What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 1, 1999

A video package recaps the Undertaker’s recent threats against Vince McMahon, culminating in the Undertaker burning a teddy bear at the end of last week’s RAW.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Cleveland, Ohio.

The Corporation comes out and Vince McMahon discusses how the audience does not understand his capacity to love.  He fires Kane for losing the inferno match to the Undertaker last week and has orderlies come down to send Kane to the insane asylum.  However, Chyna comes to Kane’s aid and they fight them off.  Chyna tells McMahon that she can control Kane and asks for Kane to be booked against Steve Austin, with Kane’s job on the line.  McMahon counters by also putting Chyna’s job on the line.  Mankind then joins the festivities and volunteers to referee the Steve Austin-Kane match to prove himself worthy of refereeing the title match at WrestleMania XV.  McMahon agrees on the condition that Mankind is able to defeat the Undertaker on tonight’s show (this is later clarified in the broadcast to mean that McMahon will consider Mankind for the role at WrestleMania based on how the match goes).  The Undertaker’s voice then comes on via the loudspeakers and he says that he has already told McMahon what he is going to take from him.

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 22, 1999

A video package recaps the Rock winning the WWF title in a ladder match against Mankind on last week’s show.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Vince McMahon comes out to hype tonight’s Inferno Match between the Undertaker and Kane.  He welcomes Paul Wight to the ring, who is booked to be the guest referee at WrestleMania.  Cole is trying to get Wight over as “The Big Nasty,” so I guess it is good that “The Big Show” name was chosen instead.  WWF Champion The Rock also comes out, quickly getting into a verbal confrontation with Wight, telling him to “Know his role.”  McMahon’s efforts at playing peacemaker get nowhere until Mankind marches onto the stage and volunteers to referee the WrestleMania main event, as well as referee a Rock-Wight encounter tonight.  Wight then proceeds to challenge the Rock to a match, which the Rock gladly accepts and he says he will put the WWF title on the line too.

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – August 24, 1998

by Logan Scisco
The Undertaker and
Kane are shown walking out of a backstage locker room and down a dark hallway.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania.  We are six days from
SummerSlam.  The Hell in a Cell is
hanging above the ring.

The Undertaker and
Kane walk to the ring together, with the crowd showering the pair with loud
boos.  Vince McMahon arrives after their
entrance and gloats about being right all along.  McMahon tells the Undertaker that with Kane
at his side he will be the next WWF champion, but reminds the Undertaker that
he will need him in the future.  McMahon
demands an answer by the end of the night from the Undertaker about whether he
is considered a friend or a foe.  Paul
Bearer waddles down to the ring and pleads with Kane to turn on the
Undertaker.  The Undertaker responds by
beating down Bearer as Kane stands idly by. 
Mankind runs out and offers himself as a sacrifice and the Undertaker
and Kane beat him down, finishing him off with a spike Tombstone.  Steve Austin walks out to a monstrous
ovation, but is stopped from coming to the ring by a wall of fire.  Austin recognizes that he does not have a
good chance to beat Kane and the Undertaker together, but vows to take someone
out tonight to prevent them both from making it to SummerSlam.  This was one of the better opening segments
of the year as it vindicated McMahon’s theory, put over Kane and the Undertaker
as a destructive force, and set up Austin’s urgency to alter the odds in his
favor before SummerSlam.  1 for 1
Get a big poster
of Triple H when you buy Stridex pads!
Mankind is shown
being put into an ambulance backstage. 
He is clutching his neck from the results of the spike Tombstone he
experienced in the opening segment.
-Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock beats Dan Severn
via disqualification when Owen Hart interferes at 2:51:
This is billed as “Shamrock-Severn III,” with the first
two taking place in the UFC.  The fact
that the WWF is giving away this bout on free TV is an indication of how they
no longer see much money potential in a match between these two.  Severn dominates Shamrock until Owen Hart
does a run-in and places Shamrock in a dragon sleeper.  Steve Blackman eventually makes the save, but
when he tries to restrain Shamrock, he eats a belly-to-belly suplex.  Blackman quickly recovers and gives Shamrock
a taste of his own medicine, though, and gets one of the bigger pops of his
career.  Severn’s style just does not fit
in a WWF ring and his Irish whips are some of the weakest I have ever seen.
Medical personnel
are shown knocked out backstage and Mankind is shown wheeling a stretcher
toward the ring.  I think Russo got this
idea from Silence of the Lambs
After the break, Mankind hilariously surfs the stretcher down the ramp
and tosses a bag of thumbtacks into the ring. 
Mankind vows to get revenge on Kane tonight, as Vince McMahon has booked
them to face off in the Hell in a Cell. 
He vows to go the top of the Cell and toss Kane through it or off of
it.  He also promises to make Kane the
world’s largest pin cushion.  2 for 2
Highlights of the
Undertaker-Mankind Hell in a Cell match at the King of the Ring are shown.
Kurrgan (w/Sable)
beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero via disqualification when Mero uses a low blow at
1:44:
Mero has been leaking heat since Over the Edge and this
quasi-feud with the Oddities is not doing anything for him.  Kurrgan’s attire is more befitting a role in Pirates of the Caribbean than a
wrestling match.  As Kurrgan beats up
Mero in the ring, Jacqueline comes out from the crowd and assaults Sable.  The referee catches Mero cheating and after
the bell, Mero and Jacqueline escape through the crowd.  Okay, Mero has a big midcard match at
SummerSlam and they still couldn’t give him a token win here?!?
X-Pac guides the
camera crew to the locker room, where he urinates in Jeff Jarrett’s boots.
The New Age
Outlaws defeat Southern Justice when The Road Dogg pins Dennis Knight after a
Billy Gunn piledriver at 3:15:
Before the match, an inebriated Hawk joins the commentary
team.  Shortly after the bell rings, Jeff
Jarrett comes down, rips off Hawk’s headset, and rants about X-Pac’s
prank.  The actions with Hawk and Jarrett
prevent a lot of focus going to the match, which is just an abbreviated tag
team encounter.  After the bell, Jarrett
and Southern Justice shave the head of a camera man that did not follow
Jarrett’s instructions to film him from the waist up since he did not have his
wrestling boots on.  Rating:  ½* (2 for 3)
Hell in a Cell
Match:  Kane (w/The Undertaker) defeats
Mankind via disqualification when Steve Austin interferes at 7:30:
In another twist on the “tag team partners that hate each
other” Russo staple, we have tag team champions fighting in the Cell.  Referees prevent Mankind from climbing to the
top of the Cell, so he takes them out, but then he can’t toss a chair to the
top of the structure.  After that,
Mankind tries to climb again, but the Undertaker pulls him off during his climb
and Mankind goes through the Spanish announce table.  When the bout finally gets in the ring,
Mankind rallies to make a fight of this, but Kane cannot be stopped and gives
his partner a Tombstone on a chair before Steve Austin comes from underneath
the ring and annihilates him with a chair. 
I know that I have said this before, but it is unreal how many sick
bumps Mankind took in the summer of 1998. 
This was a great brawl, even though elements of it came off like a
parody of the King of the Ring match.  Rating: 
***¼ (3 for 4)
After the bell,
the Undertaker tries to get in the Cell to help his brother, but when he climbs
to the top of the Cell and tries to break in, Vince McMahon raises the Cell to
“protect his investment” for SummerSlam. 
The crowd loves all of this, just as they did for Bray Wyatt-Daniel
Bryan earlier this year.
Following the
commercial break, the Undertaker accuses Steve Austin of being a coward.  As the Undertaker speaks, Kane is shown
bleeding through his mask.  The
Undertaker promises to extract revenge on Austin before the end of the show.
Chyna comes out to
confront the Rock and the Rock arrives with the Nation in tow.  The Rock shows Chyna on the Titantron that
D-Generation X has been barricaded in their locker room and proceeds to gloat
about how he is going to beat Triple H at SummerSlam.  The Rock accuses Chyna of having the hots for
him and says she “needs to get some.” 
When Chyna tries to attack him, the Nation restrains her on her knees
and the Rock teases forcibly kissing her before refusing.  He tells Mark Henry to do the deed, but
before Henry can make that happen, Shawn Michaels makes a surprise run in and
smashes Henry with a chair.  This was a
well arranged, albeit uncomfortable segment and it is highly doubtful you will
see something like this on TV again. 
That said, it really made you really hate the Rock and the surprise run
in was icing on the cake.  4 for 5
Shawn Michaels
stays to do guest commentary for the rest of the show.
Val Venis
wrestles Taka Michinoku (w/Yamaguchi-San & Mrs. Yamaguchi-San) to a no
contest when Triple H runs in at 1:01:
This match is designed for Venis to get some of his heat
back from losing to Michinoku in last week’s gauntlet match.  Both men wrestle at about 100 mph and Venis quickly
hits the Money Shot, but an angry Triple H beats both men with a chair.  Triple H vows to make the Rock “his bitch” at
SummerSlam.  The crowd pops big for that.
The complete
“Highway to Hell” music video hyping Steve Austin-The Undertaker at SummerSlam
is shown.
X-Pac beats
Gangrel via disqualification when Jeff Jarrett interferes at 1:34:
This is a good match while it lasts, with Gangrel using
some quick power moves to counter X-Pac’s aerial offense.  X-Pac hits the Bronco Buster in the corner,
but Jarrett runs in and smashes X-Pac over the head with a guitar.
After the match,
Edge runs in and attacks Gangrel to set up a small feud between both men.
The Undertaker is
shown wheeling a casket to the ring.
Bart Gunn’s
knockouts are the Stridex Triple Action segment.
Brawl for All
Championship:  Bart Gunn defeats Bradshaw
via knockout at 41 seconds of the first round:
Bradshaw hasn’t been much of a puncher all tournament and
it finally catches up to him here, as Bart keeps him at a sufficient distance
to prevent a takedown and then catches him with a right hook for the win.  I scream rigged for this bout because on the
first knockdown, Gunn clearly whiffed. 
Shawn Michaels says Bart is going to use this $75,000 victory to reach
new heights in the company, but sadly that was not to be.  5 for
6
Michael Cole
interviews Vince McMahon, who says that he will get his answer from the
Undertaker by the end of the show tonight. 
He threatens to throw Cole around like the rest of the locker room
unless he quickly gets out of his office.
Druids wheel a
casket to ringside and the Undertaker proceeds to walk out and cut a generic
promo about wanting to take the WWF title at SummerSlam.  He calls out Steve Austin, but Vince McMahon
comes out instead and demands an answer to his question.  The Undertaker smiles, so McMahon extends a
hand in friendship, but just ends up getting chokeslammed.  After that, Austin comes out of the casket
and gets ready to throw down with the Undertaker, but the casket opens a second
time to reveal Kane, who attacks Austin from behind.  Austin eventually gets out of the situation
and backs away with a chair.  As Austin
backs up toward the entrance, a line of fire, symbolizing the Highway to Hell, is
created in a great visual to end the show. 
6 for 7
The Final Report Card:  This is one of the better “go home” RAWs that
the WWF has put together in quite a while. 
The intrigue surrounding the main event is at an all-time high and the
Rock-Triple H ladder match has a ton of heat on it as a result of this
show.  Regardless of what the rating
said, this was one of the most entertaining episodes of RAW for 1998.
This is our announced SummerSlam card:
*WWF Championship Match:  Steve Austin (Champion) vs. The Undertaker
*Ladder Match for the Intercontinental
Championship:  The Rock (Champion) vs.
Triple H
*Lion’s Den Match:  Ken Shamrock vs. Owen Hart
*Mixed Tag Team Match:  Sable & Mystery Partner vs. Marc Mero
& Jacqueline
*Hair vs. Hair Match:  X-Pac vs. Jeff Jarrett
Monday Night War Rating:  4.7 (vs. 5.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – July 27, 1998

by Logan Scisco
Michael Cole
narrates a video package that recaps last night’s Fully Loaded pay-per-view.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Anaheim, California.  One of the best signs, in a sea of them, is
one that reads “Bret Hart = Work” near the front row.

The Undertaker
comes out with both WWF Tag Team title belts. 
He makes clear that he and Steve Austin might be champions, but they are
not partners until Austin comes out and apologizes to him.  Vince McMahon walks out instead, with stooges
in tow, and says that the Undertaker has not convinced him that he is not
working with Kane.  In a nice piece of
logic, McMahon points out that the Undertaker had to use three Tombstones to
beat Kane at WrestleMania, so beating him with one at Fully Loaded is
suspicious.  McMahon demands an apology
from the Undertaker for attacking him last week and books a tag team title
match between the Undertaker and Austin and the New Age Outlaws.  Austin then walks out, causing McMahon and
company to flee, and says that while he will help the Undertaker defend their
tag team titles, he will not apologize to him. 
He gives the Undertaker the bird before leaving.  1 for
1
Get your free
Triple H poster by buying a box of Stridex medicated pads!
Opening Non-Title
Contest:  Vader beats D-Lo Brown
(European Champion) by count out at 4:18:
D-Lo is refusing to defend his European title for the
second consecutive night, which Ross explains is due to his representatives
thinking it would not be prudent to defend the title against Vader.  D-Lo slams Vader twice, but that just
rejuvenates Vader.  Vader rips off D-Lo’s
chest protector and splashes him on the floor, securing a count out win.  This is Vader’s first win on RAW in a while
and since he went over via count out, why did they not just make this for the
title?  Rating:  ** (2 for 2)
A video package
shows us “Droz’s World.”  He shows off
his exotic pets.
Brawl for All
Quarter-Finals:  Bart Gunn defeats Steve
Williams by KO at 2:51 of the third round:
As most of the readers of this article will recall, this
is the Brawl for All match that ruined the entire purpose of the
competition.  The WWF thought Williams
could easily run through the competition without rigging it, but Gunn had other
plans here as he uses his reach advantage to keep Williams at bay.  You can sense Ross getting nervous on
commentary as his enthusiasm for Gunn’s performance wanes by the end of the
second round.  Trailing by ten points
entering the third, Gunn manages a takedown, causing Williams to tear his
hamstring, and after an exchange of punches, Gunn lands the first knockout of
the Brawl for All competition to score the big upset.  Ross never forgave Gunn for knocking his guy
out of the competition.  3 for 3
Owen Hart comes to
the ring and gloats about beating Ken Shamrock in the Hart Dungeon last
night.  He issues an open challenge to
the locker room and Jason Sensation, dressed as Owen, walks out to a pretty big
pop.  Sensation leads a “nugget” chant
and when Owen goes after him, Dan Severn walks out and intercedes.  This is taken as evidence of Severn accepting
Owen’s challenge.
Open Challenge
Match:  Owen Hart beats Dan Severn by
disqualification when Ken Shamrock interferes at 49 seconds:
This match barely gets started as Owen and Severn share
offense until Shamrock runs in and places Owen in a Dragon sleeper.  Severn gets Shamrock off of Owen by placing
Shamrock in a Dragon sleeper and Steve Blackman has to walk out to break that
up with some WWF officials.
Sunday Night Heat
is coming to USA Network this Sunday!
Michael Cole gets
pushed into the RAW is War backstage interview set when he tries to ask
Shamrock some questions about what just happened.
The Disciples of
Apocalypse (w/Paul Ellering) wrestle Faarooq & Scorpio to a no-contest at
3:23:
Bradshaw is on commentary, still ranting about Terry Funk
not telling him that he was going to leave the company before last night’s
Fully Loaded pay-per-view.  At least
Bradshaw’s commentary is more tolerable than what we have to endure every
Monday night these days.  This is Faarooq
and Scorpio’s debut as a team on RAW, as they had been teaming and winning
matches on Shotgun Saturday Night in the weeks leading up to this.  Conventional wisdom would hold that this
match would be important in the tag rankings as both teams won last night at
Fully Loaded, but instead it is used as a vehicle to make us care about
Bradshaw as he attacks both teams and creates chaos until WWF officials
intervene.  Rating:  *¼ (3 for 4)
Intercontinental
Champion The Rock tells the announce team that he is going to make Triple H and
X-Pac famous when they square off with him in a triple threat match tonight.
Chyna’s
interference in the two-out-of-three falls match between the Rock and Triple H
last night at Fully Loaded is the Stridex Triple Action segment
.
Triple Threat
Match for the Intercontinental Championship: 
Triple H (w/Chyna) & X-Pac beat The Rock by count out at 6:54:
Was the Rock drunk when he signed the contract for this
match?  Predictably, DX works together in
the early going, but then turn on each other when it is time to finish the Rock
off.  That brings back fond memories of
playing those elimination four-ways on the N64. 
One thing is clear from this match: 
Rock vs. X-Pac > Triple H vs. The Rock.  After Triple H and X-Pac get angry and start
fighting each other, the Rock slithers out of the ring and takes a count out, which
is a finish that I’ve never seen again in a triple threat match.  Normally, that would be an awful finish, but
it makes perfect sense here with the way the match unfolded.  I wish they had run this match last night at
Fully Loaded and given it twenty minutes instead of giving us the overbooked
two-out-of-three falls match.  Rating: 
***¼ (4 for 5)
Cole interviews
the New Age Outlaws, who pledge to regain their title tonight.
Brakus beats
Jesus with a spinebuster in 50 seconds:
To give a nice time stamp on this show, Ross and Lawler
talk about Ryan Leaf’s big contract with the San Diego Chargers.  This is Brakus’s wrestling debut and he does
a few token power moves before winning. 
This never led to anything.  I mean,
seriously, who thought a German wrestler wearing CHAINMAIL to the ring would
get over in the Attitude Era?
Val Venis is shown
sharing the shower with Yamaguchi-San’s wife.
Val Venis pins
“Too Sexy” Brian Christopher (w/Scott Taylor) with a fisherman’s suplex at
2:10:
Before the match, Kaientai appears near the entrance,
with Yamaguchi-San carrying a sword and Men’s Teioh carrying a few pieces of
salami.  Venis counters Too Much’s
attempts to fight the match two-on-one and quickly finishes Christopher
off.  When Too Much tries to attack Venis
after the match, Taka Michinoku comes down and makes the save.
After the bell,
Kaientai challenges Venis and Michinoku to a match next week and Yamaguchi-San
vows to “choppy choppy” Val’s “pee pee” before taking his sword and chopping up
some salami.  Now we  know why Japanese promotions aren’t big Russo
fans…
Cole interviews
LOD 2000, who are facing the Godfather & Mark Henry tonight.  Animal is excited for the match, but Hawk
looks out of it.
The Godfather
& Mark Henry (w/Hos) beat LOD 2000 when the Godfather pins Animal with a
Death Valley Driver at 3:49:
This was where the Godfather added hos to his
gimmick.  During their entrance, Hawk is
stumbling around, is not wearing his spikes, and trips over the middle rope
when getting into the ring.  Hawk fails
to tag in throughout the match and then falls off the top rope when the LOD try
their Doomsday Device.  I was never a fan
of this angle, as it was quite tasteless, but the Godfather and Henry are a
good tag team combination.  Animal kept
this thing together as a one man wrecking crew too.  Rating:  ** (5 for 6)
Lawler is in the
ring to present the trophy to the winner of last night’s bikini contest.  Lawler informs the crowd that Sable did not
win because Vince McMahon did not consider her attire a bikini.  Mero does his usual overly excited dance when
Jacqueline is announced as the winner. 
Sable questions McMahon’s manhood for not telling her that she was
disqualified, which brings him out.  As
McMahon runs down Sable, someone from the crowd hits Vince with a cup, leading
him to chastise the audience.  McMahon
reminds Sable that she is easily replaced and when he turns to leave, Sable
gives him the bird and strips to reveal a new bikini.  I just never cared for Sable or this entire
“feud” with McMahon.  It’s like they
wanted to make Sable the female Austin, but she did not have the mic skills to
carry that out.  5 for 7
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & The Undertaker (Champions) defeated The New Age Outlaws when
Austin pinned the Road Dogg after a Stone Cold Stunner at 8:09:
It is so refreshing for Ross to tell me that RAW won’t
have any commercials for the main event, since nowadays we get one or two
commercials that interrupt nearly every match on the show.  After the opening bell, some idiot fan throws
a beach ball into the ring, which Austin boots into the upper deck.  I’m glad WWF fans never resorted to WCW
craziness of littering the ring with trash on a regular basis.  Austin does a funny pose down with Billy Gunn
where he flexes and then flips him the bird. 
The Outlaws try to wear down the Undertaker’s leg, but Austin cleans
house after the hot tag and wins the match on his own.  A fun TV main event that made the Outlaws
appear capable, albeit overmatched.  Rating: 
*** (6 for 8)
After the match,
Austin gets a beer from ringside to drink and tosses one to the
Undertaker.  The Undertaker decides to
drink it, but Kane and Mankind attack Austin near ringside as we end the show.
The Final Report Card:  The Austin-Undertaker pairing continues to do
the slow burn toward SummerSlam and the attack at the end of the show sets the
stage for a Fully Loaded rematch down the road. 
The good continues to outweigh the bad on RAW, topped by Bart Gunn’s
stunning victory in the Brawl for All.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.9 (vs. 4.7 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up 

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 20, 1997

by Logan Scisco
The announce crew
discusses the results of last night’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from
Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas
.

In a great segment
to start the show, Bret Hart comes out, snatches the house mic from Howard
Finkel, and tells McMahon that he hasn’t been given his opportunity for the WWF
title because he has been screwed by Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, the WWF, and
McMahon.  Bret says that since he isn’t
being given a fair opportunity to win the WWF title, he’s quitting, which leads
to the crowd chanting “We want Bret.”
After Bret walks
out through the audience, Steve Austin comes out and gets on the mic and says
that when the going gets tough, the Harts get going.  He is angered that Sid’s concussion prevents
him from facing the former WWF champion tonight, but he says he isn’t afraid to
face the Undertaker, who has been penciled in as his new opponent.
McMahon walks
backstage for a reason that is not announced, but Ross says it is probably
connected to Bret’s decision to leave the company.  This gives us our first glimpse of what a
Ross-Lawler combination looks like in the booth
.
Opening Non-Title
Contest:  Owen Hart & The British
Bulldog (WWF Tag Team Champions w/Clarence Mason) defeat Doug Furnas &
Philip LaFon when the Bulldog pins LaFon with a running powerslam at 9:37
shown:
Clarence Mason’s position is very awkward at this point
in the company, since he’s the manager of the tag team champions and one of the
major figures in the Nation of Domination. 
However, in storyline terms he’s able to keep those interests separate.  Aside from the Survivor
Series, this is Furnas and LaFon’s first crack at the tag team champions and
they give them everything they can handle. 
The hot crowd is very receptive to this match, which maintains a brisk
pace, and the champions barely win after Owen clocks LaFon with his Slammy.  I expected Furnas and LaFon to get a victory
here, since it was non-title, but the WWF must have thought this was a way to
even things up from the Survivor Series. 
If there was one fault with Furnas and LaFon it was the lack of a
memorable finishing maneuver.  They had
multiple moves that looked devastating and that could beat you, but having a
single tag finisher is a great way to connect to the audience.  Rating:  ***
Some brief footage
of the Ahmed Johnson-Faarooq match at the Royal Rumble is shown
.
Faarooq (w/the
Nation of Domination) pins Bart Gunn with a Dominator at 5:16 shown:
As the WWF transitions to the Attitude Era, Bart Gunn’s
cowboy act looks really out of place.  I
know Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman was still a big hit, but I don’t think that was
the demographic the WWF was reaching out to at this time.  Faarooq shows off chinlocks until Bart works
the crowd into a frenzy by bulldoging Faarooq and attacking PG-13 after they place Faarooq’s foot on
the bottom rope.  This shows the
quality of PG-13’s heel work and the distraction allows Faarooq to nail Bart from the apron and finish him off in the ring. 
Ross’s voices his usual indignation, albeit in a PG sense, at the outcome.  Rating: 
Dok Hendrix hypes
the next Madison Square Garden show, but it’s not updated to reflect the
results of the Rumble because Sid is still defending the WWF title against the
Undertaker.
McMahon and WWF
President Gorilla Monsoon come into the ring. 
Monsoon says that he can’t overturn Austin’s victory in the 1997 Royal
Rumble, but he can deny him his title shot at WrestleMania 13.  He announces that at In Your House, Steve
Austin and the three men he illegally eliminated in the Royal Rumble:  Vader, the Undertaker, and Bret Hart will be
in a four way elimination match, with the winner becoming the number one
contender for the WWF title and facing the WWF champion at WrestleMania.
  Steve
Austin comes out and tells Monsoon that Bret Hart already quit, but regardless
of that he’ll go to In Your House and still be going to WrestleMania.  Austin threatens to get violent on Monsoon,
which leads to him getting in McMahon’s face, and Bret Hart returns out of the
crowd, announces that he’s back, and brawls with Austin in the aisle until WWF
officials separate them.
-The Western Union
rewind is a massive brawl from Shotgun Saturday Night.
The Undertaker defeats
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin by disqualification at 6:37 shown:
The match starts on a chaotic note as the Undertaker gets
into a brawl with Bret Hart in the aisle before moving on to Austin.  Austin uses his technical skill to wear down
the Undertaker and it’s odd to see the Stunner used as a move to generate a
double KO.  During the match, the cameras
cut to the back where Vader and Bret are being separated by WWF officials,
thereby reinforcing the tensions and high stakes of the In Your House
match.  Vader runs down to the ring when
the Undertaker starts his comeback and Bret Hart soon follows, creating a four
way brawl that sends the crowd into a frenzy as we go off the air.  This match was serviceable, but the real fun
came with the post-match activities.  Rating: 
**
The Final Report Card:  Finally we get an episode of Raw that
maintains a good story arc and builds momentum during the show.  The interaction of Bret, Austin, McMahon, and
the Undertaker was fantastic and started to move the company into a new
direction where face/heel distinctions were not as clearly defined.  The hot crowd in Beaumont also helped the
show as they reacted to everything, including the midcard match between Faarooq
and Bart, and anytime you have a hot crowd it adds another element to the
show.  An easy thumbs up effort by the
company for this week.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.2 (vs. 3.7 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 16, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and
Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from parts unknown.
-Bret Hart comes down to the ring
angry, so Ross interviews him.  Bret says
that the WWF has changed during his absence and that there are no more
rules.  He complains that Shawn Michaels
violated his pledge not to interfere in his title match at In Your House and
says that since there are no rules anymore he will do whatever it takes to get
to the top.  He also announces his entry
into the Royal Rumble and says that he’s going to do guest commentary just like
Shawn Michaels did last night for the next match.

-Opening Contest:  Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats Vader (w/Jim
Cornette) by disqualification when Bret Hart interferes at 4:30 shown:
This
match was supposed to happen a month ago, but Vader’s injury at the hands of
Yokozuna sidelined him for a few days and he missed a whole month of Raw
tapings.  Talk about having your momentum
halted.  The crowd gets worked in to a frenzy,
as both guys beat the hell out of each other inside of the ring and out into
the crowd.  Austin avoids a Vader Bomb
with a low blow, but Bret gets involved shortly thereafter, locks in a
Sharpshooter, and creates the disqualification. 
It’s too bad Vader was on his way out in 1998, because he could’ve been
some great corporate muscle for Vince to use against Austin.  Predictably, Vader gets angry at Bret and
brawls with him as WWF officials come out to separate them.  This was an entertaining opener, but it was
cut way too short.  Rating:  **½
-Ahmed Johnson’s appearance at In
Your House last night, where he called out Faarooq and told him and the Nation
of Domination that they are going down is shown.
The Fake Razor Ramon & The Fake Diesel
defeat The Godwinns when Diesel pins Phineas with a Jackknife at 6:26:
Hillbilly
Jim isn’t with the Godwinns, but I don’t think the fans care.  In a nice opening spot, Phineas catches the
toothpick Ramon tosses at him, puts it in his mouth, spits it in the air, and
then throws it back at Ramon.  The match
is pretty decent and it follows the usual formula you would expect, with the
Godwinns dominating Razor and Henry becoming the whipping boy of the
heels.  They have a hot finish, where
Henry gives Ramon a Slop Drop, but the referee forces him out and Diesel uses
the opportunity to hit a Jackknife and the heels get the win.  Everytime I see Glen Jacobs give someone a
Jackknife I just pray the guy taking the move doesn’t get killed.  Rating:  **
-WWF Champion Sid is in the
locker room and he says that he doesn’t think anyone can beat him.  He says that he thrives on adversity and he
says that it will be sweet to beat Shawn Michaels in his hometown at the Royal
Rumble.  He warns Jose Lothario not to
show up.
-Shawn Michaels says that fans in
Texas don’t like what Sid did to Jose Lothario at the Survivor Series and that
he’s going to win his title back at the Royal Rumble.  He says that Bret Hart can whine all he
wants, but it won’t do him any good.
Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon defeat TL
Hopper & Dr. X after LaFon pins Hopper after a cobra clutch suplex at 3:16
shown:
Dr. X
is a masked jobber, who Ross says is a newcomer to the WWF, but I don’t think
he has much of a future.  This match is
joined in progress and it allows Furnas and LaFon to showcase their power/submission
style.  I’m surprised they had Hopper and
not X take the pin, since the fans at least knew who Hopper was, but let’s face
it, a jobber is a jobber is a jobber.  Rating: 
*
-Jerry Lawler faces Sable in the
Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament championship match.  Hunter Hearst-Helmsley is with Lawler and
Marc Mero is with Sable.  Helmsley gives
Lawler some tips on using his Karate Fighter, which is pretty funny, and Lawler
takes shots at Sable’s gender.  In the
ensuing match, Sable wins.  Lawler
demands a rematch and when Mero gets in his face, Helmsley attacks him from
behind.  Mero receives a heel beat down
until Goldust, of all wrestlers, makes the save.  As Mero chases Helmsley through the crowd,
Lawler says that Goldust shouldn’t be mad that Helmsley made a pass at Marlena
because he’s gay.  Goldust refutes that
and nails Lawler with a right hand and turns face.  Well there goes Goldust’s character in one
fell swoop.  By the way, is this what
happens when you play Karate Fighters with your friends?  A fight breaks out, you get beaten down, and
a freaky guy saves you from injury?
Billy Gunn and Bart Gunn wrestle to a no
contest at 3:40 shown:
Well
it’s finally time for the Smoking Gunns to explode.  They should’ve just had a blow off where they
gave both guys pistols and filmed a duel segment on a Western movie set.  It would’ve fit their gimmick and only left
one cowboy in the WWF.  One of the worst
blowoff matches of all time follows and is brought to an end when Bart hot
shots Billy and Billy feigns paralysis as his wife rushes the ring and yells at
Bart.  This was a ridiculous attempt by
the booking staff to get ratings.  It
didn’t work.  Grade:  DUD
-Tune in next week to see Bret
Hart face the Fake Razor Ramon!  Also,
Hunter Hearst-Helmsley defends the Intercontinental title against Marc Mero and
he can lose the title by count out or disqualification.
The
Final Report Card:  Billy’s neck injury
was a work and he vanished from WWF TV for a few months after this match.  The first half of the show was really
exciting, with the Austin-Vader match and subsequent Bret beat down serving as a
breath of fresh air.  However, the second
half of the show was the complete opposite. 
The Karate Fighters segment was fine, but the Smoking Gunns blow off
needed to be a lot more and the worked injury angle came off as a bad imitation
of the Shawn Michaels-Owen Hart concussion angle that was done a year prior to
this.
Monday
Night War Rating:  N/A (vs. 3.2 for
Nitro)
Show
Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 9, 1996

by Logan Scisco

-A video package recaps the
Undertaker-Mankind feud.
-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and
Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are wrapping up the taping in
New Haven, Connecticut.

-Opening Non-Title Contest:  Sid (WWF Champion) defeats Hunter
Hearst-Helmsley (Intercontinental Champion) via count out at 2:56:
These
champion vs. champion matches were always interesting and they did a nice job
establishing an internal pecking order in the promotion.  That said, I don’t agree with the booking
here as Helmsley gets beaten from pillar to post, is powerbombed, and crawls to
the locker room to fight another day.  It
makes Sid look strong, but does little for the Intercontinental title or those fighting for it.  Helmsley continues a RAW jobbing streak,
since Marc Mero has pinned him in several tag contests and he was destroyed
against one of the more popular stars on the roster in this bout.
-Footage of Mankind and the
Undertaker’s boiler room brawl at SummerSlam is shown.
-Goldust (w/Marlena) defeats Bart
Gunn with a chop block at 6:01 shown:
Bart
was getting a small singles push during this period, as he came close to
beating Hunter Hearst Helmsley for the Intercontinental title on WWF Superstars
prior to this show (see my comment about Helmsley above).  This is a paint by numbers television match,
with Goldust seizing the initial advantage and Bart making a comeback after the
break.  Bart hits his finisher, which was
a bulldog at this point, but Goldust kicks out of it and finishes shortly
thereafter to keep himself in the middle of the midcard.  The finish is really strange, but I like
random finishers every once and a while because they condition crowds to react
to the little stuff.  After the bout,
Billy comes out and runs down Bart on the house mic until Bart comes to his
senses and runs him off, thereby continuing that feud.  Rating:  *½
-Highlights of the Undertaker’s
match with Mankind at In Your House: 
Buried Alive are shown.
-Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw and Zebekiah say that “The Real Double J” Jesse James is making a mistake by
agreeing to face them in a handicap match tonight.
-In the Karate Fighters Holiday
Tournament get a quick video package recaps the action.  Yes, back in 1996 a KARATE FIGHTERS
TOURNAMENT got a video package.
-Handicap
Match:  “The Real Double J” Jesse James defeats Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw & Zebekiah after pinning Bradshaw after a heel miscommunication spot at
5:50:
This
is the blowoff to the short feud on TV between these two.  The heels use their numbers to gradually wear
James down and cheat, but when Zebekiah tries to hit James
with his branding iron, in plain view of the referee, James moves and Bradshaw
takes the blow to create the finish. 
After the match, Bradshaw attacks Zebekiah, gives him a lariat, and
brands him to send him back to the USWA, where he would be the last Unified
champion of the promotion before it shut its doors in 1997.  The crowd was not into this contest at all.  After this bout, Bradshaw would be taken off
of TV for a while and repackaged as part of the New Blackjacks with Barry
Windham, who was ditching his Stalker gimmick. 
Rating:  *½
Ross interviews Bret “the Hitman” Hart about
his title match with Sid this Sunday at In Your House.  Bret says things are getting crazy in the WWF
and that he wants the WWF title
-Flash Funk’s Tumbleweed
variation on the Goon on last week’s Raw is the Acclaim Slam of the Week.
-The ending of the
Mankind-Undertaker match at SummerSlam is shown.
-No Holds Barred Match:  The Undertaker pins Mankind (w/Paul Bearer)
with a Tombstone at 9:47 shown:
After
these two have fought in boiler rooms and buried alive matches on pay-per-view,
the WWF decided to throw a bone to the fans and let them see these two fight it
out for free.  There is some nice
continuity in the match as the Undertaker anticipates Mankind’s Pearl Harbor
job when he gets into the ring and seizes the offensive.  However, this is a shorter version of their
Survivor Series bout and honestly, I’m starting to tire of this feud.  Mankind is not looking nearly as strong as he
did three months ago, as the Undertaker has dismantled him on three consecutive
occasions at this point (Buried Alive, Survivor Series, and here).  Foley really wouldn’t find a new direction
for the character until the summer of 1997 when he turned face and feuded with
Hunter Hearst Helmsley.  After the
finish, the Executioner attacks the Undertaker and applies the Asian spike in an attempt to make us buy the In Your House pay-per-view
to see the Armageddon Match between them. 
I feel bad for any fan that did that. 
Rating:  **
Tune in next week
to see the Smoking Gunns explode!
The
Final Report Card:  The
Undertaker-Mankind match probably brought in more viewers than last week’s
show, but it wasn’t a pay-per-view caliber match and came off as underwhelming
for such an intense feud.  It also didn’t
help that the Undertaker beat Mankind clean at the Survivor Series, so he’d
already gotten revenge in storyline terms. 
I still can’t believe that they jobbed Helmsley so quickly to Sid.  I understand making Sid look strong heading
into the In Your House pay-per-view, but they didn’t need to make Helmsley look
like such a paper champion either.
Monday
Night War Rating:  N/A (vs. 3.3 for
Nitro)
Show
Evaluation:  Neutral