The Lo-Down is a continuing series from Fill The Steins in which we explore the WWF/E career of the University of Maine’s greatest professional wrestler, D’Lo Brown. Thanks to the awesome new WWE Network, we’re reliving D’Lo’s biggest and best matches, most of which coincided with the height of pro wrestling’s last great boom period. To catch up on what you’ve missed so far, just type “D’Lo Brown” in the search box located in the far right column of the page. Now, it’s match time!
When we last left our hero at 1998′s WWF Unforgiven pay-per-view, D’Lo Brown was smack-dab in the middle of a transitioning Nation of Domination faction. Faarooq had been ousted by The Rock as the group’s leader and the Nation was floundering with back-to-back multi-man tag team match losses on PPV. In an effort to turn things around, the NOD enlisted the help of a very accomplished superstar from one of the greatest pro wrestling families of all-time, Owen Hart.
Hart was in the midst of feuding with Triple H over the WWF European Championship and Hart’s addition to the NOD extended that rivalry to now include the Triple H-led Degeneration-X. This was actually a pretty noteworthy step up for the NOD. Up to this point, they had only been feuding with a mish-mash of thrown-together singles wrestlers and their former leader Faarooq. By being placed in a program with the high-profile DX, it elevated the NOD’s place on the card.
This new rivalry could only mean good things for our favorite wrestling Black Bear, D’Lo Brown, as well. With the NOD moving into a more marquee place on the show, D’Lo would now be given even more of an opportunity to shine against even bigger stars. So, how did he do? Was the Nation able to snap their PPV losing streak? Let’s get to the action and find out!
The Match: The Nation of Domination (D’Lo Brown, Owen Hart & Kama Mustafa) vs. Degeneration-X (Triple H, Road Dogg & Billy Gunn)
The Event: WWF Over the Edge: In Your House 1998
The Place: Wisconsin Center Arena, Milwaukee, WI
The Date: May 31, 1998
If you’ve been a loyal reader of The Lo-Down from the beginning, you’ve probably caught on that these NOD multi-man tag matches tend to work on a bit of a formula. That formula almost always includes D’Lo starting the match for his team, and this encounter is no different. Over the last couple of PPVs, that formula has also included Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer Jim Ross making a comment early on about how bright D’Lo’s future is in the WWF. Again, the formula held true here, with JR stating very early in the going, “D’Lo Brown’s an outstanding new prodigy” in the WWF. Explicit, high praise like that is generally a good sign for the near-term booking prospects of a pro wrestler.
Anyway, to the match, where D’Lo starts things off with a much slower, more plodding style than normal. This is likely to compensate for the fact that he’s starting the match with DX’s Road Dogg, who is, besides D’Lo himself, the most inexperienced worker in the match. Nevertheless, D’Lo maintains much of the early advantage before he tags in Hart, who immediately gets isolated by DX for a nearly five minute stretch. Once Hart is able to escape, he tags D’Lo back in, who falls victim to more of the same, until he and the rest of the NOD are finally able to turn the tables thanks to some good ol’ fashioned heel cheating to gain the upper hand on the Road Dogg.
The NOD tag formula is once again on display, as the Nation is able to maintain offensive control and prevent Road Dogg from tagging one of his partners. This offensive control is highlighted by D’Lo’s acrobatic moonsault off the top rope and his now-patented head-shaking trash talk.
However, as with previous NOD match-ups, it was once again a missed offensive move by D’Lo that cleared the way for the NOD’s opponent, in this case Road Dogg, to make a tag. Sure enough, the formula continued to hold as that “hot tag” led to all six men in the match fighting in a chaotic scene in the ring, culminating with D’Lo taking a spike piledriver onto one of DX’s tag team championship belts.
In a twist that could only happen in the wild and unpredictable (yet totally predictable) world of professional wrestling, that’s where the formula stopped. Unlike the last two PPV matches where the NOD went down in defeat, this time, the Nation’s newest recruit proved to be the difference. With D’Lo “unconscious” from the piledriver and the referee’s back conveniently turned away to the action that’d spilled outside the ring, Owen Hart was able to land Triple H’s own Pedigree finishing maneuver on Triple H himself, just in time for the referee to come back in and count the three at 18:35.
The Result: The Nation of Domination d. Degeneration-X when Owen Hart pinned Triple H with a Pedigree
Match Rating: **1/4 (out of *****)
D’Lo Brown Rating: *** (out of *****)
Final Analysis: As evidenced by the number of times the word “formula” appears in this review, this was a pretty standard, straightforward tag team wrestling match. While there was nothing spectacular here and the crowd appeared, at points, to be disengaged, there was nothing actively bad, either. The final booking made sense, also. Having Hart secure the pin positioned the NOD as being stronger than ever because of his inclusion while creating the opportunity to further extend the NOD/DX feud. As for D’Lo, well, this was the first match where he didn’t really make much progress over previous outings. That, too, makes sense, however, when one considers the focal point of this match needed to be Owen Hart. Having said that, D’Lo continued to prove himself as a “solid hand” who could not only put in good work, but also do so in an entertaining way. His unique athleticism coupled with his in-match big mouth (big, even by pro wrestling standards) meant that he soon wouldn’t be just another cog in a six-man tag team wheel. In fact, championship gold would be in D’Lo’s not-too-distant future. Come back next time to continue his journey with us!
Until then, share your memories of D’Lo Brown’s impending singles push and 1998′s WWF action in general. Leave your messages in the comments section below and join the conversation on Twitter using #FillTheSteins!
Photo Courtesy: notinhalloffame.com