D.C. Wood here again! Cheers for following this series and all the positive feedback! Entry 5 now…and it’s showdown time for the WWF Championship!
KANE VS. ‘STONE COLD’ STEVE AUSTIN
After the Inferno Match at Unforgiven, Kane won the feud with Vader at Over the Edge, and then the next night on Raw, Kane finally defeated the Undertaker to become No. 1 Contender for the WWF Championship.
After Dude Love’s failure to beat the Rattlesnake, Vince was more determined than ever to take the title away from Austin, giving Kane his full backing. The Big Red Machine challenged Stone Cold to a First Blood match, and (now using a voice box to communicate) vowed to set himself ablaze if he failed to win (Yeah, right…). Austin welcomed the challenge with typical gusto. And then on the final Raw before the PPV, Kane summoned fake blood to rain down on Austin, soaking the champion. Kane then ominously vowed, “Austin…this Sunday, the blood on you will be for REAL.” GOOD HYPE.
The Match Itself
Kane enters first with Paul Bearer. Then the champion enters to a thunderous ovation. He’s walking, intensely staring down his monstrous challenger…then he races to the ring to take the fight to Kane! Austin ducks a clothesline from Kane, bounces off the ropes and then as the bell rings, Austin takes down Kane with a Lou Thesz Press and starts pummelling away at Kane’s face, and then follows it up with an elbow drop off the ropes. Already the crowd’s into this! Right on cue, Kane sits up, only to be greeted by a wicked shot to the face from Stone Cold with the title belt. Kane sits up again, though! Only to be greeted with an even harder belt shot from the champion. No DQ, and smart psychology from Austin; trying to bust open the challenger anyway he can (despite that mask).
Austin then removes the top turnbuckle cover. Kane’s back up and Austin’s there to great him with furious strikes. Jim Ross also points out Austin’s heavily bandaged right-elbow (due to surgery for a staph infection). Steve Austin TRULY was the Toughest SOB in the WWF.
Despite Austin’s efforts, Kane is soon able to overpower the champion and batters him to the ground. The action has slowed down now to Kane’s pace. The Big Red Machine chokes the Rattlesnake as the crowd rally with the “Austin!” chants. Lawler makes a brilliant point about how Kane’s outfit tonight virtually covers the whole of his body (only his left hand was exposed bare), so how can Austin possibly win? Meanwhile, Austin counters a Tombstone attempt to shove Kane over the top top, but he lands on his feet.
The two continue to brawl, with Austin smacking Kane’s face on the ring steps and JR also noting how Kane’s mask offers a great deal of protection…and then the Hell in a Cell starts lowering from the ceiling! The commentators demand to know what’s going on. I’d like to know as well, please! My understanding is that Vince McMahon was secretly orchestrating this somehow, but some context would have helped here.
Austin and Kane continue to brawl and then Kane whips Austin face-first into the cell as it lowers. Nasty, yet creative! Kane then proceeds to choke Austin and hold him there whilst the cell continues to lower nearer on top of his face!
Kane picks Austin up and the cell lands safely. The Big Red Machine then decides to use the cell to try and bust Austin open. JR then reminds viewers at home that earlier on during the Free For All that referee Earl Hebner would not stop the match for a nick or a minor cut. Only a significant blade job. JR and King are really doing a good job addressing any plot-holes in this story.
Kane continues to use the cell and ring steps to his advantage, but Austin’s still okay despite a minor cut on his back. Stone Cold then shoves Kane into the cell door and starts stomping a mudhole on him, then the cell’s being raised now for some DAFT reason! The two continue to fight amidst the pandemonium and now their brawling takes them up the aisle.
Near the entrance-way, Austin’s piledriver attempt on the concrete fails when Kane counters with a back-body drop. Vince meanwhile is surveying the action in his skybox with Sable (naughty Vince!). The two combatants continue to fight with Kane still too-powerful for the tenacious Austin; countering the champion’s suplex with one of his own on the entrance ramp. Kane soon sits up again, as Paul Bearer worships his son proudly. The Austin chants start up again in full force, trying to rally the WWF Champion on. But Kane has now lifted up a security railing and smacked Austin in the face with it!
Vince watches on as Austin struggles to get some distance from the relentless challenger. Having bought enough recovery time, Austin shoves Kane back into the ring and starts smacking him head-first into the exposed turnbuckle from earlier. The ever-brilliant JR comments that Austin’s efforts to weaken Kane may allow him to rip his mask off and then go to work, while the cynical Lawler asks, “Do you think Kane is really gonna let that happen? Let the world see his face?” Another example why JR and King are the greatest announce team of all time.
The gruelling action continues around ringside, with Austin grabbing a fan from the announce table and smacking Kane over the head with it! OUCH! Kane goozles Austin and shoves him into Earl Hebner. The ref is down so JR says, “C’mon, King! You’re licensed!” “Not on your life!” Jerry refuses. “Not in THIS one!” Kane goes to the top rope and takes out Austin with a flying clothesline. Kane then goes for a second flying clothesline but Austin sidesteps and then starts stomping a mudhole and walking it dry! Austin then repeatedly smacks the BACK of Kane’s head (unprotected by the mask!) into the exposed turnbuckle. More good psychology…
And then incredibly, a battered Mankind limps out with a chair to play his part in the finish. Storywise, it makes sense, what with Mick’s history with Austin, Taker and Kane, and being an integral part of the main-event scene. But after EVERYTHING Mick Foley had done earlier in the evening, he should’ve been in the hospital right after Hell in a Cell. Mick takes a Stone Cold Stunner, the cell lowers AGAIN(!), Kane’s chokeslam attempt gets him a low blow AND a Stunner, and now the Undertaker comes out with a chair!
Austin’s got a chair, he goes swinging for Mankind, but so does the Undertaker! Mankind ducks, Taker’s chair smacks Austin’s into his face, Kane gets back up only to eat a clothesline from Taker, who then knocks Mick out of the ring and out of the cell. Meanwhile, Taker revives the ref (using the PETROL to wake him up! God above!) as Austin has been busted open badly. Kane nails Taker with a chair, King asks, “What the hell is going on, JR?!”, Kane sets to finish Austin off with the chair, but the bloody Rattlesnake takes out the challenger with a flying clothesline and an almighty chair shot! KANE IS DOWN!
BUT…the bell rings! Earl has called for it! He’s seen Austin bloody! KANE IS THE WINNER AND NEW WWF CHAMPION AT 15:58!
Okay, let’s get the bad out of the way. The chaotic ending, the cell constantly being raised and lowered (without real explanation), the screwy finish, Kane vowing to set himself alight if he lost…whilst all that zaniness worked okay in 1998, it doesn’t today in retrospective. And it does again point out the problems with Vince Russo as a booker. On his best days (and under Vince McMahon’s supervision), Russo came up with some fantastic ideas/television. On his worst days…well, we ALL know. So I needn’t say anymore.
All that aside, the build-up to this one was more proof of how essential the WWF was in 1998. Both Steve Austin and Kane were on meteoric rises, and the result was a typical Attitude Era slugfest. Great crowd, awesome atmosphere, intense action, perfect commentary…for me personally, the Attitude Era was the best time to be a wrestling fan.
With regards to the stipulation, First Blood bouts are tricky. Normally, you have a bout that starts off gradually, then changes into a higher gear when a wrestler gets busted open, and then it snowballs towards an epic conclusion. To me, First Blood bouts stop before they can truly begin. Having said that, this match was very well worked indeed. Austin was so smart here, using great psychology to try and find a chink in Kane’s armour (like others had before), and likewise, Kane worked brilliantly also; using the Cell to creative effect in this bout.
As for the outcome…say what you want about the finish, but the fact remains is that Kane defeated the greatest wrestler of all time (Because Stone Cold and me said so!) to take his rightful place in history. Should he have been WWF Champion longer than 24 hours? YES. Did he deserve more than one reign with the belt? HELL YES! But while Kane may be ranked amongst the lower-tier WWF Champions of all time, his program with Austin and time with the title was still a success. Austin/Kane drew big for the King of the Ring (310, 000 buys!) and Austin winning the title back the next night drew huge for Raw is War (a 5.1 rating!). Two great, unforgettable matches over 24 hours.
That’s it for 1998 now! Next time, it’s 1999…and Kane forms his first unlikely, yet successful partnership.
Check out the match here:
NEXT ENTRY –>
If you appreciate the content SmarKDown puts out, your contribution is greatly appreciated and it will help us get even better!
Make a one-time donation
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is greatly appreciated.
Your contribution is greatly appreciated.
Your contribution is greatly appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly