The SmarK RAW Rant – 10.05.98
Last week: Steve Austin crashed the World title presentation with a Zamboni, and the Brothers turned on Vince and broke his leg in a well-deserved beatdown, leaving Vince recuperating in the
hospital medical center. But, I mean, it couldn’t possibly get WORSE for him, could it?
We are taped from an undisclosed location which is probably not big enough of a city for them to hype. A quick check reveals that it’s East Lansing, MI.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler…and is that Tori standing behind them in the front row? Seems like it.
European title: X-Pac v. D-Lo Brown
D-Lo had won a #1 contender match the week before and showed up on Heat to attack X-Pac the night before. D-Lo jumps him to start and gets a leg lariat for two while the crowd informs him that he sucks. D-Lo goes to the chinlock while a guy jumps out of the crowd and serves Chyna with papers, which has Mark Henry feeling cocky. D-Lo goes up with an elbow for two and gets a sideslam for two. He’s no Dino Bravo. Thankfully. To the top, but the frog splash misses and X-Pac makes the comeback with the leg lariat. Broncobuster follows, and D-Lo suffers a crippling leg injury to distract the idiot ref, which allows Henry to run X-Pac into the post and set up the Low Down to finish at 5:18 and bring the title back to a true European. Very basic but totally watchable match. **1/4
Meanwhile, at an undisclosed medical center (much like the city tonight), Vince wants APPLE JUICE, not grape juice, DAMMIT.
The Headbangers are out to challenge the ICP and settle things between them. So ICP actually does come out to answer and they get destroyed by the Headbangers in an impromptu match and brutalized with chairshots. Finally the Oddities make the save and the crowd cheers the Headbangers for beating on the clowns. I legit have no recollection of this whole thing and if it ever went anywhere. I suspect not.
Tonight’s show is brought to you by PROPECIA! Rather ironic considering the top star is famous for being bald.
Meanwhile, back at the undisclosed medical facility, Vince has a visitor who is threatening staff, but it turns out to be Mankind, with gifts of balloons and candy. In a nice subtle joke, Mick already ate the candy and Vince disgustedly closes the box again. So then we meet Yurple the Clown, and more importantly, MR. SOCKO! Poor Vince sends them packing and then changes the course of wrestling by disgustedly snarking “Mr. Socko…” to end the segment. And then the very next week, hundreds of fans had socks on their hands and Mankind was on his way to the top because wrestling is a fucking weird business where crazy stuff happens that no one would ever expect to get over.
Sable joins us for commentary while future stalker Tori watches excitedly from the front row behind the announcers. Not sure if that pays off in his episode, but I guess we’ll find out soon, especially since the director makes sure to shoot her very clearly without calling too much attention to her.
Marvelous Marc Mero v. Vader
Vader chases him out of the ring with some boxing and Mero hides behind Jackie, but she’s happy to run interference anyway. Back in, Mero attacks , but runs into Vader like he’s Wile E. Coyote trying to run through a painted tunnel. Hell of a comedy bump there. They fight to the floor and Jackie again proves useful, allowing Mero to slug away on him and take over. Back in, Mero puts him down with a lariat and slingshots in with a splash, but it hits knee. Vader with a corner splash and he follows with a big splash for two, but Jackie interferes AGAIN and Vader gently sets her down, allowing Mero to hit him with a ballshot from behind and finish with the shooting star press at 4:12. Having both the Euro title match and this one end with the same basic finish is a bit lazy. But at least it’s not a distraction finish with a rollup! Vader had nothing to work with here. *1/2 Jackie lips off Sable and provokes a confrontation, but Sable gets punked out and Jackie cuts a chunk of her hair extensions out. Oh man, I bet she just had those put in, too!
Meanwhile, a REAL MAN’S MAN squeezes his own orange juice by hand. PULP AND ALL! No cardboard box for him! Man, what a wasted bit of hidden brilliance this gimmick was.
Edge v. Owen Hart
BREAKING NEWS: The young blond-haired kid hanging out with Gangrel is apparently Edge’s younger brother Christian. Anyway, Owen comes out in street clothes and apologizes for what he did to Dan Severn, and then walks out again. Apparently this was edited down from multiple takes because they changed their mind after the taping about what they wanted to do with the gimmick.
The WWF Rewind is brought to you by 10-10-321, back in the halcyon days of collect call services, before every damn cell phone and landline plan in the world included unlimited long distance anywhere in the country. Maybe prisons still need 50% discount on calls over 20 minutes, who knows?
Kane v. Ken Shamrock
JR notes that “Shamrock has possibly fallen into disfavor with some WWF fans”. Maybe that’s what happened with Roman Reigns! Shamrock goes for the leg with some kicks to start, but Kane no-sells it and shoves him away. Mostly he looked like he didn’t know how to take a leg takedown bump. Kane whips Shamrock around and blocks a rana attempt with a powerbomb and chokes him out. And chokes, and chokes. Kane drops an elbow for two while Undertaker joins us at ringside, probably as bored by this match as I am. Shamrock clips the knee again and makes the comeback while Kane stands there letting Ken bounce off him. Finally Kane goes up while Undertaker distracts Shamrock, but Taker “accidentally” crotches his own brother and Shamrock superplexes him for the pin at 7:16. I’m shocked, SHOCKED I say, that two guys fighting for the World title in two weeks would be screwing each other over. ½* And then they were shocked, I’m sure, when the show bombed and the main event was one of the worst of all time.
Val Venis v. Gangrel
Tonight, Michigan State is home to “the real Magic Johnson”. Wait, so the famous basketball player was a fake all along? Hopefully someone on the Lakers board of directors knows about this. Val hits Gangrel with a spinebuster, but Gangrel suplexes him for two. Val rolls him up for two and gets a big boot while Christian broods at ringside. BROODS! GET IT? Edge randomly comes out of the crowd to continue the family drama and it’s a countout at 2:39. And then the guy serving papers from earlier returns, this time in a movie usher outfit, and brings Val a gold envelope. And then just in case we didn’t get the subtle symbolism, Goldust’s Titantron video plays while Goldust challenges Val next week. Like, why wouldn’t you save it for a surprise on the next show instead of just giving away the return pop here?
Meanwhile, Vince wants another damn nurse and some painkillers.
Al Snow v. Jeff Jarrett
They trade headlocks to start and Snow headbutts him down and follows with a clothesline that puts Jarrett on the floor. Snow grabs a chair but Sgt. Slaughter heads down to bark orders at the ref. Snow stops to go after him, allowing Jeff to crack Al in the head with a chair from behind in a move that’s somehow not a DQ. I’d be fine never seeing someone get smashed in the head with an unprotected chairshot like that again. And it’s not even the finish or a serious heat spot! Snow fights back in the ring with an enzuigiri, but takes a swing with Head and misses. He tries to go up with the Head, but Slaughter crotches him and it’s a DQ at 4:23. THEY JUST DID THAT FINISH IN THE DAMN KANE MATCH! Who was agenting this shit? *
Road Dogg v. Mark Henry
The part of Billy Gunn is played by a blowup doll tonight, who at least can pass a drug test. I don’t recall how the scintillating Outlaws breakup teases were resolved, but they were back together by Survivor Series. So we learn that Mark Henry is suing Chyna for sexual harassment at this point. Man, everything old is new again 20 years later. Dogg does his little dance and drops the knee for two, but Henry powerslams him and slugs him down to take over. Mark drops an elbow and D-Lo trips him up, allowing Mark to hit the legdrop. This brings out Chyna to attack D-Lo, but X-Pac sneaks in with the X-Factor and Dogg gets the pin at 3:45. Rock putting Henry over at the PPV looks more and more ridiculous in hindsight. DUD
Update: I checked the Observer from that week, and it looks like the Gunn thing was to move them away from the planned Outlaws v. Southern Justice blowoff, due to Mark Cantebury re-breaking his neck and pretty much ending his career. Too bad, the gimmick change was really helping them and they probably would have gotten the titles.
Meanwhile, Vince gets his blood pressure checked while we wait for the interview with him. Every time they take it, it’s normal! “Oh, I’ll take it from here, Nurse!” And then DOCTOR STEVE AUSTIN storms in and gives Vince the beating of a lifetime, shocking him with the paddles while he begs for mercy and then giving him a forced enema. This is gonna hurt you more than it hurts me, indeed. Vince selling the bedpan to the head while screaming in pain like a coward is the reason why Bischoff could never, ever hope to match his brilliance in any way. Also, hot take I know, but Stephanie really needs to watch this and LEARN. Vince McMahon would never, ever block the armbar. You know why? Because he’s already the boss and he only needs to go out the next week and treat some goof like garbage to get his heat back.
The Undertaker v. The Rock
Nothing is following that last segment. Taker quickly gets the leaping clothesline for two, and now Henry and D-Lo join us at ringside as there has literally been outside interference in EVERY MATCH. Rock slugs away in the corner, but now Kane joins us to even things up, allowing Taker to get a dramatic chokeslam, prompting the Nation to walk out on Rock. That gets two. Taker chokes him out and goes old school with the ropewalk for two. We hit the chinlock, but Rock escapes with a suplex that gets two. JR speculates that Kane is in his twenties. He was 31 at that point, actually. Taker beats on Rock outside and slugs away in the corner. Have these two EVER had a match better than “decent”? I guess if you’re counting the Undertaker/Big Show v. Rock N Sock matches, but as a singles program they’ve had nothing but stinker after stinker together. Taker with a boot for two and this drags on. Really, they should have ended with the bedpan. Taker drops the leg for two. Rock rolls him up for two and comes back with a clothesline for two. Taker with a big boot for two as this match is just going nowhere and clearly just filling time before the run-in finish from whichever side. Rock fights back again with a neckbreaker to wake up the crowd, and that gets two. Russian legsweep sets up the People’s Elbow, although he hadn’t yet perfected the art of working to the hard camera with the move. Ref gets bumped and both guys are down, so Kane grabs a chair and whacks his brother with it, and Rock Bottom looks to finish. Ref is still unconscious from the gentle bump in the corner, however, and Taker revives, hits the tombstone, and gets the pin at 12:44. Rock did way too many jobs and it’s actually an amazing testament to how over he was that he still got over after every one. Match was OK. **1/2 Really, they didn’t need to protect Undertaker, since he wasn’t winning the belt at the PPV anyway.
So yeah, classic Vince angles, but the repetitive screwjob finishes and bad matches kind of killed everything else for me. I actually much prefer Heat, which is half as long and never overstays its welcome.