–A series of narrated photographs recaps last night’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre pay-per-view.
–Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Birmingham, Alabama.
–Commissioner Shawn Michaels comes out and welcomes out the participants in the WrestleMania main event: WWF Champion Mankind and Steve Austin. Before anything can be said between them, Vince McMahon interrupts, wearing a neck brace and selling his beating from Austin the previous night. McMahon claims to be a broken man and that he wants a fresh start with Austin on the condition that Austin apologizes. Austin does apologize, but only for beating McMahon more than he intended. McMahon tells Michaels that people deserve a WWF title rematch between Mankind and the Rock because their match last night ended in a draw so he needs to do his job and book it for tonight. Mankind says he needs a week to recover, bringing out the Rock, who continues to goad Michaels into booking a title match for this evening. Mankind decides to take on the Rock after all and to make sure that there is a winner Michaels announces that tonight’s title match will be a ladder match. After that, McMahon welcomes out Paul Wight, who he says will be the special guest referee of the title match at WrestleMania. Austin simply flips him off from the ring to end the segment.
–Opening Mixed Tag Team Contest: “Double J” Jeff Jarrett & Debra wrestle D-Lo Brown & Ivory to a double disqualification at 2:04:
This is a continuation of last night’s pay-per-view, where Ivory ripped Debra’s clothes off following Debra’s interference in the WWF tag team championship match between D-Lo and Mark Henry and Jarrett and Owen Hart. D-Lo and Jarrett exchange finishers, with the ladies interrupting the pins, and the referee loses control during the ensuing four-way brawl, producing a double disqualification. After the match, Debra smashes a guitar across Ivory’s back, which gets a big pop from the crowd.
–The stooges welcome Paul Wight to the company, along with the rest of the Corporation.
–I have to pause here and comment on a brief local commercial that is on this episode, which features Yokozuna in his 700+ pound glory training guys to wrestle and hyping the Buffalo Wrestling Federation in Las Vegas. It was quite weird to see a big guy like Yoko trying to teach guys how to work. And besides that, why would you call a Las Vegas-based promotion “the Buffalo Wrestling Federation”?
–Triple H and X-Pac come to the ring and they are mad about losing last night at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre to Kane and Chyna. Triple H demands a rematch immediately. They walk out with Shane McMahon, but Shane says there will be no rematch. He tells Chyna she has the night off, prompting X-Pac to tell Shane to take Chyna’s place in a tag match tonight. Shane accepts that challenge on the condition that X-Pac puts his European title on the line during the match.
–Backstage footage shows International Champion Val Venis and Ryan Shamrock making out.
–Mankind is shown training for the ladder match with a ladder backstage. He is not climbing it quickly, though, due to the beating that he took on his knee during the Last Standing Match at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
–Intercontinental Championship Match: Val Venis (w/Ryan Shamrock) pins “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn with a German suplex at 2:47:
Gunn helped Venis win the Intercontinental title at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre by making a quick count on Ken Shamrock, so this is his reward I suppose. Both men go through some perfectly acceptable wrestling sequences until Gunn knocks Ryan Shamrock off the apron, which allows Venis to retain the title. However, she gets no reward for her help as Venis dumps her.
–A new WrestleMania ad draws attention to the fact that Lawrence Taylor beat Bam Bam Bigelow, taking a shot at a talent that is currently in WCW.
–Billy Gunn tells Ryan Shamrock that he is sorry for knocking her off the apron in the last match but is attacked by Ken Shamrock until WWF officials intervene.
–The Ministry of Darkness makes an appearance, with the Undertaker warning Vince McMahon that the WWF will soon belong to him as his wrestlers will come under his ministry. The Undertaker says that the Ministry let the Big Bossman go after taking him last night and that the Ministry is powerful enough to destroy the Corporation. The Big Bossman issues a challenge for a six man tag between three members of the Ministry and three members of the Corporation. The problem with this is that the Bossman was “abducted” last night but it is unclear what significance that has. It really looks silly when the Bossman is right back in character and warning the Undertaker to watch himself.
–Shane McMahon is shown training backstage with Kane and Chyna.
–The ending of last night’s intergender tag team match between Kane and Chyna and Triple H and X-Pac is the U.S. Coast Guard Rescue of the Week.
–Tag Team Match for the European Championship: Shane McMahon & Kane (w/Chyna) defeat Triple H & X-Pac (Champion) when McMahon pins X-Pac after hitting him with the European title to win the championship at 4:20:
Classic Russo here where someone can lose their singles championship in a tag team match if they are pinned. For all of its limitations (namely Shane’s inability to do very much aside from throwing weak punches), this is a fun tag match as Kane and Chyna run interference to keep Shane out of trouble. The end comes when X-Pac’s bronco buster is blocked by Shane, who nails him with the European title. Rating: **
–The Corporation celebrates Shane’s title victory backstage, with Kane hilariously turning away and stalking off when Shane pours alcohol on his head.
–Hardcore Championship Match: Bob Holly (Champion) beats Steve Blackman 2:40
This was before Blackman discovered that he could do crazy martial arts stuff with all kinds of weapons so he is not much of a threat to Holly at this point. Kevin Dunn completely blows the camera work here, as Holly and Blackman immediately go backstage and there is no camera to follow them for about thirty seconds. Lots of garbage brawling, with Holly getting an unlikely assist from Droz, who blasts Blackman with a wrench as payback for Blackman standing up for Kevin Kelly, who Droz bullied a week or so ago.
–After the match, Holly gets on the mic and says that he is hardcore and that he will accept all challengers for his championship. Bart Gunn interrupts, with Holly telling him that he was the only person that Bart did not knock out in the Brawl for All. Bart says that he will accept Holly’s open challenge and will face him for the Hardcore title next week. Yay, a New Midnight Express blowoff!
–Mr. McMahon falling off the steel cage and through an announce table at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is the Crispy M&Ms Slam of the Week.
–Kevin Kelly interviews WWF Women’s Champion Sable. Sable announces that she will be on the cover of the March 8 edition of Playboy Magazine. She gloats about her media appearances, thereby beginning the process of a heel turn, before being interrupted by her stalker. Sable tells the stalker that she cannot be like her and has security escort the stalker backstage. Arrogant heel Sable was a much better character than face Sable.
–Vince McMahon is shown giving some instructions to the Rock backstage.
–Butterbean is shown in the crowd, with Cole saying that the hot rumor is that Butterbean wants to fight Bart Gunn in a Brawl for All match.
–The Big Bossman, Ken Shamrock & Test wrestle The Acolytes & Mideon to a no contest at 2:50:
Makes sense for the Undertaker to pick the Acolytes over the Brood for this match, but the inclusion of Mideon is once again puzzling. Maybe sales of toy eyes in glass containers were exploding on the house show circuit. The Bossman and Mideon renew their thrilling encounter from the previous evening until a six-way brawl gives way to the lights going out and the rest of the Ministry walks out. Things get ridiculous here, as Shane McMahon is dragged out and presented to the Undertaker, who chokes him and presents him with a document that is to be given to his father.
–Ladder Match for the WWF Championship: The Rock beats Mankind (Champion) to win the title at 12:58:
This was the first ladder match in RAW history. Steve Austin comes out to do commentary since he has a stake in who wins here. He immediately wins me over by asking Cole when Jim Ross is coming back. You can tell that both men are still worn out from the Last Man Standing Match the previous night, but they give this their best effort. The Rock intelligently targets Mankind’s injured knee, but the match slows down a bit when they brawl away from the ring since there is no way for anyone to climb a ladder out there (which Austin notes on commentary). Mankind appears to have the match won by putting the Rock in Mr. Socko on the ladder, but Paul Wight appears and gives Mankind a chokeslam off the ladder, enabling the Rock to become WWF champion for the third time in three months. This ends the Rock-Mankind feud after a series of brutal specialty matches and it was a fitting send off while also setting up two WrestleMania bouts. Rating: ***¾
–The show goes off the air before we can see Steve Austin give the Rock a Stunner after sneaking into the ring.
The Final Report Card: This RAW did a good job building for the future, establishing Steve Austin and the Rock as the main event for WrestleMania, while also laying the foundation for a Paul Wight-Mankind feud. It also continued the character development of Bob Holly in the Hardcore division, gave X-Pac a new feud in the European division, and started a Ministry-Corporation feud that would go on beyond WrestleMania. Couple all of this with a stellar main event and this RAW gets a thumbs up rating.
Monday Night War Rating: 5.9 (vs. 3.9 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Up