The Rock (c) vs. Mankind
Because this is seemingly a glorified episode of Raw, we start with a promo battle between Vince McMahon and Mankind, with the latter saying he never said “I quit” at Survivor Series and thus he didn’t lose the match. The point of this? Well, short-term to set up a lame finish tonight, but it also leads to an “I Quit Match” at Royal Rumble too. Nothing like using one pay-per-view only as a way of building to the next one. Shouldn’t this kind of thing be kept to Raw? This comes from just prior to Rock getting tit surgery, and he is not yet wearing his silk shirt, though his breasts do look especially juicy tonight. One has to question why this is not the main event, given that the entire show is named after the Rock, though I guess they had already used the Buried Alive title for a PPV back in 1996, so couldn’t use that. The match these two had at Survivor Series suffered from both guys having wrestled multiple matches already and the crowd being burned out, but here they have no such problems. Still, the action is merely decent rather than anything special, consisting mostly of brawling and a few signature spots, but that is “WWF Main Event Style” for you. In their defence, they do go on to have some blinders over the next few months, but this is not one of them. Vince doesn’t care for the brawling, and tells the referee to DQ Mankind for any justifiable reason. Mankind tries to make the match memorable with some silly bumps, as ever, this time taking the Flair press slam off the top to the outside! He landed with a thud like a slab of meat on a cold concrete floor. They do an amusing bit with Rock doing a spot of commentary and spitting water in Mankind’s face, which gets him all riled up, and the ref reminds him about the DQ. A legdrop to Rock’s plums is enough for Vince, who demands the DQ, so Mankind hits the ref with a piledriver, and then beats up the timekeeper too when Vince threatens to re-enact Montreal again. Shane McMahon gets involved, but his interference goes awry and they exchange some exciting near falls before Mankind locks on the Mandible Claw, and Rock passes out to give Mankind the win and his first WWF Title. Only it isn’t, because Vince says Rock also didn’t say “I quit” and thus by Mankind’s logic he can’t lose the title, as they only change hands on pinfalls and submissions. Well, that’s just ridiculous. It’s almost an insult to the paying customer. Post match, Shane waffles Mankind with two hard chair shots across the back, which are no-sold before Shane gets pasted. The ironic thing is that Rock used a chair earlier and was much gentler (give it a month) and Mankind sold them, but he ignored Shane’s legitimately harder shots. The Stooges come down and get a beating from Mankind too, before Bossman and Shamrock turn up to take Mankind out. Why does there always have to be shenanigans?
Final Rating: **¼