The World Wrestling Federation’s third-ever February PPV event came at a pivotal time in company history. Though World Championship Wrestling was still winning the “Monday Night Wars”, the light at the end of the tunnel for the WWF, thanks to the rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin and the presence of Mike Tyson, was at long last in sight. Though WWF’s Monday Night RAW reached a 4.0 on January 19, 1998, ratings declined over the next month to 3.2 for the go-home show before this event as NITRO, with the Sting/Hogan drama, consistently scored over 4.5.
The success of WCW’s Hogan/Sting story and the lack of a true “main event” hurt No Way Out of Texas‘ drawing power (WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, thanks to a back injury, was off the card.) While over 185,000 homes purchased this event (up from the prior year) nearly 400,000 would purchase the next week’s SuperBrawl VIII event and its resolution of the Sting/Hogan saga. But WCW wasn’t the monster it was before. In the weeks following both company’s events the ratings shift would break in favor of the WWF as the two companies braced for a scorching summer war for the ages.
But just how well does No Way Out of Texas hold up in 2018? Let’s hit ‘play’ and find out!
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WWF No Way Out of Texas: In Your House 20 (WATCH)
Date: February 15, 1998 – Location: Compaq Center, Houston, Texas
Attendance: 16,110 (venue record) – PPV Buyrate: 0.52 (>188,000 homes)
Commentators: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler – Interviews: Michael Cole, Kevin Kelly, & Dok Hendrix
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WWF World Heavyweight Champions: Shawn Michaels
WWF Intercontinental Champion: “The Rock” Rocky Maivia
WWF World Tag Team Champions: The New Age Outlaws (“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn & “Road Dogg” Jesse James)
WWF European Champion: Owen Hart
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Taka Michinoku
The show opens with a great vignette about WWF Superstars distinguishing themselves from one another, highlighting Stone Cold Steve Austin (“He’d just as soon spit in the face of devil than shake his maker’s hand.”), Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie, and the New Age Outlaws. “Has this nihilistic attitude polluted the spirit of competition? Have some men crossed sacred lines? Tonight, athletes who defy convention, adversaries who have gone too far, may dare go even farther!”
In the arena the pyro blows the roof of the Compaq Center as Jim Ross welcomes us to the show. Ross says that Shawn Michaels is out and that the search is on for the replacement in the big eight-man tag team main event which, JR announces, is now a “non-sanctioned, anything goes” match.
As the opening match gets set we see footage from the go-home RAW of TAFKA Goldust being slapped by Sable and pinned by Thrasher and then, after the match, Sable slapping the taste out of Luna’s mouth.
Back live, Mero gets on the mic and tells Luna he knows how she feels. Mero says there’s only room in the ring for one beautiful woman. “Therefore,” Mero says, “Sable, get the hell outta here right now!” Mero then walks Sable (who is over more than anyone else in the match) up the aisle to the fans dismay.
— Tag Team Match (WATCH – 2:42)
“Marvelous” Marc Mero w/ Sable & The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust w/Luna vs. The Headbanger (Mosh & Thrasher)
This is a slow opener with both teams heeling it up. Mid-match Thrasher gets opened up the hard way and the match slows to a crawl as Thrasher bleeds and bleeds. The action picks up late after Thrasher reverses Mero’s TKO into a DDT and Mosh gets the hot tag. After Luna interferes Mero hits the TKO on Mosh just as Sable returns to fight Luna. As Mero and Goldust hold their respective ladies back Thrasher swaps with Mosh in the ring. When Mero climbs back in the ring he’s caught by Thrasher in an inside cradle for the pin at 13:53. After the match Sable begs for Luna to fight her and it ends in a pull-apart as referees and officials come into break it up for good. Goldust carries Luna to the back while Sable yells at Mero before shoving Mero on his backside.
WINNERS are The Headbanger (Mosh & Thrasher) (Pin, 13:53)
After the replay we go backstage to Michael Cole who is with European Champion Owen Hart, who says he doesn’t care who D-X picks. Owen then calls out Triple H, saying he’s going to “bust” Triple H’s legs.
As Pantera hits the ring we see footage of the go-home RAW of Pantera using a loaded mask to KO Taka in a tag team match with Brain Christopher and Aguila.
— WWF Light Heavyweight Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 24:26)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Sunny
Special Guest Commentator: Brian Christopher
Pantera vs. Taka Michinoku(c)
Though the match is pretty good (until it isn’t) it’s the commentary of Brian Christopher that brings this one down. Racist comments aside Christopher just isn’t the talker his father is and it shows. This one starts out fast and then slows to a near dead stop where all Taka is doing is selling. At long last Taka lands a big missile dropkick to the back of Pantera’s head before ending it with the Michinoku Driver at 10:13. After replays Brian Christopher leaves the table to confront Taka. Lawler attempts to stop Brian when both are wiped out by Taka diving from the top rope to the floor. “King” and Christopher attempt to corner Taka but the Light Heavyweight Champion flees through the crowd.
WINNER and STILL WWF Light Heavyweight Champion, Taka Michinoku (Pin, 10:13)
Backstage Kevin Kelly interviews Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack in the WWF’s AOL room. Cactus doesn’t care who is picked for the main event, it’s about revenge. Terry Funk doesn’t care either, holding up his fists and saying, “Just remember, this is the hospital and this is the graveyard.” Terry says the dumpster spot wasn’t funny and that the New Age Outlaws won’t be laughing when it’s over.
As the Quebecers make their way to the ring we see footage from the February 7, 1998 edition of Shotgun Saturday Night (a series currently unavailable on the Network) of each team costing the other their matches.
— “Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 41:59)
The Quebecers (Jacques & Pierre) vs. The Godwinns (Phineas I. & Henry O.)
The Quebecers had returned to the WWF from WCW on the January 19, 1998 edition of RAW before working a series of TV tapings setting up this match. The crowd seems restless as this one starts, and though they respond to a few things here and there they are largely quiet. This one isn’t bad (not great either) until Jacques blows up. In the end the match breaks down and The Godwinns take advantage when Henry waylays an unsuspecting Pierre with a stiff clothesline which allows Phineas to score the pin at 11:16. After the match The Godwinns glom The Quebecers with their slop buckets and leave the Quebecers laying.
WINNERS are The Godwinns (Phineas I. & Henry O.) (Pin, 11:16)
Backstage Dok Hendrix asks the New Age Outlaws who the fourth man is but the Outlaws, upset for being left in the dark like everyone else, say they’re being disrespected and decide to go off and find out themselves, leaving Dok to wrap the interview alone.
Next we get the epic “WWF Attitude” promo that continues to stand as one of the WWF/E’s greatest ever.
As Jeff Jarrett and his merry band make their way to the ring JR says to “King”: “Let me tell ya somethin’. God rest his soul—if Paul Boesch saw this representation for the NWA he’d do somersaults in his grave.” Then, before the bell rings, everyone save Cornette (who has a “managers license”) are tossed from ringside.
— NWA North American Heavyweight Championship (WATCH – 58:35)
Bradshaw vs. Jeff Jarrett(c) w/James E. Cornette, Barry Windham, & NWA World Tag Team Champion The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)
Bradshaw, doing one of the best Stan Hansen impressions you’re ever going to see, beats the snort out of Jarrett to start the match, the first NWA title defense on a WWF PPV. This is, by and large, a pretty decent, fast-paced match. In the end Cornette gets involved and Jarrett ends up smacking Bradshaw with the dreaded tennis racquet to end the match at 8:59 and give Bradshaw the win via DQ. After the match Bradshaw wipes out Jarrett and Ricky Morton with the tennis racquet before slamming Corny to the mat. But Windham and the rest of the NWA clique hit the ring and beat down Bradshaw until the Legion of Doom make the save and clear the ring.
WINNER is Bradshaw (Disqualification, 8:59)
Backstage Michael Cole asks Triple H who the fourth man will be in the main event and Triple H says that while everyone’s been calling there’s “nobody on this planet that can match” Shawn Michaels. So Triple H says it’s going to be a handicap match instead. Cole says there has to be a fourth member and if Triple H won’t pick him then someone in the WWF will, which Triple H scoffs at, telling Cole the WWF can do whatever they like.
Next Dok Hendrix interviews The Nation of Domination regarding the forthcoming “War of Attrition” match. Hendrix wants to talk to the “leader” of the group when The Rock jumps in to talk. Faarooq cuts him off: “You’re just beggin’ me to whoop your ass ain’t’cha?” Faarooq says he’s the leader on Nation and that everyone will “fall-in” behind him. We then see footage of The Rock clocking Ken Shamrock in the face with a steel chair on the go-home edition of RAW. The Rock steals the rest of the interview with his silent, mocking antics while Faarooq tells Hendrix that the Nation is going to win “by any means necessary”.
— “10-Man Tag Team ‘War of Attrition’ Match” (WATCH – 1:16:04)
Nation of Domination (Faarooq, D’Lo Brown, Kama Mustafa, Mark Henry, & WWF Intercontinental Champion “The Rock” Rocky Maivia) vs. “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, & The Disciples of Apocalypse (Chainz, Skull, & 8-Ball)
For all the talk of “attrition” this is no more than a standard 10-man tag team affair. Everyone gets their time to shine in the early portion of the match and the crowd, quiet for the last few matches, have finally woken up. Standard as it is this is a fast-paced, hard-hitting match that, thanks to constant tags, never slows down long enough to become dull. Soon enough all hell breaks loose and it leaves only Rock and Shamrock in the ring. After a belly-to-belly Shamrock manages to float into the ankle lock, forcing The Rock to tap out at 13:47. After the match The Rock berates Faarooq for not saving him and the two begin a fight that the rest of the Nation stops before it can get out of hand. The Rock leaves and comes back before standing beside Faarooq and putting their collective fists up, with The Rock lagging ever so slightly behind.
WINNERS are “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, & The Disciples of Apocalypse (Chainz, Skull, & 8-Ball) (Submission, 13:47)
After replays we go backstage where Michael Cole stands with Stone Cold Steve Austin, who says he doesn’t “give two craps” who the fourth man is and mentions people asking him if he’s happy to be back in Texas. “Well I’m not a sentimental person but I’ll tell ya like this,” Austin says, “it’s fun to beat someone’s ass anywhere in the world, but if you beat someone’s ass in Texas then ya done somethin’. So that’s exactly what I’m gonna do! And if you don’t get the hell outta here,” Austin says to Cole, “I’ll start with your ass!”
Next JR announces the record attendance for the show of 16,110, which JR says beat the Rolling Stones two night stand just 72-hours earlier.
We see a great vignette of the Kane/Vader feud and Kane “destroying” The Undertaker at the Royal Rumble.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:39:39)
Vader vs. Kane w/Paul Bearer
Both Vader and Kane are over big in Houston. As for the match, it’s more a brawl than a match which is exactly what the story called for. Though momentum shifts again and again it’s Kane who controls much of the brawl. In the end Vader uses a fire extinguisher on Kane before delivering a powerbomb. But when Vader turns to knock Paul Bearer off the apron Kane sits up and hits a turning Vader with a chokeslam followed by a tombstone piledriver to win the match at 10:59. After the match Kane finds a massive wrench from a toolbox under the ring and returns to the ring to blast Vader in the face with it! Bearer calms Kane and the two walk to the back as paramedics rush in to tend to the injured Vader as we see replays of the finish and the wrench attack afterwards.
WINNER is Kane w/Paul Bearer (Pin, 10:59)
As Vader is wheeled, face down, to the back we see an excellent vignette for the main event.
— “Non-Sanctioned Anything Goes 8-Man Tag Team Match” (WATCH – 2:02:48)
WWF World Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn & “Road Dogg” Jesse James), “Triple H” Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/Chyna, & Savio Vega(sub. for WWF World Heavyweight Champion Shawn Michaels) vs. WWF European Champion Owen Hart, Cactus Jack, Chainsaw Charlie, & Stone Cold Steve Austin
Cactus, Charlie and Owen litter the ring with plunder before Austin even comes to the ring. This one starts out as an 8-man bunkhouse brawl with Austin dominating the action in and out of the ring and continues as an ECW worthy street fight that is as wild a match as has ever taken place on a WWF PPV to this point. About seven minutes in this match settles down into an actual tag team contest where the heels take control. These eight guys beat the bejabbers out of one another every chance they get. Eventually Savio Vega wraps Cactus Jack in barbed wire while Savio and Triple H take turns bashing Jack in the head with steel chairs! After a miscue Austin gets the hot tag and the roof blows off! Austin walks through everybody until wiping out Road Road with the Stunner to score the pin at 17:41.
WINNERS are WWF European Champion Owen Hart, Cactus Jack, Chainsaw Charlie, & Stone Cold Steve Austin (Pin, 17:41)
After the match Austin takes care of Billy Gunn and Triple H before celebrating in the ring. Chyna confronts Austin in the middle of the ring and after shoving Austin twice and flipping him off Austin flattens Chyna with a Stunner. After the ring is cleared Austin gets on the mic to give the fans the old “hell yeah!” Austin walks up the aisle as we see replays of the finish and the post-match attacks to close out the show.
Attitude Era or not, this is an up and down show, to say the least, where the middle of the card, be it from the quiet crowd or the less than thrilling action, falls flat.
Overall, though, the event is an exciting time capsule. The final three matches deliver some great, memorable action and the main event is one of the wildest PPV matches of the time. If you haven’t checked this card out it’s worth your time, particularly those last few matches.
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