What the World Was Watching: WrestleMania XV

Boyz 2 Men sing “America the Beautiful” to kick off the show.  They receive a Cena-like mixed reaction.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Read more…

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

Steve Austin arrives at the arena and comes across a driver of a Coor’s Light truck.  Product placement 101.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are calling the action and they are live from Albany, New York.  This is the last RAW we have to hear called by Cole for a while so I am happy about that.  This is the go home show for WrestleMania XV.

Read more…

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 15, 1999

A video package recaps the tensions building between the Rock and Paul Wight, whose nickname has been changed to “The Big Show” instead of the “The Big Nasty.”  We are also reminded that the Undertaker is going after Vince McMahon.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from San Jose, California.

WWF Champion The Rock opens the show and he tells Steve Austin that he will prove his status as “The Great One” at WrestleMania.  He demands that Vince McMahon come out and prove to him that the Big Show is not working with Austin.  McMahon complies and says that “Dwayne” needs a reality check for being ungrateful for all that McMahon has given him.  He says that three generations of his family have looked after the Rock’s ancestors and that Paul Wight is not as quick to understand the existing agreement.  Wight comes out and demands to know what McMahon is talking about, threatening he and the Rock.  McMahon does not kindly to that, leading Wight to manhandle him into a corner to get his point across.  McMahon collects himself and books the Rock and Wight to team up to face Mankind and Steve Austin, thereby making this a preview of WrestleMania.  The Rock and Wight shake hands to end the segment at McMahon’s behest.

Read more…

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 8, 1999

A video package chronicles Steve Austin attacking the Rock on Sunday Night Heat and Paul Wight not trying to save the Rock from the assault.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are calling the action and they are live from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – February 15, 1999

A series of narrated photographs recaps last night’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre pay-per-view.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Birmingham, Alabama.

Commissioner Shawn Michaels comes out and welcomes out the participants in the WrestleMania main event:  WWF Champion Mankind and Steve Austin.  Before anything can be said between them, Vince McMahon interrupts, wearing a neck brace and selling his beating from Austin the previous night.  McMahon claims to be a broken man and that he wants a fresh start with Austin on the condition that Austin apologizes.  Austin does apologize, but only for beating McMahon more than he intended.  McMahon tells Michaels that people deserve a WWF title rematch between Mankind and the Rock because their match last night ended in a draw so he needs to do his job and book it for tonight.  Mankind says he needs a week to recover, bringing out the Rock, who continues to goad Michaels into booking a title match for this evening.  Mankind decides to take on the Rock after all and to make sure that there is a winner Michaels announces that tonight’s title match will be a ladder match.  After that, McMahon welcomes out Paul Wight, who he says will be the special guest referee of the title match at WrestleMania.  Austin simply flips him off from the ring to end the segment.

Read more…

What the World Was Watching: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House

So after being away for several months due to some work obligations, “What the World Was Watching” returns by picking up where we left off in 1999.  The Steve Austin-Vince McMahon rivalry is continuing and they are set to do battle in a steel cage match where if Austin loses then he surrenders his WrestleMania title shot.  The Undertaker is busy with his Ministry of Darkness nonsense and Mankind is keeping the Rock busy before WrestleMania.

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

Read more…

What the World Was Watching: Saturday Night Raw – February 13, 1999

Even though it is the height of the Attitude Era, RAW was still being pre-empted by the Westminster Dog Show.  As a result, this is Saturday Night Raw. At least it is in Skydome and that is always a cool visual.

A video package recaps the Austin-McMahon feud from the Royal Rumble up to last week’s show.

Michael Cole and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  This is the “go home” show for St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Read more…

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

Footage of Mankind defeating the Rock for the WWF title during Halftime Heat is shown.  There was a spoiler for that match since this show was taped nearly a week before that match aired.

Shane McMahon tells the Corporation that Vince McMahon is on a separate assignment in Texas, so he lets them know that he is in charge.  Test, Ken Shamrock, and the Big Bossman have no idea where Kane is.

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

Read more…

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 18, 1999

-Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Beaumont, Texas.  This is the go home show for the Royal Rumble.

Cole is in the ring to interview Steve Austin, but Austin just turns it into a single man segment as he rips the microphone out of Cole’s hands.  This is just a generic “build promo” for the Rumble, with Austin recapping a month’s worth of storylines about how he will be the first entrant, Vince McMahon will be the second entrant, and that all twenty-nine men will want to throw him out so that they can receive $100,000 from Vince.

Read more…

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 28, 1998

A video package
recaps last week’s show where Shane McMahon assumed temporary control and was summarily
destroyed by Mankind.  Kane also went “corporate”
for the first time in his career by attacking D-Generation X to end the show.
Michael Cole and
Jerry “The King” Lawler are tonight’s commentary team and they are live from
Albany, New York.  Cole is still calling
the show “the best action adventure series on television.”

Vince McMahon
tells Shane McMahon that everyone that attacked him last week will pay.  He pledges to humiliate and fire Commissioner
Shawn Michaels when he shows up at the arena. 
The Corporation then invades the arena’s boiler room en masse looking
for Mankind.  Mankind eventually launches
a sneak attack, but cannot fight off a boatload of guys on his own.  Vince tells Mankind that he will get a
Hardcore title shot later in the evening as a belated Christmas gift, although
this will require some rebooking because Hardcore Champion The Road Dogg is
booked to face Val Venis in the opener. 
The booking is doing a good job making Kane a sympathetic figure as the
stooges keep yelling at him.
Opening Contest
for the Hardcore Championship:  The Road
Dogg (Champion) and Val Venis wrestle to a no contest at 1:50:
Based on the previous segment, it is no surprise that the
Corporation walks out to ringside less than two minutes into this bout.  Test attacks Venis as referee Earl Hebner
calls for the bell, not quite understanding the rules of a Hardcore title bout,
and D-Generation X comes out to protect Road Dogg.
Vince McMahon
informs the Road Dogg that he will defend his title against Mankind and says
that Commissioner Shawn Michaels will be fired for not helping Shane last
week.  This is a nice crazy Vince promo
as he goes nuts about his desire to fire Michaels, which he says he would love
to do to every member of the audience
.
Al Snow is still
freaking out over last week’s bloodbath at the hands of the Brood, but it is
unclear whether he received another bloodbath or has not changed out of the
clothes he had on last week.
Vince talks with
Kane as the stooges make fun of Kane behind his back.  Vince assigns Kane the task of going after an
unspecified member of D-Generation X.
Edge beats Al
Snow (w/Head) via disqualification when Snow hits Edge with Head at 2:49:
Edge uses his original entrance theme and does not have
the Brood here, which does not fit within existing storylines, especially if
Snow is angry over last week’s bloodbath. 
The Head is different for this bout as it is shaved and also has blood
on it.  Snow squashes Edge here, hitting
him with a million headbutts and destroying him with Head until the Brood and
JOB Squad run out.  For all intents and
purposes, Edge should be carted out of here on a stretcher, but he merely walks
out as if nothing happened and smiles at the JOB Squad.  For his part, Snow escapes through the
audience for some reason.
Sable warms up
backstage for her Women’s title defense tonight
.
Sable winning the
Women’s title from Jacqueline at Survivor Series is the Glover Slam of the Week
.
Dennis Knight,
formerly of Southern Justice, is shown talking with X-Pac backstage
.
The next match is
supposed to be Sable defending the WWF Women’s title.  Before it gets started, the yet-to-be-named
Tori gets into the ring and presents Sable with a white rose before being
carted off by security.  Sable is booked
to face Spider Lady, who attacks her from behind and whips her with a
belt.  The Oddities, who now have George “the
Animal” Steele with them, rush the ring and Spider Lady unmasks to reveal Luna
Vachon.  What you thought the Fabulous
Moolah was trying to “shoot” her way to another title?  Luna screams that it is her time and she
needs to get more respect, while Cole is just outraged that Luna would do such
a thing to a loving, compassionate creature like Sable.  When we return from the commercial break, the
Oddities tend to Sable’s injuries backstage
.
European
Championship Match:  X-Pac (Champion) wrestles
The Big Bossman to a double disqualification at 5:13:
The previous night on Sunday Night Heat, Kane defeated
X-Pac in a non-title match and this match is the continuation of his punishment
for doing the Bronco Buster to Shane McMahon on last week’s show.  X-Pac is really over here, especially when he
makes his comeback, and Test tries to run interference, but in a nice piece of
continuity Val Venis makes the save.  We
are still without a clean finish tonight, but the crowd still loved this.  Rating:  *¾
We get our first
training vignette for Vince in the Royal Rumble.  These were some of the funniest vignettes of
the Attitude Era as Shane functioned as a merciless trainer and Vince
complained the whole way about doing sit ups with weights and drinking egg
yokes.  Vince’s cries of “I HATE AUSTIN!”
were also great as he got into his workouts.
Goldust &
Steve Blackman defeats “Double J” Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart (w/Debra) when
Blackman schoolboys Owen at 3:17:
The announcers will just not let the “Shawn Michaels is
going to be fired!” story go, talking about it on an average of once per
minute.  The WWF is no longer using Debra’s
full name, just calling her “Debra” because the WWE has never cared for its
female stars to have first and last names. 
This may also be due to the fact that Debra divorced Steve McMichael in
October and the WWF finally got with the times. 
Owen locks Blackman in the Sharpshooter when Dan Severn randomly walks
out in a neck brace and confronts him. 
After about forty seconds of that, Blackman and Goldust win via the WWF trademarked
distraction rollup.  What is funny is
that after the match, Severn just calmly walks up the ramp with the heels no more
than ten yards behind him.  Way to sell
that angle!  Rating:  *
Triple H and Chyna
are really focused as they make their way to the Gorilla position
.
The Acolytes beat
up Dennis Knight in the parking lot, toss him into the trunk of their car, and
drive away
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Triple H (w/The New
Age Outlaws & Chyna) beats Ken Shamrock (Champion w/Test & The Big
Bossman) by disqualification when Shamrock refuses to release the anklelock at 6:26:
Instead of booking Billy Gunn to face Shamrock, they
really should have slotted Triple H into that position since you already had
the built-in story of how Triple H never lost the Intercontinental title and
was trying to get back what was rightfully his. 
This match is noticeable for me because Triple H pulls out the old N64
move of blasting Test with a baseball slide when Test gets too close to the
apron.  The company is really hurting
Shamrock’s finish as all the top stars keep getting to the ropes to escape it,
but his decision not to break the hold here fits within the existing
story.  A good match, although Triple H
could have sold the knee better during the closing sequence.  Rating:  **½
After the bell,
the Corporation and D-Generation X brawl, with the Corporation winning after
Kane reluctantly gets into the ring.
Billy Gunn
temporarily winning the Intercontinental title from Ken Shamrock is the
10-10-220 Rewind segment
.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Gunn, but before Gunn can say much of note, Shamrock crashes the
segment.  None of this goes anywhere.
Mark Henry and
D-Lo Brown walk out and Henry apologizes to Chyna for fooling around with PMS
last week.  PMS come out, with Henry hilariously
hiding behind D-Lo, who calls PMS “ring rats.” 
Chyna then makes an entrance and sticks up for Henry, telling PMS to “stay
away from her man.”  Jacqueline makes the
mistake of not heeding Chyna’s advice and gets shoved to the canvas as Henry
jumps for joy.  This was great too because
Terri immediately fled from Chyna, possibly remembering getting choked out and
being flung around like a ragdoll in the winter of 1997.  If you follow all of the shows through 1998,
this segment works really well.  I marked
out for it.
The Corporation
has another meeting backstage and when we get back they are going through the
locker room looking for someone.
We get a video package
that recaps 1998.  The problem with the
video is that they do not put things in chronological order so we just bounce
around to different segments and matches.
The Corporation attacks
the Godfather backstage, who was booked to face Billy Gunn in the next match.
Kane (w/Shane
McMahon, Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco) defeats Billy Gunn by disqualification
when X-Pac interferes at 3:54:
With the Godfather on the shelf, Kane is inserted into
his place by Shane McMahon.  Ken Shamrock
attacks Gunn from behind minutes into the match and applies the ankle
lock.  Kane chokeslams Billy and appears
headed for a win, but the stooges have him repeat the chokeslam two more
times.  Before Kane can hit the move a
third time, D-Generation X runs in to make the save.  Rating:  *
WWF Champion The
Rock walks out to do guest commentary for the main event
.
Commissioner Shawn
Michaels is shown arriving to the arena, which is humorous because the show is
nearly over.
Hardcore
Championship Match:  The Road Dogg
(Champion) pins Mankind after the Rock this Mankind with a Rock Bottom at 9:08
shown:
The match starts during the commercial break so we join
it in progress.  The Rock’s commentary
brings this match up a notch as he puts himself over, but also puts over the
talent of both competitors.  There are
weapons used here, but at least they are used creatively with Mankind leg
dropping a chair onto Road Dogg’s face and Road Dogg using the chair for a side
Russian leg sweep.  One spot that makes
no sense here is that Road Dogg breaks up a pin by getting his feet on the
ropes as you would figure rope breaks should not apply in a match where the
rules are suspended.  Mankind appears headed
for a win after he elbow drops the Road Dogg through a table in the crowd, but
the Rock leaves the booth and interferes to put the Road Dogg over.  Fans are so crazy over the Rock that four or
five security guards have to push back the sea of humanity that surrounds the
bout to get the Rock back to the locker room. 
The Road Dogg was arguably the best Hardcore champion in WWF history,
putting on lots of entertaining title defenses before the garbage came to
overwhelm the actual wrestling.  In a
nice touch, Road Dogg sees the way that he won the match and hates the fact
that he needed interference to retain the title.  Rating:  ***¼
Vince McMahon
comes to the ring and calls out Shawn Michaels. 
Vince recounts how he was the reason for Michaels success and shows
footage from March where Michaels said that he did not need Vince as much as
Vince needed him.  Vince then proceeds to
fire Michaels and parts by saying that he does not laying down for anyone.  This, predictably, ends with Michaels
delivering Sweet Chin Music and simulating a lewd act on Vince before the
Corporation runs out.
The Final Report Card:  Quite the entertaining RAW to close out 1998.  The main event was one of the better hardcore
matches in the company’s history and the closing segment and the Chyna-Mark
Henry-PMS segment stole the show.  It is
a testament to how good the roster was built during this time that Steve Austin’s
absence is hardly missed.  However, if you
look at the ratings, WCW has been gradually narrowing the Monday Night War gap
with RAW since Austin disappeared after Rock Bottom.
With the 1998 RAW reviews in the books,
where would the Blog like to head next? 
Should we go into 1999 with RAW or should we go back to look at 1993-1995,
Superstars from 1994-1997, Prime Time Wrestling from 1991-1992, the Action Zone
from 1994-1995, Shotgun Saturday Night from 1997-1998, Sunday Night Heat of
1998, or recap the old Coliseum Video “Best of” videos of the 1980s?  Whichever option gets the most support is
where I will head for next week and as always, thanks for reading and
interacting with these reviews.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.9 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 21, 1998

Vince McMahon
tells the stooges that he is leaving to briefly train for the Royal Rumble (because
he supposedly could not do this earlier in the day) and he says he will come
back with a “Christmas bonus” for the Corporation.  He leaves Shane in charge of tonight’s show,
but reminds the stooges that he will hold them responsible for Shane’s
actions.  Once Vince drives off, Shane
races toward the arena because he has a lot of things to do.
Michael Cole and
Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Spokane,
Washington. Cole welcomes us to the “greatest action adventure series on
television!” whatever that means.

The Corporation
walks out to a generic techno beat and some of the Corporation’s initial
Titantron video was later incorporated into the “Hollywood Rock” Titantron.  Before Shane McMahon can begin his monologue,
D-Generation X walks out and brings out Mankind who hilariously tries to look
cool by using DX’s gestures. 
Commissioner Shawn Michaels books Billy Gunn to face Ken Shamrock, Road
Dogg to face Big Bossman, and Triple H & X-Pac to face The Rock & Test
(who is referred to as the “corporate insurance policy”).  As revenge for Mankind beating up Vince last
week, Shane decides to face him in the ring over the objections of the stooges.  Mankind and DX laugh at Shane’s challenge and
Mankind does some awful crotch chops on his way to the back.
Cole hypes the
latest edition of People Magazine, which featured Steve Austin as a “breakout”
star of 1998.
D-Lo Brown talks
to Mark Henry and tries to convince him not to fool around with the ladies in the
locker room because they have a match to attend to
.
Opening
Contest:  Al Snow (w/Head) beats Gangrel
with the Snow Plow at 3:00:
Teddy Long is the referee but he does not turn this into
a tag match.  Snow and Gangrel go back
and forth in a match that does not really have much rhyme or reason to it.  Snow goes over clean by hitting a Snow Plow
out of nowhere.  After the match, the
Brood attacks Snow in the dark and gives him a bloodbath.  I cannot remember if this bloodbath stuff is
leading anywhere, but are we to assume that Gangrel cares more about pouring
blood on his opponents than winning?  Rating: 
We are shown
footage of Snow freaking out about the bloodbath during the commercial break
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Billy Gunn defeats
Ken Shamrock (Champion) by reversing a victory roll at 8:21:
Shamrock gets arguably the biggest heel heat in his
career as the Spokane crowd works up a loud “Shamrock sucks!” chant.  After the four minute mark, this really picks
up as Shamrock works the knee and Billy gets some well-timed hope spots to keep
the crowd engaged.  Billy appears to have
won the title as this was announced as a title match, but Commissioner Shawn
Michaels steps in to say that he never booked the match that way so Shamrock
keeps the title.  The WWF loved that
finish in December, having used a version of it at Rock Bottom.  After the match, Gunn moons Michaels, but
Shamrock takes him out.  Rating: 
***
Hawk costing Droz
a match against Al Snow on Sunday Night Heat is the Playstation Slam of the
Week
.
Hawk walks out
after having fallen off the Titantron the night after Survivor Series.  The WWF was so concerned about him that they
never bothered providing an update about his condition on subsequent RAWs.  Hawk says that Droz was his dope pusher and
enabler, doing so in an effort to take Hawk’s job.  Hawk pledges to get revenge when he heals up,
but Droz comes out and attacks him from behind.  Animal comes down and tosses Droz off of Hawk,
but the partners do not have a full reconciliation
.
Mark Henry says
that he is ready to have some fun with PMS and goes into their locker
room.  D-Lo Brown is beside himself at
his partner’s behavior
.
Footage of Steve
Austin giving Santa a Stone Cold Stunner last year is shown
.
Steve Blackman
defeats The Blue Blazer via disqualification when Owen Hart interferes at 2:22:
Before the bout, Owen Hart comes out and says that he has
proven that he is not the Blue Blazer and that part of the “Blue Blazer lives
inside each and every one of us.”  He
then says on commentary that he hopes the Blazer gets unmasked so that “he can
get to the bottom of this” and compares his plight to OJ Simpson and Bill
Clinton.  Blackman beats the Blazer up
like a jobber until Owen predictably runs in for a two-on-one beatdown before
Goldust intervenes.  He and Blackman
unmask the Blazer to reveal Jeff Jarrett. 
Jarrett tosses the Blazer cape back over his head as Owen shouts that he
does not know who the Blazer is.  For
comedy this is okay, but this angle is just doing nothing for everyone
involved.
PMS say that they
are going to take a shower as Henry watches
.
Hardcore
Championship Match:  The Road Dogg pins
The Big Bossman (Champion) when Mankind blasts the Bossman with a steel bar to
win the title at 6:55:
This is initially billed as non-title, but Road Dogg
goads the Bossman into putting the title on the line.  One could point to this match as when hardcore
matches jumped the shark as Road Dogg starts pulling out conveniently placed
cookie sheets and buckets from underneath the ring to attack the Bossman.  It is unfortunate that the Bossman is no
longer with us as his ring attire in 1998 foreshadowed the Shield so he would
fit right in.  Speaking of ring attire,
the Bossman goes to it to find objects to beat down Road Dogg such as a noose
(who knew wrestling could produce such vibrant social commentary?) and crack
cocaine (okay, it is just powder but it is funnier if you think it is crack
because why would police just carry random pouches of white powder?).  To send the silliness factor up a notch, the
finish comes when Mankind throws a net over the Bossman and blasts him with a
steel bar to give the Road Dogg the title. 
I hated this at first, but both guys stepped it up a notch when it went
into the crowd.  Rating:  **¼
PMS help Henry get
out of his clothes and put a collar on him. 
They then have him get on a massage table where they put a ball in his
mouth and put whipped cream on him.
A promo video sees
Jeff Jarrett rant about what pisses him off
.
The stooges try to
convince Shane McMahon not to square off with Mankind.
PMS now blindfold
Henry and strap him down to the table
.
Bob Holly &
Scorpio beat The Acolytes via disqualification at 3:20:
The Acolytes are still nothing more than Faarooq and
Bradshaw desperately trying to revive their careers.  The referee has no control of this as it is
just a wild brawl and somehow the Acolytes are the ones that get disqualified.  Rating:  DUD
Shane McMahon runs
toward the Gorilla position backstage as the stooges run after him and beg him
not to fight Mankind
.
Shane’s challenge
to Mankind is the Glover Rewind segment
.
Mankind beats
Shane McMahon (w/Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco) via disqualification when
the Rock interferes at 3:04:
Shane comes out to the Brawl for All music which is a
nice touch.  The Corporation comes out
early into the match, but Shawn Michaels does not let them rush the ring when
Shane gets in trouble.  Mankind gives
Shane a chair, but no sells the chair shot he receives.  He then dispatches of the stooges with
ease.  Somehow all of this is legal and
the Rock eventually hits the ring to lay out Mankind when Shane becomes trapped
in the Mandible Claw.  As Mankind and the
Rock brawl at ringside, X-Pac does a Bronco Buster to Shane until the
Corporation rescues him.  Not much of a
match, but it was still entertaining.  Rating: 
*
Classie Freddie
Blassie plays the part of “vulgar Santa” in a WWF Attitude vignette
.
The stooges are
worried about how they are going to be punished by Vince when he comes back to
the arena.
D-Lo tries to get
Henry from PMS, but cannot get into their locker room and has to head the ring
alone.  Footage from the PMS locker room
shows PMS whipping Henry and there is a clamp on him as well.
The Headbangers
beat D-Lo Brown with a double flapjack at 2:42:
Lawler spends his time during this match providing
details on the other abuse PMS is putting Henry through in the locker room.  D-Lo puts up a good fight here, but cannot
beat the former tag team champions. 
Henry walks out after the finish looking the worse for wear and D-Lo
shows no sympathy.
Patterson tells
Brisco to keep his mouth shut as Vince arrives back at the arena.  Brisco does not follow instructions, makes
Vince angry, and then hilarious asks Patterson if he thinks they will still get
their Christmas bonus
.
Check out the
latest edition of Tattoo magazine that talks about the Undertaker!
Triple H &
X-Pac (w/D-Generation X) wrestle The Rock & Test (w/The Corporation) to a
no contest at 10:30:
Prior to the match, Shawn Michaels expels D-Generation X
from ringside, but Vince walks out and overrules him.  Test just does some basic offense here,
getting repetitive with delivering several knees in the corner, but does a good
job looking imposing and versatile.  When
it looks as if the Rock will finish off Triple H, the arena’s lights go out and
Kane walks out, but he chokeslams Triple H instead of going after his former
enemies.  He also takes out the rest of
D-Generation X, including Chyna as the show goes off the air.  So Kane was the “Christmas bonus.”  At least he did not come out as the “Christmas
Creature.”  It would have been nice to
get a clear finish after sitting through this, but it does keep everyone
reasonably protected so it served that purpose. 
Rating:  **
The Final Report:  After the Road Dogg-Bossman match, this show
lost a lot of direction.  We had the
ridiculous PMS-Mark Henry stuff crowding the show (and probably leaving some
parents horrified and deciding that their children would not be watching WWF
programming in the near future) and then a weird Kane turn at the end (which in
the long run would not last very long). 
Some of the impact of the end of the slow loses its luster since Kane
has been around forever; has turned 20,000 times or so; and the character has
lost all meaning.  The Corporation was
also becoming way too big for its own good at this point, starting to mirror
the NWO in late 1996 when everyone and their mother, father, aunt, uncle, and
cousin decided to join up.  If you watch
this show, follow the first half but then abandon it after the Hardcore title
switch.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.7 (vs. 4.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – September 28, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package replays
the lead-in video for last night’s Breakdown pay-per-view.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Detroit, Michigan.

Steve Austin’s
music hits, but Vince McMahon, the stooges, and police officers walk out.  McMahon has the WWF title (the smoking skull
edition) over his shoulder.  McMahon
makes clear that Austin will not get a rematch for the championship like last
time, but he decrees the evening “Stone Cold Steve Austin Night” and jokes how
police are throughout the facility to make him feel welcome.  McMahon announces that a new WWF champion
will be crowned tonight, although he makes clear that the champion will get the
non-smoking skull title because that belt is going above his fireplace.  The stooges put the smoking skull belt around
McMahon’s waist and McMahon is showered with boos as he mocks Austin by scaling
the corner turnbuckles.  This was pretty
hilarious.  1 for 1
Opening Contest
for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  Southern
Justice (w/Jeff Jarrett) beat The New Age Outlaws (Champions) via
disqualification when the Road Dogg blasts Dennis Knight with Jarrett’s guitar
at 3:00:
Ross spends this match putting over Billy Gunn and how he
is shouldering the workload for D-Generation X in light of injuries to Triple H
and X-Pac.  Gunn literally does the hot
tag sequence by himself, but when he prepares to give Knight a piledriver, Road
Dogg hits Knight with a guitar for no reason and gets the team
disqualified.  After the match, Gunn and
his partner argue and Gunn proceeds to blow off the entire DX crew when they
try to place peacemaker.  All hail Gunn’s
upcoming singles push!  Rating: 
* (1 for 2)
Michael Cole
reports that there is lots of arguing in the DX locker room.
Submission
Match:  Owen Hart defeats Dan Severn by
referee stoppage at 2:16:
Severn has not appeared on television since SummerSlam
and is supposedly a face now as he shakes hands with members of the Detroit Red
Wings at ringside.  Booking this for RAW
is strange because after SummerSlam, where Severn walked out on Owen, you would
think they could have run a small feud that culminated at either Breakdown or
Judgment Day.  Owen escapes a dragon
sleeper and delivers an inverted piledriver, the same move that broke Steve
Austin’s neck at SummerSlam 1997, and that ends the match.  Severn then does a stretcher job.  On one hand, I can understand the logic of keeping
Severn strong if you are going to have him lose, but this was incredibly
tasteless.
Please buy Stridex
so they can get rid of all these Triple H posters!
Al Snow (w/Head) beats
Vader (w/Commissioner Slaughter) after hitting him with Head at 2:36:
Commissioner Slaughter accompanies Vader to the ring
since he hates Al Snow.  Seeing Vader as
a jobber for hire in a match like this is sad. 
Vader actually dominates the match, but Slaughter accidentally distracts
the official too long and Snow hits Vader with Head to win.  Vader actually kicks out at two, but a three
count was registered anyway.  On the
bright side, Snow is really over with the Head gimmick.
Billy Gunn has
left the building!
The 10-10-321
Rewind Segment is Gangrel telling Edge on Sunday Night Heat that “he will come
home.”
Six Man, Four
Corner Elimination Match for a European Title Shot:  D-Lo Brown 
beats “Double J” Jeff Jarrett, Edge, “Double J” Jeff Jarrett, Gangrel, “Marvelous”
Marc Mero, and Darren Drozdov at 5:10:
Order of
Elimination:  Edge pins Gangrel with a La
Magistral cradle at 1:05; Jeff Jarrett and Droz are counted out at 3:26; Edge
pins Mero after D-Lo hits Mero with a Lo Down at 4:36; D-Lo pins Edge with a
Sky High at 5:10
Ah, the days when you did not have to beat the champion
on television to earn a title match. 
D-Lo is super over here.  The
match gets off to a ridiculous start when Edge pins Gangrel in just over a
minute, thereby making their feud a little more pointless and confusing.  Since this is 1998, the match goes by way too
quickly with people hitting their signature spots and being eliminated much too
soon.  Not as soon as that awful diva’s
Survivor Series-style match last year, but it’s way too quick for my
tastes.  Edge seems to have D-Lo on the ropes,
but Gangrel and Christian walk out, distract Edge, and help D-Lo get another
crack at the European championship.  Rating: 
*½ (1 for 3)
In one of the more
memorable segments in RAW history, McMahon comes back out to conduct a ceremony
for awarding the WWF title to Kane or the Undertaker.  Steve Austin rushes past security in a Zamboni
and makes a classic dive into the ring to attack McMahon.  Austin is eventually arrested by police and
McMahon is forced to temporarily cancel the ceremony.  This segment is still amazing sixteen years
later.  2 for 4
Call 815-734-1161
to get your “Down Where?  Down Here!” DX
shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)!
The ceremony
resumes after the commercial break, but this time there are no police or
stooges, just McMahon, Kane, and the Undertaker.  McMahon is furious that Kane and the Undertaker
have allowed Austin to attack him for the third time in less than a week.  As a result, he books Kane and the Undertaker
to face each other at Judgment Day for the title with Austin as the guest
referee.  The look of “oh really?” that
the Undertaker gives McMahon in this segment is hilarious.  For tonight, McMahon books Kane and the
Undertaker to face Ken Shamrock, Mankind, and the Rock in a handicap
match.  The crowd pops big for the mere
mention of the Rock’s name.  McMahon goes
a step too far in saying that Kane and the Undertaker have physical and mental
handicaps and when he is caught flipping the bird to the Brothers of
Destruction they beat him down and break his ankle with the ring steps (Kane
lays out the stooges for fun).  This was
a great way to book McMahon’s commupance after he grew too drunk on his own
power and paid the price.  Sometimes when
you play with fire you end up getting burned. 
3 for 5
Singles Match with
Chyna as Special Guest Referee:  Faarooq
defeats Mark Henry after Chyna hits Henry with a low blow at 1:14:
Part of the reason this match exists is that Mark Henry
beat up Triple H on Sunday Night Heat and prevented a match between the
two.  That was not very smart of Henry
since he would have had a great chance of becoming Intercontinental
champion.  Chyna predictably costs Henry
the match, but she is served legal papers at the end of the match.  She does not appear happy, but we have no
idea why.
Cole interviews
Ken Shamrock, who turns heel by saying he hates Detroit.  He promises payback for his partners and
opponents in the main event.
A new vignette for
Steven Regal, a “real man’s man,” is shown operating industrial equipment.  Who really thought this gimmick belonged in
1998?
The Insane Clown
Posse, who hail from Detroit, do the Oddities theme music live.
Kurrgan &
Golga (w/Giant Silva, Luna Vachon & The Insane Clown Posse) beat The
Headbangers when Kurrgan pins Thrasher after a splash at 1:59:
On the previous episode of RAW, the Headbangers turned
heel on the Oddities, so this is the immediate blowoff of that angle.  This just sort of happens for a while until
the ICP trip Thrasher as he runs the ropes and that leads to an Oddities
victory.  At least it was short.
Cole interviews
the Rock, who gloats about his victory at Breakdown.  The Rock’s promos are quickly becoming the
best thing about these shows.
A backstage
segment makes it seem that Terri Runnels and Val Venis are having
relations.  Is Venis the pioneer of the “Meat”
gimmick?
European
Championship Match:  Val Venis (w/Terri
Runnels) beats X-Pac (Champion) via disqualification when Chyna interferes at
3:12:
X-Pac is wrestling with one eye due to Jeff Jarrett’s
guitar shot last night at Breakdown. 
When Terri nearly costs X-Pac the match, Chyna wanders out to a big pop
and pushes her.  When Venis tries to show
off for Chyna, she beats him up with X-Pac’s help.  The pop Chyna received her was just
amazing.  Rating:  ** (4 for 6)
After the match,
Venis and Terri kiss in the ring, but Goldust’s theme begins to play.  Dustin Runnels announces that he warned Venis
that “he was coming back.”  This angle
just got a million times better.
Cole interviews
Mankind, who reiterates his disdain for the People’s Elbow.
Handicap
Match:  The Rock, Ken Shamrock &
Mankind beat The Undertaker & Kane when the Rock pins the Undertaker with a
Rock Bottom at 12:52:
Shamrock, Mankind, and the Rock beat each other up before
their opponents come out, which fits their rivalry and is hilarious at the same
time.  Unfortunately, the Undertaker and
Kane’s plodding offense hinder the audience’s ability to stay engaged in the
match.  That is definitely not a good
sign for the pay-per-view.  Eventually,
the Rock, Mankind, and Shamrock start functioning like a unit and it eventually
leads to the Rock pinning the Undertaker clean in a HUGE upset.  The finish was pretty funny as Earl Hebner
panicked and literally screamed at everyone “THIRTY-FIVE SECONDS!  LET’S GO!!!” and proceeded to run around the
ring like the end of the world is coming. 
Of course, he did the slow three count at the end for no reason too, so
that negates the whole concern about time. 
The end was fun, but the middle dragged. 
Rating:  ** ½ (5 for 7)
The Final Report Card:  This was a really entertaining edition of
RAW.  I would have preferred the six man
elimination match get more time, but the main event held its own and the
Austin-McMahon segments stole yet another show. 
The Judgment Day main event is not very interesting based on existing
storylines, as it is clear that the crowd wants Austin or the Rock is the top
spot, but we will get back to that eventually.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.0 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – September 21, 1998

by Logan Scisco

We have a change
in the commentary team as Shane McMahon and Jim Cornette are given the
responsibilities for tonight’s show, which is taped from Sacramento,
California.  During this time the company
had Shane commentating on Sunday Night Heat. 
He was not very good at it, though. 
Ross and Lawler are not here because they were working on Jim Carey’s
film Man on the Moon.

The Rock comes
down to the ring, where Vince McMahon is standing with Ken Shamrock and
Mankind.  Kane and the Undertaker guard
the entrance as McMahon announces that WWF Champion Steve Austin and a partner
of his choice will face them later in the show. 
McMahon books the Rock, Shamrock, and Mankind to face each other in a
number one contender’s match so that they do not team with Austin later in the
evening, which is a nice twist.  There’s
some great humor here, as McMahon reminds Shamrock that he is the World’s Most
Dangerous Man, hypes the Rock as a future “People’s Champion,” and then puts
his arm around Mankind and says “nevermind.” 
The winner of the number one contender’s match will face the winner of
the Breakdown main event on next week’s RAW, where McMahon will be the guest
ring announcer.  Another solid promo by
McMahon that saw him play the roster’s top players like a fiddle.
Jeff Jarrett
nailing the Road Dogg with a guitar on last week’s show is the Penzoil Rewind
segment
.
Opening Contest:  “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn beats “Double J” Jeff
Jarrett with a neckbreaker at 7:30:
Since the Road Dogg was hit in the throat last week and
cannot speak they have Gunn read the New Age Outlaws introduction off of cue
cards.  This match goes smoothly until we
get a weak referee bump at the seven minute mark.  The referee gets his senses quickly enough to
prevent Jarrett from using the guitar and that distraction enables Gunn to
win.  Rating:  ** ¼ (2 for 2)
Michael Cole
catches up with Vince McMahon backstage as he is talking with Ed Ferrara.  McMahon tells Cole that he has no idea who
will be Austin’s tag team partner tonight and doesn’t care.
WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and says that he does not expect any help tonight.  He figures that since the Breakdown main
event is a de facto handicap match he might as well get started early tonight.  Just a filler promo.  2 for
3
Call 815-734-1161 to get your “Down
Where?  Down Here!” DX shirt for $25
(plus $6 shipping & handling)!
Buy Stridex!  Get a Triple H poster!  You know the drill by now since they have
been hyping this forever.  I guess those
Triple H posters were not hot items.
The Oddities come
out and dance with the Headbangers in the ring, but the Headbangers turn heel by
spraying Kurrgan in the face with an aerosol can, rip up Golga’s Cartman doll,
and beat down the rest of the gang.
Cole interviews the
Undertaker and Kane and the Undertaker promises that he or Kane will win the
WWF title at Breakdown.
WWF Women’s
Championship Match:  Jacqueline (w/Marc
Mero) beats Sable after Mero trips Sable on a suplex attempt at 2:51:
Since these two-thirds of the division (Luna is the other
competitor) we do not even need the illusion of a tournament and the winner of
this will be the first women’s champion since Alundra Blayze left with the title
at the end of 1995.  The not yet named
Tori is shown in the audience trying to get the crowd behind Sable before the
match begins and this is not the squash that took place on last week’s
show.  Mero bumps off the apron during
Sable’s comeback, thereby continuing his depush, but when Sable tries to suplex
Jacqueline back into the ring, Mero does the trip and hold trick and Jacqueline
becomes the first women’s champion of the Attitude Era.
Kane & The
Undertaker beat Stone Cold” Steve Austin & “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn when the
Undertaker pins Gunn after a chokeslam at 8:35:
No Savio Vega?  McMahon
is incensed that Gunn walks out as Austin’s partner and blames Pat Patterson
and Gerald Brisco for not taking care of business.  Seeing McMahon freak out as if Gunn is the
next big superstar is pretty funny in retrospect.  Unsurprisingly, Kane and the Undertaker beat
the hell out of Gunn  and when all hell
breaks loose he gets caught by an Undertaker chokeslam to lose the match for
his team.  After the bell, Austin takes
out the Undertaker and Kane with chairs before leaving.  Standard tag here that had a lot of energy and
you can’t fault the company for trying to get a new guy a rub from these three
main eventers.  Rating:  *** (3 for 4)
Southern Justice
wrestle The Disciples of Apocalypse (w/Paul Ellering) to a no contest at 2:10:
The DOA are back after being absent from RAW for the
better part of a month.  It only takes
two minutes for his match to fall apart and Jarrett clocks Ellering with his
guitar.  After that the match just ends,
so I am just going to consider this a no contest.
McMahon tells Cole
backstage that he does not think Bill Gunn made a wise choice by volunteering
to be Steve Austin’s partner.
Steven Regal is
shown shaving in the woods
.
No
Disqualification, Falls Count Anywhere Match: 
Al Snow beats Commissioner Slaughter after hitting him with Head at
6:08:
The provision of this match is that if Snow wins he gets
a job in the company, which he has been agitating for since June.  For his age, Slaughter bumps really well for
Snow and the stipulation masks his inability to do a normal match.  Head proves to be the key to get out of the
Cobra Clutch and a low blow allow Snow avoid a loaded boot attack and go on to
win the match.  So Snow has a job now, rejoice!  Rating:  *** (4 for 5)
After the bout,
Patterson and Brisco attack Snow, but Scorpio makes the save.
The Rock talks about how he will soon be
called “the best damn WWF champion there ever was.”  He says he plans to lay the smackdown on
Mankind and Ken Shamrock.  I think this
guy is ready for the big time.
Val Venis beats
Owen Hart via disqualification when Dustin Runnels interferes at 2:23:
Dustin Runnels is doing the announcing for this match and
he is still distraught over Terri sleeping with Venis.  Shane and Cornette point out that he does not
need to turn the other cheek in this situation. 
Owen is in dire need of a new direction after the end of his feud with
Ken Shamrock.  That won’t happen here,
though, as Runnels runs in and attacks Venis. 
After the bell, Venis ties Runnels in the ropes and makes him watch a
new video, where Terri tells him that Venis is a better man.  This gimmick for Dustin is terrible, but he
did a good acting job here.
European
Championship Match:  X-Pac defeats D-Lo
Brown (Champion) to win the title after an X-Factor at 5:15:
These two are capable of good matches, but this ends up
as a really abbreviated display of what they can do.  X-Pac’s offense carries this encounter, which
ends when D-Lo tries a nonsensical dive off the top rope that leads into an
X-Factor.  This is X-Pac’s first singles
championship victory in the WWF.  Rating: 
** (5 for 6)
Mankind wishes us
a nice day after explaining how he will avoid being submitted by Ken Shamrock
.
Triple Threat
Number One Contender’s Match for the WWF Championship:  Ken Shamrock wrestles Mankind and The Rock to
a no contest after Kane and the Undertaker interfere at 10:55:
Two of these men lost the King of the Ring finals in 1997
and 1998, while one of them won it and in terms of WWF history, the two losers
became bigger than the winner.  The crowd
continues to back the Rock, loving the People’s Elbow on Shamrock and his
mannerisms in the ring.  The Rock had
good timing with Shamrock, but has several awkward exchanges with Mankind.  That’s understandable because he barely worked
with Mankind up to this point.  This
match does not give us a number one contender, though, as Kane and the
Undertaker walk out with McMahon and lay waste to the talent, thereby serving
as a classic McMahon double cross.  It is
a shame that we get this result, but the company will fix that at Breakdown.  Rating:  *** (6 for 7)
As Kane and the
Undertaker lay waste to the Rock in the ring, McMahon gets attacked by Austin
in the aisle.  McMahon is not pleased
that Kane and the Undertaker did not have his back.
The Final Report Card:  Although this card lacked the same
emotionally charged crowd and match quality of the previous show, it served as
a good go home show for Breakdown.  While
you have Austin, the Undertaker, and Kane fighting each other at the top of the
card, the company is also building the Rock, Ken Shamrock, and Mankind in the
upper midcard.  The only thing that is a
mess is the tag division, as those belts are on the New Age Outlaws and there
is a lack of credible teams to face them.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.0 (vs. 3.9 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 22, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
highlights the confrontation between Steve Austin & the Undertaker and Kane
& Mankind on last week’s show.
Jim Ross and Michael Cole are doing
commentary and they are taped from Austin, Texas.  Tonight is the go home show for the King of
the Ring.

Vince McMahon
comes out and invites Kane to the ring. 
Paul Bearer is sitting at home, recovering from the Undertaker’s attack
on last week’s show.  McMahon tells Kane
that it is his destiny to be WWF champion and that a victory over Steve Austin
at the King of the Ring will erase his awful childhood.  McMahon announces that Kane is challenging
Austin to a first blood match at the King of the Ring, and Kane speaks for the
first time and proclaims that if he does not win the WWF title, he will set
himself on fire.  The only question that
remains is whether Austin will accept the challenge.  Kane’s announcement was so outrageous and out
of left field that I have to give this a point. 
1 for 1
Call 815-734-1161
to get your D-Generation X home video. 
It can be yours for $14.95 (plus $4 shipping & handling)!
Opening King of
the Ring First Round Contest:  Ken
Shamrock defeats Mark Henry with a belly-to-belly suplex at 4:35:
The Nation continues to try to accompany their members to
the ring, but they are dispatched to the locker room yet again by WWF
officials.  Henry concentrates his attack
on Shamrock’s back, but Shamrock rallies and when Henry is knocked to the
floor, Vader attacks him to get revenge for last week, and Shamrock advances to
face the winner of the Marc Mero-Jeff Jarrett match in the semi-finals.  I’m impressed by Henry’s development to this
point.  He’s not participating in *****
matches and his skills are still limited, but he is showing better awareness of
how to work around his limitations.  Rating: 
**½ (2 for 2)
Shamrock tells
Kevin Kelly that he is going to climb the top of the mountain and win the King
of the Ring.
Edge is shown
sitting in the audience.  He makes his
debut tonight.
X-Pac (w/Chyna)
beats Dustin Runnels with a spinning heel kick at 5:31:
Runnels prays before the match, clueing us in on his new
Christian gimmick.  Runnels is the 1998
version of Tito Santana and is putting over all the talents that bookers have
longer term plans for.  He nearly
finishes X-Pac off, but when he goes for a bulldog, Chyna trips him and that
allows X-Pac to earn his first victory since returning to the company.  After the match, Runnels offers a handshake,
but X-Pac refuses the gesture.  Rating: 
**½ (3 for 3)
Ross interviews
Bearer from his home via satellite and Bearer promises to be at the King of the
Ring with his son.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler, who’s crown was taken by Snow last week, rants about Al Snow after the
commercial break and invites him into the ring. 
Snow comes to the ring through the crowd and is dressed like an old
woman.  Lawler says that if he gets his
crown back that he will give Snow an appointment with Vince McMahon.  After Lawler gets his crown back, Snow
receives a contract, not an appointment, that books him and Head in a tag match
against Too Much.  If Snow wins, he gets
an appointment with McMahon, but if he loses, he has to leave the company.  Snow says that McMahon just wants him to do
another job on pay-per-view and says they might as well do the match now.  Too Much rushes the ring, but Snow takes care
of them with Head and leaves.  This is a
good example of a storyline that went over the heads of most of the audience,
who were not of the smark persuasion.  3 for 4
King of the Ring
First Round Match:  “Double J” Jeff
Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) pins “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a DDT
after Sable distracts Mero at 4:30:
This is the first heel-heel King of the Ring match in
history and Jarrett nearly causes Mero to tear his ACL by botching a powerbomb
near the ropes.  For all intents and
purposes, Mero should have gone over here, since he was still getting heat for
the Sable feud, but Vince Russo’s affinity for Jarrett wins out and he moves on
to face Shamrock at the King of the Ring. 
Rating:  *½ (3 for 5)
Jarrett tells
Kevin Kelly that he will become the King of the Ring this Sunday.
Steve Austin’s
fight with Kane on top of the Hell in a Cell on last week’s show is the
Cinnaburst Rewind segment.
Lawler joins Ross
to do commentary for the second hour.
Kane beats The
Road Dogg with a Tombstone at 4:04:
The good thing about tag teams is that you can sacrifice
one of their members in a singles match and they do not lose credibility.  This is a prolonged squash as the Road Dogg
just manages a few token blows.  Rating: 
½* (3 for 6)
Paul Bearer
reiterates his promise to be at the King of the Ring and the Undertaker
suddenly shows up and destroys him for the second week in a row.  The live feed to Bearer’s home goes out
before we can see the end of the beating. 
The Undertaker has a great line before commencing the beating:  “Do you think I’ve forgotten where you
live?!?!”
Edge defeats Jose
via count out at 1:08:
This is Edge’s debut and his entrance has an NWO-feel to
it where a red hue covers the screen. 
The debut go as planned, though, as Edge breaks Jose’s neck with a
somersault plancha and prematurely ends the match.  Edge would never do that move again as a
result of the incident.
Kane is shown trashing
his locker room after finding out that the Undertaker has attacked his
father.  Mankind tries to restrain him in
the back.
King of the Ring
First Round Match:  Dan Severn beats Owen
Hart via submission to a modified bow and arrow at 2:59:
This match has a nice exchange of maneuvers, but there is
no psychology behind them.  Owen’s
attempt to bring a chair into the ring distracts the referee and X-Pac gives
Owen a SICK chair shot to the back of the head that enables Severn to
advance.  Owen would requires staples to
close that gash.  Severn will face the winner
of the Rock-Triple H first round match at the King of the Ring.  The “dream final” of Ken Shamrock and Severn
also stays alive.
After the
commercial break, the Nation is in the ring and the Rock challenges
D-Generation X to a fight.  DX comes out
to engage them, but WWF officials prevent a fight from breaking out.
King of the Ring
First Round Match:  The Rock defeats
Triple H (w/Chyna) with a fisherman’s suplex at 8:08:
This match lacks the heat of their future encounters and
the Rock and Chyna are more over than Triple H is as well.  Chyna tries to interfere several times to
give Triple H the match, but the Rock keeps kicking out.  What I really like about this match is that
it doesn’t have to end in a finisher, as the Rock gives Triple H a low blow and
uses a move he’s never used before to win. 
Rating:  **½ (4 for 7)
After the match,
the Nation and DX brawl as WWF officials flood the ring to break things up.
Mankind is shown
trying to comfort Kane some more in the locker room.
After the
commercial break, Mankind is in the ring and the Hell in a Cell lowers as he
cuts a promo against the Undertaker for King of the Ring.  He recaps his feud with the Undertaker and
chastises the Undertaker for attacking Paul Bearer the last several weeks.  He claims that the Undertaker’s punishment
will be within the cell and not the bars of a prison.  A great promo by Foley that put some fire
into a match that was quickly becoming an afterthought on the card.  5 for
8
Mankind beats “Bad
Ass” Billy Gunn (w/Chyna) with the Mandible Claw at 5:38:
Chyna is forced to go back to the locker room after she
attacks Mankind on the floor, which somehow isn’t enough to draw a
disqualification.  This features your usual
Foley spots and is an exciting brawl, where tries to counter Foley’s use of
weapons and aggressive style.  However,
that isn’t enough as his piledriver is reversed into a slingshot into the post
and Mankind finishes him off.  Rating: 
*** (6 for 8)
Mankind goes back
to the locker room, but can’t find Kane.
Sable comes out
and welcomes out WWF Champion Steve Austin. 
Austin sends Sable to the locker room to give Vince McMahon the
bird.  Austin is wearing his cool
baseball jersey shirt and accepts the first blood stipulation at the King of
the Ring.  He promises to bring some
cookout food for when Kane sets himself on fire after failing to win his
title.  Kane walks out and signals for
“blood” to drop into the middle of the ring and drench Austin.  This leads to a crowd chant for Austin to
kick Kane’s ass and that plays us out.  7 for 9
The Final Report Card:  There were some twists and turns in this show
mixed with some above average ring work. 
We now have new odds stacked against Austin as it will be difficult for
him to make Kane bleed and retain his title and the Undertaker continues his
quest to destroy Paul Bearer.  We also
got more of a reason to care about the Hell in a Cell match between the
Undertaker and Mankind, something that the company has been pushing
aggressively the last two weeks since they likely realized that they needed a
greater hook for a show that only had five pre-announced matches.
So our King of the Ring card is as follows:
WWF Championship Match:  Steve Austin (Champion) vs. Kane
Hell in a Cell:  The Undertaker vs. Mankind
King of the Ring Finals:  TBA vs. TBA
King of the Ring Semi-Final #1:  Ken Shamrock vs. Jeff Jarrett
King of the Ring Semi-Final #2:  The Rock vs. Dan Severn
Al Snow & Head vs. Too Much
Monday Night War Rating:  4.3 (vs. 4.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 17, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
Syracuse, New York
.
The Undertaker’s
plancha on Vader on last week’s Raw is the Playstation Slam of the Week.

Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom defeat Crush
& Savio Vega (w/the Nation of Domination) by disqualification at 6:47 shown
when Faarooq interferes:
The small stipulation for this contest is that Ahmed
Johnson and Faarooq are barred from ringside. 
However, when you are talking about the Nation of Domination, that just
subtracts one of five guys they usually bring to the ring with them.  This starts as a wild brawl, but then becomes
a no-selling contest between both teams. 
For example, there’s no excuse for Savio standing up after being given a
piledriver by Hawk.  Faarooq attacks
Ahmed with a night stick as he watches the match in the back and that enables
him to make the run-in before Vega eats a Doomsday Device.  Ahmed eventually runs out and makes the save
and JC Ice eats a Pearl River Plunge and D-Lo Brown takes the Doomsday Device
like a champ.  The crowd was hot for the
interference at the end, but this was quite sloppy in the middle.  Rating:  *½
Call
1-900-737-SLAM to vote for the Larry Flynt Freedom of Speech Award.  The nominees are Jerry Lawler, Paul Heyman,
Steve Austin, Howard Stern, and Faarooq. 
By the way, your vote will cost you 99 cents
.
The announce team
says that WWF President Gorilla Monsoon is flying to the arena to clear up some
controversy over whether tonight’s steel cage match between WWF Champion Sid
and Bret Hart is for the WWF title or not. 
Another rumor floating around is that Shawn Michaels is planning to show
up
.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats Flash Funk (w/the Funkettes) with the Pedigree at
5:46:
The entrances for these two take nearly four minutes and
Funk’s theme is not catchy enough to sustain my interest for such a long dance
to the ring.  Funk dominates a lot of the
action, which is pretty surprising considering his position on the card, and
he’s in position to win after a flying leg drop, but Chyna pulls him out of the
ring to break a cover.  Chyna then
prevents Funk from going back to the top to finish off Helmsley and Helmsley takes
advantage of the distraction to pick up the win.  This was a nice TV match that protected
everyone involved heading into WrestleMania. 
Rating:  **¼
Shawn Michaels is
shown arriving at the arena
.
Footage is shown
of New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman lifting a tax to allow the WWF to
compete in the state.  This is when the
WWF admitted that what it was doing was just “sports entertainment” and was not
real.
Mascarita
Sagrada, Jr. & Mini Goldust defeat Mini Vader & Mini Mankind when
Sagrada pins Mankind with a victory roll at 2:55:
Mascarita Sagrada Jr. was the dominant figure of the
short-lived WWF minis division in 1997, winning nearly all of his televised
matches.  Sagrada gets most of the shine
in this one and it’s so short that it is a fun waste of time.  In a fun spot after the match, Sagrada and
Vader run up the ramp and Sagrada gives Vader a flying body press on the
concrete floor.
WWF President
Gorilla Monsoon says that tonight’s steel cage match will be for the WWF
title.  Monsoon and Vince then argue over
whether now is the right time to give Bret Hart a crack at the title, since
WrestleMania is this weekend
.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Bret Hart, who says that he won the Royal Rumble, the Final Four
match, and is a four-time WWF champion so he deserves a title match tonight. Bret
unveils one of my favorite lines from this period when he says that the new
motto of the WWF is “you scratch my back and I put a knife in yours.”  Some boos can be heard in the audience,
thereby foreshadowing Bret’s heel turn.
Call 815-737-1156 to
get your customized WrestleMania 13 hockey jersey or denim jacket!  They can be yours for prices between
$89.99-$139.99!
The Sultan (w/the
Iron Sheik & Bob Backlund) beats Mike Bell via submission to the camel
clutch in 57 seconds:
Rocky Maivia is on commentary for this match, but since
he hasn’t developed the Rock persona it’s nothing to write home about.  The Sultan throws in a splash off the top
rope to set up the camel clutch and then argues with Maivia at ringside.  Maivia wants to get into a fight, but Tony
Atlas shows up and holds him back.
McMahon interviews
Shawn Michaels, who jokes about his “Lost Smile” speech and says that he found
his smile in San Antonio.  He thanks the
fans for his support and says that he’s going to see Dr. James Andrews about
his knee next week.  Shawn tells Vince
he’s upset at not getting invited to WrestleMania, so he’s inviting himself to
be the guest commentator for the WWF title match.  This promo just took too long for what it was
going to accomplish and it’s the perfect example of material that would give
you the perfect excuse to flip over to TNT to see what was happening on Nitro.
The British
Bulldog (w/Owen Hart) defeats Vader (w/Paul Bearer & Mankind) by
disqualification when Mankind interferes at 5:52 shown:
This is the easiest match to book for tonight’s show,
since it provides a quasi-preview of the tag team championship match at
WrestleMania.  The Bulldog manages to get
Vader up in the vertical suplex for several seconds, which is an awesome feat,
but Vader dominates much of the televised action.  Vader is a master of putting himself in
position to be slammed by a leaner opponent and it makes the Bulldog look like
a million bucks.  The Bulldog even has
Vader positioned for a running powerslam, but Mankind interferes to break it up
and a four way brawl ensues, with the champions standing tall.  An entertaining power match for the time they
were given.  Rating:  **¼
Call
1-900-737-SLAM to vote for the Best Bow Tie category for the Slammy’s.  The nominees are Mr. Bob Backlund, Pee Wee
Herman, Clarence Mason, Louis Farrahkhan, and Yokozuna.  What is with all the crazy nominees?  Did they actually think more people would
watch if they threw a few random names into the candidate pool?
Billy Gunn beats
Aaron Ferguson by submission to an armbar at 1:59:
Ken Shamrock shows up to do guest commentary, surely to
scout Billy for their future encounter at the 1999 Royal Rumble.  This is a slow squash that is a relic of
another era and you might find the choice of finish puzzling, but Billy uses it
to taunt Shamrock after the match. 
Shamrock gets into the ring and quickly puts Billy in an armbar and
Billy taps out.  Billy says Shamrock can’t
do it twice, so Shamrock puts him in an ankle lock and Billy taps again.  This is likely the first time that the “tap
out” was introduced to a pro wresting audience, even though it wasn’t an
official match.
McMahon interviews
Austin, who says that he wasn’t impressed by Shamrock because he was taking
advantage of a “weakened” Billy Gunn. 
Austin runs down Shamrock some more and then says that he’s in the arena
tonight to help Bret win the title so he can win it at WrestleMania.  There’s some nice continuity here, as Austin
says he won the Royal Rumble, so he should be in the main event of WrestleMania
in the first place
.
WWF Champion Sid
says Steve Austin better stay out of his business and he’s going to powerbomb
Bret Hart through the floor.
Steel Cage Match
for the WWF Championship:  Sid (Champion)
defeats Bret “the Hitman” Hart by escaping the cage at 7:57 shown:
This is one of the most entertaining matches of this era
for a couple of reasons.  First, this
match is being held the week of WrestleMania, so the card could easily change
to make Bret-Austin the WWF title match and the main event and the
Undertaker-Sid match a special attraction. 
And second, because of the possibility of the card changing, the
Undertaker and Austin have an incentive to help their WrestleMania opponent win.  Austin makes his presence felt early, when he
prematurely closes the cage door when Sid is trying to crawl out.  Sid hits a powerbomb, but when he tries to
climb out, Austin intercepts him at the top of the cage and we get an
interesting double team whereby Bret and Austin pound on Sid.  The Undertaker then runs out and attacks
Austin to stop the attack and tosses Bret over the top of the cage when he’s
trying to climb out.  Shortly thereafter,
Sid goes to climb out after taking a superplex, but Bret also gets out and goes
for the door.  However, the Undertaker
slams the door in his face and Sid is able to successfully make it to the floor
to retain the title.  This is a difficult
match the rate, since there wasn’t much between Sid and Bret, but the interference
and subsequent brawling was very entertaining, so I’ll just say it’s above
average and move on.  Rating: 
**½
Following a
commercial break, McMahon goes to interview Bret, who pushes him down and
proceeds to go on a cursing tirade.  Ross
apologizes profusely and I’m sure the USA Network executives were spilling
coffee all over themselves trying to call the censor and wake them up.  Austin pops up on the video screen and calls
Bret a loser.  Bret tells Austin to come
and fight him, but Sid walks out instead, followed by the Undertaker.  When Bret sees the Undertaker, he executes a
suicide dive and Austin then arrives and brawls with him, as the Undertaker
gets into the ring and fights Sid.  WWF
officials try to separate the combatants and when Bret slugs Pat Patterson,
Vince unleashes a venomous tirade against him. 
After everyone is exhausted, Shawn Michaels walks out, but he doesn’t
get involved in any of the action.
The Final Report Card:  Now THIS
is what you call a go home show for the biggest pay-per-view of the year.  The undercard was fine, albeit forgettable,
but the main event and its aftermath really made an impression.  It was almost too successful, though, because
USA was not very happy with Bret’s cursing tirade near the end of the show.  Where the show was not a success was in the
ratings, as Nitro creamed RAW, showing that it was going to be a long battle
for the WWF to reclaim the number one spot. 
Nonetheless, the show did a good job setting up Bret’s heel turn and is
a great show to look back on since we know where the Bret-McMahon issue was
leading to.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.4
(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