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1998 - Good matches rarely talked about

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If I had to pick one from the year, it's Juvi/Kidman from the 11/16/98 Nitro, which was a real **** match. I love how the crowd couldn't possibly care any less about the match early on, and they're on the edge of their seats by the end. Juvi regained the cruserweight title, carried the match and sold souvenirs in the stands, while Kidman hit his spots and sold his peril well enough. They had a lot of good matches in '98, but this was the best of them all, not counting the Starrcade three-way with Rey Misterio.

 

Another standout is DDP/Sting from Nitro in March. I think they topped themselves on Nitro in April of '99, but Sting still had his best match in years here. They should have explored the Sting/DDP feud more than they did, because those two never had a bad match, even if they only had two matches. Page/Benoit never worked as well because Benoit wasn't allowed to do everything in his arsenal without making Page look second rate, but DDP and Sting were comparable in skill, and as a result had better chemistry.

 

There's also the super fun Jericho/Eddy tags, even if most of the matches were fairly short. Jericho/Eddy v Benoit/Malenko from Thunder in 01/98 is the best five-minute match of all time, and I believe they had a rematch on Nitro that went a little longer. They also went 30 minutes on the Brian Hildebrand tribute show later that year, but I still haven't seen that match because it's so hard to find, and it's the match I want to see more than anything else I haven't seen honestly. I hope Jericho goes to Smackdown and teams up Eddy after Eddy turns heel, just because they could be the best tag team in ages.

 

Just so it's known, Kawada/Kobashi from 06/12 is my MOTY, but I still haven't seen Tamura/Kohsaka from RINGS on 06/27.

 

Matt and Jeff Hardy had a really great singles match against each other in OMEGA on 07/31/98. Matt was doing his Surge gimmick and Jeff was under a mask as Willow The Whisp. Match went about 35 minutes and was 2/3 falls, and saw some great selling from both. Believe it or not, it was a Hardy Boyz match where the selling was better than the offense! Worth seeing for Jeff's entrance alone. There's also a nice Hardyz/Thrillaz match from 12/98 that is in some ways better than the rematch in January of '99. I believe both matches are on the Hidden Menace Rising OMEGA tape, if it can be found anywhere at this point. (I have a master! Go me!)

 

There's tons of stuff I am not mentioning, because WCW had such a great, consistent undercard at this point in time. The WWF's TV stuff was mostly lackluster, although there were a few nice matches, with Foley/Funk from May standing out the most.

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Austin/Shamrock from the Raw on 9/14. The ending sucks, as it's just a bunch of run-ins from Mankind, Rock, Undertaker, and Kane, but I remember really liking the match up until that point. I haven't watched it in a while, though, so maybe I'll do that in the next few days and see what I think now.

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Austin vs Undertaker from Summerslam is very, very underrated. I don't know, it's as if people expect it to not be good so they dismiss it without thought. I've read some embarrassingly bad reviews of it. Anyway it has a damn fine story based around Undertaker, who has an answer for everything Austin throws at him, being Austin's toughest opponent yet. A remarkably smart match that I'd rate over any other WWF match from 1998.

 

Austin/Undertaker vs New Age Outlaws from 7/27 Raw is short and simple but it's incredibly fun.

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Lest we forget Taka Michinoku & Bradshaw versus Kaientai from Over the Edge. A fun match with comedy spots that didn't make anyone look bad.

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Lest we forget Taka Michinoku & Bradshaw versus Kaientai from Over the Edge.  A fun match with comedy spots that didn't make anyone look bad.

Over The Edge '98 is far from the best wrestling show ever; in fact, it's the most fun show filled with bad wrestling ever with a wickedly awesome main event whose style has been ripped off too many times for it to still have its initial impact. Rock/Faarooq is a horrible match, but I absolutely love the booking, because it's straight outta Memphis in 1983 -- Rock sells injuries that everyone knows are bogus, then sneaks out a win with his feet on the ropes. His heel character, in the first half of '98, ranks with any of his best work, but it's often forgotten. I also enjoyed a feeble Bruiser and Crusher getting in the ring and punching Jerry Lawler, just because watching the WWF version of Lawler get humiliated is always fun because he's such an ass. Crowd heat throughout is strong, and I love the car setup. I think, maybe more than any PPV that year, this was a sign that the WWF powers-that-be truly *believed* in the product they were presenting, and they were having a blast putting it all together. I think that faith in direction and desire to have fun is almost completely gone from the company now. I mean, really, think about all the five-second poses, and smell-la-la-la's, and shut the hell ups and Too Cool dancing taking place just a few years ago, and look at the almost total lack of audience participation now. I actually think that's an often overlooked reason for the decline of the company since 2000.

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There's also the super fun Jericho/Eddy tags, even if most of the matches were fairly short. Jericho/Eddy v Benoit/Malenko from Thunder in 01/98 is the best five-minute match of all time, and I believe they had a rematch on Nitro that went a little longer. They also went 30 minutes on the Brian Hildebrand tribute show later that year, but I still haven't seen that match because it's so hard to find, and it's the match I want to see more than anything else I haven't seen honestly.

 

It's a very good match but I can't quite call it great. I think more of a New Japan style would've helped them out.

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The Austin/Shamrock match still seems pretty good. It takes a while to get going, and there a lot of headlocks and chinlocks in the first half of the match, but after that it's all good stuff until the finish.

 

The same Raw show has a decent HHH/Owen Hart match for the IC title, too, even if it's just a means to move along the Mark Henry/Chyna angle.

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It is more praised than a lot of stuff on this list, but Juvi/Rey/Kidman from Starrcade is probably my favorite three way ever (with the ROH debut show in second). It is the way a three, four, five, or six person match should go with clear heels and faces, faces helping each other with double teams early on, etc. It was also my first Starrcade ever so that holds a special spot as well.

 

Tim

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