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Remembering How WWE Arrived 'Fully Loaded' in Fresno 25 Years Ago
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Published 11 months ago on
July 25, 2023

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When the WWE brought its pay-per-view show to Fresno 25 years ago, it could be summed up three ways — middle fingers, foul language and skimpy bikinis.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin climbed to the heights of wrestling stardom, and the “Attitude” era was in full swing when “Fully Loaded: In Your House” came to Selland Arena on July 26, 1998.

Nearly 10,000 fans witnessed Stone Cold teaming with his frenemy, The Undertaker, to defeat Kane & Mankind for the WWF tag team championship (WWF changed its name to WWE in 2002). Another 305,000 watched on pay-per-view.

The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported a gate of $179,000 and $72,000 in merchandise sales.

“You can always smell garlic,” Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross said on his podcast this week, recalling the show.

Live from Fresno, it’s WWF Fully Loaded. (screen grab)

Austin & Undertaker Prevail

Austin and Undertaker were already scheduled to face each other for the WWF championship the following month at SummerSlam. And both men had ongoing battles with the champs, Kane (Undertaker’s brother) and Mankind.

Diabolical WWF chairman Mr. McMahon paired Austin and Undertaker together to face their enemies. In the weeks leading up to Fully Loaded, questions remained on Undertaker’s loyalty — would he faithfully partner with Austin, or was he secretly in cahoots with Kane & Mankind?

A pre-match staredown was broken up when Kane and Mankind attacked. But, the two men kept their cool during the match.

Undertaker won the match for his team, when he tombstoned Kane. However, instead of celebrating, Undertaker walked off carrying both tag team title belts.

Sable Busts Out in Semi-Main Event

While that was the main event, a bikini contest between Sable and Jacqueline may have drawn the most eyes and drools. Becoming an early adopter of body paint, Sable’s top consisted of two painted-on black handprints, and not much else below the waste.

Jacqueline showed she didn’t quite fit into her bikini either, causing several teenage boys to wear out the VCR pause button.

While the fans easily gave Sable the victory that night, Mr. McMahon reversed the decision the next day — declaring what Sable wore (or did not wear) did not qualify as a bikini.

Sable (center in black shirt) easily beat Jacqueline (red bikini) at Fully Loaded in Fresno, as Marc Mero and Jerry “The King” Lawler look on. (Screen grab)

Rock, Triple H Battle to a Draw

Before they were at the top of the card, Intercontinental champion The Rock met “Triple H” Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a two-of-three fall with a 30-minute time limit.

Both men were accompanied by their tribes, The Nation of Domination and Degeneration X, respectively. The tribes were forced to leave, but still played a role in the match.

The Rock took the first fall, nailing Triple H with a Rock Bottom after a distraction by D’Lo Brown.

Triple H evened the match, thanks to his partner Chyna. With the referee knocked down, Chyna DDTd Rock onto a chair. Triple H scored the easy pin.

With only three minutes left in the match, neither man scored a pin and the match was a draw. Triple H executed a Pedigree as the final bell rang.

 

Undercard: Funk, LOD, and a Big Man Battle

Other matches on the show:

  • Val Venis d. Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee & Southern Justice)

Jarrett was the wannabe country music star; Venis was a porn-star turned wrestler. Remember, Attitude Era! Most of the commentary was about a Venis “video” with the wife of another wrestling personality (Yamaguchi-san for those scoring at home). Venis rolled up Jarrett for the win after Lee’s interference backfired.

  • Non-WWF European championship: D’Lo Brown [ch.] (w/The Godfather) d. X-Pac

This was a battle between two warring factions, The Nation of Dominations vs. Degeneration X. Godfather’s distraction allowed Brown to score the surprise pin in the non-title match.

  • Scorpio & Faarooq d. Terry Funk & Bradshaw

In a pre-match interview, veteran Funk announced he would be taking an extended break after the match. The news surprised and upset Bradshaw. Scorpio scored the pin on Funk with a 450 splash. After, Bradshaw beat everyone up, including his partner.

  • Mark Henry d. Vader

In a battle of 400-pounders, youngster Henry upset the veteran Vader. It was one of Vader’s last WWF matches.

  • Disciples of Apocalypse: Skull & 8-Ball (w/Paul Ellering) d. LOD 2000: Hawk & Animal

The era of LOD was just about over, and the ending wasn’t pretty. Hawk & Animal were seeking revenge against former manager Paul Ellering, who recently turned on them. The identical DOA twins won when the pulled a switcheroo, while Animal was distracted by Ellering (the third time they used that finish in this show at that point).

  • Dungeon match: Owen Hart d. Ken Shamrock

This match did not take place in Fresno, but was taped in the famed “Dungeon,” of the Hart House in Calgary. MMA star Dan Severn served as special referee of the match taking place in a basement. Hart won when he hit Shamrock in the back of the head with a dumbbell.

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