What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – May 18, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package recaps how Vince McMahon has
stacked the deck against WWF Champion Steve Austin at Over the Edge and the end
of last week’s show where Austin and McMahon were in a tag team match against
the Rock and D-Lo Brown.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are live from Nashville, Tennessee
.

Vince McMahon, Pat
Patterson, and Gerald Brisco walk out and McMahon announces that his “devastating
clothesline” gave Steve Austin a mild concussion.  He announces that for Austin’s protection he
is barred from the arena.  Austin shows
up and tells the security guard that he is coming into the building one way or
the other.  Dude Love walks out, in a
suit of course (it’s so weird seeing Foley with slicked back hair in this
role), and promises that Over the Edge will be a special night for everyone
that hates Austin.  McMahon then calls
out Dustin Runnels, who has a bad knee due to knee surgery, and then books him
to face Love.  The stipulation is that if
Runnels wins he will become the number one contender to the WWF title and get
the Over the Edge title match against Austin, but if he loses he will have to
work for thirty days without being paid. 
The heat for this segment is off the charts and the great thing about
the Austin-McMahon angle was its ability to elevate, albeit temporarily, some
of those who were involved in it.  1 for 1
Jerry “the King” Lawler
is shown helping someone covered in a sheet out of a van and escorts them into
the arena.  The security guard checks to
make sure it’s not Austin and lets them in.
Opening
Contest:  Val Venis beats 2 Cold Scorpio
with the Money Shot at 6:10:
This is Venis’s debut and he gets a good reaction, which
is why vignettes work before debuting a character.  It’s sad how quickly the WWF gave up on the
Funk-Scorpio team because the tag division was really devoid of talent at this
time.  It’s not really clear if Venis is
a face or a heel, so that leads to the crowd being unsure of how to react to
Scorpio’s role in the match.  Even though
you anticipate a squash, this ends up as a very competitive match whereby
Scorpio is playing the 1998 version of Tito Santana.  It’s too long for a debut, though, and the
crowd loses interest despite the match being technically proficient.  Venis also didn’t really show a lot of
dimensions to his character to distinguish him from a generic wrestler.  Scorpio misses a moonsault and Venis takes
advantage to win.  Rating:  ** ¼ (2 for 2)
When the security guard will not let Steve
Austin into the building, he assaults him.
Austin walks out
to the ring and calls out McMahon and his stooges.  He proposes a three-on-one fight between them
and McMahon hilariously backs out by saying that he does not show up to a
street fight in a tweed jacket.  The
stooges cut small promos on Austin and McMahon decides to book a two-on-one
street fight and won’t tell Austin which two of them he will fight.  This had a lot of great back and forth,
probably capped by Patterson denying that he sucked and Austin saying that he
thought he did as a small inside reference. 
3 for 3
Another vignette
for Edge is aired.  We must embrace the
Edge and let go….
Lawler tells his
disguised man that he is there to protect him and not to get makeup or enjoy
the other amenities backstage.
Sable comes out
and calls out Marc Mero and proposes an amicable split.  Mero says that’s not possible because she
signed a contract two years ago that made her his property.  Ross makes a hilarious comment about how the
Emancipation Proclamation ended contracts like that.  Mero demands that she get into his corner for
his match with Terry Funk tonight.
Terry Funk defeats
“Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Sable) with a DDT at 4:01:
Funk and Mero brawl back and forth until Funk knocks the
referee down while pounding on Mero in the corner.  Mero hits a low blow, but Sable hops on the
apron to tell the referee about it, allowing Funk to surprise Mero with a DDT
and win.  Predictable ending and this was
too rushed to really draw anyone in. 
Funk recovering seconds after Mero’s TKO to get to the finish was also
ridiculous.  Rating:  *¼ (3 for 4)
Police officers
arrive at the arena to arrest Steve Austin.
The 1-800-COLLECT
Rewind segment is the Undertaker destroying Jerry Lawler on last week’s show.
The police
investigate whether Lawler’s disguised man is Steve Austin.  They realize it is not and move on.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear about the recent fortunes of a former WWF television
announcer!
Chainz &
Skull beat LOD 2000 when 8-Ball pins Animal with an illegal switch at 2:39:
Since LOD 2000 and the DOA are booked to face each other
at Over the Edge, Chainz & Skull face DOA so as not to give that match away
for free.  Based on Ross’s commentary,
this feud is quickly turning into nearly every other LOD feud since the summer
of 1997 where the storyline is “can these old guys still fight?”  Things get really sloppy when all hell breaks
loose and 8-Ball sneaks in out of the crowd to give the DOA another win via
illegal switch.  I’m over that finish and
this feud at this point.  After the
match, the LOD demand a six man match against the DOA next week and they will
bring a mystery partner with them.
This week’s
Celebrity Deathmatch features Steve Austin.
Ross discusses
that Paul Bearer is using DNA testing to confirm that he is Kane’s father.  Kane wears a ski mask at the medical clinic
as his DNA is being taken because he has awful burns on his face (allegedly).
Lawler comes out
to do commentary and Ross makes fun of him by saying that he’s a grown man
wearing a crown carrying around another man in a blanket.  Lawler unveils the man to be Al Snow and says
that he has promised Snow a meeting with Vince McMahon.  Snow wants his meeting with McMahon immediately
and won’t shut up on commentary, so Lawler relocates him to the first row.
#1 Contender’s
Match for the WWF Championship:  Dude
Love (w/Gerald Brisco & Pat Patterson) defeats Dustin Runnels at 2:19
Runnels gets the jobber entrance so astute wrestling fans
know that his odds aren’t very good. 
Runnels is wearing an “FU” shirt, which is a piece of Goldust
merchandise so I guess he hasn’t fully ditched the character after all.  After some quick brawling, Runnels hits the
bulldog, but Brisco distracts the referee and that allows Love to apply the
Mandible Claw (or Love Handle if you prefer) to win.  1997-1998 has not been a good year for
Goldust.  He lost his wife for thirty
days to Brian Pillman and now he doesn’t get paid for thirty days.  With this quick match, which made Runnels an
afterthought, they’ve pretty much destroyed his new, non-Goldust persona’s
credibility.  This may have happened
because Runnels had knee surgery done just prior to this show.
Police officers
come to Steve Austin’s locker room and arrest him.  After the commercial break, McMahon and his
stooges come to Austin’s locker room and gloat as he’s taken away.
Dick Togo &
Mens Teioh (w/Yamiguchi –San & Funaki) wrestle The Headbangers to a double
disqualification at 5:30:
The Headbangers are attacked by Kaientai on their way to
the ring and the flow of this bout, like many of Kaientai’s matches is disjointed
between some nice tag team moves. 
Eventually, Funaki gets into the ring to assist a beatdown of Thrasher
and that triggers Bradshaw and Taka Michinoku running out to the ring and
triggering a double disqualification. 
What a waste of time this was.  Rating: 
½* (3 for 5)
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Vader hitting a
Vader Bomb on Barry Windham on last week’s show is the Slam of the Week.
More clips of Paul
Bearer and Kane at the DNA facility are shown. 
Bearer doesn’t like needles and he’s hilarious in this segment with his
crack of “I’m going to show people I’m Kane’s daddy!” at the end.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws
(Champions w/Chyna) beat The Rock & Owen Hart when The Road Dogg pins the
Rock at 4:48
This is also a preview of Over the Edge, where the
Outlaws and Triple H will face Owen Hart, Kama Mustafa, and D-Lo Brown.  The crowd works up a cool “Rocky sucks” chant
to match the beat of the Nation’s theme music as the Nation heads to the
ring.  Looking back at this feud, I have
no idea why I rooted for DX since their sophomoric antics do not translate well
at all sixteen years later.  DX and the
Nation brawl before the bout and it takes a commercial break to settle things
down.  Owen has incorporated a new piece
of his gimmick where he bites his opponent’s ears and draws blood.  Faarooq gives the Rock a piledriver behind
the referee’s back when all hell breaks loose and the Outlaws manage to retain
the titles.  If this was given ten
minutes it would’ve been very good since all of the guys in this match had good
chemistry with each other.  Rating: 
** (4 for 6)
Steve Austin is
shown sitting in the police cruiser and Ross wonders why they haven’t taken him
to jail yet.  The answer comes after the
commercial break as Austin gives an “apology” to the security guard (Austin
just tells the guard he’s so stupid he didn’t let him into the arena and flips
him off) and walks off as a free man.
Kevin Kelly hears from
the doctor who conducted the DNA test on Paul Bearer and Kane that Bearer is
Kane’s father.  When the lights go out
for Kane’s entrance, Ross jokes with Lawler than the Undertaker has appeared
behind them.  Bearer tells the Undertaker
that his mother was a whore and the Undertaker charges the ring.  When the Undertaker gets beaten down, Vader
makes the save and brawls with Kane as the Undertaker chases Bearer to the
locker room.  The crowd is really into
seeing Bearer get destroyed by the Undertaker, which is a testament to how well
he played this role.  5 for 7
Handicap Street
Fight with Sergeant Slaughter as Guest Referee: 
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin wrestles Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco to
a no contest at 4:16:
Ross tells the audience that Patterson does “rear end
work” at the Brisco Brothers Body Shop (which Brisco wears a t-shirt
advertising).  Patterson has a t-shirt
emphasizing his first Intercontinental title reign.  The fact that Slaughter is referenced as “Sergeant”
and not “Commissioner” Slaughter anymore is telling as the WWF is trying to
streamline its authority figures. 
Slaughter takes offense at Austin’s banter before the match and he
clotheslines Austin from behind to give Brisco and Patterson the advantage.  After Austin gives Patterson and Brisco a
pair of Stunners, Slaughter tries to put him in a Cobra Clutch, but Austin gets
out and gives him a Stunner.  Dude Love
runs out and he and Austin brawl when a fan in a Steve Austin mask comes out of
the crowd and hits him with a chair (coupled with a funny strut by McMahon that
mimics Austin’s head bob).  Austin doesn’t
sell it and the fan is soon revealed to be Vince McMahon.  After a brief fight, Love puts Austin in the
Love Handle and McMahon and his cronies triumph as we go off the air.  Rating:  ½* (5 for 7)
The Final Report Card:  Aside from the disappointment that was Dude
Love-Dustin Runnels, this show still had its fun moments.  Ross and Lawler’s banter throughout the
second hour is fantastic and really brings the show up another notch.  There was not a great deal of angle
advancement on this show, but that didn’t matter because the Nashville crowd
was hot for everything and treated the main event like WrestleMania VI.  The feud with Love is one of Austin’s more
underappreciated programs and it was a vital part of making Austin a
blue-collar hero.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.3 (vs. 2.51 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up