What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – March 9, 1998

by Logan Scisco

-A video package recaps
Mike Tyson joining D-Generation X and the Undertaker’s return on last week’s
show
.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are doing commentary for the first hour and they are
taped from Wheeling, West Virginia.

Opening
Contest:  Ken Shamrock & Steve
Blackman beat Faaarooq & The Rock (w/The Nation of Domination) by
disqualification when the Nation interferes at 4:40
This is the outgrowth of Shamrock rescuing Blackman from
a beatdown at the hands of the Nation on last week’s show.  Commissioner Slaughter must not attend taped
shows because he doesn’t bother trying to come out and eject the Nation from
ringside during this match.  The
commentary team points out that many people in this match have their best days ahead
of them, but miss Blackman.  Shamrock
dominates the Rock when he gets the hot tag and the Nation interferes when all
hell breaks loose.  After the bell, Mark Henry
destroys Blackman on the outside, but the Rock wants the Nation to go away so
he can beat on Shamrock.  When the Nation
leaves, Shamrock beats up the Rock and puts him in the ankle lock while Faarooq
is just like “I told you so” by the entrance. 
Rating:  ** (1 for 1)
Triple H and Chyna
come out and Triple H says that Shawn Michaels is not at the show tonight.  He recaps Steve Austin getting laid out with
Sweet Chin Music on last week’s show and Michaels appears on the Titantron from
a restaurant to gloat about Tyson joining D-Generation X.  He says that Austin has not shown him
anything new.  Michaels cut a good promo,
but the Triple H promo work was boring. 
However, since Michaels promo was the focal point of the segment, I’ll
give this a point.  (2 for 2)
European
Championship Match:  Barry Windham (w/Jim
Cornette) beats Owen Hart (Champion) by count out at 5:14:
Triple H and Chyna eject Kelly from the commentary booth
so they can watch this match.  Although
Windham moves slowly in this match it is a pretty good title defense for Owen
that combines several near-falls and equal offense between both men.  Cornette distracts Owen to break up a
Sharpshooter and they brawl near the commentary table, which sees Chyna low
blow Owen and cause him to get counted out. 
Triple H laughs on commentary, which only reinforces how viewers at home
want to see Owen get revenge at WrestleMania. 
That has to happen, right?  Rating: 
** (3 for 3)
After the match,
Bradshaw runs out and gives Windham a big boot, thereby forcing him to flee.
Sable and Marc
Mero talk to the referee of Mero’s match with Goldust tonight where Luna Vachon
and Sable will be handcuffed at ringside
.
Jerry Lawler
interviews Kane and Paul Bearer in the locker room.  Seeing Lawler scared of Kane is pretty funny.  Bearer gloats about Kane blasting Vader with
a wrench at No Way Out, but boxes in the locker room open and close by
themselves so Bearer runs away.  This
adds to some weird technical glitches that are happening with cameras on this
show, so is the Undertaker nearby?
Aguila (w/Taka
Michinoku) defeats “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher (w/Jerry Lawler) by
disqualification when Lawler interferes at 4:55:
Evidently Aguila is suffering from the flu for this
match.  About ninety seconds into the
match the lights begin to flicker and thunder in heard in the arena, but things
return to normal shortly thereafter. 
This is a de facto number one contender’s match for the light
heavyweight title, since it is still uncertain who Michinoku’s challenger will
be at WrestleMania.  Lots of good moves
in this match, with Aguila using an Asai moonsault and a top rope arm drag and
Christopher using a sunset flip powerbomb to the arena floor.  Lawler takes out Michinoku on the outside,
but gets caught tripping Aguila when he goes to the top rope and that produces
the finish.  If they had announced this
as a number one contender’s match this would have had higher stakes, but as it
stood this was just a botch free light heavyweight match that was a change of
pace in the ring.  Rating:  **¼ (4 for 4)
Andre the Giant
tossing Bret Hart out to win the WrestleMania II battle royal is the
WrestleMania Millennium Moment.  Jim Ross
botches recapping it after the segment by saying that it had the “Refrigerator”
Bill Fralic
.
Steve Austin is
shown arriving to the arena and immediately walks out.  He says he is tired of hearing Mike Tyson
billed as the baddest man on the planet because it is an insult to him.  He steals Howard Finkel’s ringside seat and
decides to sit in the ring before Vince McMahon comes out and sets things
right.  Instead of Vince, Gerald Brisco
and Jack Lanza walk out and tell Austin to come with them, but Austin
refuses.  Commissioner Slaughter
considers the parade of cronies, but Austin calls him a jackass and says that
he won’t do anything to him because he’s headlining WrestleMania.  McMahon is shown backstage and Brisco is
trying to convince him to go out, but McMahon refuses as we go to commercial.
We return from
commercial and Pat Patterson comes out with some security officials to remove
Austin from the ring.  One of them is
over 50 years old, which leads to Austin calling him “pops” and blowing him
off.  The security guys do not want to
remove Austin, so they leave and Patterson has to retreat.  Finally, Vince comes out with Brisco, Dave
Hebner, and Slaughter and McMahon says that calling Tyson the baddest man on
the planet is a figure of speech.  Austin
says that might be so and gives him the middle finger, saying that is also a
figure of speech.  Austin dares McMahon
to give him his best shot after McMahon will not say that he wants to see
Austin win the WWF title.  He rips
McMahon’s suit jacket and McMahon leaves the ring and says that Austin will
pay.  Austin says he wants to kick Triple
H’s ass tonight.  Awesome segment that
really made clear that Austin-McMahon was the next big feud and even though
Austin bullied McMahon here, no one had much sympathy for McMahon because of
Montreal and the fact that he’s a millionaire. 
I’ll give this double points because it took up two segments.  6 for
6
Lawler joins the
commentary for the second hour.
Cactus Jack &
Chainsaw Charlie beat The Quebecers
Ross announces that because of Austin’s strike that the
NWA tag team title match between the Headbangers and the Rock N’ Roll Express
will not be held tonight.  Cactus and
Chainsaw are heading to WrestleMania to face the New Age Outlaws for the tag
team titles, so this match serves to put them over and give them some
momentum.  The match has some highlights,
with Charlie missing a moonsault and Pierre giving Cactus a hurricanrana off
the top rope, but Pierre blind charge creates the finish.  I was expecting more of a squash, but this
ended up as a competitive and enjoyable television bout.  Rating:  ** ¼ (7 for 7)
After the match,
the Road Dogg comes out with his arm in a sling and he dares Cactus to fight
him.  When Cactus follows, Billy Gunn
smashes Chainsaw in the back with a chair.
Call
1-900-737-4WWF to hear a Mike Tyson story and find out what Jim Cornette is
doing in the ring!
The Undertaker’s
return on last week’s RAW is the 10-321 Slam of the Week.  Remember that 10-321 stuff?  It was a running gag in that there was a new
number for it every week.
Kane and Paul
Bearer come out and Bearer says that the Undertaker made a mistake
returning.  The Undertaker’s music tolls
and the lights go out and suddenly the Undertaker appears in the ring.  When the lights come back on, the Undertaker
disappears.  The crowd doesn’t care for
that, but this was a shrewd way to play up the Undertaker’s “powers” and keep
him physically away from Kane before WrestleMania.  8 for
8
Valets Handcuffed
at Ringside:  “Marvelous” Marc Mero
(w/Sable) beats The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/Luna Vachon) by
disqualification at 5:00:
This stipulation is something out of Memphis and as Luna
licks her handcuff chain Ross’s reaction about his mother fainting back home is
priceless.  Goldust beats down Mero and
then uses his “free time” to make a move on the handcuffed Sable at ringside.  The ref gets bumped about three minutes in,
which does not allow him to count the fall from the Curtain Call and Goldust
then leg drops him so he can get the handcuff keys and release Luna.  Luna smears makeup all over Sable’s
face.  Mero’s “what happened?” after he
sees what happened is great.  The match
result is never announced, but I assume it is a disqualification.  The match was not much, but the angle
development and storytelling were excellent. 
Rating:  * (9 for 9)
Goldust and Luna
Vachon cut a promo in the backstage area and Goldust says that he is tired of
holding Luna back.  They issue a mixed
tag team match challenge to Marc Mero and Sable for WrestleMania.
A video package
provides Mike Tyson’s history in the WWF thus far.
A taped interview
with Ross and Tyson is shown.  Tyson says
he did not care to get disrespected by Steve Austin the night after the Royal
Rumble and Tyson says that he doesn’t care about being fair as the enforcer at
WrestleMania.  A rather dry interview as
Tyson was one of those guys who made more convincing arguments in the ring than
he did on the mic.  9 for 10
Triple H
(w/Chyna) and Savio Vega (w/Los Boricuas) wrestle to a no contest at 33
seconds:
Lawler tries to give this main event some backstory by
saying that D-Generation X did not pay its debts to Los Boricuas, but no one
cares about the Boricuas.  This is all
about Austin running out anyway and despite a sea of WWF officials and the
Boricuas around the ring Austin makes an appearance thirty seconds in and gives
a wave of Stone Cold Stunners to Gerald Brisco, a referee, and Savio.  However, Shawn Michaels appears and blasts an
unsuspecting Austin with Sweet Chin Music and Lawler has a great turn on Edmund
Burke’s quotation of “Evil will always triumph because good is always stupid.”  Michaels prepares to smash Austin in the head
with a steel chair, but the show ends before that can be played.  (10 for
11)
The Final Report Card:  Fantastic episode of Raw that combined some
solid television matches with excellent angle development and storylines.  WrestleMania will now have a mixed tag team
match between Marc Mero and Sable and Goldust and Luna Vachon and this show
made fans want to cheer for Steve Austin and Owen Hart in their separate
battles against D-Generation X.  The show
also began to align Vince McMahon with the heel side of the roster by having
him give signals that he did not want Austin to become the next WWF
champion.  However, look at how that idea
was played in this feud versus the Authority vs. Daniel Bryan feud of this year.  McMahon’s objection to Austin was that he was
anti-establishment and not family friendly, whereas Bryan’s feud devolved into
him not being good for business or on the same level as other competitors.  The next RAW was a Tuesday event, held on March
17th, because, get this, USA Network had to show a television
adaptation of Moby Dick!
So our updated WrestleMania card is as
follows:
*WWF Championship Match:  Shawn Michaels (Champion) vs. Steve Austin
with Mike Tyson as enforcer
*Intercontinental Championship Match:  The Rock (Champion) vs. Ken Shamrock
*WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  The New Age Outlaws (Champions) vs. Cactus
Jack & Chainsaw Charlie
*European Championship Match:  Owen Hart (Champion) vs. Triple H
*(Tentative) Mixed Tag Team Match:  Marc Mero & Sable vs. The Artist Formerly
Known as Goldust & Luna Vachon
*Tag Team Battle Royal
Monday Night War Rating:  3.6 (vs. 4.9 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up (Way Up)

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

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

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

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 15, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are in Durham, New Hampshire.
Cole interviews
the Undertaker and announces that he will face Shawn Michaels in a casket match
at the Royal Rumble for the WWF title. 
The Undertaker cuts a good promo and acknowledges that the only casket
match he lost took ten men to beat him and D-Generation X doesn’t have ten
people in it and Michaels doesn’t have ten friends to help him.  Kane and Paul Bearer come out and Bearer
rehashes “the Undertaker is a murderer” bit. 
Kane hits the Undertaker and when he tries to do it a second time, the
Undertaker blocks it, but then leaves instead of retaliating.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of WWF the Music: 
Volume 2.  It will cost you $20
for CD and $15 for the tape (plus $4 shipping & handling)!
Brian Christopher
and Jerry Lawler’s attack on Taka Michinoku on last week’s RAW is the
1-800-COLLECT Rewind segment.

Opening Non-Title
Contest:  Taka Michinoku (Light
Heavyweight Champion) beats Jerry “the King” Lawler by disqualification when
Brian Christopher interferes at 5:42:
Ross hypes the UFC: 
Ultimate Japan card during this match, which is a big styles clash since
Lawler can’t work at Michinoku’s speed. 
Still, Lawler gives it a good effort by throwing a few dropkicks in the
early going, but the allure of the Memphis stall is too much to resist and the
match slows considerably in the middle. 
Lawler hits the piledriver, but opts to go for a fist drop off the
second rope and eats a Michinoku Driver (!) before Christopher runs in for the
predictable disqualification.  Rating: 
After the match,
Michinoku gets the better of Christopher and heel miscommunication allows
Michinoku to get away unscathed.  The
crowd wasn’t into any of this.
Call
1-900-747-4WWF to find out how D-Generation X almost started a riot over the
weekend!
The Legion of Doom
tell the announce team that their match with DX isn’t going to be pretty
tonight.
The Nation of
Domination comes out and the Rock toots his own horn at the expense of Faarooq,
who wants to say a few words.  The Rock
demands that Austin come out and he does, but Austin doesn’t have the
Intercontinental belt.  He says he’ll
show the Rock later on what happened to his championship belt.  The Rock gives him an hour to return him his
property or face some justice at the hands of the Nation.
Dude Love beats
“The Road Dogg” Jesse James (w/Billy Gunn) with Sweet Shin Music at 4:36:
This continues the building feud between Love and the tag
team champions.  Gunn does the
introduction mic work and is nowhere near James’ level.  Ross tells Gunn that he and James should call
themselves “The New Age Outlaws” and Gunn says that’s a great idea, so now the
tag team champions will actually have a team name.  In the middle of the match, Love undergoes a
small transformation into his other personas, as he puts James in the Mandible
Claw, rips some of his hair out, and screams “Bang, Bang!”  Love captures another win, but takes a double
suplex by the entrance after the match and the Outlaws whip a referee into Love
to send him flying off the entrance platform. 
That bump had to hurt because Love barely grazed the table set up to
cushion his fall on the way down.  Rating: 
Mark Henry
defeats The Brooklyn Brawler via submission to a bearhug at 2:03:
This was Henry’s return to action after suffering an
ankle injury that put him on the shelf at the end of 1996.  He looks as generic as you can be, with a
black shirt and black ring trunks.  Ross
informs us during this squash that Steve Austin has left the arena with a WWF
camera crew.
A video package
highlights the growing tension between Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart.
For the second
hour Ross and Jim Cornette are in the booth.
Vince McMahon
warns Owen Hart that he is endangering the safety of ringside fans by attacking
Shawn Michaels through the crowd. 
McMahon orders Owen to appear in the ring since he is still under
contract and Owen comes out of the crowd to a nice reaction.  Owen curses McMahon and tells him that no one
is going to run him out of the WWF. 
McMahon implies that Owen only cares about winning the WWF title, but
Owen just calls it a “piece of leather with tin on it” and swears that he will
make Michaels life a living hell. 
McMahon has police come to the ring and tells Owen that he will come
through the entrance like every other WWF superstar next week and the police
escort Owen out through the crowd.  One
of the top segments of Owen’s career, but like a lot of things in the Attitude
Era, this didn’t really lead to anything significant.  It’s also somewhat eerie to watch in
retrospect.
Call
1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck
contest!  It’ll cost you $1.99 or you can
send a postcard to Devon, Pennsylvania.
Footage of Sable
revealing herself last week is shown.
Tom Brandi beats
The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik) with a school boy after heel miscommunication at
3:46:
Brandi is the old Salvatore Sincere, who is trying to
turn a new leaf as a face, but didn’t really catch on.  Brandi’s failure to make it in the WWF
surprised me because he seemed to have the type of look that the WWF
preferred.  Brandi takes a big beating in
this match, but takes advantage of a miscue by the Sultan and chalks up the
upset.  Rating:  *¾
After the match,
Marc Mero runs in and pounds Brandi down.
Since an hour has
elapsed, the Nation of Domination comes back out as a video package recaps how
the Rock became the new Intercontinental champion on last week’s show.  The Rock says that he and the Nation are
coming for the title belt, but Steve Austin appears on the Titantron and this
is the famous segment where he tosses the Intercontinental title belt off a
bridge.
Vince McMahon
announces the beginning of the Attitude Era and that the audience is tired of
having its intelligence insulted and the simplistic “good guys versus bad
guys.”  He does tell parents that they
should use discretion if they let their kids watch the Warzone.
Steve Blackman
beats Jose with a German suplex at 1:38:
This is Blackman’s first RAW singles match and there’s a
small back story to this since the Boricuas interrupted a Blackman promo after
Survivor Series.  Blackman decimates Jose
with martial arts moves and finishes him off in relatively short order.
WWF and European
Champion Shawn Michaels says he isn’t worried about Owen Hart and after a rock,
paper, and scissors game they come to the conclusion that Triple H will take
care of Owen.  They also warn the Legion
of Doom that they are ready for them.
The Undertaker
Tombstoning the Sultan on Shotgun Saturday Night is the Lazer Tag Slam of the
Week.
The Legion of
Doom beat “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels & Triple H (w/Chyna) by
disqualification when Chyna interferes at 7:40 shown:
Standard tag team main event here as the LOD a bevy of
clotheslines and Michaels and Triple H cheat to turn the tide.  During the hot tag segment, the New Age
Outlaws run down to the ring and smother Hawk with ether, which allows DX to
pulverize Animal after Chyna gets into the ring and gives him a low blow.  Rating:  **
After the bell,
the Outlaws shave Hawk’s head and with DX’s help they powerbomb Animal from the
apron through the announce table.  This
only gets a .4 on the Ross outrage meter, though.
The Final Report Card:  A much better episode of RAW this week with
the destruction of the Legion of Doom, the Austin bridge segment, and Owen’s
interaction with Vince headlining the show. 
In a weird way, Austin’s popularity is putting Shawn Michaels title
reign in the same category as Bret Hart’s in 1995 whereby the main focus is on
his storylines and the WWF title is fading into the background.  Still, D-Generation X is doing a great job
making fans hate them and wanting someone to put them in their place.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.7 (vs. 4.1 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – December 8, 1997

by Logan Scisco

Pictures of last
night’s Intercontinental championship match between Steve Austin and the Rock
at D-Generation X are shown.
Jim Ross, Michael
Cole, and Kevin Kelly are in the booth and they are live from Portland,
Maine.  This is Cole’s first stint in the
RAW commentary booth and he takes the lead and does 97% of the commentary for
the first ten minutes of the show.  Looks
like it’s going to be a long night.
Vince McMahon
comes out, shakes a few fans hands, and proceeds to continue the slow burn of
the Austin-McMahon feud by criticizing Austin’s attacks on WWF officials and
driving his truck to the ring at D-Generation X last night.  McMahon explains that the Rock should have
won by disqualification last night, but a second referee counted the fall
before that result could happen so McMahon orders a rematch
tonight.  Austin comes out and McMahon
warns him that there will be consequences if he does not defend the title.  Austin is unfazed and warns McMahon that he’ll
whip his ass if those consequences are levied.

In the
championship match of the Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament, Sunny beats Jerry
Lawler by disqualification when Lawler uses gum and a female action figure and then bribes the referee to win.  You really
cannot make this stuff up.
The announce team
recaps last night’s tag team championship match between Jesse James & Billy
Gunn and the Legion of Doom
.
Opening
Contest:  The Legion of Doom wrestle The
Godwinns (w/Jesse James & Billy Gunn) to a no contest at 2:28:
This works a good pace for the first two minutes, with
the Legion of Doom dominating the action until Animal is knocked out the ring
and tossed into the steps.  Suddenly
the lights go out and Kane’s music hits and he destroys Hawk.
Call 815-734-1161
to get your copy of WWF the Music: 
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WWF Tag Team
Champions Jesse James and Billy Gunn sing goodbye to the Legion of Doom and
James challenges any WWF superstar to a singles match with Gunn.  Dude Love answers the challenge.
Dude Love defeats
“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn (w/Jesse James) with a double-arm DDT at 3:37:
Standard singles match between these two and the only
thing to say is that Gunn works in a nice legsweep counter to Sweet Shin
Music.  After the bell, James comes into
the ring and blasts Love with a chair and Gunn hits a flying leg drop as the
tag team title belts are laid across Love’s face.  Rating:  **
The Rock cuts a
promo with the Nation of Domination and debuts his trademark sunglasses, which
goes a long way towards enhancing his look. 
He says he’s going to become the people’s champion again tonight.
The announce team
recaps the light heavyweight championship match last night between Taka Michinoku
and Brian Christopher.  Cole calls
Christopher’s finisher “The Tennessee Leg Jam.” 
Ugh.
Brian Christopher
claims that Michinoku stole his title in a promo cut after their match last
night at D-Generation X
.
Jim Cornette hosts
an interview between Michinoku and El Unico (Brian Christopher in a mask),
which gets hijacked by Jerry Lawler giving a xenophobic rant.  Christopher unmasks and a two-on-one beat
down results, where Michinoku takes three piledrivers, thereby rendering him
critically dead inside of the Memphis city limits.
A video package
highlights how D-Generation X systematically destroyed the Hart Foundation.i
Flash Funk beats Kurrgan (w/The Jackal) via
reverse decision at 2:27:
The Truth Commission has been written off and Jackal
explains that it’s because that was just a corporate ploy to hold Kurrgan down
and now he will do Jackal’s bidding to take over the WWF.  Kurrgan is never knocked off of his feet in
this squash and he wins with the Paralyzer (clawhold).  However, he refuses to release the hold and
the decision is reversed.  Sniper and
Recon come out to get Kurrgan off of Funk, but it doesn’t work and Kurrgan only
releases the hold when Jackal slaps him and laughs.  After this Kurrgan would keep squashing lower
talents, but never amounted to anything in singles competition.
The announce crew
recaps the D-Generation X WWF title match between Shawn Michaels and Ken
Shamrock and Owen Hart’s interference
.
Cole’s interview
with an outraged Ken Shamrock last night after D-Generation X is shown.  Shamrock says he’ll win the Royal Rumble and
get a new crack at Shawn Michaels if that’s what it takes.
-Since we are in
hour two, Ross and Lawler are in the booth.
D-Generation X
comes out and gloats about last night’s pay-per-view.  Michaels says he tried to flush the turd that
was the Hart Foundation, but one little nugget stays around, which is Owen
Hart.  Michaels says that DX is going to
play strip poker until Owen shows up. 
The Headbangers come out and complain that they cannot wrestle because of
these shenanagins.  They overturn the
card table, which leads to a beatdown and D-Generation X does the Pitbulls Superbomb spot
through a table on Thrasher.  As Michaels
relaxes, Owen comes out of the crowd and does a hit and run attack.
Jeff Jarrett
defeats Vader by count out in ten seconds:
Before the match gets started, Goldust and Luna Vachon
come out and Goldust flashes Vader. 
Vader is incensed and chases Goldust to the locker room to give Jarrett
his second straight cheap win.
Call 1-900-737-4WWF
to hear why a former WWF title holder’s career is in jeopardy of being over.
The announcers
recap the Toughman contest between Marc Mero and Butterbean
.
Cole’s interview
with Butterbean after D-Generation X is shown. 
Butterbean swears revenge.  This
never amounted to anything unless you want to somehow link Butterbean’s anger at Mero to what he did to Bart Gunn at WrestleMania XV
.
Salvatore Sincere
beats Marc Mero (w/Sable) by count out in ten seconds:
Mero tells the crowd that he feels insulted that he has
to wrestle a jobber tonight and he brings out Sable, who is wearing an Idaho
potato sack.  However, instead of
disrobing Mero she takes off her sack to reveal a very revealing bikini.  Mero quickly covers Sable up and takes her
backstage and Sincere takes the count out, but actually leaves the ring before
the referee finishes it.  He’s the winner
anyway.
Call
1-900-RUMBLE-98 to register yourself in the Steve Austin pickup truck
contest!  It’ll cost you $1.99 or you can
send a postcard to WWF headquarters.
The next match is
the scheduled main event between Intercontinental Champion Steve Austin and The
Rock, but Austin comes out and refuses to wrestle.  Austin dares McMahon to fire him and the Rock
has a funny bit by saying “Vince, the Rock thinks you should fire him!”  As a result, McMahon declares the Rock as
the new champion by forfeit.  Austin
does not mind because he says he really wants the WWF title and he shakes the
Rock’s hand and gives him a Stunner. 
Austin takes the belt with him and says he has some major non-wrestling
plans for it next week.  When Vince
leaves the ring, Austin runs the ropes and McMahon goes flying to the arena
floor and starts cursing on air.  The
booking called for Austin to job here, but Austin refused because he felt it
would hurt his character so this is the result of that.  This was a nice segment
because even though Austin refused to wrestle it acknowledged that Austin
needed to go onto better things and it started the Austin-McMahon angle.
The Final Report Card:  I feel bad for anyone that bought a ticket to
this RAW and hope that there was a good selection of dark matches because there
was not a lot of wrestling to be seen. 
There was only one match on the show that went over three minutes,
although the show did start or continue a variety of angles for the Royal
Rumble.  My copy misses a DOA-Los
Boricuas match, but I remember that being really bad.  Austin’s stuff was great, as usual, but the
show got really boring really fast without another competitive match to break
up the promo work.
Monday Night War Rating:  3.0 (vs. 4.3 for Nitro)

Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Down

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.