What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 20, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package recaps the Steve
Austin-Vince McMahon interaction on last week’s show, where their WWF title
match was interrupted by Dude Love
.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Long Island, New York
.
Kevin Kelly gives
us a report from the Undertaker and Kane’s parents grave, where they will be
facing each other tonight.

Dude Love hosts
the Love Shack and it does not take long for Vince McMahon to crash the
party.  McMahon tells Love that is being
fined $5,000 and warns him not to interfere with his business again before
leaving.  Love says he attacked Steve
Austin because he attacked him from behind, but that he may not face him at
Unforgiven if Austin grovels at his feet by the end of the show.  It always amazes me how easily Foley can
modify his promos for each of his characters. 
1 for 1
Opening Long
Island Street Fight:  Faarooq beats Kama
Mustafa with a spinebuster at 5:52:
The Nation is nice enough to bring lots of weapons to
ringside, the most impressive of which is a beer keg that Mark Henry carries in
from the audience.  However, the allies
of both men are barred from ringside. 
Impressively, Ross holds off until four minutes in to remind us of
Faarooq’s All-American roots.  Kama
dominates much of the match, which largely ignores the stipulation, and Faarooq
blasts Kama with his boot to avoid a Kama hammer attack and pick up the
win.  Cole makes so many errors in
calling this match, one of which is screaming “DOMINATOR” after Faarooq hits
the spinebuster.  Rating:  ¾* (1 for 2)
D-Generation X is
seen admiring footage of them relieving themselves on the Disciples of
Apocalypse’s motorcycles weeks ago. 
Billy Gunn dares Triple H to expose himself and urinate on tonight’s
crowd.
A video package
hypes Jeff Jarrett’s musical performance with Sawyer Brown at Unforgiven.
D-Generation X
comes out and Ross tells us that when Triple H and Owen Hart face off at
Unforgiven that Chyna will be suspended above the ring in a cage.  Triple H and the New Age Outlaws comment on
their opponents at Unforgiven and Triple H’s urinating prank sees him take a
giant squirt gun and blow it into the audience. 
LOD 2000, Owen Hart, and Sunny appear on the ramp and start heading
toward DX, but Sergeant Slaughter intervenes and books a match between them for
later tonight.  I was just not a fan of
DX’s juvenile antics in this segment and we’ve really heard everything they
have to say against their opponents, although that is more of a fault with
repetitive booking than anything else.  1 for 3
Dan Severn UFC
clips are the 10-321 Rewind segment
.
Kelly lets us know
that the Undertaker is minutes away from the cemetery!
Dan Severn (w/Jim
Cornette) defeats Mosh (w/Thrasher) via submission to an armbar at 2:40:
I don’t know why the WWE does not bother to use tag team
wrestlers in singles competition against non-tag team wrestlers much anymore
because it is an easy way to give singles stars victories while not harming the
reputation of a tag team, since the announcers can always point out that the
losing tag wrestler was not competing with their partner and they were out of
their element.  Severn easily squashes
Mosh here with a few suplexes and an awkward looking armbar.  This match should’ve been shorter and Mosh
should have received no offense, but since Severn is part of this NWA faction
the booking team doesn’t care that much about him.
The Undertaker
appears at the cemetery and chokes Kelly, who screams like a little girl.  Kelly says after the commercial break that
the Undertaker may be heading back to the arena after not finding Kane.
Before the next
match, Luna Vachon promises to strip Sable of her soul and all of her clothes
at Unforgiven.
Bradshaw defeats
The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) by disqualification when
the Kamikaze Club interferes at 4:50:
After months of wearing weird outfits, Goldust is back to
wearing his more traditional attire here. 
Both of these guys are in need of some direction and Bradshaw gets
something when the Kamikaze Club interferes and lays him out before
escaping through the crowd.  This was
good when Bradshaw was using his stiff-looking offense, but we did not get
enough of that.  Rating:  * (1 for 4)
Vince McMahon
slapping Steve Austin is last week’s M&M Slam of the Week.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler joins Ross for the second hour on commentary.
WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and alleges a conspiracy between Vince McMahon and Dude Love
to take the WWF title from him and he vows to kick ass tonight.  He teases going after a photographer, a
cameraman, and a timekeeper before heading to the locker room.  A simple filler promo and segment to keep the
wheels turning toward Unforgiven.  1 for 5
A hearse is shown
arriving at the arena.  Is it the
Undertaker?
Non-Title
Match:  Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio
beat The New Midnight Express (NWA Tag Team Champions w/Jim Cornette & Dan
Severn) when Scorpio pins Bombastic Bob with the 450 splash at 7:07:
Scorpio, having a new lease on creative life by going
back to his old name, is the only one that doesn’t phone it in for this
match.  You would think that two former
tag wrestlers in Bart Gunn and Holly would work well as a team, but they do not
show much of it in this match.  Scorpio
hits a crazy plancha when the Express beat on Funk on the outside and picks up
another victory for his team with the 450. 
Severn doesn’t let Scorpio gloat, though, as he walks into the ring and
gives him a belly-to-belly suplex. 
What’s funny is that Severn starts walking into the ring after the 450,
so you think a disqualification is coming, but he walks in so slow that the
referee finishes the three count before he can get to Scorpio.  Some stablemate, eh?  Rating:  * (1 for 6)
The new Val Venis
vignette has him in the shower and warning women to get their rest.
Cole interviews
Sable, who says she does not care if Luna Vachon strips her naked at
Unforgiven.  That claim is interesting in
retrospect because having that booked to happen on RAW a year later is what led
Sable to leave the company and sue them. 
Whoever arranged this segment was smart because they kept Sable’s
talking limited to that one line.
Paul Bearer and
Kane greet the hearse that has shown up to the arena.
Call 815-734-1161
to get the Steve Austin “Hell Yeah!” t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping &
handling)!
Vince McMahon
tells Cole that he is ready to fight Austin if he dares to confront him.
Triple H &
The New Age Outlaws (w/X-Pac & Chyna) beat Owen Hart & LOD 2000
(w/Sunny) when Billy Gunn pins Animal after a piledriver at 8:27 shown:
Ross chooses to talk about his past NWA experiences
during this match by mentioning how the Horsemen were no match for the
Legion of Doom and that Greensboro, North Carolina, where Unforgiven will be
held, is Ric Flair country.  The LOD’s
role in this match is limited, but they aren’t showing anything special, which
their new gimmick cannot mask.  In fact,
this match is a lot like the tag match with Funk and 2 Cold Scorpio earlier in
that Owen completely carries his team’s side of the contest.  The Road Dogg gets hit with a Doomsday
Device, but Chyna picks up Sunny and that creates enough of a distraction that
enables X-Pac to hit Animal with a chair and produce the finish.  At least Owen didn’t eat the pin.  Rating:  ** (2 for 7)
Paul Bearer and
Kane are shown wheeling a dirty casket backstage as Bearer sings about “digging
up bones.”  The hearse driver cracks me
up as he just watches all of this unfold with a stoic look like all of this is
just another day at the office.
Kane and Paul
Bearer come out and there are two caskets on the stage, which Bearer says are
the dug up graves of the Undertaker’s parents.  Bearer says that the Undertaker can pay his respects since
he didn’t go to their funeral.  He adds that he (Bearer) buried them in the cheapest caskets possible.  The Undertaker appears through the crowd and
as he charges ramp, Kane pours gasoline on one of the caskets and Bearer sets it
alight.  Kane then chokeslams the Undertaker into the other, which is the casket
of his mother.  In a nice attention to
detail, they made sure to put bones and worms in the casket the Undertaker was
thrown into.  Great segment that was much
better than having the men fight at the cemetery.  3 for
8
Cole tells us that
Kane and Paul Bearer have left the arena and the Undertaker is with whatever is
left of the remains.
Vince McMahon
walks out to do commentary for the next match. 
Lawler welcomes him back “like good old times.”  Storyline continuity is a nice thing.
Dude Love beats
Steve Blackman via submission to an abdominal stretch at 3:57:
Lawler constantly sucks up to McMahon at the booth and
snitches on all the bad thing Ross has said about him over the last couple of
weeks.  McMahon laments that he and
Austin could have had a “classic” on last week’s show and promises to be close
to the ring during the WWF title match at Unforgiven.  I would almost prefer they not call Love the
number one contender for Austin’s title since he has not beaten anyone to
immediately get a title shot.  Anyway,
after some brief action, Love puts Blackman in an abdominal stretch and the
bell mysteriously rings, thereby making this the “Long Island Screwjob” I
suppose.  Rating:  * (3 for 9)
After the bell,
Blackman interrogates the timekeeper and hiptosses him on the arena floor.  McMahon is outraged at all of this and as he
tends to the timekeeper, Steve Austin runs out, grabs McMahon, and hiptosses
HIM.  Austin and Love brawl on the floor
and Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco get Stone Cold Stunners as McMahon
flees.  Really fun closing segment that
sent the crowd into a frenzy.  4 for 10
The Final Report Card:  Fun ending aside, this was a very dry episode
of RAW relative to the last few weeks.  The
second hour was where all of the action was, but very little was entertaining
outside of Austin-McMahon and the Undertaker-Kane angle.  The Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio tag team
had potential, so I am not sure why they abandoned it so quickly in 1998, but
it was good to see Scorpio being used as more than a jobber for a change.
Here is our final Unforgiven card:
WWF Championship Match:  Steve Austin (Champion) vs. Dude Love with
Vince McMahon at ringside
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) vs. LOD 2000
European Championship Match:  Triple H (Champion) vs. Owen Hart with Chyna
suspended above the ring in a cage
Inferno Match:  The Undertaker vs. Kane
Evening Gown Match:  Sable vs. Luna Vachon
The Nation of Domination vs. Ken Shamrock,
Steve Blackman & Faarooq
Monday Night War Rating:  4.4 (vs. 5.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 13, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps Steve Austin ripping off his corporate suit on last week’s show
.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are doing commentary and they are live from Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania
.

WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and calls out Vince McMahon under threat of holding the show
hostage again.  McMahon hesitantly walks
out with Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson, and two police officers in riot
gear.  Austin demands to know who he is
facing at Unforgiven and McMahon says that he hasn’t decided that yet.  Austin asks McMahon if he wants to be WWF
champion since his version of a title holder is himself and when McMahon looks
puzzled, Austin announces that he will defend the WWF title tonight against
him.  McMahon’s reaction to the challenge
is priceless and Austin tells McMahon that he can’t leave the arena because he beat up his
limo driver and cut all of his tires. 
Austin gives McMahon thirty minutes to think over his challenge before
he takes a cameraman backstage and whips his ass.  This was a nice setup for tonight’s big angle
and it covered the scenario of McMahon trying to run away.  1 for
1
McMahon is shown
talking with Patterson and Brisco backstage, who urge him to face Austin and they give him a pep talk.
Opening Tag Team
Chain Match:  The Disciples of Apocalpyse
(w/Chainz) wrestle Savio Vega & Jose to a no contest at 2:15:
Although the stipulation might imply that this is a big
deal, both teams get the jobber entrance and D-Generation X comes out and lays
out Chainz, who does a stretcher job.  DX
then beats up Skull and 8-Ball before turning on Savio and Jose.  Ross insists that this is a no contest
because you cannot have a disqualification in a chain match.  This was fine with me because it puts DX over
two of the old gang warz factions that have hardly done anything since 1997.
Shane McMahon is
shown backstage talking with his father, Brisco, and Patterson and Shane tries
to convince his father not to face Austin.
Call 815-734-1161
to get the Steve Austin “Hell Yeah!” t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping &
handling)!
Vince McMahon
walks out, recaps his family’s history with the company, and reluctantly
announces that he will accept Austin’s challenge for a match tonight.  Brisco and Patterson come out to give McMahon
a high five and Ross says they have lost their minds and leaves the booth to
try to talk some sense to McMahon backstage.
Right after Ross
leaves, the lights go out and without anyone to hold him back, Cole refuses to
stop talking as the Undertaker walks out and destroys Aguila, El Pantera, and
Scott Taylor who are scheduled for a tag team match tonight.  The Undertaker gets on the mic and says that
it is time for Kane to come out of the darkness.  Cole just rants about how the Undertaker’s
attack is not justified and while true, it just comes off as whiny.  1 for
2
Steve Austin
giving McMahon a Stone Cold Stunner two weeks ago is the Starburst Slam of the
Week
.
Kevin Kelly
reports from outside McMahon’s locker room and shows a piece of footage of
Brisco, Patterson, Ross, and Shane arguing. 
Vince tells Shane to get his gym bag and blows Ross off and tells him to
go back and do his job
.
Taka Michinoku
beats Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) by disqualification when Club Kamizake
interferes at 2:27:
Flyers fall from the sky which hype Jarrett performing with
Sawyer Brown at Unforgiven.  The flyer
idea isn’t well thought out, though, because they fall into the ring, making
this match seem like a bonus feature on the DVD of Newsies.  Both men briefly exchange moves before the
Japanese wrestlers that attacked Michinoku on last week’s show appear and
attack him again.  Ross and Cole call
them Club Kamikaze, but they would eventually become Kaientai.
Austin tells Jim
Ross from the locker room that he is not surprised McMahon accepted his
challenge and he will settle his issue with McMahon once and for all tonight.
Patterson and
Brisco give McMahon advice on how to counter the Stone Cold Stunner.
Faarooq walks out with taped ribs and says
that he is going to give the Nation of Domination another chance to kick his
ass.  The Rock debuts his “do you smell
what the Rock is cooking” line as he runs down Faarooq, but Faarooq gives the
Nation salute, which signals Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman to run out and
help him ambush the Nation.  WWF
officials have to separate everyone as the crowd works up a HUGE “Rocky sucks!”
chant.  This is setting up a six man tag
at Unforgiven.  2 for 3
Mick Foley
retiring the Cactus Jack character last week is the 10-321 Rewind segment
.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler comes out early to do commentary for tonight’s show, but Cole is still
with us.
Terry Funk &
2 Cold Scorpio beat The Quebecers when Scorpio pins Pierre with a 450 splash at
2:14:
Funk has abandoned the Chainsaw Charlie character,
realizing three months too late that it was a bad idea.  Funk says that although Cactus Jack quit last
week he is not quitting and he is forming a new team with a man that Vince
McMahon has not given a chance and that new partner is Flash Funk, who Ross
makes sure we know is “2 Cold.”  This is
a good place to repackage Flash Funk into 2 Cold Scorpio since they are in ECW
country and the crowd works up a loud “ECW” chant.  Of course, Cole the idiot doesn’t take the
hint and keeps calling him Flash Funk. 
The Quebecer Crash misses and Scorpio wins the bout for his team in an
abbreviated match that could have been something really good if it was given
five more minutes.
Luna Vachon walks
out and continues a trend tonight by calling out Sable.  However, the Artist Formerly Known as
Goldust, dressed as Sable and mocks her bad promo skills.  They enact the way the Evening Gown Match is going
to go with Luna ripping Goldust’s dress off. 
This is quite disturbing until Sable runs in and briefly brawls with
Luna, which excites the crowd.  3 for 4
Non-Title Match:  The New Midnight Express (NWA Tag Team
Champions w/Jim Cornette & Dan Severn) wrestle Ken Shamrock & Steve
Blackman to a double disqualification at 3:45:
Before the match, Shamrock and Severn go eye-to-eye for a
few seconds before the referee orders Severn to the locker room.  This is a decent, but uninspiring match where
both teams keep brawling after the hot tag and the referee gets tired of trying
to control the action so he just disqualifies everyone.  I really hate that finish.  Rating:  *½ (3 for 5)
Kelly asks Vince
if he is scared of facing Austin, to which he says he was not afraid of the
U.S. federal government and is not afraid of Ted Turner, so he is not afraid of
Steve Austin.
The Headbangers
are in the ring for the next match, but the Undertaker comes out again.  The Headbangers try to defend themselves, but
he proceeds to destroy them.  The lights
go out and Kane and Paul Bearer come out to a big pop.  Bearer says that next week the Undertaker
will face Kane, but they will meet in the cemetery on their parents’ grave and
not in the ring.  Bearer’s rants against
the Undertaker are usually fun and this was no exception.  4 for
6
The latest Val
Venis vignette, which catches him in the middle of casting for his next film
“Lust in Space.”
Owen Hart (w/LOD
2000 & Sunny) defeats Billy Gunn (w/D-Generation X) with a schoolboy at
6:19 shown:
The commentary team announces that Owen Hart will meet
Triple H for the European title at Unforgiven. 
This match is booked as Owen facing a chosen DX member, which Triple H
says was chosen based on an essay writing contest.  For backup in this match, Owen brings LOD
2000 and Sunny.  X-Pac has a funny jab at
Ross on commentary by asking if Owen is a “twelve –time All-American.”  Triple H also makes jokes about Sunny’s
skanky nature.  Billy dominates a lot of
the action that happens over the course of two commercial breaks, which makes
this a snoozer until Owen wins when Billy prematurely celebrates.  Rating:  *¼ (4 for 7)
WWF Championship
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
(Champion) and Vince McMahon (w/Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, Shane McMahon
& Sergeant Slaughter) never compete:
Vince is dressed for this fight like Keith Hackney of the
original UFC, towel included.  Ross makes
a good point about this match by saying that if McMahon is hurt then it could
harm the prospects of the company.  Vince
slaps Austin and one hand is tied behind Austin’s back since Austin says he
could beat Vince with one arm in the opening promo.  In a nice piece of storytelling, McMahon has
Austin’s “Stunner arm” tied.  While
having these two engage in battle would be an awesome moment at the time,
logical booking prevails and before the bell, Dude Love comes out to veto the
match in the name of love.  McMahon
pushes Love down and Love tries to attack him with the Mandible Claw.  When Austin tries to get Love out of the ring
so he can face McMahon, Love puts the Mandible Claw on him and McMahon angrily
leaves, feeling Love stole his moment.  5 for
8
The Final Report Card:  Since I came to Scott’s blog in 2010 and
recapped RAW, beginning with March 1996, the WWF has usually lost the Monday Night
Wars against WCW.  For eighty-two
straight weeks, Nitro defeated RAW in the ratings with an average margin of
victory of 1.2 or higher.  However, after
Decemer 22, 1997 RAW’s ratings rose above 3.0 and would never dip lower and
THIS was the RAW that finally slaughtered the Nitro juggernaut.  It was unclear at the time whether this would
be a one-off victory or the beginning of a trend, but with the benefit of
hindsight this was like the Entente forces stopping the Germans at the Second
Battle of the Marne in August 1918. 
Although Nitro would win a few more victories over RAW after this night,
this show marked a shift in momentum in the Monday Night Wars and by the end of
the year Nitro was on the defensive.
As for the show itself, the Austin-McMahon
interaction was great and although viewers were disappointed about
Austin-McMahon not happening, it was the correct booking choice to continue a
red hot feud.  This show was all
storyline driven, as the in-ring product was poor, but it made two hours fly by
and it is still an entertaining show sixteen years later.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.6 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

The SmarK RAW Rant–02.10.14

The SmarK RAW Rant – 02.10.14 Live from Los Angeles, CA Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler Betty White joins us to start, showing that Vince still has his finger on the pulse of America’s youth. This quickly leads into the usual Authority interview to start, as they’re RECONSIDERING other people as the Face Of The WWE. Is that like the new replacement for the dead World title now? Stephanie is wearing white so I guess they’re the babyfaces this week. Randy Orton comes out to protest as usual as we repeat the same skit it feels like we’ve seen for months. This “Face of the WWE” storyline is so stupid. Daniel Bryan now comes out and reminds us that he beat Orton last week, and he wants a match with Kane tonight. Sadly, Kane is on leave for a week and has a strongly worded letter coming to him. And HHH gives Bryan the week off as well. Wow, that was a thrilling open to the show. The Wyatt Family v. Cody Rhodes, Goldust & Rey Mysterio Rowan pounds on Goldust, but he comes back on Harper with a rana! Harper bails and Cody tosses Rey onto him in a cool spot as we take a break. Back with Goldust getting the heat, but he powerslams Harper and makes the hot tag to Rey. He runs wild with a tornado DDT for two and the 619, but Bray trips him up. Cody hits Bray with a dive and Goldust hits Rowan with one, but Bray catches Rey with a running Sister Abagail to finish at 8:35. I feel like a LOT was cut out of this match, as they came back from the break really late into Goldust’s heat segment. Hot match, though, as Goldust continues to be ridiculously motivated. *** Let us take you back to Royal Rumble, where Roman Reigns kicks everyone’s ass and sets the new record for eliminations. The Shield has no fear of the Wyatt Family, but Roman seems to give Renee the funny feelings in her special place. Renee questions Ambrose on his lack of title defenses, and Roman tells him to get on that shit. Meanwhile, the New Age Outlaws rescue Betty White from the Divas, because there’s rumors of someone playing a prank on her. Whoever said that RAW without the matches would be the worst show on TV is so completely right. The Real Americans v. Christian & Sheamus The crowd actually starts doing the “We The People” chant as Cesaro throws Christian around. Swagger comes in and walks into the corner kick, and a missile dropkick gets two. Over to Sheamus, who puts Cesaro down with a clothesline for two. The babyfaces work on Cesaro while the crowd chants for the heels, and then Cesaro and Sheamus get into an awesome slugfest with the crowd cheering Cesaro the whole way. Sheamus actually seems pretty amused by it. Sheamus gets clobbered off the apron as we take a break. Back with Christian taking the beating and it’s a GIANT SWING to get Cesaro even more over. That gets two. Swagger with a powerslam for two. Christian is finally able to fight them off and make the hot tag to Sheamus, and the Regal Roll on Swagger gets two. Cesaro breaks up the Brogue Kick to a big pop, and Swagger puts Sheamus in the anklelock. Christian saves, and the Brogue Kick finishes poor Swagger at 13:01. Hot crowd + Good tag team wrestling = Happy Scott. ***1/2 As usual, you follow the formula and good things result. It’s the like the opposite of the Lego Movie’s lesson. Alberto Del Rio v. Dolph Ziggler What a change from a year ago. Ziggler gets a quick burst of offense and a fameasser for two, but Del Rio finishes him with the superkick at 1:30. We’re getting into Zack Ryder territory now. Stupid fans, thinking that cheering Ziggler will lead to anything. Don’t you know he works too fast and tweets the wrong things? Batista saves poor Ziggler and the crowd boos the shit out of him. Batista puts Del Rio through the table with a powerbomb to continue this feud that literally no one cares about. US title: Dean Ambrose v. Mark Henry Ambrose gets overpowered to start, as expected, and bumps around the ring for Henry. We take a break and return with Ambrose going up and getting slammed off. Powerslam and the Shield runs in for the DQ at 9:13. * The Wyatts come out for a confrontation, and wouldn’t you know that Reigns is the one to call their bluff. And the Wyatts walk away. It’s kind of amazing in that they seem to have forgotten how to make anyone a star, except for Reigns, who they are doing everything completely right with. So clearly they know how to, and just choose not to. Libertarian Kane joins us, still on TV despite getting a week off. And Daniel Bryan attacks, also on TV after getting a week off. Cole calls Kane “the so-called Big Red Corporate Sellout”. I have literally never heard anyone call him that. Bryan chases Kane off. Randy Orton v. John Cena Whereas last week the importance was the possibility of being considered the new face of the WWE, this week the importance is that both men are looking to build momentum towards the Elimination Chamber. Cena works a headlock and Orton bails. Sign in the crowd: “Batista and Orton have great tattoos”. See, the fanbase isn’t ALL negativity! Back in, Cena with a bulldog for two. Orton pounds him down and tosses him and we take a break. Back with Orton in control and they do a slugfest where, god bless them, THE CROWD BOOS BOTH GUYS. That was awesome. Orton tosses Cena again and continues having a snarky dialog with the crowd, and we hit the chinlock. Orton with a DDT for two. He stops to antagonize the crowd some more and Cena makes the comeback, but Orton gets the backbreaker for two. Cena tries the FU and Orton reverses to the powerslam for two. They fight to the top and Orton brings him down with a draping DDT and then yells about how he’s never done that before. Nice to see him having fun with it for a change. Cena blocks the RKO with an STF, but Orton makes the ropes. He POINTS TO SIGN to show he means business, but misses the punt and then comes back with the RKO for two. Cena gets the FU for two. Back to the top, and the guillotine and FU finish at 22:18. CENA HAS SUCCESSFULLY BUILT MOMENTUM! It was a match. ***1/4 The Pulse This was basically cut down to three good matches and a minimum of crap, which makes for a really good show, even if it’s not building to anything I care about. The Real Americans match was clearly the highlight and they should have been the tag champions ages ago, though.

The SmarK RAW Rant–02.03.14

The SmarK RAW Rant – 02.03.14 WWE Network in Canada update for those who have asked me: Unblock-US is currently taking the stance of “We’re looking into it, so shut up and leave us alone.” There is a LOT of demand from Canadian fans for it, however, and it seems likely that someone will support it and thus meet the demand, whether it’s Unblock or Playmo.TV or one of the other VPNs. I heartily recommend Unblock-US anyway because of Hulu and streaming shows off the US network websites, but whoever can guarantee support for the WWE Network will get my money without reservation. Live from Omaha, NB. Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler Randy Orton starts us out, and he’s still having problems with the Authority while the fans immediately try to hijack the show with CM Punk chants. Jesus, Punk quit, why are you chanting for him? It’s not like WWE fired him or anything. So anyway, HHH and Steph interrupt, and this week they’re arguing with Orton again and are losing faith in him, because that’s how they’re written this week. Orton will face each of his Chamber opponents leading up to the PPV, and at stake is the possibility that someone else might be considered as the new face of WWE. That’s HUGE STAKES. And we start with Orton v. Bryan tonight. The Shield v. Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio & Big E Langston JBL actually brings up a good point for once, with Cole going on again about how Ambrose has been US champion for months and months and then JBL countering that it’s easy to be champion for 14 years if you never defend it. Which is true, I think he’s literally had less than a dozen title defenses since May. The Shield works Kofi over, but Rey comes in and runs wild on Rollins for a bit before he too falls victim to the Shield in the form of a Hart Attack that gets two. And we take a break. Back with Ambrose holding a chinlock, but it’s hot tag Big E, the perfect hot tag guy. Warrior splash on Reigns gets two. It’s breaking loose in Tulsa, but Big E walks into the superman punch and Ambrose finishes E with the bulldog driver at 11:09. Pretty blah stuff for the Shield. ** Why are they still beating Langston all the time? Broken down Rey was RIGHT THERE. Or more importantly, why put the title on him in the first place if they had no plans for him? Bray Wyatt pops up with a promo to creep everyone out. ALEXANDER RUSEV is coming, thankfully with Lana in tow. Christian v. Jack Swagger Christian evades a blind charge and dumps Swagger, but Swagger gets a cheapshot outside and takes over. Back in, he tosses Christian with a hiptoss for two and goes to a submission hold, but goes up and misses. Christian comes back with the missile dropkick, but runs into a knee. Unprettier gets two, however, and he goes up and lands in an anklelock. Christian escapes that and goes up again, but Swagger brings him down and also misses, allowing Christian to roll him up for the pin at 6:00. So yes, it’s the LOSING STREAK gimmick for Swagger leading to another team breaking up. Call your friends and tell them to start watching right now! *1/2 Cage Match, WWE tag titles: The New Age Outlaws v. Cody Rhodes & Goldust Thankfully they’ve dropped the escape rule for the tag team version of the cage match, because it was stupid anyway. Apparently this feud has been heated up by “interesting back and forth on social media, including one Tweet where Cody made fun of the Outlaws for their age!” TAKE ALL MY MONEY NOW! Road Dogg gets nowhere with Cody to start, and Gunn slugs it out with Goldust before Cody comes in with a small package for two. The Outlaws work Cody over in boring fashion while the crowd chants for Punk. Probably because they’re as bored as the announcers by this. Road Dogg and Goldust randomly trade armbars with absolutely nothing going on as the announcers posit that fans are so quiet because both teams are incredibly popular and thus fans don’t know who to cheer for. So are the Outlaws supposed to be faces or heels? I’m really at a loss here. Either way, this “CM Punk” guy seems to be the most over person in the match. So this drags on AND ON and finally Goldust hits a spinebuster on Dogg and makes the hot tag to Cody, allowing the faces to run wild. Disaster kick gets two on Billy, pissing off the crowd. And then Cody goes up to the top of the cage, totally whiffs on a moonsault that barely grazes Road Dogg’s arm, and Billy sneaks in with a fameasser to retain at 17:38 to kill the crowd again. -* This was AWFUL and completely exposed the Outlaws in every way, from the total lack of heat to everyone stumbling through the main portion of the match to Road Dogg being out of place completely for the big moonsault spot and nearly killing poor Cody as a result. Oh yeah, negative stars, I WENT THERE. This feud is rapidly eroding any heat that Cody and Goldust ever had and I still don’t know what the endgame is supposed to be. They break up another tag team and have a feud that no one wants to see with Cody becoming a midcard heel again? Because that seems to be where we’re ending up. Batista is out for some reason, and Alberto Del Rio is still UPSET with him. Batista laughs him off, so Del Rio attacks and they do some macho posturing as Batista is now also upset. You know, it would be nice if Del Rio would just add something like “I would also like that title shot and don’t think you should have won it” or something in order to give them an actual issue to feud over. The Wyatt Family v. Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth & XAVIER WOODS Finally, Woods debuts on the Hulu RAW after doing the intros for weeks! Not that I care about seeing him, but I just think it’s kind of funny in that I’ve literally never seen any of his RAW matches on this version of the show. The babyfaces get the advantage on Rowan, but Harper puts Truth down in the corner and the crowd chants for Ziggler. I don’t foresee that going as well for Dolph as it has for Punk and Bryan. But he gets the hot tag anyway and slugs away on Harper in the corner, with a DDT that gets two. Bray turns the tide, however, and finishes Dolph with Sister Abagail at 5:00, because OF COURSE they beat the guy getting all the chants. * The Shield responds on the Titantron afterwards, and Ambrose is also crazy and thus not afraid. BATTLE FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO POSSIBLY BE THE FACE OF WWE IN THE EYES OF THE AUTHORITY FOR SOME REASON: Daniel Bryan v. Christian Jerry Lawler really lays it on the line here: If Randy Orton loses ANY of these matches, that’s really gonna affect the opinion of him with the Authority. So that’s now their idea of a storyline. Instead of fighting for titles, guys are fighting to impress HHH and Stephanie. Michael Cole restates it even more forcefully: If Daniel Bryan wins, then the Authority may have to rethink who the face of the company really is. Riveting. RIVETING. Orton puts him down with a headbutt as the announcers are already writing off Orton’s chance of winning at the Chamber, since it’s painfully telegraphed that he will be doing just that. Bryan throws kicks in the corner and the ADD directing is getting really obvious and annoying here. Going cut-kick-cut-kick-cut-kick is headache-inducing once you start noticing it. Bryan works on the knee and dropkicks it into the post. Cole notes that Orton is questioning the authority of the Authority. But that’s their NAME! That’s the one thing you can’t question about them! Maybe that’s why I’m supposed to boo Orton. Bryan puts Orton down with a forearm with two and goes back to the leg, and a backslide gets two. Orton bails to avoid further punishment, and Bryan follows and tosses him into Cole’s lap. Back in, he stays on the knee and follows with a top rope rana for two. Into the surfboard and a half crab, but Orton puts him on the floor and drops him on the railing to take over. Back in, Orton stomps away and powerslams him, and we take a break. Back with Bryan throwing kicks while the camera zooms in and out and continues to drive me crazy. Orton catches him with a throw, however, thus injuring the shoulder. Orton works on that and they head to the top for a battle up there, won by Bryan. He follows with a missile dropkick, but hurts the shoulder on the way down. He keeps coming with kicks, but Orton wrenches the arm to put him down again. Bryan catches him in the Yes-Lock and the camera cuts FIVE TIMES between Bryan reaching for the move and actually getting it. Corner dropkicks as Bryan makes the comeback, but Orton hits his own dropkick. Bryan escapes the RKO and goes up with the flying headbutt for two. Bryan with the kicks (ZOOM, cut, ZOOM, cut) but Kane comes out and gets dropkicked off the apron as a result. Bryan hits both Kane and Orton with a dive, and back in for the running knee to finish at 28:28. ****1/4 Kane and Orton deliver the beatdown afterwards, as the announcers posit that the Authority sent Kane down in case Orton was going to lose. Wasn’t the point that they WANTED Orton to lose because they didn’t have faith in him? I am legitimately confused by what the storyline is supposed to be. HHH doesn’t want Bryan as the champion, he doesn’t want Orton as the champion, but sometimes he does…who does he even want as champion? His buddy Batista? That at least would be a storyline that makes sense. What would make even more sense is HHH coming out and admitting that he wants HIMSELF as champion, and would probably be far more true to life and easier to build off at that. Cole closes by noting that Bryan might have had a chance to be the face of WWE, but Kane got involved, so now he can’t. What? How does that even…never mind, I give up. The Pulse Terrible show, great main event, which has been noted by many already. Unfortunately it also bombed in the ratings, so you know who’s gonna get blamed for that.

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 6, 1998

A video package recaps the altercation
between Steve Austin and Vince McMahon on the last RAW.

Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Syracuse, New York
.
Vince McMahon
walks out to some loud, piped in boos and says that Steve Austin learned his
lesson from last week and will no longer curse, flip people off, or give off a
blue collar vibe.  He promises a new,
improved Austin tonight or the fans will get their money back.  What is making the early part of this feud
great is that McMahon is not playing an overt heel.  Instead, he is still expecting the fans to
like him like they did in the 1980s and 1990s and is continually puzzled why
they are reacting negatively toward him.

A video package
hypes Dan Severn.  It is funny how the
WWF used the UFC to legitimize Ken Shamrock and Severn with the fan base during
this period and now views it with disdain.
Opening
Contest:  Dan Severn (w/Jim Cornette)
beats Flash Funk via submission to an armbar at 2:54:
Severn comes out with four title belts, which is always a
great visual for a wrestler and gives them instant credibility with the
audience.  Severn wrestles this match
like a UFC encounter, using a few simple suplexes and using superior position
to lock in an armbar and win his first WWF match.  (1 for
1)
D-Generation X
destroying Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie on last week’s RAW is the 10-321
Rewind.
DX comes out and
puts themselves over as the best young act in wrestling and tells the fans that
if they want to see old men wrestle they should change the channel.  Triple H says that his army is complete and
he is ready to raise hell in the WWF.
DX is shown spray
painting DX on parts of the backstage RAW set and beating up a random guy.
Steve Blackman
beats “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher via submission to a crucifix armbar at 5:01:
With the light heavyweight division an afterthought,
Christopher no longer has to feud with Taka Michinoku so he is enhancement
talent until something better comes along.  Tennessee Lee walks out during the match to do
commentary, but surprisingly does not get involved in the match.  This starts pretty slow, but after Lee stops
doing commentary the match picks up and Blackman gets a solid clean win to
maintain momentum for his feud with Jeff Jarrett.  Rating:  *¾ (2 for 2)
After the match,
Lee walks back out and filibusters for a great Jarrett entrance, but Jarrett
actually sneaks up behind Blackman in the ring and smashes a guitar over his
head.  Smashing people with guitars would
gradually become part of Jarrett’s calling card and this was one of the first
uses of the tactic.
DX is shown
relieving themselves on the Disciples of Apocalypse bicycles backstage.
LOD 2000 giving
Jesus a Doomsday Device on last week’s RAW is the Bop It Slam of the Week.
A video package
recaps last week’s cage match main event between the New Age Outlaws and Cactus
Jack and Chainsaw Charlie for the vacant WWF tag team titles.  It emphasizes that after the match and
beatdown the crowd was chanting for Steve Austin.
Mick Foley walks
out with a chair and wearing a neck brace. 
He says that Terry Funk is not at the show because he is pretty banged
up from last week and that after their sacrifices for the fans they just
chanted for Steve Austin at the end of last week’s show.  He criticizes the fans for giving them Cactus
Jack, which they asked for, and spitting on his effort.  When the fans do not give him a group apology,
he says that wrestling just is not worth it anymore and that the fans will not
see Cactus Jack for a long time.  Solid
promo work from Foley that planted the seeds for Steve Austin’s first in-ring
feud as WWF champion.  3 for 3
A video package
recaps the Nation turning on Faarooq on last week’s show.  A video from the Nation, which shows them
ambushing Faarooq in the parking lot is played.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Owen Hart beats The
Rock (Champion w/The Nation of Domination) by disqualification when Chyna
interferes and nails Owen with a baseball bat at 5:46:
There is a small history between these two as Owen beat
the Rock to win his first Intercontinental title on a RAW episode the previous
year, but this time he is facing heel Rock and not the young upstart Rocky
Maivia.  One thing that is weird about
the commentary of this match is that Cole and Ross debate whether Austin has
sold out and Ross says it can’t be possible, while Cole gloats about how
powerful McMahon is.  Considering that
Cole is criticized for pandering McMahon’s lines today it’s a surreal
conversation.  The Nation are evicted
from ringside after they trip Owen running the ropes.  Owen manages to put the Rock in the
Sharpshooter, but Chyna runs in and the Rock saves his title via
disqualification.  Once again,
D-Generation X gets the better of Owen. 
Will this poor guy ever catch a break in this feud?  Rating:  **¼ (4 for 4)
Jerry “the King”
Lawler replaces Cole for hour
two
.
Flanked by two
police officers, Vince McMahon comes out and unveils the corporate version of
Steve Austin, who is wearing a suit, baseball cap, and does not climb to the
second rope to salute the fans.  The fans
are hot when Austin’s music hits, but are lukewarm to the idea of him in a
suit.  However, Austin is wearing his
wrestling boots because the dress shoes McMahon selected were not fully broken
in and McMahon takes exception to Austin’s baseball cap, so he takes it off and
throws it into the crowd.  When Austin
gets the mic he cuts a hilarious promo about being left in prison last week
without bread and water. 
He has one of the police officers take a picture of he and McMahon with
the title and then tells a happy McMahon that he should get the film framed
because that is the last time he will see him wear a silly suit.  He rips the entire suit off and tosses it
into the crowd, gives McMahon a low blow, and takes a picture of an agonizing McMahon before
leaving.  These segments just get better
and better, assisted by some funny commentary from Ross, who loves Austin, and
Lawler, who worries about his old broadcast partner.  5 for
5
The Disciples of
Apocalypse walk out and challenge D-Generation X to a match later this evening
.
Mixed Gender
Match:  Luna Vachon (w/Goldust) beats
Matt Gold with a flying elbow drop in 26 seconds:
Ross informs us that this is the first intergender match
in WWF history and I will take his word for it. 
Of course, those that had the RAW SNES and Genesis video games had
already seen Luna wrestle in lots of intergender matches.  Goldust beats up Gold before the bell, which
makes him a sitting duck for Luna to get an easy victory.  I was disappointed Luna didn’t bust out the
“Luna Eclipse” elbow drop that she had in that video game.
A new Val Venis
vignette sees him discuss his new film “As Hard as it Gets.”
Ken Shamrock
beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Sable) by disqualification when the Nation of
Domination interfere at 2:40:
Mero says that he let Sable have the spotlight at
WrestleMania, but demands that she leave his ring before this match.  These two have a decent abbreviated match and
Shamrock arms himself with a chair when the Nation runs out.  However, the Nation have strength in numbers
and Mark Henry splits Shamrock’s wig and D-Lo hits a Lo Down, after which the
Rock tells Shamrock that he is facing a new, more powerful Nation.  I’ll give the match and beatdown a point
because it made everyone look good.  (6 for 6)
Call 815-734-1161
to buy the new Stone Cold University t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping &
handling)!  I cannot get over how
outrageous the shipping charges are for some of these items
.
Kevin Kelly
interviews the Undertaker, who accepts the desperate challenge of Paul Bearer
and Kane for the inferno match at Unforgiven. 
Paul Bearer and Kane interrupt the interview from the gravesite of the
Undertaker’s parents and Bearer promises that the Undertaker will die a slow,
agonizing death at Unforgiven.  Kane then
takes a sledgehammer to their parents grave and sets the remnants on fire.  Nice sell for the match, but I do not see how
they are going to top this in the ensuing weeks.  7 for
7
Triple H &
The New Age Outlaws (w/Chyna & Sean Waltman) beat The Disciples of
Apocalypse when Triple H pins Chainz with a Pedigree at 6:30 shown:
I am not calling Waltman X-Pac because he is not being
referred to that on television yet. 
Betting on the DOA in this match would be like placing everything you
owned against the Harlem Globetrotters.  After a below average match,
D-Generation X picks up a clean win over a stable who has worn out its
welcome.  After the bell, DX lays out
DOA like they did Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie on last week’s show.  However, before DX can completely decimate
Chainz, LOD 2000 runs out to make the save for the hot finish.  Rating:  *½ (8 for 8)
The Final Report Card:  Like last week, this RAW rolled along with
lots of entertaining segments to advance the necessary angles.  The new D-Generation X is starting to make
its mark on the company, the new Nation of Domination is doing the same, and
some new talent like Dan Severn and Val Venis are being introduced to the
audience.  This was another solid effort
to continue narrowing the gap with WCW.
Our Unforgiven card so far is:
WWF Championship Match:  Steve Austin (Champion) vs. ???
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) vs. LOD 2000
Inferno Match:  The Undertaker vs. Kane
Evening Gown Match:  Sable vs. Luna Vachon
Monday Night War Rating:  4.4 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

The SmarK RAW Rant–01.27.2014

The SmarK RAW Rant – 01.27.2014 I figured I might as well catch up since I had the day off anyway. This will be an interesting experiment for me now, actually, because I manage the TV department at work and I’ve been booking myself on Monday nights and then putting RAW on as background noise. So basically I can half-watch the entire 3-hour show and then recap the 90 minute one on Hulu and see what the differences are. I can tell you right now that the original version of this show bored the fuck out of me, even while not paying particular attention to it. THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS ALERT: Hulu is offering a compilation of the Super Bowl ads this year, which is like the Holy Grail for Canadians because we never get to see any of them. However, the compilation of ads is, in itself, sponsored by ANOTHER AD. WHO ARE THE AD WIZARDS THAT CAME UP WITH THIS ONE? Live from Cleveland, OH Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler The Authority is here to start us out with a POINT TO SIGN. And tonight they’re heels, for those keeping scores. HHH immediately trolls the crowd by calling them whiny babies for the Daniel Bryan thing and then talks up Batista again, noting that he’s their “good friend”. So does that mean they’re babyfaces or Batista is supposed to be a heel? So their big announcement is Randy Orton defending the title in the Chamber, which brings out Daniel Bryan. OK, time out. What the fuck was the point of all the “Brock Lesnar is the #1 contender because he says so” stuff that we went through for the past month? We now know he’s not working the Chamber PPV, and definitely not getting a title shot there or at Wrestlemania, so what was that storyline even supposed to be leading towards? He destroys Big Show and then leaves again for two months? Because I know I’m just a smark that’s apparently beneath HHH’s boot, but that doesn’t seem like optimal usage of a guy you’re paying millions of dollars a year for. OK, time in again. So Daniel rightly bitches about not getting entered in the Rumble, and the Authority gives the condescending “Well, we didn’t want to make you work twice” answer. Bryan points out that they make him work twice all the time against the Shield and Wyatts, and HHH is somehow even more smarmy with “That’s a fair point, so we didn’t want to make you do it again.” See, HHH is a FANTASTIC heel when he’s doing that “smart-ass for evil” gimmick, which is why it’s so frustrating when he bounces back and forth from week to week. If he’s the asshole who’s cutting off the babyface’s demands with his corporate doublespeak and leading to someone getting revenge on him, GREAT. But the problem comes when he does the same thing to heels and kills their heat in the process. Bryan wants into the Chamber, but the Shield appears like magic and starts a beatdown. And then Sheamus makes the save, as does John Cena, which would presumably set up a six-man main event. Good enough to start. Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara v. The Real Americans The masked men double-team Cesaro to start, and Sin Cara gets a springboard elbow for two and dumps Swagger for a dive. Uncle Zeb slaps Swagger around to get him focused again, and indeed he takes over in the ring. The Canucks should hire him to coach instead of Tortorella. At least Zeb gets results. We take a break and return with Cesaro missing a charge, allowing the hot tag to Rey. Top rope senton and bulldog for Cesaro gets two. Low kick gets two. 619 into a Sin Cara senton, but it misses, and Cesaro levels Cara with a forearm and finishes with the Neutralizer at 8:23. Good to see Cesaro getting it done when Swagger couldn’t. ** Brad Maddox brings out Randy Orton, as we will continue having him shoved down our throats and WE WILL LIKE IT. Batista interrupts and the crowd immediately starts trying to trip him up with Daniel Bryan chants. He’s leaving Wrestlemania with the title, and nothing is going to change that! I love shoot comments that aren’t supposed to be shoot comments. Brock Lesnar now joins us, and Paul Heyman has two choices for Maddox: Either give Brock a title match tonight, or a match with Batista. Of course, neither would end up happening, because WWE. Kofi Kingston v. Alberto Del Rio ADR is still really upset with Batista and expressing his anger via INSET PROMOS, as only happens in wrestling. I’m more upset with Kofi’s god-awful tights recently, but whatever floats his boat. Kofi pounds away in the corner, but gets booted down by Del Rio and clotheslined for two. Del Rio bails and Kofi follows with a dive, but walks into an enzuigiri coming back in. Michael Cole, after five years, is still trying to get “controlled frenzy” over as a thing. It’s not a thing, it’s not gonna happen, give it up. Back in, Del Rio grabs a chinlock and gets an elbow off the second rope and the crowd is already bored and chanting for JBL. They slug it out on the top rope and no one cares, as we take a break. Back with Kofi getting a rollup for two, which has Cole thrilled at the prospect of building momentum. SOS gets two. You have to wonder if Michael Cole starts yelling about BUILDING MOMENTUM when he’s having sex, and then wants to create separation when he’s done. Typical man. Anyway, Del Rio tries the armbar, but gets the backstabber instead for two. To the top, but Kofi follows with a superplex attempt, which Del Rio turns into a half-assed curb stomp ala Low-Ki. Superkick finishes at 13:20. You have to love how they highlight Kofi’s big Rumble moment and then job him out right away, in order to build up the guy for Batista to squash at the Chamber PPV. And then they’re like “Duh, why doesn’t anyone ever get over, duh?” Match was fine. **1/2 WWE tag team titles: The New Age Outlaws v. Cody Rhodes & Goldust I still don’t get the point of switching the titles. And I’m guessing the Outlaws are supposed to be heels, but they still do the whole babyface spiel before the match. Further through the looking glass, as the washed up Outlaws get their spot and titles because they’re friends with HHH in real life, doing a storyline where they got their spot and titles because they’re friends with HHH. Which is kind of even funnier because their original deal was that they were the miscreants who clearly were out of their league and cheated their way to the belts by beating teams better than them, and then nostalgia somehow turned them into a good team. So it’s like “Here’s this washed up team who only got their spot because of friendship with the boss, but we’re gonna put them over the champions clean and act like they’re awesome as well.” The messages are more mixed than a Jim Ross blog update. Anyway, meta-weirdness aside, the Outlaws attack Goldust and Road Dogg controls with a chinlock, but they bail and we take a break. Geez, remember when Road Dogg and Goldust were feuding over the I-C title FIFTEEN YEARS AGO? It makes it all the more amazing how easily Goldust has slipped back into his role and how out of place the Outlaws look. Back with Goldust busting out a flip powerbomb on Dogg for two (see what I mean?) and it’s hot tag Cody, who runs wild on the very old and slow looking Outlaws, until Gunn gets a clothesline to cut him off. This brings out Brock Lesnar for the DQ at 10:00 and he destroys the Rhodes. * This of course leads to nothing, because apparently their plan for getting to Undertaker is: 1. Brock wants a title match and declares himself #1 contender. 2. ??? 3. Undertaker match and PROFIT. Jake Roberts is introduced as the newest Hall of Famer. Hopefully he locks Warrior in a room full of cobras again before the ceremony. Daniel Bryan, John Cena & Sheamus v. The Shield Apparently the winners of this match are entered into the Elimination Chamber, the announcement of which was actually deleted from the Hulu version. Cena trades headlocks with Rollins until Cena slugs him down, which brings Reigns and Sheamus in. Reigns pounds on him, but Sheamus gets a neckbreaker for two. Back to Rollins, but Sheamus dominates him until a cheapshot turns the tide. Over to Daniel Bryan to wake up the crowd again, and the faces work Rollins over. Sheamus with a legdrop for two. Double suplex gets two for Cena. Rollins comes back with a clothesline as we take a break from the HIGH STAKES, HIGH DRAMA. Yes, the chance for John Cena to get yet another title shot! High drama indeed. Back with Rollins choking Cena out, which sets up the Reigns apron dropkick for two. The superman punch follows, and that move is gonna win Best Finisher in the awards next year, mark my words. Cena RISES ABOVE SUPERMAN and dumps Reigns, but Roman puts him down again for two. Ambrose runs Cena into the corner, and Rollins cuts off the tag for more shenanigans in the heel corner. Ambrose with a suplex for two. And this just keeps going and going with Ambrose controlling Cena, until finally it’s hot tag Bryan. Dive for Ambrose and he kicks the hell out of everyone, but Reigns spears Cena. Bryan dumps him, but Rollins gets a rollup for two. They slug it out and Rollins powerbombs him into the corner for two. To the top, but the stomp misses and Bryan makes the comeback before missing a charge. Rollins with a rollup, but Bryan reverses into the Yeslock. Ambrose breaks it up and Sheamus gets rid of him, allowing Bryan to make the tag to Cena to save the day. STF on Reigns, but he powers out, and the Wyatts magically appear for the shit DQ at 21:22. Wow, what a thrilling way for the babyfaces to get their title shot. ***1/4 Hell of a match before that cop-out finish, though. The Pulse That was quite the underwhelming finish to the show, to say the least. And definitely not worth sitting through a boring, go-nowhere show to get to, either. And so, time to take a lunch break and return with this week’s RAW later in the afternoon!

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 30, 1998

A video package
recaps the big events at last night’s WrestleMania pay-per-view.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are live from Albany, New York.

Vince McMahon
walks out with the new version of the WWF title, which will replace the winged
eagle title that has been a staple of the company since 1988.  The crowd is so loud and rabid that McMahon
does not even know if his microphone is working.  Austin snatches the new title from McMahon
and McMahon goes back on what he said prior to WrestleMania and says he is
proud of Austin for winning the title. 
McMahon says that together they can make Austin the greatest WWF
champion of all-time.  Austin sees
through that scheme and takes offense when McMahon says he loves him.  After embarrassing McMahon, Austin reiterates
that he will continue to do things his way and McMahon tells him that he can
take the easy road and adapt or take the hard way and be forced to follow his
plan anyway.  Austin takes ten seconds to
think about it and then gives McMahon a Stone Cold Stunner.  Words cannot describe how awesome this
segment is.  McMahon played it like his
1990s announcing personality and Austin showed that way of doing business was
not going to be the way that the Attitude Era was going to proceed.  1 for
1
McMahon is shown
recovering in the locker room surrounded by his cronies
.
Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom (w/Sunny)
defeat Jose & Jesus when Hawk pins Jesus after a Doomsday Device in 34
seconds:
The only good thing about this repackaging is that it
gives Sunny something to do.  The Legion
of Doom roll through Jose and Jesus like the jobbers they are and after the
match Sunny says that they should be known as “LOD 2000” from now on.
Jim Ross says that
the WWF tag team titles are being held up due to the wrong dumpster being used
last night at WrestleMania and that the New Age Outlaws and Cactus Jack and
Chainsaw Charlie will meet in a steel cage match tonight.
Kevin Kelly says
that Vince McMahon has called the police and wants Steve Austin arrested.  After the commercial break, Kelly adds that
Austin says that Vince does not have the balls to arrest him.
Kurrgan (w/The
Jackyl) beats Chainz with the Paralyzer at 2:12:
Chainz never knocks Kurrgan off of his feet in this
squash, which continues Kurrgan’s reign of terror in the lower midcard.  After the match, Kurrgan keeps the Paralyzer
on and drags Chainz to the locker room.
Police officers
are shown arriving at the arena and greeted by Vince McMahon
.
Jeff Jarrett
(w/Tennessee Lee) defeats Aguila via submission to the figure-four leg lock at
2:36:
Jarrett continues to use the horse for his entrance,
which boggles my mind because I forgot that he even had such a ridiculous
entrance at this time.  The booking of
this match shows the problem of the light heavyweight division because Aguila
should be wrestling other light heavyweights, but there are not enough of them
in the company so they end up as cannon fodder for Jarrett and other midcarders.  Lee promises a big surprise on next week’s
show while doing commentary for this squash.
After the bell,
Steve Blackman runs out and floors Jarrett with a pump kick, but Jarrett
recovers and knocks him out of the ring when Blackman tries to go after
Lee.  This is a great crowd because they
give this developing feud a huge reaction
.
Police officers
are shown carrying Austin away in handcuffs. 
Austin tries to go after McMahon despite the handcuffs and Austin
promises that McMahon will pay.  Gerald
Brisco reassures McMahon that he made the right decision.
  After
the commercial break, McMahon walks out with Brisco and Commissioner Slaughter
and explains in a contrite voice that he felt Austin needed to cool off for
twenty-four hours based on his actions earlier tonight.
 2 for 2
Triple H and Chyna
inform us that the tonight the WWF as we know it will come to an X-rated end.
Ross interviews
Intercontinental Champion the Rock, who is backstage, and the Rock promises to
lay the smack down on Ken Shamrock.  The
Rock tells Faarooq that he opened his eyes to something new last night and
tells him that he is why he is still the champion and he guarantees that the
Nation will be stronger after tonight. 
Faarooq appears to be unconvinced
.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler comes out to do commentary for hour two
.
Ken Shamrock
& Steve Blackman beat The Rock & Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination)
when Shamrock pins Faarooq after a belly-to-belly suplex at 4:22:
It takes Ross 1:25 to talk about Faarooq’s football
background, which might be a new record. 
The Rock’s heat is off the charts at the beginning of this match and it
only grows when he refuses to get into the ring to fight Shamrock.  This proceeds with Shamrock and Blackman
beating the tar out of Faarooq and the Rock walking out on Faarooq when Faarooq
tries to make the tag.  They work that
spot really well because the Rock at first holds his hand higher when Faarooq
crawls to their corner and then decides to blow him off for good.  Rating:  *½ (3 for 3)
After the match,
Faarooq calls the Rock back to the ring. 
The Rock returns and he and Faarooq brawl until the other members of the
Nation and WWF officials separate them. 
However, when the WWF officials leave and Faarooq calls the Rock back to
the ring, the other members of the Nation turn on Faarooq and the Rock
re-enters the ring to give Faarooq a Rock Bottom.  The Rock proclaims himself the new leader of
the Nation.
Kane giving Pete
Rose a Tombstone is the 10-321 Rewind segment.
European Champion
Triple H and Chyna come out and Triple H says that he was right about Mike
Tyson.  He accuses Shawn Michaels of
dropping the ball and says that he is taking over and tonight is the genesis of
D-Generation X.  Hmmm…so that’s where
Michael McGillicutty got that line. 
Triple H says that for allies to go to war he is looking at the Kliq and
Sean Waltman walks out.  Ross’s lack of
enthusiasm when Waltman comes out is pretty funny.  Waltman proceeds to cut a fun promo that runs
down Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff and says that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash would
be with him tonight if they were not being held hostage by WCW.  This segment nicely moved DX into Triple H’s
control and overcame the audience’s hesitation to embrace a Triple H-led DX.  4 for
4
Sable powerbombing
Luna Vachon last night at WrestleMania is the Bop It Slam of the Week.
The first Val
Venis vignette is aired where he previews his new film “Live Hard.”
-Before the match,
Luna Vachon comes out and demands a rematch with Sable.  After Sable agrees, she lays out what an Evening
Gown match is.  Mero does not want Sable
to accept the challenge, but Sable accepts anyway.  It’s a testament to Luna’s character that she
didn’t become a face in the lead up to that match because the crowd popped huge
at the suggestion that she wanted to strip Sable off her clothes.
“Marvelous” Marc
Mero (w/Sable) beat Taka Michinoku with a TKO at 1:36:

Throughout the match, Sable criticizes Mero’s heel tactics, but that
distracts the referee and helps Mero hit a low blow to win.  So, that whole light heavyweight
division?  Yeah, who cares about
that.  After the match, Sable tries to
tend to Michinoku and argues with Mero on her way to the backstage area.
After the match,
three Japanese men hit the ring and destroy Michinoku.
NWA Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Midnight
Express (w/Cornette) defeat The Headbangers (Champions) to win the titles when
Bombastic Bomb pins Mosh after a Rocket Launcher at 4:00:
Before the match, Cornette brings out Dan Severn, who was
in the midst of a four year reign as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion and
should have been a bigger deal in the WWF. 
The hype of Severn takes precedence over calling this match, which is
standard fare.  After the bell, Severn
gets into the ring and suplexes the Headbangers around.  This was the ideal role for Severn to kick
ass and say very little, but that is not how he was treated during this
run.  Rating:  ** (4 for 4)
Steve Austin calls
into the show and promises to show Vince McMahon how pissed off he is on next
week’s RAW.
As the cage is
being set up for the main event, Kane and Paul Bearer walk out and Bearer
promises that the Undertaker-Kane feud is not over.  He says that he had a dream where the ring
was surrounded by fire and Kane stood tall. 
He challenges the Undertaker to enter his dream and face Kane in a match
where the loser will be set on fire. 
Very nice promo by Bearer to setup an Inferno match between Kane and the
Undertaker at Unforgiven and it was also a good use of time so that the cage
could be constructed for the main event. 5
for 5
Steel Cage Match
for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The
New Age Outlaws beat Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie to win the titles when
the Road Dogg pins Cactus after a spike piledriver on a chair at 4:38:
Funk is shown with a nasty deep bruise suffered at last
night’s WrestleMania.  This match is
being contested under pinfall and submission rules, so escaping the cage gets
you nothing, and it assumes tornado tag rules as well.  The Outlaws tie Charlie to the cage by his
neck with handcuffs, which is rather ingenious, and Cactus fights the Outlaws
off for a while, but D-Generation X runs out and Sean Waltman, who is still
being referred to as “the Kid,” blasts Cactus in the head with a chair several
times as Chyna distracts the referee. 
This gives the Outlaws the break they need to win the titles for the
second time.  Rating:  ** (6 for 6)
After the bell,
D-Generation X destroys Cactus and ties Charlie tighter to the cage.  The Outlaws celebrate with Triple H and
Waltman and the DX theme plays in the background, seemingly confirming that the
Outlaws are the stable’s newest members.
The Final Report Card:  They really packed a lot into this RAW and it
followed a format that the company should look into today where the first hour
is packed with squash matches and a lead angle to keep people interested and
then having serious and more risky angles play out in the next hour.  More power is handed to the lead figures of
the Attitude Era from the New Generation as Triple H takes over D-Generation X
and the Rock takes over the Nation from Faarooq.  This show was very instrumental in setting
the tone for the rest of the year as well, with McMahon having Austin arrested
for the first time and DX being reformed with Triple H, the soon-to-be named
X-Pac, and the New Age Outlaws.  The show
also continued to tighten the gap with Nitro and showed that the company was
starting to benefit from an edgier product with Austin on top.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.8 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 23, 1998

by Logan Scisco


Vince McMahon
saying that Steve Austin winning the WWF championship would be a corporate
nightmare on last week’s show is replayed. 
Austin will have a rebuttal tonight!
We are really due
for a new RAW opening because the original video has some guys like Sid
in it that are no longer part of the company. 
To compensate, the company is having to splice in lots of recent
footage.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are doing commentary and they are taped from Tucson, Arizona.  This is the go home show for WrestleMania
XIV.

Kevin Kelly
interviews Steve Austin, who says that Vince McMahon cannot mold or break
him.  He says that he respects Shawn
Michaels as a wrestler, but he will go through McMahon and all of his cronies
to get Michaels in the ring and win the WWF title.  Austin says he has lots of “Steveweisers” on
hand and will drink them when D-Generation X and Mike Tyson show up later
tonight.  Commissioner Slaughter comes
out and tells Austin that he will wrestle the Rock tonight on McMahon’s orders.  Despite Austin saying that he will comply,
Slaughter threatens him with making his WrestleMania match against Michaels
non-title and that sends Austin into a rage and he gives Slaughter a Stone Cold
Stunner.  The approaching angle really
makes Slaughter’s role irrelevant, so this is about all he is good for at this
point.  1 for 1
Opening
Contest:  Cactus Jack & Chainsaw
Charlie beat The Quebecers by disqualification when the New Age Outlaws
interfere at 3:50:
Ross spends much of this match hyping the New Age Outlaw
title defense at WrestleMania against Cactus and Chainsaw and explaining the
rules of their scheduled dumpster match. 
During the match, the New Age Outlaws come out in black coat and tie,
set up tables by the entrance, and have dates with Cactus and Chainsaw blow up
dolls.  Very passable match here, as the
Outlaws antics near the entrance receive the most attention and everyone put in
the minimal amount of effort prior to the disqualification.  After the bell, the Outlaws blast Cactus with
a champagne bucket, break their table across Chainsaw’s head, and give Cactus a
spike piledriver on a chair.  Rating: 
¾* (1 for 2)
Shawn Michaels
giving Steve Austin Sweet Chin Music two weeks ago on RAW is the Bop It Slam of
the Week.  It sort of defeats the purpose
of the Slam of the Week if it is something that happened two weeks ago, no?
Jeff Jarrett
(w/Tennessee Lee) beats Steve Blackman when he falls on top of Blackman during
a superplex attempt and Lee holds Blackman’s foot down at 2:24:
Jarrett busts out the electric horse entrance for the
second straight week.  Blackman is a
solid hand, but there is nothing that helps him stand out on this roster and
he’s very bland.  Jarrett cheats to hand
Blackman his first loss and when another referee comes down to correct the
injustice, Jarrett intelligently knocks him out with a right hand.  This match is actually leading somewhere and
starts a two month feud between these two. 
This new gimmick is definitely putting Jarrett on the road to the main
event!
D-Generation X and
Mike Tyson are shown arriving at the arena in a white limousine.
Kane’s rampage on
last week’s show and his confrontation with the Undertaker is replayed.
The Undertaker
cuts a promo by his parents gravesite. 
He asks his parents to forgive him for fighting Kane and he is ready to
burn in hell if he does not defeat Kane. 
Weird promo to see the Undertaker cut, since its more sentimental than
what we usually see.  That said, it did
not add anything new to the feud.  1 for 3
Paul Bearer and
Kane come out and Bearer makes fun of the Undertaker promo we just saw.  Bearer says that Kane has equal powers to the
Undertaker and to prove it, Kane ignites some of the lights in the arena, fries
some of the announcer electronic equipment, and blasts out one of the
spotlights.  Bearer gives Kane free reign
for his last trick and he decides to set a member of the camera crew on
fire.  Pretty hokey segment that turned
into “Kane’s magical illusion show.” 
Cole’s awful explanation of the segment where he keeps telling us that
Kane set a man on fire over and over again also doesn’t help.  1 for
4
The New Midnight
Express (w/Jim Cornette) wrestle The Disciples of Apocalypse  to a double disqualification at 3:33:
It takes less than a minute for the Headbangers to come
down to the ring for a closer look at the Express and the Rock N’ Roll Express
come out as well.  Soon it becomes a
parade of teams that will be in the WrestleMania tag team battle royal, as
Savio Vega and Miguel Perez, Jesus and Jose, the Quebecers, and the Truth
Commission come out.  With all of those
teams around ringside it doesn’t take long for them to start fighting and have
that fight spill into the ring, thereby rendering this match meaningless.  This is only notable because Los Boricuas
EXPLODES as Perez and Jesus fight.  The
crowd works up an “LOD” chant and Ross says that is not going to happen because
they have broken up for good…or have they?  
Not a very good debut for the Express, but that was not really the goal
of this.  Rating:  ½* (1 for 5)
Jerry Lawler joins
the commentary team for the second hour. 
I can’t wait until we get Ross and Lawler on a permanent basis.
D-Generation X and
Mike Tyson come out.  Triple H gloats
about winning the European title from Owen on last week’s show and he says that
even though Chyna will be handcuffed at ringside that won’t change the outcome
of their match.  There is a really slutty
older woman near the front row that is a big DX fan and Shawn Michaels makes
fun of her.  Michaels compares the
Austin-McMahon fight to a catfight and says he does not care about what McMahon
thinks of him.  Michaels says if Austin
wants to win the WWF title he has to go through the greatest champion in history
and he also has to deal with Tyson, who says he will knock Austin out if he
messes with him.  Michaels says that
after WrestleMania D-Generation X will rule forever….forever….Solid promo, but
it repeated all of the same talking points we’ve heard for weeks.  1 for
6
Gennifer Flowers
urges viewers to come out of the closet and announce that they are WWF fans.
The announcers
discuss the wicked chair shot Ken Shamrock took at the hands of the Rock last
week.  Ross says that at WrestleMania if
the Rock is disqualified he will lose the Intercontinental title.
Faarooq beats
Chainz by disqualification when the Rock interferes at 3:36:
Faarooq chooses to fight his own battle without the
Nation’s help and he does not have much to worry about as Chainz gets the
jobber entrance.  The Rock decides to
wander out despite Faarooq’s instructions with a chair and he gets more heat
than anyone on the show, as fans pelt him with garbage as he comes down the
ramp.  Faarooq has the match in hand
after a spinebuster, but the Rock runs into the ring with a chair to hit
Chainz.  Faarooq tells him not to do so
and prepares for a Dominator, but the Rock knocks him out with the chair,
seemingly aiming for Chainz and misses. 
Was he really aiming for Faarooq, though?  Both of these guys tried, but the Rock had
five times more heat than both of them combined and Faarooq loved the chinlocks
in this match.  Rating:  ¾* (1 for 7)
A video package
recaps the Bradshaw-Barry Windham feud.
Bradshaw beats
Barry Windham (w/Jim Cornette) with a school boy at 3:05:
The Rock N’ Roll Express occupy seats near the front row
for this match, which is puzzling because they are talent so they should just
be able to walk out and watch the match by the entrance at the very least.  In the old days this would be perfect midcard
fodder for WrestleMania, but the feud has largely been ignored for the last few
weeks and they must have felt the need to just blow it off here.  Windham actually takes off his entrance gear
for this one, so you know it’s important. 
The Express threaten to come over the guardrail after Cornette and that
distracts Windham, enabling Bradshaw to win in the weakest way possible.  After the match, the New Midnight Express run
down and help Windham do a small beatdown on Bradshaw before the Rock N’ Roll
Express make the save.  I would have given this a
point, but the ending was terrible.  Rating: 
*½ (1 for 8)
Muhammad Ali’s
guest referee performance at WrestleMania I is the M&M WrestleMania
Millennium Moment.
D-Generation X and
Mike Tyson are shown conversing and having fun in the locker room.  The announcers hype DX’s public workout in
Times Square on Thursday.
Sable is awarded a
plaque for making the January 1997 edition of RAW magazine the highest selling
ever.  Sunny is supposed to get one as
well, but is “under the weather,” and the crowd boos that out of the building,
which makes me wonder who the more popular “diva” at this time was among the
fan base.  It’s like the Shawn
Michaels-Bret Hart feud among fans, in that you favored one over the other.  I came down on the side of Bret and
Sunny.  Marc Mero says he is going to let
Sable have her moment and leaves, but that lets Luna Vachon run down and nail
Sable with her plaque and rip her dress. 
This segment was notable at the time because it exposed Vince Russo and
“Vic Venom” as the same person.  Venom
was a smarkish writer that wrote columns for WWF and RAW Magazine and had a
short-lived newsletter along the lines of the Wrestling Observer.  Russo was the WWF Magazine editor at the
time and while people have problems with elements of his booking, his editing
made WWF Magazine a great read in the mid-1990s.  In fact, Russo wrote a column in WWF magazine
after this where he blasted fans for fooling them with the Venom character,
which I swear was what informed the “It was me all along!” part of the Higher
Power angle of 1999.  2 for 9
Non-Title
Match:  Steve Austin beat The Rock
(Intercontinental Champion w/The Nation of Domination) with the Stone Cold
Stunner at 8:25 shown:
Somewhat interesting that the main event of WrestleMania
XV is the last RAW match before WrestleMania XIV.  Austin shows that the little things can work
a crowd as he flips the Rock off when granting a clean break in the
corner.  This is a surprisingly bland and
barely average match, with lots of stalling and deliberate strikes.  Austin actually rolls out of the way of the
People’s Elbow, something that rarely happened,
and launches a comeback to finish off the Rock. 
Since this still got a good crowd reaction I will give this a point, but
it is probably the worst Austin-Rock match that I remember seeing.  Rating:  ** (3 for 10)
After the match,
D-Generation X comes out and Michaels tells Austin that he will beat him at
WrestleMania.  Michaels feigns coming
into the ring to confront Austin, but Triple H convinces Michaels not to do it
as we go off the air.
The Final Report Card:  On my scale, this is one of the worst RAW
episodes in a while.  It is not that the
angles are not hot, but most of them have run out of steam without having a
match take place, so this show was everyone treading water before WrestleMania.  The only one where that does not apply, the
Bradshaw-Windham angle, had an awful finish on this show too, but that is what
I have come to expect from the NWA angle.
Here is our finalized WrestleMania XIV card:
*WWF Championship Match:  Shawn Michaels (Champion) vs. Steve Austin
with Mike Tyson as guest enforcer
*Intercontinental Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion) vs. Ken Shamrock and if
the Rock is disqualified he loses the title
*WWF Tag Team Championship Dumpster
Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions)
vs. Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie
*European Championship Match:  Triple H (Champion) vs. Owen Hart with Chyna
handcuffed at ringside
*Mixed Tag Team Match:  Marc Mero & Sable vs. The Artist Formerly
Known as Goldust & Luna Vachon
*WWF Light Heavyweight Championship
Match:  Taka Michinoku (Champion) vs. Aguila
*15 Team Tag Team Battle Royal
Monday Night War Rating:  3.6 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 17, 1998

Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Phoenix, Arizona.  This is a special Tuesday St. Patrick’s
edition of Raw because Raw was pre-empted by USA Network’s Moby Dick.  Today, RAW would get cute with this being St.
Patrick’s Day, but this is the Attitude Era so we do not have leprechauns or
green set themes for this show.

Kevin Kelly
interviews Ken Shamrock and his introduction of Shamrock tries to channel
Howard Finkel and fails miserably.  Kelly
asks Shamrock if he can control his temper at WrestleMania and Shamrock says
that the Rock has to worry the most about him losing his temper.  Intercontinental Champion the Rock and the
Nation of Domination walk out and the Rock busts out the first “Know your role
and shut your mouth.”  The Rock says that
if Shamrock can last two minutes with any member of the Nation that he will
defend his title against Shamrock and drafts a reluctant D-Lo Brown to do his
bidding.  Shamrock’s mic work here was
better than normal and the Rock continues to bring the usual
entertainment.  1 for 1
Opening Two
Minute Challenge:  Ken Shamrock beats
D-Lo Brown by disqualification when the Rock interferes at 1:48:
D-Lo attacks Shamrock from behind to kick off this
challenge and the crowd busies itself with a “Rocky sucks” chant.  D-Lo gets through the first minute without
difficulty, but Shamrock turns the tide and puts him in the ankle lock.  Before D-Lo can submit with twelve seconds
left in the challenge, the Rock nails Shamrock with a chair and then gives him
another sick shot to the head.  As WWF
officials tend to a knocked out Shamrock, Faarooq argues with the Rock about
his actions and the Rock jaws with fans on the way back to the locker
room.  THIS is how to build heel heat.
Kelly says that
Shamrock has suffered a concussion and other elements of his medical condition
are uncertain.  Shamrock is shown not
wanting to go to the hospital and woozy.
Sable comes out
and challenges Luna Vachon to a match tonight.
The Phoenix Sun
gorilla rappels from the rafters, trampolines into the ring, and jumps around
before taking up a position at the broadcast booth.
Jeff Jarrett
(w/Tennessee Lee) defeats Tom Brandi via submission to the figure-four leglock
at 1:48:
Jarrett makes his entrance on a horse in electric
lights.  Jarrett’s rebooted push
continues here against the hapless Brandi whose fifteen minutes of fame with
Marc Mero and Sable are long game.  At
least Jarrett does some setup for the figure-four this week.
Kelly tells us
that Shamrock is being sent to the hospital, but the Rock interrupts his report
and says that he is now worried about who he is going to face at WrestleMania
since Shamrock won’t be able to make it.
Lawrence Taylor’s
victory over Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania XI is the M&M WrestleMania
Millennium Moment.
A video package
hypes the Shawn Michaels-Steve Austin WrestleMania main event by providing
comprehensive retrospectives on Shawn Michaels career.  The good thing about this video package is
that it puts over the importance of the main event and the WWF title and puts a
focus on the future and not on the past, which is a problem with the product
today.
Handicap
Match:  The Headbangers (NWA Tag Team
Champions) beat The Rock N’ Roll Express & Jim Cornette when Mosh pins
Ricky Morton with the Stage Dive at 2:06:
This grew out of a Superstars match where Cornette pinned
Mosh after the Headbangers beat the Rock N’ Roll Express in a title defense
after the usual NWA shenanigans.  The
Headbangers hit the Stage Dive out of nowhere to win this without Cornette ever
being part of the match.  However, when
the Headbangers try to beat up Cornette, the repackaged Bart Gunn and Bob Holly
come out and attack them.  Cornette
announces them as the New Midnight Express and they are now named “Bombastic”
Bob and “Bodacious” Bart.  Cornette has
the New Express beat up the Rock N’ Roll Express because the Rock N’ Roll
Express has done a poor job protecting him. 
Since the New Midnight Express did not have the old Midnight Express’s
awesome theme music this was a failure out of the gate much like the rest of
the NWA angle.  (2 for 3)
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear what the plan is for D-Generation X to eliminate Steve
Austin before WrestleMania!
Gennifer Flowers
says that Shawn Michaels could be her “boy toy” anytime, that Steve Austin
would not be “stone cold” with her, and that she could make the Undertaker rise
from the dead.  So that’s who we can
blame for American badass Undertaker…
The Phoenix Sun
gorilla keeps jumping around in the ring and unveils a “Gorilla 3:16”
t-shirt.  Kane and Paul Bearer take
exception to that as the lights go out and Kane lays the Gorilla to waste.  HUGE heel heat for that.  3 for
4
Jerry Lawler comes
out to do commentary for hour two
.
Footage is shown
of European Champion Owen Hart breaking his ankle against Barry Windham on last
week’s show.  He comes out to do
commentary for the next match.  They
clearly edit out a part where Ross tells the fans to quit reaching over the
guardrail and messing with the commentators.
Chainsaw Charlie
beats Billy Gunn (w/The Road Dogg) by disqualification at 2:23:
This was setup from last week’s show where Gunn nailed
Charlie in the back with a chair.  Ross
tells the fans that the tag team championship match at WrestleMania will be a
dumpster match.  The Road Dogg proceeds
to commentate the match on the house mic and when things get sour for Billy
after he refuses to pin Charlie after two piledrivers, the Road Dogg runs in
and creates the disqualification.  After
the bell, Charlie fights off the heels, gives Gunn a DDT on a tag team title
belt, and Cactus Jack comes out to help Charlie tie up Road Dogg by the feet
and lift him several feet in the air. 
Nice segment that allows the faces to get revenge for the attack the Outlaws launched against
Cactus and Charlie on last week’s show.  (4 for 5)
Steve Austin’s
bullying of Vince McMahon on last week’s show is the Bop It Slam of the Week.
Luna Vachon tells
the announcers from the backstage area that she accepts Sable’s challenge, but
it will be at a time that she decides
.
Vince McMahon
walks out to a chorus of boos and is interviewed by Kevin Kelly.  McMahon considers Austin’s conduct on last
week’s show unprofessional, but considers it somewhat justified by Mike Tyson
joining D-Generation X.  McMahon gets
tired of Kelly going back to last week’s footage and says he did not hit Steve
Austin last week because he wanted to save the WrestleMania main event since he
would have broken Austin’s jaw.  When
asked if he wants to see Austin win the WWF title at WrestleMania, McMahon says
that if Austin would be willing to be molded into the WWF’s corporate image
that would be okay for the company, but if he won the title in present form it
would be a public relations disaster. 
McMahon says that Austin and WWF fans cannot handle his answer, but when
Kelly presses him for an answer, McMahon relents and says his answer is not
only a “no,” but a “hell no.”  McMahon
hits another segment out of the park here as McMahon gradually morphed into the
Mr. McMahon character over the course of the interview and let his disdain of
Austin be publicly aired.  5 for 6
Ross says that
Lucky Luke and Prince have been chosen to rap Mike Tyson to the ring at
WrestleMania.  Owen makes me laugh by
saying that he hates rap.  A Tyson video
package is aired
.
Steve Austin gets
a career retrospective video package to hype his participation in the
WrestleMania main event.  It talks about
his WCW firing and Ringmaster gimmick.
Triple H walks out
and questions Owen’s manhood.  He
challenges Owen to a European title match tonight and when Owen refuses, Triple
H tosses water in his face and pushes him down. 
This leads to a brawl that leads to…
European
Championship Match:  Triple H (w/Chyna)
beats Owen Hart (Champion) by referee stoppage at 45 seconds to win the title:
Owen pounds on Triple H on the floor and tosses him into
the ring, but Triple H distracts the referee, thereby allowing Chyna to smash a
baseball bat into Owen’s injured ankle and roll him into the ring.  Triple H puts Owen in an ankle lock and the
referee stops the match to give Triple H his then-record setting second
European title reign.  You really want to
root for Owen in this feud, but it is becoming increasingly impossible when
he’s made to look like a fool each week. 
You would almost think that is the point of all this…
Confrontation:  Sable (w/Marc Mero) and Luna Vachon
(w/Goldust):
Both women come out to confront the other and brawl, but
WWF officials will not allow it to take place and the fans are not very
happy.  Mero and Goldust assist by
holding their valets back, leading the crowd to work up a “Let them go!”
chant.  Sable eventually gets free of
Mero and chokes Luna and rips her clothes as the crowd explodes.  At the end of the segment, Sable appears to
have suffered a knee injury.  The booking
team went way overboard on the injury angles this week.
The lights go out
and Kane returns and in a really awesome heel move Mero flees the ring to “get
help,” thereby leaving Sable alone.  Sable
begs for her life when the lights go out again and the Undertaker shows up on
top of the Titantron and tells Kane that he felt his wrath at the Royal Rumble
and now it is time for him to feel his. 
The Undertaker uses his powers to set a casket that has Kane in effigy
alight as we go off the air.  Everything
from the Sable-Luna brawl through this shows in about five minutes why the
Attitude Era was an awesome time to be a fan. 
6 for 7
The Final Report Card:  Since the WWF was not facing competition from
WCW with this show they decided to use it to hype the WrestleMania main event
with two long video packages for Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin, which was a
good move.  The show also played up the
“WWF corporate executives do not want Austin to be the WWF champion” and it was
the first time that Vince McMahon portrayed a heel character on WWF television
(although USWA fans saw an early version of the character in 1993).  Good effort this week in exposing the product
to new fans and any WCW fans that were starved for wrestling action on a
Tuesday night.
Monday Night War Rating:  N/A

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 9, 1998

by Logan Scisco

-A video package recaps
Mike Tyson joining D-Generation X and the Undertaker’s return on last week’s
show
.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are doing commentary for the first hour and they are
taped from Wheeling, West Virginia.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock & Steve
Blackman beat Faaarooq & The Rock (w/The Nation of Domination) by
disqualification when the Nation interferes at 4:40
This is the outgrowth of Shamrock rescuing Blackman from
a beatdown at the hands of the Nation on last week’s show.  Commissioner Slaughter must not attend taped
shows because he doesn’t bother trying to come out and eject the Nation from
ringside during this match.  The
commentary team points out that many people in this match have their best days ahead
of them, but miss Blackman.  Shamrock
dominates the Rock when he gets the hot tag and the Nation interferes when all
hell breaks loose.  After the bell, Mark Henry
destroys Blackman on the outside, but the Rock wants the Nation to go away so
he can beat on Shamrock.  When the Nation
leaves, Shamrock beats up the Rock and puts him in the ankle lock while Faarooq
is just like “I told you so” by the entrance. 
Rating:  ** (1 for 1)
Triple H and Chyna
come out and Triple H says that Shawn Michaels is not at the show tonight.  He recaps Steve Austin getting laid out with
Sweet Chin Music on last week’s show and Michaels appears on the Titantron from
a restaurant to gloat about Tyson joining D-Generation X.  He says that Austin has not shown him
anything new.  Michaels cut a good promo,
but the Triple H promo work was boring. 
However, since Michaels promo was the focal point of the segment, I’ll
give this a point.  (2 for 2)
European
Championship Match:  Barry Windham (w/Jim
Cornette) beats Owen Hart (Champion) by count out at 5:14:
Triple H and Chyna eject Kelly from the commentary booth
so they can watch this match.  Although
Windham moves slowly in this match it is a pretty good title defense for Owen
that combines several near-falls and equal offense between both men.  Cornette distracts Owen to break up a
Sharpshooter and they brawl near the commentary table, which sees Chyna low
blow Owen and cause him to get counted out. 
Triple H laughs on commentary, which only reinforces how viewers at home
want to see Owen get revenge at WrestleMania. 
That has to happen, right?  Rating: 
** (3 for 3)
After the match,
Bradshaw runs out and gives Windham a big boot, thereby forcing him to flee.
Sable and Marc
Mero talk to the referee of Mero’s match with Goldust tonight where Luna Vachon
and Sable will be handcuffed at ringside
.
Jerry Lawler
interviews Kane and Paul Bearer in the locker room.  Seeing Lawler scared of Kane is pretty funny.  Bearer gloats about Kane blasting Vader with
a wrench at No Way Out, but boxes in the locker room open and close by
themselves so Bearer runs away.  This
adds to some weird technical glitches that are happening with cameras on this
show, so is the Undertaker nearby?
Aguila (w/Taka
Michinoku) defeats “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher (w/Jerry Lawler) by
disqualification when Lawler interferes at 4:55:
Evidently Aguila is suffering from the flu for this
match.  About ninety seconds into the
match the lights begin to flicker and thunder in heard in the arena, but things
return to normal shortly thereafter. 
This is a de facto number one contender’s match for the light
heavyweight title, since it is still uncertain who Michinoku’s challenger will
be at WrestleMania.  Lots of good moves
in this match, with Aguila using an Asai moonsault and a top rope arm drag and
Christopher using a sunset flip powerbomb to the arena floor.  Lawler takes out Michinoku on the outside,
but gets caught tripping Aguila when he goes to the top rope and that produces
the finish.  If they had announced this
as a number one contender’s match this would have had higher stakes, but as it
stood this was just a botch free light heavyweight match that was a change of
pace in the ring.  Rating:  **¼ (4 for 4)
Andre the Giant
tossing Bret Hart out to win the WrestleMania II battle royal is the
WrestleMania Millennium Moment.  Jim Ross
botches recapping it after the segment by saying that it had the “Refrigerator”
Bill Fralic
.
Steve Austin is
shown arriving to the arena and immediately walks out.  He says he is tired of hearing Mike Tyson
billed as the baddest man on the planet because it is an insult to him.  He steals Howard Finkel’s ringside seat and
decides to sit in the ring before Vince McMahon comes out and sets things
right.  Instead of Vince, Gerald Brisco
and Jack Lanza walk out and tell Austin to come with them, but Austin
refuses.  Commissioner Slaughter
considers the parade of cronies, but Austin calls him a jackass and says that
he won’t do anything to him because he’s headlining WrestleMania.  McMahon is shown backstage and Brisco is
trying to convince him to go out, but McMahon refuses as we go to commercial.
We return from
commercial and Pat Patterson comes out with some security officials to remove
Austin from the ring.  One of them is
over 50 years old, which leads to Austin calling him “pops” and blowing him
off.  The security guys do not want to
remove Austin, so they leave and Patterson has to retreat.  Finally, Vince comes out with Brisco, Dave
Hebner, and Slaughter and McMahon says that calling Tyson the baddest man on
the planet is a figure of speech.  Austin
says that might be so and gives him the middle finger, saying that is also a
figure of speech.  Austin dares McMahon
to give him his best shot after McMahon will not say that he wants to see
Austin win the WWF title.  He rips
McMahon’s suit jacket and McMahon leaves the ring and says that Austin will
pay.  Austin says he wants to kick Triple
H’s ass tonight.  Awesome segment that
really made clear that Austin-McMahon was the next big feud and even though
Austin bullied McMahon here, no one had much sympathy for McMahon because of
Montreal and the fact that he’s a millionaire. 
I’ll give this double points because it took up two segments.  6 for
6
Lawler joins the
commentary for the second hour.
Cactus Jack &
Chainsaw Charlie beat The Quebecers
Ross announces that because of Austin’s strike that the
NWA tag team title match between the Headbangers and the Rock N’ Roll Express
will not be held tonight.  Cactus and
Chainsaw are heading to WrestleMania to face the New Age Outlaws for the tag
team titles, so this match serves to put them over and give them some
momentum.  The match has some highlights,
with Charlie missing a moonsault and Pierre giving Cactus a hurricanrana off
the top rope, but Pierre blind charge creates the finish.  I was expecting more of a squash, but this
ended up as a competitive and enjoyable television bout.  Rating:  ** ¼ (7 for 7)
After the match,
the Road Dogg comes out with his arm in a sling and he dares Cactus to fight
him.  When Cactus follows, Billy Gunn
smashes Chainsaw in the back with a chair.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear a Mike Tyson story and find out what Jim Cornette is
doing in the ring!
The Undertaker’s
return on last week’s RAW is the 10-321 Slam of the Week.  Remember that 10-321 stuff?  It was a running gag in that there was a new
number for it every week.
Kane and Paul
Bearer come out and Bearer says that the Undertaker made a mistake
returning.  The Undertaker’s music tolls
and the lights go out and suddenly the Undertaker appears in the ring.  When the lights come back on, the Undertaker
disappears.  The crowd doesn’t care for
that, but this was a shrewd way to play up the Undertaker’s “powers” and keep
him physically away from Kane before WrestleMania.  8 for
8
Valets Handcuffed
at Ringside:  “Marvelous” Marc Mero
(w/Sable) beats The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) by
disqualification at 5:00:
This stipulation is something out of Memphis and as Luna
licks her handcuff chain Ross’s reaction about his mother fainting back home is
priceless.  Goldust beats down Mero and
then uses his “free time” to make a move on the handcuffed Sable at ringside.  The ref gets bumped about three minutes in,
which does not allow him to count the fall from the Curtain Call and Goldust
then leg drops him so he can get the handcuff keys and release Luna.  Luna smears makeup all over Sable’s
face.  Mero’s “what happened?” after he
sees what happened is great.  The match
result is never announced, but I assume it is a disqualification.  The match was not much, but the angle
development and storytelling were excellent. 
Rating:  * (9 for 9)
Goldust and Luna
Vachon cut a promo in the backstage area and Goldust says that he is tired of
holding Luna back.  They issue a mixed
tag team match challenge to Marc Mero and Sable for WrestleMania.
A video package
provides Mike Tyson’s history in the WWF thus far.
A taped interview
with Ross and Tyson is shown.  Tyson says
he did not care to get disrespected by Steve Austin the night after the Royal
Rumble and Tyson says that he doesn’t care about being fair as the enforcer at
WrestleMania.  A rather dry interview as
Tyson was one of those guys who made more convincing arguments in the ring than
he did on the mic.  9 for 10
Triple H
(w/Chyna) and Savio Vega (w/Los Boricuas) wrestle to a no contest at 33
seconds:
Lawler tries to give this main event some backstory by
saying that D-Generation X did not pay its debts to Los Boricuas, but no one
cares about the Boricuas.  This is all
about Austin running out anyway and despite a sea of WWF officials and the
Boricuas around the ring Austin makes an appearance thirty seconds in and gives
a wave of Stone Cold Stunners to Gerald Brisco, a referee, and Savio.  However, Shawn Michaels appears and blasts an
unsuspecting Austin with Sweet Chin Music and Lawler has a great turn on Edmund
Burke’s quotation of “Evil will always triumph because good is always stupid.”  Michaels prepares to smash Austin in the head
with a steel chair, but the show ends before that can be played.  (10 for
11)
The Final Report Card:  Fantastic episode of Raw that combined some
solid television matches with excellent angle development and storylines.  WrestleMania will now have a mixed tag team
match between Marc Mero and Sable and Goldust and Luna Vachon and this show
made fans want to cheer for Steve Austin and Owen Hart in their separate
battles against D-Generation X.  The show
also began to align Vince McMahon with the heel side of the roster by having
him give signals that he did not want Austin to become the next WWF
champion.  However, look at how that idea
was played in this feud versus the Authority vs. Daniel Bryan feud of this year.  McMahon’s objection to Austin was that he was
anti-establishment and not family friendly, whereas Bryan’s feud devolved into
him not being good for business or on the same level as other competitors.  The next RAW was a Tuesday event, held on March
17th, because, get this, USA Network had to show a television
adaptation of Moby Dick!
So our updated WrestleMania card is as
follows:
*WWF Championship Match:  Shawn Michaels (Champion) vs. Steve Austin
with Mike Tyson as enforcer
*Intercontinental Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion) vs. Ken Shamrock
*WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) vs. Cactus
Jack & Chainsaw Charlie
*European Championship Match:  Owen Hart (Champion) vs. Triple H
*(Tentative) Mixed Tag Team Match:  Marc Mero & Sable vs. The Artist Formerly
Known as Goldust & Luna Vachon
*Tag Team Battle Royal
Monday Night War Rating:  3.6 (vs. 4.9 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up (Way Up)

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 2, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps the confrontation between Steve Austin and Mike Tyson on January 19th.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are doing commentary for the first hour and they are live
from Cleveland, Ohio
.

D-Generation X
comes out and Triple H says that the road to WrestleMania has begun.  He says Owen Hart is wearing his European
title and that he is going to end his reign at WrestleMania.  WWF Champion Shawn Michaels says that DX is
going to make Mike Tyson an offer he cannot refuse.  Michaels offers some generic comments about
his WrestleMania bout with Steve Austin, which brings Austin out.  However, before Austin can say anything, the
lights go out and Kane walks out as DX flees. 
Paul Bearer tells Austin that Kane will prevent him from going to
WrestleMania.  They go to the locker
room, so Austin goes to the announce table, pushes Cole out of his seat, and
cuts a promo saying that he is ready to face Kane and Tyson tonight and he will
beat Kane with the lights on or off. 
Decent opening segment to get things rolling (1 for 1)
Mike Tyson, Shane
McMahon, and his entourage are shown entering the arena.
-The Outlaws come
to the ring in neck braces and there is a dumpster close to the ring.  The Outlaws show footage from their camera
from last week’s attack by Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack, argue that Charlie
and Cactus will be charged with first degree murder, and that they cannot
defend the titles due to their medical condition.  Commissioner Slaughter gets on the Titantron
and says that the Outlaws will wrestle this evening and will defend the tag
team championships.
Opening Contest
for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The
Disciples of Apocalypse beat The New Age Outlaws (Champions) by count out at
1:24:
This is a quick match that resembles a street fight as
Billy Gunn blasts 8-Ball with one of the tag team title belts and then Skull is
whipped into the nearby dumpster.  As the
Outlaws approach the dumpster, Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie jump out and
the Outlaws flee into the crowd.  Coupled
with the Outlaws interview segment before the match this was entertaining.  (2 for
2)
A video package chronicles
the tensions between Marc Mero, Sable, Goldust, and Luna Vachon.
Salt-N-Pepa’s
performance at WrestleMania XI is our weekly WrestleMania Millennium Moment
.
“Marvelous” Marc
Mero (w/Sable) beats Tom Brandi with a TKO at 2:41:
Brandi has become an afterthought as the Mero-Sable
program has transitioned to Goldust and Luna Vachon and he gets the jobber
entrance for this match.  Sable is sent
to the back before the match, since Mero think she is getting too big of a
crowd reaction.  A minute into the match
Luna Vachon walks out and trips Brandi when he runs the ropes and that sets up
a low blow and TKO from Mero.
After the match,
Luna gets into the ring to celebrate with Mero and kisses him.  Mero does not care for that and Goldust hits
the ring and ambushes Mero.  A beatdown
results until Sable runs in and makes the save. 
Mero berates Sable for helping him and Sable pushes him to the canvas
and Mero flees.  I don’t really care for Mero
running away from Sable, since that makes very little sense from a practical
point-of-view, but the crowd loved seeing Sable beat up Luna.
European
Championship Match:  Mark Henry beats
Owen Hart (Champion) by disqualification when Chyna interferes at 5:40:
Before the bout, Commissioner Slaughter bars other
members of the Nation of Domination from standing around ringside.  During the first minute of the match Chyna
walks out and that helps Henry obtain control of the match.  It takes three times for Owen to lock in the
Sharpshooter, but Chyna distracts him and forces him to release it.  Chyna pushes Owen off the top rope and into a
Henry bearhug, but before Owen’s hand will drop for the third time and give
Henry the title, she gets in the ring and gives him a low blow.  A fun big man-little man match that combined
some nice psychology and did a nice job furthering the storyline of DX wanting
to weaken Owen before WrestleMania.  This
was probably Henry’s best match in the WWF up to this point.  Rating:  **½ (3 for 3)
Vince McMahon is
shown talking to Mike Tyson backstage.
Taka Michinoku
& The Headbangers defeat Barry Windham & The Rock N’ Roll Express (w/Jim
Cornette) when Thrasher pins Robert Gibson after hitting him with Cornette’s
tennis racket at 1:46:
Windham must not care anymore because he has not bothered
to remove his entrance gear while wrestling in his last several matches.  This match barely gets going before all hell
breaks loose and the WWF TV crew misses the finish.  As the Headbangers celebrate, Cornette
challenges them to defend their NWA tag team titles against the Rock N’ Roll
Express next week.
As we enter hour
two, Lawler joins Ross for commentary
.
Vince McMahon
comes out to a chorus of boos, which he considers surprising, and introduces
Mike Tyson.  D-Generation X walks out
amid a sea of WWF officials and McMahon is not happy, fearing that this is
going to be Austin-Tyson II.  Shawn
Michaels tells Tyson that DX is not out to disrespect him and he calls him out.  Tyson says he is ready to go and McMahon is
seemingly resigned to having it happen, so everyone clears the ring.  This immediately gets the fans attention and
they do a staredown, but Michaels rips off Tyson’s WWF Attitude shirt to reveal
a DX shirt underneath.  It’s funny to see
Tyson as excited as an eight year old doing the DX crotch chops.  McMahon is not happy with this storyline
development since it means that Tyson is not going to be an impartial enforcer
at WrestleMania.  (4 for 4)
After the
commercial break, DX and Tyson’s crew are shown celebrating in the locker room
.
Steve Blackman
beats Kama Mustafa by disqualification when the Nation of Domination interferes
at 3:02:
Like Mark Henry’s match, Commissioner Slaughter bars the
Nation of Domination from ringside.  This
is Blackman’s third match against a Nation of Domination member in as many
weeks.  Blackman and Kama go back and
forth for a few minutes until Blackman catches Kama with a pump kick and ties
him up in an armbar submission, which leads to a Nation run in and beatdown
before Ken Shamrock makes the save. 
Throwaway bout that probably sets up a tag team match of some sort next
week.  Rating:  *½ (4 for 5)
Tennessee Lee,
Robert Fuller’s WWF gimmick which is just putting lipstick on a pig of his
Colonel Robert Parker WCW gimmick, makes his debut and introduces the repackaged
Jeff Jarrett, who has moved away from the NWA faction and reverted to his old
1993-1995 gimmick.  You know, the one
that he denounced as comic and ridiculous when he returned to the company a few
months ago.  Jarrett says that the NWA
could not handle him and Lee is the world’s greatest promoter so that is why he
has joined him.
Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee
Lee) beats Flash Funk via submission to the figure-four leg lock at 3:32:
As Jarrett is repackaged, Funk is heading that way as
well as he is growing his hair out and ditching the hat and other elements of
his entrance attire.  Funk seems to have
the match in hand, but Lee crotches him on the top rope when he goes for the
Funky Flash Splash and Jarrett applies the figure-four leg lock for the
submission.  I hate when wrestlers have a
submission hold and have not worked over the body part during the match.  Rating:  *¾ (4 for 6)
Gennifer Flowers
is introduced as a celebrity for WrestleMania XIV.  For those who are no attune to 1990s
politics, Flowers allegedly had a decade-long relationship with President Bill
Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas.
Cole interviews
D-Generation X and Mike Tyson in the locker room and DX says that Tyson has
joined because they are the hottest act going.
A video package
recaps the breakup of the Legion of Doom and their history in the WWF.
Steve Austin comes
out to wrestle Kane, but is attacked by D-Generation X and knocked out by Shawn
Michaels with Sweet Chin Music.
After the
commercial break, Paul Bearer and Kane are still in the ring and Bearer sends
Kane to get the timekeeper.  On his way
there Kane beats up a fan in an Austin 3:16 shirt and the timekeeper is forced
to ring the bell ten times in memory of the Undertaker.  After the timekeeper rings the bell, Kane
destroys him with a chokeslam and Tombstone. 
Bearer says that Kane has one Tombstone left and Lawler humorously
points to Ross at the announce table. 
Suddenly the Undertaker’s music hits and the lights go off and after the
bells toll ten times, in a nice piece of continuity, lightning hits a casket by
the entrance and the Undertaker emerges. 
The Undertaker goes into a Shakespearean soliloquy where he says he told
his parents in the other world that he would have to face Kane.  Kane makes fire appear near the entrance, but
the Undertaker walks through the flames and tells Kane that no one will be
there to save him at WrestleMania.  The
Undertaker’s promo started to become a parody with all of the discussion of
darkness and hell, but it closed well and the lead up to the Undertaker’s
return was well done.  (5 for 7)
The Final Report Card:  A very important show in the WrestleMania
build as Tyson seemingly aligns with D-Generation X, which stacks the deck
against Steve Austin in the WWF title match, and the Undertaker returns to make
a WrestleMania bout against Kane official. 
There were probably some fans that were angry about the bait and switch
pulled with the Austin-Kane main event, but there was no way that match was
taking place considering how protected both men were at this point.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.8 (vs. 4.8 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 23, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross, Kevin
Kelly, and Michael Cole are in the booth and they are live from Waco, Texas.

Opening Contest
for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The
New Age Outlaws (Champions) beat The Legion of Doom when The Road Dogg pins
Animal after Billy Gunn blasts Animal with a tag team title belt at 4:57:
By this time the Road Dogg had polished the Outlaws
introduction into what most fans remember. 
Quick match, with the LOD hitting the Road Dogg with the Doomsday
Device, but the referee works to get Hawk out of the ring and the Outlaws use
underhanded tactics to win.  After the
match, the Legion of Doom argue with each other and start brawling, which is an
interesting visual.  WWF officials run
out to split it up.  Unfortunately, this
didn’t lead to a feud that might be interesting and instead segwayed into the
LOD 2000 repackaging, which, as you can guess, led into a new feud with the
Outlaws!  Rating:  *¾ (1 for 1)
Non-Title
Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats Jeff Jarrett
(NWA North American Champion w/Jim Cornette) via submission to the ankle lock
at 5:43:
Due to beating the Rock in the War of Attrition match at
No Way Out of Texas, Shamrock gets an Intercontinental title match at
WrestleMania XIV.  The crowd loves seeing
Shamrock destroy Jarrett in the early going and Shamrock kicks out when
Cornette trips him when he suplexes Jarrett in the ring and tries to hold down
his leg on the cover.  This is a very
proficient match between two guys that can go, with several false finishes
mixed in, and the referee gets inadvertently bumped, but Cornette accidentally
blasts Jarrett with his tennis racket and that leads to the finish.  Rating:  **½ (2 for 2)
After the match,
Cole interviews Jarrett, who says that it might be time for he and Cornette to
go their separate ways
.
Shawn Michaels
entrance at WrestleMania XII is the WrestleMania Millennium Moment
.
Jerry Lawler
interviews Animal in the locker room and Animal screams a lot before Hawk runs
in and they fight some more as Bradshaw and a few jobbers work to separate
them.
The Truth
Commission & Kurrgan (w/The Jackyl) beat The Disciples of Apocalypse when
Kurrgan pins 8-Ball with the Paralyzer at 3:56:

Since Kurrgan has ditched his Truth Commission ring gear, he is not considered
part of the Truth Commission anymore, which is just Sniper and Recon.  The Jackyl doesn’t do commentary for this
match as he has done for most Truth Commission matches to this point.  During the match, Ross announces that there
will be a fifteen team battle royal at WrestleMania.  This follows a predictable, yet smart,
booking pattern whereby DOA tries to keep Kurrgan from entering the ring.  Skull and 8-Ball slam Kurrgan to a huge
reaction, but 8-Ball is left alone with Kurrgan and that has a predictable
result.  Better than I expected it to
be.  Rating:  *½ (3 for 3)
After the match,
the Jackyl yells at Sniper for not tagging in and slaps him, but when Sniper
goes after the Jackyl, Kurrgan puts him in a Paralyzer and drags him to the
locker room
.
D-Generation X is
in Shawn Michaels home in Texas and cuts a promo.  Triple H says that WrestleMania will be
X-rated and that the next four weeks will set the Nielsen ratings on fire.  Good promo (4 for 4)
Sunny comes out to
do guest ring announcing duties and asks the crowd if things are really bigger
in Texas
.
Taka Michinoku wrestles
Barry Windham (w/Jim Cornette & The Rock N’ Roll Express) to a no contest
at 2:34:
This is quite a David vs. Goliath battle, as Windham can
throw Michinoku around with ease.  The
match is happening because Taka could not read his contract.  Michinoku surprises Windham with a few
moonsaults and Windham doesn’t bother to take off his ring gear for the match.  Windham hits his trademark suplex and lariat,
but the lights go off and Kane walks out. 
Michinoku ends up the target as the NWA flee.  Paul Bearer calls out Steve Austin and
challenges him to a match next week on RAW.
We head into hour
two so Lawler takes over the commentating duties for Cole and Kelly.
Cole interviews
the New Age Outlaws as they leave the arena and they take credit for splitting
the Legion of Doom up.  In a small piece
of foreshadowing, the Road Dogg is wearing a D-Generation X t-shirt.  Cole gets tired of the Outlaws antics, but
after the Outlaws get into their car it is attacked by Chainsaw Charlie and
Cactus Jack.  The Outlaws manage to speed
away.  Hard to really see everything
going on with the darkness outside and I just can’t stand Cole (4 for 5)
Goldust gives a
funny Dusty Rhodes impression and talks about his career over a video
package.  Best line:  “I beat Ric Flair 25,000 times in a row!  I had a legendary feud, but Terry Funk always
whooped my ass so I don’t want to talk about that right now!”
Bradshaw pins The
Artist Formerly Known as Goldust with the lariat at 3:35:
Tonight, Goldust is dressed like his father Dusty Rhodes
circa 1990 and comes out to the “American Dream” theme song, which is a top
five theme song in my books.  A small
comedy match here, as Goldust tries to mock Dusty’s moves and injures
himself.  He also gets on the mic and
talks like Dusty and yells at the crowd. 
Bradshaw squashes Goldust and blocks a bionic elbow attempt with a
lariat to win.  Match was not much, but
Goldust’s comedy made it worth watching. 
Rating:  ½* (5
for 6)
Cole interviews
Goldust, who says that nothing compares to Goldust.
Kelly tries to
interview Hawk, who exits the arena without face paint and refuses to talk.
Non-Title
Match:  Steve Blackman pins The Rock
(Intercontinental Champion w/The Nation of Domination) after hitting him with
nunchucks at 4:14:
In a nice touch, the Rock hangs back during the Nation of
Domination’s entrance so that he can get more attention than the other members
of the group.  Faarooq gets on the apron
after the Rock hits Blackman with a powerslam and that nearly costs the Rock
the match when Blackman whips the Rock into Faarooq and schoolboys him for
two.  The situation happens again when
Faarooq hops on the apron, but D-Lo tosses Blackman’s nunchucks to Blackman
instead of the Rock, which costs the Rock the match.  Pure angle development and Blackman’s win
meant nothing in the long run.  Rating: 
¼* (5 for 7)
After the match,
D-Lo tells the Rock that Faarooq told him to toss the nunchucks to Blackman and
Faarooq does not care that the Rock knows.
Call 1-900-737-4WWF
to hear about WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels, and a national television deal for
the WWF!
Kelly interviews
Luna Vachon, who says she is waiting for Sable and cannot wait to rearrange her
face.
NWA Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Headbangers beat
The Rock N’ Roll Express (Champions w/Jim Cornette) when Thrasher pins Ricky
Morton with a shoulder block at 4:22
Before the match, Commissioner Slaughter comes out with
referee Earl Hebner and replaces Tommy Young at the referee.  Cornette gives a great rant about this with
the commentary team.  Ross does his best
to argue that this match matters because the Headbangers loved the Rock N’ Roll
Express as kids, so that is why they want to beat them for the NWA tag team
titles.  The Express fail to get anything
to go their way in the match and since Hebner is refereeing he does not
disqualify the Headbangers when Robert Gibson is tossed over the top rope.  Cornette smashes Thrasher in the back with
his tennis racket, but Thrasher falls on top of Morton and scores the pin and
Cornette throws a tantrum.  Poor contest
as these teams just do not have chemistry. 
Rating:  ½* (5 for 8)
Pete Rose is
announced as a guest celebrity at WrestleMania.
A video package
hypes Steve Austin’s road to WrestleMania.
European
Championship Match:  Owen Hart (Champion)
beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero by disqualification at 4:12:
During his entrance, Mero sends Sable to the locker room.  Owen is set to defend the European title
against Triple H at WrestleMania, so he is no longer a part of the main event
picture and won’t be for the remainder of his career.  Less than a minute into the match she
returns, but Mero kicks out of Owen’s schoolboy to keep the match going.  Mero gets frustrated with the referee as he
pounds away in the corner and pushes him down, which draws the disqualification.  What is weird is that they don’t have Mero
hit the TKO and getting a phantom pin before the referee called for the
bell.  Rating:  *½ (5 for 9)
After the bell,
Luna Vachon runs out and Goldust and WWF officials try to hold her away from
Sable.  When Sable sees Luna she tries to
engage her as well.  Goldust eventually
restrains Sable, but Mero takes exception to that and starts pounding away on
him.  Lot of heat for this as we continue
moving toward a mixed tag match at WrestleMania.
Tune in next week
to see D-Generation X, Mike Tyson, and Kane’s challenge of Steve Austin!
The Final Report Card:  The first hour was really good, but the
second hour lagged.  It was quite
surprising not to see Steve Austin and the show really missed his
appearance.  It might be surprising to
those who never watched the product at the time that the Sable-Luna angle got
airtime at the end of the show, but it is really the second hottest act that
the WWF has going on aside from Austin. 
Solid effort this week to build us to WrestleMania XIV.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.2 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up