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[1998-02-15-WWF-No Way Out] Steve Austin & Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie & Owen Hart vs New Age Outlaws & Hunter Hearst Helmsley & Savio Vega

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One of the more forgettable PPv's in the attitude era. They still are having a mystery man as JR and King set the table for the match. The video package still presents HBk as the head of the group but they have said that Shawn wont be in the match. This is a great video package. I don't understand why Savio just wasn't announced as the replacement for people that have already bought the PPV. Allowing the viewers mind to run wild about the mystery man just sets yourself up for disappointment even though Savio is a logical replacement from a storyline perspective. Ill say this in every thread but they really missed the boat on Owen as he is the #2 guy here behind Austin. Austin gets a hero reaction and this match features a lot of plunder shots and pairing off in the early going. Good garbage type stuff with stiff shots. Austin vs. HHH get linked together for a while and the heel side really could have utilized an anchor on their side. More big spots than can by mentioned but I enjoyed Gunn going through the table in the ring and Funk getting powerbombed onto two chairs. Match settles in a traditional tag formula with Funk being worked over. This match was a lot better as an out of control brawl as the heel squad struggles to keep things interesting with Funk. In fact, Cactus does the best stuff constantly interjecting himself to help his partner. Cactus gets tagged in and hits a flurry of offense but is taken over quickly as well. Violence at least is intensified with a ddt on the floor and steps being placed in his face. Crowd is just clamoring for Austin to get tagged in. Savio brings barbed wire into the ring as Funk tries to prevent it. The crowd groans when the barbed wire is around Cactus' face. Austin gets the hot tag and kills all the heels as Ross loses his shit on commentary. Stunner is given to Road Dogg and he takes the fall. Afterwards, stunner is given to Billy and HHH gets creamed into the table. Chyna vs. Austin is quite the showdown and Chyna gets a stunner to a big pop. Again, HHH is pretty protected not to take the fall. Fun scattered beginning, some dragging parts in the middle, and a satisfactory finish for Austin make this a good match overall on the road to Mania. (***1/4)

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The structure of this makes no sense at all. The first 7m of the bout is wild tornado brawling with no rules and lots of weapons. Then all of the sudden the eight wrestlers turn into law abiding citizens and it's a conventional tag format. The other way around would've been logical with tempers getting out of hand. This was strange. The fans just wanted to see Stone Cold kick some ass, which they delivered easily enough.

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I thought this was pretty fun and agreed with shoe's rating. The pop for Austin's hot tag was incredible - you could see the crowd rising to their feet in anticipation for it, and then just losing their minds when it happened.

 

This didn't really move the story lines forward at all, but what was there to move forward? There's not much more to this than Austin wanting a piece of Michaels.

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You can hear the air come out of the building when Savio Vega is announced as the replacement for Shawn Michaels. The WWF still has their old logo in spots, but I think this was the last time we'd see that. I thought this was a fun match, and Austin is massively over. I think I've read before that this was the first time the Big Two had done good business in Texas in years, but I'm not 100% sure about that. I agree that it was strange how the match started off with tons of brawling then settled into a pretty routine match with Funk trying to make the hot tag. Why do the rules suddenly matter? HHH's entire star power at this point was predicated on being friends with Shawn, so when you see him without Shawn, he looks pretty ordinary. They did some interesting weapons stuff with the barbed wire and chairs when Cactus tagged in. I wish the match had gone a little longer after Austin tagged in, as they could have done a hot nearfall or two before going home. They tried and this was good but I would also call it a disappointing PPV main event. Chyna eating the stunner was a huge moment.

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Were there any good options for the mystery partner? The main one I can think of who wouldn't have been a letdown was Chyna, but I imagine they wanted to give her in-ring debut some buildup.

 

If I remember correctly, Owen never actually tags into the match, which I found weird (but I last watched this years ago).

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The opening stuff before they settled into tag rules was a lot of fun. Austin comes out to a huge pop and they keep the heat up with a nice babyface assault featuring Austin kicking all kinds of ass. Gunn selling for Austin is really good, even later on when Austin throws a trashcan at him across the ring and Gunn takes a big pump off it. The match was already sort of losing steam by the time they settled into the tag rules and after that it just started wearing out its welcome.

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A pretty decent to good match but it feels like it be a really kickass TV main event masquerading as a PPV headliner. The structure is a little goofy and it ends too suddenly, and there are numerous cringeworthy-in-retrospect head shots here, but it ultimately accomplished its rather modest goals of teasing us of the big WM matches and giving the fans a satisfying payoff. Chyna getting attacked for the first time was a bigger moment than anything in the actual match--normally male babyface on heel woman violence isn't something that should be cheered, but they'd spent a full year establishing Chyna as being as tough as any male wrestler, so I'm okay with this.

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I was pleasantly surprised by this match. Not a MOTY or anything, but a really fun brawl with Austin coming out of it like THE MAN. The stunner was icing on the cake. Really heated crowd that reminded me of the 2000 Raw 10 man tag. Both from Texas. Really enjoyed this. Forgot to mention that despite Savio being the worst mystery partner in history this side of Road Warrior Animal dressed in the Masked Magicians costume, the crowd was hot.

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Often remembered as the "and the mystery partner...Savio Vega" to the sound of general apathy match, this is fun and chaotic, if somewhat lacking in substance. The funny thing is, looking at the roster, Savio Vega is the highly logical choice, given the Boricuas have been somewhat loosely aligned with DX over the past couple of months, interfering at the Rumble, and been facing off with Owen Hart in the weeks preceding this... but it still comes off as a massive damp squib, given that at this point in wrestling history a 'mystery partner' had people presuming someone was jumping from the other company.

 

Onto the match, and it starts with terrific energy, with Austin just hitting everything that moves, and the crowd is molten hot for everything he does. At this stage, the cliched hardcore brawl had not been over done in the WWF and so the stack of weapons and plunder was still very novel and entertaining. Some don't like that it starts off as an out of control brawl and then settles down into a tag match, but I don't mind that, as after the initial skirmishes, you've got the official exerting control - although it would perhaps have worked better if a whole load of ref's had come out to help do that, or even some sort of special enforcer that people would buy as being able to wrestle control.

 

The problem with that part of the match is that none of the heel side has particularly exciting offence to work on top, meaning that part does drag a little, but there is one brilliant spot where Billy Gunn enters the ring and Austin just launches a dustbin at his face. The closing stretch picks things up again nicely though and Austin mows his way through everyone on route to the win that sets him up nicely for Mania. In a way, it's good that Shawn wasn't there, meaning that they don't touch before the big match, but not sure the people who paid for it back in 98 under the impression HBK would be there might have agreed.

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A fun Attitude Era brawl with a hot crowd and plenty of things for me to nitpick. From Savio Vega's infamously flat reveal as DX's mystery partner, Steve Austin's limited involvement, and the illogical uses of tags in this supposed 'unsanctioned' match, but there's still fun to be had with this one. Terry Funk bumping around for the heels and Billy Gunn getting a trashcan lobbed at him were two particular highlights. 

★★★¼

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