(As requested, here’s the RAW from the night after Breakdown, featuring the famous Zamboni angle. This was actually one of the very first RAW episodes posted to the WWE Network back in the day, which is why I reviewed it specifically. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the even more famous hospital angle from the next week. People love the Attitude Era!)
The SmarK RAW Rant – 09.28.98
Might as well cover the other 1998 episode of RAW up on the Network right now, since NXT doesn’t appear on Hulu until Fridays now. Interestingly, this episode has the chapter marks on the timeline, which the Tyson episode was lacking. It seems to be kind of random where they show up. (Of course now all the episodes that go up are thoroughly indexed and chaptered, which is awesome of them.)
Live from Detroit, MI
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
Mr. McMahon joins us to start, carrying the smoking skull belt with him after successfully screwing Austin out of the title at Breakdown the night before. A year later, and Vince carrying the belt around would become an all-too real thing. Vince assures us that there will no rematch this time around, but as a gesture of goodwill tonight is Stone Cold Steve Austin Night. And also tonight, either Undertaker or Kane will be crowned as the new champion, complete with the official belt. The skull belt would actually disappear as promised, and pop up again with the Rock after Wrestlemania.
WWF Tag team titles: The New Age Outlaws v. Southern Justice
So yeah, I was just talking about the Godwinns’ gimmick change during a match between these two, and now here they are in their new gimmick, challenging for the belts again. So the farmers are now Mark Cantebury and Dennis Knight, Jeff Jarrett’s bodyguards. Billy gets worked over to start, but comes back with a neckbreaker on Knight. Road Dogg comes in and dodges a charge while JR keeps saying “Cantebury and Knight” like he’s trying to break a habit. Jarrett tries to get involved, but Dogg steals the guitar and hits Knight for the DQ at 3:01. This gives us dissention between the Outlaws, although Gunn’s heel turn wouldn’t come until months later. ½* (Billy Gunn’s singles pushes were the definition of “stop and start booking.”)
Submission match: Dan Severn v. Owen Hart
Severn carrying the NWA and UFC titles around on WWF TV is kind of mind-blowingly strange. Severn tackles Owen to the apron, but Owen gets his own takedown. Severn gets a suplex and running powerslam, but Owen throws him with a suplex of his own. Severn tries a dragon sleeper, but Owen reverses to a tombstone piledriver and Severn appears to be paralyzed or something at 2:14. This was an obvious riff on the famous Austin match at Summerslam 97, but since it wasn’t really any kind of “secret” as to what happened, I’m not sure what Russo was trying to say here. Also, I don’t think this ever went anywhere, and Severn would be back at the Rumble before leaving for good. ½* (Unfortunately where it went was Owen’s character feeling guilty about injuring people and turning into the Blue Blazer to compensate. It was a pretty clever idea on the surface, but executed so non-sensically that by the time we got to the fateful night, it was a waste of Owen’s talents anyway.)
Vader v. Al Snow
Vader casually pounds on Snow and adds a belly to belly for two, but Snow comes back with clotheslines that get nowhere. Vader shrugs him off again and continues beating on him, but Snow gets an enzuigiri for two. Snow goes after Sgt. Slaughter at ringside, and manages to sneak in Head and knock out Vader at 2:46. Man, they had no idea how to use Snow before the hardcore deal in 99. ½*
Meanwhile, Billy Gunn packs his bag and leaves. Who would consider that a bad thing?
Edge v. Marc Mero v. Gangrel v. Jeff Jarrett v. Droz v. D-Lo Brown
This is four corners rules, so two guys go in the ring and everyone else stands on the apron. Gangrel misses an elbow on Edge, who then rolls him up for the pin at 1:09. Elimination rules, I guess. JR makes reference to the “mysterious man” who assisted Edge the night before, which would of course turn out to be Christian. Droz suplexes Jarrett in , but walks into the Stroke. Droz tries a sleeper and both guys tumble to the floor for the double countout at 3:23. Mero quickly takes over on Edge and goes up for a shooting star, but D-Lo trips him up and Edge gets a top rope rana for two. D-Lo frog splashes Mero by mistake and Edge gets the pin at 4:23. Gangrel and the mysterious Christian distract Edge, however, and D-Lo powerbombs him for the pin at 5:08. Total junk. * D-Lo wins the #1 contendership to the European title as a result of this, and would in fact beat X-Pac the next week to win the belt. (Hey now, spoiler alert!)
And now the famous part of the show, as Vince brings out the original gold eagle title so he can award it to Undertaker or Kane. Sadly, this would be the last time that belt would be seen before the Attitude Era belt would take over for good. Vince’s big presentation is quickly interrupted by Steve Austin driving a Zamboni to ringside, and the cops swarm on Austin before he inflict any permanent damage. You’ll note Vince freely sells the beating that Austin delivers, without stopping to smirk or roll his eyes at us. We take a break and return with Vince dressing Undertaker and Kane down for not protecting him, as he books them against each other at Judgment Day to determine the champion, and then calls them mentally handicapped. (To be fair, he said it was LIKE dealing with the handicapped, and only Undertaker was mentally handicapped. Kane was physically handicapped. So it was a simile, not a metaphor.) This proves to be a bad idea, and Vince flips Undertaker off on the way out of the ring, which is a REALLY bad idea, resulting in the Brothers royally fucking him up and breaking his leg. Clearly this was the highlight of the show. (Watching Vince get his leg smashed while screaming in pain is always a highlight of any show. Extra points if Taker had hit him in the nuts on the way out.)
Faarooq v. Mark Henry
Chyna is special referee here as the Sexual Chocolate storyline begins. Henry tosses Faarooq around and powerslams him, but Chyna won’t count, and then she goes low on him and Faarooq falls on top for the pin at 1:14. OK then. DUD
Meanwhile, Vince gets loaded into the ambulance while Mankind tries to share a refreshing soda with him. This would of course set up the next week with Vince in the hospital and the debut of Mr. Socko.
Meanwhile, Steven Regal is a REAL MAN’S MAN!
The Headbangers v. The Oddities
The Headbangers turned heel or something, apparently. Don’t remember that at all. (We’re recapping it right now on Heat! It fucking sucks!) Golga takes a beating for a bit, but the ICP trips up Mosh and Kurrgan pins him at 2:04. DUD Next.
Meanwhile, the Rock abuses Michael Cole and doesn’t care who the WWF champion ends up being, because nothing is above People’s Champion. (Man, me and my Rock-loving friends were PISSED when they not only didn’t crown the WWF champion on this show as promised, but Rock was also shut out of the match to determine the new champion.)
Meanwhile, Val Venis gets a blowjob from Terri. Mind-boggling subtlety there.
European title: X-Pac v. Val Venis
Val with Terri is another thing I’ve totally blocked out. X-Pac throws chops and puts him down with a spinkick, but Val gets the legsweep and stops to swivel. X-Pac comes back with a leg lariat, but Terri trips him up and Val gets a fisherman’s suplex for two. And now Chyna comes out to run interference and D-X beats Val down for the DQ at 3:20. This all went nowhere, aside from setting up the return of Goldust. * (Jesus, are we STILL not to that yet?)
The Rock, Mankind & Ken Shamrock v. The Undertaker & Kane
Shamrock and Mankind brawl on the floor while the Brothers double-team Rocky until he fights back on Kane and brings Mankind in. There’s a LOT of combination of tag team champions here. You’ve got Kane & Undertaker, Rock & Undertaker, Kane & Mankind, Rock & Mankind…I’m kind of shocked that Undertaker & Mankind never held it. Shamrock tags himself in and both his partners turn on him, allowing Undertaker to get two. Kane pounds on him in the corner, but Shamrock comes back with the rana and Mankind comes in for a Cactus Clothesline and cannonball off the apron. Mick is face in peril after Undertaker lays him out on the floor, and Kane gets a top rope clothesline for two. Taker with a clothesline for two. They head to the floor and Taker chokes him out, setting him up for a sick chairshot from Kane. Back in, that gets two. They continue double-teaming Mick, but it’s hot tag Rock. People’s Elbow for Undertaker, which gets an insane pop from the crowd, and it’s breaking loose in Tulsa! Shamrock gets the anklelock on Taker, but Kane breaks it up. Rock Bottom finishes Undertaker clean at 12:48. So you knew they had big plans for The Rock. *** (Yeah, that was HUGE. No one pinned Undertaker at that point outside of Austin.)
There’s a fine line between “entertainingly fast-paced” and “A bunch of bullshit that happens too fast to stop and think about”, and this one was crossing that line at will. The Zamboni segment in the middle was constructed magnificently and is famous for good reason, but the rest is just a bunch of stuff during the prime Russo era.