By the early spring of 1998 WCW, having signed most of the top stars of the wrestling business from the ’80s and mid-’90s, was an embarrassment of riches. But a string of bad booking decisions, a stale New World Order, and the harder-edged “attitude” of the World Wrestling Federation’s product were causing WCW’s empire to crumble. In fact, this would be the final WCW PPV before the WWF would win their first head-to-head ratings win since June 10, 1996.
Built around the first PPV World title defense for Sting, the long-awaited blow-off between Giant and Kevin Nash, and a heated “steel cage” showdown between former nWo-ites Hollywood Hogan and Randy Savage, Uncensored ’98 drew the second-largest buyrate in company history with nearly 400,000 buys (slightly edging out SuperBrawl VIII the month prior), and the highest buyrate for any Uncensored event. But there’s more to this show than the three main events, including a “triple jeopardy” match for the U.S. title, Jericho/Malenko for the Cruiserweight title, and Eddie Guerrero and Booker T clashing for the TV title. Yeah, it’s a stacked card!
Does Uncensored ’98 stand the test of time, though? Let’s hit ‘play’ and find out!
Edits are a bit of an issue for this event on the Network. Aside from the usual music overdubs there are a few strange content edits from interviews to Hotline promos that don’t make much sense.
As for context, the Network has ya covered! Though WCW Thunder has yet to debut on the Network as of this writing (though will debut in 6 short days!), all previous editions of Monday NITRO as well as all prior Clash events and PPVs are available for you to enjoy right now!
WCW/nWo Uncensored ’98 (WATCH)
Date: March 15, 1998 – Location: Mobile Civic Center, Mobile, Alabama
Attendance: 7,474 – PPV Buyrate: 1.1 (>399,900 homes)
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, & Bobby Heenan – Interviews: “Mean” Gene Okerlund, Lee Marshall, & Mark Madden
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Sting
WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: Diamond Dallas Page
WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders (Kevin Nash & Scott Hall)
WCW World Television Champion: Booker T
WCW Cruiserweight Champions: Chris Jericho
Uncensored ’98 opens with a vignette highlighting the Hogan/Savage “steel cage” match and the Scott Hall/Sting World title showdown.
In the arena Tony Schiavone welcomes us to the show as the pyro goes off. Tony, Mike Tenay, and Bobby Heenan talk about the Hogan/Savage match and the “tension” within the nWo as Scott Hall battles to win the WCW World title while Hogan and Savage go to war for supremacy of the nWo itself, with Heenan saying that Hogan would expect Hall to hand the World title over to him should Hall dethrone Sting.
— WCW World Television Championship (WATCH – 2:58)
Eddie Guerrero w/Chavo Guerrero, Jr. vs. Booker T(c)
As a result of losing to Eddie on the go-home edition of Thunder Chavo Guerrero, Jr. has become Eddie’s lackey. This was the beginning of the Booker T’s overdue rise to the top of WCW. Referee Nick Patrick’s wavy, fluffy, poofy mullet is finally gone though it didn’t get the ten bell salute it so richly deserved. This is a very good opener; stiff, fast-paced, and employing some decent psychology. Booker T’s seemingly effortless transition to singles competition is incredible to see, as is Eddie’s control of the crowd even in 1998. After a hard-fought, back and forth battle Booker T blocks an Eddie hurricanrana attempt, shoving Eddie off the top rope before connecting with a big missile dropkick for the win at 11:07. After the match Eddie beats the bejabbers out of Chavo, Jr. for smirking about Eddie’s loss.
WINNER and STILL WCW World Television Champion, Booker T (Pin, 11:07)
For some reason the WCWWrestling.com segment with Lee Marshal interviewing Scott Steiner has been edited out after the replays. In it Steiner butchers the promo and then threatens Marshal and others. It’s harmless but excised all the same.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 22:01)
Konnan vs. Juventud Guerrera
The story here is all about Konnan taking exception to Juvi submitting to Chris Jericho last month at SuperBrawl VIII and losing his mask while Juvi sees the loss as a fresh start. This is a decent match but a bit too similar to their previous WCW PPV showdown, at Fall Brawl ’96 (for Konnan’s “Mexican Heavyweight” title), in that Konnan dominates the match in the ring as Juvi plays the role of SuperBall for K-Dawg. The match is going fine until Juvi nearly has his neck broken when a Rocking Horse goes awry. They never recover the timing or the pacing and the last bit of the match is a mess. In the end K-Dawg’s arrogance gets the better of him and Juvi manages to roll Konnan into a crucifix for the pin at 10:22. After the match Konnan puts Juvi out with the 1-8-7 before tossing Juvi from the ring.
WINNER is Juventud Guerrera (Pin, 10:22)
After replays we go to “Mean” Gene in the aisle with “Chairman of the WCW Executive Committee”, James J. Dillon who announces that, per Giant’s request, the powerbomb will be made legal for the Giant/Kevin Nash match later in the show.
— WCW Cruiserweight Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 35:41)
Dean Malenko vs. “Lionheart” Chris Jericho(c)
As usual Jericho’s music is his WWE theme. Though the cruiserweight division had been around for roughly 2 years by this point this was one of very first true storylines in the division thus far. Guys had lost masks and titles had changed hands, but if it wasn’t an athletic story then the division had no stories to tell. This match and program changed that. Jericho is at his arrogant, cocky best here which gives Malenko the upper-hand early on before Jericho takes the middle portion of the match. After a series of clever false finishes and near-falls Malenko goes for his leg lariat when Jericho catches Malenko’s leg and cinches in the Liontamer for the submission win at 14:42.
WINNER and STILL WCW Cruiserweight Champion, Chris Jericho (Submission, 14:42)
After the match “Mean” Gene immediately comes to the ring to interview Malenko, blowing off a shocked Jericho. Okerlund calls Malenko out for losing. “Dean Malenko this is a match that you should have won tonight,” Gene says, “and you didn’t! Dean Malenko you are 0 for 4 in WCW mega-events. I’m gonna go back to Starrcade—I’m gonna call you on the carpet! You didn’t win at Starrcade, you didn’t win at Souled Out, you didn’t win at SuperBrawl, and you didn’t win here tonight. Now you are a bonafide loser!” The crowd boos Okerlund as “The Ice Man” stands silent in the ring. “Where does Dean Malenko go from here?” Okerlund asks. Malenko leans in and says, “Home.” As Malenko walks out, head down, Okerlund wraps the interview.
Next we go back to the WCW “internet location” where Lee Marshall and Mark Madden interview Raven who says “revenge is a dish best served cold” and that “it’ll be icy cold” for both DDP and Benoit when Raven walks out with the U.S. title.
— “WCW vs. nWo Grudge Match” (WATCH – 57:02)
Scott Steiner vs. “Total Package” Lex Luger
This one is just a fight with these two throwing each other all over the ringside area. The story is all about Luger wanting to avenge Rick Steiner after brother Scott turned on him the prior month at SuperBrawl VIII. In the end Rick Steiner comes to the ring to stop Scott from using a chair on Luger. As Scott Norton attacks Rick Steiner on the floor Luger clubs Scott from behind to pick up the win at 3:56. After the match Steiner attacks both Luger and referee Nick Patrick until Rick makes the save and dumps Scott over the top rope on his head.
WINNER is “Total Package” Lex Luger (Pin, 3:56)
— WCW United States Heavyweight Championship – “No Disqualification Falls Count Anywhere Triple Jeopardy Match” (WATCH – 1:05:05)
Raven vs. Chris Benoit vs. Diamond Dallas Page(c)
This was the first match of the night to actually live up to the name of the event, and it’s a helluva brawl! There is very little of the ubiquitous two-men-wrestle, one-man-rests routine and when it does happen there’s actual psychology to support it. These three brawl everywhere! The Uncensored set nearly comes down, a kitchen sink is used, and we see some of Raven’s Olympic-level table work. But the highlight of the match is the triple German suplex spot that brings the crowd to its feet. Raven revives the classic stop-sign-wrapped-in-poster-board spot from ECW and gloms DDP with it. The Flock put a table in the ring for Raven but it’s DDP, after knocking Benoit to the floor, who puts Raven through the table with a devastating Diamond Cutter for the pin at 17:12 to retain the U.S. Title. After the match Hammer drags Raven from the ring as Benoit helps DDP to his feet.
WINNER and STILL WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, Diamond Dallas Page (Pin, 17:12)
After replays we go to the announce position where the guys talk about the reaming matches on the card.
— “Non-Title WCW vs. nWo Grudge Match” – Powerbomb is Legal (WATCH – 1:28:39)
WCW World Tag Team Champion “Big Sexy” Kevin Nash vs. The Giant
During the match Tony mentions that the over-the-top disqualification rule has been done away with permanently, a mixed-bag in respect to psychology. This match is s-l-o-w and boring with Nash taunting more than wrestling. In the end Brian Adams runs in and cracks Giant with a baseball bat as Giant sets up Nash for the powerbomb to give the DQ win (at Uncensored) to The Giant at 6:36. After the match Vincent and Konnan jump on Giant until Giant tosses them off. Giant breaks Adams’ ball bat, chokeslams Konnan and Vincent, and attempts to chokeslam Adams when Nash breaks another baseball bat over The Giant’s shoulder. Nash tries to pick up Giant when Giant “Hulk’s up” and scares the nWo from the ring.
WINNER is The Giant (Disqualification, 6:36)
After replays a “Mean” Gene WCW Hotline promo is, unusually, edited out.
— “WCW vs. nWo Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:40:55)
Curt Hennig w/Rick Rude vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart
For those wondering, Bret’s awful WCW theme is overdubbed with an even worse theme. It seemed like whenever these two guys touched magic happened. This was the first match between these two since their classic semi-finals showdown at the WWF’s 1993 King of the Ring. Unfortunately this would also mark the final time these two legends would meet in a televised bout. The story, in short, was Bret Hart looking to go through every member of the nWo to eventually get a shot at Hollywood Hogan. This is a good, psychological match in which Rude’s interference keeps Hennig in the match. In the end Bret makes the comeback and hits his usual array of moves for the usual string of near-falls until Bret knocks Hennig into Rude and cinches in the Sharpshooter for the submission at 13:51, right before Rude could make the save.
WINNER is Bret “Hitman” Hart (Submission, 13:51)
After the match Rude nails Bret with a beautiful Rude Awakening as Hennig drills Hart with a chair before posing with his foot on Bret Hart’s chest. Originally Bret’s music stopped as Hennig and Rude prevented the trainer from attending to Bret but here the terrible overdubbed theme just keeps playing and playing and playing…
— WCW World Heavyweight Championship – “Champion vs. Champion WCW vs. nWo Grudge Match” (WATCH – 2:00:49)
WCW World Tag Team Champion Scott Hall w/Dusty Rhodes vs. Sting(c)
Scott Hall’s World title match, earned after winning the 1997 “World War 3 Battle Royal” in November, was to have been at SuperBrawl VIII last month but, you know, things happened. Sting, in his first PPV World title match, gets a very weak pop. This is a terrible match from both guys, a very lazy outing and its eventual outcome is never once in doubt. Sting survives a Dusty Rhodes Bionic Elbow drop and “brass knucks” attack before reversing an Outsiders Edge into the Scorpion Death Drop for the pin at 8:29 to retain the Big Gold Belt.
WINNER and STILL WCW World Heavyweight Champion, Sting (Pin, 8:29)
After replays we see a promo for Spring Stampede ’98 while back in the arena the lights flash on the cage overhead. Michael Buffer introduces the match before the cage finally lowers around the ring.
— “Steel Cage nWo Grudge Match” (WATCH – 2:15:17)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Michael Buffer
Hollywood Hogan vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/Miss Elizabeth
Hogan’s music and verbal gaga have been overdubbed, for those wondering. This “Age in the Cage II” is, in many ways, worse than Piper/Hogan from Halloween Havoc ’97! These two whip the bejabbers out of one another with Hogan’s weightlifting belt, which is as physical as this one ever gets. Hogan gets busted open but the commentators, like WWE today, aren’t allowed to mention the blood. This “injured”/”wounded” trend continues even after Savage is opened up, and Savage bleeds like stuck hog. This one goes off the rails when both men walk out of the cage and the match just continues with even the announcers (surprise! It’s WCW!) not knowing what is going on. Savage climbs to the top of the cage and delivers a double axe handle as the camera stays wide because, ya know, blood is terrible. When Savage goes to the top of the cage for the diving elbow drop The Disciple, who the announcers act like they’ve never seen before, comes in to save Hollywood, taking out the referee and ending the match at 13:57, I think, because no bell ever rings!
NO WINNER declared (No Contest, 13:57)
The 2-on-1 standoff ends when Sting, who very nearly misses the cage, descends, inch-by-inch, from the rafters. The four men stand around looking at one another until Savage turns on Sting and levels the World Champion with a piledriver before walking out of the cage. Savage and Hogan continue to yell at one another but we don’t see Savage on account of the wicked, vile, pornographic blood. Hogan yells about Savage working for him as the show ends. We see a silent promo for the next PPV before the show ends without credits, one of the first WCW PPVs to do so.
If Uncensored ’98 had stopped before the two main events we’d be talking about a different show.
Much of this card, with the exception of the Konnan/Juvi and the Nash/Giant, delivered in their own way. The main events, however, are astoundingly bad and go a long way towards ruining this show. If you haven’t seen it it’s worth watching at least once, but the main events will leave a bad taste in your mouth, if not a bit of deja vu with modern WWE.
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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