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It's only been a few weeks since our last pay per view write up, since then things have been fairly benign – even Vader got released about being under House Arrest in Kuwait. The pay per view, largely, was the a continuation of where things were before: Steve Austin once again in an ill-advised main event, this time with the Undertaker, the next step on the never ending train that was Ahmed Johnson vs the Nation of Domination and, as always, a couple of completely thrown together undercard matches. The only real thing of note headed into the show was the in-ring WWF debut of former UFC Superfight Champion Ken Shamrock.
Flash Funk vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna)
If HHH couldn't get a servicable match out of Too Cold Scorpio then we may as well have written him off there and then. Thankfully, this was decent, if no better – Funk is so cold as an act, and Chyna gets a bigger reaction by breathing in than Hunter does with 95% of his stuff. Funk worked hard, HHH tried to get heat, in the end after an awkward looking pedigree HHH takes it. Not the best.
Mankind vs Rocky Maivia
Mankind has been featured pretty heavily since his debut a year ago, yet he had nothing to carry another completely flat act in Rocky Maivia. In my notes for the first half of the match I took very little down, they brawled up the unusually steel entrance ramp and Rocky got out a Rock Bottom (which, at this point, was just a move). If this match was saved by anything it was the finish – Rocky came off the top with a flying crossbody which Mankind rolled over and applied the Mandible claw for the clean win.
Ahmed Johnson vs The Nation (Crush, Savio and Farooq)
I really wanted to dislike this, and was particularly dismayed when Jim Ross seemed to insinuate on commentary that possibly all three of them were potentially unavaialbe to compete given how long this feud has been going. But... that all being said... they got the booking of this pretty much bang on.
Ahmed faced Crush first, and to my surprise there's a decent amount of heat for this, Ahmed wins in a few minutes with a heel kick. Savio comes out, gets himself DQ'd, then here comes Farooq. Ahmed hits a Pearl River Plunge but sells his back on landing before going for the cover, buying Farooq enough time to believably kick out but also get a surprisingly good reaction for the near fall from the crowd. Farooq slams Ahmed and gets the clean win. I've got nothing for contempt for this feud, but fair play – they got this about right.
Ken Shamrock vs Vader
Sweet lord was this stiff. This was a fantastic spectacle, incredibly memorable and one of the more violent "normal" matches you'll see in the WWE. Both guys agreed to lay it in a bit more than usual, and it showed for a match that the crowd seemed more watchful than vocally invested, I'm not sure they particularly know how to watch a match like this one, nore do they really know how to register the severity of the leg kicks Shamrock was laying in on Vader.
I wondered whether a criticism of this match was that it went a little too long, both guys seemed out on their arse by the end of it. The brutality didn't wane though, Vader missed a moonsault out of the corner before just pole-axing Shamrock with a right hand. Still Shamrock puts in an ankle lock and picks up the clean win. Super match, Vader looked good losing, Shamrock looked like a bad-ass winning. Big fan of this.
Steve Austin vs The Undertaker for the WWF Title
So they left five front row seats empty all night just so the Hart Foundation could sit in them. According to the story they'd bought tickets off of scalpers... which perhaps made sense, but didn't answer two questions: firstly, why did contracted WWF talent need to buy (presumably quite inflated) tickets for the show when they could've just sat at ringside anyway and two, if they needed the tickets to get in the front row then why did they walk out through Gorilla?
Anyway – you might get a drift of the bigger picture I'm looking at here, this match just didn't mean enough in the context of other stories. Once you sit five guys at ringside, you're signposting that you're going to a shitty finish. And given that both of these guys are so over I'm not sure the crowd even wanted to see the match. The action was fine, but it took a while to pick-up.
Undertaker hits a chokeslam, then Austin hits a stunner and for all the world it looks like he's won it – until the bell rings prematurely. Brian Pillman snuck around and sounded the bell before the three, obviously the match gets restarted, we get the Sid-tombstone spot – but this time after Austin counters Taker Taker counters him back. Taker wins cleanly before we get the battle that most people wanted to see – Austin and Undertaker fighting off the Hart Foundation. A good match but a bit of a vacuum.
Score Rating: 5/10
Go Back and Watch: Shamrock vs Vader is a must, everything else is coherent but very forgettable.