Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The WWF Hardcore Diaries Parts 1 & 2 By Tony Quant

 Part 1

The WWF Hardcore Title was introduced to the WWF Universe on November 2nd 1998 and changed hands a total of 240 times before it was unified with the WWE Intercontinental Title on August 22nd, 2002. 

Of those 240 Title changes, Raven was the man who captured the belt more than anyone else, winning the belt a total of 27 times. Whilst Raven may have won the belt on more occasions than anyone else, it was Steve Blackman who was the longest holder of the belt with a total reign of 172 days.

This series will focus purely on the Title matches of the WWF/WWE Hardcore Championship and will start back on November 2nd. On a weekly basis we will review the following Title change and give you a complete overview of the Championship match. We hope that you will enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed reviewing the WWE Vault (OK we don’t have a vault we just have the network like you guys)!

So without further ado here is the first entry in the Hardcore Diaries which start with Vince McMahon presenting Mankind with the belt.

November 2nd, 1998 - Raw Is War Houston, Texas

We move over to a backstage segment which includes Vince McMahon, The Big Boss Man and Mankind. Vince is in a wheelchair and is sitting opposite Mankind. Vince pleads with Mankind not to interfere in the next match which is between Ken Shamrock and The Rock. Vince tells Mankind he has a present for Mankind but will only give it to him if he promises not to get involved.

Mankind duly agrees to Vince’s request and Vince presents Mankind with the new WWF Hardcore Championship Belt. Mankind tells Vince that he “loves it” and Vince says to Mankind “in some respects I feel like I have lost a son tonight. But maybe I have gained another.” As Vince starts to wheel himself out of the room, Mankind replies “Jeez, thanks Dad.” Vince leaves the room with a bewildered look on his face.

Conclusion - No action to report but it is definitely fitting that the first ever WWF Hardcore Champion is Mankind. His history in hardcore matches speaks for itself and I can see the WWF thinking that his willingness to take bumps in these kind of matches will bring something extra to Raw and create a niche. Its definitely interesting to see them going the “Hardcore” route but having just overtaken Nitro in the head to head ratings the needed to keep momentum and viewership on their side.

Part 2 

November 2nd, 1998 - Raw Is War Baltimore, Maryland

The Hardcore Championship is on the line under Ladder match rules between the Champion Mankind and The Big Boss Man. 

The challenger the Big Boss Man comes to the ring accompanied by the WWF Commissioner Shawn Michaels. Mankind comes out with the J.O.B squad who are quickly sent backstage which seems bizarre? Bossman attacks with a night stick on the outside of the ring and Shawn joins Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler on commentary. 

Mankind slams the Boss Man head first into the steel steps then fetches a ladder and throws it directly in Boss Man’s face. Shawn on commentary slams Mankind saying he has “been there and done that. He can’t wrestle for 45 minutes like me.” Mankind continues to beat Boss Man with the ladder outside the ring. Mankind finally gets into the ring and sandwiches Boss Man in the ladder and drops an elbow on him. 

In one of his only offensive moves since the start of the match Boss Man tries a sloppy Irish whip but ends up getting double DDT’d for his efforts. Shawn tells Mankind to “drag that fat butt up that ladder” this is vintage Shawn on the commentary.  Boss Man pulls Mankind off the ladder and sets it up in the corner, follows it up by tossing Mankind into it. 

Both men finally made their way to the top of ladder and Bossman gets his finger tips on the Title. Mankind hits him a few times and gives him a mandible claw on the ladder. Bossman falls down but is able to get back up to stop Mankind getting the gold. Out of nowhere The Rock appears and pushes Mankind off the ladder onto the ropes. The crowd go absolutely wild for The Rock’s interference which really is the highlight of the match so far.

Mankind is able to get back up and after kicking The Rock in the nuts repeats the same on the Boss Man. After getting back up the ladder The Rock pulls Mankind down and gives him a Rock Bottom. Boss Man lays some boots on Mankind before climbing the ladder and grabbing the belt to become the new WWF Hardcore Champion.

After the match Boss Man hits Mankind with the night stick and Michaels and The Rock lay some boots on him. The Corporation stand supreme.
Conclusion - Definitely not one of the finest Hardcore matches of all time, largely in part due to Boss Man’s work which was lacklustre to say the best. Mankind is more than at home in these hardcore matches and was carrying the match throughout. The Corporation angle got over big and the crowd where hot when The Rock got involved. Michaels was brilliant on commentary playing off of the King’s set-ups.

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