What the World Was Watching: The Action Zone – January 22, 1995

Todd Pettengill is live from Tampa, Florida from the location of the Royal Rumble.  Jim Ross and Gorilla Monsoon are in the booth calling the taped matches which are still from Liberty, New York.  As long as it gets Todd out of the booth it is fine with me.

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Summerslam 2002

Summerslam 2002
Date: August 25, 2002
Location: Nassau Veterans Memorial, Uniondale, New York
Attendance: 14,797
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, Tazz, Jim Ross

It’s very rare that a Summerslam is the biggest show of the year but that might be the case in 2002. Wrestlemania XVIII was in a much bigger venue and had a much bigger top match but as far as a whole card goes from top to bottom, this might have it beaten. The big matches here are Brock Lesnar challenging the Rock for the Undisputed Title and HHH vs. Shawn Michaels in a grudge match with Shawn making his first in-ring appearance since 1998. Let’s get to it.

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What the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – January 7, 1995

Vince McMahon announces that the Smoking Gunns are not going to be in the tag team tournament because Bart Gunn suffered a knee injury when his horse fell on him in a rodeo.  Yes, that is the best excuse that the company could come up with but it fits the cartoonish product at the time.  In reality there was no injury and Vince simply decided to push another team for the tournament and that team is the one that will take the Gunns place: the 1-2-3 Kid and Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly.

McMahon and Jerry “the King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are taped from Newark, Delaware.  The show was taped on December 14, 1994.

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Monday Night Raw – August 19, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: August 19, 2002
Location: Norfolk Scope, Norfolk, Virginia
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the go home show for Summerslam 2002 and there’s actually a big match set up here as the Rock isn’t defending the WWE World Title against HHH. The other question is what Brock Lesnar will be doing to mess with Rock tonight because the Brand Split doesn’t mean anything when we’re close to a major pay per view. Let’s get to it.

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

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

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

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Monday Night Raw – August 5, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: August 5, 2002
Location: Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Summerslam continues to approach and that means we’re in need of some major matches. The big story around here though is someone attacking Shawn Michaels, sending HHH right back into caring about his former best friend who he just happens to beat up every now and then. Let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – July 29, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 29, 2002
Location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We’re officially in the HHH Era on Raw but unfortunately he doesn’t really have a lot to do yet. Last week HHH debuted on the show and turned heel by beating up Shawn Michaels, but there’s absolutely no way that’s going to lead to a match anytime soon of course. With about a month left before Summerslam, the card is in need of some matches in a hurry. Let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – July 22, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 22, 2002
Location: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We’re just over a month away from Summerslam but more importantly, HHH is now officially on Raw. I know it’s not the best sounding thing in the world but at this point, Raw is absolutely dying for star power and HHH gives them a top name. Booker T., Rob Van Dam and Ric Flair are big names but they’re not top level stars at this point, making HHH a necessary evil. Let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – June 10, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: June 10, 2002
Location: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Attendance: 8,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Steve Austin is gone and he’s not coming back for a long time. Austin walked out of the company earlier in the day before this show due to not wanting to lose to Brock Lesnar in a King of the Ring qualifying match with no build. He had been unhappy for a long time and this was the breaking point, meaning most of the show had to be rewritten at the last minute. There’s not much of a point in recapping most of what’s going on because everything is changing here so let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – June 3, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: June 3, 2002
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Attendance: 7,800
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We’re at an interesting place here as it seems that we’re gearing up for Steve Austin/Rob Van Dam vs. Eddie Guerrero/Chris Benoit though Benoit isn’t quite ready to get back in the ring after his neck injury. Unfortunately the NWO is still running around and that’s not good for anyone, especially the people actually on the team. Let’s get to it.

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The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling – 03.04.86

The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling – 03.04.86

So the connecting thread for these random AWA uploads to the Network is obviously “The secret origin of Shawn Michaels”, and thus we’ll just start at the start, with his debut in the AWA.

Taped from Las Vegas, NV

Your host is Larry Nelson, with Ken Resnick & Greg Gagne on commentary.

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The SmarK DVD Rant for The Kliq Rules (Blu Ray edition)

The SmarK DVD Rant for The Kliq Rules (Blu Ray)

This feels like we’re really scraping the barrel now, but at least there’s a couple of matches on here that I’ve been anxiously awaiting to be released. And hey, someone bought it for me, so what the hell. Let’s celebrate the 1996-ness of the Kliq, in keeping with the theme of the past few months on the blog. The cynical part of me, small as it is, would suggest that this was thrown onto the market to screw with the Young Bucks by creating a trademark claim on the hand signal.

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 28, 1998

A video package
recaps last week’s show where Shane McMahon assumed temporary control and was summarily
destroyed by Mankind.  Kane also went “corporate”
for the first time in his career by attacking D-Generation X to end the show.
Michael Cole and
Jerry “The King” Lawler are tonight’s commentary team and they are live from
Albany, New York.  Cole is still calling
the show “the best action adventure series on television.”

Vince McMahon
tells Shane McMahon that everyone that attacked him last week will pay.  He pledges to humiliate and fire Commissioner
Shawn Michaels when he shows up at the arena. 
The Corporation then invades the arena’s boiler room en masse looking
for Mankind.  Mankind eventually launches
a sneak attack, but cannot fight off a boatload of guys on his own.  Vince tells Mankind that he will get a
Hardcore title shot later in the evening as a belated Christmas gift, although
this will require some rebooking because Hardcore Champion The Road Dogg is
booked to face Val Venis in the opener. 
The booking is doing a good job making Kane a sympathetic figure as the
stooges keep yelling at him.
Opening Contest
for the Hardcore Championship:  The Road
Dogg (Champion) and Val Venis wrestle to a no contest at 1:50:
Based on the previous segment, it is no surprise that the
Corporation walks out to ringside less than two minutes into this bout.  Test attacks Venis as referee Earl Hebner
calls for the bell, not quite understanding the rules of a Hardcore title bout,
and D-Generation X comes out to protect Road Dogg.
Vince McMahon
informs the Road Dogg that he will defend his title against Mankind and says
that Commissioner Shawn Michaels will be fired for not helping Shane last
week.  This is a nice crazy Vince promo
as he goes nuts about his desire to fire Michaels, which he says he would love
to do to every member of the audience
.
Al Snow is still
freaking out over last week’s bloodbath at the hands of the Brood, but it is
unclear whether he received another bloodbath or has not changed out of the
clothes he had on last week.
Vince talks with
Kane as the stooges make fun of Kane behind his back.  Vince assigns Kane the task of going after an
unspecified member of D-Generation X.
Edge beats Al
Snow (w/Head) via disqualification when Snow hits Edge with Head at 2:49:
Edge uses his original entrance theme and does not have
the Brood here, which does not fit within existing storylines, especially if
Snow is angry over last week’s bloodbath. 
The Head is different for this bout as it is shaved and also has blood
on it.  Snow squashes Edge here, hitting
him with a million headbutts and destroying him with Head until the Brood and
JOB Squad run out.  For all intents and
purposes, Edge should be carted out of here on a stretcher, but he merely walks
out as if nothing happened and smiles at the JOB Squad.  For his part, Snow escapes through the
audience for some reason.
Sable warms up
backstage for her Women’s title defense tonight
.
Sable winning the
Women’s title from Jacqueline at Survivor Series is the Glover Slam of the Week
.
Dennis Knight,
formerly of Southern Justice, is shown talking with X-Pac backstage
.
The next match is
supposed to be Sable defending the WWF Women’s title.  Before it gets started, the yet-to-be-named
Tori gets into the ring and presents Sable with a white rose before being
carted off by security.  Sable is booked
to face Spider Lady, who attacks her from behind and whips her with a
belt.  The Oddities, who now have George “the
Animal” Steele with them, rush the ring and Spider Lady unmasks to reveal Luna
Vachon.  What you thought the Fabulous
Moolah was trying to “shoot” her way to another title?  Luna screams that it is her time and she
needs to get more respect, while Cole is just outraged that Luna would do such
a thing to a loving, compassionate creature like Sable.  When we return from the commercial break, the
Oddities tend to Sable’s injuries backstage
.
European
Championship Match:  X-Pac (Champion) wrestles
The Big Bossman to a double disqualification at 5:13:
The previous night on Sunday Night Heat, Kane defeated
X-Pac in a non-title match and this match is the continuation of his punishment
for doing the Bronco Buster to Shane McMahon on last week’s show.  X-Pac is really over here, especially when he
makes his comeback, and Test tries to run interference, but in a nice piece of
continuity Val Venis makes the save.  We
are still without a clean finish tonight, but the crowd still loved this.  Rating:  *¾
We get our first
training vignette for Vince in the Royal Rumble.  These were some of the funniest vignettes of
the Attitude Era as Shane functioned as a merciless trainer and Vince
complained the whole way about doing sit ups with weights and drinking egg
yokes.  Vince’s cries of “I HATE AUSTIN!”
were also great as he got into his workouts.
Goldust &
Steve Blackman defeats “Double J” Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart (w/Debra) when
Blackman schoolboys Owen at 3:17:
The announcers will just not let the “Shawn Michaels is
going to be fired!” story go, talking about it on an average of once per
minute.  The WWF is no longer using Debra’s
full name, just calling her “Debra” because the WWE has never cared for its
female stars to have first and last names. 
This may also be due to the fact that Debra divorced Steve McMichael in
October and the WWF finally got with the times. 
Owen locks Blackman in the Sharpshooter when Dan Severn randomly walks
out in a neck brace and confronts him. 
After about forty seconds of that, Blackman and Goldust win via the WWF trademarked
distraction rollup.  What is funny is
that after the match, Severn just calmly walks up the ramp with the heels no more
than ten yards behind him.  Way to sell
that angle!  Rating:  *
Triple H and Chyna
are really focused as they make their way to the Gorilla position
.
The Acolytes beat
up Dennis Knight in the parking lot, toss him into the trunk of their car, and
drive away
.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Triple H (w/The New
Age Outlaws & Chyna) beats Ken Shamrock (Champion w/Test & The Big
Bossman) by disqualification when Shamrock refuses to release the anklelock at 6:26:
Instead of booking Billy Gunn to face Shamrock, they
really should have slotted Triple H into that position since you already had
the built-in story of how Triple H never lost the Intercontinental title and
was trying to get back what was rightfully his. 
This match is noticeable for me because Triple H pulls out the old N64
move of blasting Test with a baseball slide when Test gets too close to the
apron.  The company is really hurting
Shamrock’s finish as all the top stars keep getting to the ropes to escape it,
but his decision not to break the hold here fits within the existing
story.  A good match, although Triple H
could have sold the knee better during the closing sequence.  Rating:  **½
After the bell,
the Corporation and D-Generation X brawl, with the Corporation winning after
Kane reluctantly gets into the ring.
Billy Gunn
temporarily winning the Intercontinental title from Ken Shamrock is the
10-10-220 Rewind segment
.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Gunn, but before Gunn can say much of note, Shamrock crashes the
segment.  None of this goes anywhere.
Mark Henry and
D-Lo Brown walk out and Henry apologizes to Chyna for fooling around with PMS
last week.  PMS come out, with Henry hilariously
hiding behind D-Lo, who calls PMS “ring rats.” 
Chyna then makes an entrance and sticks up for Henry, telling PMS to “stay
away from her man.”  Jacqueline makes the
mistake of not heeding Chyna’s advice and gets shoved to the canvas as Henry
jumps for joy.  This was great too because
Terri immediately fled from Chyna, possibly remembering getting choked out and
being flung around like a ragdoll in the winter of 1997.  If you follow all of the shows through 1998,
this segment works really well.  I marked
out for it.
The Corporation
has another meeting backstage and when we get back they are going through the
locker room looking for someone.
We get a video package
that recaps 1998.  The problem with the
video is that they do not put things in chronological order so we just bounce
around to different segments and matches.
The Corporation attacks
the Godfather backstage, who was booked to face Billy Gunn in the next match.
Kane (w/Shane
McMahon, Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco) defeats Billy Gunn by disqualification
when X-Pac interferes at 3:54:
With the Godfather on the shelf, Kane is inserted into
his place by Shane McMahon.  Ken Shamrock
attacks Gunn from behind minutes into the match and applies the ankle
lock.  Kane chokeslams Billy and appears
headed for a win, but the stooges have him repeat the chokeslam two more
times.  Before Kane can hit the move a
third time, D-Generation X runs in to make the save.  Rating:  *
WWF Champion The
Rock walks out to do guest commentary for the main event
.
Commissioner Shawn
Michaels is shown arriving to the arena, which is humorous because the show is
nearly over.
Hardcore
Championship Match:  The Road Dogg
(Champion) pins Mankind after the Rock this Mankind with a Rock Bottom at 9:08
shown:
The match starts during the commercial break so we join
it in progress.  The Rock’s commentary
brings this match up a notch as he puts himself over, but also puts over the
talent of both competitors.  There are
weapons used here, but at least they are used creatively with Mankind leg
dropping a chair onto Road Dogg’s face and Road Dogg using the chair for a side
Russian leg sweep.  One spot that makes
no sense here is that Road Dogg breaks up a pin by getting his feet on the
ropes as you would figure rope breaks should not apply in a match where the
rules are suspended.  Mankind appears headed
for a win after he elbow drops the Road Dogg through a table in the crowd, but
the Rock leaves the booth and interferes to put the Road Dogg over.  Fans are so crazy over the Rock that four or
five security guards have to push back the sea of humanity that surrounds the
bout to get the Rock back to the locker room. 
The Road Dogg was arguably the best Hardcore champion in WWF history,
putting on lots of entertaining title defenses before the garbage came to
overwhelm the actual wrestling.  In a
nice touch, Road Dogg sees the way that he won the match and hates the fact
that he needed interference to retain the title.  Rating:  ***¼
Vince McMahon
comes to the ring and calls out Shawn Michaels. 
Vince recounts how he was the reason for Michaels success and shows
footage from March where Michaels said that he did not need Vince as much as
Vince needed him.  Vince then proceeds to
fire Michaels and parts by saying that he does not laying down for anyone.  This, predictably, ends with Michaels
delivering Sweet Chin Music and simulating a lewd act on Vince before the
Corporation runs out.
The Final Report Card:  Quite the entertaining RAW to close out 1998.  The main event was one of the better hardcore
matches in the company’s history and the closing segment and the Chyna-Mark
Henry-PMS segment stole the show.  It is
a testament to how good the roster was built during this time that Steve Austin’s
absence is hardly missed.  However, if you
look at the ratings, WCW has been gradually narrowing the Monday Night War gap
with RAW since Austin disappeared after Rock Bottom.
With the 1998 RAW reviews in the books,
where would the Blog like to head next? 
Should we go into 1999 with RAW or should we go back to look at 1993-1995,
Superstars from 1994-1997, Prime Time Wrestling from 1991-1992, the Action Zone
from 1994-1995, Shotgun Saturday Night from 1997-1998, Sunday Night Heat of
1998, or recap the old Coliseum Video “Best of” videos of the 1980s?  Whichever option gets the most support is
where I will head for next week and as always, thanks for reading and
interacting with these reviews.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.9 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Reading: RAW Magazine – May/June 1996

by Logan Scisco

After having covered an alternative to WWF Magazine last week, we continue that
idea in this week’s column, reviewing the very first issue of RAW Magazine from May/June 1996 (I
wonder if this is worth anything to collectors today).  RAW
Magazine
was the brainchild of Vince Russo, who wished to have a magazine
that would cater to more mature and knowledgeable fans.  This followed Russo’s failed attempt to
launch a newsletter under his magazine personality Vic Venom.  RAW
Magazine
was bi-monthly in its circulation until 1998 and when the WWF
launched its brand split, RAW Magazine
became exclusive to the RAW brand in 2004. 
That was an incredibly stupid decision and was one of the reasons I
finally cancelled WWF Magazine.  Why should you have to buy two magazines to
keep up with one company?  RAW Magazine continued until the summer
of 2006, when it and the newly christened Smackdown!
Magazine merged into a new WWE Magazine that ceased publication in
the fall of last year.

Vader is the cover man of the first issue of RAW Magazine, but the big selling point
was lots of photographs of Sunny, which you can see in the insert in the top
right corner of the page.  The picture of
Vader is taken from his assault on WWF President Gorilla Monsoon the night
after the Royal Rumble, which caused Vader to be indefinitely suspended until In
Your House 6.
You can purchase some Coliseum Video releases of WrestleMania
for $19.95 each, but if you want the greatest WrestleMania of the them all –
WrestleMania XII – it will run you $39.95. 
If you want to buy WrestleMania III or WrestleMania IV, though, you are
out of luck.  That is not the first time
that I remember those tapes not being for sale either so I am not sure what was
going on there.  You can also purchase
“Spring Explosion ’96,” which are the matches from In Your House 6.  I never understood why the WWF felt the need
to brand those shows after the fact
for tapes.  “Spring Explosion” is such a
generic name anyway, but the company has gone back to it with “Fast Lane.”  Parallels to the Dark Ages continue!
Vince Russo’s “From the Editor” piece discusses how he is
happy to launch RAW Magazine so that
he can “can the fluff and get down to the stuff!”  In what could be written about the product
today, he rips the company for catering too much to kids because of
demographics, although he admits that catering WWF Magazine to kids in the mid-1990s paid dividends with improved
sales.  He says that hardcore fans ripped
him for doing so, though, which is why he has launched this new product.
And what will a subscription to RAW Magazine set you back in 1996? 
If you wanted two years you had to pay $19.97.  One year cost $11.97.  What really irked me, though, is that they
make the cutout portion to get your subscription run into the column on the
next page.  That is a bad layout
decision.
Our first piece of RAW
Magazine
is an extended “Informer” column, which is loaded with new rumors.
The Smoking Gunns are unhappy that they were stripped of
the tag team titles in February. 
Evidently, they see nothing wrong with not having defended the titles in
thirty days due to Billy’s neck injury. 
Unfortunately, they did not have the precedent of Brock Lesnar to fall
back on.  The Informer proceeds to rip
the Gunns for dominating a weak tag team division, but it says that they can
earn more respect if they listen to Ted DiBiase, who is looking for a new
team.  It suggests they could be called
the “Hired Gunns,” which would not have been the worse idea in the world I
suppose, but the Gunns would not have saved the awful Corporation stable, which
was going bankrupt by early 1996.
The Informer also lets us know that Hunter
Hearst-Helmsley has eyes for Marlena, laying the foundation for an eventual
feud with Goldust that would kick off in the fall of 1996.  Similarly, we get another piece of
foreshadowing as the piece says Owen Hart and the British Bulldog will team up
more, thereby adding “some life back into the tag team division,” although they
never coined themselves as “The New British Bulldogs,” as the piece suggests.  We also hear that all those “parental
discretion” spots Sunny filmed for RAW made her seven figures.  Like Vince had that money to throw around in
1996!  The Informer says that Sunny is
making overtures toward Shawn Michaels, but if that fails she might buy Vader’s
contract from Jim Cornette.  A
Vader-Sunny pairing would have been such a train wreck and Vince may have been
tempted to make Vader a new Bodydonna, providing us with lots of workout
vignettes from the Mastodon!
Vic Venom then pens an extended “Venom RAW” column, where
he talks openly about World Championship Wrestling.  Of course, since the WWF cannot use WCW
photographs, we get the Huckster and the Nacho Man:
Venom says that WCW is an embarrassment to wrestling, but
he does take some digs at the WWF for insulting his intelligence with the Red
Rooster and Outback Jack.  He rips the
company for having nostalgia for the 1980s by employing old WWF talent,
although he exempts Sting and Ric Flair from that list.  This is probably the first time that Sting
was actually mentioned in a WWF publication. 
For fans watching both companies, there is some fun humor here, with
Venom saying Elizabeth has a “shoe fetish” – a dig at WCW running lots of finishes
involving women’s shoes at this time – and that WCW never told us how “that
Giant [fell] off the roof of the Cobo Arena and [came] back to wrestle 15
minutes later.”  Some of the humor is
juvenile, with Venom calling Eric Bischoff “Eric Ripoff.”  The highlight of the article is that it criticizes
WCW booking, citing how they squandered Razor Ramon and Diesel.  However, by the time that this issue hit
newsstands Ramon and Diesel were on their way to WCW and would help it overtake
the WWF in the ratings by forming the New World Order.
Keith Elliot Greenberg, who typically did the
pay-per-view recaps for WWF Magazine,
handles a cool column in this issue entitled “The Night the Belt Changed
Hands,” that talks about an important title change in WWF history.  The subject for this month is the Ultimate
Warrior-Rick Rude Intercontinental title match at WrestleMania V.  As you can tell by the picture, albeit
obscured by the crease in the middle of the pages, Donald Trump was a fan of
the match.
The article provides a blow-by-blow summary of the match,
as well as its context, which includes the Warrior beating the Honky Tonk Man
at SummerSlam 1988 and Rude picking a fight with the Warrior at the Royal
Rumble.  For such a “smart” magazine, the
recap still portrays wrestling as a real competition, with the Warrior’s loss
pegged to him being too “preoccupied with memories of the attack [at the
Rumble] to concentrate on protecting his championship.”  As a history buff, I did enjoy this feature,
which would reappear in subsequent issues as it provided the context for the
match, what happened, and then summarized what happened after, namely the
Warrior going on to win the WWF title at the next WrestleMania.
Speaking of the Ultimate Warrior, we get a full page ad
about all of the items you can get from him. 
It hypes Warrior University, Warrior’s World, Warrior Workout #1, and
Warrior…The Comic Book.  I remember that WWF Magazine sent subscribers a copy of
the comic book with an issue of the magazine. 
As a kid, who dabbled a little into older comics, I was excited to get
something free, but had no idea what I was looking at when I opened the
pages.  I should have known the quality
would be poor, after all, the ad lets me know that “It’s B…A…D…D.”
A career retrospective piece is provided about the
Dynamite Kid, who it says most fans have probably forgotten.
The article chronicles Dynamite’s British origins, his
Canadian battles with Bret Hart, and his run with Davey Boy Smith in the
WWF.  It is a sanitized view of his
career and his reputation has taken a hit over the years due to revelations in
Bret Hart’s book about his family life and other shoot interviews that talk
about how he was a locker room bully. 
Matthew Randazzo’s Ring of Hell even
blamed him for the Chris Benoit murders, as Benoit emulated Dynamite’s
style.  On a happier note, though, I
still cannot get over how young Davey Boy looks in this picture
Vince Russo then provides his top ten list of best WWF
champions.  If there were any marks
reading this magazine, they had to weep when they saw #10, who Russo says did
not have the “whole package” because they were not a “complete wrestler.”  Not mentioned is the fact that he is working
for the rival company
And Pedro Morales? 
He may not be able to beat the Mountie in the Scott Keith Blog of Doom
Intercontinental title tournament, but he did enough with the WWF title to rank
#4 on this list.  Rankings for the others
were as follows:  9-Ric Flair, 8-Randy
Savage, 7-Ultimate Warrior, 6-Yokozuna, 5-Diesel, 4-Pedro, 3-Bob Backlund, and
2-Bruno Sammartino.  Sorry, but any list
that puts Diesel’s title run, which sank the company’s financials, over Randy
Savage, Hulk Hogan, and the Ultimate Warrior loses all credibility.  Is there any surprise over who #1 happened to
be?  This person probably made sure to
shed a tear.
Our main story is about “A Man Called Vader” or in Vince
McMahon’s case “A Man Called the Mastodon.” 
Thank god Jim Cornette talked McMahon out of that idea.
The article, written by Greenberg, says Vader has never
achieved his full potential because he is out of control, wrecking promotions
and hotel rooms along the way.  It says
that one of the reasons Vader attacked Gorilla Monsoon is that Vader looked up
to Monsoon as a kid, but did not react well when Monsoon told him that he ran a
“law and order administration” and that he would be fired if he got out of
line.  Vader also did not appreciate
Monsoon getting into the ring after he blew a gasket following his elimination
from the Rumble match.  It warns that
Vader will plunge the WWF into a state of lawlessness, but really, all of the
momentum came out of Vader’s push when he failed to win the WWF title at
SummerSlam.
And then we get the real reason people bought this
magazine:

You can pay to see even more today on Skype, but you
cannot invent a time machine and get these types of “Sunny days” back.  Leave the memories alone!
A brief recap piece follows all of that to document Razor
Ramon’s attack on Goldust on a January RAW episode before the Royal Rumble.
A similar feature comes next and it gives play-by-play of
the Bret Hart-Diesel cage match at In Your House 6.  The booking of that match did little to help
Bret, as Diesel was primed to win the title before the Undertaker interfered.
The only real highlight of the article is the last
line:  “While the Hit Man experienced a
victory as his boots hit the arena floor, Big Daddy Cool was experiencing a
much different place…a place that he would never forget…a place some people
would call…HELL.”  Or in the case of
D-Generation X in the 2000s, Little People’s Court.
Keith Elliot Greenberg then questions the WWF’s decision
to install “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as the interim WWF President following the
injuries Vader inflicted on Gorilla Monsoon.
You see, Piper is out of control.  He gave Vince McMahon an airplane spin upon
being introduced as commissioner and, in a nice tribute to the past, it brings
up that “the last time Piper was given a special forum, he transformed into his
personal asylum,” using it to attack WWF superstars such as Jimmy “Superfly”
Snuka.
There is yet another recap of a Bret Hart title match,
this time his In Your House 5 title defense against the British Bulldog.  This was Bret’s only clean victory on
pay-per-view during this title run and it is an underrated bout.  The blade job is one of Bret’s best.
The last time we saw a “Fantasy Warfare” article, it
concerned the 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly. 
On this occasion, we get two WWF superstars that the fans would really
like to see matched up:
There were rumors in 1996 that the company wanted to run
Shawn Michaels-Ultimate Warrior for the title, but all we got was the Warrior
feuding with Goldust and Jerry “the King” Lawler.  Talk about disappointing.  The match is framed as Warrior’s power versus
Michaels’ speed.  Both men’s egos are
deemed to be their biggest detriment for a possible encounter.  Unlike Vince Russo, Greenberg refuses to
commit to a winner, saying that it is “too close to call.”  There was nowhere to write my own winner, so
there will be no analysis given from ten-year-old me on this issue, but as a
fan I would have cheered for Michaels.
We the get some exclusive photographs of Ahmed Johnson
being taken to a hospital after wrestling Jeff Jarrett at the Royal
Rumble.  Ahmed received a severe
concussion from the match, but he only missed two days of television tapings,
so he was okay!
And are you SURE you do not want any Warrior gear?

This was a decent first issue.  It had some good content at the beginning,
but after the Sunny photos we just got a lot of mark-type pieces that you would
expect to find in WWF Magazine.  Next week, we will go back to the pages of WWF Magazine and look at its August 2000
issue, which promises to discuss “Chyna’s secret.”

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – November 30, 1998

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps how the Undertaker tried to embalm Steve Austin alive on last week’s
show.  The Undertaker and Paul Bearer are
shown talking backstage moments before the show went on the air.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Baltimore, Maryland.

Steve Austin is
shown arriving at the arena with a shovel. 
The Headbangers and the Insane Clown Posse are already in the ring, so
Austin proceeds to give all of them – save Shaggy 2 Dope – a Stunner.  Getting on the mic, Austin promises to use
his shovel against the Undertaker.  A
throwaway segment and I am never a fan of one guy taking out tag teams.  0 for
1
Mark Henry is
shown getting ready for his date with Chyna. 
D-Lo Brown tries to make sure he looks good.
Ross hypes Austin
and the Undertaker being on TV Guide.  He
reminds viewers that if they cannot find them they will have to settle for the
“retired” Hulk Hogan or the “Austin wannabe” Goldberg.  Austin is still looking for Vince in the
back.  He runs into Stephanie McMahon,
who is not identified as such, and she says she has not seen Vince around.
Opening Non-Title
Contest:  The New Age Outlaws (WWF Tag
Team Champions) defeat Gangrel & Edge (w/Christian) by disqualification
when Christian hits Billy Gunn with a tag team title belt at 2:56:
The previous night on Sunday Night Heat, the Corporation
was attempting to recruit the Outlaws and they appear on the ramp to watch the
match.  Typical 1998 accelerated tag team
match here, although a young Edge shows off by doing a super hurricanrana on
the Road Dogg and taking a powerbomb off the second rope from Billy Gunn.  After Christian runs interference to prevent
a Gunn piledriver, the Big Bossman and Ken Sharmock run in and beatdown the
Brood.  So are the Brood faces or heels
at this point?  I am so confused with
their booking.
Steve Austin
continues to search for the Undertaker backstage, checking out several
freezers.  Predictably, he walks into one
to investigate, but gets locked in by the Undertaker and Paul Bearer.
Steve Austin
giving Stunners to the Headbangers and Violent J earlier in the show is the
Glover Rewind segment.
Mark Henry is
nervously excited for his date and he asks D-Lo to accompany him to give him
confidence.  D-Lo reluctantly agrees to
go.
The Undertaker
comes out and calls out Kane because we definitely need to see more of
that.  They briefly battle over whether
someone will be eternally damned before the Undertaker gives Kane a Tombstone.  Paul Bearer brings some orderlies from a
mental institution to the ring, but Kane beats up a couple of them before
walking through the crowd.  Sadly, this
ridiculous angle would continue.  0 for 2
D-Lo complains
that he is not dressed right for Mark Henry’s date, but Henry has a jacket for
him and a pair of sunglasses.  However,
he hands him a chauffeur hat next, meaning that D-Lo needs to drive Henry’s
limo.  That was a good comic twist on
that sketch.  After the commercial break,
Chyna is not happy to see Henry at the hotel and she refuses to accept the
flowers Henry offers her.  She is puzzled
that D-Lo is the chauffer, which is pretty funny.
X-Pac comes out
and calls out Shawn Michaels, angry about Michaels costing him his match
against the Rock last week.  Michaels
threatens to “send him back to that money pit in Atlanta,” but refuses to fight
him because he is not an active wrestler. 
He books X-Pac to face Ken Shamrock, with the European title being on
the line.  He exits to D-Generation X’s
music because “he was DX before DX was cool.” 
At least this was short, but they did not give X-Pac a lot of mic time
here.  0 for 3
Mark Henry and
Chyna arrive at their date location, where Chyna pulls out the price tag for
Henry’s flowers (they are $1.99).
A camera shot of
the freezer shows that Austin has escaped.
On the date, Mark
Henry botches the pronunciation of Perrier water.
Goldust defeats
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra McMichael) via disqualification when Owen Hart
interferes at 3:26:
This bout is a rematch from three weeks ago where Jarrett
blasted Goldust with a guitar and the two had a locker room fight.  Owen Hart is on guest commentary for the
match and he tries hard to keep a straight face when talking about the
Henry-Chyna date with Lawler.  By itself,
this match has very little heat.  Goldust
dominates, with Jarrett only avoiding defeat when Debra puts his foot on the
rope after a Curtain Call.  Debra gets in
the way of Shattered Dreams and her distraction leads to Owen attacking Goldust
from behind.  This show is falling into a
really bad habit over the last few episodes of having no clean finishes.  Rating:  *¼ (0 for 4)
After the bell,
the Blue Blazer appears to help attack Goldust, but suddenly the Blazer turns
on Owen.  The Blazer unmasks to reveal
Steve Blackman to arguably the biggest pop Blackman has received up to this
point in his career.
A split screen
shows Austin looking for the Undertaker backstage, while Paul Bearer and the
orderlies look for Kane.
Al Snow nailing
Ken Shamrock in the head with Head on last week’s show is the Medievil Slam of
the Week.
Hardcore
Championship Ladder Match:  The Big
Bossman defeats Mankind (Champion) to win the title at 6:11:
This is the first ladder match to be held on RAW.  Shawn Michaels does commentary and scores
some of Mankind’s moves since he says Mankind is going to try to outdo him in
the match type that made him famous.  If
you hate the slow climb, you will not like this one as Mankind does it within
the first several minutes where it makes no sense to do it.  When Mankind appears set to win, the Rock
interferes and the Bossman wins.  Of all
the WWF ladder matches up to this point, this was clearly the worst.  Everything was rushed and there was not a lot
of wrestling between the climb spots.  Rating: 
* (0 for 5)
The Undertaker and
Paul Bearer think they have found Kane. 
After the break, the Undertaker and Kane fight in a dark room in the
arena.  The Undertaker comes out on top
and tells Bearer to get the orderlies as he tries to put Kane in a body
bag.  However, Austin comes out of the
darkness and breaks his shovel over the Undertaker’s head.  You can see where this is going…
Non-Title
Match:  Duane Gill (Light Heavyweight
Champion w/The Pasadena Chargers) pins “Marvelous” Marc Mero after the Blue
Meanie tosses Mero off the top rope at 2:08:
Before the match, Mero says that if he cannot beat Gill
that he will never appear again.  The
youth football team that Gill coaches comes to the ring, since he is wrestling
in his hometown.  As expected, Mero
manhandles Gill, but the Blue Meanie interferes and Gill wins.  This was Mero’s last in-ring appearance on
WWF television.
Bearer directs the
orderlies to get Kane.
Mark Henry reads
Chyna a poem and she proceeds to guzzle down lots of alcohol.  He says that they need to go dancing after
having dinner.
European
Championship Match:  Ken Shamrock (Intercontinental
Champion) defeats X-Pac (Champion) via disqualification when Triple H
interferes at 4:47:
This is our first good bout of the evening, well that is
until interference runs its course again. 
X-Pac hits the X-Factor, but Shawn Michaels distracts the referee and
the Big Bossman clocks X-Pac.  However,
when Shamrock applies the ankle lock, Triple H runs in, which gets a pretty
sizable pop.  This warrants a point for
Triple H alone as I am a mark for surprise returns.  Rating:  ** (1 for 6)
The orderlies
place the filled body bag on a stretcher and strap it in.
Mark Henry dances
because, well of course, but Chyna does not want to dance.  Henry leaves for the restroom, leaving an
opportunity for some guys to hit on Chyna. 
She does not take kindly to that, leading to her clocking one of them
and Henry beats up another.  This was
fun, especially when Henry threw a guy across the bar.
Val Venis (w/The
Godfather & Hos) beats Tiger Ali Singh (w/Babu) via disqualification when
Terri Runnels interferes at 2:58
This feud between Tiger Ali Singh and the Godfather is
just going nowhere and doing very little for either guy.  That still beats today’s product where guys
wrestle each other with little backstory, but some Attitude Era feuds never
seemed to click and this is one of them. 
The hos neutralize Babu, while PMS comes out and interferes in the bout.  What a mess this was, and this was our fourth
disqualification finish of the evening. 
We are also six-for-six when it comes to run-in finishes.
After the bout,
the Acolytes, who recently debuted elsewhere on WWF programming, destroy Tiger
Ali Singh and Babu.  Why have these guys
beat up Singh and Babu and not a face team, though?  The Jackyl was the initial manager of the
Acolytes as well, but that did not last long.
The ambulance that
is supposed to take Kane to the mental facility departs, but Steve Austin and
Kane are shown watching footage of the whole thing in the back.  One guess who was in the body bag and is
headed for the mental health facility.
Shane McMahon
comes out to say that Sable is about to learn a lesson in humility.  She comes out and models WWF Attitude
cologne, which costs $19.99 (plus $4 shipping & handling).  Shane asks to smell it and tries to do so all
over Sable, but she squirts it in his face. 
You see, it is all funny!  1 for 7
Non-Title
Match:  The Rock (WWF Champion) defeats
Al Snow (w/Head) with the Rock Bottom at 4:57:
The Rock is back to using some kind of weird theme
music.  It is slightly better than the
disco theme they tried to give him a month earlier, but the beat for this theme
is one of those generic numbers you would get on the No Mercy video game.  It just does not add to the atmosphere or fit
the Rock at all.  Compared to other RAW
main events of this period, this has only a fraction of the expected crowd
reaction, an indication that tonight’s show has not delivered.  The Rock hilariously delivers the Corporate
Elbow to Head after a ref bump, which wakes up the crowd, and then beats Snow
clean.  Snow does get a visual pin on the
Rock by hitting him with Head in between all of that.  Rating:
 *½ (1 for 8)
After the match,
the Rock, Ken Shamrock, and the Big Bossman beatdown Al Snow and Mankind.  The JOB Squad finally makes a save.
Paul Bearer runs
into Austin backstage when he tries to unlock the freezer Austin was placed in
earlier.  The freezer opens to reveal
Kane and they haul Bearer out to the ring. 
Austin prevents Kane from immediately beating up Bearer or getting a gas
can.  Instead, he opts to cut Bearer’s
shirt and tie with a pair of scissors and teases stabbing him.  Austin aborts that idea too and they take him
outside and open a manhole cover.  They
shove Bearer down into the sewer head-first to close the show.  How is that punishment worse than killing
someone?  1 for 9
The Final Report Card:  Most of these shows have been good for the
last few months, but this show is beginning to illustrate how Russo is getting
a little too much creative control for his own good.  Every match, save for the WWF title match at
the end, had a run-in finish and the majority had disqualification finishes.  I do not mind DQ endings, but if you use them
too much throughout the show it really burns out the crowd and gets
irritating.  Some of these other angles
are also getting really ridiculous. 
Austin throwing a guy down a sewer? 
The hos gawking over Babu? 
Medical orderlies going after Kane? 
Things are really going off the rail.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.0 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

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

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

by Logan Scisco

A video package
recaps the Undertaker becoming the number one contender to the WWF championship
on last week’s show.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from East Rutherford,
New Jersey.

Shawn Michaels
comes out, making his first WWF appearance since WrestleMania XIV.  Michaels sits down to do commentary for the
show and tells Ross that he is not sure when he will return to the ring.
Opening
Contest:  The Undertaker pins Vader with
a Tombstone at 4:35:
Looking back, I wish Vader had entered the Brawl for
All.  It was already littered with lower
midcard talent and guys looking to reboot their careers or get them going, so
it would have been well suited for 1998 Vader. 
After the entrances, Kane, Mankind, and Paul Bearer come out, but they
let the match proceed as scheduled.  As
another “what if,” imagine what a stable of Vader, Kane, and Mankind would have
been like in 1998.  Vader gives this the
old college try, but the Undertaker unceremoniously finishes him with Tombstone
and Earl Hebner does his slow three count to add insult to injury.  Really Earl? 
Rating:  ** (1 for 1)
After the match,
Mankind prepares to hit the Undertaker with a chair, but Kane takes it from
Mankind and then whacks Vader with it. 
Does this mean Kane and the Undertaker are in cahoots?
-Brawl for All
First Round:  Bart Gunn beats Bob Holly
via decision
This match constituted the breakup of the New Midnight
Express as Ross tells us that Jim Cornette resigned as their manager as a
result of them deciding to face each other. 
That, for all intents and purposes, ends the last vestiges of the NWA
angle for good.  This is the first Brawl
for All to feature a regular WWF referee as Danny Hodge is no longer doing the
honors.  Bart just dominates Holly in
this bout and easily makes it to the next round.  There was nothing about this that made it
exciting, so it does not get a point from me. 
After the match, Bob gives Bart a cheap shot and there is a small fight
between the two before WWF officials break it up.  1 for
2
The D-Generation X
skit mocking the Nation of Domination on last week’s show is recapped.
Jason Sensation
joins the broadcast team and he imitates other WWF superstars at Lawler’s
urging.  When he imitates Bret Hart,
Michaels asks whether that is a midcarder (a shot at Bret’s status in the WCW
upper midcard at the time because – say it with me – WCW).  Ross interviews the Nation, who are
backstage, and they are not happy with last week’s skit.  The Godfather debuts his “pimpin’ ain’t easy”
line during this segment.  Owen gets mad
at Sensation continuing to imitate him at Lawler’s urging and runs out and
attacks him before DX intervenes.
Triple H &
X-Pac (w/Chyna) defeat The Rock & Owen Hart when X-Pac pins The Rock after
an X-Factor at 6:28:
Shawn Michaels starts talking about the Kliq on
commentary and is actually censored for doing so.  The match does not follow the normal tag
formula, as X-Pac gets in peril, absorbs a People’s Elbow and other Nation
offense, and then surprises the Rock out of nowhere with the X-Factor to
win.  The expected solid match between
these guys and they could have done much more if given another five minutes.  Rating:  **¾ (2 for 3)
Sable comes out to
do commentary for the next match.  Sable
promises that her bikini at Fully Loaded will make her bikini at the 1997
Slammy Awards look like an evening gown.
Steve Blackman
beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a pump kick at 2:14:
This is a rematch from the Brawl for All, but it is
overwhelmed by Sable and Jacqueline fighting near the announce table and
Michaels and Lawler fawning over Sable. 
Mero appears to have the match won with a low blow, but when Jacqueline
tries to do something off the top rope to Blackman, Sable stops her and
Blackman suddenly recovers and wins. 
Mero was never able to reinvent himself after the Sable feud, which was
quite sad considering his in-ring and mic talents.  The feud also made it impossible to go back
to WCW as Johnny B. Badd because he would have been showered with “Sable”
chants.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  Kane & Mankind
(w/Paul Bearer) defeat The New Age Outlaws (Champions w/Chyna) when Kane pins
The Road Dogg with a Tombstone to win the titles at 5:34:
Before the bell, the Undertaker comes out to watch this
match.  Of all the teams left in the tag
division, Kane and Mankind are the only credible challengers for the
titles.  Think about it:  LOD 2000 is irrelevant, the DOA are being
somewhat repackaged with Ellering but that isn’t enough, the New Midnight
Express broke up, and 2 Cold Scorpio and Terry Funk are enhancement
talent.  After all hell breaks loose in
the ring, all hell breaks loose outside it as the Nation and the remaining
members of DX brawl and in the chaos, D-Lo Brown interferes with a Lo Down on
the Road Dogg and the Outlaws seven month reign as tag team champions is
over.  Theoretically, this makes the
Fully Loaded main event tag match for the WWF tag team titles.  Rating:  ** (3 for 4)
Call 815-734-1161
to get your Steve Austin 3:16 baseball jersey $39.99 (plus $9 shipping &
handling)!  This was a great piece of
merchandise, but that price is outrageous.
Triple H yells at
Vince McMahon over the lack of control referees have in recent matches.  Having the Outlaws add to the complaints is
pretty funny considering how much cheating they engaged in to keep the titles
during their reign.
Kaientai
(w/Yamiguchi-San) beats Taka Michinoku & Too Much when Dick Togo pins Scott
Taylor after a Senton Bomb at 3:38:
Evidently, the Michinoku-Too Much pairing was forced by
the office in storyline terms as opposed to a genuine alliance.  Unsurprisingly, tempers flare between Scott
Taylor and Michinoku and Michinoku dropkicks Taylor into the hands of Kaientai,
who finishes him off.  After the bout,
Christopher beats up Michinoku and Val Venis comes out and reveals that he has
been having an affair with Yamiguchi-San’s wife.  The match was good, but I am not giving this
a point because the idea that Taka would ever agree to pair with Too Much under
any circumstances is ridiculous.  Rating: 
**¼ (3 for 5)
The Undertaker
chokeslamming The Godfather, D-Lo Brown, and Terry Funk on last week’s Raw is
the Skittles Slam of the Week.
Vince McMahon
comes out and talks with the Undertaker. 
McMahon commends the Undertaker on his deception last week, but raises
the question of whether the Undertaker is getting help from Kane.  The Undertaker refuses to answer McMahon’s
question and Steve Austin comes out. 
Austin asks the Undertaker whether he will have his back at Fully Loaded
and the Undertaker remains non-committal. 
That brings out D-Generation X and Triple H demands the Outlaws get an
immediate rematch against Kane and Mankind with three referees: a  regular official in the ring and the
Undertaker and Austin on the outside of the ring.  This will reveal whether the Undertaker and
Kane are working together.  Triple
H:  COO before we even knew it!  4 for
6
Brawl for All
First Round:  Dan Severn beats The
Godfather via decision:
As someone who did not see a lot of UFC growing up, I was
really excited to see what Severn could do in this format.  Severn is not used to releasing a takedown
after performing one, which the rules require, so the referee has to constantly
yell for him to break.  Severn also keeps
going for submissions, which are not allowed. 
The crowd is not happy about the lack of punches thrown and Severn
advances due to his takedown skills in a very boring bout.  After this, Severn would withdraw from the
Brawl for All because he did not care for the format and this bout shows
why.  We have had six Brawl for All
matches and all of them have gone to a decision, which is not very
exciting.  4 for 7
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match with The Undertaker and Steve Austin as Special
Enforcers:  Kane & Mankind (Champions
w/Paul Bearer) wrestle The New Age Outlaws to a no-contest at 8:09:
I am not often a fan of having the same match happen
again on the same show, but this was a very creative way to book around that
problem.  The main referee gets bumped
when Billy Gunn inserts himself into the match without a tag, but when Austin
tries to count the Road Dogg’s small package on Kane, the Undertaker pulls him
out of the ring.  The Undertaker tries to
count a pin when Kane chokeslams Road Dogg and Austin interrupts that.  The Undertaker and Austin then get into
separate fights with Mankind and Kane, respectively, and the Nation of
Domination hits the ring to brawl with the Outlaws, which brings out
D-Generation X.  Austin and the
Undertaker delivering Stunners and chokeslams plays us out and no one ends up
winning the match.  I’ll give this one a
point for the crazy post-match brawl.  Rating: 
** (5 for 8)
The Final Report Card:  This show gave us more storyline development
for the Undertaker-Kane relationship and whether they were in cahoots with each
other, although that issue is becoming very, very complicated.  Why would Kane want the Undertaker to face
Austin for the WWF title instead of himself? 
If he did decide to work with his brother, was it his idea?  When was such an agreement made?  Why would Kane or the Undertaker not tell
McMahon about it, since McMahon also wants to get the title off of Austin?  Does McMahon know and is he just playing dumb
to lure in Austin?  All this aside, this
RAW had a really hot first hour and then the second hour was death.  If not for the post-match brawl at the end,
this RAW would have ended up in neutral territory.  A slight thumbs up for this episode, which
saw RAW regain its Nielsen ratings lead only a week after WCW showed its big
Goldberg-Hogan match.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.7 (vs. 4.5 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 – February 9, 1998

by Logan Scisco

The presidential
sex scandal parodies continue, as Sunny is dressed like Marilyn Monroe and
sings “Happy Birthday” to Classie Freddie Blassie.  It was Blassie’s eightieth birthday.
The D-Generation X
beatdown of Steve Austin on last week’s show is recapped in a video package.
Jim Ross, Kevin
Kelly, and Michael Cole are in the booth and they are taped from Evansville,
Indiana.  I will be really happy when we
get rid of this three man commentary team in hour one.  Listening to it is like Ross fighting a
verbal handicap match.

Steve Austin comes
out with a white bag and calls out WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, but D-Generation
X appears on the Titantron.  Michaels
says he calls the shot in the WWF and Austin will face him on his schedule.  Michaels says that Austin needs to give him a
reason to come to the ring and Austin says he should because he has the WWF
title.  Michaels blows that off, but
realizes that a toy belt is in his bag and becomes irate.  Austin says that he will be easy to find if
Michaels wants his belt back.  Sometimes
the simple stuff is all you need to do to in order to tell a great story and
that’s all this did.  1 for 1
Call 815-734-1161
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Sunny comes out to
do guest ring announcing duties for our next match
.
Opening
Contest:  Jeff Jarrett & Barry
Windham (w/The Rock N’ Roll Express & Jim Cornette) beat The Legion of Doom
by disqualification when Bradshaw interferes at 4:59:
The announcers barely talk about the Legion of Doom
losing to the NWA faction two weeks ago and Cole tries to sell this match as
some kind of new attraction.  Of course,
Jarrett and Windham lost on last week’s show to Bradshaw and Flash Funk, so
they don’t seem in line for a push.  The
LOD’s storyline continues to be “are these guys too old?”  When all hell breaks loose, Hawk ends up on
the arena floor and the NWA faction works over his knee before tossing him back
into the ring.  Jarrett proceeds to apply
a figure-four, but Hawk is not going to submit to break character so Bradshaw
does the predictable run-in and although he never touches anyone in the NWA
faction that costs the LOD the match by disqualification.  That makes no sense to Sunny, who seems confused
announcing the result.  With the piped in
crowd noise, you would think this was the main event of WrestleMania.  Rating:  *½ (1 for 2)
D-Generation X is
shown talking about a plan to get the WWF title back from Steve Austin
.
Henry Godwinn
(w/Phineas Godwinn) pins Pierre (w/Jacques) when Phineas hits Pierre with a
slop bucket at 4:24:
The Quebecers and Godwinns began a small feud on the most
recent edition of Shotgun Saturday Night and are booked to face each other at
No Way Out, so this offers a preview of what is come.  Of course, why these teams are booked against each other makes little sense, since both are heels and are not over.  Pierre nearly kills himself with a plancha
and he hits a flying leg drop, which Kelly says he stole from Brian
Christopher.  To be fair, Pierre was
technically a pirate in 1995, so that’s not a stretch.  This match is decent for a big man match, but
the finish is silly as Jacques trips Henry and Henry conveniently puts his head
through the ropes to get hit by a slop bucket. 
Phineas then hits Pierre with his bucket after Jacques distracts the referee
by running from Phineas.  Got that?  Rating: 
*¾ (1 for 3)
Chyna walks in on
the Los Boricuas poker game and speaks to them in Spanish about helping out
with Steve Austin.  Lost in this
translation is how to cheat the paying customer and replace Savio Vega with
Shawn Michaels in the eight man tag match main event at No Way Out.
Shawn Michaels
yelling at Steve Austin last week is the Western Union Rewind segment
.
“Too Sexy” Brian
Christopher & El Pantera beat Taka Michinoku & Aguila when Pantera pins
Michinoku after a flying headbutt at 5:28 shown:
Now, you might remember that Pantera beat Christopher two
weeks ago and Lawler slapped him, so it would make little sense for them to be
partners.  However, on a recent episode
of Shotgun Saturday Night, Pantera turned against Michinoku since they are
facing each other for the light heavyweight title at No Way Out, so they are
teaming up now.  You can tell that all of
this is booked on the fly because Pantera debuted two weeks ago, so they should
have just made him a heel and avoided these problems.  This has a fast start, but Christopher makes
sure he slows that to a crawl when he gets involved.  This has a good finish, as Christopher’s
attempt to hit Michinoku with a foreign object fails, but Pantera puts it in
his mask, makes a blind tag, and headbutts Michinoku to capture the victory and
set himself up as a threat for No Way Out. 
This had its moments if you exclude Christopher’s involvement.  Rating:  **¼ (2 for 4)
Kane and Paul
Bearer come out and Bearer complains about Vader using a fire extinguisher on
Kane last week.  Bearer gives Kane a
Vader clock and Kane uses his magical powers to set it on fire.  Bearer promises that the Undertaker will not
be at No Way Out because the Undertaker is gone.  If the clock fire had been more impressive
I’d give this a point, but it was pretty weak sauce.  2 for
5
The Rock hitting
the Rock Bottom on Tom Brandi on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Footaction Slam
of the Week
.
Jerry Lawler joins
Jim Ross in the booth as we enter hour two
.
The Rock &
Faarooq (w/The Nation of Domination) beat Ken Shamrock & Chainz (w/The
Disciples of Apocalypse & Ahmed Johnson) when Faarooq pins Shamrock after
the Rock hits Shamrock with a chair at 4:21:
This is our last exhibition bout before the “war of
attrition” ten man tag match at No Way Out. 
Before the match, the Rock makes clear that he is in favor of cloning as
long as it is done very, very selectively and that means no one in Evansville
should be cloned.  In fact, the Rock says
only he should be cloned because he’s the “best damn Intercontinental champion
there ever was.”  They should have just
booked the Rock against the Honky Tonk Man to settle that question once and for
all.  Chainz finds himself in peril and
when Shamrock gets the tag he cleans house and puts Faarooq in the ankle
lock.  However, the referee is busy
sorting out a fight between the factions at ringside and the Rock gets a chair
and delivers a sick shot to help his team win. 
After the match, Shamrock snaps and suplexes the referee and Chainz and
his team has to restrain him.  Rating: 
** (3 for 6)
Footage from the
WrestleMania XIV press conference is shown. 
Vince McMahon announces that the main event is Shawn Michaels defending
the WWF title against Steve Austin and Mike Tyson will serve as the enforcer of
the match.  Tyson puts over Bruno
Sammartino and how much he loved him as a kid. 
Shawn Michaels chews out a reporter who puts down wrestling and Austin
and Michaels have a confrontation and Tyson has to get between them.  This looked like a fun press conference
.
Los Boricuas and
Chyna are shown looking for Steve Austin in the locker room.  Chyna finds a jobber in a towel and tosses
him into a locker.
Steve Blackman
defeats Recon (w/Sniper) via submission to an armbar at 4:33:
This is when they gave Blackman glowing sticks and had
him put on a martial arts display before each match.  Amazing how that didn’t catch on.  Seconds into the match, the Jackyl’s music
hits and he descends from the rafters on a platform and cuts a promo refuting
the idea that he is a sociopath.  The
promo makes it impossible to pay attention to the match, which is a shame
because it is pretty decent.  Jackyl is
upset that Recon loses and slaps him. 
Recon is upset, but the Jackyl turns his back and Recon backs off.  I won’t rate the match, but the Jackyl’s
promo was not very entertaining and neither were the post-match antics.  3 for
7
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear what former NWA champion is having negotiations with Jim
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The New Age Outlaws
come out in University of Kentucky t-shirts and discuss how they are getting
chills near the entrance because of last week’s dumpster incident.  Billy Gunn wants to recreate it so they pull
out a dumpster and the Road Dogg narrates last week’s events.  They push the dumpster off the entrance and
Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie blow up dolls are inside.  Billy does CPR to the Cactus one and they
promise to hurt Cactus and Chainsaw at No Way Out.  This segment effectively put over the Outlaws
as cocky, arrogant heels that you wanted to see destroyed by Cactus and
Chainsaw.  4 for 8
Los Boricuas and
Chyna continue to look for Steve Austin in the back, but after Los Boricuas go
through some double doors, Austin chains them shut.
Thrasher (w/Mosh)
pins The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Marc Mero, Sable & Luna
Vachon) with a schoolboy at 4:28:
Goldust has become partial to the Marilyn Manson persona,
as he is doing it again for this show. 
This is another preview of a pay-per-view tag team match since the
Headbangers will face Goldust and Marc Mero at No Way Out.  When the crowd starts chanting loudly for
Sable, Mero, Luna, and Goldust order her to the locker room.  This match drags on until Sable comes back
out and gets into a shouting match with Luna. 
When Goldust tries to confront Sable she slaps him and Thrasher takes
advantage to win.  After the match, Mero
has to restrain Luna before she can mix it up with Sable.  The match was not very good, but the angle
behind it had some good heat.  Rating: 
*¼ (5 for 9)
D-Generation X
comes out and Shawn Michaels demands Steve Austin return what belongs to
him.  Austin comes out with the title
belt, but DX flees and the New Age Outlaws wander out.  Chyna grabs the belt from the canvas as
Austin faces four-on-one odds, but Chainsaw Charlie cuts through the canvas and
he and Cactus Jack come from under the ring. 
Owen Hart joins in as well and DX and the New Age Outlaws flee.  Nice closing segment that wetted the
audience’s appetite for the pay-per-view main event.  6 for
10
The Final Report Card:  A decent “go home” show for No Way Out and I
am surprised that the eight man tag team match did not get more build in the
weeks leading up to the show.  Tonight
was really the first sustained hype of the main event.  Regardless, the last segment did what it was
supposed to do and the Austin-Michaels storyline for the evening was well
executed.  The Sable-Mero storyline is
arguably the second best one that the company is doing right now and its
beginning to segway nicely into a mixed tag match for WrestleMania.  The next RAW was held on a Saturday, February
21st, so we will recap No Way Out of Texas and go to that episode.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.2 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 19, 1998

-Before I get into
this week’s review, I wanted to know if any readers had feedback on the WWE
2k14 game.  I bought WWE 13 and was
irritated by the one count glitch.  Worth
a buy this year or not?  I just don’t
want to get burned again.
A still image of
Juanita McMahon, who recently passed away, is shown.
Michael Cole
narrates a video package about Kane’s turn on his brother at last night’s Royal
Rumble pay-per-view.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are live from Fresno,
California
.

Paul Bearer comes
out to the Undertaker’s old theme music and gloats about setting the Undertaker
up at the Royal Rumble.  He goes through
a lengthy narration about last night’s events until the Undertaker’s current
theme music hits and druids roll out a casket. 
Instead of the Undertaker, Kane pops out of the casket and that ends the
segment.  This started with lots of crowd
heat, but Bearer’s recap of last night went on way too long and killed the
segment.  0 for 1
Ross interviews
D-Generation X and European Champion Triple H says that he proved last night
that Owen Hart can’t cut it in the WWF. 
WWF Champion Shawn Michaels promises that DX will find the Undertaker
and bring him back tonight.
Opening Six Man
Tag Team Contest:  Faarooq, Kama Mustafa
& D-Lo Brown wrestle The Disciples of Apocalypse to a double
disqualification at 4:40:
Surprisingly, this match features a lot of fast action
and the commentary team puts over D-Lo Brown’s potential throughout the
match.  When all hell breaks loose,
referee Earl Hebner can’t keep things under control and tosses the match out
for a lame ending.  After the bell, Mark
Henry and the Rock run out to give the Nation five-on-three odds, but Ken
Shamrock and Ahmed Johnson run out to even the odds and they run the Nation
off.  Kevin Kelly says Ahmed has never
look better, but I would disagree. 
Ending aside, this was a good brawl and the crowd was hot for the
finish.  Rating:  ** (1 for 2)
Vince Russo, in
his Vic Venom days, hypes WWF and RAW Magazine. 
Call 8-15-734-1161 to get twelve issues of both for $29.97.  I had a WWF Magazine subscription at this
time and it was a pretty good read while Russo was at the helm.  When he left, it went way downhill.
“Marvelous” Marc
Mero (w/Sable) beats Tom Brandi with a TKO at 3:29:
As they come down to the ring, Mero puts Sable in a robe
that says “Property of Marc Mero” on the back of it.  During the first minute of the match, Sable
gets flowers from a secret admirer and Mero berates Sable over it.  This distractions help Brandi take the edge
over Mero and he scores several dramatic near-falls, but as Sable momentarily
distracts the referee, Mero hits a low blow and achieves another tainted win.  This match showed that Brandi could go, but
awful gimmicks ruined any chance he had to catch on in the company and he was
gone shortly after this feud.  Rating: 
**½ (2 of 3)
D-Generation X
cautiously approaches a hearse in the arena, but when they open the doors a
bunch of young women hop out and Chyna closes Michaels and Triple H in there
with them.  Why these women were in the
hearse to begin with is never explained.
The Sony
Playstation Slam of the Week is Vader’s Vader Bomb on Goldust at last night’s
Royal Rumble.
Mike Tyson’s limousine
is shown pulling into the arena.  Shane
McMahon, Tyson, and his entourage get out of the limos.
The Quebecers
defeat Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie by disqualification when Jack puts
the referee in the Mandible Claw at 3:03:
The Quebecers return to the company after a three year
absence.  They were a temporary
acquisition during the Monday Night Wars, as they wrestled in WCW prior to this
as the Amazing French Canadians. 
Unfortunately, the Quebecers are not wearing their awesome mountie-style
uniforms.  You would think that a former
three-time tag team championship team would get more billing upon their return,
but that’s not the case here.  This is a
wild brawl, which goes beyond the bell. 
If this is meant to set up a rematch for next week, then it accomplished
its purpose.  Rating:  ** (3 of 4)
D-Generation X
come across the mini wrestlers in their search for the Undertaker.  The minis speak Spanish, so they don’t
understand DX, but in a funny moment, Chyna lifts Max Mini up so Shawn Michaels
can interrogate him.  Is this whole thing
a parody of when they had Leslie Nielsen track down the Undertaker at
SummerSlam 1994?
Mike Tyson is
shown chatting with Vince McMahon and his cronies
.
NWA North
American Heavyweight Championship Match: 
Jeff Jarrett (Champion w/Jim Cornette & The Rock N’ Roll Express)
beats Bradshaw (w/Barry Windham) when Windham inadvertently lariats Bradshaw at
3:41:
There is something ironic about Cornette saying that
Jarrett will lead the NWA into the year 2000, since Jarrett was on top of WCW
in 2000 when it started to fall apart. 
Throughout the match, the Express help beat down Bradshaw when it
appears that he is getting an advantage in the match and Windham does not help.  Bradshaw appears to have
the title won after clearing the Express out of the ring and delivering a
powerbomb, but Windham seems to accidentally hit his partner with a lariat to
help Jarrett retain the title.  Another
short, yet solid match on tonight’s card. 
Rating:  ** (4 of 5)
After the match,
Bradshaw continues his fight with the NWA faction and Windham comes into the
ring when the NWA faction has the advantage. 
He then turns on Bradshaw by hitting him with another lariat and he is
the new member of the NWA faction.  If
you want living proof that the WWE will not give up on someone, just look at
Bradshaw.  The guy went through three
different gimmicks before they found something that caught on (the APA faction
with Faarooq).
­-The announce crew
hypes the house show circuit
.
Shawn Michaels
complains in the locker room that he cannot find the Undertaker, when suddenly
the lights go out.
Vince McMahon
narrates a quick video package to pay tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.
As we enter hour
two, Jerry “the King” Lawler joins Ross for commentary
.
The Undertaker’s
music hits and a figure that appears to be the Undertaker descends from the top
of the arena.  However, when the lights
hit, the D-Generation X music hits and Shawn Michaels strips off the Undertaker’s
ring gear.  Triple H and Chyna bring a
grill and cooking supplies to the ring and they proceed to mock the Undertaker
being burned alive last night.  Triple H
announces that he will grant a European title match to Owen Hart next week and
then hilariously rips Ric Flair by saying that Space Mountain is old, broken
down, and in need of repair.  Michaels
says that his next target is Steve Austin and delivers a nice opening salvo for
their feud by saying that he has won the titles that Austin has won in the
past, that he is on the top of the mountain, and that he does not lay down for
anyone.  This whole segment was great in
terms of transitioning DX away from the Undertaker and into other feuds.  It also put over the WWF title and
immediately put over Austin-Michaels as a must see event.
  5 of 6
Mike Tyson is
shown talking with the Legion of Doom and Sunny.
Owen Hart, Taka
Michinoku & The Headbangers defeat Los Boricuas when Owen makes Jesus
submit to the Sharpshooter at 2:59
This is a very random match, but it shows why tag team matches
can be ideal ways to fill two hours of television programming.  Honky Tonk Man is doing commentary for some
reason, but thankfully he’s not looking for a new project like he was last
year.  They should’ve given this more
time, but it was just a vehicle to put
over Owen for next week’s match with Triple H.
After the match,
Cole interviews Owen, who accepts Triple H’s offer of a European title match on
next week’s show.
Non-Title
Match:  The Rock (Intercontinental
Champion) pins Ahmed Johnson with the Rock Bottom at 2:43:
Speaking of random matches, it’s surprising that this
match is being held without any build since Ahmed is a former Intercontinental
champion and might be able to give a rub to the Rock.  Ahmed appears to have the match in hand after
he hits a spinebuster, but Mark Henry comes out and nails him with a chair to
help the Rock win the bout.  After the
match, Ken Shamrock hits the ring and runs off the heels.
Mike Tyson is
shown handling Cactus Jack’s barbed wire baseball bat in the locker room.
Highlights of last
night’s casket match between the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels constitute the
Western Union Rewind segment
.
Mike Tyson is
shown measuring Triple H and Chyna’s muscles.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws
(Champions) defeat The Godwinns when Billy Gunn pins Phineas with a loaded pig
at 4:53:
This match is the Godwinns long awaited title match that
they earned for helping the Outlaws in their feud with the Legion of Doom.  The Outlaws wear overalls for the contest,
but the Godwinns don’ take kindly to that and rip them off of Billy Gunn.  Ross notes that it’s the first time we’ve
seen Gunn in tights, which reflects a nice attention to detail that is missing
from today’s product.  The Godwinns
completely dominate Gunn, but he uses a pig toy, loaded with a brick, to help
his team retain the titles.  These teams
just don’t have a lot of chemistry.  Rating: 
*¼ (5 of 7)
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out if it will be a “macho” week for the WWF!
Vince McMahon
comes out and says that he will soon make the biggest announcement in WWF
history.  McMahon welcomes Mike Tyson
out, who says that he loves Bruno Sammartino. 
McMahon announces that Tyson will be at WrestleMania, but before he can
finish his sentence, Steve Austin comes out. 
A sea of WWF officials immediately race out behind Austin and McMahon is
not happy about him ruining Tyson’s time. 
Austin says that he is sick of Tyson’s antics tonight, refuses to shake
Tyson’s hand, and says that he wants a piece of him in a WWF ring.  He then flips Tyson off, which leads to Tyson
pushing Austin and leading to both men being restrained.  During the melee, one of Tyson’s entourage
tries to go after Austin, but Austin intelligently takes him down and lays on
top of him to avoid having the entire angle and his image compromised.  As Austin is pulled out of the ring, McMahon
becomes irate and screams “You’ve ruined it!” at Austin and tries to physically
go after him as Austin is escorted to the locker room.  This is one of the greatest RAW segments of
all time and I marked out watching it just as much as I did when it originally
aired.  6 of 8
In the locker
room, Tyson and his entourage are shown arguing with McMahon, who tries to apologize
for Austin’s behavior as we go off the air.
The Final Report Card:  This was a memorable, historic, and fantastic
episode of RAW.  The D-Generation X and
Tyson-Austin segments carried it, but the in-ring action was also quite good for
most of the show.  I remember that
everyone at school was talking about Tyson and Austin the next day and it also
got the WWF significant mainstream attention from the sports media.  It was one of those angles that was perfectly
placed, timed, and executed and no one else on the roster could have made it
work except for Austin.  McMahon played a
great supporting role as well, especially his nonverbal mannerisms when all
hell broke loose in the ring.  This was
also the highest rated RAW of all-time to this point and was the first RAW to
break the 4.0 mark in the Nielsen ratings. 
Compared to the previous week, Tyson was worth about a 0.6 increase.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.0 (vs. 4.5 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Royal Rumble 1998

Another great black and white video package
hypes the Royal Rumble match and puts over everyone from Steve Austin to the
Headbangers as a threat
.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in charge of commentary and they are live from San Jose,
California.

Opening
Contest:  Vader pins The Artist Formerly
Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) with a Vader Bomb at 7:52:
Goldust is wearing a green wig and a jobber-style striped
attire for tonight’s match.  This is the
blowoff for the feud between these two that began at the Survivor Series and it
is the second year in a row that Goldust is in the opening match at the Royal
Rumble.  It is the first time at the
Rumble that he is not wrestling for the Intercontinental title.  The crowd is hot, as they loudly boo Luna’s
interference and pop each time Vader hits a power move.  Goldust blocks a Vader Bomb with a low blow,
but Vader quickly rebounds and goes for another.  This causes Luna to rush into the ring and
jump on Vader’s back.  The referee nearly
botches the finish by calling for a disqualification, but the bell does not
ring, so Vader delivers the Vader Bomb with Luna on his back in an awesome spot
to get the win.  If you want to see a
match with no stalling from Goldust, this is it.  Entertaining opener, but this feud probably
should have ended at the last In Your House since it seemed well past its
expiration date.  This was Vader’s last
victory on a WWF pay-per-view.  Rating: 
**½
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to get reactions from the participants in tonight’s
matches.  It’s all on option five and
will cost you $1.49 a minute!
Steve Austin blows
off Michael Cole after arriving at the arena. 
After Austin goes into the arena, the Godwinns are on his heels.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest referee for our next match.
-Nova, Mosaic
& Max Mini defeat Battallion, Tarantula & El Torito when Mini pins El
Torito with a La Magistral cradle at 7:48:
So, we get a minis tag match to save some of the guys for
the Rumble and Mike Tyson is shown watching it from a special press box.  Lawler cracks a funny joke about how he saw
Max Mini reading Little Women in the
locker room.  I will be happy when these
mini matches disappear from the company because they are so business exposing
and the participants love to spam arm drags from multiple positions.  Sunny looks really rough here and she
abandons her impartiality by helping Mini do some attacks on his
opponents.  After the 150th
arm drag (or so it seems) they decide to do a spot where everyone does a top
rope attack, but that gets old by the third guy and everyone looks silly
standing there waiting for someone to do a move.  Mini gets the win because he always
does.  Rating:  DUD
The Nation of
Domination is looking for Steve Austin and Faarooq tells Mark Henry that he
needs to show him something by leading the way. 
The Nation burst into Austin’s locker room, but just find a chair with a
middle foam finger in it.
Kevin Kelly hypes
the WWF’s America Online chatroom.  Jim
Cornette is there and hypes the traditional wrestling of the National Wrestling
Alliance.  He pledges to make us like
wrestling.
Mike Tyson is
shown chatting with Vince and Shane McMahon in his box.  This is the first time we are exposed to
Shane McMahon in an executive capacity and back in 1998 he did appear to be the
heir apparent of the company.  How times changed…
The announcers
hype the upcoming Intercontinental title match between the Rock and Ken
Shamrock.
During the Free
for All, the Nation of Domination argued over who was going to win the Royal
Rumble.  The Rock gives an interview to
Cole and gives President Bill Clinton some advice over the Paula Jones sex
scandal.  If I remember correctly this
was just before Monica Lewinsky came onto the scene.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion)
beats Ken Shamrock by reverse decision at 10:52:
This is the first encounter between the Rock and
Shamrock, who will be engaged in a feud for the next six months.  This is an underrated feud that worked very
well because the company pitted the cocky heel that needed his comeuppance
against the legitimate badass in the company. 
The Rock utilizes all of the traditional heel tactics in this one,
incorporating stalling, eye rakes, cheap shots, complaining to the referee,
etc.  After both men equally exchange offense,
Shamrock hits a belly-to-belly, which brings out the Nation and Shamrock fights
them off.  The Rock blasts Shamrock with
brass knuckles and puts them in Shamrock’s tights, but Shamrock recovers and
pins the Rock after a belly-to-belly suplex. 
Shamrock appears to have won the title, but the Rock tells the referee
that Shamrock hit him with brass knuckles. 
The referee finds the knuckles in Shamrock’s tights and reverses the
decision, so Shamrock snaps and puts the referee in an ankle lock.  A good first chapter of the feud between
these two and this finish kept Shamrock strong, while putting more heat on the
Rock.  Rating:  **¾
Call 815-734-1161
to buy all of the Faces of Foley t-shirts for $49.99 (plus $9 shipping & handling)!
Los Boricuas are
shown searching for Steve Austin and they enter his locker room.  They beat up someone that they think is
Austin, but they actually attack a member of DOA and that creates another gang
war in the locker room that WWF officials have to break up.
A video package
hypes the upcoming tag team title match between the New Age Outlaws and the
Legion of Doom
.
Cole interviews
the Legion of Doom.  Animal says that he
is competing against doctor’s orders over his back and Hawk promises that the
New Age Outlaws are going to be put on ice.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The Legion of Doom
defeat The New Age Outlaws (Champions) by disqualification at 7:55:
The Outlaws wear Green Bay Packers jerseys to the ring
because the Packers had just defeated the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC
Championship Game.  The Legion of Doom
come out swinging early, but the Road Dogg trips Animal and Hawk ends up going
shoulder-first into the ring post on a blind charge.  This messy sequence results in Hawk being
handcuffed to the ring post.  Animal
catches Billy Gunn with an awkward powerslam, but before the referee can
register a three count, the Road Dogg blasts him with a chair and that lets the
champions preserve the titles.  After the
bell, the Outlaws do a beatdown on Animal before Hawk can break free of his
handcuffs.  The first couple of minutes
were okay, but everything from there went south in a hurry.  Rating:  *¼
Ross announces
that Mildred Bowers of Nashville, Tennessee wins the Steve Austin 3:16 truck
.
A video package
chronicles why Steve Austin is a marked man in this year’s Royal Rumble.
“Stone Cold”
Steve Austin wins the 1998 Royal Rumble by eliminating the Rock at 55:27:
This is the third consecutive year that the Royal Rumble
is placed in the middle of the card instead of the main event.  This is a great Rumble to put on your
television if you are suffering from insomnia because after a small hardcore
match at the beginning between Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie, who draw one and two,
almost nothing happens.  Tag wrestler,
tag wrestler, and more tag wrestlers and lower midcarders come out and no one
tosses anyone else, so the ring just fills up for a clear out that never
comes.  Owen Hart, who was attacked while
making his entrance as #9, comes into the match later and eliminates Jeff
Jarrett for one of the biggest pops of the night.  Owen is eliminated shortly thereafter by a
Triple H and Chyna dual crutch attack so that feud continues.  They tease Austin not making an appearance,
as #22 does not show, but he does show up out of the crowd as #24 and quickly tosses Marc Mero and 8-Ball.  Los
Boricuas, trying to get revenge for Austin’s defeat of Savio Vega at
WrestleMania XII, all try to toss Austin when Savio enters the match, but that
fails.  The Nation of Domination proceeds
to practice the worst strategy in Rumble history, as they have all five members
in the ring as the field narrows and decide to fight each other rather than
work together.  Men start flying shortly
after Vader enters at #30 and Vader gets tosses by Goldust in less than three
minutes.  The final four turns into a
small tag match between Austin and Dude Love and Faarooq and the Rock, but
Austin turns on his partner and the Rock then turns on his and we have a brief
clash of the future main event stars before Austin hits a Stunner and tosses
the Rock to win his second consecutive Rumble. 
This Rumble was worse than 1995. 
The star power here was worse and at least the
1995 atrocity had a one minute clock so the pain and suffering was
reduced.  1995 had a more entertaining
finish too.  Rating:  ¾*
Mike Tyson is
shown celebrating with Shane McMahon after watching Austin’s victory.  He proceeds to give an unintelligible
interview with Cole.
A video package
hypes the Shawn Michaels-Undertaker casket match.
Casket Match for
the WWF Championship:  “The Heartbreak
Kid” Shawn Michaels (w/D-Generation X) defeats The Undertaker at 20:38
This was the end of the five month feud between these two,
which would resume more than ten years later over the Undertaker’s WrestleMania
streak.  Ninety seconds into this is
where Michaels takes the awkward backdrop out of the ring and onto the edge of
the casket that temporarily ended his career. 
Interestingly enough, you could make the argument that the Undertaker
was responsible for both of Michaels
departures from wrestling.  This match
isn’t as brutal as Hell in a Cell, but Michaels delivers a devastating
piledriver on the steps to his opponent. 
In a funny spot near the end, Michaels dumps the Undertaker into the
casket and tries to give him the D-Generation X crotch chop, but the Undertaker
grabs Michaels nether region and rallies. 
The Undertaker misses a flying clothesline and goes into the casket and
Michaels delivers a flying elbow drop into it, causing the casket to close on
both of them.  By casket match logic,
shouldn’t that lead to a draw?  The
Undertaker hits an insane super Tombstone into the casket from the apron, but
Chyna takes out of the referee and the New Age Outlaws and Los Boricuas hit the
ring in shades of 1994.  The crowd goes
insane as the lights go out and Kane shows up and clears the ring.  However, after his pyro malfunctions he
attacks his brother, which turns into some serious crowd heat, and he
chokeslams his brother into the casket and closes the lid, giving Michaels the
victory.  The usual good match between
these two that became excellent in the last five minutes.  It also featured some great spots that you
had never seen in a casket match before. 
Rating:  ****
After the match,
Kane and Paul Bearer, who has wandered out, seal the casket, place it by the
entrance, and Kane smashes an axe into it. 
They then douse it with gasoline and set it on fire as we go off the
air.  Well, that blows 1994 out of the
water.
The Final Report Card:  I find it hard to rate this show because on
the one hand, the main event was awesome and the crowd helped provide a
pay-per-view atmosphere to the event. 
The opening contest was entertaining as well, but on the whole the
Rumble really drags down the show.  It
might have been predictable that Austin was winning, but the booking for it was
very poor and the company did not have enough star power at the time to make
that match interesting.  It didn’t help
either that Triple H was on the shelf and they had Owen Hart and Ken Shamrock
eliminated early in the contest.  Based
on the awesomeness of the closing segment and the impression that it leaves,
I’ll give this show a neutral rating, but if you do watch the show, just fast
forward through the Rumble.  The show
comes off much better without it.
Attendance: 
18,542
Buyrate: 
0.97 (+.27 over previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 12, 1998

by Logan Scisco

D-Generation X
tells Owen Hart not to mess with their business and Triple H says that Shawn
Michaels will have a message about the Undertaker’s family later tonight.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are broadcasting from Penn
State University.  This is the fifth
anniversary of RAW being on the USA Network.

Opening Non-Title
Four Corner Contest:  The New Age Outlaws (WWF Tag Team Champions) defeat The Godwinns, The Headbangers, and
Sniper & Recon when Billy Gunn pins Phineas after hitting him with a
foreign object at 4:12:
The Outlaws wear Florida Gators shirts to get under the
crowd’s skin, since Florida defeated Penn State in the Citrus Bowl.  This is not under elimination rules, so the
first team that gets a fall wins.  In a
nice spot, all of the teams pound away on the Outlaws when they get into the
ring, so the tag team champions bail.  I
never understand why teams bother to tag out in these matches since tagging in
another team prohibits you from registering a pin or a submission to win.  The crowd really gets on the Outlaws case,
working up a large “We are Penn State!” chant and going wild for the attacks by
other teams on them.  The ending makes
zero sense as the other two teams see Gunn hit Phineas with a foreign object,
but sit on the apron and let the referee count the fall.  Finish aside, I’ll give this a point because
of the crowd.  Rating:  *¾ (1 for 1)
A video package
hypes the Legion of Doom, who will face the New Age Outlaws for the tag team
titles at the Royal Rumble.  The Legion
of Doom have not been on television since the Outlaws attacked them a month ago
and shaved Hawk’s mohawk and powerbombed Animal through a table.
Steve Austin shows
up to the arena in his pickup truck as the crowd goes crazy.
The Godwinns are
shown being tended to in the back by WWF officials because Austin attacked them
during the commercial break.
Cole interviews
Austin, who complains that he won the Royal Rumble last year “fair and square”
and didn’t get credit for it.  He has an
awesome line in this interview by saying that Vince McMahon might own the ring,
but if a wrestler dares get into it he is going to make sure they get tossed
out of it.  Austin takes a pen from Cole
and draws a target on his chest to let everyone in the locker room know how to
find him.  Great short interview. 
2
for 2
Austin hyping MTV
Celebrity Death Match on a house show is shown.
DX arrives at the
arena in their limo, but a WWF production truck is blocking the car entrance,
so they have to get out and walk around it.
Handicap
Match:  Kurrgan (w/The Jackyl) defeats
Lance Diamond & Joey Cicero at 2:26:
At this time, Diamond was a rising star in the ECWA and
was engaged in a lengthy feud with Cheetah Master.  He won the ECWA’s Super 8 Torurnament in 1998
as well.  Kurrgan has to defeat both men to
win this handicap match, which he accomplishes with ease.  Kurrgan finishes Diamond off with the
Paralyzer and pins Cicero after a suplex. 
After the match, Kurrgan tears apart a Penn State football helmet for
some cheap heat.  This was a good squash
and it effectively disguised Kurrgan’s weaknesses.  If this was the 1980s Kurrgan would have had
a token feud with Hulk Hogan.  The Jackyl’s
commentary also made it tolerable.  3 for 3
Backstage, Owen
Hart is shown attacking Triple H in DX’s limo, but Shawn Michaels and Chyna
jump in and the limo drives off.
Vader beats “Marvelous”
Marc Mero (w/Goldust) by disqualification at 3:10:
Before the match, Mero gets on the house mic to introduce
Sable, but the mic is not working and Mero doesn’t know it, so he talks in
silence until Sable’s music hits. 
However, instead of Sable coming out it is the Artist Formerly Known as
Goldust dressed like Sable.  Ross loses
his mind about all of this.  In the
middle of the match, Sable predictably comes out and kicks Goldust in the
thigh.  Mero gets her to leave, but this
lets Vader recover from a low blow. 
However, after he hits a Vader Bomb, Goldust hits him in the back of the
head with a coconut and that draws the disqualification.  There was not a lot of in-ring action in this
one, but the extracurriculars made it entertaining.  Rating:  *¾ (4 for 4)
The announcers
hype the house show circuit.
DX returns to the
arena in their limo, but where’s Owen?
Bam Bam Bigelow
pushing Lawrence Taylor at the 1995 Royal Rumble is the 1-800-COLLECT Slam of
the Week.
Vader is shown in
pain in his locker room, a victim of Steve Austin’s rampage
.
Ken Shamrock
& Mark Henry wrestle The Rock & D-Lo Brown (w/Kama Mustafa) to a no
contest at 3:08:
The storyline behind this is that Mark Henry suffered an
attack at the hands of the Nation of Domination on Shotgun Saturday Night two
weeks ago and Ken Shamrock made the save before too much damage could be
done.  Henry is wearing a “Rocky sucks”
t-shirt and the Rock pledges to rip it off of him before the end of the match.  Shamrock wrestles the entire match, which
gives away where this is going, and sure enough, one Shamrock puts the Rock in
an ankle lock, Henry turns on Shamrock and helps the Nation destroy him in the
middle of the ring.  The Rock plants
Shamrock with a Rock Bottom and Henry does the three count and then rips off
the “Rocky Sucks” t-shirt to reveal a Nation of Domination t-shirt.  Great pacing to this match while it lasted
and Henry’s beatdown on Shamrock looked devastating.  Rating:  ** (5 for 5)
Call 815-734-1161
to get all three “Faces of Foley” t-shirts for $49.99 (plus $9 shipping).  If you only want one of them they will cost
you $25 each (plus $8 shipping and handling)!
The announcers
recap Mark Henry’s heel turn.  Backstage,
the Nation of Domination is interviewed by Cole and the Rock tells Faarooq that
he recruited Henry for him and just wants him to be grateful.
Since we are in
hour two, Ross and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in charge of the announcing
duties.
DX comes out and
Triple H says that Owen Hart got dumped into a sewer and then makes lewd
comments toward sorority girls on Penn State’s campus.  Shawn Michaels warns Mike Tyson to stay out
of his business at the Royal Rumble. 
Before Michaels can talk about Kane, Owen appears on the Titantron with
his face scratched and bloody and he says that he is going to make DX’s life
hell.  Triple H dares Owen to come out
and Owen does, but WWF officials intercede before he can get to the ring.  This segment was going somewhere, but when
Owen got involved it fell apart.  That’s
not an indictment of him, but this would have been better served having
Michaels get to his bit about Kane.  5 for 6
Skull &
8-Ball beat The Rock N’ Roll Express (w/Jim Cornette) by disqualification at
2:30:
This is the next step in the NWA angle its sort of
surreal seeing Cornette working in tandem with the Rock N’ Roll Express.  The Express get the Rockers old theme music,
which does not fit at all.  The crowd
doesn’t care because this is the Northeast, so it comes off like the Smokey
Mountain tag team title match that was held at the 1993 Survivor Series.  Skull & 8-Ball use their power to
dominate the action and Cornette tries to run in and nail 8-Ball with his
tennis racket, but gets caught by the referee and that produces a
disqualification.  Cornette eats a right
hand for Skull, but the Express do a small beatdown on the members of the
Disciples of Apocalypse before Chainz makes the save. This was largely
forgettable.  5 for 7
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear about the rumors that Hulk Hogan will be in the Royal
Rumble.  I never recall hearing this
rumor around this time.
Cactus Jack is
shown walking around the grounds of Beaver Stadium and he recaps his death
match battles with Terry Funk in Japan. 
He says that Funk’s idea to call himself Chainsaw Charlie might be
silly, but it was his choice to take on that gimmick and they just want to
brutalize the New Age Outlaws.
Mankind wrestles
The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) to a no contest at 25
seconds:
For this match, Goldust comes out to Dude Love’s music
and is dressed like Dude Love.  Mankind
quickly puts Goldust in the Mandible Claw, but Steve Austin runs out and gives
both men Stunners before giving a “hell yeah” into Jim Ross’s microphone.
Vince McMahon
appears on the Titantron and is booed. 
McMahon says that Mike Tyson has been invited to the Royal Rumble and
will be on Raw next week where he anticipates a special announcement will be
made.
Sunny comes out in
cheerleader garb to do guest ring announcer duties.
Savio Vega &
Jesus beat Taka Michinoku & Scott Taylor when Jesus pins Taylor after a
reverse superplex at 4:36:
Lawler makes an awkward quip about how he is not afraid to
admit that he likes younger women except when he has to drop them off at
school.  Ross is not sure how to play
that so he just goes along with calling the match.  After watching a good chunk of Michinoku’s
matches from this period, I have to come to the conclusion that he has one of
the best bumps off of a powerbomb that I have ever seen.  The light heavyweights go to the air one too
many times near the end of this encounter, as Savio catches Michinoku’s
moonsault attempt on the floor and slams him and Taylor gets crotched and
finished with a reverse superplex.  That
ending sequence was awesome and this is why tag team wrestling can easily fill
TV time.  Rating:  **½ (6 for 8)
We get another
flashback to Bam Bam Bigelow pushed Lawrence Taylor at the 1995 Royal Rumble.
The Twix Rewind
segment is Shawn Michaels winning the 1995 Royal Rumble.
DX comes back out
to be interviewed by Cole.  Michaels
introduces Kane as the next member of DX, but the Undertaker comes out instead
and tells Michaels to leave his family out of their feud.  This is the segment where the Undertaker
chokes Michaels out of nowhere, which is a clip Botchamania uses a lot.  The Undertaker then goes to chokeslam Chyna,
but before he can do that all members of DX beat him down.  The light go out and Kane’s music hits and
the crowd goes crazy as Kane gets in the ring and makes the save.  After the Undertaker recovers, Kane and the
Undertaker exchange their unique “one knee, hand to the air” salute.  Have I mentioned that the booking of this
whole Kane-Undertaker issue is awesome? 
7 for 9
Call
1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck
contest!  It’ll cost you $1.99 or you can
send a postcard to Devon, Pennsylvania.
The drawing for
the Royal Rumble is next, but since there is very little time left it is
doubtful whether any drawing will take place. 
Chaos unfolds when Ken Shamrock comes in and attacks Mark Henry and
Goldust and Vader start going at it.  The
Honky Tonk Man comes out, signaling that he will be in the Royal Rumble match.  Steve Austin’s music hits and everyone wants
a piece of him, but Austin comes out from the crowd and gives Phineas Godwinn a
Stone Cold Stunner and then tries to leave. 
As most of the superstars brawl in the ring, the Rock, Savio Vega, and
D-Lo Brown attack him to play us out. 
Not really a great take home segment, but it was important to show
Austin with some vulnerability heading into the pay-per-view. 
7
for 10
The Final Report Card:  Since we are in the Russo era, we are not
going to get long main event matches, but entertaining segments and wild
behavior makes up for that.  Goldust’s
antics continue to get wilder and the Rock is really coming into his own on the
microphone and in the ring.  The winner
of the Royal Rumble is pretty clear since they really have not given any other
participant much billing, but the casket match for the WWF title has some
intriguing scenarios now that Kane’s loyalties appear to be with his brother
against D-Generation X.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.4 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 5, 1998

by Logan Scisco

We kick off our
next round of reviews by covering the 1998 season of Monday Night Raw.  1998 is when the WWF finally turned the
Monday Night Wars in its favor and began the process of grinding WCW to dust
(assisted by poor WCW booking patterns and the AOL-Time Warner merger).  The year saw the creation of new stars, the
continuation of a more mature product, and Steve Austin solidify himself as one
of the greatest WWF stars of all-time. 
I’ve also decided
to modify my rating style for this set of reviews.  I don’t like doing star ratings for TV events
because of the length of the matches, so when I review the pay-per-views I’ll
revert to the star rating, but for the TV shows I’m going to do an average
point system.  If a match or lengthy interview
segment is worthwhile, it will receive a point. 
Otherwise, it won’t.  I hope that
this can better clarify the good and bad elements of a show.  If everyone hates it I can revert to stars, but
that’s my logic.
The show begins
with Steve Austin in the parking lot talking about how everyone in the locker
room wants to get him and he sent them a “3:16” message on their pagers.  He encourages the audience to watch tonight’s
show where he will strike first at everyone that is out to get him.

Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are live from New Haven,
Connecticut
.
Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock beats Faarooq
(w/Kama Mustafa & D-Lo Brown) via submission to the ankle lock at 5:02
shown:
This match has some back story because Faarooq injured
Shamrock in the first round of the Intercontinental title tournament back in
September.  The Rock also volunteered
Faarooq to take on Shamrock in his contest on last week’s show.  During the match, Ross keeps hyping Shamrock
as a future WWF champion.  Faarooq works
the ribs and the Rock comes down to ringside shortly before the commercial
break.  The Rock tries to direct
interference whereby Kama will hold a chair in the corner so that Shamrock can
be whipped into it, but heel miscommunication results and Shamrock wins to go
three-for-three against the Nation. 
Shamrock had some good selling in this match, but the match never worked
up a consistent pace.  0 of 1
After the match,
Faarooq argues with Kama on the floor as the Rock and Shamrock stare each other
down in the ring.  Before they can do
anything, though, Steve Austin runs out and gives each of them a Stone Cold
Stunner before exiting through the crowd.
Jim Cornette comes
out with Howard Brody and Dennis Coralluzzo of the National Wrestling Alliance
(NWA).  Cornette announces that both men
will award the NWA North American championship to the winner of our next match.
NWA North
American Championship Match:  Jeff
Jarrett defeats Barry Windham to win the title at 3:34:
The North American championship was a real NWA title and
it was the second most prominent title in the promotion.  Reckless Youth (remember him?) was the
previous champion, but the NWA vacated the title in December 1997 for use in
this angle.  Cornette educates the
audience about the NWA on commentary, but Cole has to ask him if it is a bogus
promotion to show off his stupidity.  Windham
uses his size and power to dominate much of the match, but Jarrett puts his
foot on the bottom rope to avoid being pinned after a lariat.  After that, Coralluzzo distracts the referee
and as Windham prepares to give Jarrett a superplex, Cornette runs into the
ring and hits him in the back with his tennis racket.  Windham manages to complete the move, but is
knocked out and Jarrett pins him to win the title.  1 of 2
After the match,
Jarrett struts around with his new title, but Steve Austin runs out and gives
him a Stone Cold Stunner.
The announce team
proceeds to break down the house show circuit
.
Ken Shamrock tells
the announce team that he would love for the Royal Rumble to come down between
him and Austin.
Sunny comes out in
a schoolgirl outfit to do guest ring announcing duties for our next match
.
Skull &
8-Ball defeat Sniper & Recon (w/The Jackyl) when Skull pins Recon with a
DDT at 3:39:
If you were expecting a wrestling classic, you can forget
it here, but since the time on it is short it’s a tolerable matchup.  The Jackyl keeps laughing when Recon misses
big moves, justifying his behavior by saying that Recon is just trying to be a
star.  The Disciples of Apocalypse end
this out of nowhere after all hell breaks loose after the hot tag.  Speaking of nowhere, this feud is headed
there, but that’s because the booking team has no idea what they want to get
out of either team.  1 of 3
After the match,
Kurrgan comes out and a three-on-two beatdown commences, which allows Kurrgan
to show off his size and strength.
The Twix Rewind
segment is the Undertaker helping Kane clear the ring of the superstars that
tried to attack him on last week’s Raw.
D-Generation X
comes out.  Chyna is pushing Triple H in
a wheelchair because he has suffered a dislocated knee cap that might require
surgery.  Triple H brags about costing
Owen Hart the WWF title last week and he dares Owen to come out and face
him.  Owen appears on the Titantron and
lets Triple H know that when his right knee heals he is going to destroy his
left one.  Owen tries to sell the “blackheart”
element of his character, claiming that he has no conscience and feels no pain,
but the result is a corny promo that Triple H mocks before ending the segment.  1 of 4
The 1-800-COLLECT
Slam of the Week is Vader hitting a moonsault on a jobber on Shotgun Saturday
Night.
We get another
recap of Steve Austin’s rampage on tonight’s show.
Since we are in
hour two, Jim Ross and Jerry “the King” Lawler take over announcing duties.
Owen Hart beats
Savio Vega (w/Los Boricuas) with a rollup at 4:05:
Owen starts this like a Steve Austin match, aggressively
going after Savio and incorporating a Lou Thesz press in the early going.  It doesn’t take long for D-Generation X to
appear by the entrance and that gives Savio an opportunity to turn the
tide.  The Boricuas also assist Savio in maintaining
the advantage, but this leads to another referee coming out and ejecting them.  However, this doesn’t happen quickly enough
and Savio is able to get out of a Sharpshooter when Jose tries to get into the
ring.  Owen still wins with a rollup shortly
thereafter.  Lackluster matchup and Owen’s
in-ring style does not really fit this hard edged character that they want him
to play.  1 of 5  
After the match,
Owen tries to go after Triple H, but the Boricuas attack him and then bring him
to Triple H to slap around.  They make
sure to collect their payment before leaving.
Paul Bearer comes
out looking disheveled and he tells the Undertaker that he hopes he loses to
Shawn Michaels at the Royal Rumble.  The
storyline here is that Kane has left Bearer after last week’s events, so Bearer
is freaking out.  He begs Kane to come
home before leaving in despair.  Really
nice promo to continue the slow burn for this angle.  2 of 6
Backstage, Austin
is shown leaving a locker room and Mark Henry is shown in pain on the
floor.  So Austin has attacked another
victim.
A video package
recaps Marc Mero’s treatment of Sable and Tom Brandi’s intervention on her
behalf.
“Marvelous” Marc
Mero (w/Sable) beats Tom Brandi by disqualification when Steve Austin
interferes at 3:47:
Why is this match not happening at the Royal Rumble?  Seems like easy midcard fodder for that show
instead of throwing it on Raw.  The crowd
works up a loud “Sable” chant when Mero hides behind his valet when Brandi
charges after him at the beginning of the contest.  Mero gets knocked out of the ring and falls
on top of Sable, but when Brandi goes to help her he gets a double axe
handle.  Mero hits a TKO, but when he
goes for another Steve Austin runs in and gives Mero a Stunner.  The crowd comes unglued for that and that was
because of Mero’s display of carelessness for Sable that occurred throughout
the match.  3 of 7
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out what old NWA stars Jim Cornette is recruiting and
hear who is attending the WWF’s training camp!
We get ANOTHER
recap of Steve Austin’s rampage.  Do we
need to hit back to this every time come back from commercial?
Flash Funk
defeats The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) by
disqualification when Luna interferes at 2:32:
Goldust comes out in blackface and an afro, showcasing a
70s persona in his latest display of weirdness. 
I’m surprised that the WWF signed off on this in 1998, but you can bet
that they would never do it today after going public.  Flash nearly wins after a spinning heel kick,
but Luna pushes him off the top rope when he tries to the Tumbleweed in plain
view of the referee and costs her man the match.  The short length of the contest prevented
some of Goldust’s traditional stalling and that helped it significantly.  4 of 8
After the bell,
Goldust hits the Curtain Call but Vader runs out and Goldust flees.
A video package
hypes Steve Blackman.
Call
1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck
contest!  It’ll cost you $1.99 or you can
send a postcard to Devon, Pennsylvania.
Last week’s reveal
of Chainsaw Charlie is shown.
The Headbangers
appearance on Regis and Kathie Lee is shown. 
These guys got sent out on a lot of the WWF’s public relations work at
this time despite doing squat in the ring.
Non-Title
Match:  The New Age Outlaws (WWF Tag Team
Champions) beat The Headbangers when Billy Gunn pins Mosh after a face
miscommunication at 4:58:
This match proceeds nicely, with both teams exchanging
double team maneuvers.  The Godwinns
appear by the entrance, apparently scouting the Outlaws for a tag team title
shot that they are owed.  Thrasher and
the Road Dogg give each other simultaneous low blows when they dropkick each
other at the same time.  This cues the
hot tag and all hell breaking loose, but the Headbangers blow a Stage Dive
attempt when Thrasher jumps too early for the flying leg drop and Gunn rolls up
Mosh for a clean win.  This had a creative
finish that solidified the credibility of the Outlaws.  The loss cements the Headbangers status as
one of the lower ranked teams in the division. 
5 of 9
-After the match,
Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie run out and the Outlaws walk back to the
locker room.
Don King hypes
WrestleMania XIV, but says that his contract negotiation with Vince McMahon to
make Mike Tyson a part of it has not been finished.  It’s close, though!
Footage of the
Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker is shown in
order to hype the Shawn Michaels-Undertaker title match at the Royal Rumble
.
WWF Champion Shawn
Michaels comes out and says that he will show the Undertaker is a loser at the
Royal Rumble.  He calls out the
Undertaker and druids wheel out a casket. 
The casket is covered in graffiti like last week and Michaels calls for
Triple H and Chyna to get out of it.  No
response happens so Michaels continues his juvenile antics.  Triple H and Chyna then come out on the ramp
and warn Michaels that they are not in it and before Michaels can put two and
two together, the Undertaker bursts out of the casket and pulls Michaels inside
as we go off the air.  AWESOME closing
segment, even if it was predictable.  6 of 10
The Final Report Card:  The first show of 1998 started pretty rough,
but the second hour was full of fun segments and matches so that barely saves
the show with a 6/10 rating.  Austin’s victory
at the Rumble was very obvious, but at least the WWF booked it in an
entertaining way that placed him on the perfect trajectory to challenge for the
title at WrestleMania.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.3 (vs. 4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 29, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Footage of the
angle surrounding last week’s show concerning the European title is shown
.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are live from the Nassau
Coliseum in New York for the last RAW of 1997.
Goldust comes out
dressed as a New Year’s baby and declares that he will enter the Royal
Rumble.  I should note that Cole is
establishing a bad operating procedure of constantly talking over a wrestler’s
promo, afraid of having any silence on the air. 
Goldust is supposed to wrestle Steve Austin, who comes out and has a
Porta John lowered, which he has to tug into the ring from the top of the
arena.  The Porta John, which Cole
initially calls an “outhouse” has “Crapper 3:16” written on the outside of it.  Goldust tries to sneak up on Austin behind
it, but Austin slams the door in his face, tosses him inside, and when
Goldust comes out he eats a Stone Cold Stunner. 
Austin then tosses Goldust back in and turns it over, before ending his
promo on top it.  A wild, creative, and
very entertaining segment and Austin had the crowd eating out his hand the
entire time.

Owen Hart’s sneak
attack on Triple H on last week’s show is the 1-800-COLLECT Rewind segment.
Opening Long
Island Street Fight:  The Disciples of
Apocalypse beat Savio Vega, Miguel Perez & Jesus (w/Jose) when Chainz pins
Jose after heel miscommunication at 3:17:
I wish that this feud would just end.  It has no direction and no one cares about
the Boricuas.  Ross subtly buries Crush
by saying that after his altercation with Kane he did not want to be in the WWF
anymore.  The match gets off to a hot
shot, with chairs being used, but it quickly cools into a battle royal-type
brawl.  Jose isn’t supposed to be in the
match, but gets involved anyway and in a piece of WCWesque booking, Chainz pins
him when Savio accidentally blasts him with a spin kick.  Rating:  *
The WWF has shown
these ads for a couple of weeks, but I want to say that their “Attitude Era”
ads where the Undertaker, Steve Austin, the Rock, Ken Shamrock, etc. listed
their accomplishments and injuries and put down anyone who criticizes wrestling
for being fake are well done.
European Champion
Triple H and Chyna are in the ring after the commercial break and Triple H is
on crutches and in a knee brace, which he says is because he dislocated his
knee cap last night, and he says he won’t be able to defend his title against Owen Hart
tonight.  Triple H says that Shawn
Michaels isn’t here because he has a 102 degree fever and the lights go out and
a casket is wheeled to the ring by druids, but Michaels pops out of the casket,
which has DX graffiti.  Kelly is
outraged, saying Michaels “desecrated the spirit of the casket.”  What? 
DX puts over Chyna’s breasts for a few minutes and Michaels pledges that
1998 will be the year of DX. 
Commissioner Slaughter comes out and says that Triple H is medically
unfit to compete, so he books Michaels in a WWF title match against Owen.
Ken Shamrock
defeats Kama Mustafa (w/Faarooq & D-Lo Brown) via submission to the
anklelock at 3:36:
The storyline for Shamrock heading into the Royal Rumble
is that he’s going to slowly go through the Nation in preparation for facing
the Rock for the Intercontinental title.  Kama gets in a few token moves and Shamrock
exchanges strikes with him before taking him down and making him tap.  Rating:  *
After the match, the
Rock comes out and says that fans have asked him his opinion on the elderly and
Social Security, but he doesn’t care as long as makes money.  That’s a funny gimmick as last week we said
fans asked his opinion on world peace. 
The Rock calls off the Nation from beating up Shamrock and says next
week Shamrock will face Faarooq.  Faarooq
isn’t happy about that.  The Rock is
carrying the feud on the mic and doing a fantastic job.  The Rock-Shamrock feud as a whole is very
underrated and a largely forgotten part of 1998, but the Rock’s work in that
feud is what set him on the path to main event status.
The announce team
hypes the house show circuit.  Why can’t
WWE bother to do this today?
Dok Hendrix hypes
the next Madison Square Garden show.  The
matches that are in this show were chronicled in last week’s review
.
Vince McMahon is
shown sitting in an empty arena before tonight’s show and thanks the fans for
watching and he promises that 1998 will be the most action packed and enjoyable
year in WWF history.  Can’t say he was
wrong about that.  I sort of miss these
fan appreciation segments with Vince because he comes off very sincere, but in
the back of his mind he had to know things would have to get better in 1998
because he and Linda lost $5 million or so of their own money on the company in
1997 and couldn’t give Christmas bonuses, which they felt ashamed of, according
to a Kevin Kelly shoot interview.
Jerry “the King”
Lawler & “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher beats Taka Michinoku & George
“the Animal” Steele by disqualification when Steele uses a foreign object at
2:39:
Before the match, Lawler says that Brian Christopher is
Jim Ross’s son, which is so ridiculous I’m surprised Ross didn’t corpse on live
television.  Steele was Michinoku’s
mystery partner for this match and since they are in a mainstay WWF territory,
he gets a bigger pop than Steve Austin when he comes out and eats a few
turnbuckles.  This is a fun match, as
Lawler and Steele both use foreign objects and Lawler teases doing a moonsault,
which if he did it might have made this a **** match.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much action because
Steele gets tired of seeing Lawler do his phantom foreign object trick and gets
caught using a real one.
In the second
hour, Ross and Lawler take over commentary duties
.
Cactus Jack beats
“The Road Dogg” Jesse James (w/Billy Gunn) by disqualification when Gunn
interferes at 2:10:
The Outlaws go for the cheap heat by wearing New York
Rangers jerseys.  Before the match, Dude
Love morphs into Mankind on the Titantron, who really should be in the hospital
after getting locked in a freezer last week. 
Mankind morphs into Cactus Jack and that’s who is coming for the Outlaws
in this match with a barbed wire baseball bat as the crowd goes wild and chants
“ECW.”  Cactus takes a nasty chair shot
from James, but quickly rallies to hit a double-arm DDT, prompting the
interference.  Lawler is apoplectic about
that because all of the weapons used didn’t bring about a disqualification,
which is a justified view.
After the match,
Cactus fights the Outlaws by the entrance and out of a crate, which has been
sitting there all night, comes Chainsaw Charlie, which was so stupid it
cannot be put into words.  If Terry Funk
popped out of the box or, as Lawler mentioned, Leatherface, this would’ve been
much better.  The smart fans in the
audience quickly realize it’s Funk and start chanting “Terry.” As it is,
Charlie runs off the Outlaws with his crazy chainsaw antics.
Call
1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck
contest!  It’ll cost you $1.99 or you can
send a postcard to Devon, Pennsylvania.
Kelly interviews
Sable, who will be in the next RAW magazine and she says she wants to give fans
a preview of what’s in the magazine, but before she can unveil a swimsuit, Marc
Mero comes out and sets up a chair saying that he wants to see the show.  When Kelly tells Mero to calm down, Mero
calls him a third string announcer and gives him a low blow.  Tom Brandi runs out when Mero berates Sable,
but eats a TKO on the chair.  Mero then
chokes Brandi with parts of Sable’s RAW magazine.  It’s unfortunate that Mero’s ring work was
awful at this point because he was tearing it up with this character and it was
the most entertaining he had been in years.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear about the British Bulldog’s future, or lack thereof.
The Headbangers,
the Disciples of Apocalypse, Flash Funk, and Scott Taylor come to the ring and
call out Kane to get revenge.  However,
shortly after Kane comes down, the Undertaker makes an appearance and helps
Kane clear the ring.  The Undertaker then
leaves, which causes him to be booed, but it’s an excellent piece of
storytelling.
Hendrix hypes the
Madison Square Garden show again
.
Cole interviews
WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws, who say that they aren’t concerned
about facing the Legion of Doom at the Royal Rumble because Chainsaw Charlie is
trying to kill them.  The interview ends
with Charlie cutting through a locker room door and the Outlaws flee.
Jim Cornette
comments on the state of wrestling in 1997 and says it is awful, indicting all
of the major companies, including the WWF. 
He doesn’t care for DX, Sable, and the New World Order.  He complains about a lack of wrestling,
living in Connecticut, and the Internet. 
Cornette says he might bring some tradition back to the WWF, thereby
laying the groundwork for bringing in his NWA faction.  A good rant, but Cornette’s view of
traditional wrestling wasn’t going to fly in 1998.
Steve Austin
giving a Stone Cold Stunner to Santa Claus is the Sony Playstation Slam of the
Week.
Sunny comes down
with her photo spread in RAW magazine and gives it to a young fan.  I’m sure his mother really loved that.
Ross announces
that the WWF has begun negotiations with Mike Tyson to participate at
WrestleMania XIV.  The crowd boos that
and Lawler mentions how Vince McMahon talking to Mike Tyson
threatens global security.
A video package
chronicles Owen Hart’s return to the WWF.
WWF Championship
Match:  Owen Hart beats “The Heartbreak
Kid” Shawn Michaels (Champion w/Chyna) by disqualification when Triple H breaks
a crutch over Owen’s head at 7:47 shown:
Interestingly, Earl Hebner is the referee for this match
and Michaels humorously mocks a fan telling Owen to look behind him to avoid a
flying axe handle.  Owen dominates the
early going until Chyna trips him.  Owen
sells a sleeper spot really well, panicking when it gets put on and trying to
punch his way towards the ropes.  Owen
runs through his usual spots for near-falls and the crowd becomes unglued when
he catches Shawn with an enziguri and applies the Sharpshooter.  However, Triple H, who came down to the
ringside a few minutes into the match interferes and Michaels keeps the title.  Looking back, Owen should’ve gotten the title
here for two weeks and then dropped it back to Michaels before the Royal
Rumble.  It would’ve given them two weeks
to hype a rematch and would have allowed them to give Owen a trial run as
champion.  The crowds were really into
his “lone Hart” act upon his return, but when he was shuffled back down to the
midcard that aura disappeared.  Rating: 
***¾
After the match,
Triple H whacks Owen with his other crutch, thereby transitioning his match
with Michaels into a feud between them.
The Final Report Card:  This was a fantastic episode of RAW.  It would’ve been better for Shawn
Michaels-Owen Hart to headline a pay-per-view, but for political reasons this
was the best that we were going to get.  The
crowd was hot for everything on this show and the show also set up a lot of
great storylines for 1998.  Austin is
heading into the Royal Rumble as a wrecking machine, D-Generation X is angering
everyone in the company and stirring the pot, the Undertaker continues to
refuse to face Kane, who in turn is destroying the roster, Cactus Jack is
waging war against the New Age Outlaws, and the Rock is slowly becoming one of
the most entertaining heels in the company. 
Coupled with the talents of Owen Hart, Taka Michinoku, Terry Funk, Ken
Shamrock and others it is not surprising that the company soon overtook WCW,
whose main event scene was growing stagnant. 
This show also gave lots of hope to loyal WWF fans because the 3.6
rating was the highest ever for a RAW episode that went head-to-head with Nitro
up to this point and it was a significant improvement over the 2.1 rating that
the company drew for the first RAW of 1997.
With 1997 now out of the way, what would you
like to see reviewed next on the blog? 
Other writers seem to have WCW covered, but I have a large collection of
old footage that I taped, so I have 1993-1999 RAW’s, old Saturday Night’s Main
Events, the old Coliseum Video “Best Of’s”, Action Zone seasons, 1991-1992 Prime Time Wrestling, Superstars
1994-1997, 1995-1997 USWA, and 1997-1998 Shotgun Saturday Night.  Just post below and
whatever seems to get the most votes we will move forward with.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.6 (vs. 4.6 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up