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 – January 11, 1999

It has been a long time since the World Was Watching appeared here on the Blog.  That was partly due to some career moves on my part and just a general lack of time.  That is solved for the time being, though, so we will head back into 1999.  The last recap ended – somewhat fittingly – with Mankind’s upset title victory over the Rock.  The Road Dogg also defended his Hardcore title against Al Snow out in the snow on the last show and the tasteless Terri Runnels pregnancy angle began with D-Lo Brown.  Needless to say, 1999 will be a combination of some memorable moments and some really wacky Russo booking.

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

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What the World Was Watching: Unforgiven 1998 – In Your House

by Logan Scisco

With some of my graduate work behind me, I finally had
time to devote three hours to this show and continue my reviews of the World
Wrestling Federation in 1998.  Before
academic responsibilities got in the way, Steve Austin and Vince McMahon’s feud
started moving to another level and ended WCW Monday Nitro’s 82-week winning
streak.  Dude Love, Austin’s former tag
team partner, was inserted into the angle as McMahon’s alleged representative.  However, that match on this show is
overshadowed by the Inferno match booked between the Undertaker and Kane.  Meanwhile, Ken Shamrock and Faarooq have
joined forces because they hate the Rock and Triple H has dominated his feud
with Owen Hart.  The Legion of Doom have
been rechristened “LOD 2000” and given Sunny as a manager, but it’s sort of
like putting lipstick on a pig and their best days are behind them.  Still, their victory in the WrestleMania XIV
tag team battle royal gives them a title shot on this show against their rivals
the New Age Outlaws.  Finally, Sable is
becoming the top diva in the company and Luna Vachon has threatened to rip her
clothes off in the first Evening Gown match in WWF history.  Got all that?
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are broadcasting from Greensboro,
North Carolina.  They speculate on what
Vince McMahon means when he says something “catastrophic” is going to happen
tonight.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock, Faarooq &
Steve Blackman beat The Rock, Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown (w/Kama Mustafa) when
Faarooq pins the Rock with a Dominator at 13:35:
Faarooq is wearing his usual ring gear here, which does
not quite fit his face turn.  He does get
a big pop for whipping D-Lo with a belt in the early going, though.  Amazingly, Ross is able to restrain himself
and not discuss the football credentials of some of the participants until nine
minutes in.  A pretty dull opener that
quiets a hot crowd, but its booking follows logical wrestling principles as
Faarooq pins the Rock to make him seem like a credible challenger for the Rock’s
Intercontinental title and set up a one-on-one match between the two in the
near future.  Rating:  **
Michael Cole
interviews the winning team and Faarooq says this was the opening shot of a
long war that he is going to wage against the Nation.
WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and throws the timekeeper into the ring.  Austin interrogates him over why he rang the
bell to prematurely end the Dude Love-Steve Blackman match on the previous RAW
and makes it clear that if Vince McMahon tries to screw him out of the title
that he is going to give the timekeeper the beating of a lifetime.  Nice thread of storyline continuity here.
The announce team
recaps the Triple H-Owen Hart feud.
European
Championship Match with Chyna Suspended in a Cage Above the Ring:  Triple H (Champion) pins Owen Hart after
X-Pac hits Owen with a fire extinguisher at 12:27:
One fan has the ability to predict the future in the
audience tonight, carrying a sign that reads “Playboy needs Chyna.”  Commissioner Slaughter being an antagonist
for D-Generation X has lost much of its luster, as the arrival of Vince McMahon
as the owner of the company makes him look very weak on the totem pole, but it
is still a lot clearer than the five or six authority figures roaming around
the “WWE Universe” today.  Owen has lost
a lot of heat since starting this feud in January, illustrating why wins and
losses matter.  This is a good match, but
it lacks the atmosphere of their WrestleMania encounter and the focus is more
on Chyna bending the bars of the cage she is in, dangerously hanging onto it
while she is trying to escape, and then having the Road Dogg lower the cage so
she can get to the ground.  The ensuing
chaos allows Triple H to get another controversial win over Owen when logic
dictated that Owen goes over here.  This
did have a somewhat logical payoff, although that would require an Owen turn
and we’ll get to that in future reviews. 
Rating:  ***
Cole interviews
Owen Hart, who lets us know that “enough is enough and it’s time for things to
change around here.”
NWA Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Midnight
Express (Champions w/Jim Cornette) defeated The Rock N’ Roll Express when
Bodacious Bart pinned Robert Gibson after a Bombastic Bob bulldog at 7:22:
This is a bonus match, which illustrates the lack of
depth in the company at the time, but we are in NWA country so the Rock N’ Roll
Express get a decent pop while the Express are greeted with silence.  God bless Ross as he tries to hype put over
the Rock N’ Roll and this match, but his historical references go over the head
of most of the audience since the WWF rarely emphasized wrestling history at
this time.  Referee Tim White and
Cornette have a funny showdown where Cornette dares White to fight him and
White scares him off.  You might assume
this would be decent, but there is more stalling than action and the match
moves very slowly.  The Express hit their
double dropkick on Bart, but shenanigans ensue and the Express retain the
titles, which no one cares about.  Rating: 
Dok Hendrix
interviews Goldust and Luna Vachon and Luna emphasizes that she wants to strip
Sable of all her clothes.
Evening Gown
Match:  Luna Vachon (w/Goldust) beats
Sable at 2:34:
Marc Mero does not come down to the ring with Sable
because he is allegedly humiliated by Sable’s recent antics.  Maybe he meant her promos.  The crowd chants for Sable, which makes sense
if you consider her the face, but little sense in terms of the match since they
want to see her without her clothes. 
Since we’re getting more Russo booking around this time it is not
surprising that this ends with a screwjob, as Mero shows up, distracts Sable,
and allows Luna strips Sable of the top of her dress.  After the match. Sable strips off Luna’s
dress and then takes off the rest of her clothing underneath the ring.
Vince McMahon, Pat
Patterson, and Gerald Brisco walk to the ring and McMahon reiterates that “anything
can happen in the World Wrestling Federation.” 
McMahon debunks that a conspiracy is in the works tonight and that he is
just going to be at ringside because he was born in North Carolina.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear from the winners and losers of tonight’s matches!
WWF Tag Team Championship
Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) defeat
LOD 2000 (w/Sunny) when Road Dogg pins Hawk at 12:21:
LOD 2000 did not get a lot of airtime before this match,
which is as close to a vote of no confidence from WWF management as you can
get.  Sunny’s dress is nowhere near as
eye catching as her WrestleMania XIV attire. 
The LOD get a nice nostalgia pop, but after that there’s not much to see
except some token power moves.  Animal does
a good job staying in peril, which was appropriate because Hawk botches several
moves throughout.  The finish makes
little sense, as the referee says Hawk does not lift his shoulders on a German
suplex, but Road Dogg never lifts his shoulders to earn a victory.  After the match, the LOD give the referee a
Doomsday Device and the referee does a stretcher job.  Thankfully, this is the end of the
Outlaws-LOD issue.  This was also Sunny’s
last WWF pay-per-view appearance.  Rating: 
¾*
Jeff Jarrett “sings”
with Sawyer Brown, a country music group. 
The crowd is so enamored with this performance that they chant “We want
Flair!”  It always baffles me that the
WWF brass thought this stuff was going to get Jarrett over.  At the end of the performance, Steve Blackman
attacks Jarrett, but after he puts Jarrett in a submission move, Tennessee Lee
blasts Blackman with a guitar.
A video package
hypes the Inferno match between the Undertaker and Kane.  Lawler has a hot dog ready to roast at
ringside.
Inferno Match:  The Undertaker beats Kane (w/Paul Bearer) at
16:02:
I’m really surprised that they did not make this the main
event of the pay-per-view considering how low key the Steve Austin-Dude Love
title match was, but maybe they were afraid of these two putting on a
less-than-stellar match like WrestleMania. 
This match is one of those that sounds good in theory, but is terrible
in execution because it is very difficult to build drama and this quickly
becomes a kick-and-punch affair.  Things
pick up after the Undertaker throws Kane over the top rope and Kane goes to
leave, which does not make a lot of sense for Kane’s character, but Vader makes
a surprise return to a big pop and fights Kane back to ringside, where the
Undertaker hits a plancha.  The
Undertaker destroys Bearer on the Sawyer Brown stage and knocks Kane’s arm into
the fire to win.  Things really didn’t
look good for Kane at the time, as he lost his second consecutive match, this
one definitively, to the Undertaker.  It’s
quite amazing that he maintained his upper midcard standing as a character
after this.  Rating:  *½
A video package
recaps the Steve Austin-Vince McMahon/Dude Love feud.
WWF Championship
Match with Vince McMahon at Ringside: 
Dude Love defeats “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) via
disqualification at 18:48:
The big story of this match is whether Love and McMahon
are working together and if McMahon is going to screw Austin out of the title
by intimidating the timekeeper.  McMahon
waits to come out until eight minutes into the match and Pat Patterson
hilariously carries the folding chair for McMahon to sit in.  I always wondered during this feud why
McMahon favored Love.  Was he that much
better of an alternative?  Would you want
your company led by a man who’s stuck in the 1960s/1970s?  McMahon tries to get the timekeeper to ring
the bell when Love applies an abdominal stretch, but the timekeeper doesn’t
budge and the match continues.  The
referee eventually gets bumped, which causes him to miss Love applying the
Mandible Claw (or Love Handle if you prefer) and the battle spills to the floor
where Austin knocks McMahon out with a chair to a HUGE pop.  Austin counts his own fall and his music
plays, but we eventually hear from Howard Finkel that Love is the winner by
disqualification since Austin hit a WWF official.  McMahon does a stretcher job as well.  Love took some nasty spills in this match as
per usual and the brawling was technically proficient.  I’m not really a fan of the ending, but in
storyline terms it worked out for the best since McMahon wanted to make it
certain that Austin would lose the title at the next pay-per-view by stacking
the deck against him.  Rating: 
***½
The Final Report Card:  This show illustrates that most of 1998 was
Steve Austin and not much else.  His match
was the most exciting on the show and the midcard had lots of weird things
happening like the LOD getting another push, the Rock N’ Roll Express getting a
WWF pay-per-view match in 1998, and Jeff Jarrett feuding with Steve Blackman
for lack of something better to do.  The
main event is exciting and Triple H-Owen is their usual solid outing, but
compared with WrestleMania XIV this show did not blow you away or even make you
feel satisfied.  Owen loses again, the
Outlaws kept the belts in a match finish that made no sense, the Inferno match
was nothing special, and the main event had an inconclusive finish.  Some of these things, like the Owen loss and
the inconclusive main event finish, led to greater things down the road and those
shows will be the ones that will get a thumbs up rating, not this outing.
Attendance: 
21,427
Buyrate: 
0.85 (+0.35 over previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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 17, 1998

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up (Way Up)

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

by Logan Scisco

The presidential
sex scandal parodies continue, as Sunny is dressed like Marilyn Monroe and
sings “Happy Birthday” to Classie Freddie Blassie.  It was Blassie’s eightieth birthday.
The D-Generation X
beatdown of Steve Austin on last week’s show is recapped in a video package.
Jim Ross, Kevin
Kelly, and Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Evansville,
Indiana.  I will be really happy when we
get rid of this three man commentary team in hour one.  Listening to it is like Ross fighting a
verbal handicap match.

Steve Austin comes
out with a white bag and calls out WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, but D-Generation
X appears on the Titantron.  Michaels
says he calls the shot in the WWF and Austin will face him on his schedule.  Michaels says that Austin needs to give him a
reason to come to the ring and Austin says he should because he has the WWF
title.  Michaels blows that off, but
realizes that a toy belt is in his bag and becomes irate.  Austin says that he will be easy to find if
Michaels wants his belt back.  Sometimes
the simple stuff is all you need to do to in order to tell a great story and
that’s all this did.  1 for 1
Call 815-734-1161
to get your RAW is War varsity jacket for $199.99 (plus $21 shipping & handling)!  I really want to know how many people bought this thing at that price.
Sunny comes out to
do guest ring announcing duties for our next match
.
Opening
Contest:  Jeff Jarrett & Barry
Windham (w/The Rock N’ Roll Express & Jim Cornette) beat The Legion of Doom
by disqualification when Bradshaw interferes at 4:59:
The announcers barely talk about the Legion of Doom
losing to the NWA faction two weeks ago and Cole tries to sell this match as
some kind of new attraction.  Of course,
Jarrett and Windham lost on last week’s show to Bradshaw and Flash Funk, so
they don’t seem in line for a push.  The
LOD’s storyline continues to be “are these guys too old?”  When all hell breaks loose, Hawk ends up on
the arena floor and the NWA faction works over his knee before tossing him back
into the ring.  Jarrett proceeds to apply
a figure-four, but Hawk is not going to submit to break character so Bradshaw
does the predictable run-in and although he never touches anyone in the NWA
faction that costs the LOD the match by disqualification.  That makes no sense to Sunny, who seems confused
announcing the result.  With the piped in
crowd noise, you would think this was the main event of WrestleMania.  Rating:  *½ (1 for 2)
D-Generation X is
shown talking about a plan to get the WWF title back from Steve Austin
.
Henry Godwinn
(w/Phineas Godwinn) pins Pierre (w/Jacques) when Phineas hits Pierre with a
slop bucket at 4:24:
The Quebecers and Godwinns began a small feud on the most
recent edition of Shotgun Saturday Night and are booked to face each other at
No Way Out, so this offers a preview of what is come.  Of course, why these teams are booked against each other makes little sense, since both are heels and are not over.  Pierre nearly kills himself with a plancha
and he hits a flying leg drop, which Kelly says he stole from Brian
Christopher.  To be fair, Pierre was
technically a pirate in 1995, so that’s not a stretch.  This match is decent for a big man match, but
the finish is silly as Jacques trips Henry and Henry conveniently puts his head
through the ropes to get hit by a slop bucket. 
Phineas then hits Pierre with his bucket after Jacques distracts the referee
by running from Phineas.  Got that?  Rating: 
*¾ (1 for 3)
Chyna walks in on
the Los Boricuas poker game and speaks to them in Spanish about helping out
with Steve Austin.  Lost in this
translation is how to cheat the paying customer and replace Savio Vega with
Shawn Michaels in the eight man tag match main event at No Way Out.
Shawn Michaels
yelling at Steve Austin last week is the Western Union Rewind segment
.
“Too Sexy” Brian
Christopher & El Pantera beat Taka Michinoku & Aguila when Pantera pins
Michinoku after a flying headbutt at 5:28 shown:
Now, you might remember that Pantera beat Christopher two
weeks ago and Lawler slapped him, so it would make little sense for them to be
partners.  However, on a recent episode
of Shotgun Saturday Night, Pantera turned against Michinoku since they are
facing each other for the light heavyweight title at No Way Out, so they are
teaming up now.  You can tell that all of
this is booked on the fly because Pantera debuted two weeks ago, so they should
have just made him a heel and avoided these problems.  This has a fast start, but Christopher makes
sure he slows that to a crawl when he gets involved.  This has a good finish, as Christopher’s
attempt to hit Michinoku with a foreign object fails, but Pantera puts it in
his mask, makes a blind tag, and headbutts Michinoku to capture the victory and
set himself up as a threat for No Way Out. 
This had its moments if you exclude Christopher’s involvement.  Rating:  **¼ (2 for 4)
Kane and Paul
Bearer come out and Bearer complains about Vader using a fire extinguisher on
Kane last week.  Bearer gives Kane a
Vader clock and Kane uses his magical powers to set it on fire.  Bearer promises that the Undertaker will not
be at No Way Out because the Undertaker is gone.  If the clock fire had been more impressive
I’d give this a point, but it was pretty weak sauce.  2 for
5
The Rock hitting
the Rock Bottom on Tom Brandi on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Footaction Slam
of the Week
.
Jerry Lawler joins
Jim Ross in the booth as we enter hour two
.
The Rock &
Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) beat Ken Shamrock & Chainz (w/The
Disciples of Apocalypse & Ahmed Johnson) when Faarooq pins Shamrock after
the Rock hits Shamrock with a chair at 4:21:
This is our last exhibition bout before the “war of
attrition” ten man tag match at No Way Out. 
Before the match, the Rock makes clear that he is in favor of cloning as
long as it is done very, very selectively and that means no one in Evansville
should be cloned.  In fact, the Rock says
only he should be cloned because he’s the “best damn Intercontinental champion
there ever was.”  They should have just
booked the Rock against the Honky Tonk Man to settle that question once and for
all.  Chainz finds himself in peril and
when Shamrock gets the tag he cleans house and puts Faarooq in the ankle
lock.  However, the referee is busy
sorting out a fight between the factions at ringside and the Rock gets a chair
and delivers a sick shot to help his team win. 
After the match, Shamrock snaps and suplexes the referee and Chainz and
his team has to restrain him.  Rating: 
** (3 for 6)
Footage from the
WrestleMania XIV press conference is shown. 
Vince McMahon announces that the main event is Shawn Michaels defending
the WWF title against Steve Austin and Mike Tyson will serve as the enforcer of
the match.  Tyson puts over Bruno
Sammartino and how much he loved him as a kid. 
Shawn Michaels chews out a reporter who puts down wrestling and Austin
and Michaels have a confrontation and Tyson has to get between them.  This looked like a fun press conference
.
Los Boricuas and
Chyna are shown looking for Steve Austin in the locker room.  Chyna finds a jobber in a towel and tosses
him into a locker.
Steve Blackman
defeats Recon (w/Sniper) via submission to an armbar at 4:33:
This is when they gave Blackman glowing sticks and had
him put on a martial arts display before each match.  Amazing how that didn’t catch on.  Seconds into the match, the Jackyl’s music
hits and he descends from the rafters on a platform and cuts a promo refuting
the idea that he is a sociopath.  The
promo makes it impossible to pay attention to the match, which is a shame
because it is pretty decent.  Jackyl is
upset that Recon loses and slaps him. 
Recon is upset, but the Jackyl turns his back and Recon backs off.  I won’t rate the match, but the Jackyl’s
promo was not very entertaining and neither were the post-match antics.  3 for
7
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear what former NWA champion is having negotiations with Jim
Cornette about coming into the WWF!
The New Age Outlaws
come out in University of Kentucky t-shirts and discuss how they are getting
chills near the entrance because of last week’s dumpster incident.  Billy Gunn wants to recreate it so they pull
out a dumpster and the Road Dogg narrates last week’s events.  They push the dumpster off the entrance and
Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie blow up dolls are inside.  Billy does CPR to the Cactus one and they
promise to hurt Cactus and Chainsaw at No Way Out.  This segment effectively put over the Outlaws
as cocky, arrogant heels that you wanted to see destroyed by Cactus and
Chainsaw.  4 for 8
Los Boricuas and
Chyna continue to look for Steve Austin in the back, but after Los Boricuas go
through some double doors, Austin chains them shut.
Thrasher (w/Mosh)
pins The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Marc Mero, Sable & Luna
Vachon) with a schoolboy at 4:28:
Goldust has become partial to the Marilyn Manson persona,
as he is doing it again for this show. 
This is another preview of a pay-per-view tag team match since the
Headbangers will face Goldust and Marc Mero at No Way Out.  When the crowd starts chanting loudly for
Sable, Mero, Luna, and Goldust order her to the locker room.  This match drags on until Sable comes back
out and gets into a shouting match with Luna. 
When Goldust tries to confront Sable she slaps him and Thrasher takes
advantage to win.  After the match, Mero
has to restrain Luna before she can mix it up with Sable.  The match was not very good, but the angle
behind it had some good heat.  Rating: 
*¼ (5 for 9)
D-Generation X
comes out and Shawn Michaels demands Steve Austin return what belongs to
him.  Austin comes out with the title
belt, but DX flees and the New Age Outlaws wander out.  Chyna grabs the belt from the canvas as
Austin faces four-on-one odds, but Chainsaw Charlie cuts through the canvas and
he and Cactus Jack come from under the ring. 
Owen Hart joins in as well and DX and the New Age Outlaws flee.  Nice closing segment that wetted the
audience’s appetite for the pay-per-view main event.  6 for
10
The Final Report Card:  A decent “go home” show for No Way Out and I
am surprised that the eight man tag team match did not get more build in the
weeks leading up to the show.  Tonight
was really the first sustained hype of the main event.  Regardless, the last segment did what it was
supposed to do and the Austin-Michaels storyline for the evening was well
executed.  The Sable-Mero storyline is
arguably the second best one that the company is doing right now and its
beginning to segway nicely into a mixed tag match for WrestleMania.  The next RAW was held on a Saturday, February
21st, so we will recap No Way Out of Texas and go to that episode.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.2 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up