What the World Was Watching: WrestleMania XV

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

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

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

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

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

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 15, 1999

A video package recaps the tensions building between the Rock and Paul Wight, whose nickname has been changed to “The Big Show” instead of the “The Big Nasty.”  We are also reminded that the Undertaker is going after Vince McMahon.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from San Jose, California.

WWF Champion The Rock opens the show and he tells Steve Austin that he will prove his status as “The Great One” at WrestleMania.  He demands that Vince McMahon come out and prove to him that the Big Show is not working with Austin.  McMahon complies and says that “Dwayne” needs a reality check for being ungrateful for all that McMahon has given him.  He says that three generations of his family have looked after the Rock’s ancestors and that Paul Wight is not as quick to understand the existing agreement.  Wight comes out and demands to know what McMahon is talking about, threatening he and the Rock.  McMahon does not kindly to that, leading Wight to manhandle him into a corner to get his point across.  McMahon collects himself and books the Rock and Wight to team up to face Mankind and Steve Austin, thereby making this a preview of WrestleMania.  The Rock and Wight shake hands to end the segment at McMahon’s behest.

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 8, 1999

A video package chronicles Steve Austin attacking the Rock on Sunday Night Heat and Paul Wight not trying to save the Rock from the assault.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are calling the action and they are live from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 1, 1999

A video package recaps the Undertaker’s recent threats against Vince McMahon, culminating in the Undertaker burning a teddy bear at the end of last week’s RAW.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Cleveland, Ohio.

The Corporation comes out and Vince McMahon discusses how the audience does not understand his capacity to love.  He fires Kane for losing the inferno match to the Undertaker last week and has orderlies come down to send Kane to the insane asylum.  However, Chyna comes to Kane’s aid and they fight them off.  Chyna tells McMahon that she can control Kane and asks for Kane to be booked against Steve Austin, with Kane’s job on the line.  McMahon counters by also putting Chyna’s job on the line.  Mankind then joins the festivities and volunteers to referee the Steve Austin-Kane match to prove himself worthy of refereeing the title match at WrestleMania XV.  McMahon agrees on the condition that Mankind is able to defeat the Undertaker on tonight’s show (this is later clarified in the broadcast to mean that McMahon will consider Mankind for the role at WrestleMania based on how the match goes).  The Undertaker’s voice then comes on via the loudspeakers and he says that he has already told McMahon what he is going to take from him.

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What the World Was Watching: Saturday Night Raw – February 13, 1999

Even though it is the height of the Attitude Era, RAW was still being pre-empted by the Westminster Dog Show.  As a result, this is Saturday Night Raw. At least it is in Skydome and that is always a cool visual.

A video package recaps the Austin-McMahon feud from the Royal Rumble up to last week’s show.

Michael Cole and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  This is the “go home” show for St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 18, 1999

-Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Beaumont, Texas.  This is the go home show for the Royal Rumble.

Cole is in the ring to interview Steve Austin, but Austin just turns it into a single man segment as he rips the microphone out of Cole’s hands.  This is just a generic “build promo” for the Rumble, with Austin recapping a month’s worth of storylines about how he will be the first entrant, Vince McMahon will be the second entrant, and that all twenty-nine men will want to throw him out so that they can receive $100,000 from Vince.

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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 Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 21, 1998

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Neutral