This week Throwback Thursday revisits one of World Championship Wrestling’s most polarizing PPV events, Slamboree ’98, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on the WWE Network today!
After dominating the World Wrestling Federation (and the rest of the business) since June of 1996 WCW’s grip on the wrestling world was finally broken on April 13, 1998. In the month since WCW had only beaten RAW in the ratings once, on April 20, 1998, and wouldn’t again until July 6, 1998, the infamous Hogan/Goldberg Georgia Dome show. Though business was still great for WCW the foundation was being washed away by the incredible success of the “Attitude Era”.
But the “Attitude Era” wasn’t the only thing eroding WCW’s base. At the demand of Ted Turner WCW launched Thunder in January ’98. The need for more stars, storylines, and content was too much for WCW and the product began to suffer as a result. The split of the New World Order, Bret Hart’s shortsighted heel turn, and Bischoff challenging Vince McMahon to a fight at Slamboree ’98 were a direct result of being stretched too thin too soon. Slamboree ’98 was panned by critics at the time but largely enjoyed by the WCW faithful who were still willing to give WCW the benefit of the doubt.
Is Slamboree ’98 really all that bad? Let’s hit ‘play’ and find out!
This is the Turner Home Entertainment version of the event, not the live PPV, and aside from the usual music overdubs editing is not an issue with this event on the Network.
And context on the Network for this event is complete with all previous editions of NITRO and Thunder as well all prior PPVs available to watch right now.
WCW/nWo Slamboree ’98 (WATCH)
Date: May 17, 1998 – Location: Worcester Centrum, Worcester, Massachusetts
Attendance: 11,592 – PPV Buyrate: 0.72 (>261,000 homes)
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, & Bobby Heenan – Interviews: Lee Marshall
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hollywood Hogan
WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: Goldberg
WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash)
WCW World Television Champion: Fit Finlay
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho
The PPV opens with a short implosion-themed vignette highlighting the Randy Savage/Bret Hart match and the Tag Team Championship main event between the Champion Outsiders and The Giant & Sting.
In the arena Tony Schiavone welcomes us to the show as the pyro gets the fans going. Tenay talks up the Savage/Hart match while Heenan talks about Sting’s nWo dilemma should he and Giant win the Tag Team titles as well as Scott Hall’s momentary absence.
Tony then brings up Bischoff’s challenge to Vince McMahon before tossing to footage from the go-home edition of Thunder of Bischoff reading a letter from McMahon’s attorney stating that McMahon will not be attending the event. Tony says that WCW does not expect McMahon to show up but that security (and cameras) are waiting should McMahon arrive. We got our first will-he-or-won’t-he segment next, complete with a plant calling McMahon a “coward”.
— WCW World Television Championship (WATCH – 5:23)
Chris Benoit vs. Fit Finlay
This match, a solid opener, is pretty even until Fit crushes a diving Benoit with a chair to the head. Late in the bout Benoit is about to hit the diving headbutt when Booker T arrives to distract Benoit. Finlay takes advantage and ends up winning after a tombstone piledriver at 14:53 to retain the TV title.
WINNER and STILL WCW World Television Champion, Fit Finlay (Pin, 14:53)
After replays we head back to the WCW internet location where Lee Marshall is interviewing WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho, who says he doesn’t care who wins the number one contender 15-man cruiserweight battle royal, that he’ll win and remain Champion.
— “WCW vs. nWo Grudge Match” (WATCH – 24:32)
Brian Adams w/Vincent vs. “Total Package” Lex Luger
This isn’t all that bad for what it is but it’s still no classic. In the end Luger dodges a charging Adams and lifts the big man into the Torture Rack for the submission win at 5:05.
WINNER is “Total Package” Lex Luger (Submission, 5:05)
After replays we head to the back where Saturn tells no one in particular that he’s facing Goldberg alone and that he’s done with both Raven and The Flock.
As David Penzer begins to announce the participants in the 15-man cruiserweight battle royal Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho arrives and take it upon himself to introduce the participants. A true highlight of the event for sure.
— “Number One Contender 15-Man Cruiserweight Battle Royal for an Immediate WCW Cruiserweight Championship Opportunity” (WATCH – 33:59)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho
Featuring, in Order of Entry: 1) Super Calo; 2) Chavo Guerrero, Jr.; 3) Ciclope; 4) Damien; 5) El Dandy; 6) El Grio; 7) Juventud Guerrera; 8) Marty Jannetty; 9) Kidman; 10) Evan Karagias; 11) Lenny Lane; 12) Psychosis; 13) Silver King; 14) Johnny Swinger; & 15) Villano IV
Elimination in this one is by pinfall or touching the floor at any point. This isn’t a terrible battle royal but the cruiserweights, with their high-flying style, seem lost for much of the match. It comes down to Kidman, Juvi, Psychosis, and Ciclope before Ciclope eliminates Psychosis and Juvi dumps Kidman, leaving only Juvi and Ciclope. The two pace around the ring before staring at one another. Suddenly the two shake hands and Juvi jumps over the top to eliminate himself at 8:28 to give Ciclope the win and immediate title shot against Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho.
WINNER is Ciclope (8:28)
After Juvi jumps out of the ring Ciclope bends over and removes his mask, standing up to reveal himself to be Dean Malenko! Malenko turns to face a shocked Jericho and the fight is on!
— WCW Cruiserweight Championship (WATCH – 46:37)
Dean Malenko vs. Chris Jericho(c)
Malenko is on fire in this one! This was Malenko’s first televised match since losing to Jericho at Uncensored ’98 and being ripped apart by “Mean” Gene after the fact. After weeks of being run down by Jericho on TV and PPV Malenko is a man possessed. Though this one is all about Malenko it’s by no means a squash. In the end Malenko hits the top rope gutbuster on Jericho before cinching in the Texas Cloverleaf for the submission win at 7:01 to give Malenko his fourth and final Cruiserweight Championship, ending Jericho’s third (of an eventual four) Cruiserweight title reign at 113-days, the second longest to that point behind Syxx’s 125-day reign.
WINNER and NEW WCW Cruiserweight Champion, Dean Malenko (Submission, 7:01)
After replays the lights dim and the cage lowers for the “Bowery Death Match”. As the cage lowers we go to our poorly edited “Vinnie Mac Cam” where we see a white limousine appear and parked near the arena. Doug Dillinger looks over the limo as Tony quips, “If Jim Ross jumps out and carries [Vince’s] bags you’ll know that is Vince.” Stay classy WCW!
— “Steel Cage Bowery Death Match” (WATCH – 57:32)
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Raven w/Riot Squad
This one is fought under “last man standing” rules with two garbage cans full of weapons (including a shovel and VCR) provided at opposite corners. This one is an ECW-style war sans blood. Late in the match the referee goes down and The Flock attempts to get in the ring when Van Hammer, newly excised from The Flock, climbs out from under the ring and waylays The Flock. The Riot Squad, revealed to be Kidman and Horace Boulder, jump in the ring next. Their attacks on DDP backfire and DDP wipes both men out with Diamond Cutters, including yet another highlight reel Cutter to Kidman. In the end DDP survives a Cutter from Raven and drops Raven with a sloppy Diamond Cutter that puts both men down until DDP gets up at nine, a la Rocky II, to win the match at 14:37.
WINNER is Diamond Dallas Page (14:37)
After the match another member of Raven’s Riot Squad arrives and handcuffs The Flock to either the guard rail or the cage. He tosses Raven into the cage and handcuffs him, crucifixion style, to the cage. The man turns out to be Mortis who, after removing his green mask as well, screams at Raven and, like Tommy Dreamer in ECW, wraps a “steel chair” over Raven’s head.
After replays we see more of WCW awaiting the arrival of “Vinnie Mac” before we return to the WCW internet location Saturn tells Lee Marshal that he’s prepared and ready to defeat Goldberg tonight.
At the announce position Tony, Tenay, and “Brain” kill time chatting about what might happen if Sting and The Giant win the World Tag Team titles tonight as the ring is cleaned up following the”death match”.
— Singles Match – If Ultimo Dragon Wins Chavo Guerrero, Jr. is Free of Eddie Guerrero (WATCH – 1:23:21)
Ultimo Dragon vs. Eddie Guerrero w/Chavo Guerrero, Jr.
The story here is Chavo being “free” of Eddie should Dragon win. This is a decent cruiserweight match but the crowd is far more interested in a morbidly obese fan letting his puppies loose in the third row. Late in the match Eddie reverses the Dragon Sleeper on Dragon and tries to use the ropes for leverage when Chavo intervenes to stop it. As Eddie paintbrushes Chavo Dragon mistakenly knocks Chavo from the ring to the guardrail with a spinning heel kick. In the end Eddie hits the brainbuster and Frog Splash for the pin at 11:10. After the match Chavo snaps and beats up Dragon until Eddie makes the save. Eddie gives Chavo his face to slap but Chavo refuses and kisses his uncle’s cheek instead.
WINNER is Eddie Guerrero w/Chavo Guerrero, Jr. (Pin, 11:10)
Next we go backstage and see Vince “The Reason for the Ratings” McMahon’s dressing room door. Tony says that despite the catering McMahon is “still a no-show.” Then, “Well, there ya go. Some people walk the walk and some people don’t,” reminding us of the time Bischoff showed up on WWF TV to fight Vince. Oh, wait…
— WCW United States Heavyweight Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:39:03)
Saturn vs. Goldberg(c)
This marked Goldberg’s first PPV title defense of any kind. At this point Goldberg was 87—0, up from 73—0 following his win at last month’s Spring Stampede ’98. Goldberg looks pretty good in this one. From timing to pacing to selling this is Goldberg’s best PPV showing yet. In the end Saturn brings in a chair to use as a springboard. After hitting a springboard dropkick Saturn goes back to the well only for Goldberg, in classic fashion, to catch Saturn with a crushing spear. Moments later Goldberg hits the Jackhammer for the pin at 7:03 to retain the United States title and improve to 88—0.
WINNER and STILL WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, Goldberg (Pin, 7:03)
A Great American Bash ’98 home video promo airs next.
— “World Championship Wrestling vs. World Wrestling Federation Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:51:05)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Michael Buffer
WCW President Eric Bischoff vs. Titan Sports CEO Vince McMahon
This is one of the most infamous “matches” in WCW history. McMahon was in Massachusetts earlier in the day to attend his daughter Stephanie’s graduation from Boston College. Though McMahon had bounced around the idea of showing up no one, especially Eric Bischoff, believed McMahon would actually arrive. In the end it was a publicity stunt that blew up in the company’s face and served only to illustrate how nervous WCW was about the ratings and how desperate they were becoming to hold on to the top spot.
Bischoff arrives first and after Vince fails to show up the referee rings the bell and, with the fans, counts McMahon out at :15-seconds. Bischoff celebrates the win as the fans boo.
WINNER is WCW Executive Producer Eric Bischoff (Forfeit via Count-out, 0:15)
— “Grudge Match from Hell” (WATCH – 1:57:14)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Michael Buffer
Special Guest Referee: WCW Commissioner “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Though these two were in the WWF for nearly ten years together they wrestled only one televised match in North America, the November 28, 1987 Saturday Night’s Main Event XIII. A fight from the opening bell the story, as usual in Savage matches, is all about Randy’s knee, which Bret works on methodically. Savage makes a comeback and hits the big flying elbow but is unable to make the cover in time to score the pinfall. Bret Hart recovers and puts Savage in the Sharpshooter when Elizabeth runs out. Savage reverses the Sharpshooter when Liz gets in the ring to distract Piper. Moments later Bret goes low on Savage and attacks Piper from behind. As Savage prepares to end the match Hollywood Hogan appears and attacks Savage’s knee. Bret grabs Savage, cinches in the Sharpshooter, and scores the submission win at 16:38. After the match Hart tuns Savage over and spits on him.
WINNER is Bret “Hitman” Hart (Submission, 16:38)
— WCW World Tag Team Championship (WATCH – 2:20:45)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Michael Buffer
The Giant & Sting vs. The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash)(c) w/Dusty Rhodes
This marked Scott Hall’s first televised match in WCW since Uncensored ’98. Giant had just rejoined nWo Hollywood while Sting was still WCW, unless he and Giant win the Tag Team titles which would mean Sting must choose between nWo Hollywood and nWo Wolfpac. The match itself isn’t all that bad as the Wolfpac dominates a good portion of the action. Giant gets the hot tag late and looks to be closing in on a win when Giant misses a splash from the top rope. Nash gets ready to powerbomb Giant when Hall enters the ring and hits Nash with the Tag Team title belt, turning on his longtime partner! Moments later a groggy Giant covers Nash for the pin at 14:46. This marked the second WCW World Tag title reign each for Giant and Sting and ended The Outsiders fifth and final reign at 84-days.
WINNERS and NEW WCW World Tag Team Champions, The Giant & Sting (Pin, 14:46)
After the match Scott Hall, Giant, and Dusty Rhodes hug in celebration while Sting looks on in disbelief. Giant shouts at Sting to make a choice as the show goes dark.
Slamboree ’98 isn’t a perfect show (more of a NITRO than a PPV) but it’s far better than many of its critics would have you believe.
Remembered for the night The Outsiders split and Vinnie Mac no-showed, Slamboree ’98 is hampered more by a tired crowd than a weak card. It’s well worth a look if you haven’t seen it and worth a re-watch for those who think it the worst WCW event of the era.
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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