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

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

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

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 21, 1998

Vince McMahon
tells the stooges that he is leaving to briefly train for the Royal Rumble (because
he supposedly could not do this earlier in the day) and he says he will come
back with a “Christmas bonus” for the Corporation.  He leaves Shane in charge of tonight’s show,
but reminds the stooges that he will hold them responsible for Shane’s
actions.  Once Vince drives off, Shane
races toward the arena because he has a lot of things to do.
Michael Cole and
Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Spokane,
Washington. Cole welcomes us to the “greatest action adventure series on
television!” whatever that means.

The Corporation
walks out to a generic techno beat and some of the Corporation’s initial
Titantron video was later incorporated into the “Hollywood Rock” Titantron.  Before Shane McMahon can begin his monologue,
D-Generation X walks out and brings out Mankind who hilariously tries to look
cool by using DX’s gestures. 
Commissioner Shawn Michaels books Billy Gunn to face Ken Shamrock, Road
Dogg to face Big Bossman, and Triple H & X-Pac to face The Rock & Test
(who is referred to as the “corporate insurance policy”).  As revenge for Mankind beating up Vince last
week, Shane decides to face him in the ring over the objections of the stooges.  Mankind and DX laugh at Shane’s challenge and
Mankind does some awful crotch chops on his way to the back.
Cole hypes the
latest edition of People Magazine, which featured Steve Austin as a “breakout”
star of 1998.
D-Lo Brown talks
to Mark Henry and tries to convince him not to fool around with the ladies in the
locker room because they have a match to attend to
.
Opening
Contest:  Al Snow (w/Head) beats Gangrel
with the Snow Plow at 3:00:
Teddy Long is the referee but he does not turn this into
a tag match.  Snow and Gangrel go back
and forth in a match that does not really have much rhyme or reason to it.  Snow goes over clean by hitting a Snow Plow
out of nowhere.  After the match, the
Brood attacks Snow in the dark and gives him a bloodbath.  I cannot remember if this bloodbath stuff is
leading anywhere, but are we to assume that Gangrel cares more about pouring
blood on his opponents than winning?  Rating: 
We are shown
footage of Snow freaking out about the bloodbath during the commercial break
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Billy Gunn defeats
Ken Shamrock (Champion) by reversing a victory roll at 8:21:
Shamrock gets arguably the biggest heel heat in his
career as the Spokane crowd works up a loud “Shamrock sucks!” chant.  After the four minute mark, this really picks
up as Shamrock works the knee and Billy gets some well-timed hope spots to keep
the crowd engaged.  Billy appears to have
won the title as this was announced as a title match, but Commissioner Shawn
Michaels steps in to say that he never booked the match that way so Shamrock
keeps the title.  The WWF loved that
finish in December, having used a version of it at Rock Bottom.  After the match, Gunn moons Michaels, but
Shamrock takes him out.  Rating: 
***
Hawk costing Droz
a match against Al Snow on Sunday Night Heat is the Playstation Slam of the
Week
.
Hawk walks out
after having fallen off the Titantron the night after Survivor Series.  The WWF was so concerned about him that they
never bothered providing an update about his condition on subsequent RAWs.  Hawk says that Droz was his dope pusher and
enabler, doing so in an effort to take Hawk’s job.  Hawk pledges to get revenge when he heals up,
but Droz comes out and attacks him from behind.  Animal comes down and tosses Droz off of Hawk,
but the partners do not have a full reconciliation
.
Mark Henry says
that he is ready to have some fun with PMS and goes into their locker
room.  D-Lo Brown is beside himself at
his partner’s behavior
.
Footage of Steve
Austin giving Santa a Stone Cold Stunner last year is shown
.
Steve Blackman
defeats The Blue Blazer via disqualification when Owen Hart interferes at 2:22:
Before the bout, Owen Hart comes out and says that he has
proven that he is not the Blue Blazer and that part of the “Blue Blazer lives
inside each and every one of us.”  He
then says on commentary that he hopes the Blazer gets unmasked so that “he can
get to the bottom of this” and compares his plight to OJ Simpson and Bill
Clinton.  Blackman beats the Blazer up
like a jobber until Owen predictably runs in for a two-on-one beatdown before
Goldust intervenes.  He and Blackman
unmask the Blazer to reveal Jeff Jarrett. 
Jarrett tosses the Blazer cape back over his head as Owen shouts that he
does not know who the Blazer is.  For
comedy this is okay, but this angle is just doing nothing for everyone
involved.
PMS say that they
are going to take a shower as Henry watches
.
Hardcore
Championship Match:  The Road Dogg pins
The Big Bossman (Champion) when Mankind blasts the Bossman with a steel bar to
win the title at 6:55:
This is initially billed as non-title, but Road Dogg
goads the Bossman into putting the title on the line.  One could point to this match as when hardcore
matches jumped the shark as Road Dogg starts pulling out conveniently placed
cookie sheets and buckets from underneath the ring to attack the Bossman.  It is unfortunate that the Bossman is no
longer with us as his ring attire in 1998 foreshadowed the Shield so he would
fit right in.  Speaking of ring attire,
the Bossman goes to it to find objects to beat down Road Dogg such as a noose
(who knew wrestling could produce such vibrant social commentary?) and crack
cocaine (okay, it is just powder but it is funnier if you think it is crack
because why would police just carry random pouches of white powder?).  To send the silliness factor up a notch, the
finish comes when Mankind throws a net over the Bossman and blasts him with a
steel bar to give the Road Dogg the title. 
I hated this at first, but both guys stepped it up a notch when it went
into the crowd.  Rating:  **¼
PMS help Henry get
out of his clothes and put a collar on him. 
They then have him get on a massage table where they put a ball in his
mouth and put whipped cream on him.
A promo video sees
Jeff Jarrett rant about what pisses him off
.
The stooges try to
convince Shane McMahon not to square off with Mankind.
PMS now blindfold
Henry and strap him down to the table
.
Bob Holly &
Scorpio beat The Acolytes via disqualification at 3:20:
The Acolytes are still nothing more than Faarooq and
Bradshaw desperately trying to revive their careers.  The referee has no control of this as it is
just a wild brawl and somehow the Acolytes are the ones that get disqualified.  Rating:  DUD
Shane McMahon runs
toward the Gorilla position backstage as the stooges run after him and beg him
not to fight Mankind
.
Shane’s challenge
to Mankind is the Glover Rewind segment
.
Mankind beats
Shane McMahon (w/Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco) via disqualification when
the Rock interferes at 3:04:
Shane comes out to the Brawl for All music which is a
nice touch.  The Corporation comes out
early into the match, but Shawn Michaels does not let them rush the ring when
Shane gets in trouble.  Mankind gives
Shane a chair, but no sells the chair shot he receives.  He then dispatches of the stooges with
ease.  Somehow all of this is legal and
the Rock eventually hits the ring to lay out Mankind when Shane becomes trapped
in the Mandible Claw.  As Mankind and the
Rock brawl at ringside, X-Pac does a Bronco Buster to Shane until the
Corporation rescues him.  Not much of a
match, but it was still entertaining.  Rating: 
*
Classie Freddie
Blassie plays the part of “vulgar Santa” in a WWF Attitude vignette
.
The stooges are
worried about how they are going to be punished by Vince when he comes back to
the arena.
D-Lo tries to get
Henry from PMS, but cannot get into their locker room and has to head the ring
alone.  Footage from the PMS locker room
shows PMS whipping Henry and there is a clamp on him as well.
The Headbangers
beat D-Lo Brown with a double flapjack at 2:42:
Lawler spends his time during this match providing
details on the other abuse PMS is putting Henry through in the locker room.  D-Lo puts up a good fight here, but cannot
beat the former tag team champions. 
Henry walks out after the finish looking the worse for wear and D-Lo
shows no sympathy.
Patterson tells
Brisco to keep his mouth shut as Vince arrives back at the arena.  Brisco does not follow instructions, makes
Vince angry, and then hilarious asks Patterson if he thinks they will still get
their Christmas bonus
.
Check out the
latest edition of Tattoo magazine that talks about the Undertaker!
Triple H &
X-Pac (w/D-Generation X) wrestle The Rock & Test (w/The Corporation) to a
no contest at 10:30:
Prior to the match, Shawn Michaels expels D-Generation X
from ringside, but Vince walks out and overrules him.  Test just does some basic offense here,
getting repetitive with delivering several knees in the corner, but does a good
job looking imposing and versatile.  When
it looks as if the Rock will finish off Triple H, the arena’s lights go out and
Kane walks out, but he chokeslams Triple H instead of going after his former
enemies.  He also takes out the rest of
D-Generation X, including Chyna as the show goes off the air.  So Kane was the “Christmas bonus.”  At least he did not come out as the “Christmas
Creature.”  It would have been nice to
get a clear finish after sitting through this, but it does keep everyone
reasonably protected so it served that purpose. 
Rating:  **
The Final Report:  After the Road Dogg-Bossman match, this show
lost a lot of direction.  We had the
ridiculous PMS-Mark Henry stuff crowding the show (and probably leaving some
parents horrified and deciding that their children would not be watching WWF
programming in the near future) and then a weird Kane turn at the end (which in
the long run would not last very long). 
Some of the impact of the end of the slow loses its luster since Kane
has been around forever; has turned 20,000 times or so; and the character has
lost all meaning.  The Corporation was
also becoming way too big for its own good at this point, starting to mirror
the NWO in late 1996 when everyone and their mother, father, aunt, uncle, and
cousin decided to join up.  If you watch
this show, follow the first half but then abandon it after the Hardcore title
switch.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.7 (vs. 4.0 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 23, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps all the major happenings on last week’s show:  Steve Austin and the Rock fighting for the
WWF title and Ken Shamrock joining the Corporation.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are taped from Columbus,
Ohio.  Ross lets us know that Austin suffered
a blackout in San Jose, California at a WWF event.

Vince and Shane
McMahon and the stooges come out.  Vince
says he had nothing to do with the Undertaker’s attack on Austin at the end of
last week’s show.  He says he is naming a
new WWF commissioner in order to please the fans and that this new commissioner
will not answer to him unless it deals with Austin.  Vince then goes into 1996 mode in welcoming
out Shawn Michaels as the new commissioner, which gets a mixed reaction.  Michaels proceeds to book a WWF title match
between the Rock and X-Pac, which shocks Vince, and Michaels gives the
D-Generation X crotch chop on his way out. 
Having Michaels back adds some extra energy to the show, so this was a
good booking decision.  1 for 1
Kevin Kelly
interviews the Insane Clown Posse and the Oddities.  The ICP is facing the Headbangers tonight,
but the ICP says that they are not ready to wrestle, so Kurrgan and Golga need
to take their place.  Kurrgan and Golga
accept.
The Headbangers
defeat Kurrgan & Golga (w/Luna Vachon, Giant Silva & The Insane Clown
Posse) when Mosh pins Golga with a schoolboy at 1:30:
The Headbangers really need to do something different now
in light of their heel turn.  They are
sporting the same look and doing the same act. 
Golga has also started doing this weird move where he pulls his shirt up
before doing a corner splash, which somehow makes the move more dangerous.  You do not have to be a genius to see a heel
turn coming from the ICP here – for the second time in a month – as Violent J
gets knocked off the apron by Golga, which leads to the finish.  After the match, they beat down the Oddities
and cut Luna’s hair.
A video package chronicles
Kane’s recent path of destruction, highlighting how he tried to set the Brood
on fire several weeks ago.
Steve Blackman
beats The Blue Blazer with a pump kick at 2:57:
The Blazer gets a pop coming out, although the volume of
the commentary makes it tough to decipher if it is genuine or piped in.  It is clear early in the match that the
Blazer is not Owen Hart because he does not hit the right octave on Owen’s “woo!”  He also botches the enziguri.  Blackman wins a messy bout, but when he goes
to unmask the Blazer he gets attacked by Owen Hart.  So who is the Blazer?!?!
Footage is shown
of Austin blacking out at a house show in San Jose, which Ross says was a
byproduct of getting hit in the head with a shovel by the Undertaker on last
week’s show.
Shawn Michaels and
Vince McMahon are shown exchanging words backstage.
Gangrel &
Edge (w/Christian) beat Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown when Gangrel pins Henry
after a schoolboy at 7:08:
Low midcard act or not, the Brood still had arguably the
best entrance in the company at the time. 
Gangrel and Edge showcase some nice double team moves, including a
double DDT off the second rope, but their timing needs work.  Ross makes sure we know that Henry is a “400
pounder who can dunk a basketball.”  D-Lo
nearly botches his running powerbomb on Edge, another warning sign that he
needed to eliminate that move from his arsenal. 
Everyone tries really hard in this match to get over, incorporating some
fun moves, but Gangrel’s sloppy ring work is exposed relative to the other
three guys.  This match gives us our
second distraction finish of the night, as Chyna comes out and distracts Henry.  Rating:  **½ (2 for 2)
After the match,
Chyna says she will go on a date with Henry and Henry falls to the canvas in
joy.  He gives D-Lo a hug and in a nice
touch, D-Lo screams because of his “chest injury.”
Steve Austin tells
doctors at the medical facility that he is tired of being there, but they tell
him he has a severe concussion and needs to take a few weeks off.  He is given a sedative and is told he can
leave the facility in the morning.
The Undertaker
nailing Austin with a shovel, with added sound effect, is the JVC Kaboom! of
the Week.
Shawn Michaels is
shown talking with D-Generation X, carrying on like old times.
Goldust wrestles “Marvelous”
Marc Mero to a no-contest at 3:57:
Mero no longer has Jacqueline by his side because he
fired her on Sunday Night Heat after she accidentally cost him a match against
the Big Bossman.  These two cannot seem
to have a match without women involved as Terri Runnels struts out to the ring
in a skimpy outfit followed by Jacqueline. 
Goldust sets Mero up for Shattered Dreams, but gets low blowed by
Jacqueline and Terri comes in and finishes the move on Mero.  This is the beginning of Terri and Jacqueline’s
PMS faction, which gave us Meat.  Sad to
see two guys of Goldust and Mero’s caliber wasted like this.  Rating:  ** (2 for 3)
Steve Austin signs
an autograph for one of the medical attendants and tells Ross that the
Undertaker has hell to pay and is not going to make it to the Buried Alive
match at Rock Bottom.
The end to the WWF
title match on last week’s RAW is the Glover Rewind segment.
Triple Threat
Match for the Hardcore Championship: 
Mankind (Champion) beats Ken Shamrock & The Big Bossman when Mankind
pins Shamrock after Al Snow clocks Shamrock with Head at 8:26:
This match came from last week’s show when the Bossman
and Shamrock prevented Mankind from getting to Vince McMahon in the main event.  This is one of those “conspiracy”-style
matches where it is a de facto handicap match designed to take Mankind’s
Hardcore title.  Things look bleak for
Mankind before the JOB Squad comes to his aid and help him pull out the win.  These Hardcore matches were more fun than
later incarnations because it was before the genre became really cartoonish
with weapons.  Rating:  *** (3 for 4)
After the match,
Mankind tries to go after Vince McMahon on the ramp, but gets attacked by
Shamrock and the Bossman.
Footage shows a
hearse outside of Austin’s medical facility. 
The Undertaker and Paul Bearer then smother Austin with chloroform.  The Undertaker tells Austin that he is about
to go on his last ride.  After the
commercial break, the Undertaker and Bearer put Austin in the hearse and speed
away.  How they got his body through
security I have no idea.
WWF Light Heavyweight
Championship Match:  Dwayne Gill pins
Christian (Champion w/Edge & Gangrel) to win the title after Scorpio hits
Christian when a slingshot splash at 2:26:
The light heavyweight title has not been defended on RAW
in ages.  Christian manhandles Gill, but
makes the cardinal sin of continuing to pick his shoulders up off the mat, which
he ends up regretting later when the JOB Squad intervenes.  If the light heavyweight title had any
credibility it was gone after this match. 
As a side note, Gill would remain champion until briefly returning to
the company to job it to the debuting Essa Rios in February 2000.  That match was where Lita immediately drew
all the attention away from Rios by giving Gill a moonsault after the bell.
Michael Cole
interviews Gill, who enjoys a piped in crowd pop as he says that this victory
is one of the greatest moments of his life.
The hearse stops
in a deserted field where an empty grave is located.  Paul Bearer commands the Undertaker to dig
the grave deeper.  Steve Austin stirs
back to life to try attacking Bearer, but the Undertaker puts him in a
chokehold and they reapply the chloroform. 
The Undertaker decides that burying Austin alive is too good for him, so
he decides to embalm him instead.
The next match is
scheduled to be the Godfather-Tiger Ali Singh, who used to have a feud going
that has been forgotten about.  Before
the bell, Stephen Regal urges Singh not to take the deal with the hos and they
double team the Godfather before Val Venis makes the save.  This gives us the origin of the “Supply &
Demand” tag team.  Oh, and Venis also
gets the hos because he evened the odds. 
For some reason I think that would still not muster John Cena to make a
save on a show today.
Shawn Michaels is
shown arguing with the Corporation yet again. 
After the commercial break, he also talks with Earl Hebner, probably in
a nod to Montreal.
Non-Title
Match:  Scorpio & Bob Holly (w/Al
Snow & Dwayne Gill) beat The New Age Outlaws (WWF Tag Team Champions) when
Scorpio pins Billy Gunn after Mankind clocks Gunn with a leaf blower at 5:23:
The crowd has a lot of energy for this match, working up
an “O-H-I-O” chant and reminding the fans at home that “Michigan sucks.”  A camera edit gets rid of a botch, but aside
from that this match is pretty good.  We
get yet another run-in finish, though, as Mankind interferes as payback for the
JOB Squad helping him out earlier and gives them a win over the tag team
champions.  Crowd was not happy with the
finish.  So, does this mean that the JOB
Squad “are in contention” for a title shot now? 
Rating: ** (4 for 5)
After the bell,
Ken Shamrock and the Big Bossman hit the ring to beat up Mankind and the
Outlaws beat up the rest of the JOB Squad. 
The stooges then try to recruit the Outlaws into the Corporation after
the match, talking to them as they head to the back.
The hearse pulls
up to a funeral home.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your D-Generation X football jersey for $39.99 (plus $9 shipping and
handling)!
The Undertaker puts
Steve Austin on an embalming table. 
After commercial, the Undertaker tells Austin that he is going to
experience the worst pain of his life. 
The Undertaker chants a lot of stuff in tongues, but when he goes to
stab Austin, Kane breaks in and makes the save. 
Bearer tries to finish the job, but Austin blocks him and crawls
away.  This was interesting and kept
viewers following the show, but how did Kane find out Austin was abducted?  That is a plot hole I cannot overlook.  4 for
6
WWF Championship
Match:  The Rock (Champion) defeats X-Pac
with the Corporate Elbow at 8:32:
Shawn Michaels gets rid of the seconds for both men,
making this a one-on-one encounter.  On
paper, one would think this was a great chance to keep building X-Pac as a
talent worthy of the upper midcard and put over the Rock as a heel, but they
have to rush lots of this because of time. 
It really picks up during the last three minutes, with some near-falls
that the crowd completely buys into. 
Ross’s commentary helps with that. 
But what would tonight be without one last twist, especially with Russo
booking, so Michaels takes a chair from the Rock and blasts X-Pac, thereby
putting the Rock over.  Rating: 
**½ (5 for 7)
After the match,
Michaels celebrates with the Corporation as the New Age Outlaws brawl with The
Big Bossman and Ken Shamrock.
The Final Report Card:  I could have done without many of the distraction
and run-in finishes on this show, but at the very least they advanced some new
stables and angles.  We can debate whether
those new stables and angles were any good, but they did give the show some
positive momentum.  Some criticized the
HBK turn at the time, saying that they burned through it way too fast, but just
going with the flow of the storylines, I do not mind.  I guess I am just a fan of the crash TV model
in some respects, but I can see where some people would hate this show if they
never cared for the Austin-Undertaker feud, hated the HBK heel turn, and/or
hated PMS and the JOB Squad.  I really
miss the crowd dynamics of some of these shows as well, as the WWF staged
several of them in college towns and RAW came off as a party and celebration
more than a wrestling show.  We do not
get that anymore outside of NXT (and little wonder that people actually like it).
Monday Night War Rating:  4.9 (vs. 4.5 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up