What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 15, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Kane and Mankind’s
beatdown of Steve Austin at the end of last week’s show is replayed.
Jim Ross and Michael Cole are in the booth
and they are live from San Antonio, Texas. 
Hell in a Cell is hanging above the ring, but Ross does not know why.

Sable walks out
and introduces Vince McMahon, who brought her back to the WWF.  A wrestling company not sticking with a
retirement stipulation?  No!  McMahon has Sable read a prepared statement
that denies his use of charitable organizations to get back at Steve Austin and
promising to bring those who attacked Austin to justice.  McMahon kisses Sable on the cheek, but before
he can leave, Austin comes out with his sights set on beating up McMahon.  McMahon begs Austin to listen to reason and
says that the Undertaker arranged Austin’s beating on last week’s show.  See, the cops that were called on him just gave
the Undertaker an excuse not to back Austin up. 
The Undertaker proceeds to come out and calls McMahon a liar.  Before the Undertaker can beatdown McMahon,
though, the lights go out and Kane and Mankind show up with Paul Bearer in
tow.  Bearer piles onto the Undertaker
accusations by claiming that the Undertaker worked with him on last week’s plan.  Bearer then challenges Austin and the
Undertaker to a tag team match in the cell against Kane and Mankind and argues
that the entrance ramp that separates them is the “highway to hell.”  The Sable part of this segment was
nonsensical, but McMahon begging for his life and planting the seeds of an
Undertaker-led conspiracy was nice storytelling.  1 for
1
Opening King of
the Ring Qualifying Contest:  The Rock
beats Vader with a Rock Bottom at 4:40:
The rest of the Nation is barred from ringside for this
bout, just like last week’s show.  Cole is
still calling the Rock the “co-leader” of the Nation, which makes no sense now
that Faarooq is no longer in the group. 
Looking back at things now, I wish they had given Vader more time off
and then had him come back as part of Paul Bearer’s faction.  It would have gelled with Vader’s post-match
promo at Over the Edge about needing to re-evaluate his career.  They also could have booked Vader to go to
the semi-finals and face Ken Shamrock in a rematch of their Cold Day in Hell
encounter.  The Rock knocks Vader out of
the ring, where Mark Henry attacks him and gives him a splash, and that allows
the Rock to advance into the tournament and face Triple H or X-Pac in the first
round.  Rating:  ** (2 for 2)
The Road Dogg
gives a scouting report to Triple H and X-Pac on how they can beat each other.
Edge is coming!
Darren Drozdov
pins “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) after Marc Mero gives Jarrett a
low blow at 2:15:
During the bout, Mero and Jacqueline come out and Mero
rants about Sable’s return to the company. 
Jacqueline and Lee get into a confrontation on the floor, which
distracts Jarrett and results in Mero giving his future King of the Ring
opponent a low blow.  Droz takes advantage to notch his biggest win to date.
Billy Gunn tells
Triple H and X-Pac why they are going to stage the Match of the Year tonight.
Val Venis defeats
Chainz with the Money Shot at 4:37:
The Val Venis momentum tour continues as he dispatches
with the directionless Chainz.  They gave
this match too much time since the crowd could care less about Chainz and the
booking team wasn’t going to do anything with him after this match.  Rating:  *½ (2 for 3)
The Undertaker
tells Kevin Kelly that he can’t trust Steve Austin, but Austin can trust him
since his intentions of wanting a WWF title shot at clear.
Triple H tells
X-Pac that he can’t lay down for him since it’s the King of the Ring.  X-Pac says that he doesn’t need to take a
dive and wishes Triple H the best of luck.
Dustin Runnels
beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a bulldog at 4:08:
Returning the favor, Jeff Jarrett, Tennessee Lee, and
Southern Justice walk out during the match and Jarrett runs Mero down on
commentary.  After Mero hits a super
hurricanrana, Jarrett distracts the referee and Sable walks out to distract
Mero, enabling Runnels to score the upset. 
Classic Russo overbooking of that match, but I have to give them credit
for making the Mero-Jarrett first round match much more than TV filler.  This is Runnels first win since ditching the
Goldust gimmick.  Rating:  ** (3 for 4)
Chyna tells Triple
H and X-Pac that it’s time for their match
.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Dustin Runnels, who says he is happy with ending his losing streak
and that he needs to thank Jesus Christ for his victory.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler joins Ross to do commentary for the second hour of the show.
King of the Ring
Qualifying Match:  Triple H defeats X-Pac
by count out at 5:15:
This is X-Pac’s first match since his return to the
company following WrestleMania XIV. 
Triple H is also defending his King of the Ring title.  Chyna plays the role as a one woman
lumberjack, tossing both guys into the ring and keeping the action flowing.  The Rock distracts Triple H by cutting a
promo in the crowd and that allows Owen Hart to crotch X-Pac on the guardrail
and disable him.  Triple H checks on his
friend after the Rock’s promo and does not want to take a count out win, but
X-Pac tells him to get in the ring and take the victory.  Standard match, but it was well booked in
that it did not make X-Pac look weak on his return, advanced the DX-Nation
storyline, and pushed the King of the Ring as a big deal.  Triple H will now face the Rock in the first
round.  Rating:  ** (4 for 5)
The Undertaker’s
chokeslam spree on last week’s show is the JVC Kaboom! of the Week.
Al Snow walks out
with his old Avatar mask and Lawler confronts him in the ring.  Snow says that the Avatar gimmick was a dumb
idea cooked up by Vince McMahon (which it was) and he says that he is going to
make two citizens arrests: McMahon for attempted murder of his career and
Lawler for lewd conduct.  Lawler tries to
throw Head into the crowd, but that leads to Snow attacking him and giving a
referee in the ring a Snow Plow.  Snow
beats up a security guard and proceeds to flee into the crowd.  They are really turning their wheels with
Snow right now and they need to get to the point.  4 for
6
Steve Austin tells
Michael Cole that he can’t trust the Undertaker because the Undertaker wants
his WWF title.
Owen Hart &
Mark Henry beat Ken Shamrock & Dan Severn via disqualification when
D-Generation X interferes at 4:41:
Shamrock and Severn are reluctant partners in this match
and Shamrock doesn’t even acknowledge his partner’s presence after making his
entrance.  This is also a preview of the
King of the Ring first round, as Shamrock will face Henry and Severn will face
Owen in upcoming tournament matchups. 
Everyone looks good in this match, which features some fun technical
sequences between Owen and his face opponents, and Owen manages to put Shamrock
in the Sharpshooter, but DX interferes before Owen can get him to submit.  Rating:  **¼ (5 for 7)
After the bell,
the Nation runs out to fight DX and Vader runs out to assist DX and attack Mark
Henry.  WWF officials have to separate
everyone.
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Tag Team Royal
Rumble to Determine the #1 Contenders to the WWF Tag Team Championship:  Kane & Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) win after
eliminating Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio at 8:30:
This is the first tag team Royal Rumble in WWF history
and thirty second entry times are used, so the action is fast and furious.  Just like the WrestleMania XIV battle royal,
when one member of a team is eliminated, their partner must also leave the
match.  Kane & Mankind are surprise
entrants and enter as the second team, facing LOD 2000, who draws number
one.  Other participating teams are the
New Midnight Express, the Headbangers, the Disciples of Apocalypse, Kurrgan
& Golga, Too Much (Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor), Faarooq &
Steve Blackman (who seemingly love to tag together despite not wrestling that many matches as a team), Taka Michinoku & Bradshaw, and Terry Funk & 2 Cold
Scorpio.  The eliminations come slowly
and then accelerate once all of the teams have entered the match.  Funk tries to use a chair to help his team
win a title shot, but that doesn’t account for Mankind, who uses the chair to
wear out Funk and eliminate him.  Putting
Kane & Mankind in the match acted as a spoiler, since no other team could
possibly beat them, but the closing sequence with Funk and Scorpio was fun
while it lasted.  6 for 8
After the
commercial break, Hell in a Cell lowers around Kane and Mankind in the ring for
the main event.  Of course, the WWF isn’t
giving away that tag match on free TV, so we get a wild brawl instead between
Austin and the heels after the Undertaker does not show up when announced.  As Austin fights his opponents on the ramp,
Paul Bearer locks himself in the cell, but the Undertaker climbs out from underneath
the ring and beats him to a bloody pulp. 
After Austin decimates Mankind, he climbs to the top of the cell to
fight with Kane and that plays us out. 
The crowd loved every moment of this. 
7 for 9
The Final Report Card:  This show really started to move us through
the “Highway to Hell” storyline with the Undertaker accused of plotting behind
Steve Austin’s back.  Since the
Undertaker had not been a heel since early 1992, the possibility that he might
turn was a big deal at the time.  The
midcard is also developing nicely, although the Al Snow storyline is beginning
to wear thin.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.3 (vs. 4.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up