was, it was the first WWF PPV I can remember my friends being excited about ordering since we were little kids. Notably, Shawn Michaels would injure his back in the Casket match against Undertaker at the Royal Rumble, and he was told he should drop the championship, but he wanted Steve Austin to beat him at WrestleMania, so he limped to the finish line and put over the next big star. Had HBK relinquished the championship after the injury, who knows what could have happened. Everyone wanted to see that smug SOB get his from Stone Cold, so had it been anyone else, it wouldn’t have felt as big or important. That’s why this reign is important even if he only wrestled 8 times in five months (two of them untelevised, later released on home media). There were five Recommended matches in those 8 matches, so that’s pretty impressive!

Grade (A+ through F ): B

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin (March 29th, 1998 – June 28th, 1998)

  • Record: 2-2
  • Clean Losses: 0
  • Successful Defenses: 2

Recommended Matches to Watch

  • Steve Austin d. Shawn Michaels, March 29th, 1998, Wrestlemania XIV
  • Mankind d. Steve Austin (DQ), April 26th, 1998, Unforgiven
  • Steve Austin d. Mankind, May 31st, 1998, Over the Edge
  • Kane d. Steve Austin, June 28th, 1998, King of the Ring

Thoughts: The most recongized WWF Championship reign of this era, this reign was remarkable in the sense that Austin only officially wrestled on PPV during this reign, even though he had 5 matches end in no contest on RAW during this reign (Who does he think he is, Seth Rollins?). All four matches are high quality and entertaining or important. The reign ended by some nefarious decisions which resulted in Austin bleeding during a First Blood match. Hard time judging such a historically important and mainstream reign, but ultimately, it doesn’t hold up to other reigns. It is the complete opposite of the preceding reign, where it was just chaotic and ended prematurely.

Grade (A+ through F ): D

Kane (June 28th, 1998 – June 29th, 1998)

  • Record: 1-1
  • Clean Losses: 0
  • Successful Defenses: 0

Recommended Matches to Watch

  • Kane d. Steve Austin, June 28th, 1998, King of the Ring

Thoughts: Funnily enough, I copied the template from 1997, and reign fell in this same exact spot as Bret Hart’s one day reign. I didn’t have to change the record, losses, or defenses. This is a one day reign, and the only WWF Championship for Kane in his career.

Grade (A+ through F ): F

Steve Austin (June 29th, 1998 – September 27th, 1998)

  • Record: 5-4
  • Clean Losses: 2
  • Successful Defenses: 1

Recommended Matches to Watch

  • Steve Austin & Undertaker d. Kane & Mankind, July 26th, 1998, Fully Loaded (WWF Tag Titles)
  • Steve Austin & Undertaker d. The New Age Outlaws, August 3rd 1998, Monday Night RAW
  • Steve Austin d. Undertaker, August 30th, 1998, SummerSlam
  • Undertaker & Kane d. Steve Austin, September 27th, 1998, Breakdown

Thoughts: This reign was far more about the WWF Tag Team Titles and the team of Austin and Undertaker, as they seemingly defended the tag titles every week for a month straight. It all culminated in the Highway to Hell at Madison Square Garden where Austin would come out victorious in an epic clash against Undertaker. The next month the championship would be vacated when Undertaker and Kane pinned Austin at the same time in a triple threat match. Didn’t think much about this reign, even if we ignore the one night change, Austin and the WWF Championship dominated 1998, but it was more spectacle and middle fingers and Stunners than anything involving the championship itself. The war between Vince McMahon and Austin dominated the calendar year, and it is perhaps the most memorable feud in the history of wrestling, but it was messy and in the middle of the “Attitude Era” where match quality was low, shock and obscenity was high, fans loved everything, but in judging an individual reign, I was not entertained with Steve Austin as WWF Champion

Grade (A+ through F ): D

The Rock (November 15th, 1998 – January 4th, 1999)

  • Record: 7-4
  • Clean Losses: 0
  • Successful Defenses: 3

Recommended Matches to Watch

  • The Rock d. Mankind, November 15th, 1998, Survivor Series
  • Steve Austin & Mankind d. The Rock & Undertaker, December 7th, 1998, Monday Night RAW
  • The Rock d. Triple H, December 14th, 1998, Monday Night RAW
  • Mankind d. The Rock, January 4th, 1999, Monday Night RAW

Thoughts: This reign was everything you want in a championship reign. After the second Survivor Series screwjob in as many years, The Rock left Survivor Series as the most hated man in the company, in arguably Vince Russo’s greatest swerve ever written. The Rock came into Survivor Series as a huge babyface and Mankind a corporate lackey of Vince McMahon and The Corporation, and both left in opposite positions in the eyes of fans. The long term storytelling and brilliance of this turn is truly remarkable, and was never done before and only been badly imitated since. The Rock was never pinned cleanly, defended the title three times in two months, wrestled on Heat, RAW, and PPV. Hard to say anything bad about this reign. It certainly put butts in the seats! 

Grade (A+ through F ): B


Overall WWE Champion Ranking

  1. Hulk Hogan (January 23rd, 1984 – February 5th, 1988) – A
  2. Bret Hart (March 20th, 1994 – November 26th, 1994) – A
  3. Yokozuna (June 13th, 1993 – March 20th, 1994) — B+
  4. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (April 5th, 1992 – September 14th, 1992) – B
  5. The Rock (November 15th, 1998 – January 4th, 1999) — B
  6. Undertaker  (March 23rd, 1997 – August 3rd, 1997) — B
  7. Shawn Michaels (November 9th, 1997 – March 29th, 1998) — B
  8. Bret Hart (October 12th, 1992 – April 4th, 1993) — B-
  9. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (March 27th, 1988 – April 2nd, 1989) – C+
  10. Sgt. Slaughter (January 19th, 1991 – March 24th, 1991) – C
  11. Hulk Hogan (April 2nd, 1989 – April 1st, 1990) – C
  12. Bret Hart (August 3rd, 1997 – November 9th, 1997) — C-
  13. Hulk Hogan (March 24th — November 27th, 1991) – D+
  14. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (March 29th, 1998 – June 28th, 1998) — D
  15. Ric Flair (January 19th, 1992 — April 5th, 1992) — D
  16. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (June 29th, 1998 – September 27th, 1998)– D
  17. The Ultimate Warrior (April 1st, 1990- January 19th, 1991) – D
  18. Ric Flair (September 14th, 1992 – October 12th, 1992) — D
  19. Diesel (November 26th, 1994 – November 19th, 1995) — D
  20. Bob Backlund (November 23rd, 1994 – November 26th, 1994) — D-
  21. Psycho Sid (November 17th, 1996 – January 19th, 1997) — F
  22. Psycho Sid (February 17th, 1997 – March 23rd, 1997) — F
  23. Shawn Michaels (January 19th, 1997 – February 13th, 1997) — F
  24. Bret Hart (February 16th, 1997 – February 17th, 1997) — F
  25. Undertaker (November 27th, 1991- December 3rd, 1991) – F
  26. Hulk Hogan (December 3rd, 1991 – December 4th, 1991) – F
  27. Kane (June 28th, 1998 – June 29th, 1998) — F
  28. Yokozuna (April 4th, 1992 – April 4th, 1992) — F
  29. Hulk Hogan (April 4th, 1993 – June 13th, 1993) — F

**Speaking of championships, I am currently designing custom made championships and shirts for your wrestling figure collections! Check out the page at Grand Slam Creations – Custom Wrestling Belts & Accessories on Facebook, give us a like and a follow and share with your friends! 


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Opinion

King: Plotting The Return Of Randy Orton To WWE

Chris King is back with his look at the best scenario to bring Randy Orton back to WWE, and the perfect opponent for his first big match back.

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Randy Orton 4

Chris King is back with his look at the best scenario to bring Randy Orton back to WWE, and the perfect opponent for his first big match back.

I wanted to bring everyone’s attention to a superstar that’s being overshadowed right now, ‘The Viper’ Randy Orton. After RKBRO lost the Raw Tag Team Championships to The Uso’s, Orton vanished from the company. There was speculation about his serious back injury and, it wasn’t until The Viper’s wife herself posted a candid picture of Orton after successful surgery.

While the focus in WWE right now is either on The Bloodline, Bray Wyatt and Uncle Howdy, or the returning Cody Rhodes, I felt this was a good time to start plotting The Viper’s return to WWE.

Randy Orton’s Return to WWE

On the Raw-After-Mania ‘The American Nightmare’ opens the show after a tough battle over Roman Reigns to win the WWE Championship. Rhodes with tears in his eyes is giving an emotional promo about his family’s legacy, and how much this title means to him. The WWE Universe is chanting “You Deserve It,” and out comes Finn Balor flanked by The Judgement Day.

‘The Prince’ starts by congratulating the new champion for dethroning ‘The Tribal Chief’ but, now he wants his title shot. Rhodes being the resilient hero accepts Balor’s challenge for the main event. The American Nightmare and The Prince are putting on a clinic of a match, delivering multiple finishers but unable to put the other away. Judgement Day starts to interfere when Orton’s music blares throughout the arena. Orton takes out the heels and helps his former protege. Rhodes capitalizes and hits Crossroads for the 1.2.3.

The former Legacy members are celebrating and embracing with a hug as Rhodes goes to raise his newly-won title. In the blink of an eye, The Viper strikes and takes out Rhodes with an RKO Outta Nowhere! The champion is knocked out as Orton hoists the title above his head while trash-talking his now rival. Orton violently throws Rhodes out of the ring and delivers a nasty-looking draping DDT onto the floor.

The Build–And Culmination–of Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes

Orton stares giving 2009 vibes as Rhodes’ head raises, so The Viper runs and delivers a punt kick. WWE officials come out and break things up and the champion is stretchered out of the arena. The show closes with Orton grinning over the destruction he has caused to his former protege. Over the next few months, Orton and Rhodes enter into an extremely personal rivalry over the coveted prize. We finally make it to SummerSlam where both men agree to raise the stakes and do war inside HELL IN A CELL!!!!

This is how I would book The Viper’s return to WWE. If you feel like this should be written differently, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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Opinion

AJ’s Phenomenal Opinion: Bray Wyatt

So everyone loves Bray’s return right? Right? Well the McDonald’s Sprite spicy opinions of AJ…may feel differently.

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Well, just because my work schedule changed, doesn’t mean I’m not going to drop some opinions of mine, of which, I haven’t done too bad with. I got Three out of Five for my returns right a few months back and this is going to be about the last entry on that previous list. I knew for a fact that Bray Wyatt would return to the WWE in some way shape or form and time for some… controversy.

As my favorite ratings winner of 83 Weeks once said, Controversy Creates Cash and boy HOWDY… Do I have something to get off my chest here so sit back, order some Chairshot Merch and lets get on with Adam’s… Rants for a bit.

Initial Thoughts

Bray coming in and making a return to the WWE was an inevitability. Death, Taxes and I guess WWE Returns are always guaranteed anymore and maybe we could get some new creativity with a supernatural gimmick. Bray has always had that supernatural to him ever since he had the Wyatt Family in Erik Rowan, the late Luke Harper and in the end, Braun Strowman. The Wyatt’s had a control like no other and were beloved for a moment in the WWE.

Bray did a lot to make sure things were in motion but for some reason any massive feud he had, he failed. Following a bunch of injuries to the rest of his family and even releases later on, he seemed to at least get some traction going for him. WWE Champion, somehow got Randy Orton with him, Universal Championships and got those big match wins that eluded him in the Wyatt Family beginnings. Let me also say this as well, I actually liked the Firefly Funhouse Match with Cena as a “This is Your Life” match of sorts. I was tickled and entertained… Then much like Bray in character, something changed.

Dark and Terrible Lurk with Fiends

We had a lot to figure out during the Pandemic. Like A WHOLE HELL OF A LOT. Through it all though, WWE figured it out but the person that helped these types of ideas, soured them drastically. Lets go back to the WWE Championship run in 2017. Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble that year and he wouldn’t betray Bray, right? Well he does and Mania for the two is set, Orton against Wyatt for the WWE Championship and it was… terrible. Random images of maggots and decay (Not the IMPACT Stable) popping up into the ring as the match goes on and Randy still wins. Through head game attempts, Bray comes up short in the big match moment. That’s odd but maybe it will be a bigger pictu– and Jinder Mahal wins the Championship. Okay.

Wyatt returns as this Mister Rogers character and has a darkness inside of him with The Fiend. Now we had this amazing theory or maybe that’s what happened but the story was, anyone The Fiend fought, they revert back to their best selves. The Miz returned to be the A Lister, the guy who grabs a microphone that you love to hate. Finn Balor doesn’t have the Demon Gimmick anymore because after his loss, he’s the Prince again. The cocky guy that walks around because he is the best, he gives no care in the world. Seth Rollins, who he took the WWE Universal Championship from, went from a dorky sweetheart back to the asshole taking every opportunity that he could get because he’s that much of a weasel and when he lost… He lost to Goldberg. The one guy that has been the same since 1997. Drums, Pyro Bath, Spear, Jackhammer, “Who’s Next?” and during that time, he sucked at points. One of those Rollins matches was in a Hell In A Cell match, the red cage with the red lighting. Match ending with a Stoppage from the referee… INSIDE OF A HELL IN A CELL (I think Sean Waltman said it best… Why did the match stop? It’s supposed to be Hell?) and it’s one of the rare times that I agreed with wrestling’s favorite Uncle… That was Negative Stars for a match.

After Goldberg, he didn’t have a commanding presence. He recruited Alexa Bliss who was already over whether she was a Heel or Face and made everything so unbelievably… boring. Alexa had to carry that idiotic demon gimmick and doll, not having anything really supernatural. Just some wrestling and Brock Lesnar cleaning up everything faster than a Chop Shop in main events and segments. He tried to return and make his grand return, beating the Universal Champion Braun Strowman at Summerslam just to falter a literal week later to Roman Reigns, who proceeded to never look back from that win. Bray gets fired after and no more supernatural ideas. Undertaker isn’t around really and retires, Kane is a mayor. Paul Bearer is no longer with us and everything is just… normal.

Wyatt’s Six (Reasons I Tune Out)

In 2022, Vince retires seemingly from everything and Triple H is at the helm, could he bring balance to everything? He makes a bunch of returns that people love seeing. Johnny Gargano, Dakota Kai, Tegan Nox, Bronson Reed, Dexter Lumus just to name a few and of course, the big one that everyone wanted. Bray Wyatt.

Bray makes this heartfelt return and everything seems great. We get him as him, he makes this weird build to a Wyatt 6, assuming we think it’s the Firefly Funhouse and he’s just talking, building. Alright well who is going to be these six figures because they are more than just puppets this time around. A masked man named Uncle Howdy that people think is Vincent Marseglia or maybe a bearded Bo Dallas who is Bray’s real life brother and he……… pops in and out to confuse people. Okay… (1)

Alexa might return to the 6 because of all the segments and gets darker and a heel. Alright that is perfectly fine but, WHY IS VINCENT DALLAS HERE AGAIN TO JUST INTERFERE WITH RANDOM THINGS? Okay… fine. (2) Alexa has a Women’s Championship match against Bianca Belair, that will make sense of thi– it’s a clean finish… Why is it clean? No Howdy, No Wyatt just a random VHS tape like I’m watching The Ring about her being dark after the match. Okay…… (3)

Oh Wyatt finally gets a feud for his return. I almost forgot about that! Who will be this first victim? LA Knight.

…Okay…… (4)

Maybe this will be good. They are both great on the microphone, maybe Bray has new moves that he can do and I know all too well how good LA Knight is, I have been an Eli Drake/Shaun Ricker fan for years. This could be a great match that they have, they announced it for the Royal Rumble so it’s going to be big and it’s a… Pitch Black Match presented by Mountain Dew.

O…okay…… (5)

The Royal Rumble is upon us, the Men’s Rumble starts the show and we all have adrenaline in our soul for it and now is this weird Pitch Black Match and it’s not a cinematic match. It’s in the ring, No Count Outs and No Disqualifications. LA Knight comes out in his iconic Yellow Attire and Wyatt is talking… with a mask on. The lights turn off and the ropes are glowing a neon greenish-yellow… with an announce table spot that… has Nickelodeon Slime inside of it when they break it? Okay fine… I knew the match was going to be dumb and gimmicky from the Mountain Dew Sponsorship. Bray wins, yay. LA Knight comes back with a Kendo Stick and… we get invulnerable Bray again… they don’t hurt. Lets go to this crash pad and Bo Marseglia shows up from somewhere and just elbow drops him from maybe fifteen to twenty feet with pyro and the Firefly Funhouse Puppets appear at the top, to watch a fire… And there is number six…

Actual Thoughts on Current Bray Wyatt, Post Rumble

I absolutely hate it.


This was awful. You build whatever insignificant thought process of the Wyatt 6 has going for it when Uncle Howdy does the best Cap’n Shane O elbow drop for a hellfire effect. At least the pyro was better than the AEW Explosion Match I guess…

Regardless, how does LA Knight come out of all of this moving forward? He lost an idiotic gimmick match and looks presumed dead. This just makes me think that whoever in whatever interview said Bray Wyatt is a creative mastermind needs to put whatever they have down before we hear about their T.O.D. posted somewhere. This Pitch Black Match is somehow worse than that Rollins Hell in a Cell Match and that takes talent. At least a good amount of alcohol lulled that from my brain but this made me remember that and enjoy the thought of that match happening with its finish. The best way I can picture how this was pitched was Burnt Dogshit, wrapped in a Kerosine Blanket with… sorry had to look at what I wrote, not putting that on websites but… people saw a Creative Quesadilla and when we got the actual product, it gave Salmonella poisoning and E Coli at the same time.

I really don’t want to see another Bray Wyatt match… again. Whoever gave him creative, take it away immediately. As much steam as Bray Wyatt gets in promos or possible matches in the past, the only steaming he gets at the end, is steaming piles of shit. You can say, he’s getting paid millions where I’m a little troll on the internet with typing power and I really don’t care but to me, Triple H… you finally got your first failing grade with something in your leadership role in WWE.


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