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Opinion

Cook’s Top 5: 1998 Wrestling Memories

Steve Cook hits one of wrestling fans’ favorite years, 1998! See if what stood out to Cook is what stood out to you…

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Undertaker Mankind Mick Foley WWE Hell In A Cell WWF Chairshot Edit

Steve Cook hits one of wrestling fans’ favorite years, 1998! See if what stood out to Cook is what stood out to you…

1998 was a pretty great time to be a wrestling fan.

The Monday Night War was in full bloom. Some of wrestling’s biggest stars ever were leading the charge for the WWF & WCW. They were throwing their best out there every single night. As for me, I was 14 years old. I was in the target demographic for all this stuff. I hadn’t gotten jaded quite yet. These were the days you look back on fondly.

We continue my Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration by looking back at the most memorable moments of 1998.

5. That’s Pete Rose!

Up to this point, WrestleMania had always been equally as much about celebrity appearances as it was about great pro wrestling. WrestleMania XIV was no different, featuring one of the legends of my favorite baseball team in a guest star role. It didn’t end too well for ol’ Pete, as he wound up eating a Tombstone from Kane. Rose would return the next two WrestleManias attempting to get revenge on Kane, but had no luck.

Watching this clip takes one back to a different time. You sure can’t joke about the Red Sox not being able to win a World Series now.

4. Goldberg Beats Hogan

WWE has shaped the narrative on this moment through the years to paint WCW in a bad light. There’s little doubt that Goldberg beating Hollywood Hogan in the Georgia Dome could have been even bigger if they built it for more than four days. It could have gotten a huge PPV buyrate. There was also a distraction finish, set up awkwardly by Curt Hennig walking out for no reason other than for Karl Malone to sneak up and give him a Diamondcutter.

I didn’t really care about any of that as a fan. When you watch that moment now, it’s hard to imagine any crowd going that crazy about anything. Maybe it wasn’t on PPV, and maybe they could have jammed more people in that arena, but Goldberg’s win definitely took place at the right time at the right place. Besides, there was a Ratings War to take account of, and we need big title changes to boost that number a decimal point or two.

3. Ric Flair Returns

I wasn’t fully abreast of the developments surrounding Ric Flair and why he was absent from WCW programming for several months during 1998. He was certainly conspicuous by his absence though, and his return to Nitro in Greenville was an amazing moment. It was one of the few moments in 1998 where I managed to stay on the same channel for over ten minutes. It was the culmination of Arn Anderson reuniting the Four Horsemen, this version including Chris Benoit, Steve “Mongo” McMichael & Dean Malenko. James J. Dillon was also there in his role as WCW’s Commissioner.

The highlight, of course, was Flair’s diatribe. He ranted about the greatness of the Horsemen and went off on Eric Bischoff. “FIRE ME! I’M ALREADY FIRED! FIRE ME! I’M ALREADY FIRED!” It was a cathartic moment for people who remembered WCW the way it was back in the day. It was probably Flair’s best promo that didn’t discuss his sexual prowess.

2. Austin vs. McMahon

1998 was the year that Steve Austin officially became the man. His coronation at WrestleMania XIV was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Afterwards, he launched into a full-blown war with the now 100% verified evil Mr. McMahon. We’ve seen the evil owner vs. employee dynamic replicated countless of times since the WWF used Austin vs. McMahon to attain ratings dominance. Every single one has paled in comparison. Austin was perfect as the pissed off employee that wouldn’t take shit from anybody. Vince was at his absolute best during this time period. It was a perfect storm.

1. Hell in a Cell

I’ve seen more brutal moments since. The deathmatch wrestling scene has done all it could to try & out-do anything ever seen on television, and in a lot of ways it has. WWE has had people fall off of higher places. They had Cactus Jack replicate the spots in 2000. But for my money, I’ve still never seen anything quite like Hell in the Cell at the 1998 King of the Ring.

It was one of many moments that helped make Mick Foley’s career. It also set this period of the WWF apart from anything they had produced before, or after. You damn sure never saw Hulk Hogan climbing on top of a Cell, and you won’t see anybody flying off the top or going through it today. It was something that could have only happened in this era. Is that for the best? Probably, but it was certainly memorable.


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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