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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What the World Was Watching: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House

So after being away for several months due to some work obligations, “What the World Was Watching” returns by picking up where we left off in 1999.  The Steve Austin-Vince McMahon rivalry is continuing and they are set to do battle in a steel cage match where if Austin loses then he surrenders his WrestleMania title shot.  The Undertaker is busy with his Ministry of Darkness nonsense and Mankind is keeping the Rock busy before WrestleMania.

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

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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 – February 1, 1999

Footage of Mankind defeating the Rock for the WWF title during Halftime Heat is shown.  There was a spoiler for that match since this show was taped nearly a week before that match aired.

Shane McMahon tells the Corporation that Vince McMahon is on a separate assignment in Texas, so he lets them know that he is in charge.  Test, Ken Shamrock, and the Big Bossman have no idea where Kane is.

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

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 25, 1999

Pictures and audio excerpts recap last night’s Royal Rumble match.

Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler are in the booth from Phoenix, Arizona.

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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: 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

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 14, 1998

Pictures and
commentary from last night’s Rock Bottom pay-per-view are aired.
Michael Cole and
Jerry “The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Tacoma,
Washington
.

D-Generation X
comes out dressed as the Corporation as Cole is so nice to tell us that all of
this is supposed to be funny over and over again.  Jason Sensation also makes a return as
Commissioner Shawn Michaels.  Aside from
Sensation, the only entertaining part of this segment is X-Pac’s imitation of
Shamrock where he screams about how he is in the zone and how its “five knuckle
shuffle time!”  After this long segment
comes to a close, Shawn Michaels, the Big Bossman, Ken Shamrock, and the Rock
walk out.  Michaels books a rematch of
last night’s tag team title match between the New Age Outlaws and Shamrock and
the Bossman.  Michaels takes a dig at
Triple H as being a “midcarder for life,” but Triple H goads the Rock into
putting the WWF title on the line in the main event.
Vince McMahon
gives a pep talk to the Corporation in the locker room
, ending it with a promise to go after Kane
since Kane is deemed as one of the primary reasons Steve Austin qualified for
the Royal Rumble at Rock Bottom.
Opening
Contest:  Supply & Demand (w/The Hos)
defeat Edge & Christian (w/Gangrel) when Val Venis pins Christian with a
fisherman’s suplex at 2:34:
The Godfather was beginning to get the “Pimpin’ ain’t
easy” line over at this point, adding to the number of catchphrases by the
company’s stars.  The Brood is so weird
that the Godfather does not bother to give them any hos.  Edge and Christian make one of their first
appearances as a tag team as the company was realizing that they could put on
better matches than Edge and Gangrel.  Or
maybe the company realized that if you are going to bill Edge and Christian as
brothers that it was nonsensical to not have them for a tag team.  This is just a quick TV bout, typical of the
era, with the ending being messy as Venis enters the ring too late after a
blind tag and Edge does not even bother trying to break up the final pin.   With the Brood’s gimmick you would think
Russo would find more for these guys to do, but they keep losing to other
midcard acts week after week.
After the match,
Gangrel says that there is going to be a bloodbath the next time that the Brood
appears.
Kevin Kelly
interviews Steve Blackman who says he will unmask the Blue Blazer tonight.  For a guy who is a legitimate bad ass like
Blackman, it is a shame that he cannot cut a convincing promo.
Goldust beats The
Blue Blazer via disqualification when Jeff Jarrett interferes at 2:10:
This is a revenge match from the previous evening as the
Blue Blazer kept Debra McMichael from finishing her striptease at Rock
Bottom.  As several have commented in my
reviews it is tough to watch this Blue Blazer angle when you know how it is
going to end in six months.  This match
hardly gets going before Jeff Jarrett interferes to break up Shattered Dreams.  Steve Blackman lives up to his promise to
also do a run-in and he does unmask the Blazer as Owen.  Why not do the unmasking on
pay-per-view?  In a humorous bit, Jarrett
tosses a black cloth over Owen’s head as if he is too ugly to be seen after the
unmasking.
Mark Henry gets
ready for a match backstage
.
The New Age
Outlaws and the Big Bossman and Ken Shamrock are prevented from having a
confrontation backstage by WWF officials
.
Mark Henry &
D-Lo Brown (w/PMS) beats Scorpio & Bob Holly (w/Al Snow, Duane Gill &
The Blue Meanie) when Henry pins Holly after a powerslam at 3:00:
This might be the RAW debut of the “Sexual Chocolate”
theme song, although it is not a great tag team entrance theme since it does
not work for D-Lo.  Before the match,
Henry talks about his date with Chyna and how it got intimate, with D-Lo giving
fantastic facial expressions throughout. 
The Chyna angle is where Henry started to show the personality that made
him an effective superstar as he participated in some ridiculous segments that
were meant to discourage him and get him to quit.  The whole point of this match is to keep
building D-Lo and Henry, as well as PMS, and the JOB Squad are manhandled and
outwitted.  Rating:  *
Mankind’s attack
on the Rock before the Rock Bottom pay-per-view is the Acclaim Sports Slam of
the Week
.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  Ken Shamrock &
The Big Bossman (w/Shawn Michaels) defeat The New Age Outlaws (Champions) when
Shamrock makes Billy Gunn submit to the ankle lock to win the titles at 6:45:
One fan has a big “Clinton 3:16” sign near the front of
the ring that cracks me up since that is not something that you would expect to
see at a wrestling show.  Unlike last
night’s pay-per-view, the challengers focus on a body part, targeting Billy
Gunn’s left knee after Shamrock smashes a chair into it.  The Road Dogg also gets a chair to the back
and a Bossman slam, which leads to a second hot tag to Gunn, which is a bad
idea since he is fighting on one leg. 
Still, it takes a Michaels night stick shot to the back of the head to
put the Outlaws down for the count.  So
why could we not have just done this finish last night?  Rating:  **
Vince and Shane
McMahon walk out to conduct the drawing of Steve Austin’s number for the Royal
Rumble.  Vince says that he will get
revenge against Kane and Mankind tonight and he books them to face each other
in a no holds barred match.  In the
subsequent drawing, Austin is awarded #1, but you see, the drawing is rigged as
it appears that all of the numbers in the tumbler are #1.  To make Austin’s job of winning the Rumble
even more difficult, Vince also promises to give the superstar that tosses
Austin over the top rope $100,000 (which will be taken from one of Shane’s
trust funds).  As a final announcement,
Vince says that another participant in the Rumble match, someone who is the
only person that “could save Ted Turner’s WCW,” will be him.  Shane proceeds to draw a number out of the
tumbler for Vince and he gets #30. 
Christening his new theme song, Vince says there is “no chance in hell”
that Austin will win the Rumble.  Mankind
then appears on the Titantron from the boiler room and challenges Vince to a
match instead of facing Kane, but Vince does not accept.
Get your Jesse
“the Body” Ventura videotape!  You know,
the guy that the WWF tried to purge from its history until he won the Minnesota
gubernatorial election!
Debra McMichael’s
striptease at Rock Bottom is the Glover Rewind segment.
Vince huddles with
stooges about what to do with Mankind until deciding that he is better off
coming up with his own solution for the problem.  Gerald Brisco is still offering to get him
coffee
.
Guitar on a Pole
Match:  “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra
McMichael) pins Steve Blackman after Owen Hart hits Blackman with a guitar at
3:33:
Russo’s pole fetish finally finds its way to television
here.  It would have made more sense to
book this as Jarrett-Goldust since Goldust is the one that got blasted with a
guitar last night at Rock Bottom.  Debra
starts stripping to distract Blackman and allow Jarrett to get the guitar, but
then we also get a ref bump after Blackman avoids getting hit with it.  Then, Owen Hart runs in with a guitar and
hits Blackman to give his partner in crime a victory.  This match was like a sick preview of what
Russo would do to WCW a couple of years later. 
Rating:  *
Tiger Ali Singh
calls the stooges into his locker room where “Bloodbath” has been written on
the wall.  He said that he does not want
to compete tonight under these conditions.
Vince tells Shane
that he is going to face Mankind tonight, but he will do it his way.
The next match is
booked as Gangrel-Tiger Ali Singh, but it never gets started as Tiger tries to
flee but the Broods prevents him from doing so, beat him down, and pour blood
on him.  You have to use your imagination
for all of this, though, because it takes place in the darkness of the Brood’s
entrance.
No Holds Barred
Match:  Mankind and Kane wrestle to a
no-contest at 4:28:
In this match, Lawler claims that the steps weigh 150
pounds, but last year’s TLCS pay-per-view told me they were over 500
pounds.  Poor Art Donovan would be so
confused.  This match is more about
angles as Mankind and Kane brawl for a few minutes before Vince comes out and
asks Mankind to come into the parking lot to face him in a street fight.  Then, while we are away at a commercial
break, Ken Shamrock and the Big Bossman beatdown Kane so that orderlies can
take him to a mental institution. 
Meanwhile, Mankind destroys Vince in the parking lot before the Rock
shows up and Rock Bottoms Mankind on the hood of a car.  Rating:  *
WWF Championship
Match:  The Rock (Champion w/Shawn
Michaels) defeats Triple H (w/Chyna) when Test interferes at 10:49:
Seeing the Rock and Michaels by each other just makes you
wish that they would have had a match at some point.  This match shows how wild crowds used to be
as people mob Triple H during his entrance when he gets close to the guardrail
and some fans even try to prevent the Rock from attacking Triple H near the
ringside barrier on the floor.  The Rock
is bit too liberal with the chinlocks in this one, but one could say the same
for Triple H’s knee attacks in this era. 
In true WWE style, they kick out of each other’s big moves, but when the
referee is distracted Test makes his in-ring debut by nailing Triple H with a pumphandle
slam and helping the Rock retain.  Rating: 
***
The Final Report:  Despite the absence of Steve Austin this show
effectively framed some of the big angles heading into the Royal Rumble
pay-per-view.  The matches were really abbreviated,
something that could be expected of WWF television at the time, but the main
event was solid since the Rock and Triple H usually had fantastic
chemistry.  On the basis of the main
event and the entertaining McMahon segments, this show garners a thumbs up.
Monday Night War Rating:  5.2 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

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 – September 14, 1998

Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from San Jose, California.  We are finally back on Monday nights, so this
should be a better show.

As we come on the air,
WWF Champion Steve Austin walks to the ring. 
Vince McMahon, Kane, and the Undertaker are already in the ring.  McMahon gloats about how Kane or the
Undertaker will get the WWF title off of Austin’s waist and announces a new
stipulation to the Breakdown triple threat in that the Undertaker and Kane are
prohibited from pinning each other. 
Finally, McMahon pushes Austin too far on the mic and Austin decks
him.  However, the Undertaker and Kane lay
Austin out with a double chokeslam.  In a
hilarious bit, McMahon mimics Austin’s jaw jacking and rolls over in glee on
the canvas.  The Undertaker reminds
Austin that it’s nothing personal, it’s just business.  Before heading to the locker room, McMahon
books Austin to defend his title against Ken Shamrock in tonight’s main event.  This was a really good opening promo by
McMahon that established the logic behind the Breakdown main event.  1 for
1
Get your Triple H
Stridex poster!  This was a really long
promotion because they have been airing these commercials forever.
Opening
Contest:  “Double J” Jeff Jarrett
(w/Southern Justice) beats The Road Dogg (w/Billy Gunn & X-Pac) after
hitting him with a guitar at 3:08:
Here’s that Jarrett-Roadie blowoff we’ve wanted to see
since 1995!  The WWF actually remembers
that and show some old footage.  This is
a fast paced match that benefits from a hot crowd.  Somehow, Jarrett is not disqualified when
Southern Justice pull Road Dogg out of the ring and start beating him down.  When X-Pac and Gunn assist their comrade,
Jarrett hits his opponent with the neck of the guitar to win.  I think they had a malfunction with the guitar
since it was already broken when Jarrett went to use it.  Honestly, hitting people with guitars is one
of the best things Jarrett ever added to his gimmick.  Rating:  ** (2 for 2)
Footage of Ken
Shamrock challenging Steve Austin on Sunday Night Heat is shown.
The Road Dogg is
shown being helped into an ambulance backstage.
Michael Cole
interviews the Rock, who tells the Nation to stay backstage.  You see, the Nation is falling apart and the
Rock is gradually going his own way.  His
promo on the previous Saturday RAW constituted a de facto face turn.
The Rock pins
Kane (w/The Undertaker) after Mankind hits Kane with a sledgehammer at 6:10:
The atmosphere for this match is electric, with the crowd
going crazy for all of the Rock’s trademark spots.  The referee gets bumped at the five minute
mark and misses the People’s Elbow, allowing the Undertaker to interfere.  However, when the Undertaker is beating up
the Rock, Mankind makes a surprise return and clocks Kane with a sledgehammer
and that’s enough to put the Rock over. 
The crowd treated this outcome like a WrestleMania main event.  Rating:  *** (3 for 3)
After the match,
Kane can’t sit up on the canvas.  The
Undertaker challenges Mankind to a match later tonight.
Michael Cole
interviews Mankind, who accepts the Undertaker’s challenge for later
tonight.  He smashes one of the RAW is
War barrels with a sledgehammer
.
Dustin Runnels is
in the ring and welcomes the crowd to hell. 
Val Venis walks out and introduces the crowd to his new film “The
Preacher’s Wife,” which sees him in bed with Terri Runnels.  Runnels falls to his knees upon seeing the
footage and Venis tells him that trait must run in the family.
A vignette for
Steven Regal, a so-called “Real Man’s Man,” is shown.  He is chopping down a whole forest with an
axe.
Intercontinental
Championship Match:  Triple H (Champion
w/Chyna & X-Pac) defeats Owen Hart (w/Mark Henry) with a Pedigree at 5:24:
After our usual exchange of moves between these two
shenanagins begin to happen as Mark Henry pulls Chyna off the ring apron and
X-Pac attacks him in response.  That distraction
allows Triple H to Pedigree a distracted Owen and beat him for what seems like
the hundredth time this year.  What?  You expected a different outcome?  Rating:  **½ (4 for 4)
After the match,
Mark Henry gets on the house mic and challenges X-Pac and Chyna to a handicap
match for later in the show.  He promises
to prevail just like he did this past Sunday!
Mankind is shown
tossing things into a dumpster backstage on his way to the ring.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your “Down Where?  Down Here!” DX
shirt for $25 (plus $6 shipping & handling)!  I’m sure that lots of kids were forced to
take that shirt off when they came to school wearing it.
The Undertaker (w/Kane)
wrestles Mankind to a no contest at 7:15:
Both men bring sledgehammers to the ring, but the referee
does not allow for their use so that comes to naught.  A wild brawl ensues with the use of the
objects in the dumpster that Mankind wheels to the ring and allowing Mankind to
do a few ghastly bumps.  The Undertaker
Tombstones Mankind on a chair, but wants to smash him with a sledgehammer
instead.  However, before the Undertaker
can deliver a death blow, the Rock pops out the dumpster, takes out the
Undertaker’s knee, and throws Mankind into the crowd to save him from a further
beating.  This was fun while it lasted
and it is awesome to see the first interactions between the Rock and
Mankind.  Rating:  ***  (5 for 5)
Edge wrestles
Gangrel to a double count out at 3:34:
I am really surprised that they did not save a match like
this for the pay-per-view.  Even though
they are not given a lot of time, both men pack a lot into this one and Edge
takes a nasty bump on the floor when Gangrel sidesteps a plancha.  Gangrel follows up with his Impaler DDT on
the floor and both men end up counted out. 
After the bell, Gangrel tells Edge that his blood flows through his
veins.  Yeah, this should’ve been on
pay-per-view and been given about ten minutes. 
Rating:  **½ (6 for 6)
Handicap
Match:  Mark Henry (w/D-Lo Brown) beats X-Pac
& Chyna (w/Triple H) when he pins Chyna after a powerslam at 3:54:
Triple H mocks Henry before the match by walking around
like a gorilla.  I wonder if they’ll be
editing out that footage on the Network. 
Come to think of it, maybe that’s what Xavier Woods stable is up to.  Henry beats the hell out of X-Pac and the
crowd becomes unglued when Chyna steps into the ring.  Seriously, she gets a Rock-type pop for
spearing Henry.  However, Henry plants
Chyna (seriously, he gets some great torque) with a powerslam when she dives
off the ropes and picks up the win.  The
road agent that booked this deserves a prize. 
Rating:  **¼ (7 for 7)
Highlights of the Howard Finkel-Harvey
Wippleman tuxedo match in 1995 are shown.
Evening Gown
Match:  Sable beats Jacqueline (w/Marc
Mero) at 1:44
The crowd is more into this “match” than any divas
contest you will see today.  The camera
has to pan wide as Jacqueline teeters on the verge of a wardrobe malfunction
every time Sable tosses her around.  This
is a complete squash, as Jacqueline does not get in a shred of offense.  The future Tori is shown sitting unimpressed
in the crowd after the match.  Sable
takes off her dress after the match just because.
Cole interviews
Ken Shamrock, who says that he is excited to finally get a crack at the WWF
championship.
WWF Championship
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
(Champion) defeats Ken Shamrock 12:14
It seems to me that this match is leaving money on the
table, but when Austin was locked in a feud with the Undertaker and Kane and
when the Rock was in the process of moving up the card, Shamrock went on the
backburner.  Surprisingly, the announcers
do not mention that the backstory of these two dates all the way back to
WrestleMania XIII, but that is probably due to the Bret Hart factor.  Austin actually plays the heel role here,
utilizing a lot of restholds and directing the action.  He even resorts to a mule kick when Shamrock
begins rallying.  Before we can get a
definitive finish, the Undertaker and Kane hit the ring and we get a double
disqualification.  This match would have
come off better if the crowd was into Shamrock more.  Most of them were not sure what to think of
Austin by the end of it because of his heelish tactics.  Rating:  ***¼  (8
for 8)
After Austin and
Shamrock are dispatched by Kane and the Undertaker, Mankind and the Rock run
out and brawl with them.  Austin then
re-enters the ring with a chair and smashes his Breakdown opponents as McMahon
looks on with sadness by the entrance. 
Austin chases McMahon to the locker room as we play the show out.
The Final Report Card:  Whew, let me catch my breath.  The company must have been worried about not drawing
a rating after the last two RAWs were shown on Saturdays, so they loaded up
this card.  The San Jose crowd was
nuclear for the entire show and added something to each match.  This may not have developed a lot of angles,
but in terms of atmosphere and match quality up and down the card it is the
best RAW of the year up to this point.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.0 (vs. 4.5 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: SummerSlam 1998

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from New York, New York.

Opening Contest
for the European Championship:  D-Lo
Brown (Champion) beats Val Venis via disqualification when Venis throws down the
referee at 15:26:
D-Lo was really having fun with the European champion
concept as he had himself billed from different parts of Europe.  For this bout, he is announced as being a
resident of Helsinki, Finland.  Edge is
shown watching the match in the crowd, which becomes important later in the
show.  This is a very well-paced,
back-and-forth match, and the crowd eventually comes around to appreciating it
at the ten-minute mark.  D-Lo blocks the
Money Shot with his knees and botches a powerbomb spot, which foreshadowed the
unfortunate botch the ended Darren Drozdov’s career.  Venis eventually takes off D-Lo’s chest
protector and puts it on, but the referee does not care for that and his
attempt to get Venis to take it off leads to the disqualification.  D-Lo carried a good chunk of this match and
the Madison Square Garden crowd was actually cheering for him by the end.  A few botches at the end and the finish bring
this down a notch, but kudos to the WWF for giving these two guys a lot of time
and exposure.  Rating:  ***½
After the bout, a
frustrated Venis gives the referee a Money Shot.
Michael Cole is
backstage with a hearse that Steve Austin destroyed on Sunday Night Heat.  Mankind rants about his “SummerSlam ride” not
being in good condition and how he will not be able to toss Kane in there
later.  He hopes to use a sledgehammer
against Kane later in the show.
The Insane Clown
Posse, one of the most controversial musical acts of the late 1990s, perform
the Oddities theme song.  The Oddities dance
around.  Only about 50% of the crowd –
and that is being generous – bother to wave their hands for the ICP.
Handicap
Match:  The Oddities (w/Luna Vachon)
defeat Kaientai (w/Yamaguchi-San) when Golga pins all the members of Kaientai
at 10:13:
So, we get this handicap tag match between the three
giants of the Oddities and the four men of Kaientai simply because the Insane
Clown Posse were booked for the show. 
Jim Ross makes us aware that he likes the ICP, which I find hard to
believe.  The match hides the
shortcomings of Kurrgan and Giant Silva by having them do a few token spots and
Kaientai works in some nice quadruple team maneuvers.  Still, this match was given way too much time
and the result did not matter in the end scheme of things as most of the
participants were gone from the company by the end of the year.  Rating:  ½*
Hair vs. Hair
Match:  X-Pac (w/Howard Finkel) pins
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Southern Justice) after hitting him with a guitar at
11:12:
On Sunday Night Heat, Jarrett and Southern Justice shaved
Howard Finkel’s head, so he accompanies X-Pac to the ring in a DX shirt.  Sadly, he is not very well coordinated when
doing the crotch chops with X-Pac.  The
announce team today would never let him live that down.  Based on the capabilities of both men, this
match is a disappointment and never seems to click.  There are lots of double knockout spots and
Jarrett pulls out a spot that I hate where he applies the figure-four without
working the legs at all.  Southern
Justice appear to miss their cue, requiring Jarrett to kick out of the X-Factor
and X-Pac proceeds to take a guitar from Dennis Knight and cracks it over
Jarrett’s head for the win.  After the
bout, all of the people who have had their hair cut by Jarrett over the last
few weeks hit the ring and cut his hair, thereby significantly transforming his
look for the first time in his WWF career. 
Rating:  **¼
Dok Hendrix
discusses the Lion’s Den structure.
Cole interviews
The Rock, who took out Triple H’s knee on Sunday Night Heat.  He cuts a generic promo and makes fun of
Triple H’s injured knee.
Edge & Sable beat
“Marvelous” Marc Mero & Jacqueline when Sable pins Mero after Edge slams
her into the cover position at 8:26:
Sable’s mystery partner for the match is revealed as
Edge, which sort of fits existing storylines since Edge attacked Mero a few
weeks prior on RAW.  It is also a nice
way to elevate a new star and is much better than putting someone like Kurrgan
into the match.  This is a glorified
squash as they book Sable as Superwoman and she manhandles her opponents.  That takes away from any real drama the match
might have.  Edge almost becomes an
afterthought until he works in a plancha spot late.  WrestleMania XIV this was not.  Rating:  **¼
Cole tells Mankind
that Kane is not going to be here to help him defend the tag team titles and
asks if he is going to forfeit.  Mankind
says he is going to get killed against the New Age Outlaws, but Vince McMahon
gives him a pep talk about how he belongs in Madison Square Garden.  McMahon says that if Mankind overcomes the
odds that he will get into the MSG Hall of Fame by next week.  Mankind says he needs a weapon and McMahon
hilariously grabs some random stuff and hands it to Mankind to use.  Now THIS is what a backstage segment is all
about.
A video package
hypes the Ken Shamrock-Owen Hart Lion’s Den match.
Lion’s Den
Match:  Ken Shamrock defeats Owen Hart
(w/Dan Severn) via submission to the anklelock at 9:16:
This was an ingenious idea because it added a unique
match to card and allowed the WWF to sell more tickets to the show in the MSG
theater.  Imagine a wrestling match in a
UFC-type structure and that is what this match is like.  It features some nice spots, such as Shamrock
using the angled walls of the structure to rebound off of and then using them
to escape a Sharpshooter and a dragon sleeper. 
Since Owen never tries that, it fits well within the story they are
trying to tell of this being Shamrock’s environment.  Dan Severn angrily walks out when Owen is
placed in the anklelock, thereby ending that relationship.  A great action packed match that lived up to
the hype.  It also holds up really well
today and is one of Owen’s better matches. 
Seriously, if you haven’t seen this, check it out.  Rating:  ****
Cole interviews
WWF Champion Steve Austin, who says he will use any means necessary to walk out
of Madison Square Garden as the champion.
No Holds Barred,
Falls Count Anywhere Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The New Age Outlaws defeat Kane & Mankind
(Champions) when The Outlaws pin Mankind with a spike piledriver on a tag team
title belt at 5:18:
Poor Mankind is left to defend the titles on his own
after he is the odd man out of the Undertaker-Kane alliance.  The Outlaws bring a large dumpster filled
with weapons to the ring and Mankind suffers a nasty two-on-one onslaught.  Jim Ross must have watched too much
SummerSlam 1991 before this one, as he criticizes the referee for not making
the Outlaws tag in and out.  Mankind
survives an Outlaws side suplex-neckbreaker combination and a spike powerbomb
through chairs, but a spike piledriver gives the Outlaws the tag team titles
for the second time.  Typical RAW match,
but it served its purpose of getting the titles back on the Outlaws and making
Mankind look resilient.  Rating: 
**
After the match,
the Outlaws toss Mankind in the dumpster and after closing it, Kane emerges out
of the dumpster and smashes Mankind in the face with a sledgehammer.  The Outlaws wisely flee to the locker room.  Jim Ross’s outrage meter reaches 0.8 for
this.
A video package
hypes the Rock-Triple H ladder match for the Intercontinental title.
Connecticut Yankee
comes out to give Triple H some live entrance music.
Ladder Match for
the Intercontinental Championship: 
Triple H (w/Chyna) beats The Rock (Champion w/Mark Henry) to win the
title at 26:14:
This was the first ladder match that the WWF had featured
on television since SummerSlam 1995.  I
miss the old visual for ladder matches with the champion surrendering the title
to the referee and then having it slowly raised above the ring.  The small aisle of the MSG venue gives us a
great visual early in the match of the Rock beating Triple H down and having
the fans on top of him shouting that he sucks. 
The story of the match is the Rock working on Triple H’s injured knee to
prevent him from climbing the ladder and Triple H evening some of the odds by
busting the Rock open with a baseball slide into the ladder.  The Rock also manages a split reaction,
working a 50/50 “Let’s go Rocky!  Rocky
sucks!” chant.  One thing to really
criticize this match for are the slow climb spots.  They work for Triple H, since he has one leg,
but the Rock doing them after pulverizing Triple H’s knee for five minutes is
ridiculous.  Whatever your thoughts are
about Triple H, you have to admire him taking some the brunt of the sick bumps
in this match.  This brutal war comes to
an end when Triple H hits a Pedigree, but gets powder tossed in his eyes by
Mark Henry.  That produces a double climb
of the ladder with Chyna coming in and giving the Rock a low blow so Triple H
can win to a HUGE pop.  This match ended
the first phase of the Triple H-Rock feud, as well as the Rock’s nine month
reign as Intercontinental champion, but unfortunately for Triple H he lost some
of the momentum gained from this match when a knee injury put him on the
shelf.  The Rock now moves out of the
Intercontinental title level and into contention for the WWF title, with this
match showing he had the skills needed to make that jump.  Rating:  ****½
WWF Championship
Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Champion)
pins The Undertaker after a Stone Cold Stunner
Austin suffers a concussion about two minutes into the
bout when his head collides with the Undertaker and that just ruins the match’s
flow.  McMahon had to freaking out
backstage because when that collision took place Austin went down in a heap and
appeared to be knocked out.  Kane does
walk out around the seven minute mark, but the Undertaker waves him off,
thereby squandering his primary advantage. 
I understand the idea of the Undertaker wanting to win on his own, but
does that not negate the story on the previous RAW of Kane and the Undertaker
being an unstoppable combination?  The
highlight of the contest is the Undertaker giving Austin a guillotine leg drop
on the Spanish announce table (I can’t say through because the table doesn’t
break).  Austin rallies from that to win
after giving the Undertaker a low blow during his ropewalk spot, but after all
the buildup, this match was a disappointment to say the least.  And again, we get a slow Earl Hebner three
count for no reason at all, since he wasn’t bumped.  Some people give this match over ***, but I
just don’t get that rating in light of its disjointed nature and botches.  Rating:  **¼
After the match,
the Undertaker takes the WWF title from Hebner and, after a tense few moments,
hands it to Austin.  Kane walks out to
stare down Austin with his brother in the aisle as the show goes off the air.
The Final Report Card:  Disappointing main event aside, this was a
fantastic SummerSlam.  The ladder match
is the highlight of the show, but the Lion’s Den match is deserving of credit
as well. I always wonder how good Austin-Undertaker could have been if not for
the concussion Austin suffered minutes into the match.  If the WWE wants to remember how to
adequately build to a big show, they should rewatch what they did for this
pay-per-view, which attracted the highest buyrate for a SummerSlam since 1992.
Attendance: 
21,588
Buyrate: 
1.48 (+0.68 from previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – August 3, 1998

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are doing commentary and they are taped from San Diego,
California
.

The Nation of
Domination comes out for the opening segment, as the Rock and Owen Hart are
facing Steve Austin and the Undertaker for the tag team titles later
tonight.  The Rock urges Austin and the
Undertaker to come out and immediately defend the titles, but Commissioner
Slaughter walks out instead.  The Rock
gives him a smackdown on the mic and Austin and the Undertaker arrive.  Austin slides into the ring to fight the Rock
and Owen, but the Undertaker gets distracted by Kane near the entrance and does
not help his partner.  Mankind and the
Undertaker end up brawling near the entrance as Austin takes a beating before
recovering and forcing the Rock and Owen to flee.  1 for
1
Opening
Contest:  Golga (w/The Oddities &
Sable) beats “Marvelous” Marc Mero (w/Jacqueline) with a seated senton splash
at 3:11:
Mero and Jacqueline are sporting the trophy that
Jacqueline earned for winning the Fully Loaded bikini contest.  Sable unveils a “surprise” by accompanying
Golga to the ring.  Kurrgan and Giant
Silva walk out in tuxedos and Kurrgan sings the Miss America song before Luna
Vachon walks out.  This was the Oddities
face turn and the Jackyl, who had been managing them, is nowhere to be
found.  This follows the usual big
man-small man formula and when Jacqueline tries to interfere, Luna attacks
her.  Silva chokeslams Mero behind the
referee’s back and that sets up Golga’s win. 
This is prime for a Wrestlecrap induction.  Rating:  * (1 for 2)
Brawl for All
Quarter-Final Match:  The Godfather
defeats Scorpio via decision:
Now, readers of this column might say “Wait Logan, I
thought Dan Severn already beat the Godfather?” and if you asked that question
you would be right.  However, Severn
withdrew from the tournament because he said he had nothing to prove, so the
Godfather was put back in.  I hate that
and would have preferred Scorpio to be given a bye to the semi-finals.  Scorpio rejects the Godfather’s overture to
take the hos, which was a bad idea in retrospect because he cannot overcome the
Godfather’s size advantage and loses.  Disappointing
contest, as I expected Scorpio to try to use takedowns to win the bout.  1 for
3
Michael Cole
interviews the New Age Outlaws, who say that they are not intimidated by Kane
& Mankind, who they will face tonight.
Kane &
Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) beat The New Age Outlaws when Kane pins The Road Dogg
with a Tombstone at 5:19:
In a smart move, the Outlaws pull Mankind out of the ring
and beat him down while Kane is doing his routine of making fire come out of
the ring posts.  However,
Kane is the real strength of the team and the Outlaws cannot find a way to deal
with him.  When the Road
Dogg ends up alone with Kane, we get the predictable result of him eating a
Tombstone.  You will notice that in these
big Outlaws matches the Road Dogg always ends up eating the
pin.  This had its moments, but was
rushed and messy, especially near the end. 
Rating:  *½ (1 for 4)
Ross and Lawler
recap Hawk’s poor condition on last week’s show.  Hawk apologizes for his behavior last week
and asks for forgiveness.
Jeff Jarrett and
Tennessee Lee say that Jarrett is going to scare Hawk straight “Jeff Jarrett
style,” whatever that means.
Hawk pins “Double
J” Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) with a neckbreaker at 2:31:
Hawk is not under the influence this week, so he is able
to perform his usual trademark moves and no sells.  Jarrett is recently having trouble with
Tennessee Lee, who keeps botching interference, and after Lee fails to get his
belt off in time for Jarrett to use it, Hawk catches the country music star off
guard to pick up a win.  After the bout,
Southern Justice attack the LOD because, you know, Godwinns-LOD set the world
on fire in 1997.
Vince McMahon
walks to the ring with his stooges.  He
predicts a tag team title change tonight and continues to advance his theory
that the Undertaker and Kane are working together.  He asks the Undertaker to come out and
explain himself based on last week’s show, where Kane attacked Austin as the
Undertaker looked on in the ring.  Austin
crashes the party before the Undertaker can say a word and says he only wants
to beat the Undertaker at SummerSlam.  As
Austin leaves, the Undertaker tells him that McMahon wants them to fight among
themselves and offers to give Austin one of the tag team title belts.  Austin accepts and the Undertaker makes it
clear that he is going to be watching Austin’s back to keep him safe for
SummerSlam.  This was a nice way to pay
off the Undertaker walking around with both tag team titles since Fully
Loaded.  2 for 5
The Rock tells the
commentary team that he could care less about Austin and the Undertaker’s
issues.
Highlights from
the Intercontinental title triple threat match on last week’s RAW constitute
the Stridex Triple Action segment.
#1 Contender’s
Match for the Intercontinental Championship: 
Triple H (w/Chyna) beats X-Pac with a Pedigree at 5:04:
Triple H is on Pacific Blue this week!  This is our usual solid Kliq matchup, with
Triple H targeting X-Pac’s neck in the early going and X-Pac making a rally at
the end.  Chyna, who should be impartial
in the match, trips X-Pac before he can do a Bronco Buster and that results in
Triple H taking advantage of the situation and getting an Intercontinental
title shot against the Rock at SummerSlam. 
After the match, X-Pac argues with Triple H, who feigns ignorance about
Chyna’s interference.  Rating: 
**¼ (3 for 6)
Val Venis &
Taka Michinoku wrestle Dick Togo & Funaki (w/Yamaguchi-San, Men’s Teoh
& Yamaguchi-San’s Wife) to a no-contest at 1:43:
Ross gives me a good laugh by saying that San Diego is
“Ryan Leaf country.”  I bet you cannot
find a single person in San Diego today that would refer to Leaf in such
glowing terms.  I like how we still do
not have a name for Yamagachi-San’s wife despite her being on television for
nearly a month at this point.  When Venis
goes to tag in Michinoku after absorbing some of Kaientai’s early offense,
Michinoku dropkicks him in the face, thereby turning heel.  You see, Mrs. Yamaguchi-San is Michinoku’s
sister.  Kaientai beat Venis up and carry
him backstage, where no one seems to care that he might get his private region
severed.
European
Championship Match:  D-Lo Brown (w/Mark
Henry) beats Dan Severn (w/Steve Blackman) via disqualification when Ken
Shamrock interferes at 2:34:
This match was booked after D-Lo antagonized Severn and
got him to interfere in a match against Ken Shamrock on Sunday Night Heat.  The same situation takes place here, as
Severn has Brown on the ropes before Shamrock comes down the ring and takes out
Mark Henry and Brown in view of the referee. 
Severn is not happy about this development to say the least.
D-Lo celebrates
his victory, but Edge comes out of nowhere and attacks him by the entrance
before walking away.  When D-Lo comes to,
he has no idea what happened.
Kaientai is shown
beating down Venis some more backstage. 
It’s funny to hear Ross try to verbally reprimand them like a
parent:  “Don’t do that!  Stop that!”
Tiger Ali Singh,
who has not been seen on WWF television since 1997, when he was referred to as
a can’t miss prospect, comes out.  This
time, he is sporting a mixture of an anti-American and million dollar man
gimmick where he pays audience members to do degrading things.  He has his servant Babu select an obese
American woman from the crowd and pays her $500 for each piece of clothing she
takes off.  The facial expressions of
some people in the audience to this is priceless.  The woman goes to take off her bra, but Singh
changes the rules and pays her to put clothes back on.  Singh was pretty entertaining in this
segment.  Unfortunately for him, his ring
work was awful.  4 for 7
Backstage,
Yamaguchi-San has the camera crew leave Kaientai’s locker room, where they are
carrying Val Venis to a cutting board.
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to get your Steve Austin 3:16 baseball jersey $39.99 (plus $9 shipping &
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WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & The Undertaker (Champions) defeat The Rock & Owen Hart when
The Undertaker pins Owen Hart with a Tombstone at 11:12:
Austin is a one man heat machine as the crowd eats up
everything he does or has done to him. 
Owen and the Rock keep cheating as much as they can to maintain the
advantage, but eventually Austin fights out of a Sharpshooter and a Rock Bottom
to get the Undertaker into the match, where the fate of the heels is eventually
sealed.  It’s hard to tell how much
genuine heat this had based on it being a taped show, but you could tell by the
crowd’s physical reactions that they really got into his match.  The beginning stages with the Undertaker were
slow, but Austin really took things up a notch when he got in the ring and in
peril.  Rating:  *** (5 for 8)
After the bell,
Mankind hits the ring and puts the Undertaker in a Mandible Claw.  As Austin is still fighting the Rock near the
announce table, Kane steps into the ring and smashes Mankind with a chair,
although he may have been aiming for the Undertaker.  The Undertaker takes the chair, but instead
of hitting Kane, he hits Mankind again. 
The New Age Outlaws hit the ring to go after Kane and the Undertaker,
but Austin comes back to aid his partner.
WWF officials are
shown breaking down the door to Kaientai’s dressing room and find Val Venis
held up with his tights down. 
Yamaguchi-San has a sword held up high and he comes down with it, but the lights in the room go dark and that ends the show.
The Final Report Card:  If you watch this RAW, go ahead and skip
ahead to the McMahon-Austin-Undertaker segment because the first half of this
show was awful.  After McMahon’s segment,
the show righted itself and we got a fun main event to close.  The “choppy choppy” angle is silly, but it is
one of those over the top angles that you can sit back and get a good laugh out
of sixteen years later.  I wouldn’t
recommend showing it to a new fan, but sometimes you have to take the good with
the bad when looking back at one of the high points of WWF history.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.9 (vs. 4.2 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – July 27, 1998

by Logan Scisco
Michael Cole
narrates a video package that recaps last night’s Fully Loaded pay-per-view.
Jim Ross and Jerry
“The King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Anaheim, California.  One of the best signs, in a sea of them, is
one that reads “Bret Hart = Work” near the front row.

The Undertaker
comes out with both WWF Tag Team title belts. 
He makes clear that he and Steve Austin might be champions, but they are
not partners until Austin comes out and apologizes to him.  Vince McMahon walks out instead, with stooges
in tow, and says that the Undertaker has not convinced him that he is not
working with Kane.  In a nice piece of
logic, McMahon points out that the Undertaker had to use three Tombstones to
beat Kane at WrestleMania, so beating him with one at Fully Loaded is
suspicious.  McMahon demands an apology
from the Undertaker for attacking him last week and books a tag team title
match between the Undertaker and Austin and the New Age Outlaws.  Austin then walks out, causing McMahon and
company to flee, and says that while he will help the Undertaker defend their
tag team titles, he will not apologize to him. 
He gives the Undertaker the bird before leaving.  1 for
1
Get your free
Triple H poster by buying a box of Stridex medicated pads!
Opening Non-Title
Contest:  Vader beats D-Lo Brown
(European Champion) by count out at 4:18:
D-Lo is refusing to defend his European title for the
second consecutive night, which Ross explains is due to his representatives
thinking it would not be prudent to defend the title against Vader.  D-Lo slams Vader twice, but that just
rejuvenates Vader.  Vader rips off D-Lo’s
chest protector and splashes him on the floor, securing a count out win.  This is Vader’s first win on RAW in a while
and since he went over via count out, why did they not just make this for the
title?  Rating:  ** (2 for 2)
A video package
shows us “Droz’s World.”  He shows off
his exotic pets.
Brawl for All
Quarter-Finals:  Bart Gunn defeats Steve
Williams by KO at 2:51 of the third round:
As most of the readers of this article will recall, this
is the Brawl for All match that ruined the entire purpose of the
competition.  The WWF thought Williams
could easily run through the competition without rigging it, but Gunn had other
plans here as he uses his reach advantage to keep Williams at bay.  You can sense Ross getting nervous on
commentary as his enthusiasm for Gunn’s performance wanes by the end of the
second round.  Trailing by ten points
entering the third, Gunn manages a takedown, causing Williams to tear his
hamstring, and after an exchange of punches, Gunn lands the first knockout of
the Brawl for All competition to score the big upset.  Ross never forgave Gunn for knocking his guy
out of the competition.  3 for 3
Owen Hart comes to
the ring and gloats about beating Ken Shamrock in the Hart Dungeon last
night.  He issues an open challenge to
the locker room and Jason Sensation, dressed as Owen, walks out to a pretty big
pop.  Sensation leads a “nugget” chant
and when Owen goes after him, Dan Severn walks out and intercedes.  This is taken as evidence of Severn accepting
Owen’s challenge.
Open Challenge
Match:  Owen Hart beats Dan Severn by
disqualification when Ken Shamrock interferes at 49 seconds:
This match barely gets started as Owen and Severn share
offense until Shamrock runs in and places Owen in a Dragon sleeper.  Severn gets Shamrock off of Owen by placing
Shamrock in a Dragon sleeper and Steve Blackman has to walk out to break that
up with some WWF officials.
Sunday Night Heat
is coming to USA Network this Sunday!
Michael Cole gets
pushed into the RAW is War backstage interview set when he tries to ask
Shamrock some questions about what just happened.
The Disciples of
Apocalypse (w/Paul Ellering) wrestle Faarooq & Scorpio to a no-contest at
3:23:
Bradshaw is on commentary, still ranting about Terry Funk
not telling him that he was going to leave the company before last night’s
Fully Loaded pay-per-view.  At least
Bradshaw’s commentary is more tolerable than what we have to endure every
Monday night these days.  This is Faarooq
and Scorpio’s debut as a team on RAW, as they had been teaming and winning
matches on Shotgun Saturday Night in the weeks leading up to this.  Conventional wisdom would hold that this
match would be important in the tag rankings as both teams won last night at
Fully Loaded, but instead it is used as a vehicle to make us care about
Bradshaw as he attacks both teams and creates chaos until WWF officials
intervene.  Rating:  *¼ (3 for 4)
Intercontinental
Champion The Rock tells the announce team that he is going to make Triple H and
X-Pac famous when they square off with him in a triple threat match tonight.
Chyna’s
interference in the two-out-of-three falls match between the Rock and Triple H
last night at Fully Loaded is the Stridex Triple Action segment
.
Triple Threat
Match for the Intercontinental Championship: 
Triple H (w/Chyna) & X-Pac beat The Rock by count out at 6:54:
Was the Rock drunk when he signed the contract for this
match?  Predictably, DX works together in
the early going, but then turn on each other when it is time to finish the Rock
off.  That brings back fond memories of
playing those elimination four-ways on the N64. 
One thing is clear from this match: 
Rock vs. X-Pac > Triple H vs. The Rock.  After Triple H and X-Pac get angry and start
fighting each other, the Rock slithers out of the ring and takes a count out, which
is a finish that I’ve never seen again in a triple threat match.  Normally, that would be an awful finish, but
it makes perfect sense here with the way the match unfolded.  I wish they had run this match last night at
Fully Loaded and given it twenty minutes instead of giving us the overbooked
two-out-of-three falls match.  Rating: 
***¼ (4 for 5)
Cole interviews
the New Age Outlaws, who pledge to regain their title tonight.
Brakus beats
Jesus with a spinebuster in 50 seconds:
To give a nice time stamp on this show, Ross and Lawler
talk about Ryan Leaf’s big contract with the San Diego Chargers.  This is Brakus’s wrestling debut and he does
a few token power moves before winning. 
This never led to anything.  I mean,
seriously, who thought a German wrestler wearing CHAINMAIL to the ring would
get over in the Attitude Era?
Val Venis is shown
sharing the shower with Yamaguchi-San’s wife.
Val Venis pins
“Too Sexy” Brian Christopher (w/Scott Taylor) with a fisherman’s suplex at
2:10:
Before the match, Kaientai appears near the entrance,
with Yamaguchi-San carrying a sword and Men’s Teioh carrying a few pieces of
salami.  Venis counters Too Much’s
attempts to fight the match two-on-one and quickly finishes Christopher
off.  When Too Much tries to attack Venis
after the match, Taka Michinoku comes down and makes the save.
After the bell,
Kaientai challenges Venis and Michinoku to a match next week and Yamaguchi-San
vows to “choppy choppy” Val’s “pee pee” before taking his sword and chopping up
some salami.  Now we  know why Japanese promotions aren’t big Russo
fans…
Cole interviews
LOD 2000, who are facing the Godfather & Mark Henry tonight.  Animal is excited for the match, but Hawk
looks out of it.
The Godfather
& Mark Henry (w/Hos) beat LOD 2000 when the Godfather pins Animal with a
Death Valley Driver at 3:49:
This was where the Godfather added hos to his
gimmick.  During their entrance, Hawk is
stumbling around, is not wearing his spikes, and trips over the middle rope
when getting into the ring.  Hawk fails
to tag in throughout the match and then falls off the top rope when the LOD try
their Doomsday Device.  I was never a fan
of this angle, as it was quite tasteless, but the Godfather and Henry are a
good tag team combination.  Animal kept
this thing together as a one man wrecking crew too.  Rating:  ** (5 for 6)
Lawler is in the
ring to present the trophy to the winner of last night’s bikini contest.  Lawler informs the crowd that Sable did not
win because Vince McMahon did not consider her attire a bikini.  Mero does his usual overly excited dance when
Jacqueline is announced as the winner. 
Sable questions McMahon’s manhood for not telling her that she was
disqualified, which brings him out.  As
McMahon runs down Sable, someone from the crowd hits Vince with a cup, leading
him to chastise the audience.  McMahon
reminds Sable that she is easily replaced and when he turns to leave, Sable
gives him the bird and strips to reveal a new bikini.  I just never cared for Sable or this entire
“feud” with McMahon.  It’s like they
wanted to make Sable the female Austin, but she did not have the mic skills to
carry that out.  5 for 7
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & The Undertaker (Champions) defeated The New Age Outlaws when
Austin pinned the Road Dogg after a Stone Cold Stunner at 8:09:
It is so refreshing for Ross to tell me that RAW won’t
have any commercials for the main event, since nowadays we get one or two
commercials that interrupt nearly every match on the show.  After the opening bell, some idiot fan throws
a beach ball into the ring, which Austin boots into the upper deck.  I’m glad WWF fans never resorted to WCW
craziness of littering the ring with trash on a regular basis.  Austin does a funny pose down with Billy Gunn
where he flexes and then flips him the bird. 
The Outlaws try to wear down the Undertaker’s leg, but Austin cleans
house after the hot tag and wins the match on his own.  A fun TV main event that made the Outlaws
appear capable, albeit overmatched.  Rating: 
*** (6 for 8)
After the match,
Austin gets a beer from ringside to drink and tosses one to the
Undertaker.  The Undertaker decides to
drink it, but Kane and Mankind attack Austin near ringside as we end the show.
The Final Report Card:  The Austin-Undertaker pairing continues to do
the slow burn toward SummerSlam and the attack at the end of the show sets the
stage for a Fully Loaded rematch down the road. 
The good continues to outweigh the bad on RAW, topped by Bart Gunn’s
stunning victory in the Brawl for All.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.9 (vs. 4.7 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up 

What the World Was Watching: Fully Loaded 1998 – In Your House

by Logan Scisco

The video package
raises the big questions for tonight’s main event:  Will Kane and the Undertaker work together?  Will Mankind be the odd man out?  Is Vince McMahon organizing everything?  Hopefully tonight we will find some answers!
Jim Ross and Jerry
“the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Fresno, California.

Opening
Contest:  Val Venis pins “Double J” Jeff
Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) with a rollup at 7:51:
This is Venis’s pay-per-view debut and he teases
stripping before Jarrett’s entrance puts a stop to that.  Kaientai tries to get a spot at ringside for
the match, but they and Southern Justice are evicted before the opening bell.  Yamaguchi-San is allowed to do commentary,
though, and Lawler tries to get more information on what his relationship is
like with his wife.  This is a very solid
opener, with Venis pulling several false finishes before running Jarrett into
Tennessee Lee and getting the win.  Venis
remains undefeated.  Rating:  ***
After the match,
Venis tells Yamaguchi-San that he will never “measure up” to the Big Valbowski
.
Non-Title
Match:  D-Lo Brown (European Champion
w/The Godfather) beats X-Pac (w/Chyna) with a Sky High at 8:26:
This is the first of a series of matches that these two
would have in 1998.  The European title
functioned as the WWF’s version of WCW’s TV championship during the late 1990s
and it gave someone trying to make a name for themselves like D-Lo something to
do.  Ross makes sure we know that D-Lo is
a Certified Public Accountant.  The chest
protector gimmick is quite brilliant because not only can D-Lo do more harm to
his opponents if he hits a splash or the Lo Down, but he also does a lot of
damage to himself if he misses those moves. 
D-Lo gets the win to continue building him as more than a paper
champion, although he gets an assisted distraction from the Godfather to finish
X-Pac off.  These two would go on to have
better matches, but this was still a solid effort.  Rating:  **½
Kevin Kelly and
Tom Pritchard let us know from the WWF.com center backstage that the Undertaker
has not yet shown up.
Terry Funk tells
the audience that the next match is going to be his last for a while because he
is so beaten up.  Bradshaw, his teammate
for the next match, is not very happy about hearing this news.  Since Bradshaw has had a rough 1998, I can’t
say that I blame him.  Besides, it is
pretty lousy to tell your tag team partner that you are leaving the company
right before walking through the curtain.
Faarooq &
Scorpio defeat Terry Funk & Bradshaw when Scorpio pins Funk with a 450
splash at 6:49:
Scorpio abandoned teaming with Terry Funk to work with
Faarooq and they had wrestled a few matches on Shotgun Saturday Night in the
weeks leading up to this.  We get an
entertaining and stiff exchange between the future Acolytes in this bout and
Bradshaw brings his working boots by going to the top rope on several
occasions.  Since this match was hastily
added to the card, you might think it’s just filler, but we get some very
entertaining wrestling until an awkward brawling segment at the end.  The crowd does not appreciate it, but that is
more of a fault of not giving many of the guys in the match a sense of
direction in the booking than anything else. 
After the bout, Bradshaw takes out his frustration on Funk and decimates
Scorpio and Faarooq for good measure.  Rating: 
**
Mark Henry pins
Vader with a splash at 5:03:
These two actually have an issue as Henry and Vader
ruined each other’s chances of advancing in the King of the Ring last
month.  Their feud has largely been relegated
to Shotgun Saturday Night.  This match is
a complete train wreck as Vader is not capable of carrying the younger Henry
and we get awkward combinations of power moves. 
Henry kicks out of Vader’s splash off the second rope and then
unceremoniously finishes him with a splash that causes the crowd to moan.  It’s just sad to see Vader reduced to the
level of an enhancement talent, especially if you grew up following his WCW
career.  Rating:  ½*
Kelly and
Pritchard continue to discuss whether the Undertaker is going to show up on
tonight’s show.
WWF Tag Team
Champions Kane & Mankind walk out with Paul Bearer.  Bearer gloats about how the Undertaker does
not want to face Kane because he wants to keep his main event spot at
SummerSlam.  The New Age Outlaws show up
and issue a challenge to Kane & Mankind for the titles tomorrow night on
RAW.  When they do not get a response,
they tear into the champions and WWF officials have to separate them.  Seeing Billy Gunn and Kane share 50-50
offense in this segment is just so wrong.
Ross and Lawler
recap Hawk showing up late to save Animal from the DOA on the last edition of
RAW.
The Disciples of
Apocalypse (w/Paul Ellering) defeat LOD 2000 when 8-Ball pins Animal after a DDT
at 8:51:
With Sunny out of the picture, I no longer have a reason
to care about the LOD.  You can sense how
the LOD are past their expiration date by listening to the crowd, as they get
very little reaction for anything in the match. 
They also do not care about the DOA’s constant cheating throughout the
contest.  Ellering’s excited attempts at
interference are laughable as he continually whiffs in his attempts to make a
difference.  It takes forever for Animal
to get the hot tag and Skull does eat a Doomsday Device, but the match
continues a little longer and the DOA do an illegal switch and win.  You would think that the LOD would have that
scouted based on the numerous times they have faced the DOA up to this
point.  The WWF gave this way too much
time and after this bout the LOD, DOA, and Ellering should have been cut loose
for good.  Unfortunately, this feud
continued!  Rating:  DUD
Vince McMahon and
his stooges come out and McMahon says that he is not to blame if the Undertaker
does not show up.  Instead, he points the
finger at Steve Austin based on his provocations of the Undertaker.  McMahon reads the “card subject to change”
addendum on the programs that the crowd bought before the show and announces
that Austin’s “suitable replacement” for tonight’s main event if the Undertaker
no shows is the Brooklyn Brawler. 
Forgetting about this sixteen years later, I cracked up pretty hard at
this, especially because the Brawler comes out screaming “I’m ready” and is all
amped up.
Hart Family
Dungeon Match with Dan Severn as Special Guest Referee:  Owen Hart defeats Ken Shamrock with a
crossface at 4:54:
This is the first extensive footage of the famous Hart Dungeon
on television.  It appeared in some video
packages before this show, but we actually get a match that takes place in
it.  Shamrock walking down the steps to
the basement is like something out of a C-level horror film.  This is a submission match and they work a
quasi-UFC/WWE style that I am sure was not taught in the actual Dungeon by Stu
Hart.  I am more amazed that they managed
to work a five minute match within the confines of the Dungeon than anything
else.  However, since this Vince Russo we
need some type of ref bump, so sure enough that happens with Severn getting
knocked loopy, thereby allowing Owen to hit Shamrock with a dumbbell and then
tapping Shamrock’s hand on the canvas when Severn awakes to win.  Seriously, they booked a screwjob for this!  Finish aside, this was a fun change of pace,
but I can’t get past some of the ridiculousness of the contest like Shamrock’s
head going through some drywall and Owen swinging off pipes.  Rating:  **
-Two-Out-of-Three
Falls Match for the Intercontinental Championship:  The Rock (Champion) wrestles Triple H
(w/Chyna) to a time limit draw at 30:00:
This match has a caveat on the traditional
two-out-of-three falls format as there is a mandatory one minute rest period
between falls.  The WWE’s current
creative team should be forced to rewatch this DX-Nation feud and realize how
you can go about making a secondary title important.  Ross and Lawler hyping the thirty minute time
limit is a clue of where this match is heading, especially since that time
limit was not discussed in the build to the match.  Sure enough, after both men’s factions
interfere at various points and after exchanging falls, with the Rock winning
the first after a Rock Bottom at 20:20 and Triple H winning the second after
Chyna DDT’s the Rock on a chair at 26:34, the time limit expires.  This is deemed as the first “classic” between
the Rock and Triple H, but most of the heat on the match comes from
interference (five run-ins!) and not from the two participants.  Also, they really struggled to continue the
match with unique moves after the twenty minute mark.  It felt like this was a fifteen minute match
drawn out to thirty minutes.  Their
Judgment Day Iron Man match in 2000 would fix these problems and because both
men’s characters had reached another level, it was a much better match.  Rating:  ***
After the bell,
the Nation and D-Generation X brawl, with DX standing tall in the ring.
Kevin Kelly and
Tom Pritchard inform us that the Undertaker arrived during the Intercontinental
title match.
A video package
hypes the bikini contest between Sable and Jacqueline.
Bikini
Contest:  Jacqueline (w/Marc Mero) beats
Sable by disqualification:
Before the contest, Dustin Runnels issues a prayer.  Why that did not produce a feud with Jerry
Lawler, the WWF’s resident pervert is beyond me, but I guess Runnels feud with
Val Venis made the same point. 
Jacqueline has a wardrobe malfunction by dancing too much in her
bikini.  Sable goes without a top and
wears body paint, which she says was not what Vince McMahon wanted.  That’s not a bikini, though, so she loses by
disqualification.  Seriously, a
disqualification in a bikini contest!?!?
After the contest,
McMahon walks to the ring and covers Sable. 
This McMahon-Sable angle is not making any sense in light of existing
storylines.
A video package
chronicles the events leading up to the main event for the WWF tag team titles.
WWF Tag Team
Championship Match:  “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin & The Undertaker defeat Kane & Mankind (Champions w/Paul Bearer)
when The Undertaker pins Kane after a Tombstone at to win the titles at 17:27:
This is the first time that the WWF tag team titles are
on the line in a pay-per-view main event since In Your House 3 in September
1995.  I really feel bad for Mankind as
the odd man out in this main event angle, but he was actually able to
capitalize on that later for his late 1998 run. 
The Undertaker and Kane are skittish about contact throughout the match,
lending some credence to the view that they are working together, but the
Undertaker reluctantly agrees to hot tag in and fight Kane late in the
match.  You see, we are back to the “tag
team partners that do not like each other” that has been an Austin staple since
he first won the tag team titles with Shawn Michaels in the summer of
1997.  I do not like the WWF champion
holding the tag titles to build their feud since it weakens the overall tag
division, so the result of this match was rather silly.  The crowd was into this, but it was really an
extended RAW main event.  That said, what
did you expect from a throwaway pay-per-view before SummerSlam?  Rating:  **
The Final Report Card:  Despite achieving an all-time record buyrate
for In Your House shows, this was the very definition of a middle of the road
pay-per-view.  Outside of the LOD-DOA
debacle, there was nothing that was awful about this show, but there was also
nothing really great or memorable aside from Sable’s moment, and that was
lessened when she later did Playboy. 
Triple H and the Rock, as well as Shamrock and Owen, would go on to have
better, more memorable contests at SummerSlam. 
If you are looking to burn some time, this is as decent a card as any to
watch, but do not expect anything fantastic.
Attendance: 
9,855
Buyrate: 
0.9 (+0.31 over previous year)

Show Evaluation:  Neutral