Induction: The Greater Power – Aw, son of a…

50 Submitted by on Thu, 19 October 2017, 20:00

WWF, 1998-1999


 

I. “I really didn’t want to have to do it”

On October 19th, 1998, The Undertaker and Paul Bearer announced the creation of a Ministry of Darkness that would serve Taker’s evil purposes, whatever those may have been.

For the next four months, The Undertaker would grow his Ministry until it was powerful enough to take on Vince McMahon’s own faction, the Corporation. He might not have been able to rent a decent space for his secret lair…

…apparently setting up his throne behind some boxes backstage, and he may have spent most of his screen time ranting about the “Purity of Evil” like he was General Jack Ripper, but believe me, he and the Ministry were powerful.

Taker later revealed that he served a power even greater and more evil than himself (which could have been a Federation euphemism for Satan, the same way “a different and more omnipotent drummer” was a euphemism for Jesus). The Dead Man declared that he would soon seize the whole company in the name of this Greater Power, then launched a very personal campaign against the Federation’s owner. This culminated in the kidnapping of Vince’s beloved daughter Stephanie.

Threatening to “sacrifice” her if Vince did not hand over control of the company, Undertaker insisted that Steve Austin, Vince’s long-time nemesis, be the one to hand over the documents. Since Austin predictably refused, Taker attempted to marry Stephanie in a ceremony of dubious legality, only to be thwarted by Stone Cold after all.

Shortly thereafter, Shane McMahon merged his Corporation with The Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness to form the Corporate Ministry. Vince’s son had colluded with the Ministry as a means to take over the WWF from his father and had orchestrated his sister’s abduction to trick Vince into handing over control of his company as ransom.

It was brilliant, except that Vince never did end up relinquishing his shares, but somehow or another Shane declared that he was in charge anyway, so he got to make all the matches and call all the shots. It turns out, Shane was the Greater Power the whole time!

Except he wasn’t. Instead, all the talk of a Greater Power persisted for another month as the WWF sought one final, monumental twist. And that twist was:

The Undertaker had seized power from Vince on behalf of Shane… on behalf of Vince.

This convoluted plan, which Vince McMahon had executed at great expense to his roster, his family, and himself, was carried out for the sole purpose of showing Steve Austin who was boss, fooling him and the audience.

The Greater Power is wrestling’s textbook example of why you shouldn’t write an angle without a conclusion in mind; Vince McMahon clearly wasn’t supposed to be the Greater Power, and the storyline had played out accordingly, but when the time came to deliver a shocking conclusion, Vince was the WWF’s only choice left.

Had there been such a thing as the Gooker Award or WrestleCrap.com back in 1999, this angle would have won in a landslide. But to fully explain the stupidity of it all would take more text and pictures than computers were capable of handling in 1999, which may be why it is only now being inducted onto the hallowed pages of this site.


 

II. “There is no price I will not pay!”

When you look back at all the events that occurred between the formation of the Ministry of Darkness and Vince’s revelation that he was behind it all along, very little of it benefited The Undertaker or Vince McMahon.

We don’t know exactly how long Vince and Undertaker had supposedly been scheming together; perhaps it was was from day one, when Vince was held captive by a disgruntled Steve Austin, while The Undertaker announced his Ministry but didn’t lift a finger to save his boss’s life.

Perhaps they had been colluding since December, but then again, that was the month that Vince booked The Undertaker into a Buried Alive match with Steve Austin, which Taker lost after being – get this – buried alive with several tons of dirt. Fortunately, Taker survived the ordeal for reasons that (like most of the Greater Power storyline) were never even attempted to be explained. 

But by February (after the Greater Power had first been mentioned), there was in retrospect no doubt that one conspirator was willing to get the other one killed simply to make their cover story more believable. When, after months of inactivity in the ring, Taker vowed to take over the company, Vince booked him into an Inferno Match against Kane, whom Vince demanded kill The Undertaker by setting him fire.

Fortunately, Kane made an error when trying to execute a big boot and caught his leg on fire. Otherwise, Taker might have been too badly burned or deceased to reap the rewards of his and Vince’s master plan. Those rewards, principally, consisted of fooling Steve Austin.

Taker’s long layoff from the ring while he gathered members for his ministry meant that he didn’t participate in the Royal Rumble, thus forgoing a title shot at Wrestlemania and Vince’s $100,000 bounty on Austin’s elimination. While the likes of The Blue Meanie, Tiger Ali Singh, and Gillberg vied to throw Austin over the top rope, The Undertaker, Mideon, and the Acolytes had a more important mission (possibly from Vince himself): to pull the 500-pound Mabel out of the Rumble before he could, say, eliminate Stone Cold and keep him away from the WWF title.

At Wrestlemania, Vince gave Taker the important task of murdering the Big Bossman, but when all of Vince’s known associates were banned from ringside for Steve Austin’s main event title match, McMahon gave his secret associate the night off, allowing his arch nemesis to win the title.

Still, it was necessary for The Undertaker to be locked out of the title picture for months. This way, he could focus on more important things for his career, such as appearing to torment Vince McMahon by burning his daughter’s favorite childhood toy and then abducting and terrorizing her. Again, Vince McMahon and The Undertaker were the ones who thought up this plan.

They also thought it a good idea for Vince to call the cops on Taker two weeks in a row, one week having him arrested, and the next week telling a police officer to draw his gun on The Undertaker while The Ministry lurked around Vince’s Greenwich home.

Vince also okayed the idea for the Ministry to burn a cross – I mean, symbol – on his lawn, which could not have pleased the community association.

And of course, Vince okayed the (second) kidnapping, imprisonment, and “sacrifice” of his own daughter to the Greater Power (after paying ten armed guards ostensibly to protect her and prevent this from happening).

He even booked himself to grovel and beg for Stone Cold to help him get his daughter back…

…pleas which Steve Austin rebuffed rather strongly.

I don’t imagine Vince actually wanted Stephanie to become The Undertaker’s bride and sex slave, so I can only assume that he instead wanted Stone Cold to rush the ring, beat up the Ministry, free Steph, and look like a big hero. And then later he could *fool* him.

Shane soon revealed that he was in cahoots with The Undertaker the whole time, that he was the one behind aspiring actress Stephanie’s kidnapping, and that he had even picked out her black wedding dress (which, in the interest of full disclosure, was the bomb). Vince, in response, pretended to be as disgusted as the rest of his family at such vile, duplicitous behavior.

Tormenting a family member in an elaborate ruse to gain ownership of a company? Unforgivable.

Tormenting a family member in an exponentially more elaborate ruse to mess with Steve Austin’s head? Nah, I’m sure she’ll understand.

Other brilliant parts of Vince McMahon’s master plan were the chokeslams…

…tombstones…

…and unprotected chair shots from the Undertaker that he suffered along the way, just to “prove” that The Undertaker hated him.

To earn the fans’ trust, Vince aligned himself with The Union (like that would ever happen in real life) and started wearing a dress shirt with no jacket, no tie, and the sleeves rolled up.

But if Vince McMahon were to fool Steve Austin, he would first have to earn his trust, too. He finally started attempting to do this at Backlash. Ultimately, for Vince to screw Austin, he’d have to squander several much *better* opportunities to screw Steve Austin along the way.

That night, with Shane McMahon as the crooked referee determined to cost Steve Austin his WWF title, Vince McMahon stepped in at the last moment, knocked Shane out with the belt, and sent in a real referee.

Thus, Austin pinned The Rock to retain the title that, before Vince intervened, he had been all but guaranteed to lose. Shane then kicked Rock out of the Corporation for losing.

The following month at Over The Edge, Shane McMahon had booked himself again to referee Steve Austin’s title match, where he would defend against The Undertaker. Shawn Michaels (the forgotten other authority figure in the company) added Vince as a second referee just to even the odds.

So Vince screwed Austin out of the title at Over The Edge by being just as biased as Shane, right? No, because before Austin arrived at the arena, Shane booked him against Mideon in a match where, if Austin didn’t show up, he’d be immediately stripped of the title.

So Vince let Shane strip Austin of the title? No, instead Vince subbed for Austin and got beaten up by the Corporate Ministry, who appeared to break his ankle and take him out of the main event.

So Vince let Shane be the sole referee to screw Austin out of the title? No, instead he sent down Pat Patterson and later Gerald Brisco as replacement officials, neither of whom were aware of Vince’s conspiracy, but both of whom got demolished by The Undertaker on arrival.

Vince himself eventually hobbled down to the ring to make the count for Austin, only to be thwarted by Shane…

…who made a quick count against Stone Cold. The younger McMahon awarded the match and the title to The Undertaker, who at last had something to show for three to seven months of conspiracies.

Perhaps Vince’s biggest wasted opportunity was when he agreed to wrestle The Undertaker on Raw with special stipulations. If Vince won, Steve Austin would wrestle Taker for the WWF title later that night. If The Undertaker won, Steve Austin would never be able to challenge for the WWF Title ever again.

Rather than take a dive and solve his Austin problem once and for all, Vince gave it his all against the Undertaker. Rather than finish off his co-conspirator quickly and neatly, Taker blatantly shoved the referee twice, drawing a disqualification, thus giving Vince the win and granting Stone Cold a title shot that night.

(Two months later, Vince McMahon would pit The Undertaker against Steve Austin with the exact same “no more title shots for Austin, ever” stipulation that they threw away on this night.

Austin would win that match and force Vince off TV “forever”.)

But on this night, a run-in by the Corporate Ministry prevented Austin from winning the title.

The Ministry then tied up Austin, who sat helpless as The Greater Power finally emerged and showed his face to Austin (and only to Austin, as it doesn’t appear that Creative had figured out who the Greater Power would be yet).

See Austin’s face? He looks pretty mad, right? It turns out that this reaction GIF was the end game of the entire Corporate Ministry plot.


 

III. “I say the evil, demonic SOB show his face to the world now!”

The announcers were sure it was Shane McMahon under the hood and cloak: he had already admitted to being behind the conspiracy of the Ministry of Darkness, he had the motive, and he wasn’t present when the Greater Power showed up shrouded in robes.

The next week on Heat, though, those same announcers were suddenly (and retroactively) convinced it wasn’t Shane, thanks to some extra sound bites thrown into the replay of Raw’s events.

One man who knew for sure was Steve Austin, who showed up and beat up nearly everyone he saw. The WWF left it up to intrepid reporter Lucas Swineford to get the biggest scoop of the year, but Stone Cole wouldn’t tell him who the Greater Power was. All he’d say was that the Greater Power wasn’t in the arena that night.

So that ruled out Lucas Swineford. But who was the Greater Power? That would have to wait until the following night.

On WCW Nitro, the announcers gave away the big surprise before it aired, just as they had done with Mick Foley’s title win months earlier. The only difference was that Raw was live that week; the announcers didn’t know for sure that Vince was the one under the hood, but they figured that a twist that stupid just had to happen in the WWF. Of course, they would soon hire WWF’s head writers so they could air their own stupid plot twists.

Raw kicked off that night at 9 PM EST with Vince McMahon speculating about whom the Greater Power might be and rattling off a list of names – one of which the most logical choice, Shane McMahon, but all of which were better than Vince McMahon.

(Not mentioned was Vince Russo’s original pick, Christopher Daniels…

…whom McMahon medically disqualified when an informal exam revealed that he was 5’11”)

He and Shane, who denied being the Greater Power, agreed to a winner-take-all, no-holds-barred match that night where each man would put up his 50% stake in the company. 

Suspiciously, Shane then told him to go backstage while he brought out the Corporate Ministry and the Greater Power.

Sure enough, after the commercial break, the Ministry of Darkness gathered in the ring and welcomed the arrival of their Higher Power (or, as The Undertaker once called him, their Hower Power). The mysterious cloaked figure then grabbed the microphone and spoke in Shane McMahon’s voice!

But no, they were just jerking the audience around, because Shane then came down to the ring while cutting a promo on another mic. Now that Shane was there, he could goad his dad into coming to the ring and unveiling the Greater Power himself.

Vince quickly appeared on the Titantron and refused to come to ringside. Well, at least the fans knew it wouldn’t be Vince. Except that this was another ploy designed to fool… well, not Austin, since he already knew who the Greater Power was, but it did fool all the fans who couldn’t tell this was a pre-taped promo.

The Greater Power then removed his hood to show the world exactly who he was and to inspire something called a “meme” over a decade later. It turned out, Eric Bischoff guessed correctly.

What makes JR’s reaction so memorable and relatable is that he didn’t even act shocked. Instead, he acted very annoyed. Of course it was Vince. It had to be Vince, even if it made no sense in the plot.

Maybe JR remembered the time the previous fall when the McMahons had pulled off nearly the exact same thing, where Shane McMahon pretended to break away from his dad and try to run the show himself, only to “reunite” with Vince to screw over Steve Austin.

After pulling off the hood, Vince bragged about how everyone bought into the ruse, including his own family (his immediate family!). Who else bought the ruse? Apparently everyone but him, Shane, The Undertaker, and Paul Bearer (and Eric Bischoff).


 

IV. “Every damn one of you were made fools of!”

I mean, who else could have been in on Vince and Undertaker’s master plan?

Certainly not Ryan Shamrock, who was abducted and “sacrificed” by Taker in place of a heavily guarded Stephanie McMahon, whom Vince had made unavailable for abduction that night. Ryan remained in captivity for an entire week before being rescued by her brother, the Corporate member Ken Shamrock, who was likewise oblivious to Vince and Taker’s plot. Both Shamrocks suffered far more than Vince’s intended target, Steve Austin, with the Ministry suspending Ryan on their symbol…

…and then also attempting to hang up Ken on the cross…

…excuse me, symbol. They tried to crucify him on a symbol.

Ken would war against the newly-formed Corporate Ministry but wouldn’t say a word to anyone about Vince being the Greater Power. 

The same goes for Test, The Big Show, Kane, and The Rock, who all left the Corporation without spilling the beans about Vince and Taker’s conspiracy.

Bossman probably didn’t know any better, either, given that he wrestled Undertaker in a brutal (but boring) Hell in a Cell match that concluded with his own hanging. (And let’s not forget that Hell in a Cell was so dangerous that one could get a finger caught in there.)

Also not wised up to the big plan were The Brood, who left the Ministry but didn’t go blab to the rest of the locker room about Vince being Undertaker’s “Greater Power”. Instead, they used their first interview as a group to cut one of the worst promos in history.

And if The Brood hadn’t been informed of the real purpose of The Ministry of Darkness, it stands to reason that none of Undertaker’s other underlings were in on it either, including Mideon & Viscera, who both retained their demonic personas long after The Ministry’s satanic mission was revealed to be a ruse.

I can’t see Mideon, for instance, volunteering to be brutalized by the Corporation inside a steel cage just to reinforce the notion that the two factions – which were scheduled to merge anyway the following month – didn’t like each other.

That means that Undertaker and the Acolytes abducted Mabel for a night, and Dennis Knight for two weeks, in order to brainwash them both into a phony cult – a cult whose only real purpose was to fool Steve Austin, might I remind you.

I can only assume that the 9-1-1 emergency services were not in on the plan, either, which meant that Vince McMahon wasted taxpayer money and precious man-hours with numerous fraudulent calls to the police…

…and with ambulance rides for what turned out to be phony injuries suffered at the hands of the Ministry.

But all of it was worth it so he could teach Austin a lesson, which was that Vince didn’t care to what lengths he had to go, or whom he had to manipulate, just to piss him off slightly.

 I repeat, it was worth it.


 

V. “It’s just business.”

Since the Greater Power’s first appearance on camera was at a Tuesday Raw taping, thirteen days would pass before he’d have to reveal his identity on the next episode. The best that Creative could cobble together in that time was to say that it was Vince, even if it meant ignoring months and months of plot developments that contradicted this. To make it up to the fans, and to prevent them from thinking for more than a few seconds about how little sense the swerve made, the WWF immediately booked another shocking swerve. And by immediately, I mean in the same damn segment.

Out came the other McMahons, Linda and Stephanie, who were disappointed in Vince and Shane.

The McMahon men were shocked – shocked – that Linda and Stephanie weren’t happy about Steph’s kidnapping now that it was masterminded by Vince, too, and not just Shane.

Linda then reminded Vince and Shane that they didn’t own 50% of the company each, but that each McMahon owned 25%. That was kind of a large rounding error by Vince.

Linda revealed that she had called an emergency meeting of the board of directors – why a private company with only four shareholders would have a board of directors, I don’t know – and appointed Steve Austin as the new CEO.

Austin, having already known Vince was the Greater Power, and having been introduced after the second major swerve of the night, got to completely no-sell Vince’s big reveal, the payoff of months of storylines. I guess the only alternative would have been for him to cut a promo on how stupid the whole thing had been.

After all, Vince had suffered far more from his plot than Austin, who, after beating Taker in December, didn’t even interact with the Ministry until late April.

In fact, Austin’s fortunes during the Vince-Ministry conspiracy were so phenomenal that Vince accused him of colluding with Undertaker to divert the boss’s attention and wrath away from him.

And Austin never bought into Vince’s confidence scheme enough to actually trust Mr. McMahon, shake his hand, or share a beer with him…

Beer! How did you know?

…as he would do with Linda and Stephanie.

During Austin’s first promo as CEO of the company, we learned that he now owned a 50% stake in the company. It seems that, in an ironic twist, in retaliation for Vince and Shane putting Linda and Stephanie through hell just to teach Steve Austin a lesson, the McMahon women had simply handed over their multi-million-dollar shares to Steve Austin just to teach Vince and Shane a lesson.

And that lesson was that the entire McMahon family was unbelievably stupid.

Follow Art on Twitter @Art0Donnell.

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He also runs the “How Much Does This Guy Weigh?” blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell.

Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com

50 Responses to "Induction: The Greater Power – Aw, son of a…"
  1. whorefinder says:

    Well the McMahons’ turned their company over to hackjob Triple H, and unsurprisingly ever since the revenues have precipitously declined and viewership has gone down. So yes, these folks really are that stupid.

    • Abe Wallard says:

      Ever since Shane left in ’09 ratings toppled. Shane is the most balanced, composed and level-headed member, so it’s no surprise the company progressively made less money after his departure (he was responsible for WWE landing TV deals and sponsorship with popular products.) Vince is too senile, tyrannical and short-sighted; Steph’s acting like a corporate dominatrix in a sexless porn, and ol’ Trips is so self-conscious about his approval with the fans that he’s now pushing guys that were big names in the indie circuit on the main roster, but because the casual viewer-whom for the most part doesn’t watch wrestling outside of WWE-is the predominant demographic, they no-sell the hype of guys like Owens and Balor, therefore the attemp to invest on KO as a main evented becomes the in-ring equivalent of the XFL.

      Oh, and Linda’s failed campaigns, nuff said.

      • Chris V says:

        That makes no sense, about Kevin Owens. It’s the job of the WWE to build these guys up.

        That’s like saying that the WWE was stupid for pushing Triple H, because the fans solely knew of him as a jobber in WCW.. So, obviously, he could never get over in the WWE.

        That’s like saying that the WWE was stupid for pushing the Rock, because no one knew who he was before he showed in the WWF. So, obviously Rock could never become a legitimate star.

        The point is to find talented people on the indie circle, and then bring them in to WWE, and begin to build them as legitimate stars.

        • whorefinder says:

          lol. Comparing The Rock to Triple H is like comparing a seven course meal prepared by a Michelin chef with a half-eaten burger found in a McDonald’s dumpster.

          • CP says:

            This just proves you have not actually watched wrestling in the last twenty years.

            I seriously don’t understand how one can be such an obstinate individual.

            • whorefinder says:

              ROFL. That you would even compare The Rock, one of the GOAT, with a banana-nosed tranny-banging hack like Triple H just proves how low your IQ is and how desperately you need that paycheck they send you for spewing nonsense like that.

              I’m sorry you’re so obsolete, son. Perhaps you should try learning about pro wrestling instead just typing what you’re told to type.

            • Art0Donnell says:

              Dammit, CP. If WWE is going to send you thousands of dollars a month to come onto this site and make baseless claims about how Triple H is *not* the worst wrestler and human being in history, you had better work out some kind of revenue-sharing deal with the rest of us.

    • Guest says:

      If you think that Triple H is the reasons for why Raw and Smackdown are sucking wind so badly who do you think is the genius that thinks it’s okay for a guy to whole the main belt of Raw and only defend twice or so out of the year?

      Or is the reason why Jinder Mahal went from jobber to Smackdown Champion?

      Cause I guarantee you he’s not the reason.

      • CP says:

        There’s no use trying to reason with Whorefinder. He’s an anti-Triple H smark who hasn’t been paying attention to wrestling over the last decade and his opinion should be disregarded as the overly biased BS it is.

        • whorefinder says:

          Triple H paid mark spotted! Please tell us all how The Pedigree isn’t the lousiest finisher of all time, lol.

          • CP says:

            Any wrestling fan worth their weight can tell you that. Hell, it’s probably not even in the book of lamest finishers. Besides the point, the move is designed to look like you’re getting your head driven into the ground forehead first with most if not all of his weight doing the work. You think you won’t get hurt if that somehow goes wrong, ask Buff Bagwell.

          • whorefinder says:

            Hoo boy, Triple H’s paid mark is really trying to earn his paycheck this week.

            ” it’s probably not even in the book of lamest finishers.”
            –It’s the number one lamest, worst finisher of all time. Naturally, as Triple H is the lamest, worst wrestler of all time.

            It is slow, awkward, unimpressive, boring, and, of course, forever tainted by being the finisher of the worst wrestler of all time. It literally looks like the kind of “finisher” some indie jobber newbie would invent before being laughed at by the locker room and told to find a real one.

      • whorefinder says:

        lol. Triple H has grown in front office power since the early 2000s. And since then ratings have declined, revenues have gone down, and cultural power has decreased. Remember when The Rock and Austin were known to people outside of wrestling? That ain’t happening anymore because the banana-nosed tranny-humper running Vince’s show squashes anyone better than him (which is everyone) and kills all creativity to boost his own jobberness up.

        Triple H in control/being a champ the #1 reason WWE has declined in the last 15 years. Fact.

        • CP says:

          The Rock isn’t known to people outside of wrestling? Have you been anywhere close to Earth over the last five plus years? Highest paid actor in Hollywood, hello?

          Far as Austin goes, own TV show? Recent endorsement deal with Kawasaki?

          Your cred is already shot, kid.

          • whorefinder says:

            LMAO. Paid Triple H mark literally has no reading comprehension.

            Go back and read what I wrote, son. I said that the era when a wrestler could get over with normies—like The Rock and Austin did back —is over now that Triple H ruined the business.

            Go back to your cubicle, dum-dum. And collect your WWE paycheck.

        • Jim says:

          Your name is tactless and you care too much about wrestling.

          I don’t even like Triple H; I think you could find something better to do with your time. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t like wrestling, just pump the brakes.

  2. lipe from chile says:

    OUTSTANDING! If there was a “wrestling booker” school in any college, I’m sure this would make a terrific thesis, and Art would have a A+++.
    Still, I think we all have to admit that the revelation is in itself a great moment, kind of like a Simpsons episode from seasons 4-7, and that’s why it became a popular meme.
    The only question that remains in my mind: Is this the reason why, when Taker came back from an injury next year, he was the American Badass?

  3. mfm420 says:

    about how bischoff knew vince was the higher power: i recall reading at the time, hbk knew it was ognna be vince, hbk then told nash, nash told bischoff, and that’s how eric knew (supposedly, according towhat i read back in 99. haven’t seen the observers from then, its possible meltzer reported it before the reveal as well).

  4. Chris V says:

    I remember being excited by this angle at the time.

    I was sure that the obvious choice was the Jackyl. He had formed the Acolytes alliance originally, and then disappeared. I was sure this was the big reveal of his masterplan.

    I was hoping that it was going to be Jake Roberts though. That was the rumour at the time, and Vince even mentioned Roberts in his eventual promo. It made sense because of the history between him and Undertaker.

    There was also an outside possibility, in my head, that it might be Kevin Sullivan.

    Then….it was Vince McMahon….
    The “It was me all along!” line was really funny and hokey. I admit that.
    It still made zero sense.

    • Jerm says:

      Not just between Jake and Taker, but between him and Austin too.

      “You blasphemed me, boy. Me! The Snake! You want to turn your back against the Lord, son? So can I.”

  5. Brian Lichner says:

    Amazing induction. This one is legendary.

  6. Unknoen says:

    OK, while I will admit that this angle was bad, it wasn’t entirely Vince’s fault. The original choice for the Greater Power was going to be…Mick Foley. It would make sense (somewhat) since Foley and Austin had feuded in the previous year for the world title. Alas, Foley turned it down because: (1) he was worn down by injuries and (2) he felt he couldn’t feud with Austin properly for the title as a result (of course, this leaves out the fact that the Undertaker had badly injured him in their match the year prior).

    Now, Jake Roberts would have made more sense, since Austin had beaten him and made fun of his born-again character at King of the Ring 1996 (indeed, Jed Shaffer did exactly that in a Rewriting the Book story, as did WhatCulture) and launched his road to superstardom. In that same year, however, Jake Roberts had his infamous Heroes of Wrestling promo (and he probably already had a reputation as someone with severe demons even before that), so he was out (BTW, thanks to DDP for getting him (seemingly) on a healthier course in life).

    So, whoever the Greater Power was going to be was not going to live up to the hype, IMO…

    • Guest says:

      When you said it would’ve made sense somewhat with Mick Foley I assume you’re referring to the fact that Taker through Mick off the sell prior to this right and that would’ve been hard to reconcile with regards to him colluding with Taker ?

      • Unknown says:

        Guest, what I meant was that Mick Foley being the Higher Power would make more sense because Austin, if you’ll recall, feuded with him the year prior at McMahon’s behest and didn’t win, so McMahon humiliated him and forced him to become Corporate Mankind. Then, McMahon screwed Foley in favor of Rock at Survivor Series. Where it might have fallen apart is why would the Undertaker agree to become the underling to a guy whom he had feuded with several times in 1998 (and who he had thrown off and through a cell at King of the Ring 1998)…

        That’s what I meant.

        Jake Roberts might have worked if he had managed to stay sober (remember, he’d have his meltdown at Heroes of Wrestling several months later).

        Another choice might have been…Triple H. His motivation would have been this: he had participated in the Curtain Call back in 1996 with Scott Hall, Kevin Nash (aka Razor Ramon and Diesel, respectively), and Shawn Michaels. Vince had to punish someone for the breach of kayfabe and, since Shawn Michaels was champion at the time, Triple H had to be the scapegoat. Triple H was supposed to win King of the Ring that year, if you’ll recall. But his push that year was taken away and given to…Steve Austin, who used it to launch his Austin 3:16 career. Granted, it would have been a stretch to see Triple H as the Greater Power at this time, but it would have made more sense (and he would have had more motivation) than having Vince be the Greater Power, and it would screw both Vince and Austin at the same time…

  7. PlasticDiverGuy says:

    Funny, when I was watching this angle, I remember Burt Reynolds being inder the hood…oh wait, that was Revenge of the Black Scorpion, which made way more sense than this angle.

  8. #OPC says:

    I still think Big Show’s feud with Big Boss Man, particularly with Show grabbing onto his father’s own casket at his father’s funeral and Boss Man dragging them around the cementary. Gooker winners tend to lean more towards angles that occurred later in the year, as it is fresher in peoples’ minds at voting time.

    The only other storylines from that year that I think would come close to winning would be the feud between Al Snow and Boss Man (poor Ray Traylor), or the Fingerpoke of Doom, though the latter was really early in the year. Of course, there are probably loads more WCW storylines that I’m omitting, but history pretty much deems that one of the worst.

  9. DarthPitch says:

    Shoulda been Paul E. I guess they couldn’t offer him enough money? I’d heard they wanted him at one point…but that was around the time ECW got on TNN, wasn’t it? I’m guessing if Paul knew how THAT was gonna turn out, he’d have gone ahead and jumped ship for a bargain price.

  10. Abe Wallard says:

    You misspelled Stone Cold as “Stone Cole.” That would’ve been a great heat magnet for Michael Cole when he feuded with Lawler, moreso if he entered to Disturbed. Also, why do I have the funny feeling Vince looked back at this feud and said “SHANE VS TAKER, HELL IN A CELL” during their Mania 32 build-up? The whole event felt like a callback to better matches fron the past.

    That being said, I’m sure Vince enjoyed seeing himself not just as a ruthless authoritarian CEO, but also as the Supreme Leader of what would happen if the KKK suddenly started worshiping the Devil. 7 years later ol’ Vince would compare himself to God.

    Of note: Stephanie’s had the most marriages out of any wrestler or personality in WWE history, with 3 (Taker, Test, Trips.)

  11. Cpt SuckerPunch says:

    I’ve said this before but it deserves to be reiterated, Art is the man. His efforts to the site, he is just hands down the best. Wrestlecrap is an awesome site, and it’s in no small part thanks to him.

  12. Gerard says:

    imagine you have a friend or realitive that doesn’t watch wrestling and all you can use to explain why you love to watch it is this storyline?? your friend is gonna call the guys at the funny farm to come and pick you up!! this storyline has more twists and turns to it the 100 soap operas!! you need a map or one helluva of a big scorecard to keep track of whats supposed to be going on!!

  13. adam says:

    What really frustrated me, was they already pulled off a great twist ending with the storyline. Shane McMahon was revealed to be the evil corporate mastermind behind the Ministry, as a plot to take control of the WWF. The entire storyline made sense, Russo had actually managed to not have a single plot hole.

    So you had Shane leading a Corporate Ministry consisting of Undertaker, HHH, Bossman, Acolytes, Viscera, et al Against Vince McMahon who was forced to be aligned with Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Big Show & The Rock all of whom hated Vince, and a few Vince Loyalists of Ken Shamrock, Test & The Stooges.

    It was epic, it could have lead to so many great brutal multiman battles but instead they threw it all away for the cheap swerve that meant the last 6 months of tv was total nonsense.

  14. Barronmore says:

    Oh wow…

    I am SOOO glad i was watching WCW at the time. I gave up on WWE years before this mess.

    I think we need an ‘honorary gooker’ award for this. I mean..just…really…wow….

    Fantastic job, Art. That was a really enjoyable read.

  15. Gabrie Benson says:

    That was…..excellent

  16. Mweyer says:

    Yeah, it sucked and such. But the looks on Vince and Shane’s face when Austin comes out at the CEO still made me giggle in delight and loved how he threw his weight around. Doesn’t make up for the pay-off but still funny.

  17. Toga 2000 says:

    I’ve been coming to this website for around 17 years (!) and this is my favourite induction of all time. Bravo Art, that was incredible!

  18. erci says:

    I surely can’t be the only person who sees this as the black scorpion wwe edition.

  19. CF says:

    And the question remains:

    “HOW’N’ELL DID WCW LOSE TO *THIS*!?”

    🙂

    • erci says:

      Pretty easily actually, they came up with ideas just as dumb, then executed them even more sloppily.
      Then when in the hole, they hired a guy at least partially responsible for this, and gave him free rein as writer.

  20. ChunkyLover53 says:

    I’m surprised its taken this long to get inducted. Great work. I must say though, before the big reveal, the storyline was pretty epic and seemed promising, Lots of twists and turns that kept you watching, something missing in the ‘E today.

  21. Pete says:

    THAT was Lucas’ last name?!

  22. Blaquerayne says:

    I remembered watching this when it first aired (I’m currently watching it on the network right now.)

    Both times I asked myself the same question: Why in the hell they didn’t let Shane be the higher power? It made perfect sense! He’d already turned on his family and formed the Corporate Ministry. He admitted to being the one who arranged for Stephanie to be kidnaped, everything was in place. There was no need to go with Vince, who was actually getting cheered by the fans. They just threw a perfectly good storyline in the trash and the sad thing is they didn’t have to.

  23. Mike M. says:

    This time, it really should have been Flair.

  24. Segaz says:

    Great induction. I appreciate all the extra effort like Bishoff revealing it on nitro, Vince himself thinking Austin and undertaker were together etc. I always think art does an amazing job.

    Side note, I really really love the fact you put the subtitles up. Seeing “SARGENT, SARGENT THIS IS VINCE MCMAHON.” cracks me up, I don’t know why. The whole extra swerve with Shane’s voice on the microphone, Ryan shamrock suffering more than Austin…. it’s all chronicled really well.

    Maybe they could have gone with a Vince is really insane kind of aftermath, that these actions are not normal. Shane stuck by him due to family, but the rest of the faction falls apart

    Side note: Stephanie certainly plays to the audience’s dirty mindset. “I was stripped of my clothes, *pause*………. the undertaker kept….. kept TOUCHING me”

  25. Jim says:

    Thanks for the mention of the Vince McMahon vs Mideon Street Fight from HeAT before Over The Edge. As a guy who started watching wrestling in late ’99, the Ministry stuff always had a kind of mystique about it, and starting to watch wrestling during its peak “wacky” period sort of shifted my expectations for what wrestling should be like. After seeing Big Boss Man feed Al Snow his own dog, or Stone Cold drive a [insert type of truck] into [insert place/other vehicle], I’ve always been chasing that ’99 high. So, old episodes of Shotgun Saturday Night with Chaz and The Brood it is for me.

  26. MistaMaddog says:

    The only good thing that came out of the Greater Power angle was they made Stone Cold the CEO two minutes later.

    Next week he had people dump huge piles of manure in Vince’s office, the perfect response to the entire storyline…

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