This week Throwback Thursday hits the open road on the WWE Network to celebrate the 20th anniversary of what may well be the worst World Championship Wrestling Pay-Per-View ever: Road Wild ’98!
In recent years Eric Bischoff has stated that it was during this time, in the weeks leading to this event, that Bischoff first saw the writing on the wall that WCW, under Time Warner ownership, was likely doomed. Between constant battles with standards and practices, Thunder diluting the WCW brand, and the inability to produce the unpredictable show WCW had become famous for, the product, in competition with the now-thriving World Wrestling Federation, was beginning to spin its wheels.
This event is best remembered for the infamous Jay Leno match and was panned as one of the company’s worst PPVs ever, with lingering, incorrect rumors of a poor buyrate as well. But was it really a one match card? Is it really the “worst WCW PPV ever“? Let’s hit ‘play’ and find out!
Edits, beyond the usual music overdubs, are a bit of an issue with this event. Patches of commentary are missing and seemingly random portions (nearly five minutes worth), like the entrance of the Dancing Fools, have been cut. It’s hard to tell how much is WWE since this appears to be the Turner Home Video version of the event. Context, meanwhile, is complete with all prior editions of NITRO and Thunder, as well as all prior PPVs, currently available on the Network for you to enjoy today!
WCW/nWo Road Wild ’98 (WATCH)
Date: August 8, 1998 – Location: Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis, South Dakota
Attendance: 8,500 – PPV Buyrate: 0.93 (>340,000 homes)
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, & Bobby Heenan – Interviews: Lee Marshall
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Goldberg
WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: Bret “Hitman” Hart
WCW World Tag Team Champions: nWo Hollywood (Scott Hall & The Giant)
WCW World Television Champion: Stevie Ray
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho
The show opens with a vignette highlighting the big tag team main event pitting Jay Leno and Diamond Dallas Page against Hollywood Hogan and Eric Bischoff.
Tony Schiavone welcomes us to the show and we see our first glimpse of the interesting crowd (and bikes) gathered for the show. At the announce position Tony and Mike Tenay talk about the history between Eric Bischoff and Jay Leno while Tony and Bobby Heenan talk first about how prepared Leno is before chatting about the upcoming nWo “battle royal”. We get the pyro next with talk of the Travis Tritt concert to come, an attraction only seen by the live PPV audience.
Next we got to “Mean” Gene at the foot of the ramp, sitting on a motorcycle and trying to look cool, who puts over American IronHorse , which ceased production in 2008, before tossing it to the ring for the first match.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 4:23)
The Barbarian w/Jimmy Hart vs. Meng
Returning just a few weeks prior to this event this marked Meng’s first PPV match since World War 3 in November of ’97. A fight from the start this is fun for what it is (though the crowd is largely uninterested–get used to that phrase), but as a PPV opener it’s a flop. Eventually Meng gets the Tongan Death Drip on Barbarian to score the pinfall at 4:49.
WINNER is Meng (Pin, 4:49)
After the match Jimmy Hart, Hugh Morrus, and Barbarian beat up Meng. Jimmy Hart lands a splash from the top rope and Morrus hits No Laughing Matter before Jim Duggan makes the save. Afterwards we see replays of the action.
As mentioned earlier the Dancin’ Fools entrance (as well as the ring announcements for the match) is completely cut out.
— “Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 14:49)
The Dancin’ Fools (Alex Wright & Disco Inferno) w/Tokyo Magnum vs. Public Enemy (Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge)
Though the crowd is at least somewhat interested in the action, which is a win in and of itself, this clusterflub is an outright mess that goes on for way too long! This starts as a standard tag team match before becoming a “street fight” that leaves Tony Schiavone completely confused. Eventually Magnum and Wright leave Disco all alone to be put through three stacked tables via a Rocco Rock elbow off the stage trussing. Grunge tosses Disco in the ring and goes for the pin when Tokyo Magnum appears and splashes Disco by mistake. Grunge blasts Tokyo and promptly scores the pinfall on Disco at 15:29.
WINNERS are Public Enemy (Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge) (Pin, 15:29)
After some awkward editing we head back to the WCW internet location where Lee Marshall interviews Dean Malenko about refereeing the Juvi/Jericho Cruiserweight title match later in the show. Malenko says he’s going to call it how he sees it and do as Jericho may do if the roles were reversed.
— “Raven’s Rules Triangle Match” (WATCH – 31:28)
Raven w/Lodi vs. Saturn vs. Kanyon
“I know where ‘parts unknown’ is,” Heenan says, “about three and a half miles from here, south!” According to David Penzer falls count “anywhere in Sturgis city limits”. This is another clusterflub that lasts longer than it needs to. They fight all over the place and pull off some pretty decent spots to no reaction from the crowd. In the end Horace Boulder attempts to glom Saturn with a stop sign when Lodi tosses powder in Horace’s eyes by mistake. Boulder wipes out both Lodi and Raven with the sign before being taken out by Saturn who then lands a Spicolli Driver on Raven to score the pin at 12:28.
WINNER is Saturn (Pin, 12:28)
— “Number One Contender’s Match for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship” (WATCH – 49:20)
Psychosis vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr.
After nearly an hour of pure rubbish we finally get an actual wrestling match! In respect to storytelling and psychology this is an above-average cruiserweight match that doesn’t rely on the usual car-crash formula. The Sturgis crowd grows restless and turns on the match late. Eventually Rey makes his comeback and dodges a Psychosis running dropkick before absolutely spiking Psychosis with a springboard hurricanrana for the pin at 13:39 to earn a future Cruiserweight title match.
WINNER is Rey Mysterio, Jr. (Pin, 13:39)
After replays Tony mentions being able to buy “just about any leather item you want” in Sturgis, which Tenay and “Brain” (“Anything inflatable?”) have some fun with.
Chavo Guerrero, Jr. is out next with Pepe to virtually no reaction from this clueless crowd. Chavo has a packet of papers that he notarized himself that says that Chavo, not Stevie Ray, is the Television Champion.
Stevie Ray comes out (as we see a fan in a red “SS” styled shirt) and is mocked by Chavo. Chavo says they can’t have the match until they perform the “ceremonial handshake”.
— WCW World Television Championship (WATCH – 1:06:50)
Chavo Guerrero, Jr. w/Pepe vs. Stevie Ray(c)
Chavo offers Stevie Ray his hand but Stevie Ray wants no part of it. Nearly the entirety of this match is Chavo running around the ring and Stevie Ray chasing him again and again. Soon enough Stevie Ray traps Chavo and ends the match with the Slapjack at 2:40 to retain the TV title.
WINNER and STILL WCW World Television Champion, Stevie Ray (Pin, 2:40)
After the match Stevie Ray threatens the fans, tosses the referee down, and prepares to whip Chavo with the TV strap when Eddie Guerrero runs in and pulls the belt from Stevie Ray. As Stevie Ray leaves Eddie attends to his nephew Chavo.
We got the WCW internet location next where Lee Marshall talks with Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho about Malenko being guest referee. Jericho says Malenko is part of the “conspiracy” against Jericho and that Malenko had better call it down the middle or else. Jericho talks some trash to Juvi and says that tonight is the end of the “conspiracy”.
— “Brother vs. Brother Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:17:38)
Rick Steiner vs. “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner w/ Buff Bagwell
Rick Steiner hits the ring as J.J. Dillon, Chairman of the WCW Executive Committee, arrives to inform Rick that due to Rick attacking Scott with a chair Scott is out for two weeks and that the match is off. Out comes Buff Bagwell, in a cervical collar, pushing a bandaged Scott Steiner out on a stretcher, blaming Rick as the fans boo loudly.
Dillon reminds Bagwell and Scott Steiner that contractually the match must be rescheduled within the next 45 days and says the brothers will meet at Fall Brawl ’98, which the fans like even less, and that if Scott misses Fall Brawl ’98 Scott will be banned from wrestling “for life”. At the announcement of the ban Scott Steiner miraculously sits up and jumps from the stretcher which Scott flings at Rick as Rick runs to catch the heels.
NO WINNER declared (No Contest, 0:00)
— “WCW vs. nWo Hollywood Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:21:30)
Brian Adams w/Vincent vs. Steve “Mongo” McMichael
“Mongo” was, at this time, looking to reform the Four Horsemen. This is another absolute mess of a match that the fans don’t care about. After “Mongo” accidentally kicks the referee low Vincent attempts to hit “Mongo” with a chair but (of course) ends up hitting Adams instead. “Mongo” wipes out Vincent and hits Adams with the tombstone piledriver for the pin at 6:35.
WINNER is Steve “Mongo” McMichael (Pin, 6:35)
After replays we go to “Mean” Gene, with the “American IronHorse Girls”, for yet another AIH plug and more (and more) engine revving!
With Dean Malenko and Juventud Guerrera in the ring a kimono clad Jericho arrives and calls the fans “weekend warrior motorcyclers” and tells them that he, Jericho, is the true biker.
— WCW Cruiserweight Championship (WATCH – 1:32:47)
Special Guest Referee: Dean Malenko
Juventud Guerrera vs. Chris Jericho(c)
This is, in my eyes, easily the best match of the night with everyone playing their parts to near perfection. Though Juvi has his moments Jericho controls much of the action. As the match goes on both Malenko and Jericho begin to show their frustrations with one another with Jericho slapping Malenko after smashing Juvi with the title belt. In the end Jericho, on the top turnbuckle, kicks Malenko away before Malenko launches a charging Juvi up and over to Jericho, landing a hurricanrana for the pin at 16:24, popping the comatose crowd. This marked Juvi’s second Cruiserweight title win (of an eventual three in WCW) and ended Jericho’s fourth and final Cruiserweight title reign at 55-days. After the match Malenko cracks an angry Jericho as Juvi celebrates.
WINNER and NEW WCW Cruiserweight Champion, Juventud Guerrera (Pin, 16:24)
Before the “battle royal” we get dueling mic shticks with Scott Hall first and Nash & Konnan next, the latter receiving some of the best reactions thus far.
— “9-Man nWo Invitational Battle Royal” (WATCH – 1:57:28)
Featuring: 1) WCW World Tag Team Champion Scott Hall (nWo Hollywood); 2) WCW World Tag Team Champion The Giant (nWo Hollywood); 3) Curt Hennig (nWo Hollywood); 4) Scott Norton (nWo Hollywood); 5) Kevin Nash (nWo WolfPac); 6) Sting (nWo WolfPac); 7) Lex Luger (nWo WolfPac); 8) Konnan (nWo WolfPac); & 9) WCW World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg (WCW)
Elimination in this one is by either pinfall or over the top rope. While the rest of the guys go at it Goldberg, 129 – 0 coming in, picks his spots, backdropping Hall over the top at 1:26, after which Nash eliminates himself (1:32) to fight with Hall. The match slows to crawl and the crowd dies. Goldberg tosses K-Dawg to the floor at 4:58. Hennig and Giant work over Goldberg for a time until Goldberg spears and tosses Hennig at 6:44. Moments later Goldberg clotheslines Sting (6:51) and Norton (6:52) over the top to leave only Giant, Luger, and Goldberg. Luger, after being speared by Goldberg, ends up tossed out by Giant at 7:11, leaving Giant and Goldberg. Giant chokeslams Goldberg who, a la Undertaker, sits up before spearing Giant and hitting a massive Jackhammer for the pin at 7:59 to pick up the win and improve to 130 – 0.
WINNER is WCW World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg (Last Eliminating The Giant, 7:59)
— “Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 2:16:45)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Michael Buffer
nWo Hollywood (Hollywood Hogan & Eric Bischoff) w/The Disciple & Miss Elizabeth vs. Diamond Dallas Page & “The King of Late Night” Jay Leno w/Kevin Eubanks
This remains one of the most polarizing matches in WCW history. While the match brought WCW one of it’s final big publicity moments it was viewed as a joke and embarrassment from many fans and insiders alike. The match delivers, though, and manages to elicit the best reaction from the Sturgis crowd all night. It’s not the greatest match, of course, but it’s fun, even if it is repetitive. Eventually Leno goes low on Bischoff and scores a few “punches” before bouncing “Easy E” off the turnbuckles and gassing big time! Hogan whaps Bischoff by mistake before DDP takes out Hogan. Eubanks sneaks in the ring and drops Bischoff with a decent Diamond Cutter that allows Leno to shoot the half, hook the leg, and score the pinfall at 14:33.
WINNERS are Diamond Dallas Page & “The King of Late Night” Jay Leno w/Kevin Eubanks (Pin, 14:33)
After the match Hogan, Bischoff, and Disciple attack Leno and DDP until Goldberg flattens both Hogan and Bischoff with a single spear. The four babyfaces celebrate in the ring as Jay Leno looks to be beyond gassed.
Next we see replays of the main event and post-match celebration before returning to the announce position where the gang chats about the upcoming Scott Steiner/Rick Steiner bout at Fall Brawl ’98, how big the event was for WCW, and how well Jay Leno performed.
As the stage is setup for the Travis Tritt concert we see a small fireworks display as Tony sells the next month’s Fall Brawl PPV and Heenan challenges Mr. Rogers to a match (“I’m pretty sure I can take him.”). Finally we see a Fall Brawl ’98 promo and the show, at least for the WWE Network, wraps.
Despite the hyperbole this isn’t the worst WCW PPV ever. It’s terrible, make no mistake about it, but it’s not WCW’s worst.
You can enjoy the two cruiserweight matches for sure and even the main event, but the rest of it is a steaming hot mess. If you’ve seen it, it’s as bad as you remember, if you haven’t it’s worth checking out to see what a truly terrible PPV actually looks like!
Already a subscriber to the award-winning WWE Network? Then you can relive Road Wild ’98 or see it for the very first time right now. As always, let us know what you think in the comments below.
Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
Watch every WWE, WCW and ECW pay-per-view in history and 10,000 more hours of content now on the WWE Network. Your first month is FREE! Click here to subscribe to the WWE Network.
Ok the petition for more legends of wrestling dvds continue. I apologize if Im bothering anyone. I have an idea for one to revive the series of dvds. This I think is a brillant idea. Legends of Wrestling:The evolution of Hardcore . It would be the full round table discussion episode of Legends of wrestling. The extras would be;NWA world Heavyweight championship match,Terry Funk.vs.Jerry”The King”Lawler….NWA World Heavyweight title match,Terry Funk.vs.Paul Jones….WWe Raw is War 1998,WWE HARDCORE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH,BIG BOSSMAN.VS.ROAD DOGG…..WWE HARDCORE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH,ROAD DOGG.VS.MANKIND……..ECW matches,Old school blood baths featuring Bruiser Brody Abdullah The Butcher among others….The Cover would be Mick Foley and Terry Funk. Look Marks fantasy dvd concepts….if you are reading this you could show everyone what this would look like along with the extra features.
May I suggest not doing reviews on WCW ppvs from 1998 on? Omg were they bad lol!! Yes the Crusierweight matches were good. But that’s it.
I mean Sting didn’t even last 7min in that Battle Royal, Nash eliminated himself to fight w/Hall. Lol really. It should’ve came down to Goldberg hitting the spear & jackhammer on Giant, then he & Sting double clothesline him out of the ring making Sting, the Franchise of WCW and Goldberg, the biggest streak in the business (though still not as meaningful as Taker’s in many people’s minds but that’s a whole nother topic of discussion), the last 2.