What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – September 22, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross narrates
a video package that discusses the history of Madison Square Garden.  It even mentions the birth of
Hulkamania.  The subtle purpose of this
video package is to inform the audience that a big event is going to happen
tonight
.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from New
York City.

Opening
Intercontinental Championship Tournament First Round Contest:  Ahmed Johnson beats Rocky Maivia with the
Pearl River Plunge at 4:54:
Commissioner Sergeant Slaughter orders the Nation of
Domination away from ringside before the bout and Ross informs us that Ken
Shamrock will not be able to compete in the semi-finals, so Faarooq will
advance despite losing and will face the winner of this contest.  Ahmed gets a great pop from the crowd,
showing that he still had potential if he found a way to quit injuring his
opponents.  This is a fun match from a crowd
reaction perspective as they loudly boo Maivia every time he seizes the advantage.  Unfortunately, the match isn’t as fun to
observe, with Ahmed slashing his hand on a nail by the announce table after
being thrown over the top rope being the only notable moment.  Did this guy walk under ladders backstage or
something?  He’s always finding freak
ways to get hurt.  It’s amazing to look
back and imagine that Maivia, who did not look anywhere near Ahmed’s level in
this match, would be Intercontinental champion by January while Ahmed would be on
his way out of the company.  Rating: 
*
Steve Austin
appears in the crowd and says that someone is getting their ass whipped
tonight.  McMahon does not look happy
about that announcement.
Floyd Patterson,
Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, is shown in the crowd.
The announce team
recaps the European championship match at One Night Only
.
McMahon interviews
the Undertaker and mentions that the winner of the Hell in a Cell match at In
Your House:  Badd Blood will face the WWF
champion at Survivor Series.  The Undertaker
gives some generic comments about Shawn Michaels, which brings out the
Heartbreak Kid with his new European title and Michaels says that the WWF is
conspiring against him with all of these stipulations for Badd Blood.  Michaels repeats the fact that he doesn’t lay
down for anyone and that he will be one step ahead of everyone that wants to
bring him down.
Sunny comes out to
be the guest ring announcer for the next match
.
The Legion of
Doom defeats Faarooq & Kama Mustafa by disqualification when D-Lo Brown
interferes at 2:30:
The crowd is hot for the LOD’s entrance, but go mild for
everything else.  Less than two minutes
in all hell breaks loose and the LOD prepare to give Faarooq the Doomsday
Device, but D-Lo Brown interferes and all hell breaks loose.  After the bell, Rocky Maivia comes in and the
Nation do a four-on-two beatdown and Ahmed Johnson’s save attempt goes nowhere.  WWF officials eventually intervene to stop
the carnage.  All of this is building to
a six man tag at Badd Blood.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your VHS copy of One Night Only for $19.95 (plus $6 shipping and
handling)!  That shipping and handling
charge is pretty outrageous.
Jimmy Snuka’s dive
off of a cage against Don Muraco in October 1983 at Madison Square Garden is
shown
.
Intercontinental
Championship Tournament Semi-Final Match: 
Owen Hart (w/Police Crew) defeats “The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman
(w/Marlena) by disqualification when Goldust interferes at 3:53 shown:
Pillman comes out with his left arm in a sling, which he
says he broke while having a good time with Marlena in the shower.  He says he is going to forfeit, but
Commissioner Slaughter comes out, demands medical evidence of Pillman’s injury,
and when he tosses a microphone at Pillman, Pillman catches it with his broken
arm.  Based on this evidence, Slaughter
orders that the match go on under threat of expulsion from the WWF.  Pillman and Owen proceed to move in slow
motion into basic wrestling moves until Owen gets hit by Marlena’s purse and
decides to wrestle the match normally. 
This does not last long, though, as Goldust charges the ring, makes sure
to deck Owen first, and then tries to go after Pillman, but WWF officials
restrain him so Pillman can get away with Marlena.  It would have been interesting to see if Owen
could have gotten a good match out of Pillman, but the booking of this match
did not allow that to happen.  This would
be Pillman’s last RAW match before he passed away.  Rating:  *
After the match,
Owen cuts a funny promo where he dedicates making the finals of the
Intercontinental championship tournament to Bret.  However, before he can finish, Steve Austin
attacks him from behind and teases attacking police officers.  McMahon runs into the ring and tries to talk
sense to Austin about his medical condition and Austin responds by giving
McMahon a Stone Cold Stunner before being taken to jail.  McMahon oversells the Stunner by convulsing
all over the canvas, but all silliness aside, this planted the seed for the
explosive Austin-McMahon feud of 1998
.
A video tribute is
given for Dick “the Bulldog” Browser
.
Jerry Lawler talks
with Rhonda Shear, host of USA Up All Night, who promotes her show.
Falls Count Anywhere Match: 
Cactus Jack beats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) with a piledriver
through a table at 9:14 shown:                                                                                                             
This is booked as Dude Love-Helmsley, but this is the
famous segment where Dude Love and Mankind step aside so that Cactus Jack can
take their place.  The crowd really loves
that piece of booking and a loud “ECW” chant breaks out.  Chyna turns the tide for Helmsley, as per
usual, and they brawl to the back, which brings back images of WrestleMania
X.  Speaking of which, thank god they did
not use the stupid stipulations of that “falls count anywhere match” for this
one.  What’s funny about this match is
that you have some white collar professionals in suits sitting in the expensive
seats around ringside and they don’t really know what to make of the brutality
on display in this match.  Chyna and
Cactus have a fight over a chair and Helmsley nails Cactus in the back, which
sends Chyna into the steps and incapacitates her.  Helmsley secures some near-falls as they
battle up the ramp with a litany of foreign objects, but when Helmsley goes for
a Pedigree on a table he sets up near the entrance, Cactus responds with a low
blow and a beautiful piledriver through a table to secure the win, just before
Chyna can make the save.  A very creative
brawl that provided a fitting finish to the Foley-Helmsley 1997 feud and it was
also enhanced by having Jim Ross on commentary. 
I don’t know if Vince McMahon would have known how to call this
thing.  Rating:  ****
Call 1-900-737-4WWF to hear about everything
that happened in the United Kingdom with WWF superstars!
Footage of Andre
the Giant slamming Big John Studd at WrestleMania I is shown
.
Ross and Lawler
talk some more about the European championship match at One Night Only
.
European Champion
Shawn Michaels comes out with a chair, which he sets up in the ring, and calls
out the Undertaker so he slap him around “main event style.”  The Undertaker finally arrives and although
he fends off an attack by Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Michaels decks him with the
chair and D-Generation X work him over.
-WWF Champion Bret
Hart tells the fans that he does not care who wins the Hell in a Cell match
because he knows he can beat either of them at Survivor Series.  This promo shows that Bret really is the odd
man out as far as booking is concerned.
Non-Title
Match:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart (WWF
Champion) defeats Goldust via submission to the Sharpshooter at 9:40 shown:
I hope Bret wore a cup for this match considering
Goldust’s latest match against a member of the Hart clan.  Bret spends most of the match working the leg
and Lawler spends most of the match speculating on what’s happening to
Marlena.  I have no problem with Bret
working the leg, but when it happens for seven straight minutes without leading
to anything, the match gets boring really quickly.  Goldust “builds momentum” (in Ross’s words),
but pulling off a bulldog is ridiculous considering how much Bret has worked
the leg.  The finish is somewhat nice, as
Goldust lifts his leg to catch Bret’s aerial attack, but Bret realizes “why am
I jumping straight down on someone’s exposed boot?” and applies the Sharpshooter
for the victory.  Rating:  **
After the bell,
Shawn Michaels runs into the ring and attacks Bret and Hunter Hearst Helmsley
joins in the beatdown.  Owen Hart, The
British Bulldog, Rick Rude, The Undertaker, and Jim Neidhart get involved in the
brawl, which leads to the Undertaker chokeslamming Bret and Michaels to stand
tall at the end of the show.  This was
Neidhart’s return, but what makes it amusing is that he kept wanting to attack
Rude, but Rude had to try to tell him to leave him alone since Neidhart beating
on him would void his Lloyd’s of London insurance policy.
The Final Report Card:  The first hour was very pedestrian before the
McMahon-Austin segment, but after that the show got rolling.  Anytime you get a **** match on RAW it is worth
a thumbs up rating and Cactus-Helmsley is still fondly remembered today.  In light of what we know about concussions it
is a little hard to watch, but for pure entertainment value it is tough to top.  The show was also a small tryout for Jim
Ross, as he took over lead commentary duties when McMahon went out and he did a
great job, especially with the Cactus-Helmsley match.  A really good show in the second hour, but I
would expect no less from a show held in Madison Square Garden.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.4 (vs. 3.7 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – July 21, 1997

by Logan Scisco
A video package
discusses the Hart Foundation’s divided appeal and hypes tonight’s six man flag
match.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are in Halifax,
Nova Scotia.
-Highlights of the
Ken Shamrock-Vader match from In Your House: 
A Cold Day in Hell are shown to hype tonight’s opening contest.

-Ken Shamrock says
that he beat Vader once and he can do it again and it’ll prepare him for his
match with the British Bulldog at SummerSlam.
Opening
Contest:  Vader (w/Paul Bearer) defeats
Ken Shamrock by count out at 6:59:
Since the main event is a flag match tonight, a Canadian
and American flag are hanging on poles in opposite corners of the ring.  Vader dominates the first four minutes, but
Shamrock escapes a powerbomb and nails Bearer when he breaks up a submission
hold.  This is a different beast than
their match at In Your House a couple of months prior to this, as its more of a
conventional wrestling match than a worked shoot but that doesn’t hurt its
quality.  Shamrock survives a splash off
the second rope, but when Vader dumps him out of the ring, the British Bulldog
runs out to the ring and gives Shamrock a running powerslam on the ramp and
Shamrock is counted out to lose his first singles match in the WWF.  Rating:  ***
Canadian fans
express their support for the Hart Foundation and explain why they don’t like
the United States
.
The Godwinns
defeat of “The Real Double J” Jesse James and Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly is the
Stridex Triple Action segment
.
A brief vignette
for Brakkus is aired.  He never amounted
to anything in the WWF and only appeared a handful of times.
McMahon interviews
the Hart Foundation and they get a monster reaction.  Bret says that he hasn’t seen three WWF
superstars stand up to the challenge for the flag match and he says that the
Undertaker should come out and face him now instead of at SummerSlam.  The British Bulldog piles on by saying he
wants to face Shamrock right now and Owen says that he wants to square off with
Steve Austin.  Steve Austin comes out and
says he’ll be part of the “stupid” flag match, thereby becoming the first
superstar to sign up to face Bret, Owen, and the Bulldog tonight
.
The announce team
discusses how DOA and Los Boricuas have been suspended for a week because of
their recent behavior.  Los Boricuas
destruction of the DOA’s motorcycles last week is shown.  Both factions have been penciled in to face
each other at SummerSlam
.
“Too Sexy” Brian
Christopher pins Bryan Walsh after a Tennessee Jam at 3:54:
Walsh was a WWF jobber in the mid-1990s, but he had the
build for a light heavyweight and is thrust into this match with Christopher,
who continues to receive a push as the top heel in the division.  Christopher chews up a mini-Canadian flag to
draw the ire of the crowd   Walsh gets in
a few moves, but Christopher hits all the big spots and racks up another
win.  Rating:  **
The Commandant
tells us to be ready to see the Truth Commission on next week’s Raw.  The WWF really didn’t need another
anti-American group.
A WWF flashback
shows the awarding of a house at the first In Your House pay-per-view.  That’s a great moment from 1995 just because
of the reaction of the family that won it.
McMahon narrates a
video package discussing the various faces of Foley.  The emphasis was on the Dude Love personality
because of Dude Love’s debut last week. 
It’s really long and unreasonably so because Mick Foley has been given a
ton of screen time lately.
-Steve Austin says
that he can’t believe Mick Foley wants to be his tag team partner, but he
proved in the match that he could get the job done.  He says that he doesn’t really care to have a
tag team partner, though.
-Call 815-734-1161
to get your eighteen month WWF superstars calendar for $12 (plus $3 shipping
& handling)!
The Godwinns
attack on the Legion of Doom on last week’s show is played.  The Legion of Doom cut a promo backstage
after this incident last week and swear revenge at SummerSlam.
-The New Blackjacks
provide pre-recorded comments that say they are the toughest men in the WWF and
will win the next match and win the WWF tag team titles next week.
The Headbangers
say that they got thirty-eight minutes of sleep last night and they are ready
to finally take advantage of the opportunities they have been given and win the
WWF tag team titles.
Triple Threat
Match to Decide the #1 Contenders for the WWF Tag Team Championship:  The Godwinns defeat The New Blackjacks and
The Headbangers when Henry pins Barry Windham after Phineas hits Windham with a
bucket at 5:24:
The rules for this match is that there are three men in
the ring at all times, one for each team, and each man can tag their partner at
will.  It’s really hard to make this a
credible number one contenders match without the Legion of Doom, since they
were the only team in this match that did not lose cleanly in the tag team
tournament.  There aren’t a lot of slow
moments in this match, but all of the participants behave as if this is a
battle royal and there isn’t much intrigue regarding teams cooperating and
turning on each other and other behavior that you would expect in a match like
this.  As a result, the crowd sits on its
hands as this plays out.  Eventually
everyone starts brawling and the Godwinns cheat to get a tag team title match
next week.  I can’t believe that the
Headbangers continued to get a small push at this time and didn’t eat the fall
here.  It’s completely unrealistic to
think that they are a better team than the New Blackjacks.  Rating:  *
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to find out if Sid has wrestled his last match!
Ross interviews
Shawn Michaels, who is showered with boos. 
Michaels takes it all in and takes some shots at Canada on the mic,
which amplifies his heat further. 
Michaels says that he is going to be in the flag match tonight with
Steve Austin against the Hart Foundation and he also announces that he will be
the special guest referee for the Undertaker-Bret Hart title match at
SummerSlam.  The crowd doesn’t like the
second announcement AT ALL.  Michaels
says that if he doesn’t call the match down the middle that he will never be
able to wrestle in the United States again. 
This is a fantastic illustration of building heat in a promo and
building two matches at once.  This
wasn’t even Michaels best promo in Canada, with those honors going to his 2005
promo, which is where Bret really should’ve made his return.
­-More Canadian
fans discuss why they love the Hart Foundation and hate the United States.
Shawn Michaels
announcement about SummerSlam moments ago is our Discovery Zone Rewind segment
.
Clue #4 of the
SummerSlam Million Dollar Challenge is “of luxury.”
The Patriot says
he appreciates patriotism, but Canada needs better representatives than the
Hart Foundation.
The Patriot
defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) by disqualification when the Hart
Foundation attack him at 3:02:
The Patriot is booed out of the building and Helmsley
gets a huge reaction by attacking him before the bell.  During the match, Bret Hart comes out with
Owen and the Bulldog and argues with McMahon over Shawn Michaels being the
guest referee at SummerSlam and slaps off his headset.  McMahon and Bret start fighting each other,
which is the first time McMahon has ever been in a prolonged fight with a WWF
star and the Patriot comes to his aid. 
This all fits so well into the eventual screwjob in Montreal.  The match is completely overshadowed by these
events, so it’s not really possible to rate it, but this was an AWESOME segment
because it felt so real and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Ross takes over
the lead role in the announcing duties as McMahon gets himself together and
says that he thinks Paul Bearer is lying about Kane and the Undertaker’s
past.  He says that the Undertaker and
Kane split a statue of the Grim Reaper as children that they would have as long
as they were alive and he shows Kane’s part of the statue , which proves he’s
alive.  When Ross says he wants to see
Kane, Bearer says not to push him
.
Marlena says that
Brian Pillman really can’t fill out a dress properly.
Goldust
(w/Marlena) defeats Faarooq (w/Kama Mustafa) by disqualification when Kama
interferes at 3:24:
McMahon does a great job selling that he is disturbed by
Bret’s actions and he heads to the locker room after receiving some disturbing
news on his headset.  Ross eventually
says that it appears that Bret Hart injured Shawn Michaels in the locker room.  That news overwhelms the match, where Kama
beats up Goldust on the floor and the referee, despite not seeing any of this,
disqualifies Faarooq after he hits a Dominator and tries to get the pin.  Rating:  *
More Canadian fans
express their support for the Hart Foundation.
Shawn Michaels is
sown coming to his senses in the locker room and he gets in McMahon’s face
about getting attacked and tells him that he’s had enough
.
Flag Match:  Bret “the Hitman” Hart, Owen Hart & The
British Bulldog defeat “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Undertaker & Dude
Love when Bret captures the Canadian flag at 11:45 shown:
Before the American team comes out, Bret has the Canadian
national anthem played and the Halifax crowd sings along.  The rules for the match is that a team has to
capture the other team’s flag to win.  With
Shawn Michaels incapacitated, Austin and Love wrestle a handicap match in the
opening minutes, but the Undertaker arrives as we head to a commercial break.  You might look at the star power and gimmick
and assume that this had to be something special in 1997, but it’s really an
average match.  Part of the drama is
likely hurt by the stipulation, which restricts pinfall or submission attempts,
but there isn’t a lot of drama of teams going for their respective flags.  The crowd does help the match a bit, as the
explode when Bret and Austin go at it near the end of the match.  We get a race between Bret and the Undertaker
for their respective flags at the end of the contest, but Brian Pillman comes
from underneath the ring and intercepts the Undertaker and that allows Bret to
get his flag first and give the Hart Foundation the victory.  Austin’s glare to the Canadian crowd as the
Hart Foundation and Halifax crowd celebrate at the end of the show does a good
job communicating his anger and what’s great about it is that it shows that his
character actually wants to win matches and doesn’t shrug everything off like
John Cena today.  Rating:  **½
The Final Report Card:  The main event was a little disappointing in
quality, but it is still better than most of the main event matches we were
given on Raw in 1996.  With Shawn
Michaels involved it could’ve gone to the next level, but it’s understandable
why he was kept out of it.  This show can
get tedious if you watch the whole thing because of a laundry list of
non-wrestling segments that take place, but the Bret-McMahon brawl, combined
with Vader-Shamrock and the decent main event make this show an easy thumbs up
effort.
Monday Night War Rating:  4.1 (Unopposed)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – April 21, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Footage of the
Undertaker tossing a fire ball into Paul Bearer’s face at In Your House last
night is shown
.
Vince McMahon, Jim
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
Binghamton, New York
.
McMahon interviews
Steve Austin, who will face Bret Hart in a street fight tonight.  McMahon announces that Austin will get a
title shot at the next In Your House pay-per-view, but Austin just tells him to
shut up because Bret Hart is the topic of conversation tonight.  Austin demands that Bret show up within a
minute to fight him, but Bret pops up on the Titantron with the Hart Foundation
and says that he’ll face Austin in a street fight tonight.  Bret runs down the American fan base lust for
violence and complains that Austin has a title match at In Your House.  After those comments, Austin heads to the
locker room.

Opening
Contest:  The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik)
defeats Ahmed Johnson by disqualification at 4:50:
At the beginning of the match, McMahon makes the
outrageous claim that during the WWF’s tour of South Africa Ahmed received more
acclaim than Nelson Mandela ever did.  This
is a boring brawl, but Ahmed does bust out an impressive facebuster from a
suplex position.  Ahmed is on the verge
of putting the Sultan away when the Nation of Domination shows up on the
entrance stage.  Ahmed grabs a 2×4 and he
bashes the Sultan with it to make a statement to the Nation and loses.  Rating:  ½*
Sunny comes out in
an oversized Undertaker t-shirt.  Hendrix
urges us to buy it for $20 (plus shipping & handling) and that we should
call 815-734-1161 to get it.  It’s so odd
seeing the WWF sell merchandise on their shows like this fifteen years later.
Austin is shown
trying to break into the Hart Foundation’s locker room and Bret gets some WWF
stooges to tell Austin to go away.
Ken Shamrock comes
out for commentary and McMahon announces that Vader will face Shamrock at In
Your House in a No Holds Barred match.
Ross announces
that Tiger Ali Singh won the sixteen man tournament for the second Kuwaiti
Cup
.
Vader’s bullying
of a Kuwait newscaster on “Good Morning Kuwait”, which earned him a trip to a
Kuwaiti jail, is shown.  Lawler shows off
a funny drawing of Vader shoveling camel dung in the desert based on this
incident.  Shamrock says he doesn’t like
bullies, thereby making him the first WWF superstar to advocate the “Be a Star”
campaign’s agenda, and he challenges Mike Tyson to a match in the WWF.
-Footage of Austin
yelling at McMahon at ringside after slapping off his headset during the
commercial break is shown
.
Get your tickets
for the WrestleMania Revenge Tour, where Sid & The Undertaker battle Vader
and Mankind, Ahmed Johnson faces Faarooq, and Steve Austin & The Legion of
Doom battle the Hart Foundation!
Street
Fight:  “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeats
Bret “the Hitman at 8:23:
The purpose behind this one is that Austin is angry about
not finishing off Bret last night and thinks he can do it here, while Bret is
reluctant to fight Austin on his own. 
Before the match can get underway, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog
attack Austin from behind and Bret joins in for a three-on-one attack.  However, Shawn Michaels comes through the
crowd with a chair and eliminates Owen and the Bulldog.  Bret goes to Pillmanize Austin’s leg, but
Austin moves and then begins wearing out Bret’s knee with the chair.  Austin applies the Sharpshooter and refuses
to break the hold when WWF officials hit the ring.  Pat Patterson eventually helps the officials
get Austin off of Bret.  No official
winner is declared in this one, but for all intents and purposes Austin won
this battle of the feud.  This is
somewhat difficult to rate, but it was an entertaining brawl.
WWF President
Gorilla Monsoon tells Austin that he’s out of control and Austin says he’s not
done tonight and doesn’t care about Monsoon’s rules.  Monsoon bans Austin from the arena, to which
Austin threatens him up, and all of this takes place as the Hart Foundation
helps Bret to the locker room.  Seeing
Monsoon and Austin go at it is quite entertaining since the voice of the 1980s
is facing off with the top superstar of the 1990s.
Tiger Ali Singh
pins Salvatore Sincere with a spinning heel kick at 4:49:
In the discussion of guys the WWF put money on that never
panned out, Tiger Ali Singh has to be near the top of the list.  This is Singh’s RAW debut and he would
disappear for a year after this match. 
The match is technically fine, as Sincere dominates much of the action
and sells well for the rookie, who needs more proficiency running the
ropes.  A random spinning heel kick gets
the victory, but it’s an underwhelming debut. 
Rating:  *½
Paramedics take
Bret to the ambulance and the Bulldog and Owen are great here, as they keep
yelling at the paramedics for bumping over cables and wires and not adequately
taking care of Bret.  Like a horror film,
the camera pans inside the ambulance, where Austin is in the driver’s seat and
he moves to the back to attack Bret. 
Owen and the Bulldog come to Bret’s aid, but more damage has been
done.  That’s one of the more creative
attack segments in wrestling history, capped by Owen’s “what kind of crap is
this?” at the end.
Owen and the
Bulldog are shown looking for Austin backstage
.
Rockabilly (w/The
Honky Tonk Man) defeats “The Real Double J” Jesse James with a Shake, Rattle, and Roll at 8:48:
Since their match at In Your House last night was so
great we get a rematch between these two. 
Rockabilly is such a terrible gimmick, as Billy is just wearing his
usual cowboy attire.  There’s a funny
exchange on commentary as Lawler says he trusts the Honky Tonk Man’s judgment
and Ross asks him “What’s going on?  Are you two related?” to which Lawler responds
“Maybe.”  Like the previous night’s
encounter, this one goes on far too long and it kills the crowd.  After a ridiculously long time, Rockabilly
hits the Shake, Rattle, and Roll to get his first victory.  Really? 
Why give Rockabilly the win here instead of last night when he
debuted?  After the match, James attacks
Rockabilly but is nailed from behind by the Honky Tonk Man, who delivers two
sick guitar shots.  Rating:  ¼*
Austin is shown
arguing with Shawn Michaels in the locker room and WWF President Gorilla
Monsoon attempts to mediate to no avail. 
It’s as if Monsoon is trying to mediate a conflict in an eleventh grade
classroom.
Mankind’s
head-first plunge through an announce table last night is the Castro Super
Clean Slam of the Week
.
Mankind says Paul
Bearer didn’t cry when his flesh was burning last night.
Non-Title
Match:  The Undertaker (WWF Champion)
defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) by disqualification at 12:14 shown
when Mankind interferes:
It’s the beginning of an era, as the Undertaker doesn’t want to wait for Helmsley’s ornate entrance and decks him in the aisle.  McMahon makes a great comment as he claims Helmsley can’t love Chyna because he can’t love anyone except for
himself.  I know he’s talking about the
character, but fifteen years later it can make you laugh.  This is merely a placeholder match, since
nothing is on the line and it doesn’t advance a specific story.  Dustin Rhodes, without his Goldust gear, is
shown sitting in the crowd with Marlena, who Ross acknowledges as “Terri”
thereby setting up the quasi-shoot interview he will give on RAW about his
life.  The Undertaker withstands a lot of
punishment, but during his comeback Mankind appears with a blowtorch, which is
just an insane plot development. 
Helmsley wisely flees and Mankind KO’s the Undertaker with the metal
casing of the torch, but after he lights it up again, the Undertaker sits up
and fights Mankind through the crowd. 
Well, the match wasn’t that exciting, since it was largely a kick-punch
affair, but that twist at the end was wild. 
Rating:  *
After the
Undertaker and Mankind brawl to the back, Marlena chokes Chyna with a leather
strap from behind in the crowd and Goldust/Dustin Rhodes brawls with
Helmsley.  That was a great plot point
for Marlena-Chyna, since Chyna made her debut choking Marlena from the crowd a
couple of months prior to this.
The Motel 6 Rewind
is Austin’s attack on Bret earlier in the show
.
Austin comes out
to be interviewed by McMahon a second time. 
Austin says he accomplished his objective tonight and he says he doesn’t
need the crowd’s support.  Austin says
that the Undertaker will experience a cold day in hell at In Your House and
tells McMahon he won’t be a role model as WWF champion.  Owen and the Bulldog attack Austin at the end
of his promo and McMahon tries to help Austin, but Owen tosses him into the
corner.  Shawn Michaels comes out and
saves Austin for the second time and McMahon is perplexed, seemingly having
lost control of his show.
-As we get ready to
go off the air, Brian Pillman emerges from the crowd and he attacks Austin with
a chair.  Pillman goes to Pillmanize
Austin’s ankle, but Michaels makes the save for the third time.
The Final Report Card:  This was the first RAW of the Russo era and
it began with a bang.  Bret was taking
some time off for knee surgery, so this was a good way to write him out of the
ring for a while.  The ambulance attack
put another memorable moment in Austin’s career and really sold Austin’s rebel
image to the audience.  The show also
made a minor plot point that becomes big later: 
the bigger on screen role of Vince McMahon as a character, since he got
physically involved at the end and the camera focused on his reaction to Austin
getting laid out by Owen and the Bulldog. 
As a mark, I remember watching this show in 1997 and thinking that the
show had moved in a different direction and that I really liked it.  After seeing it fifteen years later, I still
enjoyed the Bret-Austin action, but I have to admit that the rest of the show
is terrible.  Still, a thumbs up because
the parts you remember are the good ones and the chaos at the end left you
eagerly anticipating next week’s episode.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.8 (vs. 3.4 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

The Piledriving Critique: Let’s Play WWF Betrayal Episode 2

The Masked Reviewer has been busy recently with work. Check out this second part of his on going Let’s Play where he audio blogs about his life, going to Raw, and upcoming show news. Also, you can continue to see how bad he is at video games!

Remember to follow me on twitter! @maskedreviewer

Wrestlemania Predictions and Plug!

Hey Scott,
Thanks again for participating.  I just posted the feature on my blog.  Hope you enjoy it.  Thanks again!
http://acaseoftheblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/true-or-false-4-with-scott-keith.html 

No worries.  Hopefully I can destroy your blog as well.

Since we’re on the topic of the big show, let’s do some predictions!

Rock v. Cena

It’s been a year of Rock getting the upper hand on Cena, and now he’s gonna lay down.  In his hometown.  This might seem like a bad idea to anyone who doesn’t want a riot in Miami, but they just don’t understand the genius of Vince McMahon.  I think that later when cooler heads have prevailed and Steve Lombardi is doing the talking head portion of the documentary DVD featuring this match, they’ll be like “Perhaps we shouldn’t have done that finish” like they speak about putting Jericho v. HHH on last at WM18.  I don’t think it’ll be clean, I think ADR (who has said “I’m not at Wrestlemania” way too publicly) will run in and do the Rhonda Rousey gimmick and try to break Rock’s arm while Cena and the ref are out, and Rock will gut it out and hit the People’s Elbow anyway, but the pain will then be SO SEVERE from ramming his injured elbow into Cena’s superhuman pecs that the ref will stop the match and award it to Cena, perhaps throwing up the X sign.  Then Cena will be all “Yo, Del Rio, your cars suck and you ruined my match with Rock, let’s fight for the next 5 PPVs in an escalating series of stipulation matches.”  MARK THAT SHIT DOWN.

HHH v. Undertaker


Really, the major question here is will there be blood?  And yeah, they’re gonna go all Daniel Plainview.  Shawn Michaels can carry a match even when refereeing, he’ll tease screwing Undertaker over so that we get the insane near-fall where everyone thinks the streak is over, and in the end Shawn will count HHH down and out to continue the streak.

CM Punk v. Chris Jericho


I feel like the storyline possibilities of Jericho winning the title and sending Punk to rock bottom, only to regain it in Chicago, are much better than Punk winning here and Jericho being all “I’m invoking my mandatory Wrestlemania rematch lazy writer’s clause, beeyotch!” so they can fight again.  Plus Jericho has never won the World title at Wrestlemania, so that would be good for him.

Daniel Bryan v. Sheamus


You’d think Sheamus would have to win, but boy are they seemingly in love with heel champion Daniel Bryan, so the temptation might be too great for them here.  If they do, they MUST pull the trigger on Divas champion AJ so they can celebrate together.  NO WAIT.  Scratch that, Sheamus wins here, AJ wins the Divas title the week after, and Bryan starts THAT belt around like it’s his accomplishment and never lets AJ actually acknowledge her own success.  THAT’S the winner winner chicken dinner, so I’m changing my prediction to Sheamus kills him clean by powering out of  the Lebell Lock into the White Noise for the win.

Team Teddy v. Team Johnny


Team Johnny wins somehow.

Big Show v. Cody Rhodes


I don’t see why Big Show would care about the IC title or why they’d want to put it on him, but Cody really has a beating coming to him and they booked it as a title match, so the only really logical payoff is Show winning the belt.  Unless they go with “Cody gets himself DQ’d to retain so that Show wins, and then Show beats the holy hell out of him and does something really embarrassing to Cody to give Cody his own Wrestlemania Moment” type of deal, I dunno.  OR!  The match never happens.  Show gets attacked backstage by, whatever, Christian or Del Rio or whoever he’s programmed with next.  Cody is like “ha ha, you BIG SHOW’D your shot at me, so I guess there’s no title match”, bam, FUNKASAURUS, and Cody gets destroyed and humiliated so that Show can replay THAT Wrestlemania moment and mock him.

Divas Match


I don’t care.  Unless Tamina is involved somewhere, and then you know I’ll be all over it.

Kane v. Randy Orton


Hopefully he punts the stupid mask right off.  RKO and Kane EMBRACES THE JOB.

I think that’s everything.  How good will this show be?  Should be pretty damn good.  Cena-Rock will obviously be awesome, HHH-Undertaker should be good-great, Jericho and Punk are both giant wrestling nerds wrestling for the World wrestling title at Wrestlemania so you know they’re gonna try to steal the show, and Bryan is in an insane zone of greatness right now so that should be good.  I will definitely get my $65 Canadian out of this one, I’m sure.

Buyrate prediction:  Just under one million.  If they did the wrist notes angle on last week’s RAW, then 1.3 million buys, but they did a lot of harm in the two weeks leading up to the PPV because they had nothing further to say with the characters.

Volleyball and Wrestling Are About the Same, Right?

As previously reported, Triple H hired Canyon Ceman to be the new Senior Director of Talent Relations. Ceman replaces Ty Bailey and will be heading up the developmental system. Ceman is an All American volleyball player as well as a volleyball executive. Some have questioned how he can be the right guy to scout and develop talent, but WWE officials are said to be high on him and are touting his sports management knowledge.

Source: Figure4Online

I was all for Triple H taking over for Vince McMahon, but due to this decision I am starting to second guess it. The problem people have with Johhny Ace because of his lack of knowledge, but at least Ace knows something about wrestling. I’m unsure about what a guy who played volleyball and is a volleyball excessive knows about wrestling. If he’s going to have a major role in scouting the talent, I’m not saying WWE is going to go out of business, but if this guy knows nothing, they’re making the same business decisions that were detrimental to WCW. What are they going to do next hire a pizza guy to run the creative department? 

The point is: people who know little to nothing about the wrestling business shouldn’t be in it when it comes to handling with the talent, and there’s a sizable track record that makes statement have truth and merit. Maybe I’m wrong and this will work out because this guy’s been secretly a passionate wrestling fan for all his life, but most likely they hired this guy to find sex-symbols and guys who have the best looking abs and muscles. This doesn’t look very promising for the revolution of the developmental system and creating new stars. If they don’t want to hire people in the business, why don’t they hire an ex-amateur wrestler? I mean look at how many wrestlers became success that were once amateurs and they’re somewhat similar.

Sympathy For Cole?

Hey Scott,     I appreciate you indulging the questions I and others pose to you.  I have a question for you, which I’m sure will cause some good debate amongst the Keithminers.  Is Michael Cole a sympathetic figure?  Hear me out: His debut was at SummerSlam ’97 when he tried to interview Stone Cold on his way to his infamous match with Owen Hart.  Austin called him a piece of trash, and threatened to make the new guy kiss his ass.  After middling around as an interview guy/merchandise stand for The Rock, he suddenly gets thrown in as lead announcer when Jim Ross is struck with Bells Palsy.  It was very clear he was not ready for the job, as you pointed out many times in your brutal but hilarious rants.  My favorites are “Michael Cole the Goatee Wearing Little Bitch”, your recap of the Rock/Mankind I quit match at the ’99 Rumble, calling him out for saying the most dangerous part of Hell in a Cell is getting your fingers caught in the cage, and my all-time favorite SK match, the Rock Bottom Buried Alive match, with your running gag based on Cole’s assertion that the tombstone above the grave  “weighs in excess of 3000 pounds.” When Ross mercifully came back, he went right back to being humiliated weekly backstage.  He finally catches a break when he is paired with Taz on Smackdown! doing a much better, if unremarkable, job as the lead commentator on the B show.  Then Vince decides, without telling them, that JR and Cole will be switching brands in the 2008 draft.  Clearly Vince wants Cole to be his new lead, since he has been groomed in the “WWE Style” commentary that Vince loves.  Naturally the fans rebel and Vince, since he knows better, just has Cole turn heel, because what better way to make someone hated by the fans popular than by making him a jerk.  His running down of Daniel Bryan wasn’t too bad, but then he is forced to repeatedly mock JR’s weight and Bells Palsy, comment on Jerry Lawler’s mom dying and bringing his son out to call his father neglectful, act like a chauvinist pig, stuff his paunchy announcer body into a skin tight unitard, “wrestle” a match that would have been ranked worst of the year if not for Jeff Hardy and basically put down every face in the company not named John Cena.  Add to that, he is now the embodiment of everything the fans hate about the WWE.  His relentless Twitter chatter, not to mention confusing trending with most talked about, ignoring the action in the ring, calling belts championships, using the term sports entertainment and calling wrestlers superstars.  There was an incident on Raw a few months back where he called CM Punk a superstar on commentary, and Punk insisted he was a wrestler. My point is, it seems like he was a guy who was treated like a joke for so long, got some credibility, was thrust into a spot the fans hated, and then became the most hated heel in the company for the wrong reasons. While I have heard he has a bit of an ego since he is friends with Cena, I can’t imagine this heel crap was all his idea.  Vince loves to make his employees due what he wants no matter how much the hate it.  Michelle McCool admitted in an interview she and Layla hated the Piggie James storyline, but Vince wouldn’t relent. Mark Henry was forced to be felt up by a cross dresser, get in a sexual relationship with an 80 year old woman AND admit to being in an incestuous relationship with his sister, all allegedly to get him to quit so Vince could reneg on that infamous contract.  While I’m sure Cole enjoys his salary, and the luxury of being considered an employee and getting benefits, he just seems like a guy who was doomed from the start and never saw the signs coming. Thoughts?

  You lost me at “Sympathy for Michael Cole.”  Although there did used to be a point where he would appear to have a mind of his own without Vince yelling in his ear all the time, but a couple of years ago he appeared to buy into the Michael Cole Character 100% and would act that way even when it was known that Vince was in another country at the time.  No, I’m afraid the Michael Cole who had potential to grow and change is long dead. 

Wrestlemania Countdown: 26

(Someone had requested a repost of this, and since I can’t retrieve the 2012 Scott sez version from the other server at the moment, you’ll have to settle for the boring unadorned version.)  The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 26 – Live from Phoenix, AZ – Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & Matt Striker Unified tag team titles: Big Show & The Miz v. R-Truth & John Morrison Morrison dropkicks Miz to start and the faces hit legdrops for two. Truth hits Show with a leg lariat, but walks into a fallaway slam. Show pounds Truth down and goes up for a pump splash, but Morrison kicks him down and Truth gets two. Morrison comes in and runs wild on Miz, but misses Starship Pain, giving MIz two. Morrison counters the Stroke for two, but Show tags himself in with the KO punch to finish at 3:22. Really, that was it? *1/2 Ted Dibiase v. Cody Rhodes v. Randy Orton Not sure how this is a triple threat match when it seems to be more clearly a handicap match. Orton dumps Rhodes , but gets dropkicked by Dibiase to set up the Legacy beatdown. They take turns pounding away on him, but Orton tosses Dibiase for a comeback. Rhodes with an Alabama Slam for two, but Legacy erupts for some reason and brawls to the floor. They look like such geeks here. Orton comes back with clotheslines and powerslams, but Dibiase stops the RKO. Rhodes accidentally nails Dibiase with a pescado, and Orton brings both geeks back in with the DDT. Orton sets up to finish Rhodes, but then changes his mind and punts him instead. RKO kills Dibiase dead at 8:58. Holy cow did Legacy ever look like the jobbiest pair of jobbers who ever jobbed there. This didn’t work at all, but the crowd was very into Orton so there was that. ** Meanwhile, Santino Marella bites into a magic Slim Jim that turns Jillian Hall into a series of wacky people. Yeah. Money In The Bank: Kofi Kingston v. MVP v. Evan Bourne v. Jack Swagger v. Shelton Benjamin v. Matt Hardy v. Dolph Ziggler v. Kane v. Drew McIntyre v. Christian Kane is sporting an impressive shiner before we even start. Big trainwreck to start and everyone climbs the ladder until Swagger and Hardy are left. Kofi knocks them off, but Christian monkey-flips him into a ladder in the corner. Christian climbs, but gets zig-zagged to the mat. Ziggler goes up and MVP brings him down. Kane brings MVP down, but all the black guys gang up on him in the corner. Shelton clears the ring and climbs, but Swagger knocks him off, then Bourne comes off the top onto him. Bourne looks eerily like Eddie Guerrero in standard definition. Weird spot with Christian and Matt sandwiching Swagger between two ladders while he stands under the main ladder. That leads to Christian fighting it out with Bourne on a ladder ramp. Evan wins that and climbs, but Hardy takes him down, then takes a sick backdrop bump onto the horizontal ladder. Everyone gets car crashed to the floor and Kane beats on Dolph in the ring. A couple of poor ladders get murdered, so Kofi takes a broken one and uses it as stilts in the most innovative spot I’ve seen in years. Sadly, Drew comes in after doing nothing, gets rid of Kofi, and climbs. Matt Hardy thankfully gets rid of him and makes his attempt, but Christian makes the save. They fight it out and Christian brings him down with the inverted DDT. Christian and Swagger fight for it next, and that gives Swagger the case at 13:39, after he takes forever to unhook it. Well that’s a waste of a briefcase as it stands. This was the same as it always is, a bunch of cool spots and sick bumps. ***1/4 Next month: Extreme Rules! Presented by KFC! EXTREME CHICKEN! HHH v. Sheamus HHH being this far down the card worries me. They trade shots in the corner and HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Sheamus backs off quickly. Sheamus pounds away, but HHH hits him with a suplex and kneedrop for one. Sheamus bails, and HHH clips him on the way back in and follows with the figure-four. Sheamus makes the ropes quickly to break, and sends HHH into the stairs as Matt Striker tries to get “Ace of Spades” over as a new nickname for HHH. Really? Is this a thing now? He’s already the King of Kings, does he need the whole damn deck of cards? Sheamus takes over with a pair of backbreaker variations and stomps a mudhole in the corner. Axehandle gets two. Sheamus slugs away for two and goes to a chinlock, but HHH makes the comeback. He goes up and Sheamus tries to bring him down with the Razor’s Edge, but HHH slips out. Sheamus gets a pump kick for two. HHH gets the spinebuster for two. Sheamus bails to the apron and gets a pump kick there, but KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes him at 12:05. I’d say Lawler’s “70000 people just witnessed a classic!” was a bit much, but this was fine. **1/2 CM Punk v. Rey Mysterio Rey is paying tribute to the Na’vi tonight instead of his usual superhero garb. I was looking forward to an Iron Man outfit, too. Oh well. Punk attacks, but gets taken into the corner. Rey hangs himself in the Tree of Woe and gets abused by Serena, and Punk drops him onto the stairs for good measure. Back in, Rey comes back with a bodypress, but Punk turns it into a powerslam for two. Punk ducks a low kick and rolls him up for two. Punk with the high kick for two. Rey comes back with a somersault DDT off the top, which looked pretty cool. Punk blocks the 619 and Rey escapes the GTS. Rey makes it to the apron and goes up with a frog splash, but that misses and Punk gets two. High knee in the corner sets up a powerbomb attempt, but Rey reverses into the 619. Serena throws herself on Punk to stop it, but Rey hits it on the other side instead and finishes with the big splash at 6:30. Kind of surprised they’d blow it off so fast without even going down the “Rey goes straight edge” road. It was also pretty short, like everything else tonight thus far. I did enjoy the “big stadium match” feel they gave it. **3/4 No Holds Barred: Bret Hart v. Vince McMahon Really there’s only one possible finish here. So Vince decides to stack the deck beforehand, bringing out the entire Hart family as his enforcers. Well I’d expect that from Diana and Bruce and especially Smith, no doubt, but I though Natalya was made of sterner stuff. And Bruce is the special referee, still wearing his stupid sunglasses. But Bret reveals that they were already onto him and now the Harts will screw Vince over. So Bret attacks and chokes Vince down, and the Hart Dynasty immediately drags Vince out and kicks his ass. They add a Hart Attack from the top rope to the floor, and back in Bret drops elbows on him. Vince bails again and the Harts drag him back out from under the ring, but now he’s got a crowbar. Bret gets it away from him without much trouble and beats him down (“That’s an international object!” declares Striker), and he teases a Sharpshooter before going back to the crowbar for a bit. And then he stomps on Vince’s nuts a few times, which always adds an extra star to the rating. Bret grabs a chair and takes a seat while Vince recovers, then lays waste to Vince with the chair. Like, Rock-Austin from WM 17 tribute time. Never let it be said that when it comes time for Vince to get his ass kicked, he doesn’t go out and give it his all. And finally the only thing left is to make him tap to the Sharpshooter at 11:09. Everyone said all they wanted as Bret kicking Vince’s ass for 10 minutes and then making him tap, and that is what was delivered to the letter. If this was in Canada the heat would have been off the charts the whole time. But it wasn’t. Wasn’t really a match and it’s not fair to rate it as such, but it was about *1/2 given the physical conditions of both guys. Smackdown World title: Chris Jericho v. Edge Edge puts him down with a pair of shoulderblocks as Cole notes Jericho is a six-time World champion. That can’t be right, can it? Edge gets a flapjack and goes for the spear early, but Jericho bails to escape and heads back in for a baseball slide. Back in with a Jericho backdrop suplex for two. We hit the chinlock and Jericho pounds away in the corner, but misses a blind charge. He comes back with a suplex onto the top rope, but misses a dive and gets sent into the announce table. Back in, they fight on the top and Edge faceplants him for two. He goes up with a flying bodypress, rolled through for two. Jericho tries the Walls, but Edge powers out and gets a sunset flip for two. Jericho tries the Codebreaker and gets sent into the corner to block, but Edge tries a spear and Jericho turns it into the Walls. Edge reverses into a small package for two. Lionsault misses and Edge gets the Edge-O-Matic for two (am I the only one in the world who still calls it that?), but Jericho with an enzuigiri for two. Edge hits the Impaler for two. Jericho gets a forearm off the top and sets up for his own spear, but walks into Edge’s boot. Edge tries his own, but walks into the Codebreaker. Well really, he waited for the crowd to chant “spear”, what did he expect? That gets two. So now we get to the meat of the match, as Jericho starts stomping on the Achilles tendon and then gets the Walls again (wouldn’t an anklelock be more apropos?), then turns it into a half-crab on the injured ankle. Edge channels his inner Dan Hardy and makes the ropes, then rolls up Jericho for two. Cactus clothesline puts them both on the floor, and the ref is bumped. Jericho nails Edge with the “championship” and gets two. IT’S A FUCKING BELT, MICHAEL COLE! A championship is an abstract concept, that is a BELT. Codebreaker finishes clean at 15:43. Really? That was actually looking it was going to be a good 20-25 minutes once Jericho started working the ankle. Oh well, Edge is boring as a babyface anyway. They really need to have the Royal Rumble winner actually win one of these years, though. This wasn’t “close the show” great, but it was never boring and the finish totally made sense. I’m also glad to see Jericho get his first Wrestlemania win since, what, 2001? ***3/4 Edge snaps afterwards and spears Jericho off the announce table, showing that he’s a sore loser as well as a choker. Layla, Vickie Guerrero, Maryse, Michelle McCool & Alicia Fox v. Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres, Mickie James, Gail Kim & Kelly Kelly Man, Vickie is the like best sport ever. All the good girls beat on Vickie in the corner (triggering an impressive screech from Vickie) and then all the women get to do their finishers. This leaves Beth with Vickie, as Vickie has a panic attack in the corner before getting rescued by McCool. The heels actually send Vickie to the top for a “hog splash” that gets the pin on Kelly at 3:20. I’m sure Eddie was flattered to have that tribute paid to him. DUD – Quick question: Why are they using an Audioslave song from 6 years ago as an “official theme”? Did they overpay usage rights and need to burn off some airplay or something? The band doesn’t even exist anymore! RAW World title: Batista v. John Cena Cena’s ridiculous entrance this year: A military honor guard. Because he once played a former Marine in a movie. Batista looks trimmed down and it works well on him. They do the lockup battle and Batista gets a headlock, but Cena reverses to his own. Batista clotheslines him out of the corner and pounds away, then adds a boot from the floor. Cena fights back with a suplex and a bulldog for two. He goes for the FU early, but Batista reverses into a sloppy DDT for two. Big boot gets two. We hit the chinlock and they slug it out until Cena backdrops out of a facelock. Cena makes the comeback (7 minutes in?) with his usual run of stuff, but it turns out that Batista CAN see him, and hits him with a spinebuster. Cena reverses into the STF, but Batista makes the ropes without too much trouble. Batista spears him for two. They fight on the top and Batista goes down, allowing Cena to hit the five knuckle shuffle off the top. Batista comes back with the powerbomb for two. Cena tries the FU, reversed by Batista, reversed again by Cena to the FU for two. The crowd is going apeshit for this stuff. They’re really doing the big superhero v. supervillain match well. Cena goes up and tries the legdrop, but he lands in a spinebuster. Batista goes for the bomb, but Cena rolls through into the STF. Batista taps at 13:29 to give the title back to Cena. These guys have mad chemistry together, especially in a big match situation like this one. **** – The two title matches would make this a thumbs up show on their own, so anything that the main event delivers will just be gravy. Streak v. Career: Undertaker v. Shawn Michaels Shawn fires away with chops in the corner, but eats Snake Eyes and a big boot. Corner clothesline and Taker tries to go Old School, but Shawn pulls him down. A second try hits, however. Taker pounds away in the corner and sets up for the tombstone, but Shawn slips out and fights for a crossface. Taker fights that off, but nearly takes the superkick before slipping away. Shawn decides to work on the leg in the corner, but Taker slugs him down and clotheslines him to the floor. That sets up a tope attempt, but Shawn slides in and clips the knee to stop him. Taker tosses him and runs his back into the post, then drops the guillotine legdrop on the apron. Back in, Shawn takes him down with a figure-four, but that only seems to make Undertaker really, really mad. He reverses the move and Shawn releases, and they slug it out. Shawn puts him down and kips up, but it’s a chokeslam for two. Tombstone is reversed into an anklelock by Shawn, so I guess that’s why Jericho couldn’t have it. Taker kicks him in the head a few times to break, but Shawn clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a moonsault. Taker catches that and tombstones him on the floor, and you have to figure that’s not good for Shawn’s career. An EMT runs down to check on Shawn, but Taker beats him up and rolls Shawn back in for two. Last Ride, but Taker’s knee gives out and Shawn gets two. Looked bad. Shawn goes up and drops the elbow, but Taker gets his knee up to block and Shawn takes the bump on his ribs. Ouch. Taker tries Hell’s Gate and Shawn rolls it over for two. They both struggle up and Shawn superkicks him for two. Shawn cues up another one, but Taker catches it and counters to the Last Ride for two. That was a giant near-fall. A frustrated UT tosses Shawn and preps the announce table, but Shawn escapes a powerbomb and superkicks him onto it instead. And given that it’s Wrestlemania, Shawn can’t resist a moonsault from the top, which puts Taker through the table. He even hits the knee, which is either a great bit of psychology or a lucky miss. Back in, Shawn adds one more superkick…for two. This match needs Jim Ross so badly. Shawn wants another one, but Taker chokeslams him. No cover, as he opts for the tombstone instead, and that only gets two. The crowd is just going insane now. Taker’s had it and he pulls the straps down, but he stops because he doesn’t want to end Shawn’s career. Just awesome facials from Shawn, as he gives Taker’s throat-cutting gesture right back to him, and then slaps Taker. And that’s it, as Taker tombstones him extra-super-duper hard for the pin at 23:57 to end it. If this was Shawn’s last match (which it’s not), he went out with another Wrestlemania classic. However, I just don’t think it was as good as last year, because expectations were so ridiculously high. ****1/2 Now hopefully he doesn’t go to TNA and job to Hogan again. The Pulse: Everything that was supposed to deliver, delivered, and the main event was suitably epic and had the clean finish we needed. Huge thumbs up this year!

The First Montreal Question Of The New Blog!

Hey Scott,
Watching the Hart/Michaels rivalry DVD, there’s a point where Bret mentions he had already worked well beyond his contractually-obligated dates and could have legally told Vince to take his PPV and shove it, but didn’t out of good faith (or something, can’t remember exactly why he said he didn’t end up doing that).
It’s the first I’ve ever heard of this and, if true, doesn’t it give him all the leverage in the world (not even mentioning the creative control clause) to dictate, at least partially, how he wanted to go out? Would he have been black-balled in the business for no-showing, especially in Bret’s alleged case where he had already satisfied the terms of his contract and, throughout the years in general, was typically one of the true iron men when it came to working an insane number of dates?
Just curious as to your thoughts on that comment in general since, like I said, I’d never heard that part of it brought up by anyone before, but it seems to possibly paint Bret in a bit of a better light in hindsight.

Well, here’s the tricky thing with that particular contract dispute.  Yes, Bret had creative control over his character, and yes, Bret was only obligated to work a certain number of dates and thus had a huge amount of leverage.  However, you’ll recall that Bret punched Vince in the face after the events went down, which meant that Vince had a very solid case for assault and they would have spent the next millennium tied up in court counter-suing each other, and in the end both decided that the Mexican standoff wasn’t worth pursuing.  Would he have been blackballed?  Doubtful, he was already going to WCW, it’s not like Vince could resent him any more.  People have done WAY worse and gotten back in Vince’s good graces sooner.