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The argument that this match started yesterday got me interested in rewatching this. I'd loved it the last time I watched it, and going in this time I was kind of expecting to feel like the wrestling became overrated because of the great booking.

 

The stuff in the ring at the start doesn't really contribute much to the match, other than the McMahon slow-counting stuff, but other than that pretty much everything feels focused. The ringside area Attitude Era brawling is a lot more intense and less contrived than it is in later matches (even if it involves a bunch of pointless cars set up by the entranceway). Austin's clothesline over the barricade in particular is awesome. I'd kind of remembered a lot of the stuff with the cars as Foley taking bumps for the sake of taking bumps, but really Austin takes most of the abuse there, and when Foley does it's a hope spot or a transition to the next part of the match. I really liked the way that McMahon and company escalate their cheating - they start off with Vince leaning slightly towards Dude with his refereeing, follow that with changing the rules on the fly, and by the time they return to the ring Pat Patterson is actually getting physically involved. As a result, the match always feels like it's moving forwards and going somewhere.

 

Obviously Vince is terrific here, but it wasn't until this time that I appreciated how good Jim Ross is in this match. I always got his indignance (with my favorite bit of that being his mocking Patterson for his pronunciation of the word "North"). He really does do a good job of getting over even small stuff, like Austin taking Dude back to the ring - he says something like, "Austin doesn't want to win the match in the back seat of an old Mercury," and somehow it feels like, yeah, that wouldn't be definitive at all, Austin wants to win this the right way.

 

Undertaker's presence doesn't bother me. I think it kind of helps, actually, as without him there the match should be a mockery in which Austin barely gets any offense. There's some stuff that doesn't make sense to me, like why Austin's music still plays if McMahon hates him so much, but The Undertaker isn't an issue.

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16 years later, this match still puts a huge smile on my face. It was loved at the time, then there was a spell where it wasn't because a lot of the things that made it work were so overdone over the next few years. But with some distance, it once again looks just as great and fresh and unique as it did at the time. This is the perfect marriage of wrestling and booking. Yes, there are lots of booking twists and turns, but the match itself is pretty great too, with Austin taking some wild bumps in and around the cars. It surprised me that he actually bumped more than Foley in this match on top of a great blade job. They really structured the wrestling arcs exceptionally well, and Austin took a beating for so long that his comeback got over huge. I thought it was a great testament to how over he was that he teased a comeback when the vision of half the building was impaired and he still got a huge pop for doing it. All of the gaga is well-documented, with Vince ordering Patterson to change the rules on the fly, Vince eating the mother of all chairshots and Undertaker putting both Patterson and Brisco through tables. Everyone involved in this - Austin, Foley, Vince, Patterson, Brisco, Undertaker, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler - did their job exceptionally well. Great match, MOTYC for 1998 without a doubt.

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This is my MOTY up to this point and I have no problem with someone calling this a top 10 WWF match of the 90's. This is the culmination of all the storytelling they have done the past couple of months and everything felt like a glove. The match escalated up from a general title match into pure mayhem once it spilled outside and Patterson kept changing the stipulation. Of course the finish is memorable but everything is done so well from all the pops for Vince getting smashed with the chair, Patterson and Brisco getting chokeslammed into the tables and Austin making his own count with the crowd counting along and JR yelling "you damn right." This did result in some lazy main events for years to come, but as a stand alone match, this was booked perfectly to me. (****1/2)

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I had never really watched this match in context, and I couldn't agree more that it was the apotheosis of a great period for WWF. It reminds me of the famous Duggan-Dibiase stips match from Mid-South, where it's ridiculously overbooked on paper but in its time and place, paid off all the key storylines perfectly. They managed to make an indestructible Austin seem genuinely vulnerable, with the blood and the big bumps and the sand constantly shifting beneath his feet. Kudos to middle-aged Patterson and Brisco for taking bumps through tables. A few of Austin's comebacks started abruptly, but that's a quibble. This ranks with the Savage-Warrior retirement match among the great pieces of WWF theater from the decade.

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This is still such a blast. Everything fell into place with the booking, the brawling and the shenanigans. Like Childs says it's ridiculously screwy and OTT on paper, yet in context it was spot on. The deck was hugely stacked against Austin from the start, and that was before the mid-match rule changes. The brawl over the arena was really good. A general rule about historical wrestling is that if it was fresh at the time then it usually feels fresh watching it back now. No matter how many times you might have seen the same thing done since then when it feels stale.

 

They fought over car wrecks (obv) and Austin bleeds. There was also a beatdown phase as they did everything they could think of to make him look vulnerable. There were a few moments when it lost a little steam if I'm being ultracritical. The ending sequence was inspired and unforgettably culminated in McMahon's lifeless hand counting down the 3. Everyone involved played their roles well and the action was strong. Unfortunately you could argue it was too good as they kept trying in vain to replicate its success.

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"This man can only be compared to such legendary Canadians as Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, and the great Anne Murray."

 

"We've laughed with him! We've cried with him! But through it all he made our lives worth living. He's given us hope, love, understanding, and and the will to say YES I CAN." Ross: "You'd think he was introducing Frank Sinatra for gosh sakes!"

 

The full ring intros are some of the most brilliant creative writing the WWF has ever done--again, a bit of self-deprecation and winking to the audience that the company just isn't capable of anymore. Once again, there's an undercurrent of, "We know we got our asses kicked for 88 weeks, and it's because these idiots are running the show." Austin's not just fighting against the Man, he's fighting on behalf of WWF fans against a rival company, too.

 

Trying to compare this with something like the high-end RINGS or BattlArts matches as MOTY candidates go is difficult if not foolhardy. But this is definitely the match I've enjoyed the most in 1998 for the same reasons everybody else has. Austin "overcomes the odds" and it actually seems like he's done that, not overcome odds in a phony, contrived type of way the manner that Cena often did or was accused of doing. Austin's comebacks are incredible and this is a terrific crowd, into almost every spot they do--even the low-key stuff before the booking gaga really takes center stage. All of this was so fresh and new at the time, I don't know if a newer viewer would have quite the appreciation for this as we do. But even compared to the '99 stuff, the booking and changing match stips isn't overdone, and Austin's eventual comeback and win is carried out in as logical a manner as possible. One of the true heights of Vince Russo, Filtered.

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Just a glorious example of what Attitude Era WWF was all about. Red hot incredibly over characters, an ECW-esque arena brawl, sick bumps, blood, and the McMahons and the Stooges trying to wreck things and getting murdered for it. Everyone played their roles perfectly. Austin could do no wrong for this crowd, literally everything he did was over. Love made a good heel to bump for our hero. McMahon just far and away stole the show with his facial expressions and heel antics. And The Undertaker pulling off one of the most satisfying heel comeuppances in the history of wrestling just will not ever grow old. That finish is iconic and brilliant and this is just fantastic all around.

 

****1/2

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'Some call him the reincarnation of Jim Thorpe. We call him a friend.' is legit hilarious, not just grading on a wrestling curve.

 

The way the table shatters on Patterson's chokeslam is so good. The monitors weren't even removed!

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Average opening section. The whacky car brawling and bumps were the highlight and Austin selling his peril was really good, on the other hand the quick transitions kept taking me out of the match. For example, Austin would hit a stunner or just blast Foley with a chair shot, but after it was revealed that it wouldn't be the finish, Foley would pop up and reverse immediately. Also, add that fucking sunset flip on the concrete to the List of Stupid Things Foley Does.


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WWF World Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Dude Love - Over The Edge 1998

One of those matches that was great before the bell even rung. There are too many funny lines from Pat Patterson as he was introducing Gerry Brisco, Vince McMahon, Dude Love and even his non-introduction of Stone Cold. For me, it was the advertising of Brisco Bros Body Shop in Tampa to a live audience in Milwaukee and a national audience on PPV with Pat punctuating that it was worth the drive. It was just so absurd. 

Austin is on trial in McMahon's trumped up kangaroo court. He has to deal with McMahon as the referee, the rules changing mid-match, Patterson & Brisco at ringside and eventually McMahon doing what we all expected: refusing to count. All the while, Foley and Austin are having the Attitude Era Brawl for the ages. Once, the Dude applies his Mandible Claw this match is kicked into overdrive and never looks back. Stone Cold is so cool isnt he. He just has so much energy. You cant your eyes off of him when he is making a comeback. There is so much vim & vigor behind it. What's surprising is he even kept up with Foley in the crazy bump scorecard. Foley had that nutty bump off the guardrail and then the Cactus Elbow from the car to the concrete, but Austin was bumping all over those cars especially the one where Foley shoves him off the Stunner was crazy. I think demolition derby with their bodies and the cars still holds up. It is the best use of a set ever. It feels organic. So many of the "toys" in other matches feel planted. This was just the set and they started taking bumps on the set. I loved McMahon during this section every two count, he was either pissed or relieved depending on who was kicking out. I cracked up seeing Brisco behind the action with the ring bell ready to ring it at a moment's notice. I loved Austin's mini-comeback after blading. Like he was so enraged that he was bleeding that he was really going to whoop ass only to have Foley back drop him out of a piledriver. The Cactus Elbow eats nothing but pure concrete. It was great that headed home soon after this. Patterson trips up Austin and this gives Dude Love a couple nearfalls based off the exposed top turnbuckle and a steel chair. However when Austin kicks a chair into Dude Love's face, McMahon is worried. Austin hits a home run swing on the cranium of Mrs Foley's Baby Boy. But McMahon refuses to count and then Foley accidentally cracks McMahon in the skull with the chair. Then the fireworks really go off. STUNNER! Mike Chioda 1-2-Patterson pulls him out and decks him! The fix is in! MANDIBLE CLAW! Patterson in 1-2-Taker pulls him out and Taker sends PAT PATTERSON STRAIGHT TO HELL Chokeslam through the announce table. Brisco tries his hand, but bad idea, Gerry. Taker takes the reincarnated Jim Thrope & our friend, Gerry Brisco and SENDS HIM STRAIGHT TO HELL! STUNNER! Austin pulls McMahon over and takes his hand and makes him count the three! Best overbooked finish ever! Before I forget, I gotta give a shoutout to this crowd. They ruled. They loved Stone Cold so much and were behind 100% from the beginning to the end of the match. The Stunner was so over. This is such an overbooked masterpiece and really shows what pro wrestling can do better than pretty much any other form of entertainment in terms of absurd drama. ****1/2

 

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Patterson and Brisco as Vince's cronies don't get enough love! They were fantastic here, with Patterson riling up the crowd by taking his time with the pre-match announcements. Brisco is the timekeeper, Patterson is handling ring announcing (which includes changing the rules on the fly to benefit Dude Love) and McMahon is the guest referee. With the odds stacked against Austin, the Undertaker comes down to make sure that Vince doesn't screw Austin out of the title.

This was an overbooked main event with all the tropes you would associate with the Attitude Era. You've got Austin and McMahon feuding, an enraged Jim Ross on commentary and mediocre brawling held up by the constant interference and shenanigans. Perhaps I've spoiled myself by watching Slaughter/Sheik and Lawler/Dundee recently, but the brawling here is a step below those matches. The punching and selling, whilst perfectly acceptable,  aren't anything to write home about. The spots they did utilising  the entrance set was cool and the clothesline Foley takes when he takes when he's perched on the ringside barrier was sickening. Vince takes a bump and Austin wins by counting his own pin using an unconscious McMahon's hand. Don't let average brawling and a weak finish stop you from enjoying one of the better matches from the Attitude Era. 

★★★★

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Just reviewed this over at my blog (Kwang The Blog) earlier this month...

After a lengthy video promo and a calm-and-cool promo from tonight's guest referee, Vince McMahon, its time for tonight's Fall Counts Anywhere WWE Championship match pitting "Stone Cold" Steve Austin against the "Corporate" Dude Love. Before the match begins, Pat Patterson gets a lengthy introduction, then proceeds to give an even longer one for Gerald Brisco (our guest timekeeper), before welcoming Vince and then Dude Love to the ring. Austin eventually comes out, but then we get the surprise arrival of the Undertaker too - the Deadman serving as an extra enforcer to make sure Vince doesn't try to pull any more bullshit. When the bell finally sounds, Austin and Foley get to work and the crowd goes wild for every minute of it - loudly chanting "Vince Is Gay" and "Let's Go, Stone Cold, Let's Go" with incredible enthusiasm. I've written about it elsewhere but Austin and Foley have great timing and while neither could be considered the other man's best opponent, their matches have always come across as fun - or about as fun as a wild brawl can get. When the fight goes to the outside, Patterson announces that the match is now No DQ, but instead of giving Foley the advantage, it seems to inspire Austin to become completely unhinged, clotheslining Foley from the guardrail onto the floor in a ridiculous spot. Back in the ring, Austin tries to guillotine Dude Love across the middle rope, but Foley dodges and takes back control, eventually hitting Austin with a swinging neckbreaker on the floor. Patterson then makes the announcement that falls count anywhere, Foley getting 2 on the outside as the crowd boos. Foley celebrates a bit early, though, and gets nailed with another nasty clothesline. Austin tries to hit Foley again, but Dude Love back body drops onto one of the cars near the entrance. Foley tries to drive Austin into another one, but this time Austin hot shots him onto the car hood. Surprisingly, Vince actually makes the count for two Austin covers. They climb to the top of the car and Austin attempts a Stunner, but Foley shoves him off. Foley then delivers a sunset flip off a car onto the floor for 2. Dude Love continues his attack, grabbing a large metal pole and slamming it across Austin's back. Austin fights back, though, his face now a crimson mask. Again, though, Austin gets cut off by a Foley back body drop for another 2 count. Foley then hits him with a suplex on the floor. Foley climbs atop a car and attempts an elbow drop on the floor, but Austin rolls away. Austin makes the cover and Vince counts - but Foley manages to kick out. Back in the ring they go with Austin in control, but Patterson trips up the Rattlesnake and allows Foley to recover and deliver a clothesline of his own. Foley takes off the top turnbuckle and sends Austin right into it. Foley continues to beat on Austin, eventually even bashing him with a chair. I love Austin's brief moments of offense during this stretch - they are just expertly timed and the crowd goes insane for them. Austin destroys Foley with a chairshot to the head, but Vince refuses to make the count. Foley gets up and attempts to hit Austin with a chair but nails Vince instead! Austin hits him with a Stunner, but Chioda gets dragged out of the ring by Patterson at 2! The fight continues but the attention goes to the Undertaker on the outside, the Deadman taking out Patterson and Brisco with chokeslams through the announce table! Austin hits Foley with another Stunner and, this time, grabs Vince's arm and makes the count himself! Undertaker calls for the bell and this one is over. Austin and Taker have a staredown - a subtle but important ending note, a nod to their future program and a sign of mutual respect without either guy "endorsing" the other (which would've been out of character for both). This match is often cited as the blueprint for nearly every WWE main event that Austin would wrestle for the next 2 years and it makes sense that Vince would try to emulate it - its a violent-but-fun, story-driven roller coaster of a match that the crowd went absolutely bonkers for. Even if the rest of the card was only mildly entertaining, the main event delivered and the audience was still hooked and excited about what would happen next. A great, great match. (4/5)

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