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 15, 1999

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

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

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

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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 – 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: Monday Night Raw – January 4, 1999

I had a small scare
last week as I could not find my 1999 RAW DVD set to recap these shows.  I eventually found it, so we trudge forth
into another year of WWF action.  One
could argue that 1999 was a turning point in the Monday Night Wars as the WWF
expanded its lead over WCW, although there were several times when WCW may have
been able to capitalize on the WWF pushing some midcard talents up the card to
regain the lead.  This is also the height
of Vince Russo’s power within the company as he will be booking RAWs until
October.
­Michael Cole and Jerry “the King” Lawler are
doing commentary and they are taped from Worchester, Massachusetts.

A video package recaps
Shawn Michaels getting fired on last week’s show and giving Sweet Chin Music to
Vince McMahon.  Kevin Kelly narrates a
small tribute to his career, which Vince hilariously interrupts by shouting “Get
that sentimental crap off the screen!” 
The Corporation walks out with him and Vince promises that Michaels will
not be attending the show since he is not brave.  As Vince talks, Brisco sneakily attaches a Brisco
Brothers Body Shop sign to Kane’s back without him knowing, which is a great
touch.  The Titantron
shows that Michaels has showed up backstage and quickly comes onto the stage
with D-Generation X.  Michael Cole
screams about whether this means DX and Shawn Michaels are back together, a
question that should obviously answer itself. 
We get some corporate speak as Michaels says that he has an ironclad
contract as commissioner so Vince cannot fire him.  After replaying the Royal Rumble drawing that
Vince and Shane McMahon held several weeks ago where Vince received #30 after
wishing he was #2, Michaels gives Vince his wish.  I have to give them credit for justifying
this with Michaels saying that when Vince entered the Rumble he became a
wrestler and under Michaels power. 
Michaels also promises to give Vince a surprise before tonight’s show is
over and that it will drive him “Stone Cold crazy.”
Opening Non-Title
Contest:  Steve Blackman pins Ken
Shamrock (Champion) after Billy Gunn gives Shamrock a Fameasser at 3:25:
The former mixed martial arts allies collide here and Dan
Severn walks out a minute into the bout still sporting a neck brace.  After a few brief minutes of action, Shamrock
nails Severn when Severn gets on the apron and Billy Gunn uses that opportunity
to interfere and cost Shamrock the match. 
How Severn fits into all of this, since he is feuding with Owen Hart, is
not explained.  Rating:  *
The Rock and Vince
McMahon are on the cover of Southwest Spirit magazine!
The camera catches
Ken Shamrock and Billy Gunn brawling backstage before WWF officials separate
them.
Mankind comes out
and says that he wants a WWF title shot against the Rock at the Royal Rumble
since he beat him at Rock Bottom.  He
calls out Vince, who walks out and runs down how Mankind doing things to
appease the people is pathetic.  Vince
says that Mankind does not deserve to be the number one contender because he
has not paid his dues and that he will probably never wrestle for the title
again.  Instead, Vince books a match
between Mankind and Triple H, with the winner getting to enter the Royal
Rumble.  A guest referee will officiate
the match and that referee will be Shane McMahon.  Austin-McMahon gets a lot of attention from
1998-1999, but the Vince-Mankind interactions were a close rival to that feud
in terms of compelling and entertaining television.
Chyna and her friend
Sammi are shown talking backstage.
Mark Henry beats
Goldust via disqualification after Goldust hits Shattered Dreams at 3:40:
Henry really needs a new ring attire as he is still
sporting his Nation of Domination-style gear. 
Cole makes sure that we know all about Henry’s “tree trunk size legs.”  Word is that such a moniker was quite an
honor before Big Show showed up the following month with his “frying pan size
hands.”  Henry has Goldust beat until
Chyna and Sammi appear on the ramp and this distractions causes Henry to fall
prey to Shattered Dreams.  I never got
the logic of the Shattered Dreams move. 
Why use something like that in clear view of the referee when you know
it will get you disqualified?  Rating: 
¾*
After the match,
Chyna and Sammi come to the ring, with Chyna confessing to Henry that he is too
much man for her, and that she and Sammi want to take a load off of his
mind.  Henry faints at this offer.
Congratulations to
Jesse Ventura, who was inaugurated as Minnesota’s governor earlier in the
day.  You see, all of this was due to the
WWF giving him an opportunity years ago! 
What is interesting is that Arnold Schwarzenegger was at the inauguration
and would become California’s governor four years later.
Dennis Knight is
shown chained in a cellar at an undisclosed location.
Test and The
Godfather (w/the Hos) wrestle to a double disqualification at 1:59:
This is before Test got the theme that repeated his name
over and over again so he has this weird country-style tune that is not fitting for a former Metallica bodyguard. 
The Godfather does not offer Test the hos, so you know that he means
business.  Cole also lets us know that
Test has “amazing athletic ability” for – get this – stepping over the top
rope!  Test and the Godfather brawl on
the floor as the referee loses control of the match and Val Venis runs down to
fight with Test before WWF officials break them up.  If you recall, Test and Venis have a
lingering issue from the last show where Test cost Venis his Hardcore title
shot.
Shawn Michaels is
shown having a fun conversation with DX backstage.  Cole is still shocked that they are back
together!
Royal Rumble
Qualifying Match with Shane McMahon as the Special Guest Referee:  Triple H (w/Chyna) defeats Mankind with a
sunset flip at 2:55:
This is a pretty mediocre match, but there’s a reason behind
all of it.  Mankind dominates much of the
action until Triple H hits a sunset flip from the apron and Shane McMahon,
after kicking Mankind’s hands away from the ropes, registers a quick three
count.  Triple H gets on the mic to tell
Mankind that he does not regret winning in such a fashion as it gets him closer
to the WWF title, but he also wishes him a “Happy New Year!” by Pedigreeing
Shane.  Mankind proceeds to put Shane in
a submission hold and threatens to break his shoulder unless Vince gives
him a title shot later in the evening. 
Vince agrees to that and also agrees to make it no disqualification
under duress.  This was such a great
piece of storytelling as the McMahons master plan backfired and babyface
elements that shared a common hatred of the McMahons worked together to make
that happen.
After the segment,
WWF Champion The Rock angrily walks out and complains to Vince about being
booked to defend the title.
D-Lo Brown
wrestles Edge to a no contest at 4:30:
This match does not have a story, but it serves as a
small trial run for two guys that the company had high hopes for at the
time.  Only one of them eventually made
it to main event status, but that is the way things go sometimes.  D-Lo hits a nice Sky High when Edge dives off
the top rope, but PMS walks out to take all of the attention away from that.  Terri
Runnels, who is showing her “pregnancy,” distracts D-Lo and when D-Lo goes
after her, Terri falls off the steps. 
This is the infamous “miscarriage angle” that Jim Cornette still gets
hot about in shoot interviews and with good reason as this served little purpose and probably bothered some viewers who may have gone through
such an awful experience in their lives. 
And of course, the whole thing also ruined this match.  Rating:  *½
Shane McMahon,
Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson, and Kane walk out, with Kane still sporting the
sign on his back from earlier in the show. 
I love how Kane is such an outcast that not a single person backstage
bothered to tell him about it for the last ninety minutes.  Shane gets on the mic and books an impromptu
handicap match that pits the stooges against Kane since they were “remotely
responsible” for Mankind’s attack him a few weeks ago.  Patterson hilariously offers Kane a
cigarette, which is rebuffed, and the stooges eat some chokeslams.  Kane also teases chokeslamming Shane, but is
convinced not to do so under threat of going back to the insane asylum.
Dennis Knight begs
for help as the Acolytes tell him that “It’s time.”  I would be begging for mercy if someone tried
to get me to watch that pay-per-view again too!
Hardcore
Championship Match:  The Road Dogg
(Champion) beats Al Snow (w/Head) 8:35 with a piledriver on some wooden crates:
Snow has still not gotten over his bloodbath at the hands
of the Brood, sporting his blood drenched shirt from several weeks ago.  Snow kills himself to get over here, going
through a table on a moonsault off the ringside barrier and taking chairshots
and cookie sheet shots to the head. 
Speaking of cookie sheets, Road Dogg adds a small touch by unbending a
cookie sheet after he smacks Snow with it, which in wrestling terms makes his
blows pack more power or something like that. 
What the match is notable for is that spills out of the arena
where a snow shower is taking place. 
Referee Jack Doan cannot even maintain his footing as he keeps sliding
on black ice.  Road Dogg ends the match
with a piledriver, continuing his run of entertaining title defenses.  Rating:  ***
The Acolytes toss
Dennis Knight into a smoky room where screams can be heard and close the door
behind him
.
Shawn Michaels
leaves the arena to get the “Stone Cold surprise” and wishes DX well.  After Michaels leaves, Triple H suggests to
the camera that things may not turn out well and sure enough, Michaels cannot
get into his car because he has the wrong key. 
He is locked out of the arena and a voice calls his name as we head to
commercial.  When we return, he is a
bloody mess on the hood of his car and is attended to by medical personnel
A
replay shows that the Corporation was responsible for the assault.
No
Disqualification Match for the WWF Championship Match:  Mankind (w/D-Generation X) pins The Rock
(Champion w/The Corporation) to win the title after Steve Austin hits the Rock
with a chair at 8:48:
The Rock is recovering from his gyno surgery, so he is
wrestling his track outfit here.  An
entertaining sequence takes place when the Rock rips off Cole’s headset to give
some comments and then Mankind beats up the Rock, takes the headset, and
announces to the world that he has “testicular fortitude” in a really corny
way.  They make full use of the no
disqualification stipulation, with the Rock putting Mankind through the
announce table with a Rock Bottom and punishing him with the stairs and ring
bell.  Lawler makes sure to take a dig at
WCW too by saying that this “is not a title match that begins two minutes
before the show ends.”  Despite being no
disqualification, the Rock feels that he has to hide hitting Mankind with the
title and the same is true for the return of Steve Austin to arguably the
loudest pop in the history of the company – interference that gives Mankind an
improbabe WWF championship run.  It
never gets old seeing Austin return here as people jump up and down in the
front row and lose their mind at the title change.  Another great part of the end sequence is Billy
Gunn moving at 100 miles per hour to knock Shamrock for a loop after Shamrock
blasts Mankind with a chair.  The match was
not good, but the heat for the closing sequence was incredible.  Rating:  **¼
The Final Report:  This is a notable show in the company’s
history because WCW famously had Tony Schiavone spoil Mankind’s victory
by saying that “Cactus Jack” would be winning the title and sarcastically
saying “that’ll put butts in the seats!” 
The spoiler did not cause RAW to lose the ratings battle that night, but
it is a myth that viewers immediately turned off Nitro when they heard
Schiavone’s words and flocked over to RAW. 
Still, that idea has acquired its own place in WWF lore like the DX “tank”
turning the Monday Night Wars around. 
The title change and the build up to it is what makes this RAW fun and
it overshadows the offensive stuff such as the Terri miscarriage angle and the
other silly booking related to Mark Henry and Sammi.  Unfortunately, not all shows would be able to
make up for Russo’s weird ideas in 1999, but at least this one hit a
home run to start the year.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.7 (vs. 5.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation: 
Thumbs Up

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