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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NXT – November 25, 2015

NXT
Date: November 25, 2015
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Byron Saxton, Rich Brennan, Corey Graves

It’s another title match week with Bayley defending against Eva Marie in a match that has the potential to burn the place to the ground. The Full Sail fans just do not like Eva no matter what she does and it’s going to be quite the moment if she takes the title from the most popular act in NXT. Let’s get to it.

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 30, 1997

by Logan Scisco

-Jim Ross narrates a video
package about the Undertaker, who will have his secret revealed tonight by Paul
Bearer.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are doing the announcing duties and they
are broadcasting from Des Moines, Iowa
.
Hunter Hearst
Helmsley and Chyna cut a pre-recorded promo, where Helmsley says he might be
facing the World’s Most Dangerous Man, but he is bringing the World’s Most
Dangerous Woman with him.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock defeats Hunter
Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) with a belly-to-belly suplex at 4:38:
Helmsley surprisingly gets in ninety percent of the
offense in this match, with much of it being fists, kicks, and chokes, and
Chyna continues her streak of making a mark by throwing Shamrock into the
steps.  However, Mankind wanders out and
that distracts Helmsley and enables Shamrock to pick up the victory.  A throwaway opener, but it sets up
Mankind-Helmsley for Canadian Stampede.  Rating: 
*
A video package
reviews the Ahmed Johnson heel turn and the emergence of the WWF gang
wars.  Ross says that Ahmed had to have
knee surgery this week and Ahmed says that when he comes back he’s going to go
right after the Undertaker.
Michael Cole makes
his Raw debut by interviewing the Legion of Doom in the locker room.  The LOD say that no one has come close to
beating them legally in their WWF tenure and they are ready for Faarooq and
D-Lo Brown tonight.
Sunny has money in
her cleavage to hype the One Million Dollar Challenge contest that is
affiliated with the SummerSlam pay-per-view.
Tag Team
Tournament Semi-Finals:  Faarooq &
D-Lo Brown (w/Kama Mustafa) defeat The Legion of Doom when Faarooq pins Hawk
after Henry Godwinn nails Hawk with a bucket:
The Godwinns appear near the entrance to watch the
contest and D-Lo faces less of a size disadvantage than he did in the Nation’s
first round match last week.  The match
proceeds along at a brisk pace and the LOD give D-Lo a Doomsday Device, but the
Godwinns interfere and the Nation scores a major upset to make the finals.  Rating:  ¼*
McMahon interviews
Faarooq and Faarooq demands to know why one of the members of the Nation did
not get Ahmed Johnson’s scheduled title match with the Undertaker at Canadian
Stampede.  When he is told that Vader is
getting the shot, Faarooq argues that Vader is getting the shot because he’s
white and that the DOA was sent to injure Ahmed by the Undertaker.  Well that would explain why the Undertaker
starting riding a bike in 2000.  Savio
Vega interrupts the promo and says that he is out for revenge and Savio’s gang,
the soon to be called Los Boricuas, interfere and fight the Nation.  When WWF officials get that settled, DOA
comes out to the biggest pop of all the groups and join the fight.
Cole tells us that
the Legion of Doom have left the building and he is interrupted by Los
Boricuas.  Savio introduces his gang and
says that they are in the WWF to kick ass.
Film of Sunny’s
photo shoot for Raw magazine is shown and this includes photos of a liaison
with Brian Pillman
.
Footage of Jerry
Lawler piledriving wrestlers is shown because he is Brian Christopher’s mentor.
“Too Sexy” Brian
Christopher beats Scott Putski with a rollup after Jerry Lawler interferes at
3:37:
This continues the series of light heavyweight matches
that have been on Raw for the last few weeks. 
It is somewhat surprising that Putski didn’t establish a more regular
role with the company at this time because he had a good look and was competent
in the ring.  The crowd really isn’t into
this, but the WWF was misguided in just throwing light heavyweights out there
and thinking the crowd would react.  The
crowds did that in WCW because the cruiserweights were flying through the air
and throwing out tons of insane spots. 
The WWF did not have those kinds of wrestlers, so they needed to give
these guys some mic time and semblance of storylines to make people care.  Putski appears to have the match won with a
splash off the top rope, but Lawler interferes and trips Putski when he tries a
running powerslam and his son wins.  This
was perfectly acceptable and had a good pace, but the screwjob finishes are
getting excessive this evening since this is our third in a row.  Rating:  **
After the match,
Lawler and Christopher give Putski a spike piledriver and cut a brief
promo.  Lawler throws some ethnic slurs
at Putski’s Polish heritage and Christopher stumbles through his part.  This appears to be setting up a future tag
team match between Lawler and Christopher and the Putskis.
Steve Austin’s
imitation of Hulk Hogan in ECW, which is on the video Cause Stone Cold Said
So
is played for the audience.
-The Undertaker is
in the locker room and he tells fans that they are going to hear a slanted
version of the worst night of his life and it’s a night that changed him
forever.  He tells fans not to let their
minds to be poisoned by Paul Bearer and to give him a chance to tell his side
of the story.
Ross narrates a
video hyping the appearance of the Great Sasuke at the Canadian Stampede.
Brian Pillman apologizes
attacking a fan on Shotgun Saturday Night, which got him banned from that
show.  He also apologizes for being the
voice of reason and being willing to tell it like it is.
“The Loose
Cannon” Brian Pillman defeats Mankind via count out at 6:01 shown:
Mankind is still wearing the “Pick Me Steve” sign,
although he’s not wearing an Austin 3:16 shirt. 
Mankind gives Ross a present at the announce table, which ends up being
a Mandible Claw hand.  Pillman just takes
it out of Ross’s hand and drives it into Mankind’s face and then proceeds to
tear up his sign.  Steve Austin appears
in the split screen and says that he doesn’t want to team with Mankind because
he sucks.  The storyline in this match is
that Pillman is losing his mind after getting fired from Shotgun Saturday Night
and he tries to stab Mankind with a pencil, which is interrupted by Earl
Hebner.  We get a fun brawl, but when
Mankind applies the Mandible Claw, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna interfere
and when Mankind chases after them he gets counted out.  That brings our screwjob streak to four.  Rating:  **
Paul Bearer says
that he looks forward to revealing the Undertaker’s secret tonight
.
McMahon interviews
Bearer, who is attacked by a fan on his way to the ring.  Since it only takes a camera man to take the
fan away, I would venture to say that it would have to be a plant.  Bearer says that he was an apprentice for the
Undertaker’s father at a funeral home for two years, but he noticed that the
Undertaker as a child had the look of the devil.  Despite this, the Undertaker’s younger
brother Kane followed his around everywhere and Bearer starts getting a little
ridiculous talking about them smoking cigarettes behind a barn.  He said when he came back from college
classes one night, the funeral home was burned down and he says the Undertaker
did it and killed his family.  The lights
flicker in the arena as we go to a commercial break.
Vader is shown
congratulating Bearer backstage on revealing the secret.
Sable models the
cash for the Million Dollar Challenge and Marc Mero is not happy about it.
Tag Team
Tournament Semi-Finals:  Owen Hart &
The British Bulldog defeat The Headbangers when Owen pins Mosh with a roll up
at 4:07:
With the Legion of Doom eliminated, the tag team
tournament has become a mere formality, as it is quite inconceivable that Owen
and the Bulldog would do the job here or in the finals.  Bret Hart calls into the show from Calgary
and he hypes the Canadian Stampede pay-per-view.  The phone interview takes all the attention
away from the match, in which both teams evenly trade offense, but the Bulldog
crotches Thrasher when the Headbangers try to do their flying leg
drop-powerbomb combination to Owen and Owen rolls up Mosh to advance his team.  Rating:  *½
After the match,
Jim Cornette congratulates his former team and tells them that he wants to
introduce his new team that never made it in time for the tournament and the
men he brings out are the Headhunters. 
Owen and the Bulldog quickly leave, though, so the Headhunters square
off with the Headbangers in an awkward exchange, which ends with the
Headhunters delivering a flying headbutt and moonsault to their new foes.  This never led to anything.
The Undertaker
addresses his fans from the locker room and says that the funeral home did burn
down.  He says Kane and he were playing
with matches and they were punished by his father, but he says that Kane
probably burned it down because he saw him with embalming liquids as he headed
off to do his chores.  He claims to have
returned from his chores to see that the funeral home had burned down.  He then says that the event put him on a path
of walking in darkness and absorbing the power of death.
Vader (w/Paul
Bearer) defeats Rockabilly (w/The Honky Tonk Man) by disqualification when the
Undertaker interferes at 24 seconds:
So we go from a great deal of discussion about death and
people burning alive to the Rockabilly theme. 
That’s quite a mood shift.  Vader
no sells a guitar shot to the back at the beginning of the contest, but before
Rockabilly can endure a major beating, the Undertaker runs out and then goes
after Bearer.  The Undertaker tells
Bearer to tell the world the truth and Bearer tells him that Kane is alive and
told him that the Undertaker burned down the funeral home.  After that revelation, Vader hits the
Undertaker from behind and runs away.  I’m sure the Internet liked Vader playing a cowardly heel in 1997.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of Cause Stone Cold Said So for $19.95 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin beats Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart by disqualification when Bret Hart
interferes at 8:10 shown:
This is a small rematch from a few weeks back when these
two men faced each other and Austin won in less than two minutes because of a
disqualification.  Austin shows off his
anti-hero persona by grabbing the ropes on abdominal stretch.  During the commercial break, Bret Hart
attacks Ken Shamrock, the only member of Austin’s team at Canadian Stampede in
the building, backstage.  The match never
seems to click, with Neidhart using lots of rest holds, even though he does
take a bump on the entrance ramp for Austin. 
Unsurprisingly, Bret runs out and interferes and puts Austin in the ring
post figure-four until Mankind rushes out to break it up by putting Bret in a
Mandible Claw and that plays us out.  Rating: 
¾*
The Final Report Card:  This show had its moments, with the
revelation of the Undertaker’s secret, but the rest of it was a chore to sit
through.  The closing segment was fun,
but the Austin-Neidhart match was not and the tag team tournament matches were
rushed and did nothing for any of the participants.  The screwjob finishes also got tiresome by
the end of the evening.  The first thumbs
down effort for Raw in a while, but they have a good pay-per-view coming up
that we will discuss next week.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.5 (vs. 3.3 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

Sympathy For Cole?

Hey Scott,     I appreciate you indulging the questions I and others pose to you.  I have a question for you, which I’m sure will cause some good debate amongst the Keithminers.  Is Michael Cole a sympathetic figure?  Hear me out: His debut was at SummerSlam ’97 when he tried to interview Stone Cold on his way to his infamous match with Owen Hart.  Austin called him a piece of trash, and threatened to make the new guy kiss his ass.  After middling around as an interview guy/merchandise stand for The Rock, he suddenly gets thrown in as lead announcer when Jim Ross is struck with Bells Palsy.  It was very clear he was not ready for the job, as you pointed out many times in your brutal but hilarious rants.  My favorites are “Michael Cole the Goatee Wearing Little Bitch”, your recap of the Rock/Mankind I quit match at the ’99 Rumble, calling him out for saying the most dangerous part of Hell in a Cell is getting your fingers caught in the cage, and my all-time favorite SK match, the Rock Bottom Buried Alive match, with your running gag based on Cole’s assertion that the tombstone above the grave  “weighs in excess of 3000 pounds.” When Ross mercifully came back, he went right back to being humiliated weekly backstage.  He finally catches a break when he is paired with Taz on Smackdown! doing a much better, if unremarkable, job as the lead commentator on the B show.  Then Vince decides, without telling them, that JR and Cole will be switching brands in the 2008 draft.  Clearly Vince wants Cole to be his new lead, since he has been groomed in the “WWE Style” commentary that Vince loves.  Naturally the fans rebel and Vince, since he knows better, just has Cole turn heel, because what better way to make someone hated by the fans popular than by making him a jerk.  His running down of Daniel Bryan wasn’t too bad, but then he is forced to repeatedly mock JR’s weight and Bells Palsy, comment on Jerry Lawler’s mom dying and bringing his son out to call his father neglectful, act like a chauvinist pig, stuff his paunchy announcer body into a skin tight unitard, “wrestle” a match that would have been ranked worst of the year if not for Jeff Hardy and basically put down every face in the company not named John Cena.  Add to that, he is now the embodiment of everything the fans hate about the WWE.  His relentless Twitter chatter, not to mention confusing trending with most talked about, ignoring the action in the ring, calling belts championships, using the term sports entertainment and calling wrestlers superstars.  There was an incident on Raw a few months back where he called CM Punk a superstar on commentary, and Punk insisted he was a wrestler. My point is, it seems like he was a guy who was treated like a joke for so long, got some credibility, was thrust into a spot the fans hated, and then became the most hated heel in the company for the wrong reasons. While I have heard he has a bit of an ego since he is friends with Cena, I can’t imagine this heel crap was all his idea.  Vince loves to make his employees due what he wants no matter how much the hate it.  Michelle McCool admitted in an interview she and Layla hated the Piggie James storyline, but Vince wouldn’t relent. Mark Henry was forced to be felt up by a cross dresser, get in a sexual relationship with an 80 year old woman AND admit to being in an incestuous relationship with his sister, all allegedly to get him to quit so Vince could reneg on that infamous contract.  While I’m sure Cole enjoys his salary, and the luxury of being considered an employee and getting benefits, he just seems like a guy who was doomed from the start and never saw the signs coming. Thoughts?

  You lost me at “Sympathy for Michael Cole.”  Although there did used to be a point where he would appear to have a mind of his own without Vince yelling in his ear all the time, but a couple of years ago he appeared to buy into the Michael Cole Character 100% and would act that way even when it was known that Vince was in another country at the time.  No, I’m afraid the Michael Cole who had potential to grow and change is long dead. 

Cole v. Lawler

Dear Scott,While reading your review of last year’s Wrestlemania, I was reminded of an idea I had that seemed like it was just RIPE for the picking to use in the Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole match. Why didn’t anyone just lift a carbon copy of Jerry Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman for that bout? It seems like it would have fit perfectly. Cole runs like a pansy for the first five minutes, Lawler finally says enough of that crap and allows him a freebie, suplex, piledriver, pinfall, everyone goes home happy. Total match time about 5-7 minutes.
Think such an idea would have gone over well with the fans? 

You misremember the original match, though.  It wasn’t suplex, piledriver, pinfall, everyone goes home happy.  It was suplex, piledriver, ref calls for the DQ, everyone goes home pissed off and they do rematches for months afterwards.  That was the irony of the whole thing, because Kaufman literally did nothing and Lawler cost himself the match.  Plus Kaufman never pretended to be a tough guy character, he fought women and played up his Hollywood softness.  Michael Cole (the character) imagines himself to be a fighter and would attempt to get some offense in.  The basic plot of the match was fine:  Lawler beats him up, Cole only gains the advantage with the help of Swagger, Lawler makes the comeback and wins but the decision is reversed by the corrupt GM due to a technicality.  The only major problem was that it was WAY too long and killed the match.  However, they should have gone with the Lawler v. Bret template from Summerslam 93, where the decision is reversed because Lawler beats Cole into a pulp after his win, and he’s so pissed off and fired up that the referee has to disqualify him.  That makes Cole look like an even bigger pussy by claiming victory that way when clearly he was beaten senseless, plus fans get the satisfaction of watching Cole getting beaten into a pulp.