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

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 20, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package recaps the Steve
Austin-Vince McMahon interaction on last week’s show, where their WWF title
match was interrupted by Dude Love
.
Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Long Island, New York
.
Kevin Kelly gives
us a report from the Undertaker and Kane’s parents grave, where they will be
facing each other tonight.

Dude Love hosts
the Love Shack and it does not take long for Vince McMahon to crash the
party.  McMahon tells Love that is being
fined $5,000 and warns him not to interfere with his business again before
leaving.  Love says he attacked Steve
Austin because he attacked him from behind, but that he may not face him at
Unforgiven if Austin grovels at his feet by the end of the show.  It always amazes me how easily Foley can
modify his promos for each of his characters. 
1 for 1
Opening Long
Island Street Fight:  Faarooq beats Kama
Mustafa with a spinebuster at 5:52:
The Nation is nice enough to bring lots of weapons to
ringside, the most impressive of which is a beer keg that Mark Henry carries in
from the audience.  However, the allies
of both men are barred from ringside. 
Impressively, Ross holds off until four minutes in to remind us of
Faarooq’s All-American roots.  Kama
dominates much of the match, which largely ignores the stipulation, and Faarooq
blasts Kama with his boot to avoid a Kama hammer attack and pick up the
win.  Cole makes so many errors in
calling this match, one of which is screaming “DOMINATOR” after Faarooq hits
the spinebuster.  Rating:  ¾* (1 for 2)
D-Generation X is
seen admiring footage of them relieving themselves on the Disciples of
Apocalypse’s motorcycles weeks ago. 
Billy Gunn dares Triple H to expose himself and urinate on tonight’s
crowd.
A video package
hypes Jeff Jarrett’s musical performance with Sawyer Brown at Unforgiven.
D-Generation X
comes out and Ross tells us that when Triple H and Owen Hart face off at
Unforgiven that Chyna will be suspended above the ring in a cage.  Triple H and the New Age Outlaws comment on
their opponents at Unforgiven and Triple H’s urinating prank sees him take a
giant squirt gun and blow it into the audience. 
LOD 2000, Owen Hart, and Sunny appear on the ramp and start heading
toward DX, but Sergeant Slaughter intervenes and books a match between them for
later tonight.  I was just not a fan of
DX’s juvenile antics in this segment and we’ve really heard everything they
have to say against their opponents, although that is more of a fault with
repetitive booking than anything else.  1 for 3
Dan Severn UFC
clips are the 10-321 Rewind segment
.
Kelly lets us know
that the Undertaker is minutes away from the cemetery!
Dan Severn (w/Jim
Cornette) defeats Mosh (w/Thrasher) via submission to an armbar at 2:40:
I don’t know why the WWE does not bother to use tag team
wrestlers in singles competition against non-tag team wrestlers much anymore
because it is an easy way to give singles stars victories while not harming the
reputation of a tag team, since the announcers can always point out that the
losing tag wrestler was not competing with their partner and they were out of
their element.  Severn easily squashes
Mosh here with a few suplexes and an awkward looking armbar.  This match should’ve been shorter and Mosh
should have received no offense, but since Severn is part of this NWA faction
the booking team doesn’t care that much about him.
The Undertaker
appears at the cemetery and chokes Kelly, who screams like a little girl.  Kelly says after the commercial break that
the Undertaker may be heading back to the arena after not finding Kane.
Before the next
match, Luna Vachon promises to strip Sable of her soul and all of her clothes
at Unforgiven.
Bradshaw defeats
The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) by disqualification when
the Kamikaze Club interferes at 4:50:
After months of wearing weird outfits, Goldust is back to
wearing his more traditional attire here. 
Both of these guys are in need of some direction and Bradshaw gets
something when the Kamikaze Club interferes and lays him out before
escaping through the crowd.  This was
good when Bradshaw was using his stiff-looking offense, but we did not get
enough of that.  Rating:  * (1 for 4)
Vince McMahon
slapping Steve Austin is last week’s M&M Slam of the Week.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler joins Ross for the second hour on commentary.
WWF Champion Steve
Austin comes out and alleges a conspiracy between Vince McMahon and Dude Love
to take the WWF title from him and he vows to kick ass tonight.  He teases going after a photographer, a
cameraman, and a timekeeper before heading to the locker room.  A simple filler promo and segment to keep the
wheels turning toward Unforgiven.  1 for 5
A hearse is shown
arriving at the arena.  Is it the
Undertaker?
Non-Title
Match:  Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio
beat The New Midnight Express (NWA Tag Team Champions w/Jim Cornette & Dan
Severn) when Scorpio pins Bombastic Bob with the 450 splash at 7:07:
Scorpio, having a new lease on creative life by going
back to his old name, is the only one that doesn’t phone it in for this
match.  You would think that two former
tag wrestlers in Bart Gunn and Holly would work well as a team, but they do not
show much of it in this match.  Scorpio
hits a crazy plancha when the Express beat on Funk on the outside and picks up
another victory for his team with the 450. 
Severn doesn’t let Scorpio gloat, though, as he walks into the ring and
gives him a belly-to-belly suplex. 
What’s funny is that Severn starts walking into the ring after the 450,
so you think a disqualification is coming, but he walks in so slow that the
referee finishes the three count before he can get to Scorpio.  Some stablemate, eh?  Rating:  * (1 for 6)
The new Val Venis
vignette has him in the shower and warning women to get their rest.
Cole interviews
Sable, who says she does not care if Luna Vachon strips her naked at
Unforgiven.  That claim is interesting in
retrospect because having that booked to happen on RAW a year later is what led
Sable to leave the company and sue them. 
Whoever arranged this segment was smart because they kept Sable’s
talking limited to that one line.
Paul Bearer and
Kane greet the hearse that has shown up to the arena.
Call 815-734-1161
to get the Steve Austin “Hell Yeah!” t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping &
handling)!
Vince McMahon
tells Cole that he is ready to fight Austin if he dares to confront him.
Triple H &
The New Age Outlaws (w/X-Pac & Chyna) beat Owen Hart & LOD 2000
(w/Sunny) when Billy Gunn pins Animal after a piledriver at 8:27 shown:
Ross chooses to talk about his past NWA experiences
during this match by mentioning how the Horsemen were no match for the
Legion of Doom and that Greensboro, North Carolina, where Unforgiven will be
held, is Ric Flair country.  The LOD’s
role in this match is limited, but they aren’t showing anything special, which
their new gimmick cannot mask.  In fact,
this match is a lot like the tag match with Funk and 2 Cold Scorpio earlier in
that Owen completely carries his team’s side of the contest.  The Road Dogg gets hit with a Doomsday
Device, but Chyna picks up Sunny and that creates enough of a distraction that
enables X-Pac to hit Animal with a chair and produce the finish.  At least Owen didn’t eat the pin.  Rating:  ** (2 for 7)
Paul Bearer and
Kane are shown wheeling a dirty casket backstage as Bearer sings about “digging
up bones.”  The hearse driver cracks me
up as he just watches all of this unfold with a stoic look like all of this is
just another day at the office.
Kane and Paul
Bearer come out and there are two caskets on the stage, which Bearer says are
the dug up graves of the Undertaker’s parents.  Bearer says that the Undertaker can pay his respects since
he didn’t go to their funeral.  He adds that he (Bearer) buried them in the cheapest caskets possible.  The Undertaker appears through the crowd and
as he charges ramp, Kane pours gasoline on one of the caskets and Bearer sets it
alight.  Kane then chokeslams the Undertaker into the other, which is the casket
of his mother.  In a nice attention to
detail, they made sure to put bones and worms in the casket the Undertaker was
thrown into.  Great segment that was much
better than having the men fight at the cemetery.  3 for
8
Cole tells us that
Kane and Paul Bearer have left the arena and the Undertaker is with whatever is
left of the remains.
Vince McMahon
walks out to do commentary for the next match. 
Lawler welcomes him back “like good old times.”  Storyline continuity is a nice thing.
Dude Love beats
Steve Blackman via submission to an abdominal stretch at 3:57:
Lawler constantly sucks up to McMahon at the booth and
snitches on all the bad thing Ross has said about him over the last couple of
weeks.  McMahon laments that he and
Austin could have had a “classic” on last week’s show and promises to be close
to the ring during the WWF title match at Unforgiven.  I would almost prefer they not call Love the
number one contender for Austin’s title since he has not beaten anyone to
immediately get a title shot.  Anyway,
after some brief action, Love puts Blackman in an abdominal stretch and the
bell mysteriously rings, thereby making this the “Long Island Screwjob” I
suppose.  Rating:  * (3 for 9)
After the bell,
Blackman interrogates the timekeeper and hiptosses him on the arena floor.  McMahon is outraged at all of this and as he
tends to the timekeeper, Steve Austin runs out, grabs McMahon, and hiptosses
HIM.  Austin and Love brawl on the floor
and Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco get Stone Cold Stunners as McMahon
flees.  Really fun closing segment that
sent the crowd into a frenzy.  4 for 10
The Final Report Card:  Fun ending aside, this was a very dry episode
of RAW relative to the last few weeks.  The
second hour was where all of the action was, but very little was entertaining
outside of Austin-McMahon and the Undertaker-Kane angle.  The Terry Funk & 2 Cold Scorpio tag team
had potential, so I am not sure why they abandoned it so quickly in 1998, but
it was good to see Scorpio being used as more than a jobber for a change.
Here is our final Unforgiven card:
WWF Championship Match:  Steve Austin (Champion) vs. Dude Love with
Vince McMahon at ringside
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) vs. LOD 2000
European Championship Match:  Triple H (Champion) vs. Owen Hart with Chyna
suspended above the ring in a cage
Inferno Match:  The Undertaker vs. Kane
Evening Gown Match:  Sable vs. Luna Vachon
The Nation of Domination vs. Ken Shamrock,
Steve Blackman & Faarooq
Monday Night War Rating:  4.4 (vs. 5.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 6, 1998

A video package recaps the altercation
between Steve Austin and Vince McMahon on the last RAW.

Jim Ross and
Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Syracuse, New York
.
Vince McMahon
walks out to some loud, piped in boos and says that Steve Austin learned his
lesson from last week and will no longer curse, flip people off, or give off a
blue collar vibe.  He promises a new,
improved Austin tonight or the fans will get their money back.  What is making the early part of this feud
great is that McMahon is not playing an overt heel.  Instead, he is still expecting the fans to
like him like they did in the 1980s and 1990s and is continually puzzled why
they are reacting negatively toward him.

A video package
hypes Dan Severn.  It is funny how the
WWF used the UFC to legitimize Ken Shamrock and Severn with the fan base during
this period and now views it with disdain.
Opening
Contest:  Dan Severn (w/Jim Cornette)
beats Flash Funk via submission to an armbar at 2:54:
Severn comes out with four title belts, which is always a
great visual for a wrestler and gives them instant credibility with the
audience.  Severn wrestles this match
like a UFC encounter, using a few simple suplexes and using superior position
to lock in an armbar and win his first WWF match.  (1 for
1)
D-Generation X
destroying Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie on last week’s RAW is the 10-321
Rewind.
DX comes out and
puts themselves over as the best young act in wrestling and tells the fans that
if they want to see old men wrestle they should change the channel.  Triple H says that his army is complete and
he is ready to raise hell in the WWF.
DX is shown spray
painting DX on parts of the backstage RAW set and beating up a random guy.
Steve Blackman
beats “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher via submission to a crucifix armbar at 5:01:
With the light heavyweight division an afterthought,
Christopher no longer has to feud with Taka Michinoku so he is enhancement
talent until something better comes along.  Tennessee Lee walks out during the match to do
commentary, but surprisingly does not get involved in the match.  This starts pretty slow, but after Lee stops
doing commentary the match picks up and Blackman gets a solid clean win to
maintain momentum for his feud with Jeff Jarrett.  Rating:  *¾ (2 for 2)
After the match,
Lee walks back out and filibusters for a great Jarrett entrance, but Jarrett
actually sneaks up behind Blackman in the ring and smashes a guitar over his
head.  Smashing people with guitars would
gradually become part of Jarrett’s calling card and this was one of the first
uses of the tactic.
DX is shown
relieving themselves on the Disciples of Apocalypse bicycles backstage.
LOD 2000 giving
Jesus a Doomsday Device on last week’s RAW is the Bop It Slam of the Week.
A video package
recaps last week’s cage match main event between the New Age Outlaws and Cactus
Jack and Chainsaw Charlie for the vacant WWF tag team titles.  It emphasizes that after the match and
beatdown the crowd was chanting for Steve Austin.
Mick Foley walks
out with a chair and wearing a neck brace. 
He says that Terry Funk is not at the show because he is pretty banged
up from last week and that after their sacrifices for the fans they just
chanted for Steve Austin at the end of last week’s show.  He criticizes the fans for giving them Cactus
Jack, which they asked for, and spitting on his effort.  When the fans do not give him a group apology,
he says that wrestling just is not worth it anymore and that the fans will not
see Cactus Jack for a long time.  Solid
promo work from Foley that planted the seeds for Steve Austin’s first in-ring
feud as WWF champion.  3 for 3
A video package
recaps the Nation turning on Faarooq on last week’s show.  A video from the Nation, which shows them
ambushing Faarooq in the parking lot is played.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Owen Hart beats The
Rock (Champion w/The Nation of Domination) by disqualification when Chyna
interferes and nails Owen with a baseball bat at 5:46:
There is a small history between these two as Owen beat
the Rock to win his first Intercontinental title on a RAW episode the previous
year, but this time he is facing heel Rock and not the young upstart Rocky
Maivia.  One thing that is weird about
the commentary of this match is that Cole and Ross debate whether Austin has
sold out and Ross says it can’t be possible, while Cole gloats about how
powerful McMahon is.  Considering that
Cole is criticized for pandering McMahon’s lines today it’s a surreal
conversation.  The Nation are evicted
from ringside after they trip Owen running the ropes.  Owen manages to put the Rock in the
Sharpshooter, but Chyna runs in and the Rock saves his title via
disqualification.  Once again,
D-Generation X gets the better of Owen. 
Will this poor guy ever catch a break in this feud?  Rating:  **¼ (4 for 4)
Jerry “the King”
Lawler replaces Cole for hour
two
.
Flanked by two
police officers, Vince McMahon comes out and unveils the corporate version of
Steve Austin, who is wearing a suit, baseball cap, and does not climb to the
second rope to salute the fans.  The fans
are hot when Austin’s music hits, but are lukewarm to the idea of him in a
suit.  However, Austin is wearing his
wrestling boots because the dress shoes McMahon selected were not fully broken
in and McMahon takes exception to Austin’s baseball cap, so he takes it off and
throws it into the crowd.  When Austin
gets the mic he cuts a hilarious promo about being left in prison last week
without bread and water. 
He has one of the police officers take a picture of he and McMahon with
the title and then tells a happy McMahon that he should get the film framed
because that is the last time he will see him wear a silly suit.  He rips the entire suit off and tosses it
into the crowd, gives McMahon a low blow, and takes a picture of an agonizing McMahon before
leaving.  These segments just get better
and better, assisted by some funny commentary from Ross, who loves Austin, and
Lawler, who worries about his old broadcast partner.  5 for
5
The Disciples of
Apocalypse walk out and challenge D-Generation X to a match later this evening
.
Mixed Gender
Match:  Luna Vachon (w/Goldust) beats
Matt Gold with a flying elbow drop in 26 seconds:
Ross informs us that this is the first intergender match
in WWF history and I will take his word for it. 
Of course, those that had the RAW SNES and Genesis video games had
already seen Luna wrestle in lots of intergender matches.  Goldust beats up Gold before the bell, which
makes him a sitting duck for Luna to get an easy victory.  I was disappointed Luna didn’t bust out the
“Luna Eclipse” elbow drop that she had in that video game.
A new Val Venis
vignette sees him discuss his new film “As Hard as it Gets.”
Ken Shamrock
beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Sable) by disqualification when the Nation of
Domination interfere at 2:40:
Mero says that he let Sable have the spotlight at
WrestleMania, but demands that she leave his ring before this match.  These two have a decent abbreviated match and
Shamrock arms himself with a chair when the Nation runs out.  However, the Nation have strength in numbers
and Mark Henry splits Shamrock’s wig and D-Lo hits a Lo Down, after which the
Rock tells Shamrock that he is facing a new, more powerful Nation.  I’ll give the match and beatdown a point
because it made everyone look good.  (6 for 6)
Call 815-734-1161
to buy the new Stone Cold University t-shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping &
handling)!  I cannot get over how
outrageous the shipping charges are for some of these items
.
Kevin Kelly
interviews the Undertaker, who accepts the desperate challenge of Paul Bearer
and Kane for the inferno match at Unforgiven. 
Paul Bearer and Kane interrupt the interview from the gravesite of the
Undertaker’s parents and Bearer promises that the Undertaker will die a slow,
agonizing death at Unforgiven.  Kane then
takes a sledgehammer to their parents grave and sets the remnants on fire.  Nice sell for the match, but I do not see how
they are going to top this in the ensuing weeks.  7 for
7
Triple H &
The New Age Outlaws (w/Chyna & Sean Waltman) beat The Disciples of
Apocalypse when Triple H pins Chainz with a Pedigree at 6:30 shown:
I am not calling Waltman X-Pac because he is not being
referred to that on television yet. 
Betting on the DOA in this match would be like placing everything you
owned against the Harlem Globetrotters.  After a below average match,
D-Generation X picks up a clean win over a stable who has worn out its
welcome.  After the bell, DX lays out
DOA like they did Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie on last week’s show.  However, before DX can completely decimate
Chainz, LOD 2000 runs out to make the save for the hot finish.  Rating:  *½ (8 for 8)
The Final Report Card:  Like last week, this RAW rolled along with
lots of entertaining segments to advance the necessary angles.  The new D-Generation X is starting to make
its mark on the company, the new Nation of Domination is doing the same, and
some new talent like Dan Severn and Val Venis are being introduced to the
audience.  This was another solid effort
to continue narrowing the gap with WCW.
Our Unforgiven card so far is:
WWF Championship Match:  Steve Austin (Champion) vs. ???
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) vs. LOD 2000
Inferno Match:  The Undertaker vs. Kane
Evening Gown Match:  Sable vs. Luna Vachon
Monday Night War Rating:  4.4 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: WrestleMania XIV

Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Boston, Massachusetts
.

Opening Fifteen
Team Battle Royal:  The Legion of Doom
(w/Sunny) win by eliminating The New Midnight Express at 8:19:
The WWF did not run tag team battle royals very often and
the last one prior to this that I recall was held in 1991 when the Nasty Boys
won and earned a title shot at WrestleMania VII.  This is the only tag team battle royal in
WrestleMania history and is the third battle royal to be contested at the event
and the first since WrestleMania IV.  The
rules for this type of battle royal is that when your partner is eliminated
then you have to exit the ring.  The
other teams in this include the Headbangers, Too Much, the Rock N’ Roll
Express, the New Midnight Express, Faarooq & Kama Mustafa, D-Lo Brown &
Mark Henry, the Disciples of Apocalypse, the Quebecers, the Godwinns, the Truth
Commission, Savio Vega & Miguel Perez, Jose & Jesus, Steve Blackman &
Flash Funk (??!?!), and Bradshaw & Chainz. 
There’s lots of interference in this battle royal, as Kurrgan eliminates
the Truth Commission and Barry Windham comes out and tosses Chainz.  The referees seemingly miss all of this.  The Legion of Doom are repackaged here with
Sunny, wearing futuristic skull helmets, and this match just serves to
reintroduce them and position them as top contenders in the tag division
again.  However, as the old saying goes
you can put lipstick on a pig and it is still a pig.  The Godwinns blast the Legion of Doom with
buckets because that feud lingers on despite the best wishes of the audience,
but it does no good as the LOD go over in their last WrestleMania appearance
and earn a tag team title shot at next month’s Unforgiven pay-per-view.  This would have been better with fewer teams
and it was just guys randomly trading punches. 
The crowd liked the LOD going over, though.  Rating:  *
Ross and Lawler
talk about the DX Public Workout, where Steve Austin ended up tied in the ropes
and Mike Tyson and Shawn Michaels kissed him on the forehead.  Other WrestleMania festivities are shown.
Light Heavyweight
Championship Match:  Taka Michinoku
(Champion) beats Aguila with a Michinoku Driver at 5:19:
 Aguila gets the jobber entrance, which is
unbecoming of WrestleMania, but he did not get a lot of television time prior
to this event.  Both men flip around a
lot, but there’s very little psychology to speak of and the Boston crowd does
not respond well to the match.  Of
course, they might respond better if the WWF gave them a reason to care about
this division.  After some really obvious
spot positioning and weak striking, Michinoku catches Aguila with a dropkick
when Aguila dives off the second rope and defends the title.  This was the swan song of the light
heavyweight division, as Michinoku would not defend the title at another
pay-per-view until October and Gillberg held the title by the end of the year.  Rating:  *½
Gennifer Flowers
interviews the Intercontinental Champion the Rock.  The Rock cuts a hilarious interview where he
demands to be called “the People’s Champion” and says he does not care about
the homeless as long as they stay off his property.  He makes some jokes about the judicial system
and interns “oral” role in his theoretical White House.
European
Championship Match:  Triple H (Champion
w/Chyna) pins Owen Hart with a Pedigree at 11:27:
Keep in mind that Owen is wrestling this match on an
injured ankle.  Triple H gets a live
musical entrance because the D-Generation X band is present this evening.  Chyna is also handcuffed to Commissioner
Slaughter during this match.  Now logic
would suggest that Owen gets his revenge here after being outwitted and duped
by Triple H at every turn during their three month feud.  However, that is not to be as Chyna drags
Slaughter to ringside to help Triple H puts his hand on the rope to break a
Sharpshooter and then tosses powder in Slaughter’s eyes, which enables her to
low blow Owen and help Triple H retain the title.  This built into a really solid match after a
slow and awkward start and this resulted in Owen permanently being relegated to
midcard status for the rest of his WWF run. 
After the match, Chyna tosses Slaughter into the crowd to continue
getting heat and put an end to the DX-Slaughter angle for good.  Rating:  ***¼
A video package recaps the Marc Mero &
Sable-Goldust & Luna Vachon feud
.
Mixed Tag Team
Match:  “Marvelous” Marc Mero & Sable
beat The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust & Luna Vachon when Sable pins
Luna after a TKO at 9:11:
This is the second mixed tag match in WrestleMania
history if you count men and women and not the Doink/Dink-Bam Bam Bigelow/Luna
match from WrestleMania X.  This is
Mero’s first and only WrestleMania match and he sheds the jealous heel persona
to be more of a traditional babyface in this bout.  The big question entering this match is
whether Sable could wrestle and she is very protected to make her look great.  When she tears into Luna the place explodes
and Luna does a good job bumping for her. 
It is puzzling booking to have Luna run away from Sable based on her run
with Bam Bam Bigelow in 1993-1994, but that is par for the course regarding
most WWF heels.  Sable even gets in a few
shots on Goldust and the crowd goes wild for a Sable powerbomb.  Mero acts like a small kid after the bell,
celebrating as if he got the winning pin. 
Well booked and entertaining bout that disguised Sable’s weaknesses and played
the crowd like a fiddle.  Who would have
imagined sixteen years ago that in 2014 Goldust would be a tag team champion,
Sable would be married to a former UFC champion, Mero would be preaching the
virtues of Christianity, and Luna would no longer be with us?  Rating:  ***
Tennessee Lee
introduces Gennifer Flowers, who is accompanied down the aisle by Jeff
Jarrett.  Flowers tells Jarrett that he’s
great and then does the guest ring announcing duties for the next match.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion
w/The Nation of Domination) beats Ken Shamrock by reverse decision at 4:48:
During this match, one smart fan holds up a “Rob Van Dam”
poster.  Since Commissioner Slaughter was
disabled by Chyna a few matches ago the Nation is allowed to congregate around
ringside for this one.  If the Rock gets
disqualified in this then he loses the title, but the announcers never bring
that up and it never factors into the match. 
Shamrock takes another sick shot with a chair in this match, causing me
to question his sanity, but he shakes it off and snaps.  The Rock submits to the ankle lock, but Shamrock
beats up the entire Nation and reapplies the ankle lock.  Faarooq runs out, but he decides not to help
the Rock, thereby continuing that issue. 
WWF officials run out to stop Shamrock, but that just leads to many of
them getting belly-to-belly suplexed. 
All of this causes the initial decision to be reversed and as the Rock
is carried out on a stretcher he hoists up the Intercontinental title in
victory.  After hearing of the decision,
Shamrock tosses the Rock off the stretcher and tosses him through the
D-Generation X band’s equipment.  This
was just a standard RAW match and the Dusty finishes in this feud hurt
Shamrock’s heat because he never managed to win the title from the Rock.  Rating:  **
Jim Ross tells the
television audience that this has become the highest grossing event in the
history of Boston, resulting in over $1,000,000 in ticket revenue.
Dumpster Match
for the WWF Tag Team Championship: 
Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie beat The New Age Outlaws to win the
titles at 10:02:
This is the first time I recall hearing the crowd echo
the Road Dogg’s introduction for the Outlaws. 
Terry Funk does not bother to wear the typical Chainsaw Charlie attire
for this one.  The crowd is pretty
subdued until Cactus pulls out a ladder and works up an “ECW” chant.  Gunn and Cactus take a crazy bump off the
ladder into the dumpster and Funk takes a crazy bump from a spike powerbomb off
the apron into the dumpster, but that does not end things as the battle goes
backstage.  Cactus lays out both of the
Outlaws on a forklift and Funk takes control of it and forces the Outlaws into
a backstage dumpster to seemingly win the titles.  However, they did not use the official
dumpster at ringside, so that might become a point of contention from the
Outlaws by the next RAW.  Fun brawl,
although the finish defied logic with the Outlaws just laying on the forklift
and somehow being forced off of there by Funk’s driving.  Rating:  **½
A video package
hypes the Undertaker-Kane match.
Pete Rose comes
out and turns heel by running down the Boston Red Sox, which may go over the
head of later viewers since the Red Sox have won three World Series since this
event.  Rose is supposed to do guest ring
announcing duties, but Kane Tombstone’s Rose to a huge reaction thereby starting
a running WrestleMania gag.  Rose does a
stretcher job and acts like he’s dead. 
Now THIS is what a celebrity appearance is all about.
The Undertaker
defeats Kane (w/Paul Bearer) with three Tombstones at 16:58:
 So after SIX
months of build we finally get this match between Kane and the only force in
the WWF that can stop him:  his brother
the Undertaker.  The Undertaker gets an
awesome entrance with druids holding lighted torches along the aisle.  I know at the time of this match that some of
my friends were looking forward to this match more than the Shawn
Michaels-Steve Austin main event.  This
is nowhere near a great technical encounter, but it is definitely a spectacle
because of how well Kane has been built since his debut and the Undertaker’s zombie
reputation.  Kane dominates most of the
match, with a really long chinlock spot in the middle, but the Undertaker kicks
out of a Tombstone and rallies as Bearer damns him at ringside.  However, it takes three Tombstones for the
Undertaker to put Kane down for good.  I
remember this match being much better than this, so it has not aged well, a
fact not helped by these two fighting many more times after this.  Still, it had some nice storytelling with the
Undertaker having to use everything in his arsenal to put Kane down for a three
count and that is enough for me to give it another ½*.  Rating:  *½
After the match,
Bearer throws a chair into the ring and stomps on a fatigued Undertaker.  The Undertaker recovers to deck Bearer, but
Kane smashes him with the chair and Tombstones him on it to show that this feud
will continue.  The Undertaker sits up,
though, as Kane and Bearer go to the backstage area.
A sad black and
white commercial that shows Gorilla Monsoon, Classie Freddie Blassie, and
Killer Kowalski, all of whom have died by now, hypes the Attitude Era.
A video package
hypes the Shawn Michaels-Steve Austin main event.
WWF Championship
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats
“The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (Champion w/D-Generation X) with a Stone
Cold Stunner to win the title at 20:01:
Mike Tyson is greeted to a chorus of boos when he comes
out to be the guest enforcer and he jaws with Austin after Austin makes his
entrance.  As the readers of this review
are aware, Michaels back was really messed up for this match and he had not
wrestled since defending the title against the Undertaker at the Royal
Rumble.  This would be his last match
until SummerSlam 2002.  Triple H attacks
Austin in the early going, so he and Chyna end up getting tossed from ringside.  If you read Michaels face during this match
you can tell that he is in a lot of pain, but that does not stop him from
incorporating his usual offensive arsenal like the flying forearm, kip up, and flying
elbow or being tossed with reckless abandon over the top rope.  Attitude Era brawling by the DX band and by
the timekeeper’s table also helps mask some of Michaels limitations.  Michaels opts to spend the match working the
leg and Tyson turns a blind eye to his cheating, like holding the ropes during
a figure-four spot.  The referee is
bumped out of a sleeper spot, but when Austin catches Michaels with a Stunner
after he blocks Sweet Chin Music, Tyson slides into the ring and counts the
fall.  I wish we could have seen a
healthy Michaels against Austin because that would have garnered a higher
rating, but kudos to Michaels for fighting through his injury and doing the
job.  Rating:  ***½ 
After the match,
Austin tosses Tyson an Austin 3:16 shirt and Tyson displays it for the
audience.  Michaels gets up and
interrogates Tyson about this shift of loyalties and that leads to Tyson
knocking him out to pay off the angle. 
Tyson then drapes Austin’s shirt over Michaels before walking to the
backstage area with the new champion.
The Final Report Card:  This was a very good WrestleMania.  The two worst matches were at the top of the
card and things picked up after that point. 
The show had a lot of “WrestleMania moments” and more than most
WrestleManias:  Austin winning the title,
Sable getting in the ring and TKOing Luna, Pete Rose getting Tombstoned by
Kane, and the Undertaker using three Tombstones to beat Kane.  The WWF’s intelligent booking also paid off
with this show since the midcard matches generated more crowd reaction and,
unlike WCW, they put the title cleanly on the guy that the fans wanted.  It also generated the highest WrestleMania
buyrate since WrestleMania VIII in 1992 and reversed a five year decline in
WrestleMania buyrates for the company.  I
like to see the Michaels-Austin match as the passing of the torch from the New
Generation to the Attitude Era and it is arguably one of the most important
matches in the history of the company, on the level of Iron Sheik-Hulk Hogan in
1985.
Attendance: 
19,028
Buyrate: 
2.3 (+1.6 from previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 17, 1998

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up