What the World Was Reading: WWF Magazine – December 1999

by Logan Scisco

Since this week’s magazine selection is from December
1999 it would be remiss for the staff of WWF
Magazine
to ignore Christmas.  Sure enough,
we get a holiday-type cover featuring the self-proclaimed, undisputed champion
of Christmas Mick Foley:

 And Mick has kept the Christmas gig going, doing promo
spots with his daughter Noelle last month on WWE television.  He was a better salesman than anyone else the
WWE could have trotted out there, although I continue to insist that if they
want the Network subscriptions to rise that they need to call Don West.
The 1999 Christmas season featured one WWF product I just
had to have:  WrestleMania 2000 for the
Nintendo 64.  I was really excited for
the WWF to go to THQ since the company did great work on the WCW games.  It was one of my favorite games to play,
especially because it was the first to feature a create-a-wrestler mode.  I remember taking Brian Christopher through
the career mode (and why I made that selection I have no idea).  Unfortunately, I lent it to a friend in
middle school and they never returned it.
Since Vince Russo went off to World Championship
Wrestling, the magazine was handed over to Kevin Kelly.  As a result, he answers the letters to the
editor.  Since we are not in 1995 land,
there are no funny illustrations or awful lists provided by fans.  Many of the letters tie back to the October
1999 issue of the magazine we reviewed two weeks ago.  A fan named Thomas Brennan blasts the fan who
questioned Prince Albert’s education credentials, while Miguel Balseca
completely buys into Vince McMahon’s vision of the product by calling Christian
a member of the “sports-entertainment world.” 
A fan called “TakersLady,” using Web TV (remember that product?) frets
that the Undertaker is facing a career-ending injury, which Kelly denies.  The Undertaker did have a bad groin injury in
late 1999, but it was not career-ending. 
Still, it is interesting that people were talking about the Undertaker’s
health FIFTEEN years ago!  They actually
let a fan write in how the newly-debuted Dudley Boys dominated the ECW tag team
ranks, and of course, since we are in 1999 it would be remiss without a fan –
in this case one named Justin Struthers – talking about Debra and her “puppies.”  He begs that she needs to “let them run free.”
Speaking of Jarrett, he was also on his way to WCW.  Before he got there, though, his last gimmick
was beating up female wrestlers and celebrities and putting them in the
figure-four. 
 All of this culminated in Jarrett eventually dropping the
Intercontinental title to Chyna.  The
quick piece says that female superstars aligning against Jarrett is a “new version
of women’s liberation with a distinctly hardcore edge.”  It warns that Jarrett will soon face the
wrath of all of these women, but I guess that is why he fled down South.
And when I talked about how we did not have any more
lists, I was wrong.  This week we have a
top five for ways that “Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry can curb his
appetite.  I did find number one
humorous.
 Our “Rookies to Legends” this week misses the mark once
again as it covers Miss Kitty, the last wife that Jerry Lawler had:
 In storyline terms, Miss Kitty debuted courtesy of Jeff
Jarrett, who made her a personal assistant to Debra.  She soon made Debra’s life difficult and
started to drive her and Jarrett apart. 
The piece tries to say that Kitty has bigger ambitions and if that
included exposing herself on WWF pay-per-view then it was correct.  However, the soon-to-be-named Kat never made
a lasting contribution to the WWF that could be considered “legendary.”
This month’s guest writer of “the Bite” is Howard Finkel,
who in late 1999 was rocking a bitter announcer gimmick where he made a habit
of chewing out Tony Chimmel and Lillian Garcia.
 The piece starts with the Fink asking some rhetorical
questions such as “Why have I been around so long?  Why am I still here?”  You know, the same questions that Vince
McMahon has probably been asking himself when it comes to Finkel for
years.  He complains about not being used
more, while saying that he has high hopes for Chris Jericho, which is why he is
sporting a Jericho-style wig in the piece.
WWF Magazine
REALLY liked Chyna in 1999, as evidenced by its next feature piece on how she
has been a big factor in the WWF. 
Remember that she and Triple H were subject of another piece two months
prior to this.
The article describes that Chyna’s success is due to a
difficult childhood, which shaped her into becoming a great athlete and
student.  After all, she does have a
double major in Spanish and Literature from the University of Tampa.  Her fluency in Spanish is why the company used
her in some skits with Los Boricuas in 1997 and 1998.  The classic understatement in the article is
that despite being “quintessential professionals…there have been rumors that
[her partnership with Triple H] is nearing an end.”  Sadly, it hypes her career as only getting
better, saying that she is “a history maker, a trendsetter, a one of a kind,”
but 1999 would be the peak of Chyna’s career. 
After having a feud with Chris Jericho over the Intercontinental title
she was slowly scaled away from the main title picture and by 2001 she was
wrestling women, which was a step down for her.
In a curious ad, you can get some of the first WWF DVDs, “Hell
Yeah:  Stone Cold’s Saga Continues” or
WrestleMania XV.  The price for each is $24.95,
but that is sort of laughable considering that WrestleMania XV gives you ninety
minutes of more content, as well as voiceovers of the big matches.
 A piece titled “At the Crossroads” breaks down what is in
the future for X-Pac, who was in the midst of a heel turn against his tag team
partner Kane.  As such, the article
emphasizes that X-Pac wants to be his own man and fight his own battles,
belying a Napoleon-like complex X-Pac has carried because of his size relative
to other WWF superstars.  That is one of
the good uses of the magazine, as it gave you some additional logic behind
angles and face/heel turns, even if some of them ended up being ridiculous.
 We also hear that X-Pac was the first person to “guide
Kane to his own heart and give him the courage to realize his human potential.”  So next time anyone wants to criticize Kane
as a corporate stooge you can blame X-Pac. 
Instead of X-Pac eventually turning on Kane, I would have enjoyed seeing
Kane in a DX green outfit like the picture shows below because that would have
been really different and cool, at least for one show:
 Next, Bill Banks talks about the newly-debuted Chris Jericho’s
desire to go after Steve Austin.
 Banks takes some shots at WCW, saying that Austin and Jericho
were denied similar opportunities to shine down South and that this slight made
both men more aggressive in their pursuit for glory and titles.  It even bashes Austin’s initial “Ringmaster”
gimmick from when he debuted in 1996. 
Really, this piece is well-written and does a nice job hyping a
potential Austin-Jericho showdown.  It
treats both men as athletes and wrestling as an actual sport, something the
company would be better off doing today. 
Unfortunately, a showdown between the two would have to wait until late
2000 because Jericho was quickly diverted into the Intercontinental title
picture while Austin went out with an injury.
And since this is the December issue, the WWF makes sure
we know what hot items you can buy for the holiday season.  Ho ho ho indeed!
 Most of the big items are for Steve Austin and the Rock
as you can see here
Then we get our more “crude” items of the Attitude Era on
another page.  Who really wants that Road
Dogg stuffed animal?  If you do, it will
cost you $20.  And that Debra poster will
cost you another $10.  I wonder if some
kid bought the “Show Me Your Puppies!” t-shirt (for $25) and was told to take
it off by school administrators. 
Seriously, $25 for that shirt?
 And you can also get yourself some WWF cologne for
$14.99.  I do not think this item was
selling well as it is the only one in the catalog that is marked down from its
initial sale price (which was $19.99 a unit). 
I still remember Bobby Heenan cracking jokes about WCW cologne on Nitro.  The WWF Attitude bag is cool, but I know very
little about the WWF fielding a racing team in 1999.  Evidently, if you want the racing jacket
pictured here you will be out $44.
An oddly titled article called “The Devil’s Bathtub” is
up next, which provides a comparison between Michael Hayes and Paul Bearer.
 You see, both men used to be best friends on the Gulf of
Mexico and broke into the business as volunteers.  Both men had been abandoned by their
managerial charges by late 1999, so the magazine teases at a possible alliance.  The magazine was also trying to recognize
more wrestling history by this point as it brings up Hayes’s run with the
Freebirds.  Unfortunately, it does not
tell us who Bearer and Hayes might want to bring into their stable if they
unified forces.  It does let us know that
the Fabulous Freebirds and the Undertaker “were supreme entertainers,” though.
I had forgotten about this product, which I never
actually saw anywhere.  I never had any
friends who bought it, so did anyone on the Blog every play around with this
toy?
Magazine writer Laura (no last name given) provides her “Attitude
Award” for 1999 and selects Kane and Stephanie McMahon!  If you are not a fan of Stephanie, you really
will not like this piece as Laura notes that “Since her debut in the ring,
Stephanie McMahon’s presence has been compelling” and that she cares little for
money and more about her ideals than money. 
Kane wins because he stood up for his friend X-Pac and overcame Vince McMahon
and Chyna tormenting him throughout the year. 
So basically, the “Attitude Award” is who faced lots of adversity and
overcame the odds.  Today, John Cena
would win that award every year!
Kevin Kelly then says that he was amazed that 1999
featured great in-ring performances by Vince and Shane McMahon.  Yeah, those criticisms of 1999 revolving
around the McMahons too much appear very
warranted now.  Best part is, it would
get worse for WrestleMania 2000 when there would be a McMahon in every corner!  So Kelly gives his “Attitude Award” to both
of the male McMahons.
And when it comes to Bill Banks he selects Jeff Jarrett,
which is pretty humorous considering Jarrett’s departure from the company.  Banks claims Jarrett has gone a long way
since his country music gimmick, but his selection seems to be based more on
personal factors as Jarrett dealt with the loss of Owen Hart and helped his
wife fight her battle against breast cancer.
We get the results from the Unforgiven pay-per-view,
featuring the infamous “Kennel from Hell” match.
That is probably one of those cases where the awful recap of the matches was
okay.  One of the pictures from the
Six-Pack Challenge match is probably sitting about Triple H’s office in Titan
Towers:
The “Private Eye” segment provides some pictures of the
MTV Video Music Awards.  So much for
kayfabe in this one:
“The Informer” tells us that D-Lo Brown and Mark Henry
started having problems when Henry had his wallet fall into the lap of D-Lo’s fiancé
on a flight back from England.  D-Lo
thought Henry was making moves on his woman and his fiancée thought the same,
thereby triggering a long series of tensions between the two.  We are told the Steve Austin-Undertaker
rivalry went onto the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) circuit as they each
had their own Funny Cars, with the Undertaker’s car winning.  And evidently, Al Snow is very upset about
the jokes Mankind made about him in Have
a Nice Day
!
This issue had tons
of advertisements in it, much more than previous issues.  I am not sure if that was because there were
not as many columns to write or if that is something that I might see more of
in the 2000 magazines.  However, it did
get a little tiring flipping through four or five ads before the next story.  Maybe with Russo gone that is a good thing
for the magazine, as this one had less ridiculousness in the stories, which
offered a more serious portrayal of the superstars and various angles.

Next time, we will move away from WWF Magazine and over to an early 1999 edition of WOW Magazine, put together by Bill Apter
as a “smart fan” alternative to other kayfabe wrestling publications.  It will cover the results of Backlash 1999, chronicle
the independent circuit, and provide some great photographs of wrestlers and
valets during the period.

What the World Was Reading: WWF Magazine – June 1995

by Logan Scisco


We return this week to cover my first-ever purchase of a
wrestling magazine:  the June 1995 issue
of WWF Magazine.  I remember getting it at Kroger when I went
with my dad on a grocery trip on a Sunday. 
We passed the magazine section and I wanted it, so he bought it for
me.  I clearly read this issue a lot as a
kid because the cover no longer exists. 
For example, this is what the cover looked like:

And what my copy looks like today:
I am sort of afraid to turn the pages because it might
disintegrate in my hands, but the demands of the Blog persist, so here we go.
The first page in shows that we are definitely in the
Dark Ages as there is a “Can You Guess the Secret Superstar” feature.  This shows a childhood picture of a wrestling
star and you have to guess who it is. 
With so many youngsters depicted, it is a shame they did not get Gorilla
Monsoon to lend his stamp of approval to it. 
This month’s superstar is clearly The Roadie, with such hints as “This
Secret Superstar sincerely believes that Willie Nelson recorded the hit song
‘On the Road Again’ in his honor!” and “This Secret Superstar claims to have
been affiliated at one time or another with such legends as Reba McEntire,
Vince Gill, Wynonna Judd, and Garth Brooks!” 
So, our picture of the future Road Dogg:
The next quick feature is “Federation FANatics,” which
shows some pictures of WWF fans talking about what they like and dislike.  Normally, you would think this feature would
be for younger fans, but oh no, we have a pretty old dude by the name of Louie
Payan that wants to share his thoughts!
While telling us that he loves working on his yard (and presumably keeping young heathens off of it) when
not watching the WWF, Mr. Payan, seventy-five years young, lets us know that he
loves the excitement of the WWF (in 1995?) and that if he were WWF President he
would suspend those who interfere in other people’s matches!  Unfortunately, he does not gripe about not
seeing Lou Thesz lace up the boots for one last WrestleMania because if 1995 WWF
was like today, that might just happen!
This month’s letters to the editor features a small gem
from a quasi-smart fan from Israel by the name of Ilan Zilbershtein.  He demands to know why Shawn Michaels, and
not Diesel, was named number one contender after Survivor Series and got to
wrestle Bob Backlund in the Garden for the WWF title.  The response given seems to come straight
from Vince McMahon’s mouth, saying that Diesel is a worthy competitor because
he is “7 feet tall and weighs well over 300 pounds!”  There is also something thrown in there about
how Diesel shows better sportsmanship, but I think that is a distractor.  Another fan gives us ten reasons why the
Undertaker is called the Undertaker:
We are then treated to a few music and video reviews by
Man Mountain Rock and Jerry “The King” Lawler for the “That’s Entertain MAT”
feature.  Rock highly recommends Bush’s Sixteen Stone album, while Lawler bashes
The Brady Bunch Movie by likening it
to the Hart family.  This was during
Lawler’s feud with Bret Hart, which had been ongoing for two years, so that was
to be expected.
This month’s “Rookies to Legends” column actually does
talk about a future WWF legend: 
Sid. 
Speaking of Sid, why isn’t this guy in the Hall of
Fame?  Does the induction not coincide
with softball season?  The piece
predictably glosses over Sid’s popularity in the 1992 Rumble, saying that he
became a full-fledged rule breaker after SummerSlam 1991.  Any mention of him wrestling down South, even
in a tongue-in-cheek manner, is disappointingly not used.  The article just recaps how Sid came in as
Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard before WrestleMania, how he has turned on him, and
warns us that the WWF will never be the same again!
In sadder news, this month’s magazine provides a small
obituary for Big John Studd, who had recently passed away from Hodgkin’s
disease.  It gives a few facts about his
battles with Andrew the Giant and highlights his 1989 Rumble win.  I remember being shocked that this guy won a Rumble because that was during a phase of
my fandom when I thought that Hulk Hogan would win everything, so the fact that
this guy I had barely heard of won the Rumble was pretty shocking.
These magazines also go really well with our discussions
on the Blog.  Scott was recently asked
about the WWF’s move to the In Your House format and this magazine reminds the
fans that starting in May the WWF will have pay-per-views every month.  You see, the WWF HAD to do this in order to
“meet the demand of our millions of loyal fans.”  The magazine promises that In Your House will
provide “seven action-packed, bodyslammin’, sharpshootin’ pay-per-view events
to air in those months between the BIG FIVE.” 
Yes, those of us who had the privilege of watching In Your House IV can
attest to this!
The magazine keeps giving us lots of lists, this time
giving us five reasons why King Kong Bundy is bald.  I bet Vince loved this stuff.  In fact, I can see John Cena using this material if he had to feud with Bundy today:
And Lex Luger wants your letters so that he can tell you
how to improve your “Body, Mind, and Spirit.”  Lex is all about educating the youth of America about fitness,
health, and drugs!  With such an awful
gimmick like this at the time, no wonder Lex headed for the greener pastures of
WCW.
One of the really cool columns of the magazine is
“Fantasy Warfare,” which breaks down the attributes of two WWF superstars that
have yet to face off in the ring.  This
month talks about the 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly, who had a one-day reign as tag
team champions in January 1995.  Bob
Holly in 1995 was a big superstar in WWF
Magazine
as they ran several pieces prior to this hyping how all the big
managers in the WWF were wanting to take Holly under their wing.  What is humorous about the piece is that it
tries to make Holly look like less of a jobber, saying that he lacks many key
wins, but that is “due to the lack of competitive matches he has received.”  Of course, in the next paragraph under “Key
Losses” it tells us that he recently lost to Bam Bam Bigelow.  Despite the evidence moving in the Kid’s
favor, the Editor (Vince Russo) predicts that Holly would win because of his
weight advantage.  I actually included my
own handwriting in the “What’s Your Prediction” part of this piece which
embarrassingly reads “Holly would win because he is quick and more heavy.”  Yes, sound analysis from nine-year-old me.
It is monthly interview time and our subject this month
is Razor Ramon, cruising the streets of Miami. 
He hopes to win the next King of the Ring and says that
he would not mind facing Diesel for the WWF title.  There is a heel vibe to this interview, as
Ramon continually makes fun of the interviewer and says he would not care if he
was booed by the fans, thereby feeding into the idea that the WWF was flirting
with a Ramon heel turn in 1995.  That
would have been the ideal booking strategy since the roster was too heavily
loaded with faces.
Since Russo is the editor of the magazine, one is not
surprised to see a lengthy piece about Jeff Jarrett because everyone knows the
country music gimmick he was sporting in 1995 screamed “next big thing.”
In this five page article, Russo discusses how Jarrett
made him wake up at two in the morning and immediately fly out to the West
Coast so he could hear about the shooting of “Ain’t I Great:  The Motion Picture!”  Everything about this Jarrett gimmick
screamed small time Memphis because let’s face it:  how much credibility is a heel going to have
if we are told he is doing all these big projects and yet we see none of
them?  At least the Miz has that lousy
direct-to-video WWE film.  Anyway, we
find out that Hollywood threw a big parade in Jarrett’s honor and they proceed
to deface a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Jarrett:
And you think the magazine’s writings about the Hollywood
aspirations of superstars are over?  Well
think again as the next piece talks about Bret Hart fielding offers as
well!  Seems funny that the WWF was all
about getting their wrestler’s side projects in 1995 but is scared of them
doing anything outside of the company today. 
We are told that Hollywood is facing “an endangered species” of leading
male action stars and we are reminded that “women sometimes refer to them
as…HUNKS” and that Bret might be able to fill that role.  Russo’s writing in this magazine can be
entertaining, but he clearly has very slanted views about women.  Well, the purpose of this piece is to breakdown
Bret’s venture into TV drama by serving a role on Lonesome Dove:  The Series.  Bret played the character of Luther, who was a wandering trapper.  We
are told that Bret’s performance was as flawless as “Arnold transposed into the
Terminator and Stallone became Rambo.” 
This is a picture of Bret in the role:
Bret wrote in his autobiography that he hoped his role on
Lonesome Dove would let him get out
of wrestling, but the series was short-lived and he had to return.  He did get an appearance on the Simpson and
did have an entertaining angle on Mad TV with Will Sasso, but that was really
it for the Hitman, despite the article promising that he was getting lots of
offers in 1995 and was just waiting for the right project!
We are treated to a breakdown of the results of
WrestleMania XI.  Now compare this write
up and detail with last week’s magazine:
It just does not compare. 
One of the nice touches was that you got quotations from the
participants in the matches.  Ted DiBiase
rips Bam Bam Bigelow, bordering near burial, by saying that he is embarrassed
that Bigelow just lost to a football player. 
I remember going to a Thunder taping where Bigelow wrestled in 1999 and
he was STILL getting LT chants.  We even
get some delusional responses, as Bob Backlund proclaims that “We won!  The chicken-wing prevailed!” following his
disappointing “I Quit” match with Bret Hart. 
And of course, we have to be reminded of all he celebrities that
attended to try to disguise a lackluster show. 
Jonathan Taylor Thomas, remember that guy?  And Salt-N-Pepa needs to return to a WWE
booking meeting, if only to tell them to “push it” regarding Daniel Bryan:
A recap is provided for the night after WrestleMania show
as well, which featured Sid turning on Shawn Michaels, Diesel making the save,
Alundra Blayze regaining the WWF Women’s title from Bull Nakano, and the debut
of Bertha Faye.  Well, at least three of
those things were significant.  The
facial expression of Vince in this action shot is priceless:
And remember the WWF Superstar Line?  Well, these were all the cool features in the
summer of 1995!  I wonder what the
valuable prize was on the WWF trivia, and I have a hard time believing people
would call to hear Stephanie Wiand’s thoughts on the company.
“The Supreme Fighting Machine” Kama gets the
most over the top feature in this month’s magazine as Russo talks about how he
would fare against TJ Combo, a character in the video game Killer Instinct.  In fact,
seeing these two side-by-side sort of screams “gimmick infringement,” no?:
There are a few gems in this piece.  One talks of how Killer Instinct will be released as the first game for Nintendo’s
64-bit game system due out in the fall of 1995 called “Project Reality.”  Of course, it would take until the fall of
1996 for the eventual Nintendo 64 to hit U.S. stores.  We are also treated to a Kama promo about TJ
Combo, with Kama saying that “Not even this…cartoon character” could withstand
his arsenal and he is insulted that Combo would be any match for him!  Kama promises to bring some kick boxing, judo
karate, and good ol’ fashioned wrestling to a future bout, but he did not say
jiu-jitsu, so I am not sure how good his chances are.  Russo says that he figured out who would win
by feeding all the statistics for both men into the “World Wrestling
Federation’s Cray Computer” and although Combo beat the tar out of Kama in the
fight, Kama knocked him out with an uppercut to win.  What else did the WWF run on this Cray
Computer in 1995?
The back of the magazine features our usual “smart fan”
features, this time from the “Informer.” 
It teases the return of Barry Windham, who it says had a previous
alliance with “Irwin R. Schyster.”  It
says that they may team together again and it is amusing to think of the U.S.
Express 2.0 coming back under a tax gimmick. 
I guess that could work, a pair of heels who are patriotic but couch
their patriotism in paying taxes to the state, thereby making them the heels of
every man, woman, and child in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  Of course, Windham would not return for
another year so that point is moot.  We
are also informed that Sid is looking for a manager and may turn back to Harvey
Wippleman.  The most hilarious comment is
that “Jean Pierre Lafitte got into the face of Tatanka and accused him of being
just as responsible for the neglect of his grandfather Jean Lafitte as the
white man” thereby prompting a locker room scuffle between the two.
Another “smart” feature was Vic Venom’s “The Bite,” this
time written by him and not a guest writer, which is what the column turned
into by 1999. 
He rips Roddy Piper for calling for the bell at
WrestleMania XI because Backlund never quit. 
He alleges that Bret “Drip Man” Hart got his “bagpipe-wielding,
skirt-wearing friend” to rig the match in his favor.  Aldo Montoya’s upset of Intercontinental
Champion Jeff Jarrett is also blown off because clearly the referee missed one
of Jarrett’s shoulders from coming off the canvas!  It also fawns over the sexiness of Bertha
Faye and lets us know that “she is definitely Vic Venom’s kind of woman!”
This month’s “Private Eye” piece showcases the
Headshrinkers going to get a haircut. 
You see, it is all part of Captain Lou Albano adapting them to American
culture.  The WWF ran this angle so many
times during the 1990s with this, Barry Horowitz and Hakushi, Bradshaw and Taka
Michinoku, etc. and it met with failure EACH TIME.  It was like if you saw someone involved in an
angle like this it was immediate death. 
I mean, who is going to root for guys that are afraid of getting their
hair cut and holding stuffed animals?:
In our letters to the superstars segment, Alundra Blayze
tells a fan that if she had to date a superstar it would be Diesel or Bret
Hart, but you see, she cannot because they are married!  Well, we know that was not something that
stopped Bret on the road.  Bob Backlund
blasts a fan for not picking up a dictionary when the young man questions where
Backlund gets his big words from.  Shawn
Michaels tells a fan that if he had to do it over again he might have chosen
Bret Hart as a bodyguard because he “could have done a much better job.”  Oh, I am sure he could have!
Lastly, we get our Scoop Sullivan cartoon, about a young
fan who can morph into a federation superstar. 
This time, Mantaur keeps cheating against Doink, prompting Sullivan to
go underneath the ring and make a run-in. 
This feature would not last much longer in the magazine and the cartoon
did a good job showing how few people were attending WWF events in 1995 as NO
fans can be seen!  Some of the rhetoric
in this magazine, such as Sullivan’s character telling Mantaur “Back off
Furball!” is also eerily reminiscent of the awful language we get in promos
today.  Coincidence?  I think not. 
Unfortunately, my magazine is in such bad shape that it is hard to see
the full cartoon:
Next week we will look at the December 1999 issue of WWF Magazine, allowing us to look at all
of the great merchandise WWF fans were able to purchase at that time and how
Chris Jericho wants to square off with Steve Austin!

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – September 12, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are taped from Lowell,
Massachusetts, which is one of my favorite venues.  It’s sort of amazing how the WWF was able to
do a ton of pyro by the constricted entrance without engulfing the building.

Opening
Contest:  Edge beats “Double J” Jeff
Jarrett (w/Southern Justice) via disqualification when Jarrett hits Edge with a
guitar at 5:14:
It is funny to hear Lawler ask the same questions about Edge that people
asked about the Shield:  Where do they hang
out before shows?  Why do they feel the
need to enter through the crowd and not the traditional way?  Jarrett debuts the Stroke here, but it is
only used as a transitional move.  Edge
busts out an impressive spot where he hits two consecutive suplexes and
transitions a third into a facebuster. 
This is a decent, competitive match with Jarrett giving Edge a few hope
spots before getting desperate and hitting the newcomer with a guitar.  Rating:  **¼ (1 for 1)
Bradshaw defeats
Darren Drozdov with the Flair pin at 4:01:
No one would call this a technical exhibition, but it is
a tolerable brawl that plays to the strengths of both men.  Bradshaw uses the old heel tactic of putting
his feet on the ropes to pin the rookie and then gives him a lariat to put the
finishing touch on this match.  The
crowd’s silence brought this down a notch, but both guys were trying.  Rating:  *¾ (2 for 2)
A video package
hypes the triple threat main event for Breakdown, where WWF Champion Steve
Austin will defend his title against the Undertaker and Kane.  The announcement for that match took place on
Sunday Night Heat.
“Marvelous” Marc
Mero (w/Jacqueline) pins Miguel Perez with the TKO at 3:38:
The anti-Sable element in the crowd tries to work up a
“Jackie” chant but that goes nowhere. 
You can tell that Perez (who has shaved his back) is motivated to make
this work, but Mero’s heel offense slows the pace down so much that it takes
something away from the match.  Mero hits
a TKO out of nowhere to win.  Rating: 
*½ (3 for 3)
Michael Cole
interviews The Oddities and Insane Clown Posse. 
The ICP cut pretty good promo against the DOA and dare I say, it is
better than at least half of the WWF roster at this point.
Cole interviews
DOA and Paul Ellering, who says that the DOA will drop the Oddities like the
DOW Jones Industrial Average.
DOA (w/Paul
Ellering) beats Golga & Kurrgan (w/Giant Silva, Luna Vachon & The
Insane Clown Posse) via disqualification when the Insane Clown Possee interfere
at 1:54:
Within the first minute of the match Golga hits the top
rope with so much force that it breaks. 
Everything goes downhill from there, which is probably why the ICP runs
in and gets beaten down by the DOA.  No
word on whether the outcome of this match was later annulled because of the
broken top rope.
The Undertaker and
Kane destroying the Rock on last week’s show is the Penzoil Rewind segment.
The Rock walks out
and reiterates how he is still the People’s Champion despite losing to Triple H
at SummerSlam.  He promises to get
revenge on Kane for chokeslamming him on last week’s show.  By calling out a main eventer, the Rock
symbolized that he was rising up the card here. 
4 for 4
The Lion’s Den
match from SummerSlam is shown in its entirety.
Southern Justice
defeats Too Much when Mark Canterbury pins Scott Taylor after the Problem
Solver at 4:06:
Southern Justice are getting a small push to appear as a
threat to the New Age Outlaws, who are really devoid of significant challengers
in the tag team division.  Too Much are
positioned as the faces in this bout, which makes no sense at all, but Southern
Justice can’t really play that role either. 
Southern Justice wins this abbreviated match to keep on rolling
along.  Rating:  * (4 for 5)
Vader pins Dustin
Runnels after a Vader Bomb at 3:25:
They might as well bill this match as “two WCW guys who
are struggling to establish their position in the Attitude Era.”  During the match, Val Venis mocks Runnels
Christian advocacy by parading around with a sign that reads “I Have
Come.”  Runnels starts praying when he
sees Venis’s sign and Vader takes advantage to win his first RAW match via
pinfall in what seems like forever.  Rating: 
½* (4 for 6)
A video package
highlights Sable’s in-ring performances.
Al Snow comes out
of the crowd and says that he will not leave the ring until he sees a WWF
official.  Commissioner Slaughter, Pat
Patterson, and Gerald Brisco come out and order Snow to leave the ring.  Since they do not book Snow in a match, Snow
gives Patterson a low blow with Head and flees through the crowd.  This was wasn’t very good until Patterson got
hit below the belt.  4 for 7
Call 815-734-1161
to get your “Down Where?  Down Here!” DX
shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)!  I’m sure that lots of kids were forced to
take that shirt off when they came to school wearing it.
Cole interviews
the Headbangers, who are confused about why they are wrestling on RAW since
they rarely appear.  They make some
nonsensical comments about their opponents before heading to the ring.
D-Lo Brown &
Mark Henry beat The Headbangers via disqualification when Chyna interferes at
5:23:
I was always a fan of the D-Lo Brown & Mark Henry tag
team and wish they had been given a run with the tag team titles around this
time.  This is your
paint by the numbers tag match that ends when Chyna runs in and tackles Henry
for the second consecutive week.  WWF
officials get decked by Chyna and D-Generation X has to run in to restrain
her.  Rating:  *¾ (4 for 8)
Get a big poster
of Triple H when you buy Stridex pads!
D-Generation X
(w/Chyna) defeat Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) when X-Pac pins Taka Michinoku with
an assisted X-Factor at 4:33:
These two teams have contrasting gimmicks:  one side tells you to suck it and the other
side wants to chop it off.  This is a fun
squash, with Kaientai mounting very little offense (and what they do get comes
at the expense of the Road Dogg – surprise, surprise), but I do not like how
Michinoku, who is the light heavyweight champion, ate the pin.  Then again, since when does that title mean
anything?  After the bout, Chyna nails
Yamaguchi-San with a forearm.  Rating: 
*½ (5 for 9)
After the bell, DX
gets a female fan to moon the audience.
The Final Report Card:  Well, this RAW was better than last week’s in
terms of in-ring action and I was entertained enough to give it a thumbs up.  If you want to see your usual main event
players, though, then this will not be your kind of show.  Next week’s RAW will be back in its regularly
scheduled time slot, so we are thankfully done with these “Shotgun RAW”
shows.  Who knows, we might even get an
appearance from Steve Austin!

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – September 5, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Since USA Network
was broadcasting the U.S. Open in primetime, Monday Night Raw got bounced out
of its usual slot for the next two weeks. 
USA compensated by giving RAW two late Saturday night slots that ran
from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. EST, so our next two shows will be those
broadcasts.  Ross and Lawler make sure to
issue sarcastic statements about the “riveting” tennis action that is currently
keeping the WWF off of Monday nights throughout the show.
Some narrated
pictures of last night’s SummerSlam main event are shown.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from New Haven,
Connecticut.

Vince McMahon
walks out and announces at the next pay-per-view, Breakdown, that his plan to take
the WWF title off of Steve Austin will be realized.  He says the Undertaker is a damned fool for
refusing his brother’s help at SummerSlam and makes fun of Steve Austin’s
appearance on Regis and Kathy Lee. 
McMahon calls the Undertaker and Kane two “putrid pussies” and that
leads the Undertaker and Kane to storm the ring, so McMahon has to flee through
the crowd.  The best part of this
segment?  No entrance music for the
Undertaker and Kane before they run out. 
However, it was a rather dull promo from someone of McMahon’s
caliber.  0 for 1
Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock & Steve
Blackman fight The Disciples of Apocalypse (w/Paul Ellering) to a no contest
when the Undertaker & Kane interfere at 1:28:
Evidently, Shamrock and Blackman have made up after last
week’s altercation.  The DOA are really
stale at the moment and desperately need some more direction aside from “we
have Paul Ellering as a manager and hate the LOD.”  This match never gets going as Kane and the
Undertaker come out and destroy Blackman’s knee.
Val Venis is shown
having relations with a young woman in a bathroom stall.
Ross and Lawler
recount the beating Mankind received during and after his tag team title match
against the New Age Outlaws at SummerSlam. 
Ross says that Mankind has not been seen since.
Val Venis
wrestles Vader to a no contest at 3:32:
During the match, Dustin Runnels carries a sign through
the crowd urging people to repent.  Vader
dominates Venis with power moves, but the match is interrupted by Bradshaw, who
has a dispute with Vader stemming from an attempted tag team partnership on
Shotgun Saturday Night.  This match, like
our opening bout, is interrupted by the Undertaker and Kane and they proceed to
destroy Venis and Vader.  You would think
Vader would have enough sense at this point to avoid the Undertaker and
Kane.  Rating:  ½* (0 for 2)
Michael Cole
interviews the Rock and Mark Henry, who are facing the New Age Outlaws for the
WWF tag team titles.  The Rock promises
to lay the smackdown on both of the Outlaws.
Cole interviews
WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws, who push Cole aside and cut a
ranting promo.  They let Billy Gunn
handle most of the promo work here and that’s just not a good idea.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Rock & Mark
Henry defeat The New Age Outlaws (Champions) via disqualification when Chyna
interferes at 7:01:
Conventional TV tag here, with the Road Dogg being placed
in peril, but avoiding a Henry splash to give the hot tag to Billy Gunn.  When all hell breaks loose, Chyna runs in and
tackles Henry to get revenge for last week and that brings this contest to an
end.  Rating:  **¼ (1 for 3)
Tiger Ali Singh
and Baby come out.  Babu is eating
sardines, which Singh says he has been doing for four days.  Babu picks a woman out of the crowd, who is
not wearing a bra, and she gets $600 for French kissing Babu for five
seconds.  After the woman finishes her
task, the Undertaker and Kane interrupt and chokeslam Singh and Babu.  Is Singh ever going to get in the ring?  1 for
4
Southern Justice
beat The Headbangers when Dennis Knight pins Mosh after the Problem Solver
(a.k.a. The Slop Drop) at 4:42:
The WWF is trying really hard to make the fans forget
that Southern Justice used to be the Godwinns, but it just isn’t working.  This is the Headbangers first RAW match in
quite a while.  The Headbangers don’t get
in much aside from some token offense, as Southern Justice beats them down and
then uses a distraction finish to pick up the win.  These two teams just do not gel at all.  Rating:  ½* (1 for 5)
The Undertaker and
Kane arrive outside of Mr. McMahon’s door and cannot get in.  Kane takes a sledgehammer to the door and
breaks it down, but McMahon is not there.
European
Championship Match:  X-Pac defeats D-Lo
Brown (Champion) via disqualification when Jeff Jarrett interferes at 3:15:
Lawler is pretty funny on commentary talking about how
D-Lo’s chest protector constricts his movements and how he has to overcome a
great deal in the ring by using it.  This
match has an accelerated pace, which usually foreshadows interference, and sure
enough, Jeff Jarrett does a run-in before X-Pac can get a three-count after an
X-Factor.  How many interference finishes
can we have tonight?  Rating: 
* (1 for 6)
After the bell,
Jarrett and X-Pac brawl through the crowd and the Undertaker and Kane hit the
ring to go after D-Lo.  The Rock runs to
the ring to defend his friend and hilariously tells off the Undertaker and
Kane, but ends up getting beaten down. 
D-Lo doesn’t stick around and runs away.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin Bad to the Bone t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping
& handling)!
Edge slamming
Sable on top of Marc Mero to end the mixed tag team match at SummerSlam is the
JVC Kaboom! of the Week.
Edge defeats
“Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) via disqualification when Gangrel
interferes at 1:38:
Some idiot fan thinks they are at an ECW show and tries
to give Edge their chair as he heads to the ring.  We can ANOTHER screwy finish as Gangrel
attacks Edge after he planchas onto Mero on the floor.  Both men brawl in the ring as Kane and the
Undertaker attack Mero by the entrance.
The first part of
Jim Ross’s interview with Al Snow is shown. 
It recaps his rise in ECW and Snow says that the voices that he hears
are like the voice of God that he has opened his mind to hear.  The reasoning given for Snow talking to Head
is that bad gimmicks drove him insane. 
Good interview in flushing out Snow’s character and his
motivations.  2 for 7
Kane and the
Undertaker are shown walking around backstage and in a nice piece of
logical storytelling, it is deserted since no one else wants to become a victim.
The Insane Clown
Posse comes out with the Oddities and perform the Oddities theme music.  Hawk, who is supposed to be with Animal and
Droz, comes out and in a drugged up state dances with them in his LOD 2000
helmet.  I feel bad for laughing at this,
but can’t help it.
The Oddities
(w/The Insane Clown Posse & Luna Vachon) beat LOD 2000 & Darren Drozdov
when Giant Silva pins Hawk after a powerbomb at 1:33:
When Violent J won’t dance with Hawk, he attacks him
before joining his partners on the apron. 
Hawk tags himself in, but he is in no shape to compete and gets pinned
after all hell breaks loose.  The match
was not very good, but this continued the troubled Hawk storyline.
The Undertaker and
Kane beat up a kid who is working on production in the locker room.
Too Much defeat
Miguel Perez & Jesus when Scott Taylor pins Miguel after Brian Christopher
hits Miguel with a Tennessee Jam at 5:07
Los Boricuas is still a thing at this point?  If you weren’t watching Shotgun Saturday
Night, these guys were as good as gone from the company.  Ross is so bored by this show he starts
ranting about misinformation about wrestling on the Internet.  If anyone had a reason to care about these
teams, this match would come off better. 
Rating:  *¾ (3 for 8)
Get a big poster
of Triple H when you buy Stridex pads!
“Double J” Jeff
Jarrett beats Scorpio via disqualification when X-Pac interferes at 4:55:
Jarrett debuts his new ring look here, no longer wearing
the long pants and top that he was synonymous with.  That new look is all he has, though, as I am
just not feeling this feud he has going with X-Pac.  Scorpio makes this interesting with some
rollups, but he misses a moonsault.  When
Jarrett goes to finish, X-Pac runs in and we get yet another disqualification
finish for a match tonight.  They
couldn’t even give Jarrett a victory to bolster his new character?  Rating:  *½ (3 for 9)
After the bell,
Kane and the Undertaker hit the ring and destroy Scorpio with a spike
Tombstone.  McMahon watches the display
with joy by the entrance, but runs when the Undertaker and Kane see him.
The Final Report Card:  Was this Shotgun Saturday Night or Monday
Night Raw?  I don’t mind that they
decided to showcase some different talents on this show, which was not going to
draw a great rating anyway, but did we have to get so many no contests and
interference finishes?  The Undertaker
and Kane destroying everything in their path made sense, but really ruined the
show by the second hour because you thought they would be coming out and
interfering in every match.  If anyone
EVER tries to tell you that Steve Austin was not important in 1998 WWF, just
let them watch this show.  It’s Exhibit A
for why he made the company so awesome during this time.  Without question, this is the worst RAW of
the year up to this point.

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

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

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

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

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

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

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

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

by Logan Scisco

This was a
Saturday edition of RAW because RAW was pre-empted by the Westminster Dog Show.
Jim Ross, Kevin
Kelly, and Michael Cole are doing commentary and they are taped in Dallas,
Texas.  This show is where the WWF
scratch logo made its debut.

Opening
Contest:  The Quebecers beat The Legion
of Doom by count out at 6:13:
About four minutes into this slow match, the New Age
Outlaws come out with a dumpster, attack Hawk, and slam him into it.  This creates a handicap match and when Animal
spots what has happened to Hawk, he runs off the New Age Outlaws with a chair,
but this causes the Legion of Doom to get counted out and lose the match.  Unimpressive contest that was dying before
the Outlaws came out.  Do we really need
another Legion of Doom-Outlaws feud?  Rating: 
* (0 for 1)
Ross says that
D-Generation X is threatening a lawsuit toward Steve Austin because of what he
did to Chyna at No Way Out.  The ground
for the lawsuit is emotional distress.  A
video package is aired to hype Chyna.  DX
will give more details about the lawsuit on Monday.
Ken Shamrock
defeats Sniper (w/Recon) via submission to the ankle lock at 5:15:
The Jackyl is on commentary and Sniper controls much of
the match since he and Recon make this a two-on-one contest behind the
referee’s back.  However, Shamrock makes
the comeback out of nowhere and secures the victory.  A tolerable match, but it is surprising that
they let Sniper get in so much offense here, as this should have been an easy
squash for Shamrock.  Rating: 
*½ (1 for 2)
After the match,
Shamrock gives Recon a belly-to-belly suplex and the Jackyl berates Sniper for
his loss.  The Jackyl slaps Sniper and
Sniper walks out when the Jackyl turns his back to him in the ring.
Call 1-900-737-4WWF
to hear more about D-Generation X’s lawsuit, the WWF injury report, and what
celebrities will be at WrestleMania!
Recon tells the
announcers that there is no communication breakdown in the Truth Commission,
but Sniper says that is incorrect and they need to go it alone as a team.  He throws a chair into a locker to make his
point
.
Jerry Lawler
interviews Marc Mero and Sable, with Sable refusing to wear her Marvelous Marc
Mero jacket.  Mero says he’s tired of
being the “Bad man,” which is an inside joke at his Johnny B. Badd persona, and
he blames Sable for trying to become the star of their partnership.  Mero says that Sable can’t win wrestling
matches and that he fell down when Sable pushed him at No Way Out because he
tripped.  A man brings Sable flowers and
Mero demands to know who her secret admirer is, but she just walks off.  A good segment due to Mero’s good promo work (2 for 3)
Jim Cornette
complains that the fans are booing the great wrestling of the National
Wrestling Alliance and he says that the NWA will show people what they are
supposed to like.  He hypes the Rock N’
Roll Express defending the NWA World Tag Team titles against the Headbangers,
which will be officiated by Tommy Young. 
Cornette warns Vince McMahon that the NWA is going to take over, which
made the NWA angle seem like a poor man’s version of the NWO.  There really aren’t bad Cornette promos at
this time, though.  (3 for 4)
NWA World Tag
Team Championship Match:  The Rock N’
Roll Express (Champions w/Jim Cornette) beat The Headbangers by
disqualification at 4:03:
I had forgotten that Tommy Young came in as the NWA’s
special referee during this angle.  It is
also humorous that the WWF decided to give the Rock N’ Roll Express the Rockers
old theme music and not create another theme for them.  This does not say much for the NWA World Tag
Team titles when the Headbangers are getting a shot, since they are on the
bottom of the WWF pecking order.  The Express
really do not have the chops to produce great matches at this point and the
Headbangers appear to have the titles won after they hit Ricky Morton with a
Stage Dive.  However, Mosh throws Robert
Gibson over the top rope that gets the Express a cheap win.  Awful match, but the finish was a nice way to
get cheap heat with the WWF audience. 
Unfortunately, people need to care about the NWA to make that
happen.  Rating:  ½* (3 for 5)
We enter hour two,
so Lawler takes over commentary duties for Kelly and Cole
.
Andre the Giant
choking Bob Uecker at WrestleMania IV is the M&M WrestleMania Millennium
Moment.
Ross interviews
Steve Austin, who says that he gave Chyna a Stone Cold Stunner because she
messed with him.  He says he wants Shawn
Michaels at his best for WrestleMania because he wants to kick his ass.  He warns Mike Tyson to keep out of his
business at WrestleMania or his gold tooth will find its way into a necklace,
bracelet, or ring that he will proudly wear. 
Good promo to keep the WrestleMania build going (4 for 6)
-European
Championship Match:  Owen Hart (Champion)
beats Jeff Jarrett (NWA North American Champion w/Jim Cornette) by
disqualification when Cornette interferes at 5:28:
These two have a lingering issue from the Royal Rumble,
where Jarrett randomly attacked Owen for no reason, but the commentators do not
discuss that.  This is the technically
proficient match that you would expect and they give Owen the disqualification
victory when Cornette runs in to break up the Sharpshooter.  In a wink at older fans, Owen puts Cornette,
his old manager, in the Sharpshooter and forces Jarrett and Cornette to
flee.  Rating:  ** (5 for 7)
Pantera delivering
a Tope Con Hilo to Taka Michinoku at No Way Out is the Playstation Slam of the
Week.
A video package
discusses how Dok Hendrix used to be Michael P.S. Hayes and chronicles parts of
his career.  Hendrix is the guest ring
announcer for the next match and he comes out to “Badstreet USA.”  This is where making up names for talent is
idiotic, since they recognize that he’s Michael Hayes, but still refer to him
as Dok Hendrix.  Before Hendrix can
announce the next match, the lights go out and Kane comes out.  Hendrix tries to fight him off with his boot,
but Kane no sells it and is destroyed. 
Nice way to get some easy heat on Kane. 
(6 for 8)
Sunny comes out to
do guest ring announcing duties for the next match.
Taka Michinoku
& Aguila beat Pirata Morgan & “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher when
Michinoku pins Morgan after a Michinoku Driver at 5:37:
In a very non-PC way, Christopher tells the audience that
“he went out and got himself a Mexican.” 
Morgan looks like the lost tag team partner of Jean Pierre-LaFitte, eye
patch included.  This is an entertaining
spotfest, with Michinoku doing a good job getting flung around like a rag doll
by Christopher.  Michinoku is really the
John Cena of the light heavyweight division because he takes a ton of
punishment here, yet magically recovers to hit Morgan with a Michinoku Driver
and help his team win.  That aside, this
is the best match of the night so far.  Rating: 
**¾ (7 for 9)
The Nation of Domination comes out and the
Rock has a gifts to present to the Nation to show critics that the Nation is
not divided.  Kama, D-Lo, and Mark Henry
receive gold Rolexes, but Faarooq receives a big framed picture of the
Rock.  As you can imagine, Faarooq is not
happy about that.  Great angle that kept
building momentum for the Rock’s cocky personality.  (8 for
10)
Steve Blackman
pins Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) with a schoolboy at 1:32:
Ross makes sure to get in his football mention before the
bell even rings, establishing a new record. 
The Rock does not pay attention to the match and concentrates his
attention on admiring his portrait and showing it to the crowd.  Faarooq takes it from him after hitting
Blackman with a Dominator and wants to use it as a weapon, but the Rock
snatches it away and that distraction helps Blackman continue his undefeated
streak.  After the match, Faarooq
destroys the Rock’s portrait.
Michael Cole is
outside the Nation of Domination’s locker room where arguing is heard.  D-Lo Brown says that everything is okay and
they are just packing up to leave.
Cactus Jack &
Chainsaw Charlie defeat The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust & “Marvelous”
Marc Mero (w/Luna Vachon) when Charlie pins Goldust after Cactus nails Goldust
with a chair at 4:17:
Goldust is just wearing his standard ring attire for this
match, but Lawler informs us that Goldust will show the world “The American
Dream” on Monday.  Sable does not
accompany Mero to the ring, which draws some easy heat from the crowd.  Three minutes in, Sable makes her predictable
appearance, carrying the flowers she received earlier, and Luna destroys the
flowers when Sable argues with Mero.  The
ensuing melee between the valets distracts the referee and enables Cactus to
blast Goldust with a chair to give his team the win.  Match was overwhelmed by the angle and too
rushed to really mean anything.  I’ll
still give it a point for angle development, though.  Rating:  * (9 for 11)
After the match,
Sable and Luna get into a brawl before WWF officials and Mero separate them.
Tune in on Monday
to see what new celebrity will be added to WrestleMania XIV!  Also, the New Age Outlaws will face the
Legion of Doom for the tag team titles!
The Final Report Card:  It would be easy to write this off as a
filler show since it was a taped Saturday RAW, but this show was very
entertaining.  The promo work was simple,
but maintained the major angles and Monday’s show has a build with Mike Tyson
scheduled for an appearance, a reveal about WrestleMania XIV, and Goldust
promising to mock his dad.  The WWF made
a good first step here on the road to WrestleMania.

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 19, 1998

-Before I get into
this week’s review, I wanted to know if any readers had feedback on the WWE
2k14 game.  I bought WWE 13 and was
irritated by the one count glitch.  Worth
a buy this year or not?  I just don’t
want to get burned again.
A still image of
Juanita McMahon, who recently passed away, is shown.
Michael Cole
narrates a video package about Kane’s turn on his brother at last night’s Royal
Rumble pay-per-view.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are live from Fresno,
California
.

Paul Bearer comes
out to the Undertaker’s old theme music and gloats about setting the Undertaker
up at the Royal Rumble.  He goes through
a lengthy narration about last night’s events until the Undertaker’s current
theme music hits and druids roll out a casket. 
Instead of the Undertaker, Kane pops out of the casket and that ends the
segment.  This started with lots of crowd
heat, but Bearer’s recap of last night went on way too long and killed the
segment.  0 for 1
Ross interviews
D-Generation X and European Champion Triple H says that he proved last night
that Owen Hart can’t cut it in the WWF. 
WWF Champion Shawn Michaels promises that DX will find the Undertaker
and bring him back tonight.
Opening Six Man
Tag Team Contest:  Faarooq, Kama Mustafa
& D-Lo Brown wrestle The Disciples of Apocalypse to a double
disqualification at 4:40:
Surprisingly, this match features a lot of fast action
and the commentary team puts over D-Lo Brown’s potential throughout the
match.  When all hell breaks loose,
referee Earl Hebner can’t keep things under control and tosses the match out
for a lame ending.  After the bell, Mark
Henry and the Rock run out to give the Nation five-on-three odds, but Ken
Shamrock and Ahmed Johnson run out to even the odds and they run the Nation
off.  Kevin Kelly says Ahmed has never
look better, but I would disagree. 
Ending aside, this was a good brawl and the crowd was hot for the
finish.  Rating:  ** (1 for 2)
Vince Russo, in
his Vic Venom days, hypes WWF and RAW Magazine. 
Call 8-15-734-1161 to get twelve issues of both for $29.97.  I had a WWF Magazine subscription at this
time and it was a pretty good read while Russo was at the helm.  When he left, it went way downhill.
“Marvelous” Marc
Mero (w/Sable) beats Tom Brandi with a TKO at 3:29:
As they come down to the ring, Mero puts Sable in a robe
that says “Property of Marc Mero” on the back of it.  During the first minute of the match, Sable
gets flowers from a secret admirer and Mero berates Sable over it.  This distractions help Brandi take the edge
over Mero and he scores several dramatic near-falls, but as Sable momentarily
distracts the referee, Mero hits a low blow and achieves another tainted win.  This match showed that Brandi could go, but
awful gimmicks ruined any chance he had to catch on in the company and he was
gone shortly after this feud.  Rating: 
**½ (2 of 3)
D-Generation X
cautiously approaches a hearse in the arena, but when they open the doors a
bunch of young women hop out and Chyna closes Michaels and Triple H in there
with them.  Why these women were in the
hearse to begin with is never explained.
The Sony
Playstation Slam of the Week is Vader’s Vader Bomb on Goldust at last night’s
Royal Rumble.
Mike Tyson’s limousine
is shown pulling into the arena.  Shane
McMahon, Tyson, and his entourage get out of the limos.
The Quebecers
defeat Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie by disqualification when Jack puts
the referee in the Mandible Claw at 3:03:
The Quebecers return to the company after a three year
absence.  They were a temporary
acquisition during the Monday Night Wars, as they wrestled in WCW prior to this
as the Amazing French Canadians. 
Unfortunately, the Quebecers are not wearing their awesome mountie-style
uniforms.  You would think that a former
three-time tag team championship team would get more billing upon their return,
but that’s not the case here.  This is a
wild brawl, which goes beyond the bell. 
If this is meant to set up a rematch for next week, then it accomplished
its purpose.  Rating:  ** (3 of 4)
D-Generation X
come across the mini wrestlers in their search for the Undertaker.  The minis speak Spanish, so they don’t
understand DX, but in a funny moment, Chyna lifts Max Mini up so Shawn Michaels
can interrogate him.  Is this whole thing
a parody of when they had Leslie Nielsen track down the Undertaker at
SummerSlam 1994?
Mike Tyson is
shown chatting with Vince McMahon and his cronies
.
NWA North
American Heavyweight Championship Match: 
Jeff Jarrett (Champion w/Jim Cornette & The Rock N’ Roll Express)
beats Bradshaw (w/Barry Windham) when Windham inadvertently lariats Bradshaw at
3:41:
There is something ironic about Cornette saying that
Jarrett will lead the NWA into the year 2000, since Jarrett was on top of WCW
in 2000 when it started to fall apart. 
Throughout the match, the Express help beat down Bradshaw when it
appears that he is getting an advantage in the match and Windham does not help.  Bradshaw appears to have
the title won after clearing the Express out of the ring and delivering a
powerbomb, but Windham seems to accidentally hit his partner with a lariat to
help Jarrett retain the title.  Another
short, yet solid match on tonight’s card. 
Rating:  ** (4 of 5)
After the match,
Bradshaw continues his fight with the NWA faction and Windham comes into the
ring when the NWA faction has the advantage. 
He then turns on Bradshaw by hitting him with another lariat and he is
the new member of the NWA faction.  If
you want living proof that the WWE will not give up on someone, just look at
Bradshaw.  The guy went through three
different gimmicks before they found something that caught on (the APA faction
with Faarooq).
­-The announce crew
hypes the house show circuit
.
Shawn Michaels
complains in the locker room that he cannot find the Undertaker, when suddenly
the lights go out.
Vince McMahon
narrates a quick video package to pay tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.
As we enter hour
two, Jerry “the King” Lawler joins Ross for commentary
.
The Undertaker’s
music hits and a figure that appears to be the Undertaker descends from the top
of the arena.  However, when the lights
hit, the D-Generation X music hits and Shawn Michaels strips off the Undertaker’s
ring gear.  Triple H and Chyna bring a
grill and cooking supplies to the ring and they proceed to mock the Undertaker
being burned alive last night.  Triple H
announces that he will grant a European title match to Owen Hart next week and
then hilariously rips Ric Flair by saying that Space Mountain is old, broken
down, and in need of repair.  Michaels
says that his next target is Steve Austin and delivers a nice opening salvo for
their feud by saying that he has won the titles that Austin has won in the
past, that he is on the top of the mountain, and that he does not lay down for
anyone.  This whole segment was great in
terms of transitioning DX away from the Undertaker and into other feuds.  It also put over the WWF title and
immediately put over Austin-Michaels as a must see event.
  5 of 6
Mike Tyson is
shown talking with the Legion of Doom and Sunny.
Owen Hart, Taka
Michinoku & The Headbangers defeat Los Boricuas when Owen makes Jesus
submit to the Sharpshooter at 2:59
This is a very random match, but it shows why tag team matches
can be ideal ways to fill two hours of television programming.  Honky Tonk Man is doing commentary for some
reason, but thankfully he’s not looking for a new project like he was last
year.  They should’ve given this more
time, but it was just a vehicle to put
over Owen for next week’s match with Triple H.
After the match,
Cole interviews Owen, who accepts Triple H’s offer of a European title match on
next week’s show.
Non-Title
Match:  The Rock (Intercontinental
Champion) pins Ahmed Johnson with the Rock Bottom at 2:43:
Speaking of random matches, it’s surprising that this
match is being held without any build since Ahmed is a former Intercontinental
champion and might be able to give a rub to the Rock.  Ahmed appears to have the match in hand after
he hits a spinebuster, but Mark Henry comes out and nails him with a chair to
help the Rock win the bout.  After the
match, Ken Shamrock hits the ring and runs off the heels.
Mike Tyson is
shown handling Cactus Jack’s barbed wire baseball bat in the locker room.
Highlights of last
night’s casket match between the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels constitute the
Western Union Rewind segment
.
Mike Tyson is
shown measuring Triple H and Chyna’s muscles.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws
(Champions) defeat The Godwinns when Billy Gunn pins Phineas with a loaded pig
at 4:53:
This match is the Godwinns long awaited title match that
they earned for helping the Outlaws in their feud with the Legion of Doom.  The Outlaws wear overalls for the contest,
but the Godwinns don’ take kindly to that and rip them off of Billy Gunn.  Ross notes that it’s the first time we’ve
seen Gunn in tights, which reflects a nice attention to detail that is missing
from today’s product.  The Godwinns
completely dominate Gunn, but he uses a pig toy, loaded with a brick, to help
his team retain the titles.  These teams
just don’t have a lot of chemistry.  Rating: 
*¼ (5 of 7)
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out if it will be a “macho” week for the WWF!
Vince McMahon
comes out and says that he will soon make the biggest announcement in WWF
history.  McMahon welcomes Mike Tyson
out, who says that he loves Bruno Sammartino. 
McMahon announces that Tyson will be at WrestleMania, but before he can
finish his sentence, Steve Austin comes out. 
A sea of WWF officials immediately race out behind Austin and McMahon is
not happy about him ruining Tyson’s time. 
Austin says that he is sick of Tyson’s antics tonight, refuses to shake
Tyson’s hand, and says that he wants a piece of him in a WWF ring.  He then flips Tyson off, which leads to Tyson
pushing Austin and leading to both men being restrained.  During the melee, one of Tyson’s entourage
tries to go after Austin, but Austin intelligently takes him down and lays on
top of him to avoid having the entire angle and his image compromised.  As Austin is pulled out of the ring, McMahon
becomes irate and screams “You’ve ruined it!” at Austin and tries to physically
go after him as Austin is escorted to the locker room.  This is one of the greatest RAW segments of
all time and I marked out watching it just as much as I did when it originally
aired.  6 of 8
In the locker
room, Tyson and his entourage are shown arguing with McMahon, who tries to apologize
for Austin’s behavior as we go off the air.
The Final Report Card:  This was a memorable, historic, and fantastic
episode of RAW.  The D-Generation X and
Tyson-Austin segments carried it, but the in-ring action was also quite good for
most of the show.  I remember that
everyone at school was talking about Tyson and Austin the next day and it also
got the WWF significant mainstream attention from the sports media.  It was one of those angles that was perfectly
placed, timed, and executed and no one else on the roster could have made it
work except for Austin.  McMahon played a
great supporting role as well, especially his nonverbal mannerisms when all
hell broke loose in the ring.  This was
also the highest rated RAW of all-time to this point and was the first RAW to
break the 4.0 mark in the Nielsen ratings. 
Compared to the previous week, Tyson was worth about a 0.6 increase.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.0 (vs. 4.5 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 5, 1998

by Logan Scisco

We kick off our
next round of reviews by covering the 1998 season of Monday Night Raw.  1998 is when the WWF finally turned the
Monday Night Wars in its favor and began the process of grinding WCW to dust
(assisted by poor WCW booking patterns and the AOL-Time Warner merger).  The year saw the creation of new stars, the
continuation of a more mature product, and Steve Austin solidify himself as one
of the greatest WWF stars of all-time. 
I’ve also decided
to modify my rating style for this set of reviews.  I don’t like doing star ratings for TV events
because of the length of the matches, so when I review the pay-per-views I’ll
revert to the star rating, but for the TV shows I’m going to do an average
point system.  If a match or lengthy interview
segment is worthwhile, it will receive a point. 
Otherwise, it won’t.  I hope that
this can better clarify the good and bad elements of a show.  If everyone hates it I can revert to stars, but
that’s my logic.
The show begins
with Steve Austin in the parking lot talking about how everyone in the locker
room wants to get him and he sent them a “3:16” message on their pagers.  He encourages the audience to watch tonight’s
show where he will strike first at everyone that is out to get him.

Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are live from New Haven,
Connecticut
.
Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock beats Faarooq
(w/Kama Mustafa & D-Lo Brown) via submission to the ankle lock at 5:02
shown:
This match has some back story because Faarooq injured
Shamrock in the first round of the Intercontinental title tournament back in
September.  The Rock also volunteered
Faarooq to take on Shamrock in his contest on last week’s show.  During the match, Ross keeps hyping Shamrock
as a future WWF champion.  Faarooq works
the ribs and the Rock comes down to ringside shortly before the commercial
break.  The Rock tries to direct
interference whereby Kama will hold a chair in the corner so that Shamrock can
be whipped into it, but heel miscommunication results and Shamrock wins to go
three-for-three against the Nation. 
Shamrock had some good selling in this match, but the match never worked
up a consistent pace.  0 of 1
After the match,
Faarooq argues with Kama on the floor as the Rock and Shamrock stare each other
down in the ring.  Before they can do
anything, though, Steve Austin runs out and gives each of them a Stone Cold
Stunner before exiting through the crowd.
Jim Cornette comes
out with Howard Brody and Dennis Coralluzzo of the National Wrestling Alliance
(NWA).  Cornette announces that both men
will award the NWA North American championship to the winner of our next match.
NWA North
American Championship Match:  Jeff
Jarrett defeats Barry Windham to win the title at 3:34:
The North American championship was a real NWA title and
it was the second most prominent title in the promotion.  Reckless Youth (remember him?) was the
previous champion, but the NWA vacated the title in December 1997 for use in
this angle.  Cornette educates the
audience about the NWA on commentary, but Cole has to ask him if it is a bogus
promotion to show off his stupidity.  Windham
uses his size and power to dominate much of the match, but Jarrett puts his
foot on the bottom rope to avoid being pinned after a lariat.  After that, Coralluzzo distracts the referee
and as Windham prepares to give Jarrett a superplex, Cornette runs into the
ring and hits him in the back with his tennis racket.  Windham manages to complete the move, but is
knocked out and Jarrett pins him to win the title.  1 of 2
After the match,
Jarrett struts around with his new title, but Steve Austin runs out and gives
him a Stone Cold Stunner.
The announce team
proceeds to break down the house show circuit
.
Ken Shamrock tells
the announce team that he would love for the Royal Rumble to come down between
him and Austin.
Sunny comes out in
a schoolgirl outfit to do guest ring announcing duties for our next match
.
Skull &
8-Ball defeat Sniper & Recon (w/The Jackyl) when Skull pins Recon with a
DDT at 3:39:
If you were expecting a wrestling classic, you can forget
it here, but since the time on it is short it’s a tolerable matchup.  The Jackyl keeps laughing when Recon misses
big moves, justifying his behavior by saying that Recon is just trying to be a
star.  The Disciples of Apocalypse end
this out of nowhere after all hell breaks loose after the hot tag.  Speaking of nowhere, this feud is headed
there, but that’s because the booking team has no idea what they want to get
out of either team.  1 of 3
After the match,
Kurrgan comes out and a three-on-two beatdown commences, which allows Kurrgan
to show off his size and strength.
The Twix Rewind
segment is the Undertaker helping Kane clear the ring of the superstars that
tried to attack him on last week’s Raw.
D-Generation X
comes out.  Chyna is pushing Triple H in
a wheelchair because he has suffered a dislocated knee cap that might require
surgery.  Triple H brags about costing
Owen Hart the WWF title last week and he dares Owen to come out and face
him.  Owen appears on the Titantron and
lets Triple H know that when his right knee heals he is going to destroy his
left one.  Owen tries to sell the “blackheart”
element of his character, claiming that he has no conscience and feels no pain,
but the result is a corny promo that Triple H mocks before ending the segment.  1 of 4
The 1-800-COLLECT
Slam of the Week is Vader hitting a moonsault on a jobber on Shotgun Saturday
Night.
We get another
recap of Steve Austin’s rampage on tonight’s show.
Since we are in
hour two, Jim Ross and Jerry “the King” Lawler take over announcing duties.
Owen Hart beats
Savio Vega (w/Los Boricuas) with a rollup at 4:05:
Owen starts this like a Steve Austin match, aggressively
going after Savio and incorporating a Lou Thesz press in the early going.  It doesn’t take long for D-Generation X to
appear by the entrance and that gives Savio an opportunity to turn the
tide.  The Boricuas also assist Savio in maintaining
the advantage, but this leads to another referee coming out and ejecting them.  However, this doesn’t happen quickly enough
and Savio is able to get out of a Sharpshooter when Jose tries to get into the
ring.  Owen still wins with a rollup shortly
thereafter.  Lackluster matchup and Owen’s
in-ring style does not really fit this hard edged character that they want him
to play.  1 of 5  
After the match,
Owen tries to go after Triple H, but the Boricuas attack him and then bring him
to Triple H to slap around.  They make
sure to collect their payment before leaving.
Paul Bearer comes
out looking disheveled and he tells the Undertaker that he hopes he loses to
Shawn Michaels at the Royal Rumble.  The
storyline here is that Kane has left Bearer after last week’s events, so Bearer
is freaking out.  He begs Kane to come
home before leaving in despair.  Really
nice promo to continue the slow burn for this angle.  2 of 6
Backstage, Austin
is shown leaving a locker room and Mark Henry is shown in pain on the
floor.  So Austin has attacked another
victim.
A video package
recaps Marc Mero’s treatment of Sable and Tom Brandi’s intervention on her
behalf.
“Marvelous” Marc
Mero (w/Sable) beats Tom Brandi by disqualification when Steve Austin
interferes at 3:47:
Why is this match not happening at the Royal Rumble?  Seems like easy midcard fodder for that show
instead of throwing it on Raw.  The crowd
works up a loud “Sable” chant when Mero hides behind his valet when Brandi
charges after him at the beginning of the contest.  Mero gets knocked out of the ring and falls
on top of Sable, but when Brandi goes to help her he gets a double axe
handle.  Mero hits a TKO, but when he
goes for another Steve Austin runs in and gives Mero a Stunner.  The crowd comes unglued for that and that was
because of Mero’s display of carelessness for Sable that occurred throughout
the match.  3 of 7
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out what old NWA stars Jim Cornette is recruiting and
hear who is attending the WWF’s training camp!
We get ANOTHER
recap of Steve Austin’s rampage.  Do we
need to hit back to this every time come back from commercial?
Flash Funk
defeats The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) by
disqualification when Luna interferes at 2:32:
Goldust comes out in blackface and an afro, showcasing a
70s persona in his latest display of weirdness. 
I’m surprised that the WWF signed off on this in 1998, but you can bet
that they would never do it today after going public.  Flash nearly wins after a spinning heel kick,
but Luna pushes him off the top rope when he tries to the Tumbleweed in plain
view of the referee and costs her man the match.  The short length of the contest prevented
some of Goldust’s traditional stalling and that helped it significantly.  4 of 8
After the bell,
Goldust hits the Curtain Call but Vader runs out and Goldust flees.
A video package
hypes Steve Blackman.
Call
1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck
contest!  It’ll cost you $1.99 or you can
send a postcard to Devon, Pennsylvania.
Last week’s reveal
of Chainsaw Charlie is shown.
The Headbangers
appearance on Regis and Kathie Lee is shown. 
These guys got sent out on a lot of the WWF’s public relations work at
this time despite doing squat in the ring.
Non-Title
Match:  The New Age Outlaws (WWF Tag Team
Champions) beat The Headbangers when Billy Gunn pins Mosh after a face
miscommunication at 4:58:
This match proceeds nicely, with both teams exchanging
double team maneuvers.  The Godwinns
appear by the entrance, apparently scouting the Outlaws for a tag team title
shot that they are owed.  Thrasher and
the Road Dogg give each other simultaneous low blows when they dropkick each
other at the same time.  This cues the
hot tag and all hell breaking loose, but the Headbangers blow a Stage Dive
attempt when Thrasher jumps too early for the flying leg drop and Gunn rolls up
Mosh for a clean win.  This had a creative
finish that solidified the credibility of the Outlaws.  The loss cements the Headbangers status as
one of the lower ranked teams in the division. 
5 of 9
-After the match,
Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie run out and the Outlaws walk back to the
locker room.
Don King hypes
WrestleMania XIV, but says that his contract negotiation with Vince McMahon to
make Mike Tyson a part of it has not been finished.  It’s close, though!
Footage of the
Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker is shown in
order to hype the Shawn Michaels-Undertaker title match at the Royal Rumble
.
WWF Champion Shawn
Michaels comes out and says that he will show the Undertaker is a loser at the
Royal Rumble.  He calls out the
Undertaker and druids wheel out a casket. 
The casket is covered in graffiti like last week and Michaels calls for
Triple H and Chyna to get out of it.  No
response happens so Michaels continues his juvenile antics.  Triple H and Chyna then come out on the ramp
and warn Michaels that they are not in it and before Michaels can put two and
two together, the Undertaker bursts out of the casket and pulls Michaels inside
as we go off the air.  AWESOME closing
segment, even if it was predictable.  6 of 10
The Final Report Card:  The first show of 1998 started pretty rough,
but the second hour was full of fun segments and matches so that barely saves
the show with a 6/10 rating.  Austin’s victory
at the Rumble was very obvious, but at least the WWF booked it in an
entertaining way that placed him on the perfect trajectory to challenge for the
title at WrestleMania.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.3 (vs. 4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 8, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Pictures of last
night’s Intercontinental championship match between Steve Austin and the Rock
at D-Generation X are shown.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are live from Portland,
Maine.  This is Cole’s first stint in the
RAW commentary booth and he takes the lead and does 97% of the commentary for
the first ten minutes of the show.  Looks
like it’s going to be a long night.
Vince McMahon
comes out, shakes a few fans hands, and proceeds to continue the slow burn of
the Austin-McMahon feud by criticizing Austin’s attacks on WWF officials and
driving his truck to the ring at D-Generation X last night.  McMahon explains that the Rock should have
won by disqualification last night, but a second referee counted the fall
before that result could happen so McMahon orders a rematch
tonight.  Austin comes out and McMahon
warns him that there will be consequences if he does not defend the title.  Austin is unfazed and warns McMahon that he’ll
whip his ass if those consequences are levied.

In the
championship match of the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament, Sunny beats Jerry
Lawler by disqualification when Lawler uses gum and a female action figure and then bribes the referee to win.  You really
cannot make this stuff up.
The announce team
recaps last night’s tag team championship match between Jesse James & Billy
Gunn and the Legion of Doom
.
Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom wrestle The
Godwinns (w/Jesse James & Billy Gunn) to a no contest at 2:28:
This works a good pace for the first two minutes, with
the Legion of Doom dominating the action until Animal is knocked out the ring
and tossed into the steps.  Suddenly
the lights go out and Kane’s music hits and he destroys Hawk.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of WWF the Music: 
Volume 2.  It will cost you $20
for CD and $15 for the tape (plus $4 shipping & handling)!
WWF Tag Team
Champions Jesse James and Billy Gunn sing goodbye to the Legion of Doom and
James challenges any WWF superstar to a singles match with Gunn.  Dude Love answers the challenge.
Dude Love defeats
“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn (w/Jesse James) with a double-arm DDT at 3:37:
Standard singles match between these two and the only
thing to say is that Gunn works in a nice legsweep counter to Sweet Shin
Music.  After the bell, James comes into
the ring and blasts Love with a chair and Gunn hits a flying leg drop as the
tag team title belts are laid across Love’s face.  Rating:  **
The Rock cuts a
promo with the Nation of Domination and debuts his trademark sunglasses, which
goes a long way towards enhancing his look. 
He says he’s going to become the people’s champion again tonight.
The announce team
recaps the light heavyweight championship match last night between Taka Michinoku
and Brian Christopher.  Cole calls
Christopher’s finisher “The Tennessee Leg Jam.” 
Ugh.
Brian Christopher
claims that Michinoku stole his title in a promo cut after their match last
night at D-Generation X
.
Jim Cornette hosts
an interview between Michinoku and El Unico (Brian Christopher in a mask),
which gets hijacked by Jerry Lawler giving a xenophobic rant.  Christopher unmasks and a two-on-one beat
down results, where Michinoku takes three piledrivers, thereby rendering him
critically dead inside of the Memphis city limits.
A video package
highlights how D-Generation X systematically destroyed the Hart Foundation.i
Flash Funk beats Kurrgan (w/The Jackal) via
reverse decision at 2:27:
The Truth Commission has been written off and Jackal
explains that it’s because that was just a corporate ploy to hold Kurrgan down
and now he will do Jackal’s bidding to take over the WWF.  Kurrgan is never knocked off of his feet in
this squash and he wins with the Paralyzer (clawhold).  However, he refuses to release the hold and
the decision is reversed.  Sniper and
Recon come out to get Kurrgan off of Funk, but it doesn’t work and Kurrgan only
releases the hold when Jackal slaps him and laughs.  After this Kurrgan would keep squashing lower
talents, but never amounted to anything in singles competition.
The announce crew
recaps the D-Generation X WWF title match between Shawn Michaels and Ken
Shamrock and Owen Hart’s interference
.
Cole’s interview
with an outraged Ken Shamrock last night after D-Generation X is shown.  Shamrock says he’ll win the Royal Rumble and
get a new crack at Shawn Michaels if that’s what it takes.
-Since we are in
hour two, Ross and Lawler are in the booth.
D-Generation X
comes out and gloats about last night’s pay-per-view.  Michaels says he tried to flush the turd that
was the Hart Foundation, but one little nugget stays around, which is Owen
Hart.  Michaels says that DX is going to
play strip poker until Owen shows up. 
The Headbangers come out and complain that they cannot wrestle because of
these shenanagins.  They overturn the
card table, which leads to a beatdown and D-Generation X does the Pitbulls Superbomb spot
through a table on Thrasher.  As Michaels
relaxes, Owen comes out of the crowd and does a hit and run attack.
Jeff Jarrett
defeats Vader by count out in ten seconds:
Before the match gets started, Goldust and Luna Vachon
come out and Goldust flashes Vader. 
Vader is incensed and chases Goldust to the locker room to give Jarrett
his second straight cheap win.
Call 1-900-737-4WWF
to hear why a former WWF title holder’s career is in jeopardy of being over.
The announcers
recap the Toughman contest between Marc Mero and Butterbean
.
Cole’s interview
with Butterbean after D-Generation X is shown. 
Butterbean swears revenge.  This
never amounted to anything unless you want to somehow link Butterbean’s anger at Mero to what he did to Bart Gunn at WrestleMania XV
.
Salvatore Sincere
beats Marc Mero (w/Sable) by count out in ten seconds:
Mero tells the crowd that he feels insulted that he has
to wrestle a jobber tonight and he brings out Sable, who is wearing an Idaho
potato sack.  However, instead of
disrobing Mero she takes off her sack to reveal a very revealing bikini.  Mero quickly covers Sable up and takes her
backstage and Sincere takes the count out, but actually leaves the ring before
the referee finishes it.  He’s the winner
anyway.
Call
1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck
contest!  It’ll cost you $1.99 or you can
send a postcard to WWF headquarters.
The next match is
the scheduled main event between Intercontinental Champion Steve Austin and The
Rock, but Austin comes out and refuses to wrestle.  Austin dares McMahon to fire him and the Rock
has a funny bit by saying “Vince, the Rock thinks you should fire him!”  As a result, McMahon declares the Rock as
the new champion by forfeit.  Austin
does not mind because he says he really wants the WWF title and he shakes the
Rock’s hand and gives him a Stunner. 
Austin takes the belt with him and says he has some major non-wrestling
plans for it next week.  When Vince
leaves the ring, Austin runs the ropes and McMahon goes flying to the arena
floor and starts cursing on air.  The
booking called for Austin to job here, but Austin refused because he felt it
would hurt his character so this is the result of that.  This was a nice segment
because even though Austin refused to wrestle it acknowledged that Austin
needed to go onto better things and it started the Austin-McMahon angle.
The Final Report Card:  I feel bad for anyone that bought a ticket to
this RAW and hope that there was a good selection of dark matches because there
was not a lot of wrestling to be seen. 
There was only one match on the show that went over three minutes,
although the show did start or continue a variety of angles for the Royal
Rumble.  My copy misses a DOA-Los
Boricuas match, but I remember that being really bad.  Austin’s stuff was great, as usual, but the
show got really boring really fast without another competitive match to break
up the promo work.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.0 (vs. 4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 1, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Footage of the
Legion of Doom losing that tag team titles on last week’s show to Jesse James
and Billy Gunn is shown.  How will the
LOD react to this defeat?
Jim Ross and Jim
Cornette are doing commentary and they are in Norfolk, Virginia.
WWF Tag Team
Champions Jesse James & Billy Gunn come out and James tells us that the
Legion of Doom are not in the building. 
Gunn says that they are going to wrestle the Headbangers in a non-title
match tonight, but before they can finish their comments the Legion of Doom
charge into the ring in street clothes and no face paint and run off the
champions.

Flash Funk using
the Tumbleweed to beat Taka Michinoku on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Lazer
Tag Slam of the Week.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest ring announcer for the next match
.
Opening Light
Heavyweight Championship Tournament Semi-Final Contest:  Taka Michinoku beats Aguila with the
Michinoku Driver at 4:19:
This match mixes in a little bit of mat wrestling with
the high spots.  Aguila nearly advances
after wrapping up Michinoku in a La Magistral cradle after Michinoku misses a
moonsault, but Michinoku rallies from that point and wins.  Can Michinoku win with anything other than a
Michinoku Driver?  Rating:  **
Jerry Lawler
interviews Goldust and Luna Vachon.  Luna
does the talking, as Goldust crawls around in dominatrix gear and is attached
on a chain.  Luna announces that Goldust
should be known as “The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust” and warns Vader that
pain is coming.  She and Goldust make out
on the canvas to end a very creepy segment.
In a semi-match of
the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament, Jerry Lawler defeats Tito Santana,
dressed in his El Matador gear.  Lawler
will face Sunny in the finals.
Four Corner
Elimination Match:  D-Lo Brown (w/The
Nation of Domination) wrestles Miguel Perez (w/Los Boricuas), Chainz
(w/The Disciples of Apocalypse) & Recon (w/The Truth Commission) to a no contest
at 3:45:
Other Eliminations:  Chainz pins Recon after a Death Valley driver
at 2:05; Miguel pins D-Lo after blocking a monkey flip at 3:13
As I pointed out in last week’s review, Crush is no
longer in the company, so he won’t be with the Disciples of Apocalypse
anymore.  This is clearly a bit of Vince
Russo booking since he is putting the spotlight on some of the younger stars of
some of these groups like Recon and D-Lo. 
Of course, with all of the different factions at ringside it is only a
matter of time before everyone starts fighting each other and that’s exactly
what happens when the match gets down to Chainz and Perez.  So much for this match amounting to anything
for anybody.  Rating:  ½*
D-Generation X
comes out and WWF & European Champion Shawn Michaels is in a wheelchair.  They run down Jim Neidhart some more and
Triple H tells Sergeant Slaughter that he’s going to put him away for good at
In Your House.  Michaels says that he is
in a wheelchair because Chyna has been putting him through some intensive leg
exercises so that he can increase his pain tolerance and be prepared to face
Ken Shamrock at In Your House.  Michaels
tells Triple H to test his pain tolerance and in a slightly funny bit, Michaels
boot twists a full 360 degrees and he feigns that he is in pain.
Call
1-900-747-4WWF to find out which WWF superstar has threatened to quit the
company!
Footage of the
Montreal screwjob is shown to fans who didn’t buy the pay-per-view
.
A video package
breaks down the Steve Austin-Rock feud over the Intercontinental title
.
In the second
hour, Jerry Lawler replaces Jim Cornette on commentary
.
The Rock (w/The
Nation of Domination) beats Vader via count out at 5:07:
In funny fan moment, a nerdy white kid is shown giving
the Nation salute as the Rock makes his entrance.  At the beginning of the match, Steve Austin
drives into the arena in his Austin 3:16 truck and decides to watch the match
from the hood with some beers.  As with
most of these segments, it’s tough to focus on the match since the camera keeps
panning back to Austin, but what we do see is pretty good.  Goldust comes out and beats on Vader behind
the referee’s back and that incenses Vader, who chases after him and loses the
match.  Rating:  **
A Ken Shamrock
video package is shown
.
Our next booked
match is the second light heavyweight championship tournament semi-final
between Scott Taylor and Brian Christopher, but after Taylor’s entrance Kane
comes out and decimates him.  Paul Bearer
repeats the fact that Kane will keep destroying people until the Undertaker
agrees to fight him.  Since Taylor is in
condition to compete, Christopher advances to the finals of the
tournament.  Surprise!
Jeff Jarrett comes
out and refuses to fight Ahmed Johnson tonight because Ahmed is not on his
level.  Commissioner Slaughter comes out
and books Jarrett to face the Undertaker at In Your House.  Jarrett isn’t too happy about that.
A video package
hypes the Sergeant Slaughter-Triple H match at In Your House.
Non-Title
Match:  “The Road Dogg” Jesse James &
“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn (WWF Tag Team Champions) beat The Headbangers by
disqualification when the Legion of Doom interfere at 2:45:
Just an abbreviated tag tea match here and when the
Headbangers begin the hot tag comeback, the LOD make their predictable run-in and
cost them the match.  James and Gunn run
to the locker room and peel out of the arena in a car, while the Headbangers
and LOD argue in the ring.
A video package
recaps D-Generation X’s beat down on Jim Neidhart last week.
Jim Cornette
interviews Marc Mero and Sable and Cornette tells Mero that “people” are saying
that Sable is the true star of their team. 
Mero tells Sable that she is nothing without him and he does an exhibition by punching hand mitts that have Butterbean’s face in them.  One of them flies off during the exhibition,
so Mero gets mad at Sable, says she abandoned him during his knee injury, and
she’s worthless.  Best segment of the
show and it really made you want Butterbean to beat Mero within an inch of his
life at In Your House.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your commemorative box set of all of the WrestleMania’s on VHS.  It’ll cost you $79.99 (plus $11 shipping
& handling).  That’s not a bad deal.
The Montreal
Screwjob is shown again and Lawler insists that Bret Hart submitted and the
referee made a legitimate judgment call in ending the match.  This makes the implicit argument that Bret is
a sore loser.
Triple H
(w/D-Generation X) pins Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart after hitting him in the back
with a steel chair at 2:31:
Ross keeps referring to Neidhart as “the Rhino” during
the match because evidently Neidhart’s nickname in the locker room is “the
White Rhino.”  Neidhart dominates
Helmsley throughout the match with power moves, but Shawn Michaels distracts
him on the apron and Helmsley uses a chair that Chyna tosses to him to win the
match. 
After the match,
Neidhart gets Pedigreed on a chair and Michaels spray paints “WCW” on his
back.  They handcuff him to the top rope
and Sergeant Slaughter and Ken Shamrock run out and as Neidhart
holds Chyna back, Shamrock puts Michaels in the ankle lock and Slaughter puts
Triple H in the Cobra Clutch as we go off the air.  A nice closing segment that finally gave DX
some comeuppance for their actions during the last month and redeems at least
some of the show.
The Final Report Card:  I wouldn’t say that this was a great “go
home” show, since Shamrock didn’t get any comments heading into his first (and
only) main event WWF title match and I don’t think adding Undertaker-Jeff
Jarrett is going to increase the buys of the pay-per-view.  Still, despite some of the bad segments, like
the Four Corner Match, there were some pretty good segments like the Mero-Sable
interaction, Rock-Vader, and Taka-Aguila to at least balance it out.  What is surprising is that this show scored a
3.0 rating despite running a Triple H-Neidhart main event, which shows how
invested fans were becoming in the WWF product.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.0 (vs. 3.8 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 10, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jim
Cornette are in the booth and they are live from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
D-Generation X
comes out to their traditional theme music for the first time as Ross says Bret
Hart has left the company because of Shawn Michaels.  Michaels tells the crowd that he beat Bret in
his own country, with his own hold, he’s the WWF champion now, and he “ran him
South with the other dinosaurs” and his friends there will beat him up one
day.  Nice line.  Michaels says that no superstar in the WWF
can make him quit, which brings out Ken Shamrock.  The segment gets awkward since Shamrock can’t
translate his physical intensity into a good promo to run down DX and challenge
Michaels for the WWF championship. 
Commissioner Slaughter eventually comes out and says that Michaels has a
scheduled title defense against Shamrock, although he doesn’t specify the
date.  Slaughter also books Triple
H-Shamrock where DX is banned from ringside and he will be sitting at
ringside.  I know what they were trying
to spell out here in storyline terms, but this was just brutal to sit through
.

Opening
Contest:  Ahmed Johnson defeats Marc Mero
(w/Sable) by disqualification when Mero uses a low blow at 2:26:
Ahmed’s spinebuster looks awful these days, since he is
trying to be extra careful.  He looks
ready to win the match with a Pearl River Plunge, but gets distracted by Sable
and Mero finally gets caught using the low blow, which I guess was in the
referee’s scouting report.  Mero tries to
give Ahmed the TKO after that, but can’t lift him up on his shoulders to do the
move.  This loss ends Mero’s undefeated
streak since his return.
In the Karate
Fighters Holiday Tournament, Shrimp Scampy, a mini dressed in Mascarti Sagrada,
Jr.’s old attire, beats Dok Hendrix.  In
other matches of the tournament Jerry Lawler has beaten Brian Christopher and
Tito Santana has defeated Carlos Cabrera.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest ring announcer for our next match.
Light Heavyweight
Championship First Round Match:  Taka
Michinoku beats Devon Storm with the Michinoku Driver at 5:00:
Brian Christopher commentates another match in this
tournament, so I am tempted to put this on mute.  Storm gets the jobber entrance, but anyone
that has followed the light heavyweight division since July can tell who’s
going over here.  Both men are proficient
wrestlers, but they try to get too cute with their spots and as a result the
match comes off as too choreographed and artificial.  Christopher tries to prevent Michinoku from
winning, but Michinoku uses a springboard dropkick to knock Christopher off the
apron and wraps up the match shortly thereafter.  Rating:  **¼
Jim Ross
interviews Goldust, who is laying the foundation for his “Artist Formerly Known
as Goldust” gimmick.  He comes out in a
gold rope, a flame in his blonde hair, earrings, black face paint, lipstick, and
“F U”, which stands for “forever unchained”, painted in gold on his face.  Vader comes out, not happy that Goldust
walked on him at Survivor Series last night, and demands answers.  When Goldust doesn’t appear ready to do that,
Vader powerbombs him.  Vader is just
awesome.  It’s reprehensible that they
didn’t find a way to book him against Austin in 1998 because he still had
something to offer.
Michael Cole is backstage
and says that Blackjack Windham has been assaulted in his locker room.  Bradshaw freaks out and goes nuts in front of
the camera over this development
.
Dok Hendrix hosts
the upcoming Madison Square Garden card. 
The only problem is that there are going to be some changes.  For example, the main event is billed as a
Fatal Four Way match for the WWF title between Shawn Michaels, the Undertaker,
Steve Austin, and Bret Hart.  The Legion
of Doom are scheduled to defend the tag team titles against Owen Hart & The
British Bulldog, Triple H with Chyna is his corner is booked against Vader with
George “the Animal” Steele in his corner, and Ahmed Johnson faces Faarooq in a
New York City street fight.
The Headbangers
(w/The Disciples of Apocalypse) beats Sniper & Recon (w/Jackal & The
Interrogator) when Mosh pins Recon after Thrasher powerbombs Mosh on top of
Recon at 4:52:
Surprisingly, this has a clean finish as the Headbangers
fend off interference attempts by Jackal and the Interrogator.  Just a standard tag match, which has a big
brawl between all of the participants at the very end to continue the DOA-Truth
Commission feud.  Rating:  **
Ross and Cornette
hype the house show circuit
.
Since we are in
hour two, Cornette is replaced in the booth with Jerry “the King” Lawler.
Cole interviews
Intercontinental Champion Steve Austin, but before he gets too involved in his
promo Rocky Maivia comes out and claims that he was the best Intercontinental
champion of all-time when he held the belt. 
Maivia challenges Austin for the title and Austin accepts, while also
challenging him to get a haircut. 
Interesting segment since these two had one of the most anticipated
WrestleMania matches three and a half years later.
Ross interviews
Steve Blackman, who says he is still learning, and Jose of Los Boricuas
interrupts his interview.  The Boricuas
try to gang up on Blackman, but he uses his karate skills to fend them off
before WWF officials intervene.
Cole interviews
“Road Dogg” Jesse James and “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, who are set to face the New
Blackjacks in a Bunkhouse battle tonight. 
They are excited and ready to go.
Bunkhouse
Battle:  “Road Dogg” Jesse James &
“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn beat Bradshaw when Gunn pins Bradshaw after a tornado DDT
on a chair at 1:40:
Since Windham is injured, Bradshaw goes it alone in this
match, which is no disqualification. 
It’s actually a precursor to the hardcore battles of 1998 and beyond,
with trash cans, tables, and chairs galore. 
Bradshaw dominates the action, until Gunn catches him with a tornado DDT
to finish.  This was really entertaining.
Another segment of
Jeff Jarrett’s interview with Jim Ross is shown.  Jarrett puts himself over as a unique talent
of the Monday Night Wars and says his goal is to win
the WWF title.  When asked to do word
association on a list of guys he puts over Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Mankind,
and Randy Savage, but when asked about Triple H he says “tag along.”  How things changed after 1997.
Cole interviews
Butterbean, the IBA Superheavyweight Boxing Champion, in the crowd, but Marc
Mero comes out and says he’s a real boxer and should be interviewed.  Mero says Butterbean should keep his eyes off
of Sable and says he can knock Butterbean out in four rounds or less before
leaving.
Call 815-734-1161
to get the Steve Austin “jackass” t-shirt. 
It will cost you $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)!
The Undertaker
wrestles Kama Mustafa to a no contest at 2:25:
Remember when this was a top feud in 1995?  This is the Undertaker’s first time in the
ring since Badd Blood and that was a great booking decision since it gave an
entire month for Kane to get over.  The
Undertaker squashes Kama, but before he can finish him off the lights go out
and Paul Bearer and Kane come out.  The Undertaker
appeals to Kane to make amends and reiterates that he will never fight him,
even if Kane destroys the entire WWF.
Footage of last
week’s match between Shawn Michaels and Ken Shamrock is shown
.
Triple H wrestles
Ken Shamrock to a no contest at 7:44 shown:
Triple H is not happy about not having D-Generation X
with him and jaws with Commissioner Slaughter at ringside.  Both men show off what they can do, but the
crowd isn’t into it.  Slaughter prevents
Rick Rude and Chyna from getting involved, but can’t prevent Shawn Michaels
from running out and blasting Shamrock with Rude’s briefcase after the referee
is bumped and the show goes off the air as the referee is counting the fall.  Rating:  **
The Final Report Card:  After a horrid opening segment, this show
built up a pretty good pace.  The
Undertaker-Kane feud is the best thing that the company has going at this point
and it is a wonderful piece of storytelling that will keep unfolding until
WrestleMania.  Shamrock has also been
adequately built as a threat to Michaels, but as is the case with most
champions after they win the title, it is always tough for me to take their
first programmed challenger as a threat since they usually beat them.  This RAW scored a pretty good rating, as
people tuned in to see the fallout from Montreal, but surprisingly the WWF
didn’t really address it outside of Ross saying that he wished Bret Hart well
in his future endeavors.  Part of this
was probably motivated by the WWF banking on people buying the replay on Tuesday.  What is significant, though, is that this
show started a string of RAW’s that were at 3.0 or above in the Nielsen
ratings, thereby generating some of the highest ratings that RAW had seen since
the spring of 1996.  The tide was turning
in the Monday Night Wars, albeit slowly.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.4 (vs. 4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
.

Opening
Contest:  Rocky Maivia & Kama Mustafa
(w/Faarooq & D-Lo Brown) defeat Ahmed Johnson & Ken Shamrock (w/The
Legion of Doom) when Maivia pins Shamrock after Faarooq hits Shamrock with Rick
Rude’s briefcase at 6:44:
As the match gets underway, D-Generation X comes out to
sit by the entrance and they showcase signs that read “Spank Me Vince,” “Who
Booked this Crap?,” and “I’d Rather be in Chyna.”  One of them is the non-politically correct
“Uncle Tom 3:16”, which I’m surprised they didn’t catch a great deal of heat
for.  The crowd is hot for this and
Maivia and Shamrock have a good exchange in a small preview of what is to come
in their 1998 feud.  Faarooq spends much
of the match talking with Rick Rude and Kama forgets to nail Shamrock when he
runs the ropes to trigger the initial finishing sequence and all of this
results in a small upset for the Nation. 
Rating:  *¾
After the match, Ahmed goes after the Nation
and gets beaten down and the Legion of Doom just casually walk to aid him
before they are intercepted by WWF officials. Then out of nowhere the Godwinns
jump onto the entrance ramp and attack the LOD with garbage cans.
McMahon says that
tonight a former WCW champion will be with us tonight
.
Michael Cole is in
the locker room and shows us the Nation of Domination’s locker room, which has
been painted with anti-black graffiti.  A
Canadian flag is left behind, along with a “Canada rules,” which is meant to
implicate the Hart Foundation.  THIS did
get the company in hot water with civil rights groups if I remember correctly.
The Nation come
out and get in McMahon’s face about the graffiti in their locker room and
allege that he is a racist and is running a racist company.  Faarooq gives his pro-black message and
demands that WWF Champion Bret Hart come and face him immediately, despite
their match being booked for later in the evening.
Non-Title Match:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart (WWF Champion w/The
Hart Foundation) pins Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) after Steve Austin
gives Faarooq a Stone Cold Stunner at 5:12 shown:
D-Generation X quickly makes their presence felt and
Shawn Michaels accuses him of being a racist on commentary.  Bret goes after Michaels, but he is
restrained by the Nation and that leads to a brawl between the Nation and the
Hart Foundation at ringside.  Bret works
the leg, but when he goes for the ring post figure-four the Nation attacks
him.  In the midst of the chaos, Steve
Austin comes into the ring and attacks Faarooq to a nuclear crowd reaction and
that enables Bret to pick up a cheap win. 
The match was butchered by the commercial and extra curriculars and
Austin’s interference adds an extra ½ to it. 
Rating:  *½
The 1997 edition
of the Milton Bradley Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament is previewed by Kevin
Kelly and Grandmaster Robbie.  Next week
will be the first match of the tournament between Jerry Lawler and Brian Christopher.
Jeff Jarrett comes
out, thereby making his return to the company, and says that since we refused
to resign with WCW, Eric Bischoff tried to bury him.  He says that WCW put a lid on his potential
and he criticizes being placed with “an ex-football player’s ex-wife that
defines dumb blonde.”  He runs down his
old WWF country music gimmick and McMahon’s handling of his career.  He then runs down Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels,
and Steve Austin.  This “shoot” promo
might mean more if Jarrett was as valuable to the wrestling business as he
thinks he is.  None of this would amount
to much since Jarrett would soon go back to his old country music gimmick and
would be partnered with Debra when she came to the WWF.  In fact, it actually hurt Jarrett in 1999 since
Austin refused to work a main event program with him because Jarrett called the
3:16 part of Austin’s gimmick “blasphemous.” 
Austin rightly worried that Jarrett’s comments could have led to a
Christian boycott of the WWF and derailed his push.
Marc Mero
(w/Sable) defeats “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher with a TKO at 4:11:
This match begins the “Mero is jealous of Sable”
storyline, as Lawler puts a Steve Austin hat on Sable during the match and when
Mero sees it he takes it off of her face and throws it into the crowd.  Aside from that, this match is okay but no
one cares about it.  Mero uses a low blow
to set up the TKO, thereby showing that he is moving away from his babyface
roots.  Rating:  *½
The announcers
hype the house show circuit
.
A video package
hypes the title for title match between Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart.  It recounts the enziguri incident with Shawn
Michaels and the SummerSlam piledriver on Steve Austin.
Title for
Title:  “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn
Michaels (European Champion) wrestles Owen Hart (Intercontinental Champion) to
a disqualification at 6:20 shown:
Owen challenges Michaels to leave his crew backstage and
Michaels agrees.  Michaels gives Owen a
piledriver on the arena floor, which would have meant Owen’s career was over in
Memphis, but he rallies with his belly-to-belly suplex.  I hate when big moves like that are done on
the arena floor since by wrestling standards moves on the arena floor are ten
times as devastating as those done in the ring. 
This is an interesting match from a crowd reaction perspective because
they don’t necessarily care for Michaels, but they don’t like Owen either.  Owen counters Sweet Chin Music with the
enziguri, but Steve Austin comes out from the crowd.  The referee makes the mistake of getting in
his way and eats a Stunner and Michaels KO’s Owen with the Sweet Chin Music,
which leads to Bret running out to tear apart Michaels and this is thrown
out.  Owen-Michaels is always a great
match, but they just didn’t have the time to take this to another level.  Rating:  **½
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear another one of Jim Cornette’s rants!
The Undertaker in
a pre-taped segment says that he has carried the grief of his family for a long
time and argues that Paul Bearer has poisoned Kane’s mind.  He promises to never fight Kane.
The next match is
scheduled to be the British Bulldog against Dude Love, but Kane interrupts
after Love’s entrance.  Love clotheslines
Kane over the top rope and hits him with a chair, but Kane barely sells it and
chokeslams Love twice on the entrance ramp. 
This lays the foundation for a Kane-Foley match at Survivor Series.
“The Road Dogg”
Jesse James & “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn defeat The Headbangers when James pins
Thrasher after Gunn hits Thrasher with a boom box at 4:05:
Road Dogg cuts a promo to introduce himself and “Bad Ass”
Billy Gunn.  Gunn’s attire is something
like Taka Michinoku would wear, but it at least gets him away from the cowboy
gimmick he has been sporting in some fashion since 1993.  If you are looking for some trademark New Age
Outlaws spots you aren’t going to get them in this match since this is one of
the formative outings of the team and they are still working out the
gimmick.  The Headbangers look to have
the match in hand, but Gunn smashes Thrasher over the head with a boom box that
explodes on impact, thereby putting some of those Paul E. Dangerously cell
phone shots to shame, and the soon to be named Outlaws pick up a win over
former tag team champions.  A really
boring match until the finish and you would think from the ring work that the
Outlaws weren’t going anywhere, but James’ mic work put the team on the
map.  Rating:  *
Marc Mero giving
the TKO to a jobber on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Lazer Tag Slam of the
Week.
Bret Hart’s
appearance on Mad TV is shown
.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest ring announcer for the next match
.
Footage of Taka
Michinoku signing a long-term contract with the WWF is shown.  Could they do anything more to telegraph the
fact that this guy was going to be the light heavyweight champion?
Light Heavyweight
Exhibition:  Taka Michinoku beats Tajiri
with a Michinoku Driver at 2:52:
Tajiri gets the jobber entrance.  Ross finally gives us a date for the
beginning of the light heavyweight championship tournament, which will kick off
on the November 3rd edition of Monday Night Raw.  Tajiri folds Michinoku up like an accordion
on a sit out powerbomb and the two proceed to put most of the light heavyweight
matches done so far to shame.  They work
a fast match, which has the predictable finish, but the WWF just didn’t know
what they had with Tajiri at this stage of his career.
Jim Cornette reads
some fan comments about his rant against Phil Mushnick last week.  He urges fans to make their voice heard and
McMahon tells fans to write to TV Guide and voice their displeasure with Phil
Mushnick
.
Footage of the
Godwinns losing the tag team championships to the Legion of Doom last week is
shown, along with their beating of Uncle Cletus.
The Godwinns are
scheduled to face the Disciples of Apocalypse, but the DOA do a four-on-two
attack on the Godwinns before the Truth Commission comes to the Godwinns aid to
continue their feud.
Mankind cuts a
promo from the arena boiler room, where he says that he is the master of mayhem
and if the Undertaker will not fight against his own brother then he will.
Tune in next week
to see Bret Hart defend the WWF title against Ken Shamrock!  See, they didn’t have to do Montreal unless
they really wanted to.
The Final Report Card:  This episode was a version of crash TV as
tons of different angles fly at the audience from all kinds of different
directions, but it made for a quick and enjoyable show.  The matches were brief and not very exciting
outside of the light heavyweight exhibition and Shawn-Owen, but everyone has
something to do and that keeps you invested in the non-main event matches.
Monday Night Raw Rating:  2.9 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up