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  1. #1
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    May 2018

    The Lords of Pain World Heavyweight Championship - 1997-1998

    Welcome back to the meetings of the Lords of Pain World Heavyweight Championship committee. We left you last time with The Undertaker defeating Sycho Sid at Wrestlemania 13 to win the title for the first time. Undertaker would hold the title though until the summer, defending against Mankind, Steve Austin and Faarooq, with his win at the King of the Ring over the latter leading to the break-up of the Nation of Domination. But Undertaker would lose the title at Summerslam when Shawn Michaels, the guest referee, would hit the champion with a chair by mistake, gifting the belt to his hated rival Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart. That puts us on a path to a match between Hart and Michaels which requires the intervention of our committee: not just myself, Prime Time, but Mazza, Mizfan, Steve, and Uncle Joe.

    Our problem, gentlemen, is that it’s a matter of public record that Bret Hart didn’t give up at Survivor Series. And the WWF acknowledge as much on screen pretty soon after, which means that the fact that Shawn didn’t really beat Bret is implicitly woven into their narrative. The way I see it, there are two possible choices here: we can either hold up the title and take it away from this mess, or we can allow Bret to do what Flair did in 1991, and take the LOP title to WCW. Of course, if my concerns aren’t shared by the board, then we’ll recognise Michaels as the champion following Survivor Series, and carry on with the WWF line. I’ll now open this to the floor.

    Ah Montreal. I'd forgotten about that shitstorm that was on horizon.

    The Montreal Screwjob is an unprecedented mess in our title picture. Considering the shenanigans going on both onscreen and off, I don't see any possibility that we allow Shawn to take the title that way.

    Look first things first, if we were booking we'd not take any of Bret's primadonna bullshit. He would do as he is told so we'd never have got to this situation. Even if he dug in, we'd have got Joe to send his uncles to pay Bret a visit. When Los Boricuas show up in their sailor uniforms, you know it's on. Do we actually have that power? Cos that would be awesome. But if we don't this is how I see it. Hitman's refusal to do business means he can't hold that title and should be banned from ever fighting for the LoP Championship again. And double ban for his holier than thou demeanour too.

    For me it’s a fairly straightforward equation and Bret is still the world champion, so even though I don’t think it’s going to carry the day, that’ll be how I vote.

    Looks like the strap is headed to WCW. I see no justification in recognizing the title switch in Montreal, even if I feel it completely justified in really real life. There's honestly not a whole lot else to say about the subject that hasn't been said, said and said again. Though Bret did screw Bret. Just for the record. And for 'Plan.

    I stand by what Mick Foley says – even Vince doesn’t really believe that.

    I vote to hold it up with the intent of giving HBK as few title reigns as possible. Fuck that guy.

    Does Shawn win it though? Not for me. Too screwy. Bret didn't quit so therefore even if we counted the victory on the night, I'd be held up the next day. So if we can't have hairy back Miguel Perez as LoP Champion due to a 24/7 Hardcore title rule following a late night visit to Bret's hotel room, then strike up another title reign for Mr Vacant. And no, I don't mean Brock Lesnar.

    The question of whether Bret was actually beaten is a more convoluted one. Considering I would not call Shawn's win legitimate, you could make the case that Bret should take the title. Yet he was declared the loser, however you look at it. I could see this either way but I think the right thing to do is to simply take the title out of the conversation, let's vacate the thing immediately and place it somewhere that won't be affected by this nonsense.

    Vacate 3 Bret retains 2

    So it is a close run thing but the decision is taken to intervene and end Bret’s fifth title run rather than see him carry the belt to WCW as champion. Perhaps Hart will take some consolation from the fact that we have chosen to recognise neither of his high-profile defeats to Shawn Michaels, seeing them as a draw and a no-contest instead. Anyway, those who have been following these columns so far will know that means we need to find a match to pick a new champion. There are only three valid bouts in an acceptable timeframe in this instance, so the choices are Shawn Michaels vs Brooklyn Brawler, on November 15th, The Giant vs Hollywood Hogan, on the November 24th Monday Nitro, or Bam Bam Bigelow vs Shane Douglas from ECW Ultimate Jeopardy on the 15th.

    I’m almost tempted to vote HBK vs BK brawler because I mean, I used to make important life decisions by picking paper out of a sneaker. Fuck that big show vs Hogan match. So I guess that makes my pick of sting vs DDP obvious.

    Uh…. Joe? That’s not one of the matches.

    What? Goddamnit fine Pete. Gimme Bam Bam vs Shane Douglas.

    Well, Shawn got us into this mess , and a match with the Brawler isn't going to get him over the hump, so we're left with two options. Hogan is fast reaching the end of his usefulness but he's still by FAR the biggest name on the list, and the Giant in '97 is a lot more compelling than the Giant in '95. Bigelow and Douglas are no slouches, but I think I have to give my vote to WCW here, even knowing there's a good chance it won't stay there long.

    I'm sorry, just no way we can be having Brooklyn Brawler wrestling for the vacant world title. We gotta to head over to WCW and pop it on the winner of Hogan and The Giant.

    I mean, we've got to go with Giant vs Hogan, right? I love me some HBK and all, but the Brawler isn't exactly top flight competition. And as much as I would absolutely love to go with Douglas vs Bigelow, especially during Shane's pretty stellar run during that period and with the great story that accompanied the match, ECW just isn't on the same level of WCW and WWF. While that maybe shouldn't matter, prestige does carry some weight when it comes to deciding where the LOP Championship is headed. At least for me.

    Yeah, I think I have to concur with the majority here – though I don’t think Shane Douglas and Bam Bam are quite as far off the pace as the others, I’d have to give the nod to the WCW title match.

    Giant vs Hogan wins 4-1 over Douglas vs Bigelow

    It’s an interesting quirk that Giant beats Hogan by DQ here, so while Hogan saves his WCW title the Vacant LoP title goes to The Giant on that decision. But Giant only wrestles one match in the next 50 days, on TV or otherwise, so the question is, is that match against enough of a challenger for him to keep the title? It’s against Meng (Haku), on the first episode of Thunder, on the 8th of January 1998.

    So we go from shit sandwich to diarrhoea smoothie. Thanks guys, so much *swings knife

    Is the match against enough of a challenger? Really? I tell you what, I vote against it if you go up to Meng and ask him if he is enough of a challenger?

    I hate these guys I swear I do *angrily shakes fist

    I will always, ALWAYS vote in favor of Meng as a world championship level contender!

    Meng sounds like a solid contender to me. Hell, he should've been a contender for the WCW strap. I have no issues whatsoever making him a contender for the LOP Championship.

    Man fuck The Giant fuck Meng. Fuck you guys fuck Bill Gates. If I follow what you’re saying and we get an opportunity to uphold the title again i say fuck it baby let’s do this shit.

    Just to answer Maz, no I’m not going to fucking ask Meng that. We’ll carry on.

    The Meng match is recognised 4-1.

    So The Giant progresses through that tricky patch and has a more full TV schedule through the next 50 days. If you open your packet you’ll find his list of potential defences…

    Nitro: vs Hollywood Hogan, 19/1
    Thunder: vs Scott Hall, 22/1
    Worldwide: vs Vincent, 24/1
    Souled Out: Kevin Nash, 24/1

    I think there’s a decent chance he’ll come through this OK, but what do you gentlemen make of this run?

    I am back to normal now and in full "everything counts" mode. Even Virgil. Really? Yeah really.

    Shoot me in the cock man. Give me Scott Hall vs Big Show then.

    I'll gladly take Hogan and Hall from that pack. I guess I could vote for Nash as well but you know what? That match is so putrid that I'm not gonna do it. Just Hogan and Hall for me!

    As per usual, I vote in favor of recognizing all of the matches as title defenses, especially since we basically just recognized a "jobber" match (man, that hurts to say about Meng) as a defense to keep the belt on The Giant. Vincent isn't exactly top flight competition but those other three most certainly are. So yeah, I say we roll with all four as defenses.

    The Hall and Hogan matches are already through, and I’ll throw a vote in for the Nash match too – that actually strikes me as the most obvious defence of the four, and not just because it’s on PPV.

    Hogan, Hall and Nash bouts all recognised as valid defences

    With that last minute intervention by me, and it might be one I come to regret, Kevin Nash wins the LoP World Heavyweight title for the first time at Souled Out. It’s a dirty win, with a combination of hot coffee to the face and a low blow, but no more dirty than the transition from ‘Taker to Bret that we already recognised.

    Shoot me in the cock again.

    First, let me just say that the fact that somehow we ended up giving Nash the world championship in WCW even earlier makes me think we are actually not a very good booking committee at all...

    I know, I know, it’s going to be one that divides opinion. A lot of people were pleased we were able to cut his 1995 WWF title reign from our timeline, and now we’ve gone and undone that by recognising Nash in 1998. But it is what it is – this is where the line has led us. Anyway, in the next 50 days you can choose from a bout with Ray Traylor, Raven, or a rematch with The Giant from Uncensored.

    Putting that aside, I'll take all three of those opponents as valid challengers for the world title. None are at their peak quite but all are notable names and will serve us just fine here, despite my overwhelming urge to try to vacate the title by any means necessary!

    All of the above.

    Give me the raven, never more.

    Well, The Giant at Uncensored is an obvious title defense, isn't it? I'd vote in favor of acknowledging both the Traylor and Raven matches, too. As per usual, I like a fighting Champion.

    I’d probably give the nod just to Raven and Giant, and they are both already through, so this one is in the book.

    Defences against Raven and The Giant are recognised.

    Nash continues his reign into the period after the Uncensored PPV. The singles bouts that we might choose to recognise will come from two on Nitro against Sting, one on Nitro against Luger, and one each on Thunder and Saturday Night against Rick Steiner, as he got drawn into the brothers’ feud along with the rest of the NWO.

    I suppose of that lot, the only ones that could be any issue would potentially be Rick Steiner. They're not an issue with me, though. I say they're all defenses.

    Rick Steiner in '98 is getting pretty beyond the pale, I can't sanction that in good conscience.

    They all look fun to me!

    Sting, easily. Actually, Gimme both Sting’s.

    I suppose we have to accept Sting and Luger as valid challengers of the era, though I'm again tempted to discount their worth solely to end this hellish reign of Nash. Lose a match already!!

    And again I find I can concur with the majority and say I’d recognise both the Sting bouts and the Luger one, so this isn’t a controversial case at all.

    Decision is to recognise the two Sting and Luger matches on Nitro

    The issue with the next period is that Nash largely reverts to being a tag wrestler during this time, and only wrestles singles matches on house shows. There are three matches with The Giant, and two with Diamond Dallas Page, that can potentially save his belt. We had decided to prioritise televised matches first and foremost, but they can save him if we decide they are worthy enough. So gentlemen, what is it to be?

    I guess you guys know my vote by now. Even if I weren't into the "every match is a defense" thing, though, that's some pretty high quality opposition. Giant is the most recent former LOP Champion and DDP is, well, DDP. That sounds like a pretty solid run of title bouts to me.

    Hold it up, fuck all that noise.

    Ewwww house shows. Hold it up.

    I really do sympathise with the idea of holding the belt up in this case, but they do look like decent bouts. And I’m not in favour of vacating on a whim. I’m willing to give him a chance to get through this time around.

    I would really. Really. Like to vote no to all of this, because we're in the darkest timeline right now. But I want to be fair and consistent, and both Giant and DDP are worthy challengers, so I'll accept them both. Very begrudgingly.

    Decision taken to recognise all the matches as title defences

    Things get even tighter for Nash in the following 50 days – can he possibly survive, when he only has one singles match in the right timeframe? The only thing that might save him is that his match is against the 7 foot former champion, The Giant.

    Nope. Hold it up.

    Good lord, he keeps just barely surviving!! For the sake of consistency I'll again vote yes, but I'm getting awfully close to snapping and going into business for myself here.

    I think he’s probably pushed his luck too far here. I say no.

    I say si to Giant once again being a valid contender.

    Kill me should be an option. But alas I say yes fuck it, why not?

    Decision is 3-2 in favour of recognising The Giant match

    With Joe switching sides there, the belt stays on Nash for another 50 day window. In that he does return to having at least one singles match on TV, against Curt Hennig. He also takes on The Giant on another house show, this time in Green Bay. He also takes part in a Battle Royal that we could potentially recognise as a LoP title match, following our vote to recognise the 1992 Royal Rumble. So what do people think?

    Again I blame all of you deviants.

    You know what? I say Nash is a fighting champion. He's come this far defending his title against all comers, so I'll say yes to all three, including the battle royal. Let's see him get through THAT unscathed! I'm realizing I may have become the corrupt GM out to screw the champion at this point, but since the champion is Nash I feel very justified in my corruption.

    I'm absolutely good with both Hennig and Giant being worthwhile contenders. But I don't think I'd count the Battle Royal as a title bout, though. That seems a bit arbitrary for some reason.

    Shit gimme the Battle Royale.

    Hennig only , please.

    Yeah, my instinct is that I don’t think we can recognise the Battle Royal in good conscience. So while I think there could be an upside in taking that match and going somewhere else after this poor summer, I think it’s got to just be the other two.

    Decision is to recognise the Hennig and Giant matches.

    It's another knife-edge vote, and Nash survives once again. For the next 50 days I’m going to bundle the matches together so we can see the whole picture at once. On TV, we can choose between a bout with Stevie Ray on Thunder, or Brian Adams on Nitro. And if those don’t do the trick, there’s also a house show match from Erie with his old tag partner, Scott Hall.

    Ewwwww. But I vote Yes to the TVs.

    Give me the one where he loses.

    I’m going to interpret that as a no. Mizfan?

    You know what? Stevie Ray and Brian Adams are garbage opponents and I'm not giving either one of them a shot. Scott Hall at one time would be a first rate challenger, but by this point in the timeline he's badly degenerated and I don't think he's worthy of it either. I've had all I can stand, I vote no valid defenses in this period.

    Wow. Even with my whole "every match should be a defense" thing, those first two are kinda brutal. Not to besmirch the good names of Stevie Ray or Crush, mind you. But... yeah. That's rough. Scott Hall is easily a worthy contender, though, so I vote we keep on riding on diesel power with Big Sexy holding the strap through the end of the year.

    No to the house show, even if it's by far the more interesting match. We are at the peak of wrestling on TV and PPV. No excuse for it not being televised.

    D’you know what? I’m looking at Scott Hall’s record here. In his last five, he’s lost four and drawn one. He’s got a losing record for the year, and if you want to find the last time that he won back to back matches you have to go back to January. And it’s instructive to look at his opponents when he managed that. Jim Neidhart and the Disco Inferno – with all due respect to both men, Neidhart was a 43-year old who’d mostly been working as a tag wrestler and hadn’t held a major singles title since 1984, while Disco Inferno has spent most of the intervening period working in a lower weight class. So by my reckoning, at this point Scott Hall is living on past glory, and does not deserve the opportunity to be world champion at this point in 1998. I say there is no valid defence.

    Vote is 3-1-1 to vacate the title

    Ding dong, the Nash title run is dead! That's more than enough of that, I think.

    So we’re forced to hold up the title for the second time in a twelve month period. Despite dominating the WWF title picture for most of the year to this point, Stone Cold Steve Austin is not featured in the valid WWF title match, so the options we’re given look a bit strange. There is a full slate of matches to choose from though, with each title defended in time. Here are your choices:

    ECW: Shane Douglas vs Lance Storm, Event in Birmingham, AL, 17.10.98
    WWF: Kane vs Undertaker, IYH25: Judgement Day, 18.10.98
    WCW: Goldberg vs Meng, Saturday Night Dark Match, 20.10.98
    NWA: Dan Severn vs Steven Regal, Event in Cherry Hill, 24.10.98
    IWGP: Shinya Hashimoto vs Scott Norton, NJPW NWO Typhoon 30.10.98
    Triple Crown: Kenta Kobashi vs Mitushara Misawa, 31.10.98

    Oooh this is a whole lot of choice.

    Now, as much as I enjoy some of the people involved in the ECW, NWA, and IWGP matches, I don't think any of them quite measure up at this time. Part of me would love to place the belt on Goldberg, considering how overwhelmingly hot he is at this time and the fact that I also enjoy Meng tremendously, but that doesn't feel quite right either.

    Y’know, I’m inclined to throw the WWF title match out straight away since Vince McMahon has such a hand in bringing about this title match. I’m not sure you can really validate a WWF title match without Steve Austin in it at this point in time.

    I feel like putting the cat amongst the pigeons today though. As a WWE homer, my natural instinct to have the Brothers of Destruction do battle goes on the back burner. Kobashi vs Misawa is the stuff of legends. I have no idea how that lays out the future of this title but let's have a five star match in our history. Now I've said that, I'm probably gonna find out it was some kind of screwy dud.

    Hmmmmm. The Kobashi vs Misawa match is definitely one worth looking at. That said, I think I have to give the edge to Taker vs Kane due to the fact that it's occurring at a major event and on the higher profile stage.

    I was close to going with hashi and Norton but I’m gonna go Misawa and Kob...who am I kidding? It’s gonna be Kane vs undertaker innit.

    Anyone who says that's my Taker bias coming out ... may have a valid point of argument.

    I think Goldberg has a case but a dark match just doesn’t have world title bout feel, and though I have a lot of time for both men in the NWA title match I’m not sure it really still feels like a world title at this point in time. The ECW title match looks like it could be a classic, but Lance Storm literally just got beaten by Rob Van Dam just a couple of nights ago – do we really want to go out to the world and say that the LoP World Champion can’t beat the ECW TV Champion?

    We're left then with WWF and AJPW. Using a bit of meta-knowledge, we know that the Kane/Taker bout in question is a bit of a damp squib, yet WWF has blown up enormously again at this time and you can't deny the name value and the iconic nature of the participants. On the other hand, you've got two of the greatest wrestlers of all time in Kobashi and Misawa, in one of their most heavily hyped and acclaimed matches no less. I am a little hesitant because I think the King's Road style has spiraled out of control at this time into something far too dangerous and damaging long term, but you really can't avoid the monumental nature of the two men involved and the enormity of this match, of all things, being the one on our plate. I think ultimately I have to vote for the WWF here just due to how very much on top of the wrestling world they were at the time, but it's not an easy choice.

    So we’ve got the two Japanese matches left for my money. Kenta Kobashi has been in post longer than Scott Norton, and while Misawa and Hashimoto both have scarce recent records, Misawa has won more of his matches, while Hashimoto recently dropped a big bout to Tenryu. I call that a 2-0 win and say we recognise the winner of the Triple Crown title match.

    Misawa vs Kobashi 3 Undertaker vs Kane 2

    The decision, then, is to recognise the winner of Misawa and Kobashi – and the bout is duly won by Mitsuharu Misawa who becomes our first Japanese champion since Tatsumi Fujinami in 1991 (we won’t count Yokozuna as Japanese here), and only the fifth Japanese champion overall. He also ends an unofficial ‘time of Giants’, since going back to February of 1997 every champion (except Bret Hart’s fifth reign) was near, at, or over seven feet tall. Bret's fifth reign also makes him the second-most recognised champion of all-time, after Ric Flair (7) and with one reign more than both Ed Lewis and Lou Thesz. Anyway, this one has been long enough so we’ll just finish quickly by recapping the ground covered today, and we’ll be back again soon – when we’ll likely bring the LoP World title into the 21st century.

    Sycho Sid (2) – February 17th, 1997 – March 23rd, 1997
    The Undertaker – March 23rd, 1997 – August 3rd, 1997
    85th Bret Hart (5) – August 3rd, 1997 – November 9th, 1997
    Vacant – November 9th, 1997 – November 24th, 1997
    The Giant – November 24th 1997 – January 24th, 1998
    Kevin Nash – January 24th, 1998 – October 11th, 1998
    Vacant – October 11th, 1998 – October 31st, 1998
    Last edited by Prime Time; 10-08-2018 at 08:31 AM.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  2. #2
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    May 2018
    Man I love this series. I think you made the right decision in vacating the title at Montreal, no wrestler has the right to act the way Brett did that day. It was probably also a good idea to go with WCW because from my memory it was still beating WWE in the ratings at that point so was arguable the bigger company. Although Kevin Nash, I think I was hoping there would be a vacation of the title ever time the vote came up.

    Interesting to not have the title go back to the WWF at this point. I've never seen the match you guys picked but I'll put it on my list of matches to watch for sure after the praise here. Now it is in Japan I'm really interested in where things go. Will the belt even get back to the WWF during the Attitude era or will things keep conspiring to keep the belt away from them. Surely there will have to be an Austin run in this at some point.

  3. #3
    The Brain
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    May 2018
    I was wishing Nash would go on a permanent vacation! God, don't know how we all survived that period.

    Legitimately surprised Joe hates Meng, if he actually does.

    Did not expect we would actually go to Japan but I'm not sad about it! Super fun stuff Pete, looking forward to more of this!

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2018
    Love this. Great idea and what a fantastic panel you have here. A bit surprised that Shawn did not become LOP Champion because at the end of the day he left Survivor Series with the belt. Nevertheless the circumstances were absolutely shady, so the vacancy makes.

    I also like how the title can move between promotions. Looking forward to the next entry.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    May 2018
    I was all set to come down here and place a plague on all your houses for missing the chance to put the title on Misawa in favour of literally anybody else on that list, but then you did it and made me happy!

    Of course, the downside is that you've put it on him right before the Real World Tag League, and I don't think he has another singles match until January (when he spoiler against spoiler), so presumably the title becomes vacant almost immediately when the next one of these goes up due to the 50 day rule. But so it goes.

    Still loving these, guys.

  6. #6
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    May 2018
    Sam - My votes are largely going along kayfabe lines and so the backstage stuff doesn't really factor in - Bret lost without losing, ergo I voted for him to still be the champion. For what it's worth, I still think that while there's blame enough to go around for everyone, he is the least to blame of the three principal protagonists in the Montreal debacle. Shawn caused it, Vince enabled Shawn. The worst you can really say about Bret is that after he a while he snapped and refused to be the bigger man. That doesn't absolve him, but it's the most understandable, I think. I think you can tell a lot of the guys in here were right there with you on Nash. I actually remember being into Kev at the time, but somehow everything conspired here to being worse than his actual run! You'd think Austin will get the belt, but at the same time he's such a key figure that where he's missing from the WWF match, as in the case at the end there, it's hard to see how something else won't be bigger. But we'll see how it shakes out.

    Mizfan - I was a bit surprised about Joe/Meng myself. I hope we find out more about this in future! Japan is an interesting detour, let's see how long it lasts...

    Don Franc - Yeah, I think if they'd never acknowledged the screwjob in their stories then I'd have voted for Shawn to keep the belt. As it is, they cover it almost immediately, and as I'm going with kayfabe once you clearly admit the promoter has fucked over a wrestler and had a crooked referee ring the bell I don't think you can allow it. He'd have also lost the belt by forfeit (probably) with his back injury in 1998, so there's a decent chance we'd have ended up in exactly the same place.

    Oliver - Ha yeah, Misawa is one of a handful of names that's always going to have a chance of making it and beating out American names. You've hit something that we're already discussing there with the world tag league, so you'll just have to see how that one plays out next time!

    Alright, thanks for reading everyone.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

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