The Lo-Down: D’Lo Brown makes his PPV singles debut

DLoThe 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 Over The Edge pay-per-view, D’Lo Brown and the new-look Nation of Domination were victorious over Degeneration-X in a six-man tag team match.  Since that time, a LOT has happened to our favorite wrestling Black Bear.

First, D’Lo was eliminated by Dan Severn in the opening round of the King of the Ring tournament on an episode of “Monday Night RAW”.  Then, on the July 20, 1998 edition of “RAW”, D’Lo captured his first championship in the WWF when he defeated DX’s Triple H with the help of some timely interference by fellow NOD member, The Rock, to win the WWF European Championship.  That match advanced the ever-escalating feud between The Rock & Triple H and, by extension, the NOD and DX.

D’Lo would be involved in the continuation of said feud when he was booked to face DX member X-Pac at July’s WWF Fully Loaded PPV event.  This match would be very historic for D’Lo, as it was his first one-on-one PPV match as well as his first televised match since becoming European Champion.  In classic heel fashion, however, D’Lo “refused” to make this a title match, so he was in no risk of losing the belt at this event.

Despite the non-title stipulation, this was a very important match in the progression of the ongoing singles push of D’Lo Brown.  So, how did he fare?  Let’s get to the action!

The Match: D’Lo Brown (WWF European Champion) vs. X-Pac (non-title match)

The Event: WWF Fully Loaded: In Your House 1998

The Place: Selland Arena, Fresno, CA

The Date: July 26, 1998

Up to this point in our Lo-Down series, we’ve only seen D’Lo Brown compete alongside his fellow NOD members in either multi-man tag team matches or battle royals, so it’s very exciting for the UMaine alum to finally get a singles match on a big-time PPV event.  What makes this match even more exciting is that D’Lo’s oppenent, X-Pac, is a very competent worker, so it’s fair to expect a strong match from these two.

Heading into the contest, the European Championship belt wasn’t the only accessory D’Lo added to his wardrobe.  After suffering a pectoral injury, D’Lo’s began wearing a “steel-plated” chest protector.  Of course, this is pro wrestling and D’Lo’s a bad guy, so the angle here is that D’Lo’s not really hurt and he’s only wearing the chest protector to enhance the impact to his opponents of top-rope splash moves like the Lo-Down and moonsault.  Like any good bad guy, D’Lo always looking for that unfair advantage.

As for the match itself, D’Lo and X-Pac traded offensive maneuvers for the first three minutes or so, during which time play-by-play man Jim Ross referred to D’Lo as a UMaine Black Bear for the first time on air.  After the initial back-and-forth sequence, D’Lo took control of the action with a spinning heel kick, some right hands, and a rear chinlock.  D’Lo then transitioned out of the chinlock and executed a snap mare and a leg drop, which led to a two-count and the first “D’Lo sucks” chant from a WWF PPV audience.

Like just above every competitive pro wrestling match (except for last Sunday’s SummerSlam main event), though, X-Pac made the classic face-in-peril comeback after he rolled out of the way of an attempted moonsault from D’Lo.  Of course, because of the aforementioned “steel-plated” chest protector, D’Lo took the full brunt of the impact, causing even more damage than usual.  However, during X-Pac’s comeback, D’Lo’s fellow NOD member The Godfather (formerly Kama, now a bona fide pimp…yes, you read that right) hit X-Pac while the referee was dealing with Chyna on the other side of the ring.  This opening allowed D’Lo to hit the Sky High (a modified sit-down powerbomb) for the pin at 8:27.

The Result: D’Lo Brown d. X-Pac by pinfall

Match Rating: **3/4 (out of *****)

D’Lo Brown Rating: ***1/4 (out of *****)

Final Analysis: It’s hard to do much in an eight-and-a-half minute wrestling match, but these two did just about as much as they could.  They exchanged offense in the beginning, worked in the traditional heel-dominance-followed-by-face-comeback spot, and had a schmozzy ending to keep the NOD vs. DX rivalry alive.  For his part, D’Lo looked quite comfortable in the position of heel champion and played his role well.  Anytime a heel can get a “(Your Name) sucks!” chant going during a random early-card match, that heel is doing his job.  That’s exactly what D’Lo continues to do best.  He hits all the right notes and maximizes his minutes on camera.  His work here gave Vince McMahon and the rest of the WWF higher-ups confidence that he deserved a full European title run, complete with a singles match at one of the three biggest PPVs of the year, SummerSlam.  Be sure to come back next time to see how D’Lo makes out on the biggest stage of his young career!

Until then, share your memories of D’Lo Brown’s first championship push and 1998′s WWF action in general.  Leave your messages in the comments section below and join the conversation on Twitter using #FillTheSteins!


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