The Lo-Down: UMaine’s D’Lo Brown opens the show at Unforgiven ’98

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 in early 1998, D’Lo Brown’s Nation of Domination was on the losing end of a 10-man tag team match at February’s No Way Out of Texas pay-per-view event.  Not only that, but the cracks in the NOD’s solidarity continued to widen as The Rock looked to dethrone Faarooq as leader of the group.

Since then, D’Lo appeared in his first WrestleMania on March 29 as part of the show-opening tag team battle royal.  As a loyal reader of Fill The Steins, you might think that match would be a part of our Lo-Down series.  If that’s your thinking, you obviously haven’t seen that match.  It’s awful.  It’s a train wreck.  It’s not worth the bandwidth to review it…trust us.  Just know that D’Lo was unceremoniously eliminated en route to LOD 2000 (a repackaged Legion of Doom with Sunny as their manager) winning the match.

In the WrestleMania fallout, the inevitable finally happened…The Rock usurped Faarooq as the leader of the NOD, thus setting up a show-opening six-man tag team match at the next PPV, Unforgiven, between the NOD and Faarooq & his new allies, Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman.  So, how did D’Lo and the new-look Nation fare?  Let’s get to the action!

The Match: The Nation of Domination (The Rock, D’Lo Brown & Mark Henry) vs. Faarooq, Ken Shamrock & Steve Blackman

The Event: WWF Unforgiven: In Your House 1998

The Place: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC

The Date: April 26, 1998

Like every other PPV match in which D’Lo Brown has been involved since making his PPV debut at 1997’s Badd Blodd, D’Lo was once again involved in a non-one-on-one match and had the distinction of kicking off the action for his team.  Unlike most of his previous appearances, however, this time D’Lo got to showcase a fair amount of his offense (and head-shaking trash-talking) while working the first four minutes of the match himself.

During this initial stretch, the announcers, WWE Hall of Famers Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler, continued a trend they started at No Way Out of Texas…aggressively putting D’Lo Brown over.  At one point, Lawler asks, “D’Lo is one of the most underrated talents in the WWF.  Wouldn’t you agree, JR?”  Ross, in one of the few times he and his broadcast partner would agree over the course of the three hour show, validated Lawler’s opinion that D’Lo was one of the top up-and-comers in the WWF.

After his initial, mostly positive, four minute opening sequence, D’Lo once again found himself back in the match less than minute later.  Again, D’Lo was given much more offense than his opponents.  Not only was D’Lo beating up the other team (mostly Faarooq and Blackman), he was doing so much heelish trash-talking that Lawler was prompted to compare him to Charles Barkley.

From this point forward, the “classic tag team formula” took hold, where the heel team (in this case, the NOD) isolated one member of the face team (in this case, Steve Blackman).  This went on for over six minutes, with the NOD tagging frequently, working cohesively, and not allowing Blackman near his partners to make a tag.  The heel offense finally came to an end when our favorite wrestling Black Bear missed a top rope moonsault, thereby allowing Blackman to make a tag to Faarooq.

As is often the case in six-man tags, all hell broke loose at this point, with all six men piling in the ring, wildly brawling with each other.  Ultimately, the brawling spilled to the outside, leaving just Faarooq and The Rock (“coincidentally”, the two legal men in the match) in the ring.  The finish came soon thereafter when Faarooq hit his trademark “Dominator” on The Rock to secure the pin.

The Result: Faarooq, Ken Shamrock & Steve Blackman d. The Nation of Domination when Faarooq pinned The Rock at 13:37

Match Rating: **1/2 (out of *****)

D’Lo Brown Rating***1/2 (out of *****)

Final Analysis: Often times, the first couple of months after WrestleMania are considered a “reset” period in the WWF/E.  Because of the finality WrestleMania usually produces, it’s a great time to introduce new wrestlers and push fresh talent.  In D’Lo Brown’s case in 1998, however, it’s less of a fresh start and more of a continuation of everything that’s been building, both in terms of the ongoing NOD storyline and his individual elevation on the card.  As with his previous multi-man tag match appearances, D’Lo did most of the work for his team and, while he didn’t have the biggest spots in the match (those continued to be reserved for soon-to-be megastar, The Rock), he did his work well.  D’Lo proving himself as a “solid hand” would continue to pay dividends throughout 1998, as you’ll see when you come back for the next installment of the Lo-Down!

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: Angelfire

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