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What the World Was Watching: WrestleMania XV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 25, 1999

Pictures and audio excerpts recap last night’s Royal Rumble match.

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

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

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 14, 1998

Pictures and
commentary from last night’s Rock Bottom pay-per-view are aired.
Michael Cole and
Jerry “The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Tacoma,
Washington
.

D-Generation X
comes out dressed as the Corporation as Cole is so nice to tell us that all of
this is supposed to be funny over and over again.  Jason Sensation also makes a return as
Commissioner Shawn Michaels.  Aside from
Sensation, the only entertaining part of this segment is X-Pac’s imitation of
Shamrock where he screams about how he is in the zone and how its “five knuckle
shuffle time!”  After this long segment
comes to a close, Shawn Michaels, the Big Bossman, Ken Shamrock, and the Rock
walk out.  Michaels books a rematch of
last night’s tag team title match between the New Age Outlaws and Shamrock and
the Bossman.  Michaels takes a dig at
Triple H as being a “midcarder for life,” but Triple H goads the Rock into
putting the WWF title on the line in the main event.
Vince McMahon
gives a pep talk to the Corporation in the locker room
, ending it with a promise to go after Kane
since Kane is deemed as one of the primary reasons Steve Austin qualified for
the Royal Rumble at Rock Bottom.
Opening
Contest:  Supply & Demand (w/The Hos)
defeat Edge & Christian (w/Gangrel) when Val Venis pins Christian with a
fisherman’s suplex at 2:34:
The Godfather was beginning to get the “Pimpin’ ain’t
easy” line over at this point, adding to the number of catchphrases by the
company’s stars.  The Brood is so weird
that the Godfather does not bother to give them any hos.  Edge and Christian make one of their first
appearances as a tag team as the company was realizing that they could put on
better matches than Edge and Gangrel.  Or
maybe the company realized that if you are going to bill Edge and Christian as
brothers that it was nonsensical to not have them for a tag team.  This is just a quick TV bout, typical of the
era, with the ending being messy as Venis enters the ring too late after a
blind tag and Edge does not even bother trying to break up the final pin.   With the Brood’s gimmick you would think
Russo would find more for these guys to do, but they keep losing to other
midcard acts week after week.
After the match,
Gangrel says that there is going to be a bloodbath the next time that the Brood
appears.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Steve Blackman who says he will unmask the Blue Blazer tonight.  For a guy who is a legitimate bad ass like
Blackman, it is a shame that he cannot cut a convincing promo.
Goldust beats The
Blue Blazer via disqualification when Jeff Jarrett interferes at 2:10:
This is a revenge match from the previous evening as the
Blue Blazer kept Debra McMichael from finishing her striptease at Rock
Bottom.  As several have commented in my
reviews it is tough to watch this Blue Blazer angle when you know how it is
going to end in six months.  This match
hardly gets going before Jeff Jarrett interferes to break up Shattered Dreams.  Steve Blackman lives up to his promise to
also do a run-in and he does unmask the Blazer as Owen.  Why not do the unmasking on
pay-per-view?  In a humorous bit, Jarrett
tosses a black cloth over Owen’s head as if he is too ugly to be seen after the
unmasking.
Mark Henry gets
ready for a match backstage
.
The New Age
Outlaws and the Big Bossman and Ken Shamrock are prevented from having a
confrontation backstage by WWF officials
.
Mark Henry &
D-Lo Brown (w/PMS) beats Scorpio & Bob Holly (w/Al Snow, Duane Gill &
The Blue Meanie) when Henry pins Holly after a powerslam at 3:00:
This might be the RAW debut of the “Sexual Chocolate”
theme song, although it is not a great tag team entrance theme since it does
not work for D-Lo.  Before the match,
Henry talks about his date with Chyna and how it got intimate, with D-Lo giving
fantastic facial expressions throughout. 
The Chyna angle is where Henry started to show the personality that made
him an effective superstar as he participated in some ridiculous segments that
were meant to discourage him and get him to quit.  The whole point of this match is to keep
building D-Lo and Henry, as well as PMS, and the JOB Squad are manhandled and
outwitted.  Rating:  *
Mankind’s attack
on the Rock before the Rock Bottom pay-per-view is the Acclaim Sports Slam of
the Week
.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  Ken Shamrock &
The Big Bossman (w/Shawn Michaels) defeat The New Age Outlaws (Champions) when
Shamrock makes Billy Gunn submit to the ankle lock to win the titles at 6:45:
One fan has a big “Clinton 3:16” sign near the front of
the ring that cracks me up since that is not something that you would expect to
see at a wrestling show.  Unlike last
night’s pay-per-view, the challengers focus on a body part, targeting Billy
Gunn’s left knee after Shamrock smashes a chair into it.  The Road Dogg also gets a chair to the back
and a Bossman slam, which leads to a second hot tag to Gunn, which is a bad
idea since he is fighting on one leg. 
Still, it takes a Michaels night stick shot to the back of the head to
put the Outlaws down for the count.  So
why could we not have just done this finish last night?  Rating:  **
Vince and Shane
McMahon walk out to conduct the drawing of Steve Austin’s number for the Royal
Rumble.  Vince says that he will get
revenge against Kane and Mankind tonight and he books them to face each other
in a no holds barred match.  In the
subsequent drawing, Austin is awarded #1, but you see, the drawing is rigged as
it appears that all of the numbers in the tumbler are #1.  To make Austin’s job of winning the Rumble
even more difficult, Vince also promises to give the superstar that tosses
Austin over the top rope $100,000 (which will be taken from one of Shane’s
trust funds).  As a final announcement,
Vince says that another participant in the Rumble match, someone who is the
only person that “could save Ted Turner’s WCW,” will be him.  Shane proceeds to draw a number out of the
tumbler for Vince and he gets #30. 
Christening his new theme song, Vince says there is “no chance in hell”
that Austin will win the Rumble.  Mankind
then appears on the Titantron from the boiler room and challenges Vince to a
match instead of facing Kane, but Vince does not accept.
Get your Jesse
“the Body” Ventura videotape!  You know,
the guy that the WWF tried to purge from its history until he won the Minnesota
gubernatorial election!
Debra McMichael’s
striptease at Rock Bottom is the Glover Rewind segment.
Vince huddles with
stooges about what to do with Mankind until deciding that he is better off
coming up with his own solution for the problem.  Gerald Brisco is still offering to get him
coffee
.
Guitar on a Pole
Match:  “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra
McMichael) pins Steve Blackman after Owen Hart hits Blackman with a guitar at
3:33:
Russo’s pole fetish finally finds its way to television
here.  It would have made more sense to
book this as Jarrett-Goldust since Goldust is the one that got blasted with a
guitar last night at Rock Bottom.  Debra
starts stripping to distract Blackman and allow Jarrett to get the guitar, but
then we also get a ref bump after Blackman avoids getting hit with it.  Then, Owen Hart runs in with a guitar and
hits Blackman to give his partner in crime a victory.  This match was like a sick preview of what
Russo would do to WCW a couple of years later. 
Rating:  *
Tiger Ali Singh
calls the stooges into his locker room where “Bloodbath” has been written on
the wall.  He said that he does not want
to compete tonight under these conditions.
Vince tells Shane
that he is going to face Mankind tonight, but he will do it his way.
The next match is
booked as Gangrel-Tiger Ali Singh, but it never gets started as Tiger tries to
flee but the Broods prevents him from doing so, beat him down, and pour blood
on him.  You have to use your imagination
for all of this, though, because it takes place in the darkness of the Brood’s
entrance.
No Holds Barred
Match:  Mankind and Kane wrestle to a
no-contest at 4:28:
In this match, Lawler claims that the steps weigh 150
pounds, but last year’s TLCS pay-per-view told me they were over 500
pounds.  Poor Art Donovan would be so
confused.  This match is more about
angles as Mankind and Kane brawl for a few minutes before Vince comes out and
asks Mankind to come into the parking lot to face him in a street fight.  Then, while we are away at a commercial
break, Ken Shamrock and the Big Bossman beatdown Kane so that orderlies can
take him to a mental institution. 
Meanwhile, Mankind destroys Vince in the parking lot before the Rock
shows up and Rock Bottoms Mankind on the hood of a car.  Rating:  *
WWF Championship
Match:  The Rock (Champion w/Shawn
Michaels) defeats Triple H (w/Chyna) when Test interferes at 10:49:
Seeing the Rock and Michaels by each other just makes you
wish that they would have had a match at some point.  This match shows how wild crowds used to be
as people mob Triple H during his entrance when he gets close to the guardrail
and some fans even try to prevent the Rock from attacking Triple H near the
ringside barrier on the floor.  The Rock
is bit too liberal with the chinlocks in this one, but one could say the same
for Triple H’s knee attacks in this era. 
In true WWE style, they kick out of each other’s big moves, but when the
referee is distracted Test makes his in-ring debut by nailing Triple H with a pumphandle
slam and helping the Rock retain.  Rating: 
***
The Final Report:  Despite the absence of Steve Austin this show
effectively framed some of the big angles heading into the Royal Rumble
pay-per-view.  The matches were really abbreviated,
something that could be expected of WWF television at the time, but the main
event was solid since the Rock and Triple H usually had fantastic
chemistry.  On the basis of the main
event and the entertaining McMahon segments, this show garners a thumbs up.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.2 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Rock Bottom – In Your House

So after a three
months absence, I have returned so that the Blog can finish up looking back at
1998 when the World Wrestling Federation finally turned the tide against World
Championship Wrestling.  When we left off,
the Rock was tearing it up as the newly crowned corporate heel champion, but he
has Mankind in hot pursuit of the title that he thought was in the bag at
Survivor Series.  Steve Austin was still
feuding with the Undertaker, something that segments of the audience are
growing tired of, and the New Age Outlaws teased joining the Corporation before
realigning with D-Generation X.  The
Corporation still has Commissioner Shawn Michaels in their pocket, though.  And Debra McMichael, newly arrived from WCW,
has reunited with Jeff Jarrett, ignoring the fact that he called her a “dumb
blonde” when he returned to the company in 1997
.

WWF Champion The
Rock shows up at Planet Hollywood in Vancouver, British Columbia.  He promises that future pay-per-views will be
named after him and tells us to enjoy the action.  The Rock getting a pay-per-view named after
him fit nicely into existing storylines as it constituted a reward for going
heel.
Michael Cole and
Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Vancouver,
British Columbia, Canada.  Ross is absent
due to his mother’s recent passing.  The
opening is where Cole says that there is two tons of dirt near the grave and
the tombstone weighs “in excess of three thousand pounds,” thereby serving as
great fodder for recappers of the future.
D-Lo Brown &
Mark Henry (w/PMS) defeat Supply & Demand (w/The Hos) when Henry pins Venis
after a splash at 5:58:
The WWF should have done more with the Supply &
Demand tag team of Val Venis and the Godfather since the tag division was
relatively weak at this point in the company’s history (and would remain so
until the summer of 1999).  The “Pretty
Mean Sisters” faction of Terri Runnels and Jacqueline align themselves with
D-Lo and Henry at this show, although the reasons for it are not
explained.  D-Lo draws a lot of heat,
with the crowd showering him with “D-Lo sucks!” chants on several occasions.  The hos and PMS get into a predictable confrontation
on the floor, creating a distraction that allows Jacqueline to pull Venis’s
tights down and produce the finish.  This
was standard RAW fare that was made better by the hot crowd.  Rating:  **¼
Footage of Mankind
attacking the Rock earlier in the day when he was being interviewed by Michael
Cole in a skybox.  The Rock’s ribs are
allegedly hurt, but he is willing to fight against doctor’s orders so that he
can keep the title.
The Headbangers
beat Kurrgan & Golga (w/Giant Silva & Luna Vachon) when Mosh pins Golga
after the Stage Dive at 6:52:
Cole tells us that the Headbangers “defrocked” Luna by
cutting her hair on a recent episode of RAW, which is not the appropriate use
of that word.  That does not keep him
from continuing to use it, though.  These
two teams had been feuding on RAW, with the Headbangers turning on the Oddities
and then getting the Insane Clown Posse to defect to their side.  The Oddities were seemingly okay with this
defection, though, because they are still using the ICP’s engineered theme music.  If this was booked as a three minute match it
would be acceptable, but it just keeps dragging as the Headbangers can only do
so much with their opponents.  The ending
is botched, with Golga taking forever to run the ropes and ending up too far
away to take the Stage Dive.  Rating: 
¾*
Vince McMahon,
Shane McMahon, and the stooges huddle to discuss how they help the Rock defend
the title tonight.  Patterson suggests
getting hockey equipment and ambushing Mankind. 
Brisco just offers to get Mr. McMahon some coffee, a humorous connection
back to a few months ago when the stooges abandoned McMahon and left him at the
mercy of Steve Austin.
Steve Blackman beats
Owen Hart via count out at 10:28:
The crowd inverts the face-heel dynamic since Owen is a
beloved Canadian.  Cole tells us that
Owen has “perfected” the Sharpshooter, which makes sense when you compare his
Sharpshooter with the Rock’s version.  I
await him telling us that Owen was the “architect” of the Hart family.  This is a bit of a weird bout as both men
trade offense throughout without really building to the proper transitions and
then Owen gets sent chest-first into an exposed turnbuckle and barely sells it.  Blackman gets booed out of the building after
locking Owen into the Sharpshooter, but he gets out and then heads to the
locker room to lose.  Talk about a finish
wiping out ten minutes of hard work.  Rating: 
**½
Vince McMahon
wanders around backstage looking for Mankind. 
He finds the boiler room, which has a “Mankind’s office” sign on the
door that McMahon rips off in disgust. 
He tentatively walks in to negotiate with the Rock’s opponent for the
evening.
The Brood beats
the J.O.B. Squad (w/Head) when Christian pins Scorpio after the Impaler at 9:08:
The Brood gimmick was ahead of its time.  It was seeking to capitalize on the “goth”
look that was all the rage in the late 1990s among jaded youth, but it would
have had more popularity with the Twilight
craze that swept the nation a decade later. 
As another aside, how many stables in wrestling history have had the
hired help go on to have better careers than the leader?  Snow might be over, but the crowd is not
buying into this J.O.B. Squad concept, sitting on their hands for much of this
despite all six guys doing their best to get a reaction.  Cole and Lawler are also disinterested,
debating the merits of Paul McCartney music and Cole insisting that he listens
to “the new stuff.”  After what feels
like an eternity we get to the ending sequence, which has a few cool spots such
as Edge launching off of Gangrel to plancha Al Snow and Bob Holly, but a spot
fest a good match does not make.  Rating: 
**
Mankind and
McMahon continue to negotiate backstage, although we cannot hear what they are
saying.
Striptease
Match:  Goldust beats “Double J” Jeff
Jarrett (w/Debra McMichael) via reverse decision at 8:03:
So the stipulations of this non-PG match are that if
Goldust wins then Debra must strip, but if Jarrett wins Goldust has to
strip.  Knowing Vince, I am surprised
they did not do a swerve, have Goldust lose clean, and then strip to tick of
GLAAD.  The stipulation helps give a dull
match some heat and after Goldust hits Shattered Dreams, Debra smashes Goldust
with a guitar behind the referee’s back. 
Somehow the broken bits of guitar in the ring do not bother the referee
as Jarrett hits the Stroke to seemingly win. 
However, Commissioner Shawn Michaels comes out and reverses the
decision.  Debra strips out of her
business suit, but before she can go further the Blue Blazer interrupts.  What, you really did not think they were
going to go through with this stipulation? 
Rating:  ½*
McMahon leaves the
boiler room and seems to be in a good mood
.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws
(Champions) defeat The Big Bossman & Ken Shamrock (w/Shawn Michaels) when
Billy Gunn pins Ken Shamrock with an inside cradle at 17:06:
The Bossman-Shamrock tag team is often overlooked when
people think of the Attitude Era, but I thought it had some appeal since both guys’
styles complemented each other well.  If
Ross was on commentary he would say that the heat sequence was “deliberate” as Shamrock
and Bossman grind the match to a snail’s pace so they can beat on the Road
Dogg.  In Cole’s third embarrassing error
of the night he refers to the Bossman’s night stick as “a baton.”  Based on how the Outlaws feud with the
Corporation was going it seemed like a given that they would lose the tag team
titles here, thereby giving them a program for the early winter of 1999.  However, although Michaels trips Gunn when he
tries to suplex Shamrock back into the ring, Gunn reverses the cover and the
Outlaws retain.  What really hurt this
match was that during the heat sequence Shamrock and the Bossman never seemed
to have a coherent strategy to work on a body part and they never went for a
cover.  Why would you do that when
wrestling the tag team champions?  Rating: 
A video package recaps
the ongoing Rock-Mankind feud
.
McMahon tells
Shane and the Rock that the contract for the title match will be altered in the
ring and that Mankind just wants witnesses.
After entrances
for the next match, Vince McMahon steps in the ring and makes fun of a hole in
Mankind’s tights.  Mankind says he will
cross out the contract clause that says he gets the title if the Rock cannot
wrestle, but only if McMahon admits that he never heard Mankind submit at the
Survivor Series and do so on his knees. 
McMahon refuses to do so, saying that the Rock heard him submit at
Survivor Series and that was good enough for him, so we end up having our
scheduled title match after all…
WWF Championship
Match:  Mankind beats The Rock (Champion
w/Vince & Shane McMahon) with the Mandible Claw at 13:34:
Mankind’s theme has some awful techno beat as he heads to
the ring.  There was something about
techno beats that the WWF music team could not get away from during this period
as they also tried to do it with parts of the Rock’s theme and had to abandon
that when it also sounded horrid.  They
try to rip off Over the Edge with Vince telling the referee to disqualify Mankind
“for any legitimate reason” after he beats the Rock to a pulp on the arena
floor.  The Rock is also good for comedy
here, taking a headset and cutting a promo on Mankind as he smashes his face
into the commentary table, but then keep it on as Mankind makes a
comeback.  Vince tries to get the referee
to disqualify Mankind after a low blow, but in a shrewd move that Bret Hart
should have done in Montreal, Mankind decks takes out the referee and the
timekeeper.  All of this leads to a new
referee coming in, which makes little sense because the first referee would
have disqualified Mankind at this point for piledriving him, and that produces
some hot near-falls with each man’s signature moves.  A Mandible Claw seems to give Mankind the
title, but McMahon announces after the match that since the Rock never
submitted he cannot lose the championship. 
Did the WWF give a one night contract to Dusty Rhodes with these
finishes?  Fun match once the overbooking
began, but it was not on the same level as their Survivor Series bout.  Rating:  **¾
After the bout,
Mankind puts both McMahons in the Mandible Claw and beats on the stooges, but
eventually Ken Shamrock and the Big Bossman run in to beat him down.
A video package recaps
the Steve Austin-Undertaker feud
.
Buried Alive
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats
The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) at 21:31:
Austin has to win this match to get a slot in the Royal
Rumble per the orders of Vince McMahon. 
That is a classic example of the booking getting too cute because it
basically constituted a spoiler since there was no way Austin was not going to
be in the Rumble match.  In a Buried
Alive match I always wonder why the wrestlers never stay near the grave.  Why go back to the ring, which has more give
to it than concrete and why not use all the shovels and such around the grave
to wear out your opponent?  Wrestling
logic I suppose.  As Austin has noted in
recent years, the stipulation ruined this bout as he and the Undertaker could
only build drama near the grave and it made the match too much of a choking and
punching encounter.  Cole gaffe #4 rears
its ugly head as he refers to “the Royal Rumble tournament” that is on the line
between these two.  And for those
wondering why I am being hard on Cole, I have to think of something to keep me
preoccupied with this match which just meanders all around the arena without
any rhyme or reason to it.  Eventually, Austin
hits a Stunner to send the Undertaker into the grave and walks off.  This allows the Undertaker to get out, but an
explosion out of the grave sends out Kane, who Tombstones the Undertaker back
into the grave and Austin brings out a backhoe. 
However, to really top off this awful match, the backhoe takes forever to
dump dirt on the Undertaker and then takes too long to rake the dirt in.  Austin soon tires of shoveling dirt and drinks
beer, finally being declared the winner. 
Rating:  DUD
The Final Report:  1998 featured several fun WWF pay-per-views,
but this show was not one of them.  As
has been the case for much of the year, the top of the card has to excel to
cover for a deficient midcard and that did not happen here.  If anything, the show had lots of oddly
booked finishes with Mankind going over the Rock but not winning the title, the
Outlaws retaining when it may have made more sense to give the titles over to
the Corporation, and Owen Hart losing in a puzzling count out after a
competitive match.  The Debra stripping
nonsense, Kane popping out of a grave like Michael Myers, and the overbooking
of the title match was Russo in overdrive. 
Yet there were already some danger signs with Russo in the sense that
some of his material was recycling old concepts, such as going back to the Over
the Edge well in the Rock-Mankind match. 
Avoid this show on the Network because the memorable moments of December
1998 happened on RAW.
Attendance: 
20,042
Buyrate: 
0.78 (+0.34 over previous year)

Show Rating: 
Thumbs Down