King of the Ring (1998)
|King of the Ring (1998)|
|Tagline(s)||Off With Their Heads|
|Promotion||World Wrestling Federation|
|Date||June 28, 1998|
|King of the Ring chronology|
King of the Ring (1998) was the sixth annual King of the Ring professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It was presented by Super Soaker and took place on June 28, 1998, at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Nine matches were scheduled on the event's card. The main event was a First Blood match featuring Kane defeating Steve Austin for the WWF Championship. The other main match was a Hell in a Cell match featuring The Undertaker defeating Mankind. Featured matches on the undercard included the KOTR tournament final between Ken Shamrock and The Rock, which Shamrock won to win the tournament and a Tag team match for the WWF Tag Team Championship (which was only added to the card earlier that morning) between the New Age Outlaws defeating The New Midnight Express, to retain the championship.
This event produced arguably the most well-known Hell in a Cell bout in history, pitting The Undertaker against Mankind; Michael Landsberg of TSN's Off the Record in 2002 called it "probably the most famous wrestling match of our time". Less than two minutes into the contest, The Undertaker threw Mankind from the top of the 16-foot (5 m) high cell through the Spanish announcers' table. The footage of that fall has since become one of the most used and viewed videos in professional wrestling history. A few minutes later in the match in another memorable moment, The Undertaker chokeslammed Mankind through the top of the cell.
King of the Ring bracket
|First round (TV)||Quarterfinals (TV)||Semifinals (PPV)||Final (PPV)|
Hell in a Cell match
Upon debuting with the WWF in 1996, Mankind immediately began feuding with The Undertaker, debuting the night after WrestleMania XII when Mankind interfered in The Undertaker's match with Justin Hawk Bradshaw. For the next few months, Mankind ambushed and cost The Undertaker several matches. The two faced each other in numerous matches, including at SummerSlam 1996, In Your House: Buried Alive, Survivor Series 1996 and 1997's In Your House: Revenge of the Taker. In the following year, The Undertaker would either hold the WWF Championship or be in contention for it while Foley would gradually bring out his "Three Faces of Foley": Mankind, Dude Love, and his old gimmick from World Championship Wrestling & Extreme Championship Wrestling, Cactus Jack.
On the June 1, 1998 edition of Raw is War, Foley would revert to his Mankind character, who began wearing an untucked shirt with a loose necktie and restarted the feud with The Undertaker. The two would then be booked for a match inside Hell in a Cell at the King of the Ring, only the third such match.
Before this match, Foley and Terry Funk were discussing the previous year's Hell in a Cell at Badd Blood: In Your House that featured the Undertaker backdropping and slamming Shawn Michaels onto the chain-link ceiling of the cage. Foley and Funk were brainstorming ideas about how to top that match when Funk said, "laughing, 'maybe you should let him throw you off the top of the cage.'" Fittingly for Foley, the King of the Ring was scheduled to take place that year at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. Foley himself trained to become a professional wrestler at Dominic DeNucci's wrestling school in nearby Freedom, Pennsylvania, only 25 miles (40 km) from Pittsburgh, bringing his career full circle.
In the match, the first bump Foley would take came as both wrestlers were brawling on top of the cell, and the Undertaker threw Mankind from the top of the cage from a height of 16 feet (4.9 m); (22 ft if including angle of the fall) and sent him crashing through the Spanish announcers' table, which triggered announcer Jim Ross to famously shout, "Good God almighty! Good God almighty! That killed him! As God as my witness, he is broken in half!". Foley remained motionless underneath debris, while the Undertaker remained on top of the cell staring down. Terry Funk was the first person on the scene, followed by WWE's resident doctor, Dr. François Petit, and various others, including a concerned-looking Vince McMahon. Foley was placed on a stretcher and began to be wheeled out to the arena.
Moments later, there was commotion on the entrance ramp as Foley got up from the stretcher and proceeded to make his way back to the cage, climbing to the top of the cell, with the Undertaker doing likewise (this time they both climbed the cage surprisingly quickly despite Foley having suffered a dislocated shoulder due to the fall, and the Undertaker wrestling with a broken foot that night) With both men back on the top of the cell the match resumed.
Earlier as both were walking on the chain-link mesh which comprised the cell's ceiling, the metal fasteners were popping off causing the roof to sag and partially give way under their combined weight. According to Terry Funk, the prop guy had purposely designed it that way, except it was never meant to give way completely. In the second huge bump of the night, the Undertaker chokeslammed Mankind atop the chain-link mesh cage, causing a panel to give way completely, resulting in Foley falling through and hitting the ring canvas hard below. In response, announcer Jim Ross shouted, "Good God, Good God! Will somebody stop the damn match? Enough's enough!", and color commentator Jerry Lawler exclaiming "That's it, he's dead."
The cage giving way completely was a surprise to both Foley and the Undertaker Foley was genuinely knocked unconscious for a few moments from the impact, but was able to come around. Terry Funk wrote in his autobiography, "Watching from the back, I thought he was dead. I ran out here and looked down at him, still lying in the ring where he'd landed. His eyes weren't rolled back in his head, but they looked totally glazed over, like a dead fish's eyes."
Some time after getting up and being attended to again by the aforementioned personnel, TV cameras showed a lingering shot of Foley smiling through his profusely bleeding mouth and lips, with a loose tooth hanging beneath his nose; the tooth having been knocked out due to being struck by the chair which had fallen through the cage and landed on his face, dislocating his jaw. The match continued for a while longer, ending with Foley being chokeslammed by the Undertaker onto thousands of thumbtacks, which Foley himself, had strewn onto the ring canvas. The Undertaker then hit his signature Tombstone Piledriver and pinned Foley to end the match as planned.
Both wrestlers received a standing ovation for the match, and the event is often said to have jump-started Foley's main event career (Foley has said that although this match grew in legend, the reality was that his career remained "somewhat sluggish" for sometime afterwards until Foley further developed the Mankind character, and fans began to catch on). Foley would go on to become a three-time WWF Champion after the match, and would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 6, 2013.
Many future matches attempted to replicate some of the spots from this match. In his autobiography Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, Foley wrote that he could not remember much of what happened, and he had to watch a tape of the match to write about it. The match was voted Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Match of the Year for 1998. Although many fans regard the match as a classic, it has generated controversy as well.
The next night on Raw, Austin defeated Kane to regain the WWF Championship and began a feud with both Kane and the Undertaker which lasted through September. At Fully Loaded: In Your House in July, Austin and Undertaker defeated Kane and Mankind for the WWF Tag Team Championship, but dropped the titles back to them in a fatal-four way match on the August 10 episode of Raw.
Kane and the Undertaker were gradually revealed to be in cahoots with each other over the WWF Championship. As part of the storyline Kane turned on Mankind at SummerSlam, losing the tag team titles to the New Age Outlaws, and he ordered his brother not to interfere in his title match with Austin in the main event. The feud culminated in a match at Breakdown: In Your House in September where Kane and Undertaker simultaneously pinned Austin. This led to a match between Kane and Undertaker at Judgment Day: In Your House in October where Austin, who was the special referee, attacked both men and refused to count a fall. After the match Undertaker turned on Kane and reunited with Paul Bearer, reigniting their feud.
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- 2007 Wrestling almanac & book of facts. "Wrestling’s historical cards" (p.95)
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- Foley, Have A Nice Day!, pp. 66–67, 78
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- Terry Funk: More Than Just Hardcore - Google Books
- During a 2002 sit-down interview on the program, Off the Record with Michael Landsberg, The Undertaker commented on the second notorious big bump/fall of the match stating: "That panel was not supposed to break loose. That panel gave way and the second one [fall] was far worse than the first one"
- Terry Funk; Scott E. Williams; Mick Foley (27 August 2006). Terry Funk: More Than Just Hardcore. Sports Publishing LLC. pp. 199–. ISBN 978-1-59670-159-5. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
- Foley, Have A Nice Day!, p. 657
- Foley, Have A Nice Day!, p. 666