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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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 15, 1999

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A video package recaps the Rock winning the WWF title in a ladder match against Mankind on last week’s show.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are taped from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Vince McMahon comes out to hype tonight’s Inferno Match between the Undertaker and Kane.  He welcomes Paul Wight to the ring, who is booked to be the guest referee at WrestleMania.  Cole is trying to get Wight over as “The Big Nasty,” so I guess it is good that “The Big Show” name was chosen instead.  WWF Champion The Rock also comes out, quickly getting into a verbal confrontation with Wight, telling him to “Know his role.”  McMahon’s efforts at playing peacemaker get nowhere until Mankind marches onto the stage and volunteers to referee the WrestleMania main event, as well as referee a Rock-Wight encounter tonight.  Wight then proceeds to challenge the Rock to a match, which the Rock gladly accepts and he says he will put the WWF title on the line too.

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

A series of narrated photographs recaps last night’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre pay-per-view.

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

Commissioner Shawn Michaels comes out and welcomes out the participants in the WrestleMania main event:  WWF Champion Mankind and Steve Austin.  Before anything can be said between them, Vince McMahon interrupts, wearing a neck brace and selling his beating from Austin the previous night.  McMahon claims to be a broken man and that he wants a fresh start with Austin on the condition that Austin apologizes.  Austin does apologize, but only for beating McMahon more than he intended.  McMahon tells Michaels that people deserve a WWF title rematch between Mankind and the Rock because their match last night ended in a draw so he needs to do his job and book it for tonight.  Mankind says he needs a week to recover, bringing out the Rock, who continues to goad Michaels into booking a title match for this evening.  Mankind decides to take on the Rock after all and to make sure that there is a winner Michaels announces that tonight’s title match will be a ladder match.  After that, McMahon welcomes out Paul Wight, who he says will be the special guest referee of the title match at WrestleMania.  Austin simply flips him off from the ring to end the segment.

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ECW on Sci-Fi #6 07/18/2006

Saturday Night’s Main Event gets recapped. Sadly it’s one of the ones from 2006.

Big Show and Great Khali teamed up to beat up The Undertaker so Undi’s making an appearance tonight against Show. Well the show’s only an hour-long so if he does that promo about leaving him in the desert the match will only twenty seconds.

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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 – January 11, 1999

It has been a long time since the World Was Watching appeared here on the Blog.  That was partly due to some career moves on my part and just a general lack of time.  That is solved for the time being, though, so we will head back into 1999.  The last recap ended – somewhat fittingly – with Mankind’s upset title victory over the Rock.  The Road Dogg also defended his Hardcore title against Al Snow out in the snow on the last show and the tasteless Terri Runnels pregnancy angle began with D-Lo Brown.  Needless to say, 1999 will be a combination of some memorable moments and some really wacky Russo booking.

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

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What the World Was Watching: Rock Bottom – In Your House

So after a three
months absence, I have returned so that the Blog can finish up looking back at
1998 when the World Wrestling Federation finally turned the tide against World
Championship Wrestling.  When we left off,
the Rock was tearing it up as the newly crowned corporate heel champion, but he
has Mankind in hot pursuit of the title that he thought was in the bag at
Survivor Series.  Steve Austin was still
feuding with the Undertaker, something that segments of the audience are
growing tired of, and the New Age Outlaws teased joining the Corporation before
realigning with D-Generation X.  The
Corporation still has Commissioner Shawn Michaels in their pocket, though.  And Debra McMichael, newly arrived from WCW,
has reunited with Jeff Jarrett, ignoring the fact that he called her a “dumb
blonde” when he returned to the company in 1997
.

WWF Champion The
Rock shows up at Planet Hollywood in Vancouver, British Columbia.  He promises that future pay-per-views will be
named after him and tells us to enjoy the action.  The Rock getting a pay-per-view named after
him fit nicely into existing storylines as it constituted a reward for going
heel.
Michael Cole and
Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Vancouver,
British Columbia, Canada.  Ross is absent
due to his mother’s recent passing.  The
opening is where Cole says that there is two tons of dirt near the grave and
the tombstone weighs “in excess of three thousand pounds,” thereby serving as
great fodder for recappers of the future.
D-Lo Brown &
Mark Henry (w/PMS) defeat Supply & Demand (w/The Hos) when Henry pins Venis
after a splash at 5:58:
The WWF should have done more with the Supply &
Demand tag team of Val Venis and the Godfather since the tag division was
relatively weak at this point in the company’s history (and would remain so
until the summer of 1999).  The “Pretty
Mean Sisters” faction of Terri Runnels and Jacqueline align themselves with
D-Lo and Henry at this show, although the reasons for it are not
explained.  D-Lo draws a lot of heat,
with the crowd showering him with “D-Lo sucks!” chants on several occasions.  The hos and PMS get into a predictable confrontation
on the floor, creating a distraction that allows Jacqueline to pull Venis’s
tights down and produce the finish.  This
was standard RAW fare that was made better by the hot crowd.  Rating:  **¼
Footage of Mankind
attacking the Rock earlier in the day when he was being interviewed by Michael
Cole in a skybox.  The Rock’s ribs are
allegedly hurt, but he is willing to fight against doctor’s orders so that he
can keep the title.
The Headbangers
beat Kurrgan & Golga (w/Giant Silva & Luna Vachon) when Mosh pins Golga
after the Stage Dive at 6:52:
Cole tells us that the Headbangers “defrocked” Luna by
cutting her hair on a recent episode of RAW, which is not the appropriate use
of that word.  That does not keep him
from continuing to use it, though.  These
two teams had been feuding on RAW, with the Headbangers turning on the Oddities
and then getting the Insane Clown Posse to defect to their side.  The Oddities were seemingly okay with this
defection, though, because they are still using the ICP’s engineered theme music.  If this was booked as a three minute match it
would be acceptable, but it just keeps dragging as the Headbangers can only do
so much with their opponents.  The ending
is botched, with Golga taking forever to run the ropes and ending up too far
away to take the Stage Dive.  Rating: 
¾*
Vince McMahon,
Shane McMahon, and the stooges huddle to discuss how they help the Rock defend
the title tonight.  Patterson suggests
getting hockey equipment and ambushing Mankind. 
Brisco just offers to get Mr. McMahon some coffee, a humorous connection
back to a few months ago when the stooges abandoned McMahon and left him at the
mercy of Steve Austin.
Steve Blackman beats
Owen Hart via count out at 10:28:
The crowd inverts the face-heel dynamic since Owen is a
beloved Canadian.  Cole tells us that
Owen has “perfected” the Sharpshooter, which makes sense when you compare his
Sharpshooter with the Rock’s version.  I
await him telling us that Owen was the “architect” of the Hart family.  This is a bit of a weird bout as both men
trade offense throughout without really building to the proper transitions and
then Owen gets sent chest-first into an exposed turnbuckle and barely sells it.  Blackman gets booed out of the building after
locking Owen into the Sharpshooter, but he gets out and then heads to the
locker room to lose.  Talk about a finish
wiping out ten minutes of hard work.  Rating: 
**½
Vince McMahon
wanders around backstage looking for Mankind. 
He finds the boiler room, which has a “Mankind’s office” sign on the
door that McMahon rips off in disgust. 
He tentatively walks in to negotiate with the Rock’s opponent for the
evening.
The Brood beats
the J.O.B. Squad (w/Head) when Christian pins Scorpio after the Impaler at 9:08:
The Brood gimmick was ahead of its time.  It was seeking to capitalize on the “goth”
look that was all the rage in the late 1990s among jaded youth, but it would
have had more popularity with the Twilight
craze that swept the nation a decade later. 
As another aside, how many stables in wrestling history have had the
hired help go on to have better careers than the leader?  Snow might be over, but the crowd is not
buying into this J.O.B. Squad concept, sitting on their hands for much of this
despite all six guys doing their best to get a reaction.  Cole and Lawler are also disinterested,
debating the merits of Paul McCartney music and Cole insisting that he listens
to “the new stuff.”  After what feels
like an eternity we get to the ending sequence, which has a few cool spots such
as Edge launching off of Gangrel to plancha Al Snow and Bob Holly, but a spot
fest a good match does not make.  Rating: 
**
Mankind and
McMahon continue to negotiate backstage, although we cannot hear what they are
saying.
Striptease
Match:  Goldust beats “Double J” Jeff
Jarrett (w/Debra McMichael) via reverse decision at 8:03:
So the stipulations of this non-PG match are that if
Goldust wins then Debra must strip, but if Jarrett wins Goldust has to
strip.  Knowing Vince, I am surprised
they did not do a swerve, have Goldust lose clean, and then strip to tick of
GLAAD.  The stipulation helps give a dull
match some heat and after Goldust hits Shattered Dreams, Debra smashes Goldust
with a guitar behind the referee’s back. 
Somehow the broken bits of guitar in the ring do not bother the referee
as Jarrett hits the Stroke to seemingly win. 
However, Commissioner Shawn Michaels comes out and reverses the
decision.  Debra strips out of her
business suit, but before she can go further the Blue Blazer interrupts.  What, you really did not think they were
going to go through with this stipulation? 
Rating:  ½*
McMahon leaves the
boiler room and seems to be in a good mood
.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws
(Champions) defeat The Big Bossman & Ken Shamrock (w/Shawn Michaels) when
Billy Gunn pins Ken Shamrock with an inside cradle at 17:06:
The Bossman-Shamrock tag team is often overlooked when
people think of the Attitude Era, but I thought it had some appeal since both guys’
styles complemented each other well.  If
Ross was on commentary he would say that the heat sequence was “deliberate” as Shamrock
and Bossman grind the match to a snail’s pace so they can beat on the Road
Dogg.  In Cole’s third embarrassing error
of the night he refers to the Bossman’s night stick as “a baton.”  Based on how the Outlaws feud with the
Corporation was going it seemed like a given that they would lose the tag team
titles here, thereby giving them a program for the early winter of 1999.  However, although Michaels trips Gunn when he
tries to suplex Shamrock back into the ring, Gunn reverses the cover and the
Outlaws retain.  What really hurt this
match was that during the heat sequence Shamrock and the Bossman never seemed
to have a coherent strategy to work on a body part and they never went for a
cover.  Why would you do that when
wrestling the tag team champions?  Rating: 
A video package recaps
the ongoing Rock-Mankind feud
.
McMahon tells
Shane and the Rock that the contract for the title match will be altered in the
ring and that Mankind just wants witnesses.
After entrances
for the next match, Vince McMahon steps in the ring and makes fun of a hole in
Mankind’s tights.  Mankind says he will
cross out the contract clause that says he gets the title if the Rock cannot
wrestle, but only if McMahon admits that he never heard Mankind submit at the
Survivor Series and do so on his knees. 
McMahon refuses to do so, saying that the Rock heard him submit at
Survivor Series and that was good enough for him, so we end up having our
scheduled title match after all…
WWF Championship
Match:  Mankind beats The Rock (Champion
w/Vince & Shane McMahon) with the Mandible Claw at 13:34:
Mankind’s theme has some awful techno beat as he heads to
the ring.  There was something about
techno beats that the WWF music team could not get away from during this period
as they also tried to do it with parts of the Rock’s theme and had to abandon
that when it also sounded horrid.  They
try to rip off Over the Edge with Vince telling the referee to disqualify Mankind
“for any legitimate reason” after he beats the Rock to a pulp on the arena
floor.  The Rock is also good for comedy
here, taking a headset and cutting a promo on Mankind as he smashes his face
into the commentary table, but then keep it on as Mankind makes a
comeback.  Vince tries to get the referee
to disqualify Mankind after a low blow, but in a shrewd move that Bret Hart
should have done in Montreal, Mankind decks takes out the referee and the
timekeeper.  All of this leads to a new
referee coming in, which makes little sense because the first referee would
have disqualified Mankind at this point for piledriving him, and that produces
some hot near-falls with each man’s signature moves.  A Mandible Claw seems to give Mankind the
title, but McMahon announces after the match that since the Rock never
submitted he cannot lose the championship. 
Did the WWF give a one night contract to Dusty Rhodes with these
finishes?  Fun match once the overbooking
began, but it was not on the same level as their Survivor Series bout.  Rating:  **¾
After the bout,
Mankind puts both McMahons in the Mandible Claw and beats on the stooges, but
eventually Ken Shamrock and the Big Bossman run in to beat him down.
A video package recaps
the Steve Austin-Undertaker feud
.
Buried Alive
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats
The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) at 21:31:
Austin has to win this match to get a slot in the Royal
Rumble per the orders of Vince McMahon. 
That is a classic example of the booking getting too cute because it
basically constituted a spoiler since there was no way Austin was not going to
be in the Rumble match.  In a Buried
Alive match I always wonder why the wrestlers never stay near the grave.  Why go back to the ring, which has more give
to it than concrete and why not use all the shovels and such around the grave
to wear out your opponent?  Wrestling
logic I suppose.  As Austin has noted in
recent years, the stipulation ruined this bout as he and the Undertaker could
only build drama near the grave and it made the match too much of a choking and
punching encounter.  Cole gaffe #4 rears
its ugly head as he refers to “the Royal Rumble tournament” that is on the line
between these two.  And for those
wondering why I am being hard on Cole, I have to think of something to keep me
preoccupied with this match which just meanders all around the arena without
any rhyme or reason to it.  Eventually, Austin
hits a Stunner to send the Undertaker into the grave and walks off.  This allows the Undertaker to get out, but an
explosion out of the grave sends out Kane, who Tombstones the Undertaker back
into the grave and Austin brings out a backhoe. 
However, to really top off this awful match, the backhoe takes forever to
dump dirt on the Undertaker and then takes too long to rake the dirt in.  Austin soon tires of shoveling dirt and drinks
beer, finally being declared the winner. 
Rating:  DUD
The Final Report:  1998 featured several fun WWF pay-per-views,
but this show was not one of them.  As
has been the case for much of the year, the top of the card has to excel to
cover for a deficient midcard and that did not happen here.  If anything, the show had lots of oddly
booked finishes with Mankind going over the Rock but not winning the title, the
Outlaws retaining when it may have made more sense to give the titles over to
the Corporation, and Owen Hart losing in a puzzling count out after a
competitive match.  The Debra stripping
nonsense, Kane popping out of a grave like Michael Myers, and the overbooking
of the title match was Russo in overdrive. 
Yet there were already some danger signs with Russo in the sense that
some of his material was recycling old concepts, such as going back to the Over
the Edge well in the Rock-Mankind match. 
Avoid this show on the Network because the memorable moments of December
1998 happened on RAW.
Attendance: 
20,042
Buyrate: 
0.78 (+0.34 over previous year)

Show Rating: 
Thumbs Down

What the World Was Reading: WWF Magazine – August 2000

by Logan Scisco

The past two weeks we have spent time looking at
alternatives to WWF Magazine.  We return to WWF Magazine this week, looking at the August 2000 issue.  On the cover is someone who Triple H says is
a very unlikely candidate for the Hall of Fame:

Those who followed the product during the Attitude Era
remember that the WWF gradually tried to make Chyna sexier for viewers.  She started as a serious bodyguard in a role
unlike that of any other woman who came before her (or even since), but then
started wearing makeup and by 2000 the WWF was presenting her as more of a
physically gifted, attractive “diva.”
It should also be noted that our managing editor of the
magazine is no longer Kevin Kelly. 
Instead it is a woman named Laura Bryson.  By this point the magazine was a shell of its
former self, at least in my eyes, and the pay-per-view recaps will show that.
In the Letters to the Editor, Dan Hayes writes an angry
letter saying that Lita is not a potential legend since she is just attached to
Essa Rios and is not pursuing a singles title. 
Of course, that would change down the road and by the time this magazine
was on newsstands, Lita had ditched Rios and joined the Hardy Boyz.  A few fans write in how they are fans of
Jacqueline and how awesome she is.  And
Rich Coleman writes an angry letter saying that the WWF is in danger of
“turning soft” because babyfaces like Kane just walk off instead of fight.  It is probably a safe bet that Rich is no
longer a fan of the product today.
This month’s “Tales From the Turnbuckle” breaks down the
three greatest SummerSlam matches of all-time.
If you cannot see the list the selections are:  (1) Undertaker-Mankind from SummerSlam 1996,
(2) Test-Shane McMahon from SummerSlam 1999, and (3) Big Boss Man-Koko B. Ware
from SummerSlam 1988.  Yes, no Ultimate
Warrior-Rick Rude and no Bret Hart-Mr. Perfect. 
The company’s unwillingness to reference wrestlers who were still in WCW
killed this list since that meant no Bret, no Hulk Hogan, no Randy Savage, and
no Scott Hall.  Evidently, Big
Bossman-Koko was a historic bout because “the contrasting styles of these two
Superstars set the tone for many of the great SummerSlam matches that would
follow.”  So next time you enjoy your
favorite SummerSlam match, give proper credit to the Bossman and Koko.  Oh, and Frankie too!
Then we get an illustration of the haircuts available in
the WWF Barber Shop:
And this month’s magazine is pitching your ability to get
some WWF cards that are twenty-two carat gold. 
Enjoy seeing Billy Gunn in all his glory, trying to avoid submitting to
the Rock in a headlock!  Each card will
cost you $9.95 (plus 95 cents of shipping and handling).
The “Rookies and Legends” column is still going strong,
profiling Bull Buchanan.
Buchanan was initially brought in as a member of the
Truth Commission in 1997 before returning a few years later as a partner of the
Big Bossman.  He would then be part of
the Right to Censor and had a brief partnership with John Cena before eventually
departing the company.  The only
highlight of his run was jobbing to Crash Holly in an upset at the 2000 King of
the Ring.  He was also briefly a tag team
champion with the “Goodfather,” but tag team title runs become a blur for me
after 1999.
We are then treated to a list of five things we will
never find for auction from “SteviE-bay” (in reference to Stevie Richards):
By this point, the magazine had a “Face2Face” feature
that fills the part of the magazine formerly occupied by Vic Venom’s “The Bite”
in the mid-1990s.  It is a debate column
where Aaron Williams and Laura take opposite stands on an issue.  The issue this month is Vince McMahon.
Aaron rips McMahon for cheating and becoming an “impotent
person.”  The comment about Vince having
an Ivy League education is something that I do not think is actually true, as
Linda earned her degree from East Carolina University and Vince was around her
at the time.  Laura defends Vince as “in
tune to the reality of the world we live in,” something that could not be said
of the booking of the company now.  She
also refers to Vince as an American hero, thereby explaining Stephanie’s 9/11
reference on Smackdown! in 2001.
It seems that every issue of WWF Magazine that I have reviewed so far, except for the June 1995
edition, had a piece about Chyna.  This
one is no different, as she gets attention in an article called “Power Behind
the Throne.”
I guess this is tied in with the “Chyna’s Secret” heading
on the magazine, but the story does not really talk about a secret.  It recaps her partnerships with D-Generation
X, Kane, and Eddie Guerrero.  Evidently
she also had an alliance with the Kat sometime in the Attitude Era, but I do
not recall that at all.  In light of
Triple H’s podcast, one thing stands out: 
“We [Triple H and Chyna] went our own ways, but that does not rule out
our paths crossing again.”  It definitely
seems like Triple H had put the kibosh on any plans to have their paths cross at
a future Hall of Fame ceremony.  Still,
though, why tell readers you are going to talk about “Chyna’s Secret” and then
just write an article that merely reiterates what we have heard about Chyna in
magazine pieces in the years up to this point: 
she has worked with lots of great superstars and knows their strengths
and weaknesses.
Remember the “Got Milk?” campaign?  Steve Austin is here to remind us!
A career retrospective piece is then provided for the
Undertaker
In recapping the Undertaker’s big foes, Jimmy Snuka is
even added to the list.  Poor Jimmy is
portrayed just like Kamala, the Giant Gonzalez, and Yokozuna:  he wanted to bury the Undertaker’s soul and
“erase his very being.”  And here I
thought that all Snuka wanted to do was win a WrestleMania match in Los
Angeles!  This is a pretty blah piece,
just telling educated fans everything they already know about the
Undertaker.  And this piece does not even
talk about the Undertaker’s new biker persona!
The late Crash Holly gets profiled in this issue as well,
as writer Mike Fazioli calls him “the king of Hardcore.”
Crash is best known for defending the Hardcore title on a
24/7 basis, which led to him being called the “Houdini of Hardcore.”  If you ever try to look at the history of
that title it will make your head hurt as the 24/7 rule led to about three to
four title changes on every house show. 
We are informed that Crash’s toughness comes from his cousin Hardcore
Holly, who used to beat him up when he would get angry.  After all, look what Bob did to Matt
Cappotelli on Tough Enough!
We then get our customary, somewhat uncomfortable profile
of Roots Genoa that we are bound to come across in a WWF Magazine of this time period
It highlights how Benoit has his sights set on becoming
WWF champion even though there are concerns by the WWF promotion and marketing
teams that he might do something big since he is not as charismatic as other
superstars.  The article even draws a parallel
about how competing in the WWF is more difficult than the past since Benoit
cannot be like a wrestler “in the old days who could coast defeating perennial
losers in easy televised matches” between big bouts.  Our big eerie line from this well-written
piece by Keith Elliot Greenberg:  “Most
likely, their [the WWF’s] efforts to convert him into a cut-out media darling
will be unsuccessful…”
We get a listing of the toughest ten superstars in the
WWF.  The list is purely kayfabed as
there is no mention of Steve Blackman on this list.
Kurt Angle is criminally underrated, but he is given his
ranking because he is not intimidating enough. 
Tazz has to be in the top three due to his gimmick.
This month’s interview piece is with Terri, who was going
by the nick name of “She-Devil” around this time.
She makes clear that she likes to be independent,
although it is okay for men to buy her things. 
She also says that she has no interest in pursuing a singles title and
that she considers Bubba Ray a “bully” for putting her through a table.  I am concerned that she says Jerry Lawler is
her “kind of guy,” though.  Dustin should
have submitted this as evidence in the divorce proceedings for custody!
And when I talked about the pay-per-view recaps getting
smaller and smaller, I meant it.  Look
what we have been reduced to in the 2000s:
How can you adequately recap a match in less than three
sentences?  This is really egregious for
the Iron Man Match between Triple H and the Rock, which gets less than a
paragraph.
Remember to drink your milk!
And we close the magazine with a Stevie Richards column
entitled “Gettin’ Heat.”
In this column, Richards traditionally made cracks at a
WWF superstar.  This month, though, he
attacks himself for stealing other wrestlers personas when he came into the
company.  He says that he wishes he
sought out Shawn Michaels for advice and he writes him a letter asking for
guidance.  I will bet that Michaels never
answered it.

Of all the magazines that have been covered by this
column this was the worst.  The only
redeeming column was Greenberg’s on Benoit with the rest constituting very
boring, dry reads.  The magazine lost a
lot of its creativity without Russo or Kelly at the helm.  Next week we will move forward two years and
recap the April 2002 issue of WWF
Magazine
, which features the New World Order on the cover. 

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

by Logan Scisco

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

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

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

What the World Was Watching: 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.
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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