What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 2, 1995

“Double J” Jeff Jarrett lets us know how great he is going to be in his signing debut on tonight’s RAW.

Gorilla Monsoon and Shawn Michaels are doing commentary and they are taped from Liberty, New York.  This episode was taped on December 12, 1994.

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What the World Was Watching: WrestleMania XV

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

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

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

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

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

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 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: 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 – 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 – December 7, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps Steve Austin and Kane beating up Paul Bearer on last week’s show.  We are also reminded of the Big Bossman
beating Mankind for the Hardcore title.
Michael Cole and
Jerry “The King” Lawler are doing commentary for tonight’s go home show for
Rock Bottom:  In Your House.  Jim Ross was on a hiatus for this show
because his mother had passed away.  In
his first sentence, Cole lets us know that RAW is the “most controversial
sports entertainment television show.” 
It is easy to be a leader when you are in a category of one.  This show was taped in New Haven,
Connecticut.

Triple H, X-Pac,
and Chyna walk out and Triple H calls out the New Age Outlaws, who have been
flirting with the Corporation.  The
Outlaws walk out in suits and the Road Dogg announces them as the Corporate
Outlaws.  Commissioner Shawn Michaels
comes out at the behest of the Outlaws and he and Triple H shoot at each other,
with Triple H saying that he carried Michaels around when he no longer should
have been wearing the WWF title. 
Michaels books Triple H and X-Pac to face the Big Bossman and Ken
Shamrock in a “anything goes match” later in the evening, saying that if the
Outlaws get involved then “so be it.”  At
the end of the segment, the McMahons shake the Outlaws hands near the
entrance.  All the inside references here
might have been fun in 1998, but it does not translate well to today.  Also, the segment lacked a lot of intensity
from all sides.  0 for 1
Backstage, Triple
H tells Chyna to watch he and X-Pac’s back in their tag match tonight.
Opening
Contest:  D-Lo Brown (w/Mark Henry) pins
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra McMichael) with a cradle at 4:17:
This is a rematch from Sunday Night Heat, where D-Lo
Brown clocked Jarrett with his own guitar. 
Jarrett is booked to face Goldust at Rock Bottom in a striptease
match.  D-Lo dominates much of the match,
nearly killing Jarrett with the running powerbomb.  Again, why did no one in the locker room
force D-Lo to quit using that move?  Of course,
we cannot have a RAW match these days without a distraction and Goldust walks out
in a raincoat.  He flashes Debra, leading
to D-Lo cradling Jarrett and winning. 
These two guys were just going through the motions until Goldust walked
out.  Rating:  *½ (0 for 2)
Steve Austin tells
Tony Garea that he is angry over what has been going on lately in the WWF.
Call 814-734-1161
to get your WWF cologne for men for $19.99 (plus $4 shipping &
handling)!  Adam and George sell it in a
mock NWO ad.
Clips of Vince
McMahon’s talk at Oxford University is shown. 
Evidently it was a give-and-take talk with students, so I can only
imagine the type of questions that he fielded.
The Headbangers
defeat Gangrel & Edge via disqualification when Luna Vachon interferes at
2:06:
It is just weird to see several matches of this Edge and
Gangrel team when you are so used to seeing Edge and Christian together.  After each team exchanges cool double team
moves, Luna runs out and attacks the Headbangers.  She is followed by Tiger Ali Singh and Babu
for some reason and the Oddities then run out and destroy the Headbangers.  Uh, okay. 
It also does not make a lot of sense for the Oddities to still use the
ICP theme music when they were turned on by that same group.  The match was less than three minutes, so it
gets no rating.
Mankind says that
he will not leave Steve Austin’s side for their scheduled tag team match
against the Rock and Mankind
Paul Bearer
getting stuffed into a sewer on last week’s show is the Glover Rewind segment.
Vince McMahon gets
in Paul Bearer’s face backstage and demands to know if the Undertaker will work
with the Rock tonight.  Bearer says
McMahon has nothing to worry about.
Goldust beats
Owen Hart with a schoolboy at 4:17:
Owen unretired the previous night on Sunday Night Heat in
order to face Steve Blackman at Rock Bottom. 
At least Owen’s retirement lasted longer than John Cena’s firing and the
Authority’s banishment.  Unfortunately,
it did not last long enough for his sake. 
We get a decent back-and-forth bout until Debra does her own version of
the raincoat trick, which distracts Owen more than Goldust and produces the
finish.  Just television filler here and
the finish was completely predictable.  Rating: 
*½ (0 for 3)
Footage of WWF
superstars talking to British fans before the Capital Carnage event is
shown.  Some British fans give their take
on WWF action, but unfortunately we do not get any gems like SummerSlam 1992.
Before the next
match, the Godfather and Val Venis come out with the hos.  The Godfather says he is going to give one of
the fans two hos tonight and picks out a fat guy named Bob from the audience.  I guess this was the WWF’s 1998 version of
Make a Wish?  0 for 4
The Acolytes
(w/Jackyl) wrestle Supply & Demand to a double disqualification in 57
seconds:
This is Bradshaw gimmick change number four, but this one
finally got him over with the audience. 
Amazing what you can do if you take two hard-hitting guys, team them up,
and give them some momentum.  Both teams
brawl inside and outside the ring, not paying any heed to the referee’s
directions and get disqualified.  If this
builds to a future match, this was perfectly acceptable booking.
Steve Austin
hitting the Undertaker with a shovel is the JVC Kaboom! of the Week.
Austin walks out
and says that the Undertaker will receive no mercy at Rock Bottom.  The Undertaker gives a voiceover in response,
as his symbol – not to be confused with a cross so as not to draw unnecessary
heat from Christian groups – is hoisted up in the air.  The Undertaker promises to sacrifice Austin
and his symbol goes up in flames.  The Austin
promo was solid here, but the Undertaker’s Ministry garbage is already old at
this point.  I think I just have
Austin-Undertaker fatigue.  0 for 5
Mankind is shown
talking to himself, upset that Austin does not consider him a friend, as he
exits the boiler room of the arena.
Steve Blackman
defeats Tiger Ali Singh (w/Babu) with a pump kick at 2:13:
As I keep getting exposed to bad Tiger Ali Singh matches,
it goes to show how the hype for this guy was completely unwarranted in the
fall of 1997.  In fact, the hype for
Singh and Taka Michinoku appeared unwarranted by this point since Michinoku was
DOA after losing the Light Heavyweight title. 
At least they put Blackman over clean as a sheet here.
After the match,
the Blue Blazer comes to attack Blackman, but trips running down the ramp.  Blackman attacks him, but Owen Hart appears
and slams Blackman on the ramp.  You see,
they are not the same person!
Mankind looks for
Steve Austin backstage, with a garbage bag over his shoulder.  He finally finds Austin’s locker room.
Get the new
edition of Rolling Stone.  Steve Austin
is profiled in it!
Mark Henry
(w/D-Lo Brown) beats Darren Drozdov (w/Animal) with a splash at 3:27:
We are just getting vague updates about Hawk’s condition
after falling off the Titantron a few weeks ago, so someone must have come to
their senses and realized that that segment was in poor taste.  Henry is a bumping machine in this match,
taking a nasty spill to the floor and flipping himself into the steps.  Chyna walks out and instead of decking Henry,
she decks Droz, thereby helping Henry pick up the win.  Very rough bout, but that is more on Droz
than Henry.  Rating:  ½* (0 for 6)
A camera catches
the New Age Outlaws talking strategy with Shawn Michaels, the Big Bossman, and
Ken Shamrock.
No Holds
Barred:  Triple H & X-Pac (w/Chyna)
defeat The Big Bossman & Ken Shamrock 8:18
This is Triple H’s first in-ring appearance on RAW after
he returned from injury on last week’s show. 
The Big Bossman starts the match by wanting to use his night stick and
then tosses it aside like a moron to wrestle a regular bout.  There is a funny moment early in the match
when X-Pac asks the audience if they want him to tag Triple H, which gets a
tepid response.  In another fun spot, the
steps fall on the Big Bossman after his attempt to ram them into X-Pac fails.  According to the statistics we received at
TLC two months ago, that should have killed him.  One thing that irks me about matches like
this is that they should function as tornado tags since the rules are suspended
(see LOD-Nasty Boys at SummerSlam 1991 for this same criticism).  Eventually, the New Age Outlaws walk out, but
when Billy Gunn gets the opportunity to deck Triple H with a chair he nails
Shamrock instead.  SWERVE!  Somehow this leads to a disqualification, or
something like that, in a NO HOLDS BARRED match.  Rating:  *½ (0 for 7)
Mankind exits
Steve Austin’s locker room.
D-Generation X
celebrates their swerve in the locker room.
Steve Austin
arrives in his locker room and finds a trash bag with a beer in it.
Steve Austin
& Mankind beat The Rock & The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) by
disqualification when the Big Bossman and Ken Shamrock interfere at 8:18:
Mankind must have stiffed Earl Hebner on some shirt sales
because he starts the match before Austin even comes to the ring.  The excitement is too much for Michael Cole,
who has lost his voice by this point in the show.  This bout is a vintage Attitude Era brawl,
with four-way action starting the match and everyone getting in their big spots
before the inevitable run-in by the Corporation.  Rating:  ** (1 for 8)
After the bell,
the Bossman handcuffs Mankind to the top rope while the Undertaker blasts
Austin with the timekeeper’s bell and a chair. 
The Undertaker carries Austin up the ramp and the druids tie Austin to
the Undertaker’s symbol, raising it as the show goes off the air.  And where is Kane?  Somehow all this ridiculousness means that
Austin is in trouble at Rock Bottom because the Undertaker has taken his “mind,
body, and soul.”  People say the 1994
Rumble stuff is bad, but this is much, much worse.  I was laughing at my television due to how
stupid this was.  1 for 9
The Final Report Card:  Survivor Series was a great show from a
storytelling perspective, but the company is in a dead period before the
eventual Rock-Austin showdown at WrestleMania. 
The lack of a strong build for Rock-Mankind, which is relying heavily
upon what happened at Survivor Series and not much else, and fatigue with the
Austin-Undertaker feud means that something in the midcard needs to stand out,
but nothing is since it is so weak.  Think
about it:  Owen Hart is basically a
comedy act with this Blue Blazer story, the LOD 2000 storyline has fizzled
after Hawk fell off the Titantron, the Godfather is wandering around with Val
Venis as a quasi-tag team, and the Brood are just randomly inserted into
matches with very little direction.  As
things stand, Mark Henry is arguably the MVP of midcard storylines because at
least his issue with Chyna is interesting. 
Another criticism of this show is that the company could have gotten a
few more weeks of mileage out of the Outlaws feigning that they had gone
corporate.  They burned through that
storyline too quickly.  Just skip this
show if they ever upload 1998 RAWs to the Network and get to Rock Bottom.  You will not miss anything.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.15 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Breakdown – In Your House

by Logan Scisco

So after a three week absence my column has
returned.  Graduate school caught up with
me and I had a litany of papers and book readings due that prohibited me from
blocking out three hours to watch this show. 
I got all of that out of the way, though
The WWF must have
had a history buff on the production staff at this time because the video
package for this card features clips of John F. Kennedy, Benito Mussolini, and
George Patton.  It is like a tame version
of Mr. McMahon’s Utopia, but it is very effective at getting you excited for
the show.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Hamilton, Ontario,
Canada.

Opening
Contest:  Owen Hart pins Edge with a
rollup at 9:16:
Based on what was taking place on RAW, I have no idea why
they did not book Edge-Gangrel here. 
Both men get loud ovations during their entrances, but Owen generates
some heat by coming out in a Toronto Argonauts jersey.  Owen is the right guy to lead the rookie through
a good match and this one goes back and forth for more than nine minutes with
neither man sustaining much of an advantage. 
Owen actually makes the “let me land on my feet as I’m diving toward
your foot” spot work as he applies the Sharpshooter, but Edge quickly
escapes.  The man soon to be known as
Christian appears near ringside and that allows Owen to cradle Edge
and hand the rookie his first loss.  I
did not expect this result at the time, as Owen was directionless in terms of
storylines.  One of the better openers of
1998 that a lot of people forget.  If you
have never seen it, I suggest checking it out. 
Rating:  ***¼
Dok Hendrix and
Sable urge us to call the Superstar line. 
Sable is a horrible pitchwoman for this.
Al Snow &
Scorpio (w/Head) beat Too Much after Snow pins Scott Taylor after a Snow Plow
at 8:04:
Snow is a permanent part of the company now after beating
Commissioner Slaughter in a boot camp match on RAW.  WWF and WCW were in this weird phase in 1998
of booking pay-per-view matches between competitors that appeared on their C
and D shows and this is a great example of that.  The WCW example would be the Norman
Smiley-Prince Iaukea match at Starrcade. 
This match is a dull mess that takes seven minutes to setup Snow decking
Too Much with Head to get revenge for King of the Ring.  If Brian Christopher had not
been Lawler’s kid, I think he and Taylor would have been released by this
point.  It is a good thing they
eventually stumbled on the Too Cool gimmick. 
Rating:  ½*
Michael Cole
interviews the Undertaker and Kane.  The
Undertaker says that it is no one’s business who will beat Steve Austin for the
WWF title tonight, but assures the audience that they have reached a deal with
each other.
“Marvelous” Marc
Mero (w/Jacqueline) beats Darren Drozdov with Marvelocity 5:11:
Our series of Shotgun Saturday Night-style matches with
little build continues here, but hey, at least this is unique.  Ross cannot help himself in referring to
Mero’s old persona by saying that he is no longer a “Badd man.”  Mero just gets the hell beat out of him in
this match, as you can tell he is taking some stiff and reckless offense from
his opponent.  Jacqueline hits Droz
behind the referee’s back with a shoe and Mero uses that to hit Marvelocity
(the awesome new name for the Wild Thing) and win.  So Mero now needs shoe interference to beat
someone of Droz’s caliber? 
Unsurprisingly, this was Mero’s last win on WWF pay-per-view.  Rating:  *
Call
1-800-737-1161 to get your “Down Where? 
Down Here!” D-Generation X t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping &
handling)!
A clean shaven
Bradshaw, a look that makes him look COMPLETLEY different from his former
Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw and Blackjack Bradshaw gimmicks, says Vader is about to
learn it is “about survival of the fittest, not survival of the fattest.”
No Holds Barred,
Falls Count Anywhere:  Bradshaw pins
Vader with a neckbreaker at 7:56:
This match actually has a story as Bradshaw and Vader
tried to be tag team partners during the summer and that did not work out.  In retrospect, the WWF should have let that
team just run through the division for a while. 
Who would not want to see Vader and Bradshaw just annihilating guys with
power moves?  Then again, that was eventually what Bradshaw and Faarooq became and what do you know, that finally got Bradshaw over. 
They brawl a little on the outside to pay lip service to the stipulation
and then kick out of each other’s finishers. 
Who do these guys think they are working a main event style?  Another lariat and a neckbreaker from
Bradshaw, which Ross does his best to sell as a finisher as devastating as Jake
Roberts DDT, put Vader away in what is the Mastadon’s last WWF pay-per-view
appearance until 2005 (and let’s just forget about that one).  We are proving the law of diminishing returns
with these B-level matches thus far.  Rating: 
½*
Kevin Kelly, Tom
Pritchard, and Jason Sensation talk about tonight’s remaining matches.  His impressions here of the Rock and Jeff
Jarrett are not very good.
D-Lo Brown beats
Gangrel with the Sky High at 7:51:
Since D-Lo is no longer the European champion, he is back
to being billed from Chicago.  Looking
back, Gangrel was a character ahead of its time.  The 1990s had the goth craze, but with the
Twilight stuff that came a decade or so later this gimmick could have been
bigger than it was.  Gangrel takes the
running powerbomb like a champ and that’s the highlight as the crowd gradually
turns on D-Lo’s stalling and the match’s tedious pace.  Gangrel has several botches as well, so that
just makes the match come off even worse. 
Lawler makes fun of a fan with a Hulkamania sign in the crowd, to which
Ross asks if he is playing the air guitar. 
God, I miss snarky commentary like this that was actually
entertaining.  Eventually, Mark Henry
wanders out, rams Gangrel into the post, and helps his friend win.  Like Edge, this is Gangrel’s first loss.  So, why didn’t we get Gangrel-Edge on this show
instead of having them both lose to Owen and D-Lo?  After the match, Gangrel spits blood in
Henry’s eyes and hits D-Lo with the Implant DDT to get some of his heat
back.  This was just awful.  Law of diminishing returns still in effect!  Rating:  ¼*
A video package
recaps the end of the triple threat match on RAW between the Rock, Ken
Shamrock, and Mankind where Kane and the Undertaker interfered and beat up all
of the participants.
Shamrock tells
Cole he will go as far as it takes to become the number one contender for the
WWF championship.
Dok Hendrix interviews
the Rock, who gets a big pop from the crowd. 
He promises to lay the smackdown on Shamrock and Mankind and make them
famous.  It’s amazing how far along the
Rock’s promo work has come over the past year.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Mankind, who goes on a hilarious rant about stupid things he has
seen in his life.  It culminates in an
indictment of the People’s Elbow.  He
promises not to sell it.
Triple Triple
Threat, Steel Cage Match to Determine the #1 Contender for the WWF
Championship:  The Rock beats Ken
Shamrock & Mankind when he pins Shamrock after a Mankind chair shot at
18:47:
This is one of the last uses of the blue bar steel cage
and this has pinfall, submission, and escape rules.  I remember being really excited for this
because you could do this type of match in that awful WWF Warzone game on the
Nintendo 64.  Fighting your friends to escape the cage was always a good
time, assuming you could go all the crazy button combos to pull off the moves.  The Rock is insanely over here,
getting chants before his entrance and throughout the match.  Things pick up ten minutes in when the Rock
overcomes a Mankind and Shamrock double team to deliver a double People’s Elbow.  Not to be outdone, Mankind later dives off
the top of the cage to try to elbow drop the Rock, but misses.  Shamrock brings a chair into the ring when he
is prevented from escaping the cage and he eventually get smashed in the head
with it by Mankind.  However, Mankind
opts to climb out instead of going for the pin and the Rock covers Shamrock to win before Mankind can reach the floor. 
That was a nice finish and the right guy went over, but this
had too much one-on-one action and too many dead spots for my taste.  Rating:  ***
A video package
recaps the Val Venis-Dustin Runnels feud
.
Val Venis (w/Terri
Runnels) defeats Dustin Runnels with the Money Shot at 9:10:
This was the only pay-per-view appearance for Runnels
preacher gimmick, which gets the jobber entrance.  To show how times have changed, Runnels is
somehow the heel here.  This match is
also the return of Terri Runnels to television after being gone for eleven
months.  Since Venis wrestles as a heel
here, this match dies on the vine as the crowd does not care about Runnels and
why should they?  The guy has not won a
meaningful match all year.  Venis forgets
to kick out of a bulldog at two and mercifully recovers and finishes the preacher off with the Money Shot.  After the match, Venis makes
out with Terri in the ring.  Thankfully,
Runnels would bring back the Goldust character to pay this off.  Rating:  ½*
We get a recap of
Jeff Jarrett’s continuing feud with D-Generation X that should have ended after
SummerSlam.
X-Pac & The
New Age Outlaws beat Jeff Jarrett & Southern Justice when Billy Gunn pins Dennis
Knight after a Fameasser at 11:20:
This is the last pay-per-view appearance for Southern
Justice, as Mark Canterbury reinjured his neck after this and never returned to
WWF television.  X-Pac is placed in peril
and is well suited for the role to take Southern Justice’s power moves.  Despite that, the crowd could care less about
Jarrett and Southern Justice, so this match, like many on tonight’s card, plays
in front of a largely silent audience.  The
crowd finally gets into this when all hell breaks loose and in the midst of that,
Jarrett levels X-Pac with a guitar. 
However, Gunn is able to catch Knight with a Fameasser (not yet named)
and put D-Generation X over.  After the
match, X-Pac is selling an eye injury due to the guitar shot.  Rating:  ½*
A video package
hypes tonight’s triple threat match for the WWF championship.
Triple Threat
Match for the WWF Championship:  Kane and
the Undertaker pin Steve Austin (Champion) after a double chokeslam to create a confusing situation at 22:05:
In this match, Vince McMahon threatened to strip Austin
of the WWF title if any superstar tried to help him and stipulated that Kane
and the Undertaker could not pin each other. 
Austin launches a pre-emptive strike with a chair on the Undertaker
during the latter’s entrance, which is the appropriate way to start the match,
but he cannot capitalize and put Kane away before the Undertaker recovers.  What I liked about the stipulation for this
match is that it actually made some of the rest spots appear sensible, as Austin
would try to keep Kane or the Undertaker out of the match and focus on the
other man.  In other words, this is like
those ridiculous handicap matches the No Mercy career mode would make you play.  It takes sixteen minutes before Kane and the
Undertaker turn on each other, but they eventually join forces at the end to
put Austin away with a double chokeslam. 
The only problem is that they both pin Austin, so who is the new
champion?  Austin had some well-timed
comebacks and Ross’s commentary helped, but Kane and the Undertaker just did
not have enough creative offense to take this up a notch.  Rating:  **½
After the bell,
McMahon sends Gerald Brisco to ringside to grab the bell and then runs to his
limo backstage, escaping as Austin beats up the stooges.  He flips Austin off before his limo speeds
into the night.
The Final Report Card:  This was a very, very strange card.  Lots of matches added at the last second and
the crowd did not care about a lot of what was taking place in the ring outside
of the WWF championship match and the triple threat cage match.  If you need a cure for insomnia, this is a
great show to pick because after the opener things gradually get worse with the
exception of the triple threat.  The
ending to the main event eventually created a great fall storyline, but it was
an awful ending for a sub-par pay-per-view. 
What is it about September shows and screwy finishes when it comes to
this company?  In Your House 3, the weird
ending to IYH:  Mind Games in 1996, the
Ground Zero double disqualification between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker
(although that was actually good), and last year’s Randy Orton-Daniel Bryan
debacle.  The company might as well run a
show called “September Screwed” (hey, it’s better than Fast Lane!) because it has an awful record putting on
enjoyable shows during that month of the year.
Attendance: 
17,405
Buyrate: 
0.86 (+0.41 from previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

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

Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from San Jose, California.  We are finally back on Monday nights, so this
should be a better show.

As we come on the air,
WWF Champion Steve Austin walks to the ring. 
Vince McMahon, Kane, and the Undertaker are already in the ring.  McMahon gloats about how Kane or the
Undertaker will get the WWF title off of Austin’s waist and announces a new
stipulation to the Breakdown triple threat in that the Undertaker and Kane are
prohibited from pinning each other. 
Finally, McMahon pushes Austin too far on the mic and Austin decks
him.  However, the Undertaker and Kane lay
Austin out with a double chokeslam.  In a
hilarious bit, McMahon mimics Austin’s jaw jacking and rolls over in glee on
the canvas.  The Undertaker reminds
Austin that it’s nothing personal, it’s just business.  Before heading to the locker room, McMahon
books Austin to defend his title against Ken Shamrock in tonight’s main event.  This was a really good opening promo by
McMahon that established the logic behind the Breakdown main event.  1 for
1
Get your Triple H
Stridex poster!  This was a really long
promotion because they have been airing these commercials forever.
Opening
Contest:  “Double J” Jeff Jarrett
(w/Southern Justice) beats The Road Dogg (w/Billy Gunn & X-Pac) after
hitting him with a guitar at 3:08:
Here’s that Jarrett-Roadie blowoff we’ve wanted to see
since 1995!  The WWF actually remembers
that and show some old footage.  This is
a fast paced match that benefits from a hot crowd.  Somehow, Jarrett is not disqualified when
Southern Justice pull Road Dogg out of the ring and start beating him down.  When X-Pac and Gunn assist their comrade,
Jarrett hits his opponent with the neck of the guitar to win.  I think they had a malfunction with the guitar
since it was already broken when Jarrett went to use it.  Honestly, hitting people with guitars is one
of the best things Jarrett ever added to his gimmick.  Rating:  ** (2 for 2)
Footage of Ken
Shamrock challenging Steve Austin on Sunday Night Heat is shown.
The Road Dogg is
shown being helped into an ambulance backstage.
Michael Cole
interviews the Rock, who tells the Nation to stay backstage.  You see, the Nation is falling apart and the
Rock is gradually going his own way.  His
promo on the previous Saturday RAW constituted a de facto face turn.
The Rock pins
Kane (w/The Undertaker) after Mankind hits Kane with a sledgehammer at 6:10:
The atmosphere for this match is electric, with the crowd
going crazy for all of the Rock’s trademark spots.  The referee gets bumped at the five minute
mark and misses the People’s Elbow, allowing the Undertaker to interfere.  However, when the Undertaker is beating up
the Rock, Mankind makes a surprise return and clocks Kane with a sledgehammer
and that’s enough to put the Rock over. 
The crowd treated this outcome like a WrestleMania main event.  Rating:  *** (3 for 3)
After the match,
Kane can’t sit up on the canvas.  The
Undertaker challenges Mankind to a match later tonight.
Michael Cole
interviews Mankind, who accepts the Undertaker’s challenge for later
tonight.  He smashes one of the RAW is
War barrels with a sledgehammer
.
Dustin Runnels is
in the ring and welcomes the crowd to hell. 
Val Venis walks out and introduces the crowd to his new film “The
Preacher’s Wife,” which sees him in bed with Terri Runnels.  Runnels falls to his knees upon seeing the
footage and Venis tells him that trait must run in the family.
A vignette for
Steven Regal, a so-called “Real Man’s Man,” is shown.  He is chopping down a whole forest with an
axe.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Triple H (Champion
w/Chyna & X-Pac) defeats Owen Hart (w/Mark Henry) with a Pedigree at 5:24:
After our usual exchange of moves between these two
shenanagins begin to happen as Mark Henry pulls Chyna off the ring apron and
X-Pac attacks him in response.  That distraction
allows Triple H to Pedigree a distracted Owen and beat him for what seems like
the hundredth time this year.  What?  You expected a different outcome?  Rating:  **½ (4 for 4)
After the match,
Mark Henry gets on the house mic and challenges X-Pac and Chyna to a handicap
match for later in the show.  He promises
to prevail just like he did this past Sunday!
Mankind is shown
tossing things into a dumpster backstage on his way to the ring.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your “Down Where?  Down Here!” DX
shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)!  I’m sure that lots of kids were forced to
take that shirt off when they came to school wearing it.
The Undertaker (w/Kane)
wrestles Mankind to a no contest at 7:15:
Both men bring sledgehammers to the ring, but the referee
does not allow for their use so that comes to naught.  A wild brawl ensues with the use of the
objects in the dumpster that Mankind wheels to the ring and allowing Mankind to
do a few ghastly bumps.  The Undertaker
Tombstones Mankind on a chair, but wants to smash him with a sledgehammer
instead.  However, before the Undertaker
can deliver a death blow, the Rock pops out the dumpster, takes out the
Undertaker’s knee, and throws Mankind into the crowd to save him from a further
beating.  This was fun while it lasted
and it is awesome to see the first interactions between the Rock and
Mankind.  Rating:  ***  (5 for 5)
Edge wrestles
Gangrel to a double count out at 3:34:
I am really surprised that they did not save a match like
this for the pay-per-view.  Even though
they are not given a lot of time, both men pack a lot into this one and Edge
takes a nasty bump on the floor when Gangrel sidesteps a plancha.  Gangrel follows up with his Impaler DDT on
the floor and both men end up counted out. 
After the bell, Gangrel tells Edge that his blood flows through his
veins.  Yeah, this should’ve been on
pay-per-view and been given about ten minutes. 
Rating:  **½ (6 for 6)
Handicap
Match:  Mark Henry (w/D-Lo Brown) beats X-Pac
& Chyna (w/Triple H) when he pins Chyna after a powerslam at 3:54:
Triple H mocks Henry before the match by walking around
like a gorilla.  I wonder if they’ll be
editing out that footage on the Network. 
Come to think of it, maybe that’s what Xavier Woods stable is up to.  Henry beats the hell out of X-Pac and the
crowd becomes unglued when Chyna steps into the ring.  Seriously, she gets a Rock-type pop for
spearing Henry.  However, Henry plants
Chyna (seriously, he gets some great torque) with a powerslam when she dives
off the ropes and picks up the win.  The
road agent that booked this deserves a prize. 
Rating:  **¼ (7 for 7)
Highlights of the Howard Finkel-Harvey
Wippleman tuxedo match in 1995 are shown.
Evening Gown
Match:  Sable beats Jacqueline (w/Marc
Mero) at 1:44
The crowd is more into this “match” than any divas
contest you will see today.  The camera
has to pan wide as Jacqueline teeters on the verge of a wardrobe malfunction
every time Sable tosses her around.  This
is a complete squash, as Jacqueline does not get in a shred of offense.  The future Tori is shown sitting unimpressed
in the crowd after the match.  Sable
takes off her dress after the match just because.
Cole interviews
Ken Shamrock, who says that he is excited to finally get a crack at the WWF
championship.
WWF Championship
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
(Champion) defeats Ken Shamrock 12:14
It seems to me that this match is leaving money on the
table, but when Austin was locked in a feud with the Undertaker and Kane and
when the Rock was in the process of moving up the card, Shamrock went on the
backburner.  Surprisingly, the announcers
do not mention that the backstory of these two dates all the way back to
WrestleMania XIII, but that is probably due to the Bret Hart factor.  Austin actually plays the heel role here,
utilizing a lot of restholds and directing the action.  He even resorts to a mule kick when Shamrock
begins rallying.  Before we can get a
definitive finish, the Undertaker and Kane hit the ring and we get a double
disqualification.  This match would have
come off better if the crowd was into Shamrock more.  Most of them were not sure what to think of
Austin by the end of it because of his heelish tactics.  Rating:  ***¼  (8
for 8)
After Austin and
Shamrock are dispatched by Kane and the Undertaker, Mankind and the Rock run
out and brawl with them.  Austin then
re-enters the ring with a chair and smashes his Breakdown opponents as McMahon
looks on with sadness by the entrance. 
Austin chases McMahon to the locker room as we play the show out.
The Final Report Card:  Whew, let me catch my breath.  The company must have been worried about not drawing
a rating after the last two RAWs were shown on Saturdays, so they loaded up
this card.  The San Jose crowd was
nuclear for the entire show and added something to each match.  This may not have developed a lot of angles,
but in terms of atmosphere and match quality up and down the card it is the
best RAW of the year up to this point.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.0 (vs. 4.5 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: SummerSlam 1998

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from New York, New York.

Opening Contest
for the European Championship:  D-Lo
Brown (Champion) beats Val Venis via disqualification when Venis throws down the
referee at 15:26:
D-Lo was really having fun with the European champion
concept as he had himself billed from different parts of Europe.  For this bout, he is announced as being a
resident of Helsinki, Finland.  Edge is
shown watching the match in the crowd, which becomes important later in the
show.  This is a very well-paced,
back-and-forth match, and the crowd eventually comes around to appreciating it
at the ten-minute mark.  D-Lo blocks the
Money Shot with his knees and botches a powerbomb spot, which foreshadowed the
unfortunate botch the ended Darren Drozdov’s career.  Venis eventually takes off D-Lo’s chest
protector and puts it on, but the referee does not care for that and his
attempt to get Venis to take it off leads to the disqualification.  D-Lo carried a good chunk of this match and
the Madison Square Garden crowd was actually cheering for him by the end.  A few botches at the end and the finish bring
this down a notch, but kudos to the WWF for giving these two guys a lot of time
and exposure.  Rating:  ***½
After the bout, a
frustrated Venis gives the referee a Money Shot.
Michael Cole is
backstage with a hearse that Steve Austin destroyed on Sunday Night Heat.  Mankind rants about his “SummerSlam ride” not
being in good condition and how he will not be able to toss Kane in there
later.  He hopes to use a sledgehammer
against Kane later in the show.
The Insane Clown
Posse, one of the most controversial musical acts of the late 1990s, perform
the Oddities theme song.  The Oddities dance
around.  Only about 50% of the crowd –
and that is being generous – bother to wave their hands for the ICP.
Handicap
Match:  The Oddities (w/Luna Vachon)
defeat Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) when Golga pins all the members of Kaientai
at 10:13:
So, we get this handicap tag match between the three
giants of the Oddities and the four men of Kaientai simply because the Insane
Clown Posse were booked for the show. 
Jim Ross makes us aware that he likes the ICP, which I find hard to
believe.  The match hides the
shortcomings of Kurrgan and Giant Silva by having them do a few token spots and
Kaientai works in some nice quadruple team maneuvers.  Still, this match was given way too much time
and the result did not matter in the end scheme of things as most of the
participants were gone from the company by the end of the year.  Rating:  ½*
Hair vs. Hair
Match:  X-Pac (w/Howard Finkel) pins
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Southern Justice) after hitting him with a guitar at
11:12:
On Sunday Night Heat, Jarrett and Southern Justice shaved
Howard Finkel’s head, so he accompanies X-Pac to the ring in a DX shirt.  Sadly, he is not very well coordinated when
doing the crotch chops with X-Pac.  The
announce team today would never let him live that down.  Based on the capabilities of both men, this
match is a disappointment and never seems to click.  There are lots of double knockout spots and
Jarrett pulls out a spot that I hate where he applies the figure-four without
working the legs at all.  Southern
Justice appear to miss their cue, requiring Jarrett to kick out of the X-Factor
and X-Pac proceeds to take a guitar from Dennis Knight and cracks it over
Jarrett’s head for the win.  After the
bout, all of the people who have had their hair cut by Jarrett over the last
few weeks hit the ring and cut his hair, thereby significantly transforming his
look for the first time in his WWF career. 
Rating:  **¼
Dok Hendrix
discusses the Lion’s Den structure.
Cole interviews
The Rock, who took out Triple H’s knee on Sunday Night Heat.  He cuts a generic promo and makes fun of
Triple H’s injured knee.
Edge & Sable beat
“Marvelous” Marc Mero & Jacqueline when Sable pins Mero after Edge slams
her into the cover position at 8:26:
Sable’s mystery partner for the match is revealed as
Edge, which sort of fits existing storylines since Edge attacked Mero a few
weeks prior on RAW.  It is also a nice
way to elevate a new star and is much better than putting someone like Kurrgan
into the match.  This is a glorified
squash as they book Sable as Superwoman and she manhandles her opponents.  That takes away from any real drama the match
might have.  Edge almost becomes an
afterthought until he works in a plancha spot late.  WrestleMania XIV this was not.  Rating:  **¼
Cole tells Mankind
that Kane is not going to be here to help him defend the tag team titles and
asks if he is going to forfeit.  Mankind
says he is going to get killed against the New Age Outlaws, but Vince McMahon
gives him a pep talk about how he belongs in Madison Square Garden.  McMahon says that if Mankind overcomes the
odds that he will get into the MSG Hall of Fame by next week.  Mankind says he needs a weapon and McMahon
hilariously grabs some random stuff and hands it to Mankind to use.  Now THIS is what a backstage segment is all
about.
A video package
hypes the Ken Shamrock-Owen Hart Lion’s Den match.
Lion’s Den
Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats Owen Hart
(w/Dan Severn) via submission to the anklelock at 9:16:
This was an ingenious idea because it added a unique
match to card and allowed the WWF to sell more tickets to the show in the MSG
theater.  Imagine a wrestling match in a
UFC-type structure and that is what this match is like.  It features some nice spots, such as Shamrock
using the angled walls of the structure to rebound off of and then using them
to escape a Sharpshooter and a dragon sleeper. 
Since Owen never tries that, it fits well within the story they are
trying to tell of this being Shamrock’s environment.  Dan Severn angrily walks out when Owen is
placed in the anklelock, thereby ending that relationship.  A great action packed match that lived up to
the hype.  It also holds up really well
today and is one of Owen’s better matches. 
Seriously, if you haven’t seen this, check it out.  Rating:  ****
Cole interviews
WWF Champion Steve Austin, who says he will use any means necessary to walk out
of Madison Square Garden as the champion.
No Holds Barred,
Falls Count Anywhere Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The New Age Outlaws defeat Kane & Mankind
(Champions) when The Outlaws pin Mankind with a spike piledriver on a tag team
title belt at 5:18:
Poor Mankind is left to defend the titles on his own
after he is the odd man out of the Undertaker-Kane alliance.  The Outlaws bring a large dumpster filled
with weapons to the ring and Mankind suffers a nasty two-on-one onslaught.  Jim Ross must have watched too much
SummerSlam 1991 before this one, as he criticizes the referee for not making
the Outlaws tag in and out.  Mankind
survives an Outlaws side suplex-neckbreaker combination and a spike powerbomb
through chairs, but a spike piledriver gives the Outlaws the tag team titles
for the second time.  Typical RAW match,
but it served its purpose of getting the titles back on the Outlaws and making
Mankind look resilient.  Rating: 
**
After the match,
the Outlaws toss Mankind in the dumpster and after closing it, Kane emerges out
of the dumpster and smashes Mankind in the face with a sledgehammer.  The Outlaws wisely flee to the locker room.  Jim Ross’s outrage meter reaches 0.8 for
this.
A video package
hypes the Rock-Triple H ladder match for the Intercontinental title.
Connecticut Yankee
comes out to give Triple H some live entrance music.
Ladder Match for
the Intercontinental Championship: 
Triple H (w/Chyna) beats The Rock (Champion w/Mark Henry) to win the
title at 26:14:
This was the first ladder match that the WWF had featured
on television since SummerSlam 1995.  I
miss the old visual for ladder matches with the champion surrendering the title
to the referee and then having it slowly raised above the ring.  The small aisle of the MSG venue gives us a
great visual early in the match of the Rock beating Triple H down and having
the fans on top of him shouting that he sucks. 
The story of the match is the Rock working on Triple H’s injured knee to
prevent him from climbing the ladder and Triple H evening some of the odds by
busting the Rock open with a baseball slide into the ladder.  The Rock also manages a split reaction,
working a 50/50 “Let’s go Rocky!  Rocky
sucks!” chant.  One thing to really
criticize this match for are the slow climb spots.  They work for Triple H, since he has one leg,
but the Rock doing them after pulverizing Triple H’s knee for five minutes is
ridiculous.  Whatever your thoughts are
about Triple H, you have to admire him taking some the brunt of the sick bumps
in this match.  This brutal war comes to
an end when Triple H hits a Pedigree, but gets powder tossed in his eyes by
Mark Henry.  That produces a double climb
of the ladder with Chyna coming in and giving the Rock a low blow so Triple H
can win to a HUGE pop.  This match ended
the first phase of the Triple H-Rock feud, as well as the Rock’s nine month
reign as Intercontinental champion, but unfortunately for Triple H he lost some
of the momentum gained from this match when a knee injury put him on the
shelf.  The Rock now moves out of the
Intercontinental title level and into contention for the WWF title, with this
match showing he had the skills needed to make that jump.  Rating:  ****½
WWF Championship
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion)
pins The Undertaker after a Stone Cold Stunner
Austin suffers a concussion about two minutes into the
bout when his head collides with the Undertaker and that just ruins the match’s
flow.  McMahon had to freaking out
backstage because when that collision took place Austin went down in a heap and
appeared to be knocked out.  Kane does
walk out around the seven minute mark, but the Undertaker waves him off,
thereby squandering his primary advantage. 
I understand the idea of the Undertaker wanting to win on his own, but
does that not negate the story on the previous RAW of Kane and the Undertaker
being an unstoppable combination?  The
highlight of the contest is the Undertaker giving Austin a guillotine leg drop
on the Spanish announce table (I can’t say through because the table doesn’t
break).  Austin rallies from that to win
after giving the Undertaker a low blow during his ropewalk spot, but after all
the buildup, this match was a disappointment to say the least.  And again, we get a slow Earl Hebner three
count for no reason at all, since he wasn’t bumped.  Some people give this match over ***, but I
just don’t get that rating in light of its disjointed nature and botches.  Rating:  **¼
After the match,
the Undertaker takes the WWF title from Hebner and, after a tense few moments,
hands it to Austin.  Kane walks out to
stare down Austin with his brother in the aisle as the show goes off the air.
The Final Report Card:  Disappointing main event aside, this was a
fantastic SummerSlam.  The ladder match
is the highlight of the show, but the Lion’s Den match is deserving of credit
as well. I always wonder how good Austin-Undertaker could have been if not for
the concussion Austin suffered minutes into the match.  If the WWE wants to remember how to
adequately build to a big show, they should rewatch what they did for this
pay-per-view, which attracted the highest buyrate for a SummerSlam since 1992.
Attendance: 
21,588
Buyrate: 
1.48 (+0.68 from previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – August 3, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are taped from San Diego,
California
.

The Nation of
Domination comes out for the opening segment, as the Rock and Owen Hart are
facing Steve Austin and the Undertaker for the tag team titles later
tonight.  The Rock urges Austin and the
Undertaker to come out and immediately defend the titles, but Commissioner
Slaughter walks out instead.  The Rock
gives him a smackdown on the mic and Austin and the Undertaker arrive.  Austin slides into the ring to fight the Rock
and Owen, but the Undertaker gets distracted by Kane near the entrance and does
not help his partner.  Mankind and the
Undertaker end up brawling near the entrance as Austin takes a beating before
recovering and forcing the Rock and Owen to flee.  1 for
1
Opening
Contest:  Golga (w/The Oddities &
Sable) beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a seated senton splash
at 3:11:
Mero and Jacqueline are sporting the trophy that
Jacqueline earned for winning the Fully Loaded bikini contest.  Sable unveils a “surprise” by accompanying
Golga to the ring.  Kurrgan and Giant
Silva walk out in tuxedos and Kurrgan sings the Miss America song before Luna
Vachon walks out.  This was the Oddities
face turn and the Jackyl, who had been managing them, is nowhere to be
found.  This follows the usual big
man-small man formula and when Jacqueline tries to interfere, Luna attacks
her.  Silva chokeslams Mero behind the
referee’s back and that sets up Golga’s win. 
This is prime for a Wrestlecrap induction.  Rating:  * (1 for 2)
Brawl for All
Quarter-Final Match:  The Godfather
defeats Scorpio via decision:
Now, readers of this column might say “Wait Logan, I
thought Dan Severn already beat the Godfather?” and if you asked that question
you would be right.  However, Severn
withdrew from the tournament because he said he had nothing to prove, so the
Godfather was put back in.  I hate that
and would have preferred Scorpio to be given a bye to the semi-finals.  Scorpio rejects the Godfather’s overture to
take the hos, which was a bad idea in retrospect because he cannot overcome the
Godfather’s size advantage and loses.  Disappointing
contest, as I expected Scorpio to try to use takedowns to win the bout.  1 for
3
Michael Cole
interviews the New Age Outlaws, who say that they are not intimidated by Kane
& Mankind, who they will face tonight.
Kane &
Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) beat The New Age Outlaws when Kane pins The Road Dogg
with a Tombstone at 5:19:
In a smart move, the Outlaws pull Mankind out of the ring
and beat him down while Kane is doing his routine of making fire come out of
the ring posts.  However,
Kane is the real strength of the team and the Outlaws cannot find a way to deal
with him.  When the Road
Dogg ends up alone with Kane, we get the predictable result of him eating a
Tombstone.  You will notice that in these
big Outlaws matches the Road Dogg always ends up eating the
pin.  This had its moments, but was
rushed and messy, especially near the end. 
Rating:  *½ (1 for 4)
Ross and Lawler
recap Hawk’s poor condition on last week’s show.  Hawk apologizes for his behavior last week
and asks for forgiveness.
Jeff Jarrett and
Tennessee Lee say that Jarrett is going to scare Hawk straight “Jeff Jarrett
style,” whatever that means.
Hawk pins “Double
J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) with a neckbreaker at 2:31:
Hawk is not under the influence this week, so he is able
to perform his usual trademark moves and no sells.  Jarrett is recently having trouble with
Tennessee Lee, who keeps botching interference, and after Lee fails to get his
belt off in time for Jarrett to use it, Hawk catches the country music star off
guard to pick up a win.  After the bout,
Southern Justice attack the LOD because, you know, Godwinns-LOD set the world
on fire in 1997.
Vince McMahon
walks to the ring with his stooges.  He
predicts a tag team title change tonight and continues to advance his theory
that the Undertaker and Kane are working together.  He asks the Undertaker to come out and
explain himself based on last week’s show, where Kane attacked Austin as the
Undertaker looked on in the ring.  Austin
crashes the party before the Undertaker can say a word and says he only wants
to beat the Undertaker at SummerSlam.  As
Austin leaves, the Undertaker tells him that McMahon wants them to fight among
themselves and offers to give Austin one of the tag team title belts.  Austin accepts and the Undertaker makes it
clear that he is going to be watching Austin’s back to keep him safe for
SummerSlam.  This was a nice way to pay
off the Undertaker walking around with both tag team titles since Fully
Loaded.  2 for 5
The Rock tells the
commentary team that he could care less about Austin and the Undertaker’s
issues.
Highlights from
the Intercontinental title triple threat match on last week’s RAW constitute
the Stridex Triple Action segment.
#1 Contender’s
Match for the Intercontinental Championship: 
Triple H (w/Chyna) beats X-Pac with a Pedigree at 5:04:
Triple H is on Pacific Blue this week!  This is our usual solid Kliq matchup, with
Triple H targeting X-Pac’s neck in the early going and X-Pac making a rally at
the end.  Chyna, who should be impartial
in the match, trips X-Pac before he can do a Bronco Buster and that results in
Triple H taking advantage of the situation and getting an Intercontinental
title shot against the Rock at SummerSlam. 
After the match, X-Pac argues with Triple H, who feigns ignorance about
Chyna’s interference.  Rating: 
**¼ (3 for 6)
Val Venis &
Taka Michinoku wrestle Dick Togo & Funaki (w/Yamaguchi-San, Men’s Teoh
& Yamaguchi-San’s Wife) to a no-contest at 1:43:
Ross gives me a good laugh by saying that San Diego is
“Ryan Leaf country.”  I bet you cannot
find a single person in San Diego today that would refer to Leaf in such
glowing terms.  I like how we still do
not have a name for Yamagachi-San’s wife despite her being on television for
nearly a month at this point.  When Venis
goes to tag in Michinoku after absorbing some of Kaientai’s early offense,
Michinoku dropkicks him in the face, thereby turning heel.  You see, Mrs. Yamaguchi-San is Michinoku’s
sister.  Kaientai beat Venis up and carry
him backstage, where no one seems to care that he might get his private region
severed.
European
Championship Match:  D-Lo Brown (w/Mark
Henry) beats Dan Severn (w/Steve Blackman) via disqualification when Ken
Shamrock interferes at 2:34:
This match was booked after D-Lo antagonized Severn and
got him to interfere in a match against Ken Shamrock on Sunday Night Heat.  The same situation takes place here, as
Severn has Brown on the ropes before Shamrock comes down the ring and takes out
Mark Henry and Brown in view of the referee. 
Severn is not happy about this development to say the least.
D-Lo celebrates
his victory, but Edge comes out of nowhere and attacks him by the entrance
before walking away.  When D-Lo comes to,
he has no idea what happened.
Kaientai is shown
beating down Venis some more backstage. 
It’s funny to hear Ross try to verbally reprimand them like a
parent:  “Don’t do that!  Stop that!”
Tiger Ali Singh,
who has not been seen on WWF television since 1997, when he was referred to as
a can’t miss prospect, comes out.  This
time, he is sporting a mixture of an anti-American and million dollar man
gimmick where he pays audience members to do degrading things.  He has his servant Babu select an obese
American woman from the crowd and pays her $500 for each piece of clothing she
takes off.  The facial expressions of
some people in the audience to this is priceless.  The woman goes to take off her bra, but Singh
changes the rules and pays her to put clothes back on.  Singh was pretty entertaining in this
segment.  Unfortunately for him, his ring
work was awful.  4 for 7
Backstage,
Yamaguchi-San has the camera crew leave Kaientai’s locker room, where they are
carrying Val Venis to a cutting board.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin 3:16 baseball jersey $39.99 (plus $9 shipping &
handling)!
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & The Undertaker (Champions) defeat The Rock & Owen Hart when
The Undertaker pins Owen Hart with a Tombstone at 11:12:
Austin is a one man heat machine as the crowd eats up
everything he does or has done to him. 
Owen and the Rock keep cheating as much as they can to maintain the
advantage, but eventually Austin fights out of a Sharpshooter and a Rock Bottom
to get the Undertaker into the match, where the fate of the heels is eventually
sealed.  It’s hard to tell how much
genuine heat this had based on it being a taped show, but you could tell by the
crowd’s physical reactions that they really got into his match.  The beginning stages with the Undertaker were
slow, but Austin really took things up a notch when he got in the ring and in
peril.  Rating:  *** (5 for 8)
After the bell,
Mankind hits the ring and puts the Undertaker in a Mandible Claw.  As Austin is still fighting the Rock near the
announce table, Kane steps into the ring and smashes Mankind with a chair,
although he may have been aiming for the Undertaker.  The Undertaker takes the chair, but instead
of hitting Kane, he hits Mankind again. 
The New Age Outlaws hit the ring to go after Kane and the Undertaker,
but Austin comes back to aid his partner.
WWF officials are
shown breaking down the door to Kaientai’s dressing room and find Val Venis
held up with his tights down. 
Yamaguchi-San has a sword held up high and he comes down with it, but the lights in the room go dark and that ends the show.
The Final Report Card:  If you watch this RAW, go ahead and skip
ahead to the McMahon-Austin-Undertaker segment because the first half of this
show was awful.  After McMahon’s segment,
the show righted itself and we got a fun main event to close.  The “choppy choppy” angle is silly, but it is
one of those over the top angles that you can sit back and get a good laugh out
of sixteen years later.  I wouldn’t
recommend showing it to a new fan, but sometimes you have to take the good with
the bad when looking back at one of the high points of WWF history.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.9 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

Bret Hart: The Best There Is DVD Review (Disc 1 and 2)

Bret “Hitman” Hart – The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be


Documentary:

Analogous to the Stone Cold DVD I reviewed, this was an exhaustive look at Bret Hart’s decorative career. Hart articulated the stories exactly how he witnessed them. Whether you agreed with his viewpoints or not, he narrated his story in a lucid manner. Hart added in a lot of little details, creating a detailed envision for the viewers. However, his egocentric attitudes on some things becomes somewhat annoying. He was one of the best wrestlers ever, but he can come off  a little condescending at times. I am sure almost everyone reading has somehow heard all of these stories before, but this was still an informative documentary in its time.
Disc Two: 

Bret Hart (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Ricky Steamboat (3/8/86)
This was booked to be on the Wrestlemania II PPV card, but it was bumped off at the last minute. WWF believed Hercules was going to be a bigger star than Hart, so they wanted him on the 2 card. On the other hand, Steamboat believed Bret had a lot of potential and wanted to give him some credibility and exposure. Bret attacks Steamboat when the referee is checking him for weapons. Bret keeps attacking Steamboat, who hasn’t even had time to take his jacket off. Steamboat fights back and takes his jacket off. It’s on! Bret comes back and hits a neckbreaker. Bret punches Steamboat, who spills to the outside. Bret hits a suplex that picks up a two. Steamboat picks him up for a press slam, but Steamboat’s legs cave from under him. That picks up a two for Bret. Bret hits a powerslam for another near-fall. Steamboat fights back with some hard chops and a backdrop suplex that get a two. Bret reverses an Irish Whip, sending Steamboat right into the referee. Bret delivers the Hart Attack, but the referee is still out cold. Bret dodges a clothesline from Steamboat, and hits a crossbody block from the other side. Steamboat rolls through, though, and picks up the victory @ 15:09.

Analysis: Steamboat and Hart’s selling capabilities were exceedingly off the charts. Their reaction time to move was seamlessly on point, and their head movements from selling a punch or strike were great as well. These two just demonstrated why selling is so imperative, and how it can draw in the fans into something in spite of having no importance or build around it. Selling can help make moves more evocative, a babyface garner sympathy from the crowd, a heel acquire more heat, and make it tremendously easier for the fans to become fervently invested into the action. All those things were demonstrated in this.

This was booked in a position where it was not supposed to be much of anything, but the acute components and realistic psychology made this an overachieving exhibition match. This could have been better if Bret Hart were more established and the contest was treated more like a big deal, though. *** ¾

Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) vs. Bret Hart (3/8/89)
DiBiase was getting the Million Dollar Man gimmick over. Bret was coming off a botched push attempt, although he was still having good matches. No commentary for whatever reason. Ted spends too much time taunting the crowd, allowing Bret to attack him from behind. Bret hits a Russian Legsweep for two. DiBiase goes for a haymaker, but Bret ducks and delivers an atomic drop. Bret follows up with a crossbody. Ted decides to take a breather outside. Back in, Bret tries a reverse rollup, but Ted counters it into a small packaged for two. DiBiase fights back and viciously stomps on Bret’s chest. Ted hits a smashing clothesline and then a suplex that picks up a two. Ted argues with the referee over the pin. Ted goes for a another suplex, but Bret reverses it with a small package for two. Ted attacks Bret before he can get back up, expressing his frustration from his failure to finish him off. Bret catches Ted with a few small package rollups, causing Ted to throw Bret to the outside.

Back in, DiBiase locks in a chinlock. Bret fights back and hits the Hart Attack clothesline. Both men are now knocked out. Ted goes up to the top rope, but Bret catches and slams him. They trade some punches, causing DiBiase to back off and begs for mercy. Bret beats the hell out of him. Bret over-zealously charges the corner. Ted moves out of the way, and it messes up Bret’s knee. DiBiase attacks the knee with a Spinning Toehold. Bret pushes him out of the ring. They keep brawling outside and are finally counted out @ 15:59.

Analysis: DiBiase’s best work came before WWE, but this reveals how excellent he could be in the ring. He dictated the pace in the midst of the heat segments at a superlative level. Even though he methodically worked over Bret for a long time,  it never became boring.

That was mostly because he made sure not everything was not about him. After all, the story was not all about him dominating when he was on offense. It was also about Hart enduring a calculating beating, and DiBiase used physical responses to subtly articulate that. For example, he expressed anger when Hart kicked out of his pin-falls, and he did that by pounding the mat, yelling at the referee, and yelling at the crowd. In addition to that, Ted conveyed his anger by grunting about not being able to put Hart away. At last, he made it clear he was becoming tired from using gassed facial expressions, slowing down his movements, and grimacing in pain from using his back too much. The crowd picked it and were eager for Hart’s comeback, because of  Ted selling it so effectively. 

Unfortunately, Hart’s comeback was only momentary because this had  rushed finish attached to it. It didn’t allow Bret to dish out needed comeuppance on DiBiase, causing the story they were developing not culminate properly.

I get that they needed to protect both wrestlers, but the finish was way too lazy and cut off the entire “boom- boom-boom” portion of the match. Nonetheless, this had some of the best “pusillanimous/arrogant heel vs. the resilient/sympathetic babyface” work that I have ever seen. **** ¼

The Hart Foundation vs. The Rockers (4/28/90)
This was a number one contender’s match for Summerslam.  At this point, both teams were over. The Harts had more main event credibility, though. Bret and Marty have a few fantastic sequences together. Shawn tags in and hits a crossbody on Bret for two. The Rockers double team Bret. Anvil comes and clotheslines the hell out of both of them. HBK goes for a bodyslam, but Anvil counters it. Anvil tries to pick up HBK, but Shawn dropkicks him in the face. Both Shawn and Bret are the legal men. Bret hits Shawn with an atomic drop and then a clothesline. The Hart Foundation corner Shawn and go to work on him.

Anvil hits shoulderblock on Shawn that gets a two. Shawn hits a sunset flip on Bret for two. The Demolition comes down to watch. Bret yells at Demolition, allowing Shawn to dropkick him over the top rope. Back from commercial, Bret is working over Shawn. Bret goes for an elbow, but he misses. Shawn is able to make the tag to a fired up Janetty, who comes and nails Bret with a reverse elbow and then powerslams him. Marty hits the Superkick, but it only gets a two. Bret counter an Irish whip, but Marty sunset flips him for two. Bret fights back with a neckbreaker Anvil comes in and shoulderblock Shawn, sending him flying in the air. Anvil throws Shawn to the outside; the Demolition tries to help him back in. Marty doesn’t like that, so he starts a fight with them. This triggers a three-team brawl, causing a disqualification @ 9:17.


Analysis: This had an accelerating pace to it, in addition to some fluently executed back-and-forth exchanges and sequences. They were on the same page throughout and did not miss a beat while doing some really athletic and onerous sequences. Above all, they stayed true to their characters and did not sacrifice psychology or stop selling in order to have a rapid-fired pace. It is refreshing to see a match where you do not have the slightest clue of what is going to happen next. The wrestlers involved made sure they would give the fans their money’s worth regardless only having a condensed amount of time and an undeceive finish. *** ¾

IC Championship: Mr. Perfect (c) vs. Bret Hart (Summerslam ’91)
After about three years of stop-and-go pushes, the WWF finally gave Bret the push he deserved. Mr. Perfect was in poor shape here. His back was bothering him, and it caused him took an entire year off after this match. Bret delivers a crucifix for two. Bret delivers a sunset flip for two and then yanks Perfect down with a headlock. Bret catches Perfect’s leg and then stomps him in the midsection. They trade some moves, ending with Bret clotheslining Perfect over the top. Perfect tries to run away, but Bret chases him and rips his tights in half. Perfect takes over with a forearm and kicks Bret in the midsection, sending him to the outside. Outside, Perfect throws Bret into the railing. Perfect brings him back in and tosses him into the corner. They fight on the turnbuckle. Bret falls into the ring and then Perfect falls on top of him for two count. Perfect throws Bret across the ring by his hair. Bret fights out of a sleeper hold. Bret goes for a suplex, but Perfect counters it with a Samoan Drop for two. Bret takes his vintage bump in the corner. Perfect hits a Perfect Plex, but Bret kicks out just in time! Bret delivers Perfect a few atomic drops and hits a Vertical Suplex that gets two. He small packages Perfect, but it only picks up a two. Bret hit a Russian Legsweep for two. Bret hits the second-rope elbowdrop for another two. Bret and the ref argue about the count, allowing Perfect to execute a reverse rollup for two. Perfect starts dropping some legdrops to Bret’s midsection. Bret catches one of them and reverses to the Sharpshooter for the submission victory @ 18:02.

Analysis: This started with an interesting “anything you can do, I can do better” story,  and it allowed them to show off their technical proficiencies. Hart, as a babyface should, came off looking superior in the exchanges, which caused Perfect to resort to using cheap maneuvers to gain the advantage. The story continued to escalate because of their usage of transitions. 

Both wrestlers also kept tricking the fans by using cliché moments to their advantage. For example, they’d do a spot where a babyface typically makes a full-comeback, but they instead had the heel cut-off the comeback and remain in control. Hart portrayed a nice display of psychology on offense, as every big move he delivered was done to weaken Perfect’s back for the Sharpshooter. And most of all, he did them at realistic times. (in contrast to so many wrestlers who shoehorn them in, no matter the situation). This could have been better with a more dramatic finish, but all in all, this is some great stuff. **** 1/4

WWF Tag Team Championship: Hart Foundation (c) vs. Nasty Boys (w/ Jimmy Hart) (Wrestlemania 7)
The Nasties were feuding with the Steiners over in the NWA for the US tag straps. Six months later, and they are in a big WWF tag title match at WrestleMania. Jimmy Hart is wearing a motorcycle helmet out to the ring. Bret and Sags kick things off. Sags gets in a cheap shot in the corner, but Bret comes back with a Thesz press and punches. Bret goes to town on Knobs and then stomps Sags in the abdominal area. Both men tag out. Neidhart sends Knobs to the floor with a shoulderblock. Back in, Neidhart locks in an armbar, but he gets attacked in the Nasties corner. Bret tags in and hits some ten-count corner punches followed by a Russian legsweep. He delivers a flying vertical elbow drop for two. Knobs sneaks in and attacks Bret from behind. Sags clotheslines him out to the floor. Neidhart runs after Jimmy Hart around the ring. Knobs sends Bret into the guardrail. Back in, the Nasties take turns working over Bret’s back. Bret tries to escape, but  Knobs stops the tag to Neidhart. The Nasties go for a double-swing splash into the corner. Bret avoids and clotheslines Sags. Bret makes a tag to Neidhart, but the referee doesn’t see it. Jimmy Hart throws in his megaphone, but Sags ends up taking the megaphone to the face. Bret gets the hot tag to Neidhart, who nails the Nasties with clotheslines and delivers the Standing Powerslam on Knobs for two. They hit the Hart Attack on Knobs. Neidhart goes for the cover, but the ref is trying to get Bret out of the ring. Jimmy Hart throws in the motorcycle helmet. Sags nails Neidhart with it and Knobs rolls over on top for the win. New tag championship @ 12:05

Analysis: This was one of the better Nasty Boy non-gimmick matches. They kept it simple by using the standard tag-team formula. They also threw in some curve balls along the way, which was enough to bump this to ***.

IC Championship: Bret Hart (c) vs. Davey Boy Smith (Summerslam ’92)
This was the hardest recap I’ve ever done. There were too many tears in my eyes, making it hard to see the action. Davey Boy Smith smoked a lot crack before this, and he didn’t even remember this match the next day. They get into a shoving match, ending with Davey winning the exchange. Bret puts Davey in a headlock. Davey sends him into the ropes, but Bret slips out of a slam and rolls him up for two. Davey escapes into a hammerlock, but Bret elbows out and locks in a wristlock. Davey Boy cartwheels out and locks in an armbar. Davey Boy catches Bret off a leapfrog and then tosses him into the corner. Davey goes back to the armbar and then hits Bret with a crucifix. DBS locks in armbar again, but Bret throws him off into the ropes and delivers a knee into the gut. That crowd boos Bret. Bret stomps his mid-section and then delivers a legdrop. Bret puts back in a chinlock. Davey elbows his way out, but he runs into a right elbow from Bret. Bret nails an inverted atomic drop and throws Davey into the ropes. Davey tries the crucifix, but Bret slams him to the mat for two. Bret goes back to the chinlock. Davey shoves him off and delivers a monkey-flip. Smith throw Bret from corner-to-corner, but he runs into a boot. Bret hits the running bulldog on the Bulldog. Bret goes up top, but Davey slams him off the canvas. Davey heads up top for a diving headbutt, but Bret moves out of the way. DBS fights out of a slam. He goes to roll Bret up off the ropes, but Bret ducks and it sends DBS flying out to the floor.

Bret does a pescado to the outside. Davey is in the wrong place, so Bret just snaps him down by the head. Bret posts Davey and brings him back in the ring. Bret hits a Russian Legsweep that picks up a two. Bret hit some European uppercuts and then follows up with a backdrop for two. Bret locks in the chinlock again. Davey tries to stand up, but Bret maneuvers over into a front headlock to set up for a suplex. He then goes back to the chinlock. Psychology! Davey fights up again and gets a backslide for two. Bret fights back with the backbreaker and the vertical elbow drop for two. He locks in the sleeper, but Davey Boy fights to get to the ropes. Bret throws him into the ropes and reapplies the hold. Davey stands up out of it and sends Bret into the corner for a rope break. Bret is right back on top of him with the sleeper, though. Davey backs Bret into the corner and mounts a comeback. He lifts Bret up for a press slam, but ends dropping him awkwardly in the ropes. Davey looks like he is out to lunch. Davey delivers a few clotheslines that all pick up a two. He hits a Press Slam for another two. He nails a stalling suplex, but only gets a two! Davey Boy throws Bret into the corner for a chest-first bump for another near-fall. He delivers the Running Powerslam. New champion. No, Bret kicks out at two!

Davey knocks Bret outside and then tries to give him a suplex back in. Bret flips out, though, and hits a German suplex for only a two! Bret goes for a suplex, but Davey blocks it. He places Bret up in the corner and hits the Top-Rope Superplex, but Bret kicks out! They do a double knock clothesline spot, but Bret still manages to apply the Sharpshooter! The crowd is begging for Davey to reach the ropes. Davey fights through and makes it to the ropes. Davey reverses an Irish Whip. Davey ducks under a clothesline. Bret attempts a sunset flip, but Davey Boy sits down and hooks Bret’s legs for the win @ 25:14! The crowd goes crazy. Diana comes into the ring to celebrate with her husband. Bret looks like he is going to turn heel, but he instead hugs Davey Boy. They all celebrate in the ring.

Analysis: Bret used his technical aptitudes to try and win, but Bulldog fought back by using his power game. Hart also teased a  heel turn, as he resorted to cheap and uncharacteristic tactics. Hart’s execution and positioning were incredibly on point, although Davey botched a few spots and was out of position a couple of times. 

If Davey Boy was not drugged out of his mind here, this could have been even better. That’s scary to think about. The genuine emotion in this created intense drama and had all 80,000 fans in the arena on the edge of their seats throughout. In fact, this was one of the most monumental atmospheres ever.  It was also one of the biggest feel-good moments as well. **** ¾

Bret Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (4/24/93)
This is from the WWF’s European Tour. Bigelow slugs away onto Bret, but Bret locks in an armbar. Bam Bam tries to press slam him, but Bret falls on top for two. Bret throws an elbow that sends him to the outside. He tries to jump on Bam Bam, but Bam Bam smashes him into the ringpost. Back in, Bigelow works over Bret’s back. He hits a backdrop suplex that gets two. Bigelow keeps headbutting. Bret fights back and hits a backdrop suplex. Bigelow fights back and hits a Butterfly Backbreaker. Bigelow goes for the Diving Headbutt, but Bret moves out of the way. Bret goes for the Sharpshooter, but Bigelow pushes him away and locks in a bearhug. Bret attempts to backdrop suplex him, but Bigelow shifts his weight and lands on top. Bret blocks a charge and pins Bigelow’s shoulders with a Victory Roll @ 11:55.

Analysis: That was really fun. Hart was a master at adjusting his style based on who he was wrestling. Here, he played an opportunist, using his speed and agility to counter Bam Bam’s power game. Bam Bam was one of the better big wrestlers ever. I wish he had more opportunities to show it. *** 1/4

Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart (King of the Ring 1993)
Bret is selling an injury done earlier by Razor, as his left hand is taped up. This one picks up quickly after Perfect escapes a headlock. They trade some slams and then Bret hits Perfect with a crucifix for two. Perfect foreshadows a heel turn by placing a knee in Bret’s gut to break away from the headlock. Perfect hits a standing dropkick, sending Bret to the floor. Perfect holds the ropes to help Bret back in, but he kicks the ropes and the ropes hit Bret where the sun doesn’t shine. Perfect delivers a knee lift that gets a two. Perfect throws Bret out to ringside. Bret makes it on the apron, but Perfect shoves him off into the guardrail. Ouch. Perfect hits another knee lift and then hits a missile dropkick. Perfect tosses Bret into the corner for the chest-first bump for a two. Perfect heads up to the top rope, but Bret superplexes him for two. Bret kicks Perfect in the back of the knee, causing him to flip all over the ropes. Hart locks in the figure-four, but Perfect makes the ropes. Perfect fights back and throws Bret in the corner. He tosses Bret across the ring by his hair and then locks in the sleeper.

Bret makes it the ropes, but Perfect holds on  the hold just until before five. He reapplies the sleeper in the middle of the ring and uses the ropes for leverage. Bret escapes by throwing Perfect’s face into the turnbuckle. Bret deliver a European forearm that almost takes Perfect’s head off. Bret throws Perfect across the ring by his hair. Bret hits an atomic drop and then Russian legsweep for two. He hits a backbreaker and then hits the vertical elbow drop connects for another two. Bret goes for the Sharpshooter, but Perfect grabs and twists the taped up hand to counter it. Perfect goes for the Perfectplex, but Bret counters by giving Perfect a suplex over the top rope to the floor. They just make it back in before the countout. Perfect cradles Bret, but Bret reverses it for the one-two-three @ 19:05.

Analysis: This was a classical and competitive scientific match. The main story that was being told was Bret Hart was the better in-ring technician, but in order to try to win, Mr. Perfect had to stoop down to an unheroic level by cheating. This whole match was extremely crisp and smooth. All of the moves, holds, spots, and sequences were flawlessly executed. Last, but not least, they performed all of the moves in logical places, and that made this feel very realistic and a believable contest. This also coherently integrated and told an extremely lucid story about them trying to find strategic ways to win. These two were just the masters of in-ring psychology. **** ½

Brother vs. Brother: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (Wrestlemania 10)
Bret Hart wrestled twice this night; he faced Owen Hart in the opener and then Yokozuna for the WWF Championship in the main event. Owen gets out of a head scissors and brags about it. Bret tries a waistlock takedown, but Owen gets to the ropes. Owen grabs a waistlock, but Bret sends Owen flying to the floor. Owen climbs back in the ring and slaps Bret. Bret doesn’t do anything, but Owen sneaks under the ropes. They exchange some hammerlocks. Owen pulls Bret down by his hair. Bret flips over Owen and rolls him up for two. Bret goes to work on the arm. Owen fights out of a hammerlock, but runs into a monkey flip. Bret clotheslines him to the floor. They push each other, and then Bret slaps Owen and rolls him up for two. Bret goes back to work on the arm. Owen breaks out of the hold and hits a spinning heel kick. Owen pushes him out to the floor and throws Bret’s back into the ringpost. They head back into the ring. Owen throws Bret into the corner. Owen delivers a backbreaker and locks in a camel clutch. Bret elbows out, but runs right into a Belly-to-Belly Suplex for two. Owen hits a crossbody from the corner, but Bret rolls through for two. Owen tries a slam, but Bret falls on him for two. Bret gets out of a suplex, but Owen hits a bridging German suplex for two. Bret reverses a suplex into a small package for two. Owen delivers the Tombstone Piledriver. He heads up top for the Swandive Headbutt, but he misses. Bret fights back with an inverted atomic drop and a clothesline for two. He hits the Legsweep for two. He delivers the Backbreaker and flying elbow drop that gets a two. Owen fights back with an enziguri and tries to lock in the Sharpshooter. Bret stops him from locking in the hold. Bret tries to lock it in, but Owen just rolls him away. Owen picks up a two off a rollup.

The momentum from the kick-out puts Owen on the floor, though. Bret hits the pescado and jams his knee on the floor. Back in, Owen kicks away at the injured knee. Owen locks in the Indian deathlock. Owen delivers a dragon screw leg whip and that sets up the figure-four. Bret counters the hold by getting to the ropes. Owen goes after Bret in the corner, but Bret hits Owen with an enziguri. Bret throws Owen chest-first into the corner. Bret delivers a legdrop that gets two. Bret nails a running bulldog for two. Bret hits a piledriver, but Owen kicks out. Bret locks in a sleeper, but Owen walks over to the ropes and low-blows Bret. Owen applies the Sharpshooter, but Bret gets out of it. Owen charges into Bret’s right boot in the corner. Bret goes for a victory roll, but Owen puts on the counters and picks up the huge upset victory @ 20:05.


Analysis: This was a technical masterpiece and arguably the best ever. The timing of the spots, the smooth transitions, the unparalleled chemistry, and both wrestlers being able to progressively build the match all the way to its crescendo solidifies this as the blueprint on how to correctly carry out a wrestling magnum opus.

On top of that, the match told a great story. Owen Hart was fed up being overshadowed by his older brother, so in order to exercise his demons, he decided to prove once and for all that he was better than big brother Bret. The contest illustrated that Bret was definitely the superior wrestler, as he was always one step ahead of his young brother. But Owen cheated and was able to pull off a key reversal that allowed him to pull off a major upset. Owen treated his fluky win as though it had been a dominant performance, which helped him develop into an even more exaggerated, overemotional heel.

And after Bret Hart finally conquered his long-lasting quest to become WWF Champion, Owen came out with a look on his face that said, “Did you forget something? You didn’t beat me.” What was supposed to be a beautiful moment for Bret ended up as a bittersweet moment, because Bret knew that even though he finally won the title, his loss to Owen earlier in the night cast a shadow over what should have been the biggest night of his career. Like I said, there is a case for this match as the greatest of all time, thanks to phenomenal booking and superb work rate. *****

Final Thoughts on Disc Two: This was an awesome disc from top to bottom. Aside from his Flair and HBK matches, everything that should be on here is. I’ll talk about everything more on the next review, where I look at disc three and both the extras and extra matches, in the final analysis. Thumbs Way Up for Disc Two. 

What the World Was Watching: Fully Loaded 1998 – In Your House

by Logan Scisco

The video package
raises the big questions for tonight’s main event:  Will Kane and the Undertaker work together?  Will Mankind be the odd man out?  Is Vince McMahon organizing everything?  Hopefully tonight we will find some answers!
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Fresno, California.

Opening
Contest:  Val Venis pins “Double J” Jeff
Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) with a rollup at 7:51:
This is Venis’s pay-per-view debut and he teases
stripping before Jarrett’s entrance puts a stop to that.  Kaientai tries to get a spot at ringside for
the match, but they and Southern Justice are evicted before the opening bell.  Yamaguchi-San is allowed to do commentary,
though, and Lawler tries to get more information on what his relationship is
like with his wife.  This is a very solid
opener, with Venis pulling several false finishes before running Jarrett into
Tennessee Lee and getting the win.  Venis
remains undefeated.  Rating:  ***
After the match,
Venis tells Yamaguchi-San that he will never “measure up” to the Big Valbowski
.
Non-Title
Match:  D-Lo Brown (European Champion
w/The Godfather) beats X-Pac (w/Chyna) with a Sky High at 8:26:
This is the first of a series of matches that these two
would have in 1998.  The European title
functioned as the WWF’s version of WCW’s TV championship during the late 1990s
and it gave someone trying to make a name for themselves like D-Lo something to
do.  Ross makes sure we know that D-Lo is
a Certified Public Accountant.  The chest
protector gimmick is quite brilliant because not only can D-Lo do more harm to
his opponents if he hits a splash or the Lo Down, but he also does a lot of
damage to himself if he misses those moves. 
D-Lo gets the win to continue building him as more than a paper
champion, although he gets an assisted distraction from the Godfather to finish
X-Pac off.  These two would go on to have
better matches, but this was still a solid effort.  Rating:  **½
Kevin Kelly and
Tom Pritchard let us know from the WWF.com center backstage that the Undertaker
has not yet shown up.
Terry Funk tells
the audience that the next match is going to be his last for a while because he
is so beaten up.  Bradshaw, his teammate
for the next match, is not very happy about hearing this news.  Since Bradshaw has had a rough 1998, I can’t
say that I blame him.  Besides, it is
pretty lousy to tell your tag team partner that you are leaving the company
right before walking through the curtain.
Faarooq &
Scorpio defeat Terry Funk & Bradshaw when Scorpio pins Funk with a 450
splash at 6:49:
Scorpio abandoned teaming with Terry Funk to work with
Faarooq and they had wrestled a few matches on Shotgun Saturday Night in the
weeks leading up to this.  We get an
entertaining and stiff exchange between the future Acolytes in this bout and
Bradshaw brings his working boots by going to the top rope on several
occasions.  Since this match was hastily
added to the card, you might think it’s just filler, but we get some very
entertaining wrestling until an awkward brawling segment at the end.  The crowd does not appreciate it, but that is
more of a fault of not giving many of the guys in the match a sense of
direction in the booking than anything else. 
After the bout, Bradshaw takes out his frustration on Funk and decimates
Scorpio and Faarooq for good measure.  Rating: 
**
Mark Henry pins
Vader with a splash at 5:03:
These two actually have an issue as Henry and Vader
ruined each other’s chances of advancing in the King of the Ring last
month.  Their feud has largely been relegated
to Shotgun Saturday Night.  This match is
a complete train wreck as Vader is not capable of carrying the younger Henry
and we get awkward combinations of power moves. 
Henry kicks out of Vader’s splash off the second rope and then
unceremoniously finishes him with a splash that causes the crowd to moan.  It’s just sad to see Vader reduced to the
level of an enhancement talent, especially if you grew up following his WCW
career.  Rating:  ½*
Kelly and
Pritchard continue to discuss whether the Undertaker is going to show up on
tonight’s show.
WWF Tag Team
Champions Kane & Mankind walk out with Paul Bearer.  Bearer gloats about how the Undertaker does
not want to face Kane because he wants to keep his main event spot at
SummerSlam.  The New Age Outlaws show up
and issue a challenge to Kane & Mankind for the titles tomorrow night on
RAW.  When they do not get a response,
they tear into the champions and WWF officials have to separate them.  Seeing Billy Gunn and Kane share 50-50
offense in this segment is just so wrong.
Ross and Lawler
recap Hawk showing up late to save Animal from the DOA on the last edition of
RAW.
The Disciples of
Apocalypse (w/Paul Ellering) defeat LOD 2000 when 8-Ball pins Animal after a DDT
at 8:51:
With Sunny out of the picture, I no longer have a reason
to care about the LOD.  You can sense how
the LOD are past their expiration date by listening to the crowd, as they get
very little reaction for anything in the match. 
They also do not care about the DOA’s constant cheating throughout the
contest.  Ellering’s excited attempts at
interference are laughable as he continually whiffs in his attempts to make a
difference.  It takes forever for Animal
to get the hot tag and Skull does eat a Doomsday Device, but the match
continues a little longer and the DOA do an illegal switch and win.  You would think that the LOD would have that
scouted based on the numerous times they have faced the DOA up to this
point.  The WWF gave this way too much
time and after this bout the LOD, DOA, and Ellering should have been cut loose
for good.  Unfortunately, this feud
continued!  Rating:  DUD
Vince McMahon and
his stooges come out and McMahon says that he is not to blame if the Undertaker
does not show up.  Instead, he points the
finger at Steve Austin based on his provocations of the Undertaker.  McMahon reads the “card subject to change”
addendum on the programs that the crowd bought before the show and announces
that Austin’s “suitable replacement” for tonight’s main event if the Undertaker
no shows is the Brooklyn Brawler. 
Forgetting about this sixteen years later, I cracked up pretty hard at
this, especially because the Brawler comes out screaming “I’m ready” and is all
amped up.
Hart Family
Dungeon Match with Dan Severn as Special Guest Referee:  Owen Hart defeats Ken Shamrock with a
crossface at 4:54:
This is the first extensive footage of the famous Hart Dungeon
on television.  It appeared in some video
packages before this show, but we actually get a match that takes place in
it.  Shamrock walking down the steps to
the basement is like something out of a C-level horror film.  This is a submission match and they work a
quasi-UFC/WWE style that I am sure was not taught in the actual Dungeon by Stu
Hart.  I am more amazed that they managed
to work a five minute match within the confines of the Dungeon than anything
else.  However, since this Vince Russo we
need some type of ref bump, so sure enough that happens with Severn getting
knocked loopy, thereby allowing Owen to hit Shamrock with a dumbbell and then
tapping Shamrock’s hand on the canvas when Severn awakes to win.  Seriously, they booked a screwjob for this!  Finish aside, this was a fun change of pace,
but I can’t get past some of the ridiculousness of the contest like Shamrock’s
head going through some drywall and Owen swinging off pipes.  Rating:  **
-Two-Out-of-Three
Falls Match for the Intercontinental Championship:  The Rock (Champion) wrestles Triple H
(w/Chyna) to a time limit draw at 30:00:
This match has a caveat on the traditional
two-out-of-three falls format as there is a mandatory one minute rest period
between falls.  The WWE’s current
creative team should be forced to rewatch this DX-Nation feud and realize how
you can go about making a secondary title important.  Ross and Lawler hyping the thirty minute time
limit is a clue of where this match is heading, especially since that time
limit was not discussed in the build to the match.  Sure enough, after both men’s factions
interfere at various points and after exchanging falls, with the Rock winning
the first after a Rock Bottom at 20:20 and Triple H winning the second after
Chyna DDT’s the Rock on a chair at 26:34, the time limit expires.  This is deemed as the first “classic” between
the Rock and Triple H, but most of the heat on the match comes from
interference (five run-ins!) and not from the two participants.  Also, they really struggled to continue the
match with unique moves after the twenty minute mark.  It felt like this was a fifteen minute match
drawn out to thirty minutes.  Their
Judgment Day Iron Man match in 2000 would fix these problems and because both
men’s characters had reached another level, it was a much better match.  Rating:  ***
After the bell,
the Nation and D-Generation X brawl, with DX standing tall in the ring.
Kevin Kelly and
Tom Pritchard inform us that the Undertaker arrived during the Intercontinental
title match.
A video package
hypes the bikini contest between Sable and Jacqueline.
Bikini
Contest:  Jacqueline (w/Marc Mero) beats
Sable by disqualification:
Before the contest, Dustin Runnels issues a prayer.  Why that did not produce a feud with Jerry
Lawler, the WWF’s resident pervert is beyond me, but I guess Runnels feud with
Val Venis made the same point. 
Jacqueline has a wardrobe malfunction by dancing too much in her
bikini.  Sable goes without a top and
wears body paint, which she says was not what Vince McMahon wanted.  That’s not a bikini, though, so she loses by
disqualification.  Seriously, a
disqualification in a bikini contest!?!?
After the contest,
McMahon walks to the ring and covers Sable. 
This McMahon-Sable angle is not making any sense in light of existing
storylines.
A video package
chronicles the events leading up to the main event for the WWF tag team titles.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & The Undertaker defeat Kane & Mankind (Champions w/Paul Bearer)
when The Undertaker pins Kane after a Tombstone at to win the titles at 17:27:
This is the first time that the WWF tag team titles are
on the line in a pay-per-view main event since In Your House 3 in September
1995.  I really feel bad for Mankind as
the odd man out in this main event angle, but he was actually able to
capitalize on that later for his late 1998 run. 
The Undertaker and Kane are skittish about contact throughout the match,
lending some credence to the view that they are working together, but the
Undertaker reluctantly agrees to hot tag in and fight Kane late in the
match.  You see, we are back to the “tag
team partners that do not like each other” that has been an Austin staple since
he first won the tag team titles with Shawn Michaels in the summer of
1997.  I do not like the WWF champion
holding the tag titles to build their feud since it weakens the overall tag
division, so the result of this match was rather silly.  The crowd was into this, but it was really an
extended RAW main event.  That said, what
did you expect from a throwaway pay-per-view before SummerSlam?  Rating:  **
The Final Report Card:  Despite achieving an all-time record buyrate
for In Your House shows, this was the very definition of a middle of the road
pay-per-view.  Outside of the LOD-DOA
debacle, there was nothing that was awful about this show, but there was also
nothing really great or memorable aside from Sable’s moment, and that was
lessened when she later did Playboy. 
Triple H and the Rock, as well as Shamrock and Owen, would go on to have
better, more memorable contests at SummerSlam. 
If you are looking to burn some time, this is as decent a card as any to
watch, but do not expect anything fantastic.
Attendance: 
9,855
Buyrate: 
0.9 (+0.31 over previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 29, 1998

by Logan Scisco


Pictures of last
night’s Steve Austin-Kane WWF title match are shown and narrated by Jim Ross
and Jerry “the King” Lawler.
Ross and Lawler
are in the booth and they are live from Cleveland, Ohio.  I am glad that we now have Ross and Lawler
full-time instead of just having them fill the second hour.

Vince McMahon,
Commissioner Slaughter, and Gerald Brisco come out and the WWF title is encased
in a glass box in the ring.  The crowd
loudly questions Vince’s sexuality as he gloats about Steve Austin losing the
title at the King of the Ring.  Kane and
Paul Bearer come out and Bearer puts over how he and his son’s dreams have come
true.  McMahon goes to put the WWF title
around Kane’s waist when Austin crashes the party and says Kane never made him
bleed at the King of the Ring.  As a
result, Austin demands a rematch and goads Kane into giving him one by saying
that if he doesn’t he will never be as good as his brother.  Austin’s intensity carried this segment,
which was much better than the generic “authority figure sets up a title match”
angle.  1 for 1
Opening
Contest:  Steven Regal beats Darren
Drozdov via submission to the Regal Stretch at 4:41:
This Regal’s WWF debut and he is introduced by
Sable.  He is sporting his traditional
attire and not the ridiculous “Real Man’s Man” gimmick that he would receive at
the end of the year.  His theme music is
a generic rock n’ roll beat, which is quite a shock after seeing Regal wrestle
under the Blue Blood theme in WCW.  Ross
does his best to put over Regal, but the crowd does not take kindly to his
mat-based style and Lawler is more interested in talking to Sable on
commentary.  A pretty boring squash, and
this is a good example of why airing vignettes before someone debuts is a good
idea.  Rating:  * (1 for 2)
Michael Cole
interviews Ken Shamrock, who cuts a very bland promo about how he respects the
Rock and how it feels good to be the King of the Ring.  Owen Hart interrupts and says that he is a
better King of the Ring than Shamrock can hope to be.  Owen challenges Shamrock to a fight tonight
and Shamrock accepts.  Triple H and Chyna
come out and Triple H argues that if there is going to be a “king of kings”
match then he has to be in it.  He
challenges them to a triple threat match, which is accepted.  What was funny about this segment was that
Shamrock still wanted to use the old names for wrestlers like Rocky Maivia
instead of “The Rock” and Hunter Hearst-Helmsley instead of “Triple H.”  1 for
3
Call 815-734-1161
to get your D-Generation X video for $14.95 (plus $4 shipping & handling)!
Brawl for All
First Round:  Steve Blackman beats
“Marvelous” Marc Mero via decision:
Ah yes, the Brawl for All, a competition that led to a bunch of injuries and was originally booked as a shoot, has begun.  The rules for the Brawl for All:  three one-minute rounds and a points system
is used to render a decision if a knockout is not achieved (five points for
most punches, five points for a takedown, and ten points for knockdowns).  The crowd loudly boos since in their mind
they paid to watch wrestling (they work up a loud “we want wrestling” chant)
and not a toughman competition. 
Marketing probably plays a role as well, since the WWF did not hype the
competition in the weeks leading up to it. 
Although Mero has the advantage in punching skills, Blackman just keeps
taking him down for easy points throughout the bout and wins.  1 for
4
Kevin Kelly says
that he will find out why Kane decided to accept Steve Austin’s challenge
tonight
.
Chyna’s DDT on
Owen Hart last night at the King of the Ring is the Skittles Slam of the Week.
Kane tells Kelly
that he took Austin’s challenge because he knows he can beat him and that he is
a better champion than his brother ever was.
The Undertaker is
shown arriving at the arena, which is always an angle I laugh at.  At what other workplace is it acceptable to
show up halfway through your shift?
Val Venis pins
Togo (w/Yamiguchi-San) with the Money Shot at 3:02:
Venis leers at Yamiguchi-San’s wife, who is sitting in
the front row, and this is the first step in one of the most ridiculous, yet memorable,
feuds of 1998.  During the match, Dustin
Runnels joins Ross and Lawler on commentary and encourages them to spread the
word of God.  Extended squash for Venis,
who remains undefeated in the World Wrestling Federation.  After the bout, Yamiguchi-San hits Venis
after Venis does his dance in front of his wife and Venis lays him out and the
rest of Kaientai with a chair.  Somehow
Venis is the face here.  Rating:  *½ (2 for 5)
Cole interviews
Austin, who says he is very confident that he is going to regain the WWF title
tonight.
“King of Kings”
Triple Threat Match:  Ken Shamrock
defeats Owen Hart & Triple H (w/Chyna) by pinning Triple H after the Rock
blasts Triple H with the Intercontinental title at 9:35 shown:
This is the perfect concept for a TV main event, but it
is trumped tonight by the Kane-Austin title match.  This has the usual triple threat formula
where two guys wrestle and another guy ends up on the floor, but at least the
action is continuous.  Chyna interferes
against Owen yet again, by pulling down the top rope during the bout, but it
does not work out well for Triple H as the Rock uses the distraction to
interfere.  So basically, Shamrock is the
true “king of kings” and Triple H has been infringing on his rightful gimmick
for the last sixteen years.  Wrestling
enthusiasts take note.  Rating: 
***¼ (3 for 6)
After the bout,
D-Generation X brawls to the locker room with the Nation and Owen puts Shamrock
in a ring post figure-four before WWF officials intervene.
The Undertaker
comes out to give a “confession” to Cole. 
The Undertaker says he interfered in last night’s WWF title match
because he did not want to see his brother set himself on fire.  Vince McMahon comes out and insists that the
Undertaker only helped his brother because he thinks he can beat Kane for the
title and not Austin.  McMahon warns the
Undertaker against interfering in tonight’s WWF title match.  McMahon’s role in this segment was random and
his adoption of the Undertaker’s language about hell and suffering was odd.  3 for
7
The Undertaker
tossing Mankind off the top of the Hell in a Cell is the JVC Kaboom! of the
Week.
Brawl for All
First Round:  Bradshaw beats Mark
Canterbury via decision:
Canterbury is of course everyone’s favorite Arkansas hog
farmer Henry Godwinn.  They have not
released a bracket for this tournament, so who knows who is really facing
who.  Bradshaw refuses to sit on his
stool during the rest periods and Canterbury only tries to do takedowns in the
third and final round, which is too little, too late.  At least this fight featured some punching
sequences.  4 for 8
We get our first
graphic highlighting the “Highway to Hell” and SummerSlam in nine weeks.
LOD 2000 welcome
back Paul Ellering as their manager now that Sunny is out of the company.  However, the Disciples of Apocalypse come out
and Ellering IN A SWERVE announces that he is really with the DOA.  The DOA do a beatdown, with Ellering using
pages of newspaper as a weapon. 
What.  The. Hell.  4 for
9
The Undertaker
tells Kevin Kelly that no one tells him what to do, which means that he will
not heed Vince McMahon’s warning not to get involved in the main event.
WWF Championship
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin pins
Kane (Champion w/Paul Bearer) after a Stone Cold Stunner to win the title at
8:27:
Austin carries a lot of the offensive load of the match,
which really puts a damper on Kane’s “superhuman” ability to crush his
opponents.  Near the end of the bout, the
Undertaker walks out, but does not interfere, and Austin goes under a Kane big
boot and delivers a Stunner to win his second WWF title.  No ref bumps or shenanigans in this one,
which is pretty refreshing.  One could
point to this match as the beginning of sudden world title changes in the
company, as the WWF title switched hands more frequently than it had in the
past due to the Monday Night Wars.  Rating: 
** (5 for 10)
After the bout, Austin gives the Undertaker
a Stone Cold Stunner and the Undertaker and Kane sit up at the same time and
stare at Austin as he walks to the locker room.
The Final Report Card:  Aside from popping a rating (which this show
did), it made little sense to give Kane a one day reign as champion.  The short reign, as well as the way his match
with Austin played out on this show, dented some of his credibility as an
unstoppable monster (as long as he was not fighting his brother, but that sort
of cancelled out because they both possessed “supernatural” powers).  Kane went on to have a memorable career after
this, but I never viewed him the same way again after this title loss.  This show gets a neutral rating because while
there are some highlights like the Triple Threat and the Austin segments, there
is a lot of random stuff that is not as good like the out of the blue Regal
debut, the beginning of the Brawl for All (which was not adequately promoted),
and the random Ellering turn (which is right out of the Vince Russo playbook).
Monday Night War Rating:  5.4 (vs. 4.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 8, 1998

by Logan Scisco


A small video
package is shown for the Junkyard Dog, who passed away in an automobile
accident.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Rockford, Illinois
.
Vince McMahon, Pat
Patterson, and Gerald Brisco come out in black tie attire since McMahon is
being recognized for charity work tonight. 
McMahon argues that we only know the “public” Vince, but tonight he will
be named “Humanitarian of the Year.”  He
adds that Steve Austin will be joining them for the presentation.  This was a subtle promo by McMahon and full
of exaggeration.  1 for 1

Opening King of
the Ring Qualifying Match:  Ken Shamrock
defeats “The Godfather” Kama Mustafa via submission to the ankle lock at 2:42:
The WWF was really starting to emphasize Kama’s “Godfather”
nickname at this point, but he has not started his pimp gimmick yet.  The Nation is not allowed to accompany Kama
to ringside.  This is Shamrock’s first
match back from the beatdown Owen Hart and the Nation gave him after
Unforgiven.  Kama works Shamrock’s leg,
but gets too cocky and caught in the ankle lock and Shamrock advances to face
Mark Henry in the first round.  After the
bout, D-Lo Brown tries to attack Shamrock, but Dan Severn makes the save.  Severn and Shamrock eye each other to keep
building the possibility that they may meet in the King of the Ring finals.
Footage from the
recent Madison Square Garden show is played. 
Ross announces that MSG will play host to SummerSlam.
D-Generation X is
shown walking through New York City and talking to people about SummerSlam.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your “Don’t Trust Anybody” Steve Austin t-shirt for $25 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
Faarooq &
Steve Blackman defeat “Marvelous” Marc Mero & “Double J” Jeff Jarrett
(w/Jacqueline & Tennessee Lee) when Blackman pins Jarrett with a schoolboy
at 3:26:
Jarrett and Mero are an odd pairing since they are
scheduled to face each other in a King of the Ring first round match in a
couple of weeks.  Sure enough, Mero
starts posing in front of Jacqueline on the apron and ignores the match, which
allows Faarooq to push Jarrett into his partner and help Blackman secure a
victory for his team.  Rushed match, but
it at least does something to make people care about the Mero-Jarrett
tournament match.  Rating:  *¾  (1 for 2)
DX keeps roaming
around New York City.  They get two
consecutive segments for this.
King of the Ring
Qualifying Match:  Owen Hart beats 2 Cold
Scorpio via submission to the Sharpshooter at 5:16:
The Nation is barred from Owen’s match like they were the
Kama’s earlier.  Based on the booking of
both guys, this should be a squash, but this is an Owen Hart match, so we’re
going to get some solid workrate. 
Scorpio misses a dive off the top rope, injuring his knee, and Owen locks
in on the injured body part to secure a clean win.  This is the third and final time that Owen
qualified for the King of the Ring (1994, 1996, and 1998).  Owen will face the winner of tonight’s Dan
Severn-D-Lo Brown match.  Rating: 
**¾ (2 for 3)
The Undertaker
shows up at the arena and is searching for Vince McMahon
.
We get video
footage of Darren Drozdov playing for Denver Broncos and throwing up on a
football.  The NFL on NBC announcers made
a big deal out of his tattoos at the time, but now it is common for athletes to
have them.
Chainz beats Darren
Drozdov with a Death Valley Driver at 2:55
This is Droz’s singles debut on RAW and this match is an
extension of the awful LOD 2000-Disciples of Apocalypse feud that we have been
treated to for the last month.  A decent
brawl, but Chainz wins in a puzzling development since he was ice cold in terms
of momentum.  This was a signal that Droz
wasn’t getting a strong push out of the gate, but if the booking didn’t do him
in then his attire, which looked grungy and unconvincing, would have done that
anyway.
Right after the
bell, the Undertaker shows his disapproval with the LOD 2000-DOA program by
chokeslamming Chainz and Droz and tossing them out of the ring.  Or maybe the Undertaker is taking revenge on
Brian Lee for allegedly stealing his wife and/or stealing his gimmick in
1994.  The Undertaker says that he wants
McMahon, but McMahon is busy backstage talking with his charity folks so the
Undertaker heads back to the locker room.
DX comes out and
does their usual spiel, but before Triple H can rip the Nation, LOD 2000 walks
out.  Animal demands a title shot due to
their win at Over the Edge and Triple H agrees to give it to them.  This brings the DOA out and they say they are
still owed a title shot based on beating the New Age Outlaws on RAW several
weeks ago.  Triple H tells both teams to
suck it and cancels the match, but Commissioner Slaughter comes out and books a
triple threat match between all three teams for the WWF tag team titles.  This entire segment was a big mess as Triple
H’s sophomore humor fell flat, Animal spewed nonsense, and one of the Harris
brothers literally screeched while giving his promo.  2 for
4
The Undertaker is
shown destroying things backstage.
Edge’s new
vignette says that people are lost and scared.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler joins Ross for commentary for the second hour
.
Mark Henry and
Vader wrestle to a no contest after the Undertaker interferes at 2:45:
Well, Vader’s pledge to go away for a while and find
himself didn’t last very long.  Henry and
Vader engage a fun brawl until the Undertaker walks out and chokeslams both of
them.  The logic of this is probably to
keep Henry strong and not damage Vader’s credibility, since he will face the
Rock in a King of the Ring qualifying match next week.
Steve Austin’s
chairshot to Dude Love at Over the Edge is the JVC Kaboom! of the Week.
A video package
recaps Sable’s loss to Marc Mero at Over the Edge.
King of the Ring
Qualifying Match:  Dan Severn defeats
D-Lo Brown with a modified bow and arrow submission at 3:10:
The WWE bookers didn’t think through a lot of the
tournament brackets since they had lots of potential Nation matchups
(Kama-Henry or Owen-D-Lo in the first round) and, since the odds of those
matchups were low, that made the qualifying round too predictable.  D-Lo gets dominated by Severn here and the
finish is notable because it was said that D-Lo suffered an injury to his
pectoral as a result of the bow and arrow, thereby necessitating his use of a
chest protector in future matches.  Since
that gimmick gave D-Lo personality, you could argue that he got more out of
this loss than Severn did a win.  After
the match, Owen attacks Severn, but Ken Shamrock runs in to make the save.  Rating:  *½ (2 for 5)
A video tribute to
Sable is aired.
Steve Austin is
shown shaking the hands of Chicago football players before today’s show
.
Val Venis
wrestles Dustin Runnels to a no-contest when the Undertaker interferes at 5:29:
Remember that Runnels is wrestling without pay due to his
defeat at the hands of Dude Love a few weeks ago.  The match has an interesting story as Venis
showcases a lot of the sexual antics that Runnels used under the Goldust
gimmick and now he’s outraged by Venis’s behavior.  Runnels pushes Venis to the limit, but the
Undertaker interferes and ruins what was Venis’s best match to date.  The chemistry that these two displayed here
may have convinced the WWF brass to create a long-term program between these
two.  Rating:  **½ (3 for 6)
The Undertaker
attacks Commission Slaughter in the locker room when he cannot tell him where
McMahon is.
Triple Threat
Match for the WWF Tag Team Championships: 
The New Age Outlaws (Champions w/Chyna) defeat LOD 2000 (w/Sunny) &
The Disciples of Apocalypse when Billy Gunn pins the Road Dogg at 7:37:
This match requires two men to be in the ring at one
time, so it does not utilize the triple threat variation where a member of each
team is engaged in the ring at all times. 
Under these rules, I’ve never understood why a team voluntarily tags
itself out, since they might not get another opportunity to re-enter the
bout.  The Outlaws get tagged into the
match by the LOD and DOA, but they intelligently take advantage of the situation
to retain the titles.  Each team rotated
enough to keep this interesting and the finish was well crafted.  Rating:  **¼ (4 for 7)
An army of police
officers are shown assembling in the backstage area.
Al Snow shows up
in ridiculous coat and tie attire and interrogates Lawler, but security escorts
him away.
Vince McMahon
comes out for his “Humanitarian of the Year” ceremony to the music that was
used for celebrities at WrestleMania X. 
As McMahon enters the ring, police officers corner the Undertaker
backstage.  Steve Austin comes out
wearing a black tie with the rest of his ring attire, which irritates
McMahon.  As McMahon receives his awards,
he is told that his contributions were not what he promised and that it took several
times for his checks to clear.  As
McMahon gives his acceptance speech, promising to take his awards and place
them in a future Hall of Fame, Austin picks his pocket and gives the $1,200 in
it to the foundations present.  Austin
proclaims McMahon the “Jackass of the Year” and druids carry a casket to the
ring as the lights go out and the Undertaker’s music plays.  However, Kane pops out of the casket and
Mankind joins in.  They toss Austin in
the casket and Kane stands over it and signals for his pyro as the show plays
out.  A pretty tame segment compared to
the great work that Austin and McMahon have done up to this point, but the heel
beatdown and closing shot were great.  5 for 8
The Final Report Card:  I didn’t care for the Undertaker’s rampage
during the show, since it ruined Venis-Runnels and defied logic (why could the
Undertaker not find McMahon in the backstage area during the ENTIRE
show?).  In contrast, the show had enough
entertaining segments like the tag team triple threat, the closing segment
where Austin one-upped McMahon and then McMahon got immediate retribution, and
Owen-Scorpio.  I’ll give this week’s
effort a neutral score because although Austin-McMahon was fun, their segments
on this show were arguably the weakest between them since their feud began
after WrestleMania, and this show seemed to lack the energy of previous
broadcasts.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.3 (vs. 4.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:   Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – June 1, 1998

by Logan Scisco


Vince McMahon
narrates a video package where he hilariously says that last night’s WWF title
match was fair, that Dude Love lost because of his own incompetent, and Austin
will go down as one of the most “cold hearted” WWF superstars of all-time after
last night.  Imagine Vince’s crazy
Survivor Series lead-in packages and that’s what this was all about
.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are live from Chicago, Illinois.

Mick Foley, still
displaying parts of the Dude Love persona, kicks off the broadcast sitting in a
chair in the middle of the ring and admits that Steve Austin kicked his ass
last night at Over the Edge.  He calls
out Vince McMahon and apologies to him for letting him down, but hopes he can
still be the number one contender after the great match he had last night.  McMahon demands that Foley get on his knees if
he wants to apologize, but Foley refuses and admits that hitting McMahon with a
chair last night felt good.  McMahon
dares Foley hit him with a chair again, but makes clear that doing so will risk
his financial future.  After Foley backs
down, McMahon announces that Foley’s services are no longer required because
where Steve Austin makes him money, Foley just makes him sick.  The Dude Love theme plays and McMahon dances around
Foley.  Segments like this are why the Mr.
McMahon persona has a claim as the greatest heel of all time and this exposes
the Big Show-Authority debacle earlier in the year as awful.  1 for
1
LOD 2000, Darren
Drozdov, and Sunny are shown waiting backstage for the Disciples of Apocalypse
because they are having a Chicago street fight against them tonight.
Opening Chicago
Street Fight:  LOD 2000 & Darren
Drozdov (w/Sunny) battle The Disciples of Apocalypse to a no contest at 4:04:
This entire match unfolds by the arena entrance and its
lots of mindless garbage brawling.  It
devolves into a war of attrition as the LOD and Skull and 8-Ball take each
other out, leaving Chainz and Droz brawling alone.  Their brawl causes them to collide with the
Undertaker, who is entering the arena, and he lays them both out.  Well, that was a big waste of time.  Rating:  ¼* (1 for 2)
The Undertaker is
shown interrogating people in the backstage area about Vince McMahon’s
whereabouts.
Val Venis pins
Papi Chulo with the Money Shot at 3:36:
Papi Chulo is Aguila without the mask since the light
heavyweight division doesn’t matter anymore. 
Chulo gets in a few token moves, but this is a squash to continue
building up Venis.  This did a better job
showcasing Venis’s skills than his debut against 2 Cold Scorpio.  2 for 3
Call 815-734-1161
to get your “Don’t Trust Anybody” Steve Austin t-shirt for $25 (plus $6
shipping & handling)!
The Undertaker is
in the ring after the commercial break cuts arguably his best promo about how
Vince McMahon took advantage of his loyalty to the company and made him squash
giants to protect himself and his handpicked champions.  He claims that McMahon does not want him
representing the company and demands a WWF title shot.  McMahon comes out, riles the Undertaker up,
and books him tonight in a number one contender’s match against Kane.
The Undertaker’s
chokeslam of Pat Patterson through an announce table at Over the Edge is the
JVC Kaboom! of the Week.  Patterson
deserved some type of financial bonus for taking that bump because he
completely laid out for it.
The announce crew
recaps what happened in the Sable-Marc Mero match last night at Over the Edge.
King of the Ring
Qualifying Match:  “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline)
beats “The Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman with the Wild Thing at 2:55:
This is our first qualifying match for the 1998 King of
the Ring Tournament and this year’s tournament, like previous years, will see
the semi-finals showcased on pay-per-view. 
Since that’s the case, I’m not sure why they continue to call these
qualifying matches as opposed to first round matches.  Anyway, before the match, Mero introduces
Jacqueline, known to USWA fans as Miss Texas, as his new valet.  Jacqueline distracts the referee to help Mero
hit his usual low blow, but Mero finishes Blackman with the Wild Thing instead
of the TKO.  In a funny spot, Cole yells “TKO!”
after Mero hits a Samoan Drop before the Wild Thing and Ross has to correct
him.  Cole also can’t remember whether it
has been years or months since the Wild Thing was last used by Mero.  Is this match a sign of a new push for Mero?  Time will tell as Mero now moves on to face
either Jeff Jarrett or Faarooq in the first round.
Steve Austin’s
appearance of Madcow’s radio show is shown.
Edge’s new
vignette announces that he is both light and dark, nothing and everything, as
well as everywhere and invisibile.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler joins Ross for hour two.
Six-Man
Elimination Match:  The Rock, Owen Hart
& D-Lo Brown beats Triple H & The New Age Outlaws when Owen Hart
becomes the sole survivor after Ken Shamrock interferes at 7:28 shown:
Previous
Eliminations:  Billy Gunn pins D-Lo Brown
with a piledriver at 1:29; The Rock pins The Road Dogg with a Rock Bottom at
2:25; Owen Hart pins Billy Gunn with a spinning heel kick at 3:47; Triple H
pins the Rock with a Pedigree at 6:56
Commissioner Slaughter does his overdone shtick of
sending Chyna, X-Pac, Kama Mustafa, and Mark Henry to the locker room before
this match.  Chyna is allowed to come
back down to the ring after Triple H is left against Owen and the Rock, which
makes no sense, and she distracts Owen to facilitate the Rock’s
elimination.  However, we don’t get
another chapter of Triple H-Owen as Ken Shamrock attacks Owen for a big pop.  Yet another example of how feuds carefully
overlapped during the Attitude Era and made weekly television exciting.  I am a mark for elimination matches, but the
eliminations in this happened too quickly for TV time constraints.  The crowd was buzzing for the whole match,
though.  Rating:  **½ (3 for 4)
After the bell,
the Nation of Domination attacks Shamrock and Dan Severn makes the save.  Shamrock and Severn have a brief staredown,
which excites the Chicago crowd, but they do not physically engage.  After Severn leaves, Triple H attacks
Shamrock when it is announced that Owen won by disqualification and WWF officials
have to separate them.
Vince McMahon is
shown shaking hands with Kane in the locker room as Paul Bearer looks on
approvingly.
Tennessee Lee
introduces his newest tag team, Southern Justice, who are the Godwinns in
suits.  Their purpose is to serve as Jeff
Jarrett’s backup.
King of the Ring
Qualifying Match:  “Double J” Jeff
Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee & Southern Justice) beats Faarooq after hitting
Faarooq with a belt buckle at 3:21:
The Chicago crowd works up a mocking “We want Flair!”
chant at Jarrett early in this bout. 
Once Southern Justice were welcomed out this match ceased to have much
suspense.  As I said in the Over the Edge
review, Faarooq has very little identity as a face, even more so now that his
feud with the Nation has died off, so Jarrett going over in this bad match is
the right call here.  Rating: 
* (3 for 5)
A video package
hypes the charity work of the McMahon family. 
This would have made a great campaign commercial for Linda’s Senate
campaign.
WWF Light
Heavyweight Championship Match:  Taka
Michinoku (w/Bradshaw) defeats Funaki (w/Kaientai) with the Michinoku Driver at
3:11:
I bet Dick Togo was angry that he did not get a title
shot after taking Michinoku to the limit on last week’s show.  Al Snow makes an appearance at ringside,
dressed in stereotypical Japanese clothing and posing as a ringside photographer,
but he is soon evicted.  A fun, fast
paced match between these two that is a breath of fresh air after the last
bout.  It’s just a shame that Michinoku
didn’t get to wrestle the members of Kaientai in longer singles matches on RAW.  Rating:  **¼ (4 for 6)
Paul Bearer tells
Jim Ross from the backstage area that his son is bound to be WWF champion and
he can defeat the Undertaker on tonight’s show
.
Al Snow yells at
the Head in the parking lot for causing them to get evicted from the show.
Vince McMahon
comes by to do commentary duties with Ross and Lawler for the rest of the show.
King of the Ring
Qualifying Match:  Mark Henry pins Terry
Funk with a splash at 4:54:
Despite being in the company since 1996, Henry only has a
handful of RAW in-ring appearances to his credit because of injuries.  Funk does a fantastic job walking him through
his match, which features Funk using everything he knows, from chairs to an
Asai moonsault to take the bigger Henry down and failing in the end due to age
and Henry’s brute strength.  I probably
overrated this, but I enjoyed the story it told, which was better than any
other match that has been on the show tonight. 
Rating:  *** (5 for 7)
WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out to do commentary for the next match with Ross, Lawler, and
McMahon.
#1 Contender’s
Match for the WWF Championship:  Kane
(w/Paul Bearer) defeats The Undertaker with a Tombstone after Mankind
interferes at 6:27:
In terms of wins and losses, it is really unfair to make
the Undertaker beat Kane for a third time to get a title show since he beat him
at WrestleMania and in an Inferno Match at Unforgiven.  It’s sort of like how it is tough for a
sports team to beat another team three times in the course of a season.  It’s funny to hear McMahon question whether
the Undertaker is too old in this match and he and Austin have some
entertaining banter on commentary, although it comes close to overwhelming the
match.  Forced to work at a faster pace
for television, this is the best encounter between these two so far and Kane
gets the title shot at the King of the Ring thanks to Mick Foley’s
interference.  Rating:  **½ (6 for 8)
After the match,
Kane looks over Austin at the announce table and Austin takes exception to that
and the crowd wants a brawl.  However,
Kane just motions that the title will soon be around his waist and his pyro
goes off as he walks to the back.  The
Undertaker revives and fights with Mankind and that convinces Vince McMahon to
tell Ross that he might just rehire Foley since he is showing him some guts.
The Final Report Card:  This was
Chicago, so a hot crowd could be expected, but the crowd heat for the entire
show was off the charts and the WWE would kill for a crowd like this
today.  It’s a testament to how well the entire card has been built from the recently debuted Val Venis all
the way to Austin.  Vince McMahon’s awesome character also carried the first hour of the show and properly advanced the major angles.  The ending was not as
hot as previous RAWs and they would have been better served just having the
Undertaker and Mankind brawl to the back than staging an average brawl around
the ring as the show played out, but that’s a minor complaint.  EASY thumbs up this week.

Monday Night War Rating:  4.4 (vs. 3.7 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Over the Edge 1998 – In Your House

by Logan Scisco


The show starts
with the “Mr. McMahon’s Utopia” video package, which is one of the best WWF
video packages of all-time.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are on commentary and they are live from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
(otherwise known as the town that R-Truth can’t remember).

Opening
Contest:  LOD 2000 (w/Sunny & Darren
Drozdov) defeat The Disciples of Apocalypse (w/Chainz) when Animal pins Skull
after a powerslam at 9:48:
I mentioned in the Unforgiven review that that show was
Sunny’s last WWF pay-per-view appearance, but this one actually is (I somehow
forgot this show and jumped in my mind from Unforgiven to King of the Ring).  She definitely looks worse for wear and her
firing shortly after this was not surprising. 
Ross hypes the LOD’s AWA background on commentary since Milwaukee was a
former AWA stop and some AWA legends are being honored later in the show.  This has a hot start, but the DOA choke the
life of it (literally).  The DOA tries an
illegal switch late in the match, but Droz nails Skull in the head when he runs
the ropes and the LOD wins.  This match
isn’t putting either team anywhere near the title picture, though.  Rating:  *
Intercontinental
Champion The Rock comes out and runs down the Milwaukee beer industry and their
women.  Faarooq runs out and gives the
Rock a piledriver on a chair (sort of) and then beats up some of the Nation
before he leaves the ring.  The Rock does
a stretcher job and Ross and Lawler speculate on whether we will have an
Intercontinental championship match tonight or not.  The most ridiculous part of the stretcher job
is they do not have EMTs come out to the ring and Owen is the one who has to
put a neck collar on the Rock.
Michael Cole talks
to WWF Champion Steve Austin in the locker room.  Austin says he doesn’t care about the odds he
faces tonight and says that no one has volunteered to watch his back in the
title match.
“Double J” Jeff
Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) beats Steve Blackman after Lee hits Blackman with a
karate stick at 10:19:
Blackman is like one of those non-credible challengers
that Jarrett used to face in 1995 when he was Intercontinental champion.  During the bout, Al Snow is shown doing
commentary with the Spanish announce team dressed in stereotypical Mexican
attire (he’s eventually removed by security and gets a bigger reaction than the
match).  The real
highlight of this match is Lawler reading off country song lyrics to narrate
big moments.  This is a serviceable match,
but it has very little heat, and Jarrett picks up the cheap win via Lee’s
interference.  You can hear the crickets
as he makes his way to the back.  Rating: 
**
Marc Mero giving
Sable the conditions for the match between him and someone of Sable’s choosing
on last week’s RAW is shown.
Sable’s Freedom
vs. Sable’s Career Match:  “Marvelous”
Marc Mero pins Sable with an inside cradle at 29 seconds:
Ross makes an allusion to Mero’s Johnny B. Badd gimmick
by telling Lawler “You know, Mero looks a lot like Little Richard.”  Back in 1998, I thought Sable would pick the
Undertaker as the superstar to face Mero. 
However, Sable opts to choose herself for this match and Mero feigns
sadness at having to wrestle her.  He
decides to lay down for her, but when Sable covers him, he reverses it and
sends her packing.  A guy in the front
row yells “NO!  NO!” when Mero reverses
the pin and that is pretty funny.  Mero
actually gets a decent pop for the pin, but sadly he wouldn’t be done with
Sable yet.  This was actually Mero’s last
victory on a WWF pay-per-view.
Cole recaps what
we have just seen, as if we are idiots, and Sable thanks her fans for their
support and tries to cry and can’t.
Dok Hendrix is in
the locker room with the Nation of Domination, but they refuse to talk with
him.  Commissioner Slaughter has forced
the Rock to defend the Intercontinental title regardless of what Faarooq did to
him earlier.  There’s something that
doesn’t seem quite fair about that to me, especially since Faarooq was
unprovoked.
Bonus Handicap Match:  Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) beat Taka
Michinoku & Bradshaw after Dick Togo pins Michinoku with a Senton Bomb at 9:53:
This is back when a bonus match actually made sense
within existing storylines.  The Kaientai
feud was the WWF’s attempt to give Bradshaw something to do after the New
Blackjacks split up and the NWA angle was a bust, but it never really took off.  Seeing Bradshaw face Kaientai is like
watching a real world version of Gulliver’s
Travels
.  It leads to some
entertaining spots, though, with Bradshaw viciously slamming members of
Kaientai on the arena floor and having all of the members of Kaientai try to
take him down simultaneously.  Everything
devolves into some really fun spots for the finish, which sees Kainetai’s
numbers overwhelm their opponents and continue to build momentum with a
win.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot
for Kaientai to do after the Michinoku feud because their size created a
credibility problem.  Rating: 
**½
Sable is shown
slowly walking out of the arena with her bags.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion)
defeats Faarooq with the Flair pin at 5:09:
This is the big blowoff for the Rock-Faarooq feud that
has been simmering throughout 1998, but Ross prefers to talk about it as an
extension of the Florida State-Miami football feud.  The Rock initially refuses to come out for
the bout, so Commissioner Slaughter walks out and orders him to come to the
ring in ten seconds or forfeit the title. 
So, we are supposed to buy Slaughter as a face in this situation after
he beat up Steve Austin a few weeks ago on RAW? 
The Rock does come out and we get a whimper of a match to settle this
long-term feud.  Faarooq was not
well-suited to playing a face and he would dabble around in the lower midcard
before the Acolyte tag team revived his career. After the match, Faarooq
piledrives the Rock and the Nation runs in to do a beatdown before D-Generation
X makes the save.  THAT finally wakes up
the crowd.  Rating:  *½
 -Mask vs. Mask Match:  Kane (w/Paul Bearer) pins Vader with a
Tombstone at 7:22:
This is really the last pay-per-view where Vader had a
great deal of credibility, but the WWF really spoiled the outcome by making
this a mask vs. mask match.  I never
understood why that stipulation held up in kayfabe anyway since WWF viewers had
already seen Vader without his mask on several occasions, so who cares if he
loses it?  Vader also did not get as much
airtime relative to Kane’s ongoing feud with the Undertaker, so that was
another clue that he was going to be cannon fodder here.  The only real interesting event of this match
is when Vader hits Kane with a wrench that he acquires from underneath the
ring, but that isn’t enough to stop the Big Red Machine, who remains undefeated
against anyone not named the Undertaker. 
Rating:  ½*
After the match,
Vader is unmasked and Lawler acts like this is an unheard of event.  In a funny moment, Kane puts the mask on Paul Bearer, who dances around like Vader and proclaims it “Paul Bearer time.”  Cole interviews Vader, who announces that he’s
a “big, fat piece of shit.”  One would
think this would create a small redemption angle for Vader that would see him
return to his roots and vault back up the card, but it was not meant to be.
The Crusher and
Mad Dog Vachon are recognized in a small ceremony for AWA superstars.  The crowd is very appreciative of both men
and I would guess that Jim Cornette played a role in putting this together,
probably over Kevin Dunn’s objections. 
Lawler takes objection to the ceremony, makes fun of Mad Dog Vachon, and
the Crusher beats him up.
Owen Hart, Kama
Mustafa & D-Lo Brown (w/Mark Henry) defeat Triple H & The New Age
Outlaws (w/X-Pac & Chyna) when Owen pins Triple H with a Pedigree on a tag
team title belt at 18:34:
For the first time tonight, the crowd is really buzzing
about a match.  Owen is the most over
participant, getting an “Owen sucks” and being loudly booed when he enters the
match.  Momentum swings back and forth
and when all hell breaks loose things really step up a notch as Chyna decks Mark
Henry and Billy Gunn and Triple H give D-Lo a spike piledriver on a tag team
title belt.  However, Owen breaks that up
and gets a measure of revenge against Triple H by finally pinning him on
pay-per-view.  Of course, by the time
that Owen has gotten this revenge he’s a heel and we’re supposed to be mad
about it.  The match was just average,
but it put Kama and D-Lo on the same level as the more recognized members of
D-Generation X and thereby gave the Nation some credibility in their feud with
DX.  Rating:  **
A video package
hypes the upcoming WWF championship match between Steve Austin and Dude Love
.
Hendrix interviews
Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson, and Gerald Brisco and McMahon mockingly says that
he will be an impartial referee tonight. 
He says that if Austin touches him, he will stop the match and strip him
of the title and makes it very clear that the match will end “by his hand only.”
-WWF Championship
Match with Vince McMahon as Guest Referee, Pat Patterson as Guest Ring Announcer,
and Gerald Brisco as Guest Timekeeper:  “Stone
Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) pins Dude Love with a Stone Cold Stunner at 22:28:
This is one of my all-time favorite matches and there are
so many things to love about it.  First, Howard
Finkel gives a pre-written introduction for Patterson that compares him to
Wayne Gretzky, discusses Patterson surviving a “grueling” tournament in Rio de
Janeiro to win the Intercontinental title, and applauds him as a role model for
children.  Second, Patterson gives the
most hilarious ring introductions ever by saying Brisco is the reincarnation of
Jim Thorpe and emphasizing that he’s a real Native American unlike Chief Jay
Strongbow, arguing that Vince makes “life worth living” and has a “yes I can”
attitude (too bad Linda didn’t run for Senate earlier and change the “I” in
that to “we”), arguing that Dude Love is an inspiration, and that Austin is a “foul
mouthed punk” and a “bum.”  Third, as the
match proceeds, McMahon changes the rules to a no disqualification and falls
count anywhere match (which were hilariously dubbed as “reminders”), which
causes the Ross rage-o-meter to reach a 1.0. 
And fourth, it has one of the wildest and craziest finishes to a WWF
title match, as McMahon is inadvertently laid out by a Love chair shot; the
Undertaker, who comes out before the match to watch Austin’s back, chokeslams
Patterson and Brisco through the ringside announce tables to prevent them from
counting a Love pin on Austin; and Austin takes an unconscious McMahon’s hand
to register the three count after he gives Love a Stunner.  Ross sums the match up beautifully:  “Steve Austin is the toughest son of a bitch
I ever saw!”  This was my Match of the
Year for 1998 (I think it ended up finishing third in the PWI voting that year)
due to the great build up, the ability of the booking to draw a loud crowd
reaction, and a very witty ending.  Rating: 
*****
The Final Report Card:  The WWF was still working toward “red hot”
status, so this show is still in the transition period where they were
reinforcing their gains against WCW.  The
entire card aside from the main event is lackluster and is RAW fare, but the
main event is the only thing that needed to deliver at the time and it
did.  Surprisingly, this show drew fewer
buys than Unforgiven and drew the fewest buys of any show in the Austin era.  The only thing that I think could account for that is that the fans felt Austin winning was a foregone conclusion.  I won’t give this show a thumbs up, since it is just a one match show, but if you have never
seen Austin-Love, then you need to check it out.
Attendance: 
9,822
Buyrate: 
0.58 (+0.01 from the previous year)


Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 27, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Michael Cole
narrates a video package that recaps last night’s Unforgiven pay-per-view.  Tonight, Vince McMahon will make a decision
about WWF Champion Steve Austin’s future
.
Jim Ross and Michael
Cole are in the booth and they are live from Hampton, Virginia.
Footage of
D-Generation X preparing for their “invasion” of WCW Monday Nitro, who are
running Nitro in Norfolk tonight, which is about fifteen minutes from where Raw
is being hosted, is shown.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock & Owen Hart
wrestle The Rock & Mark Henry (w/The Nation of Domination) to a no contest
at 1:43:
Shamrock and Owen had teamed for a few weeks on the house
show circuit prior to this RAW and they were a ranked tag team in the Apter
magazines, so I was excited to see them wrestle here.  However, Owen turns on Shamrock and ditches
his lackluster four month run as a face. 
Owen works better as a heel, so I fully approve of this move.  Owen Pillmanizes Shamrock’s ankle, which
works to write Shamrock out of next month’s pay-per-view.  The beatdown, which extends to Steve Blackman
and Faarooq when they try to make saves, was excellent. (1 for 1)
Dude Love hosts the
Love Shack and gloats about beating Steve Austin last night.  He proposes stripping Austin of the title and
having the WWF put him against Shawn Michaels for the title or hosting a
tournament or just giving it to him. 
Very solid promo work for Foley, which included some classic heel
cockiness.  2 for 2
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out if a new manager is headed to the WWF!
D-Generation X
declares war against WCW in Norfolk.  WCW
fans cheer when Triple H asks them if Eric Bischoff sucks.
#1 Contender’s
Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: 
Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio beat The Headbangers via
disqualification when Thrasher pushes the referee at 3:14:
It seems weird that the winner of this match gets a WWF
tag team championship opportunity since neither team has accomplished much of
note in recent weeks, but the WWF tag ranks are really thin at this point.  This match is non-stop action from the bell,
with Funk moonsaulting the other three men as they brawl on the arena floor.  The finish is lackluster, but both teams keep
fighting after the bell and at least this match made the tag team titles seem
important.  Rating:  ** (3 for 3)
Triple H asks if
any of the WCW fans got free tickets for tonight’s Nitro.  X-Pac says high to Scott Hall and Kevin Nash
and Triple H demands that they let them go.
Steve Austin tossing
Dude Love off of Sawyer Brown’s stage at Unforgiven last night is the
Cinnaburst Rewind segment.
Vince McMahon
walks out and says he knows Austin was trying to hit him with the chair at the
end of last night’s Unforgiven pay-per-view, which draws a huge cheer from the
crowd.  He says he is not going to fire
Austin yet and that Austin will defend the WWF title tonight against Goldust
with Gerald Brisco as the guest referee. 
McMahon announces that if Austin lays a finger on Brisco that he will be
fired and stripped of the WWF title. Brisco says he will be impartial tonight
and is not afraid of Austin.  McMahon
closes by saying that any wrestler in the company would be a better
representative with the title than Austin right now.  It’s a McMahon promo, so does it really need
a rating?  4 for 4
WCW closes the
gate to the arena to keep D-Generation X from entering the arena with their
vehicle.  I wish WCW had let them in and
then had Scott Norton and Meng and kick their ass.
Segments of Jeff
Jarrett’s “musical performance” and altercation with Steve Blackman at
Unforgiven last night are shown.
Bradshaw beats Double
J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) via disqualification when Kamikaze interferes
at 1:14
Bradshaw doesn’t sell any of Jarrett’s offense and has
the upper hand until Kamikaze hits the ring and attacks him.  Taka Michinoku tries to make the save, but
also gets beaten down.  This time a
fourth man is with Kamizake, but he is masked and his identity is unknown.
Jerry Lawler comes
out to replace Cole on commentary for hour two.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Dude Love, who is irate that he has not been given the title.  Love confronts McMahon, who doesn’t
appreciate Kelly and the camera man being around and goes all Ronald Reagan on
them by saying that he is paying for the equipment and for them to shut it off.
Non-Title
Match:  The Disciples of Apocalypse (w/LOD
2000, Chainz & Sunny) beat The New Age Outlaws (WWF Tag Team Champions
w/D-Generation X) when 8-Ball pins Billy Gunn after an illegal switch at 3:35:
It’s like night and day having Ross and Lawler
back-and-forth in the booth versus the awful Ross-Cole team and it’s amazing
that it took so long for the WWF to just ditch Cole off the RAW
broadcasts.  Even more surprising that
they kept him around as Ross’s replacement. 
The DOA dominate much of the match and when Billy Gunn hits Skull with a
piledriver, 8-Ball makes an illegal switch and gives the DOA their first win in
ages.  To show how much heat the Outlaws
generated up to this point, the crowd goes nuts for the victory.  Rating:  *½ (5 for 5)
The Undertaker
beats Barry Windham with the Tombstone in 59 seconds:
And here I thought that Barry Windham was gone from the
company by this point.  The sad thing is
that THIS would’ve been a RAW main event if this was 1996.  It shows you how far the company has come
since then.  The Undertaker sends Barry
off to WCW with this squash.
After the match,
the Undertaker calls out Kane, who comes out after the commercial break with
Paul Bearer.  Bearer begs the Undertaker
for a truce and as he recounts the events of last night he reveals that Kane is
his son.  Excellent promo work from
Bearer here and I always say he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his part
in this feud in 1997-1998.  6 for 6
The Undertaker’s
plancha on Kane and Vader at Unforgiven is the Castrol GTX Slam of the Week.
Kevin Kelly
interviews The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust and Luna Vachon.  Goldust says that he is a pure man that would
be a great representative of the company. 
Dude Love ambushes Goldust yelling “That’s my shot!” and WWF officials
have to pull him off of Goldust.
D-Generation X
comes back out and Triple H tells DOA that no one steals his buzz.  As Scott would say, “I love shoot comments
that aren’t supposed to be…”  Triple H
issues an open challenge to any member of the locker room that wants to face
him for the European title.  Skull walks
out, but Dan Severn walks past him and into the ring as Jim Cornette tries to
convince him not to fight Triple H. 
Cornette makes the mistake slapping Severn, which leads to Cornette being
placed in an armbar and choke. 
Unfortunately, this allows Triple H to get away.  This could’ve MADE Severn, but they pulled
back.  This makes Severn a face now.
WWF Champion Steve
Austin tells Michael Cole that he’ll defend the WWF title and says that Vince
McMahon isn’t going to get rid of him.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of the WrestleMania XIV video tape and a lifesize Steve Austin
poster for $44.95 (plus $9 shipping & handling)!
The new Val Venis
vignette says that all men have “Venis envy” when compared to him.
Marc Mero walks
out and calls Sable to the ring.  Mero
says that Sable humiliated him at Unforgiven last night when Luna took her
evening gown off.  Sable counters that
she enjoyed the experience and she challenges Mero to a match on RAW in two
weeks.  She leaves before Mero answers
her challenge.  This was pretty poor
considering the past segments between these two, but that’s because they let
Sable dominate all the mic time.  6 for 7
Vince McMahon
shakes Gerald Brisco’s hand backstage and says that he will enjoy watching him
referee tonight’s main event.
WWF Championship
Match with Gerald Brisco as Guest Referee: 
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion) and The Artist Formerly Known as
Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) wrestle to a no-contest at 8:40:
Before the opening bell, McMahon jogs out and replaces
the timekeeper to further stack the deck against Austin.  Brisco dares Austin throughout the match to
hit him and counts quick falls for Goldust, but Austin resists and proceeds to
wrestle one of the faster-paced 1990s Goldust matches you will ever see.  Ross actually acknowledges that if Austin
loses the title that the crowd will riot, to which Lawler has a funny jab about
being there for crowd control.  Austin
hits a Stunner after a mule kick, but Brisco pulls a Nick Patrick and stops at
two because something is allegedly in his eye. 
Dude Love then runs in and brawls with Austin.  McMahon tries to take advantage of the
opportunity in a brilliant callback to the previous evening by trying to hit
Austin with the WWF title belt, but ends up KO’ing Brisco and that ends the
match.  This is one of those
underappreciated gems from the Attitude Era, but it’s a wild and fun match that
foreshadowed the Austin-Dude Love rematch that is to come at Over the Edge.  It’s also Goldust’s best match in ages.  Rating:  *** (7 for 8)
The Final Report Card:  This show had a little too much D-Generation
X and their “invasion” of WCW has been overhyped by subsequent WWE videos about
the Monday Night Wars.  However, some of
the segments were funny, like having a WCW fan claim that he didn’t pay for his
ticket and then asking for the company to free Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.  The main event was fantastic as well and
Austin really had his working boots on in his first run with the title.  The only missed opportunity was sidestepping
a Honky Tonk Man moment with Triple H and the European title with Dan Severn,
but you can’t always get what you want.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.7 (vs. 1.72 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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