Happy Saturday Everyone!
We’ve got an old WWF VHS review today, as we look at Mayhem in Manchester, a WWF show from April 1998 that was held, coincidentally, in Manchester. I believe this was originally supposed to be one of those UK only pay per views, with the idea being that Davey Boy Smith would avenge his defeat to Shawn Michaels back at One Night Only 1997 and win the European Title in his hometown (Well, Davey is actually from Warrington I believe, but close enough).
Hey, stop laughing on the back row!
Anyway, with Shawn Michaels injured by this point, and Smith gone to WCW, the WWF decided to turn the Mayhem in Manchester show into just your standard House Show event, with cameras there to film some of the action so it could be released on Home Video later on. Hence this one hour cut of the event, with Michael Cole dubbed over the top of it.
I always thought it was strange that they bothered filming this, as the production values are on par with an ECW event and the whole thing just looks a bit cheap, which is usually against what the WWF goes for with its presentation. Still, the tape is only an hour long and I think Triple H and Stone Cold have a good match together (In other news, water is wet) so let’s have a look at it.
You can view the card for the event by clicking below;
The event is emanating from Manchester, Greater Manchester, England on the 4th of April 1998
Calling the action are Kevin Kelly and Michael Cole
Michael Cole does a voiceover as we get clips of the WWF wrestlers heading to the arena. We also get some clips from SummerSlam 1992 (although Cole actually says it was 91 in the VO. How on Earth did they not catch that one in the edit?) as well as One Night Only from 1997. They ignore the whole burying Bulldog in his own nation thing though.
Double J Jeff Jarrett w/ Tennessee Lee Vs Brakus
Brakus was a big bodybuilder from Germany who the WWF signed because he was a big bodybuilder from Germany, who ended up getting fired soon after because he was a big bodybuilder from Germany and not, you know, a wrestler or any kind of proper athlete. Jarrett was back to being a Country Singer here after a brief period as an Aztec Warrior.
Most of the clips here show Brakus being a powerhouse and flinging Jarrett around, with Jarrett taking some nice bumps and the crowd actually seeming to be quite into the action, popping whenever Brakus does something. The finish sees Jarrett catching Brakus’ leg on an Atomic Drop attempt though and Figure Four follows for the clean submission win.
WINNER: DOUBLE J
Thoughts: I think the fact that Brakus looked the way he did and they still had him do a clean job in his home territory of Europe is a good barometer for how bleh he was in the ring. Jarrett seemed to do a decent enough job holding things together, but I doubt it was a particularly good match outside of the energised crowd being into it
Country Whipping Match
The Godwinns (Henry O and Phineas I) Vs The Disciples of Apocalypse (8-Ball and Skull)
I could make a Godwins’ Law gag here considering who one of the competitors in this one is, but I’ll refrain from doing so. I think DOA were the babyfaces here. The rules seem to be that you can use a belt to hit your opponent, but aside from that it’s just a tag match. What clips we get suggest that it was mostly a punch and kick fest with an occasional shot from the strap. Henry ends up cheap shotting a DOA member and a reverse DDT wins it for Phineas.
WINNERS: THE GODWINNS
Thoughts: We barely got to see any of it, and what we saw didn’t seem to be that good
We get a fluff piece on Sable talking about how big a star she is. To be fair, she was scary over at one stage, even though it didn’t last.
Marvellous Marc Mero w/ Sable Vs Blackjack Bradshaw
Mero and Sable were doing the squabbling couple act at the time, with Mero being jealous of his valet’s increased popularity. Bradshaw had been in a tag team with Barry Windham but the two had split up following a Windham Heel turn, so now Bradshaw is just a big Texan who clobbers folk, sporting facial hair that suggests that one wheel on his bicycle is significantly bigger than the other. We only get a few clips from this one, as Bradshaw slips out of the TKO and then follows with a Lariat for the three count.
Thoughts: We barely saw anything here
The Nation of Domination (WWF Intercontinental Champ Rocky “The Rock” Maivia and D’Lo Brown) Vs The World’s Most Dangerous Man Ken Shamrock and The Black Heart Owen Hart
Rock and Shamrock were the two guys with the issue here, as Shamrock had failed multiple times to win the IC Title from The Rock. Owen would soon join the new look Nation as well, but for now he’s a friend of Shamrock. Shamrock holds up a sign before the match starts suggesting the Rock might enjoy a certain sexual act with Val Venis, as they’d just started playing vignettes for Venis around this time.
Shamrock and Owen bump around the Heels to start, with the work being decent and the crowd seeming to be into it. This is the most match footage we’ve got to see so far, to the point that it kind of feels like we’re actually bordering on watching a proper match as opposed to just getting an abbreviated clip show. Brown mostly gets worked over by the babyface team, and he does a good job selling all of that, with the crowd reacting whenever Brown gets beaten up.
Shamrock actually seems to be having some fun in there doing all the funny House Show spots. Well, if you wanted to have fun in wrestling around this time then working with or against Owen Hart was usually a good place to get started. Shamrock eventually gets to beat up Rock briefly, which the crowd is really into, with Rock continuously trying to flee from his angry opponent. Both wrestlers even briefly head into the crowd at one stage, as this is starting to feel like a TV quality match.
The Heels eventually manage to cheat and cut off Owen, which looks to be our Heel heat segment, but they immediately cut to Shamrock’s comeback. I get that the heat segment can sometimes be the “boring” part of a tag match, but it’s kind of integral when it comes to the bouts story and making you care about the hot tag. Shamrock quickly finishes off Brown with the Ankle Lock and that’s the match.
WINNERS: SHAMROCK & HART
Thoughts: From what we saw it looked like it was in the ** range, but if the heat segment had been executed well then it might have veered into *** territory. Sadly they edited that out, so giving an accurate rating isn’t really possible
Goldust w/ Luna Vachon Vs Cactus Jack
Goldust and Luna were still feuding with Sable at the time, whilst I think the Cactus character had either been killed off on TV for a bit or we were very close to it happening, with Cactus cutting an embittered promo before coming back as Dude Love. Cactus looks to dominate things in the early going, until Luna’s involvement helps her man gain some control. Cactus takes a couple of big bumps here, including a tumble to the floor at one stage.
The wrestling looks to be mostly brawling here, and it seems like it would have an entertaining match just down to both Goldust and Cactus being experienced pro’s at this stage in their careers who knew how to put on a solid in-ring effort. Goldust tries to put Cactus away with a chin lock, but Cactus fights out of the hold and makes a comeback with his trademark spinning clothesline. Double Arm DDT looks to end things for Cactus, but Luna drags Goldust to the floor whilst the ref isn’t looking and then grabs Cactus’ leg when he tries to suplex Goldust back in so that Goldust can get the pin.
WINNER: CACTUS JACK
Thoughts: I’d struggle to rate that as we didn’t seen enough of the match to really judge on how it flowed, but it seemed like it was decent
Luna and Sable have our contractually mandated CAT FIGHT following that, whilst Cactus disappears into the ether. Goldust and Mero break up the brawl, so Sable shoves Mero down to a big pop. Sable was certainly a star in this segment.
WWF Tag Team Titles
Champs: The New Age Outlaws (Bad A$$ Billy Gunn and The Road Dogg Jesse James) Vs The Road Warriors (Hawk and Animal)
Hawk and Animal had been repackaged as LOD 2000 back at WrestleMania XIV, which was a pretty stupid name when you think about it as a name like that is going to age like milk. The Outlaws had lost the belts at Mania XIV to Cactus Jack and Terry Funk, but had got them back in a rematch inside a cage, in a bout that led to the new version of D-Generation X getting formed. These two teams wrestled together quite a lot and I never really felt the matches were up to much, but The Outlaws pretty much always found a way to foil the more experienced team and it absolutely helped their credibility when it came to being considered a top team in the WWF.
The Roadies bump The Outlaws around to start, with the Champs stooging around in an entertaining fashion for the babyface’s offence. Eventually The Outlaws work some heat on Hawk. The crowd sounds to be into this one, and they’ve come across as a passionate audience all through the tape actually. I’m willing to bet that this would be one of those shows where it would seem better live than on tape just because you’d be amongst the fans and could be part of the atmosphere. It loses something on tape, but this isn’t a terrible match or anything.
The editing kicks in again, as Animal is soon magically getting worked over in the ring instead of Hawk, which suggests that they worked the old RNR Express Double Heat™ here, although you kind of need to show the first minor hot tag in order to get that story across, which the editing has completely skipped over. The person who edited this tape seemed to have zero appreciation for how a story is told within a wrestling match, as so many matches have had important story beats in the formula missing.
Hawk eventually gets the second hot tag and runs wild, leading to The Road Warriors seemingly have everything in hand. However, Chyna joins us and clobbers Animal right in his Doomsday Device, leading to The Road Warriors picking up the DQ win. That seemed like a lame finish done more to protect The Road Warriors than actually providing a satisfying conclusion to the action.
WINNERS BY DQ: THE ROAD WARRIORS (NEW AGE OUTLAWS RETAIN)
Thoughts: So much was cut out of that one that I’d struggle to rate it properly. I think if they’d just shown it uninterrupted from the beginning of the second heat segment then it would have flowed better, rather than just magically swapping Hawk out for Animal at one stage. Act like the heat was always on Animal and take it from there
Champ: Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs WWF European Champ Triple H w/ The 9th Wonder of the World Chyna
Austin had won the belt from Shawn Michaels at Mania XIV, so Triple H makes sense as a challenger here seeing as he’s a stablemate of Shawn’s. We get to see quite a lot of this and it looks to be a really good match, with Austin shining on Tri in the early going until Triple H fights back with punches and actually gets the better of the Champ somewhat. Austin ends up delivering some punches of his own via the Thesz Press and looks to end things with the Stunner, causing Triple H to bail in order to save himself.
Both wrestlers are taking some nice bumps for one another here and are both selling the others’ offence well, meaning that every move and attack feels like it is significant with very little wasted momentum or action. Triple H had been a solid wrestler mechanically for a while, and since the whole DX thing had started he’d finally gotten a character that had upper card potential, so all of the pieces were falling into place for him. Austin had been at that stage for a couple of years prior to this, so what we get is two good workers with over characters working a solid wrestling match in front of an invested crowd, which is everything you need for an entertaining bout.
Triple H eventually targets Austin’s leg in order to gain control of the bout, which makes sense seeing as Shawn had targeted that body part in his recent match with Austin at Mania XIV, so it stands to reason that it wouldn’t be fully healed up yet. Kevin Kelly actually does a decent job telling that story on commentary, although Michael Cole is about as useful as a chocolate teapot by comparison. It’s amazing that Cole ended up becoming a reasonable announcer in 2002 when he started working regularly with Tazz on Smackdown, because he was utterly useless during the initial years of his career.
Austin sells all of the leg work well, with Chyna making sure to get some cheap shots in when she can as well, which succeeds in getting the crowd riled up. Tri looks good on offence too, as meticulously targeting a body part is very much within his wheelhouse. Triple H tries grabbing the ropes for leverage at one stage whilst in a Figure Four, leading to Tri saying a very naughty word beginning with F when referee Mike Chioda chastises him for it. I’m surprised they let that make it’s way onto the tape, as it was pretty audible.
Austin eventually manages to catch Triple H with a clothesline when the challenger goes for one of his own, leading to a double down. Man, both of these guys are WORKING here on this House Show, which I totally respect. They’ve dedicated themselves to giving these fans a show and they’ve succeeded in doing so. Austin has let Triple H get a lot of offence as well, meaning that the match has actually had some drama and the crowd has bought into it. Austin eventually makes the comeback, bumping Tri around with some clotheslines and punches.
The ref ends up taking a bump when Austin accidentally catapults Triple H into him, which leads to Chyna trying to get involved. Austin manages to fight them both off however and a Stunner soon follows onto Triple H for the three count as the crowd loses their minds.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
RATING: Looked about ****
Thoughts: I’m not sure if we got to see all of this, but it’s kind of a hidden gem in my opinion. Even if we didn’t get all of it unedited, I felt like we saw enough to give it a rating. This was Triple H and Austin going out on a House Show and having a pay per view calibre match, which is pretty darn hard not to appreciate. Great wrestling, great crowd and a great match!
Kane w/ Paul Bearer Vs The Undertaker
This is a WrestleMania XIV rematch, as Undertaker had picked up the win in that one. Taker doesn’t actually have his ring gear here as it got lost on the journey over. Anyone who has had the misfortune of flying into Manchester Airport will know that they probably have the worst baggage handlers in the known universe, so I easily buy that they lost Taker’s stuff. This why I try and stick to carry-on luggage as often as possible, because it’s harder to lose your luggage when you have it on your person.
I’m not really sure why this is the Main Event actually, unless they were hoping Taker’s gear would eventually show up and they were trying to buy him as much time as possible? Taker is kind of wearing what he has on the Smackdown 2 Video Game here, as he’s wrestling in a biker vest and denim trousers. DX attacks Taker on the way to the ring for some reason, which allows Kane to take control from the very beginning of the bout, leading to Taker doing a lot of selling whilst his brother works him over.
Undertaker eventually makes a comeback and gets a Choke Slam before following up with a Tombstone for the three count. That seemed like it was an abbreviated bout, but for all I know they wrestled for quite a while and just chopped it down. Undertaker makes sure to punch Paul Bearer as well following the bout.
WINNER: THE UNDERTAKER
Thoughts: They probably should have ended with the Austin/HHH match to be honest, as Kane and Taker weren’t following that. I don’t know if we got to see most of this, so I’ll refrain from giving it a rating. The live crowd seemed to enjoy it for what it was
Undertaker clears the ring following the match and celebrates to close the show.
It’s a watchable enough hour, but you couldn’t really get an understanding as to the quality of most of the matches due to how poorly the show was edited. Triple H Vs Austin is the clear highlight, but I’m not sure it’s worth going to the hassle of hunting this 25+ year tape down in order to watch it.
Not a recommended tape